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05-13-2013, 06:44 AM   #1
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I totally messed up my first event- need encouragement and/or advice....

I shot film when starting photography, casually but I enjoyed it. I used a Pentax and had two inexpensive lenses so when I went DSLR I got a K5. I bought a Pentax F 50mm 1.7 and shot manual.
I had fun. I didn't put effort into reading or learning. I just shot and went on about life.
My husband is in a semi pro sports scene and has recently been in a some professional events. Fishing.

So an event is near the house, a few hours drive. I grab the kids and camera and head to the weigh in. It's where the guys bring their fish on stage, weigh them in...
I blew it.
I switched to auto and happily shot away.
Not one great shot! Not one!
Some are ok...most are snap shot quality at best.
And to make it worse people, fishermen and even one of the reporters called asking for pictures! Evidently someone somewhere had said my shots were great...They were referring to film days when I took my time!

I toyed around all weekend thinking "this stupid K5 and its auto focus issues" and then I decided it was the lens, I must need a $1643 lens to get these shots...
But it was me, 100 percent me.
I really don't know how to fix it...I mean I do...get a ladder..shoot attention....
But I have two small, under 4 years old, children. I am quite frustrated at this point.
Next event that I attend is in the fall.
Do I buy a Nex and just embrace the auto thing? Or is there a way to make the K5 and PS, or do what I know? Wait for the money days...frame, perfect, check, frame- shoot. If I had done it that way I may have left with one or two great shots, and maybe 15 total. That is vs the 200 crap shots I did get.... memories still, especially for the guys that this is the biggest thing ever for - and 1- the media wouldn't shoot them and 2- if they did the guys wouldn't ever get the pictures.
I guess that's what I thought was going to happen: professional photos for the guys that wouldn't be shot. So I focused on trying to just get some of everyone,and dropped form.
If you read all of that, thanks. I'm just very upset/w myself that I screwed this up.
Worst of all- my husband was excited, he was expecting something and I could tell he was let down.

05-13-2013, 07:21 AM   #2
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Sorry to hear it didn't go as hoped for, but we've likely all been there. Post some of your photos with the EXIF so that others can see where the problems may lie. Who knows, it may be something as simple as a setting in your menu.
05-13-2013, 07:25 AM   #3
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Not great how? Were they out of focus or underexposed or just poorly framed? For most events your autofocus should be very capable, and if you keep your aperture stopped down a bit you should have good DOF. When I've shot events the images I have been dissappointed with have typically been blurry because I didn't let the shake reduction settle, or because in trying to get mostly candid shots I got a lot of bad poses. I think I'll ask for more posed shots in the future.

Indoors I've been using Sigma 28mm f1.8 or the DA16-45, and stopping down to f5.6 or so. Flash off, since I'd need a good bounce to get nice bright exposure. Generally lighting is good enough to rely on ambient light, those photos usually look good.

Generally I shoot in TAV and try to balance shutter speed above 1/125 and ISO below 6400, just as guidelines.
05-13-2013, 07:26 AM   #4
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I'm somewhat confused here. What exactly is preventing you from taking your time with the shot?

May I ask how long you have had used your k-5? And what lens did you get - plus if you do not mind posting one or two samples of the shots that you feel are "snapshot material"?

05-13-2013, 07:34 AM   #5
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And are you sure software can't help you "develop" your pics more to your liking? It's pretty amazing what the K5's sensor can handle in terms of cropping, pushing the darks, and adding sharpness. Now if you're dealing w/ images w/ motion blur, then not much there. And hopefully you shot in raw....

Try posting or linking to some shots that you think have potential and see what we can do... again, raw will give us the most latitude to make adjustments.

Try not to beat yourself up too much - the first few outings (at least - after 5 years I'm still learning from my mistakes!) need to be thought of as opportunities to learn your gear. Having too high of expectations can be hard to meet...
05-13-2013, 07:37 AM   #6
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With modern cameras, especially the K5 and Pentax DSLR cameras, dual control wheels and Av mode is your friend. If you are shooting people that are moving around, as in an award ceremony, pick a shallow depth of field, a decent ISO 400-800 and with a f/1.7 lens in the sunshine, you *can't* go wrong.

I wouldn't freak out as we all mess up a shoot now and then. Besides, if you are talking about pros messing up, all you have to do was watch Sergio Garcia yesterday at the Player's!

So here is a basic check list for me when shooting an event.

