Every Sunday Christians Re-experience Their Story

Siberia—Working with outsiders means listening and being heard, according to Eduard Genrich, of Second Baptist Church in Novosibirsk. People here say they are encouraged and helped by outsiders, but taken advantage of by some. (photo by Don Rutledge)

The order of worship in churches is based on the only full worship service we have recorded in scripture which is Isaiah 6:1-8.

When we start the service the first thing that happens is acknowledging we have come into the presence of God. This is similar to how you start a story and introduce characters.

When we meet God in this moment it will cause us to be reminded of our sin, which is also similar to a story needing crisis/tension. This is where in worship we acknowledge there is nothing we can do and only God’s grace is able to save us. But first we must confess.

This dialogue continues between man and God in worship where after we confess and God has forgiven us, then God is asking who will go. This is like in the storyline where the mentor is outlining to the main character what they need to do to overcome their crisis.

Often this is where the homily/sermon is given that gives us more insights on how to live our lives. This is the direction given to all main subjects in a story that then they go and then live out those instructions.

Emily Wright during the Easter Services at Roswell Presbyterian Church.

Here is the scripture that both Christians and Jews use to create their order of worship.

Isaiah 6:1-8 

REVELATION– verse 1: “In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and the train of his robe filled the temple.

ADORATION– verse 3: “And one called to another and said: ‘Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!'”

CONFESSION– verse 5: “Then I said, ‘Woe is me, for I am ruined! Because I am a man of unclean lips, And I live among a people of unclean lips; For my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts.'”

EXPIATION– verse 6-7: “Then one of the seraphim flew to me, having in his hand a burning coal that he had taken with tongs from the altar. And he touched my mouth and said: ‘Behold, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away, and your sin atoned for.'”

PROCLAMATION– verse 8a: “And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, ‘Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?'”

DEDICATION– verse 8b: “Then I said, ‘Here am I! Send me.'”

SUPPLICATION– verse 11: “Then I said, ‘How long, O Lord?'”

COMMISSION– verse 9: “And he said, ‘Go, and say to this people…'”

Roswell Presbyterian Church

If you look at this order and then compare it to the Narrative Storyline you will see they have a lot in common.

PLOT – a series of incidents that are related to one another, what happens in a story, includes 5 stages (exposition, rising action, climax, falling action, and resolution)

EXPOSITION – usually in the beginning of a story, where the characters, setting, and conflict (problem) are introduced

RISING ACTION – the part of the story where the conflict(s) develop, in which the suspense and interest builds

CLIMAX – the turning point or most exciting moment of a story, in which the main character comes face to face with the main conflict and a change happens

FALLING ACTION – all the loose ends of the plot are tied up, the conflict and climax are taken care of in this part of the story, and the suspense is eased

RESOLUTION – where the story comes to a reasonable ending and the outcome is resolved

Roswell Presbyterian Church
Here is how I see these lining up
Worship Service Narrative Story
Revelation Exposition
Confession Tension/Struggle
Expiation Climax
Proclamation Falling Action
Commission Resolution

All the stories in scripture have flawed characters who either turn to God for help and are obedient to those directions or they refuse to be obedient. Now many of those stories involve a series of times where well intentioned characters continue to come back to God and ask for forgiveness for not being obedient.

I believe the reason this format is used in worship is that it forces us to process our faith in story form. It continues to remind us that like all characters in a story that we live in crisis that we cannot solve on our own. We need help. In the stories of Hollywood you need THE FORCE in the Star Wars movies to take on your enemies. You go to someone like Yoda to be trained.

New hymnal celebration event at Presbyterian Church [NIKON D4, 28.0-300.0 mm f/3.5-5.6, ISO 12800, ƒ/5.3, 1/30]
In the Disney stories like Cinderella she needed a Fairy God Mother to help her.

We are moved by stories because we can relate. While the problems are different, they are problems that the main character, like us, cannot solve alone.

The other cool thing about worship services as it relates to storytelling is that it has a soundtrack. The music in worship services helps to set the tone for stories to be told and as we resonate with those stories we are reminded of the story we are living.


