4 Mistakes I Avoid Today

I like to arrive early and scout possible camera angles to use later. Nikon D3, Nikkor 14-24mm, ISO 6400, f/4, 1/200

This is the time of year for Christmas parties and New Year events.  Through the years I have screwed up and here are some things I now avoid.

1) Arrive on time

If a client asks you to arrive at a certain time, it may be right at the time of the event, giving you no time to scout the location. Always arrive early to give yourself some time to look around and know where some good camera angles might exist later in the event.

While I found a good angle, I later tried it and it wasn’t as spectacular as I thought it would be. I did however shoot from this angle with a different lens later. Nikon D3, Nikkor 14-24mm, ISO 6400, f/4, 1/100

2) Don’t get caught off guard

If I can I always bring more than I will need, because I have been burned more times than I can count.  Over the years I have bought a lens or two that I don’t use a lot, but the costs of renting them over and over verses the time I do use them made sense to buy them.  Having a backup flash helped me this year when my SB900 got over heated and later needed repair. I am glad I had the SB800 there to continue to get the photos.

Some things that I recommend in that list of items to have:

  1. Backup camera
  2. Backup lens or two. 
  3. Backup Flash
  4. Extra Fresh batteries
  5. Tripod
While I had to go to bed early so Santa would come when I was young, now I had to be ready at a moments notice to get the photo of Santa coming down the elevator.  I could of been up five floors when this happened or just under the elevator, but no matter where I was that night, until he came down I had to be in position with a lens to get the shot. Nikon D3S, Nikkor 24-120mm, ISO 12,800, f/5.3, 1/80

 3) Relying on available light

I started shooting years ago and prided myself on shooting in almost any situation without a flash.  As it says in the Bible pride comes before the fall.

Proverbs 16:18 “Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.”

Using a flash to be sure you see your subjects face is important at times. I now use the flash to be sure I am not cursing myself as I am trying to fix it in post.

Where the pianist was sitting and how the light was on his face before I added the flash made him more to be a silhouette than anything else. My trusty “Voice Activated Light Stands” (my daughter or wife usually) pointed my Nikon Speedlight SB900 with the Radio Poppers PX radio system helping relay my Nikon Speedlight SU800 signal to the flash for TTL off camera flash. I balanced it to the room light.  Nikon D3S, Nikkor 24-120mm, ISO 2000, f/5.3, 1/60.

4) I’ll Fix it later in Post

If you look closely you will notice I used two of my “Voice Activated Light Stands” for this photo. I had no idea if there was going to be one or more folks with Santa getting an award. I had my wife and daughter holding the Nikon Speedlights off to the camera on either side pointed at the subjects. By the way to not look light just a lot of light I had one light turned up a stop more than the other to give some shape to the faces. The cool thing is with the Nikon Speedlight SU800 I was doing this from my camera and never had to go over to the “VALS” and change the power on the flashes themselves. Nikon D3S, Nikkor 24-120mm, ISO 12800, f/5.6, 1/400.

I cannot tell you how many times I have sat at my computer and wish I had done something with the lighting in the camera. You cannot fix everything in post. You have got to do everything possible to get the best possible image in the camera. Your goal should be that you have nothing to do to the RAW image other than convert it to a JPEG for the client. Anything more than this is compensating for a reason that you were unable to get it in the camera.

I used two of my “Voice Activated Light Stands” for this photo. Nikon D3S, Nikkor 24-120mm, ISO 10000, f/4.8, 1/320.