1) - Do I have the right lens?
----a) - What is my light?
----b) - How close can I get?
----c) - What look am I going for?
2) - RAW only
3) - Set ISO range as to get the optimal shutter speed / DOF combination.
4) - Monopod if I have to move around, tripod/gimbal if not
5) - Pentax Hyperprogram for the win!
6) - Have flash ready to go if needed
05-13-2013, 07:48 AM   #7
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That's the entire album. Edit: those are the best of the shots...
I shot straight auto, jpeg....I corrected what I could and cropped some in PS.
I used the SMC 50mm 1.7 lens on all of the shots.
The guy w his arms raised into the air winning- he was the only one who came straight to me. The others were turning towards the large cameras, but this guy is a good friend and knew he would get his hands on my photos vs theirs.
Someone asked why I couldn't take time on the shots...
I think/thought I couldn't because of the children. They are number one, safety concerns, but I freely admit this was laziness, I didn't attempt it.

Last edited by haycyn; 05-13-2013 at 07:55 AM.
05-13-2013, 07:52 AM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by haycyn Quote
But I have two small, under 4 years old, children.
maybe this didn't help to get focus on the task

give us some picture where the frame is about good or can be cropped, and if the rest is not at its best maybe we can help you for the processing ?

05-13-2013, 07:55 AM   #9
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Hiya Haycyn,

I can see where you are right now. I also do a lot of event photography, I am the club photographer for a local athletics club, and particularly the 6-12y olds. On some occasions I have had crap shooting days, where the end result is not at all what I would have liked. As I get access to the center field - and other parents don't - I always feel I should at least have better pictures than they do: mine are posted on the club website, are up for ordering on Flickr, and so on. So people have come to count on me delivering decent pictures of the events.

Now, for all the experience I have gathered in 3 years of doing this, I still have events where everything goes wrong: I have had days where the battery went dead on me, I have shot all day long with Tungsten WB still on (that yielded some interesting blues), I have had days where the camera was still on Av and my shutter times went way too slow, making all high jump shots blurred, sometimes the AF goes all weird on me... I can give some other examples as well

Just to say, shit happens. It happens even when you're not new to the K-5. It sucks when it's the first time around, but there are a lot of settings to consider. Now I have not seen your pictures, so I can say very little about what might be the issue, but so far I have tried several things for my athletics pics, with various degrees of success: I have worked with manual focus. Initially very hard, but I have a new focusing glass since, that works wonders. I used higher ISO. Up to 3200-6400 it's perfectly OK, and I prefer a good pic with some noise to a blurry one. I tend to take a step back, get more in the picture, and than crop afterwards. I tend to make multiple pictures, and then select the best one. Every kind of event photography requires a bit of getting used to. Even within athletics, it's a lot different to make pictures of jumpers or runners or whatever. Nowadays I mostly make 400-500 pictures, with 40-50 decent ones and a lot of doubles being the final yield.

When I have a bad day like that, I just try to forget about it, and learn from the mistakes. In the end, I'm there doing all the effort, while everybody else is hiding from the rain. Last week it rained all evening, it was dark and gloomy, I had a hard time getting nice pictures then, but still I was out there all day making those pictures, I could have stayed in the club house and have a beer as well, and then there would have been no pictures at all. So even if the pictures aren't perfect, they're still there because you made the effort.
Also, as a photographer we tend to be overly perfectionist. I often have pictures that are not perfectly sharp. For me that's a failure. The parents are perfectly happy with it though. These pics won't get you the big acclaim the occasional gem will generate, but they're still happy to have a souvenir, even if not technically 100%.

So don't take it too hard, there's a new opportunity in the fall, meanwhile, make as many pictures as possible, you'll get used to the new equipment. No need to get an extremely expensive lens. For your kind of subject the A50mm F:1.7 and the A28 mm F:2.8 should do the trick if you're doing MF, they make great pictures. For Auto Focus you have the FA50. the kit DA18-55 or 18-135 will work too.

Last edited by Pruneau; 05-13-2013 at 08:09 AM.
05-13-2013, 07:55 AM   #10
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Not totally clear on what screwed up. I usually use Av mode in that sort of setting and select my auto focus point. I do chimp periodically to be certain that there isn't anything weird going on with my settings. Aperture of 2.8-ish usually will get you nice results. Anyway, K5 should be fine for these kinds of situations.
05-13-2013, 08:03 AM   #11
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It's way to easy to mess things up, I've done it too.

I was shooting the women floorball play-offs and the top player from one of the team got a penalty. Nothing special happened until a play was called dead at the end of the penalty and she jumped on the floor to play, the problem was that there was still one second left on the penalty and the rule book says "automatic game misconduct if a player enters the the field when penalized". There I stood, a newbie when it came to floorball shooting on an assigned mission, right there in the middle of the drama of screaming players, officials physically holding players back and the personnel in the arena defending themselves that they didn't mess up.

