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06-23-2010, 08:44 PM   #1
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Grad photo tips

I am going to a high-school graduation Friday. I really need to get some good shots, and I am still not having the best results with indoor shoots . I keep getting noise in the background behind the subject Anywhooo, the graduation will be indoors and low light. I have the Pentax k-x and will be using the Pentax 55-300. What setting do you think is best? Any pointers would be appreciated.

06-23-2010, 09:10 PM   #2
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The exact exposure will depend on specific conditions we can not predict.
I do have one word of advice which will help in many situations...

Monopod.
06-24-2010, 04:06 AM   #3
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Take some photos ahead of time and see what exposure readings and shutter speeds you are getting. You'll probably need to use something like iso 3200 to 6400 minimum to get even a halfway decent shutter speed.
06-24-2010, 07:10 AM   #4
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Consider taking a fast prime with you as well, something like a nifty fifty, just great in low light work.

06-24-2010, 11:54 AM   #5
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The only settings that ever matter in photography are shutter speed, aperture, and ISO. Learn what these are and how to control them and all your questions will be answered. Pretty much any basic book pn photography from your local library or bookstore will cover the subject.

To minimize noise, you want the lowest ISO that gives you a shutter speed fast enough to avoid blur. That usually means using the largest aperture (smallest f-number) your lens allows - which in the case of your 55-300, isn't very large. That's why people often recommend "fast" lenses - ones with larger maximum apertures to allow faster shutter speeds at a given ISO (or lower ISO for a given shutter speed).

Last edited by Marc Sabatella; 06-24-2010 at 10:58 PM.
06-24-2010, 01:23 PM   #6
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Even after learning about the exposure triad, and being equipped with a fast lens, these may not be enough to get the results you want. You'll need to know the lighting conditions at the venue, pick the settings that will shine the ambient light the way you want it to on your subject, and pose the subject accordingly.

Because of the unpredictability of ambient lighting and flat features they present indoors, supplemental lighting may be required - as is employed by the official photographers, for simple reliability and reproducibility.
06-24-2010, 03:15 PM   #7
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I just did middle-school indoors. K-7 da* 60-250 f4.

Wanted to stay ISO 800, shutter speeds were too slow, bumped to ISO 1600 and got 1/30 or there about speeds with pretty good image quality.

You can most likely compensate for 55-300`s lack of speed with the kx.
If possible, go and scope out the auditorium ahead of time to get a feel for the lighting.

Cheers, Mike.

A 50-200 f 2.8 would make me happy.

Last edited by Ex Finn.; 06-24-2010 at 03:24 PM.
06-24-2010, 04:24 PM   #8
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Turn off "AF on shutter half press" and set AF to whatever button the K-X uses for it. This will allow you to set the focus and then not have the lens hunt at the all important handshake/handing of the diploma.

I personally go for spot metering when using high ISO values on the K20D, but I have no experience with the K-X to know if this works well with it. I will also add +0.5-1 EV compensation if the scene's histogram is still more to the left and the noise looks unacceptable.

If the venue won't allow monopods, get a four point cane at Walmart, $14. You should be able to adjust it high enough to use as a camera rest when seated. If you are good with tools, drill a hole through the top for a 1/4-20 bolt and buy a small ball head. Don't have the ball head or screw on the cane when you go in. Just keep them in your pocket or have your SO carry them in their purse/pocket. You can use this also outside of the event for off camera flash.





An Ultrapod Ultramount might be the best choice for a small ball head for this.



Thank you
Russell


Last edited by Russell-Evans; 06-24-2010 at 04:35 PM.
06-24-2010, 05:30 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by Russell-Evans Quote
I personally go for spot metering I
What is spot metering?
06-24-2010, 06:20 PM   #10
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Try to get there early and stake out a spot close to the stage; don't rely soley on the long end of the zoom to get you close to the action.
06-24-2010, 07:01 PM   #11
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I took photos of my niece's high school graduation a couple of weeks ago. I used the 55-300 on my K20, did not bring a tripod but used my Mom's walker for elbow support. They came out pretty good, but - bring a tripod or at least a monopod. The graduation was held outside in the football stadium in the evening. I kept taking pictures before hand as the sun went down and the field lighting came on - that was key to get to the settings that worked well. That was very helpful. I wound up having to go to ISO 3200, to keep the shutter speed reasonable. I do have to say, that even with the K20, at 3200, I was at f5.8 and 1/20 of a second and things turned out much better than I expected (after applying some noise reduction). Now they were not professional photographs - but I do have to say - pretty good - much better than I expected - and miles better than my sisters P&S. Now after saying that, with a tripod, they would have been even better, and I am somewhat kicking myself on not bringing one.