Thanksgiving is a lot about food

Charleston, SC [X-E2, XF18-55mm ƒ/2.8-4 R LM OIS, ISO 400, ƒ/10, 1/100]
Thanksgiving is a time for many people to stuff ourselves with food.

Just Coffee Cooperative in Salvador Urbina, Chiapas, Mexico [NIKON D4, 14.0-24.0 mm f/2.8, ISO 720, ƒ/7.1, 1/100]
I am reminded of the many meals I have shared with people around the world.

Just Coffee Cooperative in El Aguila, Chiapas, Mexico [NIKON D4, 14.0-24.0 mm ƒ/2.8, ISO 12800, ƒ/5.6, 1/200]
Our family traditionally cooks a turkey.

Thanksgiving 2013 [COOLPIX P7000, ISO 1600, ƒ/8, 1/18]
Thanksgiving 2013 [COOLPIX P7000, ISO 1600, ƒ/2.8, 1/210]
We get together around food a lot through our lives.

Tami Chappel organized a memorial time for us at Manuel’s Tavern to celebrate the life of Dave “Mullet” Martin [X-E2, XF18-55mm ƒ/2.8-4 R LM OIS, ISO 6400, ƒ/2.8, 1/40]
Manuel’s Tavern to celebrate the life of Dave “Mullet” Martin [X-E2, XF18-55mm ƒ/2.8-4 R LM OIS, ISO 6400, ƒ/3.6, 1/35]
My family loves to get together for food.

Family Vacation with the Leary Clan at Emerald Isle Beach [NIKON D5, 24.0-105.0 mm f/4.0, ISO 65535, ƒ/14, 1/80]
I am reminded today also how some people around the world cook their food and how little they have to eat.

A lady showed us her kitchen in Nicaragua [NIKON D5, 24.0-105.0 mm f/4.0, ISO 4500, ƒ/4, 1/100]
I stopped with David and Tammy Woods where we bought some goat and lamb to eat while I was covering them in Burkina Faso in West Africa.

This is a road side restaurant on the way to BoBo from Ouagadougou. (Photo By: Stanley Leary) [NIKON D2X, AF Zoom 18-50mm f/2.8G, ISO 100, ƒ/5.6, 1/400]
This young boy is running his restaurant roadside cafe in Tenkodogo, Burkina Faso where they serve food, petrol and drinks. (Photo by: Stanley Leary) [NIKON D2X, AF Zoom 18-50mm f/2.8G, ISO 400, ƒ/2.8, 1/50]
After making me some coffee the boy cooked some eggs for me as well to eat.

(Photo by: Stanley Leary) [NIKON D2X, AF Zoom 18-50mm f/2.8G, ISO 400, f/2.8, 1/90]
For the past few years I have enjoyed traveling with Jeff Raymond, Pat Davison and James Dockery where we have tasted the food in many different countries together.

James Dockery in San Benito, Nicaragua [NIKON D5, 24.0-105.0 mm f/4.0, ISO 57600, ƒ/4, 1/100]
Jeff Raymond, James Dockery and Pat Davison in Kosovo [X-E2, XF18-55mm f/2.8-4 R LM OIS, ISO 1600, ƒ/4, 1/100] 
Togo, West Africa [NIKON D5, 35.0 mm f/1.4, ISO 1600, ƒ/1.4, 1/200]
I don’t always remember what the food was called, but I did enjoy it.

Shrimp and Grits – Charleston, SC [NIKON D5, Sigma24.0-105.0 mm f/4.0, ISO 1400, ƒ/5.6, 1/100]
One thing Dorie, my wife, and I love to eat is Shrimp and Grits. We have had many varieties in Charleston, SC.

Charleston, SC [NIKON D5, 24.0-105.0 mm f/4.0, ISO 2200, ƒ/8, 1/100]
In Lisbon, Portugal we waited a couple hours to eat at this restaurant where they serve the meat on a hot stone that you then cook your meat.