Once in a lifetime shot and how did i fare? I was stressed up, a bit of a coward as I didn't really dare to put my camera in the face of raging players and ended up with only one barely decent shot and a couple of brutal ones of the event.
05-13-2013, 08:07 AM   #12
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I assume it's the "Everstart Day" from May 3rd?
Looking over those images, there were a few Red-Flags!
1) You are shooting up, into a black background, with the sun highlighting white/light colored shirts. The sun is to your left, and the floor/stage is also reflecting light up into the subjects.
2) You are doing it with a 50mm (75mm) prime lens
3) Since it's a f/1.7 lens and I see little subject isolation, it looks like you might have been shooting at smaller apertures - and slower shutter speeds. The ones that are in focus prove this out.
4) You may have been in manual, but your metering appears to be average weighting. It's definitely not spot or center.
5) Overall a bunch of technical mistakes that added up. No biggie, Next time you'll do better.
05-13-2013, 08:08 AM   #13
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Ok - let me know if you do not mind if I post some of the pictures directly into my post. For now:

Looking at your photos, there are several issues. First, you are working with extremely harsh sunlight from an angle. I am presuming that you are shooting JPEG images straight from the camera, and not RAW images that you processing afterwards. As such, you should turn on Highlight Correction and Shadow Recovery to prevent the bright sun from overwhelming your shots.

It appears you are using a midrange zoom lens - you are behind several people but you still capture their whole body in a frame. I'm not sure what lens you are using that cost $1600 (only one that comes to mind is the DA*60-250...) - can you clarify that?

Some images show camera shake - i.e. hands not steady or shutter speed too low (which in daylight seems unlikely - but I don't know enough about Auto mode). This also requires knowledge of the lens used. If it's a relatively long lens, you should take care to pause before shooting and make sure your hands are steady. You should also study good photography posture to stabilize the lens.

Some shots are quite out of focus. This just requires you to take a little time to get used to how the autofocus works. I highly suggest you going to a nearby park and focusing on various objects of different sizes to understand how the AF chooses it's subjects. I am guessing that in Auto mode, the camera sets Auto-11 autofocus, which can have a mind of its own. Try avoiding Auto mode and instead learn to use Av mode. It requires you to understand a little more about the relationship between aperture, shutter speed, and ISO, but once you are comfortable with it, it becomes leaps and bounds better than auto mode. You can also select "single point" autofocus, which lets you focus on the center of your screen.

Some of the images are quite good. Better than snapshot material. Some are a little tilted, but are not bad. Editing them in a photo-editor like photoshop (or a free alternative) will make them look a lot better.

In summary - if this is the first (or one of the first) times you have used the k-5, it was a difficult event to shoot. The harsh lighting conditions, the position you had in the crowd, and the moving subjects would make any amateur cringe. My advice would be to spend a few weekends going out to a park to take pictures during the day. This allows you to take pictures of stationary subjects in varying light conditions to get a better sense of your camera. Once you get more used to your camera, it becomes a lot easier to manage in bad situations.

Try to learn Av mode instead of Auto. Av mode lets you set the aperture, while the camera chooses the shutter speed. This allows you to learn while still maintaining some automatic control.
05-13-2013, 08:14 AM   #14
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I suggest when you have a quite moment (I do recognise the challenge I have just set you when you have young kids to care for), that you first check the basic settings on the camera and then take some test photos around the yard or local park and see what you get. The beauty of digital is that test shots are free! As other posters have suggested, it may be a camera settings issue. Start out initially with P mode so the camera does most of the thinking with regard to shutter speed and aperture. The camera menus do allow the possibility of allowing it to fire before AF has had a chance to lock focus and the image stabilisation to have locked - for example, see the current article on the home page for information about image stabilisation and how it works. If you just go from no pressure on the shutter button straight through to a full depress, this could be some of the problem. The camera needs a short moment with the shutter half depressed to activate and lock in the focus and image stabilisation (the focus and stablisation confirmation lights come on in the viewfinder when it has done so).

When all else fails, read the manual.

I stuffed up my first few sessions on my dSLR - I accidently set a custom white balance late one night exploring my new camera's menu and then wondered why the colours of the next few sets of photos were so odd. Eventually the doh! moment arrived and the problem was fixed.

I haven't looked at your album in order to offer more specific advice - I've got an anti-Facebook thing and don't have an account.

Last edited by southlander; 05-13-2013 at 08:29 AM.
05-13-2013, 08:15 AM   #15
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My story is of last Friday evening. We were going to a black tie function. I put the 18~55mm kit lens on the K-01 and switched to green auto with AF on, SR on, auto flash , took a few test shots, then gave it to a local student who was child minding.
Only one of the 10 shots was usable ( with heavy cropping) . The shots were double imaged, out of focus and over exposed. Next morning I took some more shots all good and I can not replicate the photos she took.

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