June 13th, 2010 by Brian Cooney
Jenny Graduation f6.3 1/500
What a whirlwind my life has been lately! I have been our of town more weekends that I have been home latley, and there is a ton of stuff going on at work because My company, Dialysis Corporation, just got bought by USRenalcare, a Texas Dialysis company. There is stress, panic, talk of moving to Texas, drama, excitement, and a ton of work to be done. I spent the last two weeks working with and getting to know the US Renal IT staff, and they are a great bunch of guys. My stress level is much lower than it was a few weeks ago…. and hopefully any shooting I do from Texas will be just as a visitor.
A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of driving down to Roanoke VA with my Beautiful wife, to see her friend Jenny graduate from college. This is really a big deal for Jenny, as she has been in college for seven years now. Of course I had my camera, and got some great pictures.
When arriving at the Graduation, the first thing I did was try to figure out which way the ladies (all female school) would be comming from. Once I had that figured out, the next order of business was to get as close as humanly possible to the area where they would be giving out the Diplomas. It was actually quite amusing in a way…. there were about 30 people with cameras to the Left of the Podium… me right out in front, waiting for people to come from the right. We started out about 50 feet away from the action, and as a group, kept sneaking closer and closer until we were about 10 feet away from the tent. Of course I was being careful to be the closest person, but not enough closer to get yelled at by security.
Once in position, I started figuring out the light. Being aware of the light was, and always is critical. It was extremely sunny out, and the podium was under a tent. The result was that if you trust your camera, things are going to look like crap because there is way too much bright light in the background, but your subject is in shade. My solution to this was to play with a manual exposure, practicing on the people that came through before her and checking the results. The histogram said the image was blown out… and it was right… the highlights are totally white in the background… but I don’t care because my subject, Jenny, is in the Shade. Since you can’t have your cake and eat it too, I choose to ignore what my camera tells me is right, and expose for the ladies in the shade. I probally played with spot metering on something that was in the shade to get close to what I wanted. An Incident light meter under the tent would have been a huge help here, but I don’t own one (sadly) and wouldn’t have been able to get under there with it anyway without getting more attention from security than I wanted or disrupting the ceremony.
Jenny with Diploma, f6.3 1/400
There were some other photographers there who were obviously the staff photographers. Im not sure if they were media folk from the paper, or just students who were there to create the yearbook, but everybody was posing for them either way, so I used them. I watched the people comming through before Jenny, to get an idea of where and when the girls were stopping for the pros…. and used it as an opportunity to get a different angle on it. The Staff photographers were using Flash…. I am guessing that they were doing Fill flash to try to achieve a proper exposure. I think my overexposed images (exposed correctly for subject) looked great… I would love to see the images they were capturing with their flashes to compare the two. If I was a betting man, I would bet that mine look better due to the better quality of light off of the 50 foot diffusion panels that were effectively my light source (the tent,) but I would love to know for sure.