Lisbon Mission Storytelling Workshop [X-E2, XF18-55mm ƒ/2.8-4 R LM OIS, ISO 6400, ƒ/2.8, 1/80]
I wish you a very happy and blessed Thanksgiving! Wishing you the gift of faith and the blessing of hope this thanksgiving day! We gather on this day to be thankful for what we have, for the family we love, the friends we cherish, and for the blessings that will come. Happy Thanksgiving!

The exotic can be next door

Umbrella Cockatoo [X-E3, XF18-55mm ƒ/2.8-4 R LM OIS, ISO 1000, ƒ/4, 1/200]
For these photos of the Umbrella Cockatoo I didn’t travel to Indonesia where they originated. I walked down the street to my neighbors house.

Peggy Hewitt and her Green-Winged Macaws Parrot [X-E3, XF18-55mm ƒ/2.8-4 R LM OIS, ISO 1250, ƒ/2.8, 1/200]
Peggy Hewitt, my neighbor, has 14 exotic birds she has rescued and is trying to find bird lovers to buy them from her.

Someone wanting to adopt a parrot needs to know they live a very long time as far as pets. The umbrella  cockatoo is a long-term commitment for an owner — this species can live up to 70 years with proper care and attention.

Green-winged macaw parrot [X-E3, XF18-55mm ƒ/2.8-4 R LM OIS, ISO 2500, ƒ/4, 1/200]
Often photographers think that they must go somewhere exotic to find the exotic.

Well my mentor Don Rutledge always said that the best stories are often in your backyard, or in my case next door.

Conures Parrott [X-E3, XF18-55mm ƒ/2.8-4 R LM OIS, ISO 1600, ƒ/3.6, 1/200]
I have lived at my house for the past nine years and this is the very first time I have been to Peggy’s house and seen her birds.

When we first moved to our home my daughter, Chelle, talked to her and got to see all of her birds.

When teaching photography one-on-one to a student at my house I was trying to come up with some things we could photograph around the neighborhood. We ran into her and asked when we were out photographing the fall colors.

Peggy Hewitt holding her Umbrella Cockatoo [X-E3, XF18-55mm ƒ/2.8-4 R LM OIS, ISO 800, ƒ/3.6, 1/200]
I think the one thing that keeps most photographers from ever getting better is the fear of talking to people.

Fall in our yard [X-E3, XF55-200mm ƒ/3.5-4.8 R LM OIS, ISO 400, ƒ/4.5, 1/100]
It is much easier to walk outside and look for nature shots than it is to walk next door and say hello to your neighbor.

While nature photos can be stunning, I don’t think any of my photos from my yard were as exciting to look at until I talked to my neighbor. By taking the time to get to know my neighbor I discovered something much more exotic that I would expect to find when I travel the world, but it was just next door.

Have you met your neighbors and found out what their hobbies are or what they do for work? Maybe your best pictures have been in your neighborhood all this time and you were too scared to talk to people to find out.

This is Bull Dog, an Amazon parrot. He got his name after Peggy got him from his previous owner who died. They figured out that the guy must loved watching university of Georgia football, because when football games were on TV the bird yelled GO BULL DOGS!! [X-E3, XF18-55mm ƒ/2.8-4 R LM OIS, ISO 1250, ƒ/2.8, 1/200]

Fighting the wrong fight with copyright

We have been fighting the wrong fight for copyright registration. That is my opinion.

For most of my career we have told everyone that when you click your shutter you own your copyright. If you are on the payroll of a company they own that photo unless there is some written agreement giving you the copyright.

We know that is where the work-for-hire agreement came from when dealing with usage rights and copyright.

While the ownership of the copyright hasn’t been up for debate other than the who owns it based on who is paying for the creation the issue has been about the courts.

I was informed that you needed to register your copyright with copyright office to be able to collect legal fees. Those are all the fees that you can be awarded if you win a case. The judge reviews all the legal fees and does a separate ruling on how much the other side must pay for you taking this to court.

I learned early on that the going rate for copyright infringement cases was about $100,000 and took at least a year or more in the courts.

