My 1st Engagement Shoot

Hi and welcome to another blog post!

Because I have a lot to do at the moment and there will be lots of work in the upcoming months, I am going to post job and project reviews on a monthly basis from now on. But there will also be several other “news posts” from time to time.

However, last Sunday I had my first Engagement Shoot and I was pretty excited about this job. Timo an ex-classmate at the university and his soon-to-be-wife Jessica facebooked me a few days ago and asked me to take some images for their invitation card. I agreed and that was my first step into this.

Although I love to interact and communicate with people it is also always a challenge to establish a great shooting atmosphere and a comfortable feeling for the client and anyone who is involved in the shoot.

Therefore it needs some preparation in terms of finding out the clients interests, searching for great locations and suggesting them to the client, offering a perfect service, being kind and having an open mind for the clients suggestions/ideas etc. These are just a few ingredients that slip into the whole process of planning a shoot.

On the other hand there is the technically and artistically aspect like: Which lens to use? Which style fits the best? How will the light quality be? Is a flash necessary or a reflector? Do I need an assistant? How should the light setup be?

If you decide to do the whole job without an assistant and to take available light shots only that means you will save a lot of time and effort. But will the quality be that good like when you press every button? I don’t think so. That’s the reason why I am always trying to do everything possible.

During the week I thought about the shoot and what to prepare for it. They wanted the pictures to be taken in the nature. So, I made a walk through the field and wood behind our house, on Friday. I looked for nice places and found some like a meadow with an old construction trailer in front of the wood, a colorful forest path with leaves on it, another meadow on the forest edge with a deerstand and a moss-grown place in the pinewood. I took several shots of these places and send them to Timo and Jessica. Finally, on Sunday we took the pictures at the places they liked most.

For this shoot I decided to used super telephoto lenses (300mm and 600mm) and flash. I pursued the goal not to disturb the couple as much as it would be necessary to get an authentic shot plus I wanted to shoot from an observer angle. The long focal length and wide aperture should help to soften the background and turn it into a pleasant background from which the subject sharply dispatches.

My assistant Freda assisted me with the flash and helped to establish a relaxed atmosphere. Although it was cold and windy on that day everyone had fun. Timo, Jessica and Freda were cold and I sweat under the pressure to create the best images possible. 🙂

Lighting the cosy scene

The bright and clean style makes the image alive

Shooting from far away with a long focal length letting them act as natural as if they were absolutely on their own – no disturbing shutter click and instructions from the photographer

A long focal length and a wide aperture softens and reveals the subject from the background and helps to concentrate on the essentials

Reflecting memorable moments of a wonderful relationship

Well, this was a fantastic day with Timo and Jessica for Freda and me. We learned a lot and this was just the beginning of taking Engagement Shoots! 🙂

Thanks a lot and have a great time!

Bye!
Chris

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Next Blog Post: Sunday the 27th

Hi everybody!

If you’re missing the latest blog post from last Sunday – sorry for that.
There will be an extracurricular post on Sunday the 27th.

But I still want to give you some photo input.
I found that fantastic page on the Internet which deals with the past and that is pretty cool to refresh your memories or to make a time journey:

DEAR PHOTOGRAPH

Have fun and a great and successful week!
See you next Sunday!

Bye!

Chris


Shooting Indoor Sports

Hi and welcome to this blog post!

Today’s topic is about how to shoot indoor sports to get high-quality photos.

Sometimes gyms do not offer the light quality that you need to create high-quality photos. So, you need to bring your own light.
It’s no secret that professional sports photographers use strobes to light gyms or arenas. Thanks to Dave Black I learned a lot about that and this weekend I did it the same way.

This weekend’s venue was the GSH Alsfeld, which is one of that dark venues with horrible light. It’s one of the darkest gyms that were ever built.  Here one has to shoot with ISO 10000 and f2.8 to get a shutter speed of 1/320s!
Every photographer gets nightmares when have to cover games that are hold in this gym. The results are mostly not that good – technically – because of the very lame light. And every Monday one can see the grainy, dull and blurry results in the sports section of the local newspapers. Not only bad for the reader but also not that good for the image of a newspaper.

Because I’m not satisfied with such lame photos, I did it the professional way.

While some photographers already brought their own light to dark gyms, they made a mistake by using on-camera flash. There is no worst idea like shooting indoor sports with an on-camera flash because on one hand it disturbs the athletes and on the other hand it offers no good light in terms of a natural look – as direct flash does mostly. That leads me to point #1: Don’t use on-camera flash but off-camera flash.

Professionals are using off-camera flash in terms of sport strobes that are mounted high above the court under the ceiling to illuminate it like lamps do to create a natural light look. Okay, that’s #2: Mount your flashguns/strobes under the ceiling.

It’s a pity that we don’t have such nice catwalks under the ceiling like they have in the USA. That makes it way more difficult to get the lights up there. If there are no catwalks and no ladders that would it make possible to reach the ceiling you have to find another way. Maybe you rent a long ladder from a hardware store or you rent a manlift etc.
But the very first step you should do is: Ask for permission! Ask the teams, ask the housekeeper and everyone else who is involved in decision making. Also make a contract to play it safe.
Apropos “safe”: Safety comes first! Secure your installations and make sure that if something brakes no one gets hit.

As you can see you have to arrange a lot in the first place before you are able to mount your lights. Maybe that’s the thing why in Germany there are just a few photographers using sport strobes. Effort is a big obstacle in an age where time is more money than ever.

Anyway, I made all that arrangements before and on Saturday I was ready to install the lights under the ceiling. I made all the installations early that day and went there at 10 o’clock in the morning. The first game was at 4.30 p. m.


As always I made a plan. Finally, I installed one flash in the upper left corner and another one in the lower middle. During the game I positioned myself in the lower left corner. That’s the typical light setup that causes a fill flash and a backlight.

I put the flash on the left (see the image above) to the left corner and used it as a backlight:

As strobes I used only two NIKON SB-800 Speedlights. The benefits are that they are light and portable and don’t need an external power supply. As Dave Black says in his workshop videos, the Speedlights have plenty of power and due to FP sync very short shutter speeds are possible. That means I can freeze all the action and can blend the available light with the flash light so that no ghosting appears like it would be with the typical sport strobes.

Because the SB-800 just sends the infrared signal up to 20 meters and a line of sight is needed, I used the RadioPopper wireless triggers. They allow me to trigger the Speedlights without a line of sight and from a distance of 400+ meters.

Finally, the difference between available light shots and flash light shots are amazing! Thank’s to the very clean high ISO of the D3, I can use ISO 5000 to realize a shutter speed of 1/640s which is okay for Basketball. The flash light cleans the high ISO and the result is a clean photo with a good contrast, saturation, more detail and frozen action.

Using available light:

Using flash:

As you can see, it’s worth the effort to make all these arrangements and installations. As for my part I use flash whenever it is possible.

Bye!
Chris