I would suggest knowing 1) where your student will be sitting, 2) where they will be walking both up and back down from the stage, 3) so that you can position yourself accordingly. 4) Do bring a prime for shots after graduation, a 50 or 40 or something fast for better quality shots. 5) remember to reset the ISO down somewhat when you change to the prime. 6) I did shoot multiple frames, and that did turn out to be helpful, because everyone is in motion. So in a burst of 4 or so, I usually was able to get one with here in it, facing the right way, and without someone else walking in front.

She was in the top 10 of a class of 780, full honors, and everything else...... Very proud of her!

Here is a sample - should have been much sharper, (they are somewhat soft - but considering everything - I was pushing my skill level here - my excuse is I like landscapes where very little moves) and should have been much better (should have found a place to practice the night before), but she was ecstatic with them. The noise reduction saved the images. Full size, no cropping from about 130 feet away (mid field 50 yd line from the running track that they had the handicapped seating set up).

K20, 55-300, ISO 3200, f5.8 and 1/20s AF-s focusing, with multiple frames set, center focus set, with spot metering.

PS - remember to enjoy the event!!!!
Attached Images
 

Last edited by interested_observer; 06-24-2010 at 07:09 PM.
06-24-2010, 07:21 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by russell-evans Quote
turn off "af on shutter half press" and set af to whatever button the k-x uses for it. This will allow you to set the focus and then not have the lens hunt at the all important handshake/handing of the diploma.

I personally go for spot metering when using high iso values on the k20d, but i have no experience with the k-x to know if this works well with it. I will also add +0.5-1 ev compensation if the scene's histogram is still more to the left and the noise looks unacceptable.

If the venue won't allow monopods, get a four point cane at walmart, $14. you should be able to adjust it high enough to use as a camera rest when seated. If you are good with tools, drill a hole through the top for a 1/4-20 bolt and buy a small ball head. Don't have the ball head or screw on the cane when you go in. Just keep them in your pocket or have your so carry them in their purse/pocket. You can use this also outside of the event for off camera flash.





An ultrapod ultramount might be the best choice for a small ball head for this.



Thank you
russell
i like this!!! Sneaky!!!
Good advice as always russel!
06-24-2010, 07:38 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by matsui255 Quote
What is spot metering?
Spot metering meters (that is, analyzes the lighting for exposure) only from the center of the frame. in most situations the camera is set to "evaluative" or "matrix" metering that takes into account the entire frame. In complicated lighting situations (strong backlight, spotlight, etc.) this "all over metering" can give you incorrect exposure readings. Using spot metering allows the shooter to pinpoint the object/person they want to be properly exposed.

this is different from "center weighted" metering which is sort of an intermediate between "evaluative" and "spot". Center weighted measures from a certain percentage of the center area and is less precise than Spot metering (hence the term). It does have its uses, though.

Check your camera's manual for the way to switch between metering modes.
06-24-2010, 11:00 PM   #14
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Spot metering - a mode guaranteed to take *terrible* pictures until you learn exactly what it is and how it works, how to control where you meter, and how and when to apply compensation. Not something I'd recommend for someone who isn't already an expert at the basics of exposure.
06-25-2010, 06:06 AM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by Marc Sabatella Quote
Spot metering - a mode guaranteed to take *terrible* pictures until you learn exactly what it is and how it works, how to control where you meter, and how and when to apply compensation. Not something I'd recommend for someone who isn't already an expert at the basics of exposure.
I'm not an expert, but if you say so ...

Thank you
Russell
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