For the past 30 years ASMP and NPPA that I am a member, have spent lots of money lobbying congress to protect that process of registration.

I believe there is a better solution today. Do away with copyright registration. Get congress to change the law that if you can show copyright infringement then you can collect legal fees.

As far as the proving your images are yours there is Blockchain technology already on the market.

The idea of a blockchain — protecting data through a large network of computers — and applies the concept to managing photo rights. It is an “encrypted digital ledger of rights ownership for photographers.” Photographers can add new images as well as archive images to the system. Because of the blockchain structure, the data is stored on a large network of computers that helps create a public ledger, adds a layer of protection, and prevents data loss.

There are centralized and decentralized solutions right now available for Blockchain.

The point I make is that the current registration of your images with copyright office is out of date. With blockchain these servers can also police the web and find anyone using your images without rights.

Because Blockchain works so well with the digital photograph it will let you sell and track any usage of your images and keeps them from being used illegally since it codes images and makes them no longer easily copied and shared.

Blockchain can help us not just prove we shot an image it serves as an agency and collector.

We need to change the copyright laws and not continue to use a system that is outdated and not serving the artist community well at all.


Millimeter Can Make The Difference

I have talked about shooting enough photos of a subject to allow our imagination and creativity kick-in.  Now that we are all doing just that (making plenty of pictures every time we approach a subject) we can see for ourselves how even just a millimeter’s change in angle can make the difference between a good and a great photograph.  Or, for that matter, it doesn’t take much to make the difference between a good shot and a crummy one.

If we print all the digital images from a shoot as large thumbnails we’ll have a several pages of images we can study side-by-side.  This should give us some insight about our work that looking at our photos one at a time will never give us.

Editing software, such as PhotoShop, gives us the opportunity to rate photos from zero to five stars.  Here are some guides to use as we look to see if we have any FIVE STAR photos in that shoot.

Exposure.  Not just the technically correct one, but the proper exposure for the effect we wish to convey.  We can under expose a little to emphasize graphics or over exposed (this is done a lot in fashion photography to diminish skin tones or to emphasize eyes and lips).

Model Hannah Broeils [NIKON D5, 85.0 mm f/1.8, ISO 100, f/5.6, 1/125]
Focus.  I love selective focus where the depth of field is very shallow.  This lets me direct the viewer’s attention to where I want it to go.  It makes the subject pop out.  We see this used in fashion and sports photography a lot.  Just the opposite (a deep depth of field) may be just what is needed in landscape photos and certainly it is necessity in macro photography.

Togo, West Africa [NIKON D5, 85.0 mm ƒ/1.8, ISO 100, ƒ/1.8, 1/125]
Anytime we can make someone feel as if they can see into our photography we have truly accomplished something.  After all, it is only a two dimensional object.

The Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden is a nonprofit botanical garden and nature preserve located on the 4 mile scenic route off of Route 19 at 27-717 Old Māmalahoa Highway, Pāpa’ikou, Hawaii, Hawaii. [X-E3, XF10-24mmF4 R OIS, ISO 6400, ƒ/18, 1/100]
Composition.  Medical students are told, “First, do no harm.” Photographers should take the same advice and leave out all unnecessary elements.  All composition is the selection of what should be in and what should be out of the frame when we release the shutter.  Speaking of framing… to add depth to a picture frame it as you take it.   Shoot under the branch of a tree or through a door or window.  A frame is only one of many visual elements that can draw a viewer into our photo.  Elements like leading lines will give it a three-dimensional feel.

Anytime we can make someone feel as if they can see into our photography we have truly accomplished something.  After all, it is only a two dimensional object.

Matriculation Day 2017 The Citadel [NIKON D5, 85.0 mm f/1.8, ISO 100, f/7.1, 1/320]
See how the feet are cut off.

Matriculation Day 2017
The Citadel [NIKON D5, 85.0 mm f/1.8, ISO 100, f/7.1, 1/320]
Just barely moving the camera we can include the feet and anchor the photo.

