6 Mar 2010

Students meet an interesting person

I have been asked by my wife to take a couple of photos at a school she works. There was a meeting organized between a group of students and their parents (about 60 in total) and so-called 'ineteresting person' who were going to tell about last 20 years of democratic changes in Poland.
The basic idea was to take the pictures for a school chronicle (of course) and to create a kind of album for the speaker and hand it over to him as a gift.
First part of an assignment is actually not a big deal - I used to do it many times before.
The photos for an album is a different story. I knew I wouldn't have a chance to take any decent portret photo of the person, neither get any time for one-to-one interaction: his time was very limited, he is in advanced age and it was pretty sure that very soon after the meeting he'll leave. So what I took during the meeting would be the material for an album. That's it.
According to the motto: "Preparation is half of work" I visited the location two hours before the actual event. There would be a small reception before the meeting (with a coffee, cake, etc.) - which was a good news; this creates extra opportunities for interesting photos.
Bad news was the setup of the meeting place:

Crowded audience, a table of the speaker placed in the corner with the speaker back to the window and a lot of glass behind a place where the speaker was going to sit.
Two things came to my mind immediatelly:
- there should be an extra light source out of the camera and not being reflected by the glass wall and put in the front of the speaker,
- there must be a possibility for taking shots from several different angles.
So I've asked the for a possibility of re-arranging the audience sitting places to create some movement opportunities. Then placed and secured an extra light source (SB-600 at the height of about 2 m pointing towards the speaker:

This setup was a good starting point (at least creating enough various possibilities of shooting).
Then the session started. Some interesting (in my opinion) photos have been taken:

One final word about the equipment:
I have used two flashes: one SB-900 attached to the camera (Nikon D-80) and one SB-600 placed on the stand. It gave me enough flexibility. I have learned however that when the audience is really quiet, zooming motor of the SB-900 is making a lot of noise, causing some disctraction. So be careful in the future and consider not using zoom in such situations.

- Learned to prepare some "movement space" to be able to shoot from different angles,
- Extra light even from a "typical" angle of 45 degrees can make your photos a way more interesting
- Zoom motor of SB-900 in a quiet room can create a lot of undesired distraction.

- Inspect the place in advance, try to adapt it for your needs,
- Talk to the organizers, learn the agenda of the event
- Take different positions during shooting. It enhance the final results and increases chances of a good result

- Get surprised by your equipment by discovering a new "feature" during a session

28 Feb 2010

Let's start

This is the first post on this blog so let me put some introductory information here. My name is Marcin Gramza and I live in The Netherlands, Europe. I have been interested in photography since several years. My next big hobby is guitar playing. But it is a different story.
When I started to learn photography I decided to take this systematically and learn the different aspects of photography step by step. On the other hand I think there is no better way of learning things than practice them. And to practice the photography I take different assignments and try to get most out of it.
The other side of learning is to take the notes (or to make a logbook) for the future reference and to sort things out. And this is more or less what this blog is about: there will be a set of notes that I have made during my different photo assignments.
One can ask why I am doing this. Is this really a need for yet another photography blog? Probably not. But I really think that sharing of information (which implies knowledge) really helps to learn things faster, more efficient and with more fun. And since I take notes anyway (in the digital form), putting them on Internet is just small movement in most logic direction.
Just a final word for today: don't expect any miraculous pieces of information, gold advices, do's and don's here. I simply don't have them since I still learn to take the good photos. I will put the pieces of information how I have approached one of another assignment. If you like the end result and would like to try it by yourself I'll be very happy. If you have a better ideas and would like to share them with me (and others) I will be even happier.