[Nikon D3, 24-120mm, ISO 200, ƒ/14, 1/250 – Alienbees B1600 for fill flash]
Lighting.  Light can draw one into the photo, too.  Light is probably, next to expression and body language, the most dramatic, mood-setting tool we have as photographers.  The color temperature can be powerful.  The warm late evening light, the cool early morning colors or the green cast of florescent office light each carries a mood of its own.

Togo, West Africa [Nikon D5, Nikon 85mm ƒ/1.8G, ISO 100, ƒ/4, 1/200]
Expression.  Realtors like to say what matters is location, location, location.  Portrait photographers KNOW that the composition may be beautiful, the lighting creative, the clothing and background perfect, but if the EXPRESSION isn’t what it needs to be…. No sale!  Is a smile what is needed? (By the way, NEVER tell ANYONE to smile.)  Most adults can’t turn it on an off and kids will come up with some rather unusual expression, but generally NOT a real smile.  If, as a photographer we need the to smile – naturally – then it is up to us to elicit one from them.  We owe them that.  After all, we ARE the photographers.  Usually pictures of people should show their faces.  Sounds obvious, but if our subjects are watching something happening, say a ball game or a birthday party, we must be sure we are not so distracted by the event that we forget what is important… our main subject, the faces of our subjects.

Body Language. We can photograph someone several feet away (and not even show their face) and still communicate a great deal about them if we watch their body language.  Watch their arms.  It’s amazing what we say just by the position of our arms.  Do our subject’s arms communicate what we want?  Are they open or closed?  Is the person in our photo leaning forward or backward?  Does their position engage or pull back?  Do they appear to be sensitive or cold? Are they reaching out to another or pushing them away?

This little boy shepherd is part of the Fulani tribe which is known for being herdsmen and is working in the village of Soubakamedougou, Burkina Faso on October 15, 2005. The Marlboro company gives hats to the young boy cowboys to promote their product in Burkina Faso. [NIKON D2X, 18.0-125.0 mm f/3.3-5.6, ISO 100, f/5.6, 1/90]
The Eyes.  An eye doctor may tell us that the eyes really don’t change.  Perhaps that is true in a technical sense.  Be that as it may, watch the eyes.  They tell it all!  However it happens the eyes are the essence of a portrait.

Togo, West Africa [Nikon D5, Nikon 85mm ƒ/1.8G, ISO 100, ƒ/1.8, 1/200]
The Head.  A millimeter’s turn of the head, a slight tilt is all it takes to make the difference between a zero and a five star photography.

This is in no way a comprehensive list, it is only a sampling of many things we need consider when “grading” our photos.

By moving the camera merely a millimeter you can include their feet rather than chopping them off, leave out or include another person and change the mood.

Just a millimeter or so can keep the tree from growing out of your spouse’s head.  Moving an inch to the left may let the camera see a person’s face a little better or distinguish the main subject from their surroundings.

When we shoot enough photos we get to see the difference just a millimeter’s change can make.  It is then we will begin to see the why one photo is bad and another is good.

In the Olympics it can be the difference in millimeters that determines who wins and looses a race.  In photography it can be what determines the great photo from the others.

Tips from Robin Rayne

SARAH ALLEN is both single mother and full-time — though untrained –nurse to her son Aidan, born with cerebral palsy and complex medical issues. State Medicaid regulations severely limit the number of hours her medically fragile son can have in-home nursing care, regardless of his doctor’s orders for medical necessity. Aidan needs 24-7 care and constant tube feeding. Sarah may soon be homeless because the house where she lives will be sold, and she has limited resources to find another home suitable for a severely disabled child. Her story illustrates several serious shortfalls within the Medicaid and Social Security Disability systems. PICTURED: Sarah cleans her son from a diaper changing. (photo by Robin Rayne/Zuma Press) [NIKON D4, 24.0-70.0 mm f/2.8, ISO 1000, f/5.6, 1/80]

Robin Rayne says, “Make your emotion work for you and not against you, remember, God gave you tears.”

Robin spends most of his time photographing today in the disabilities community. He is a photojournalist and documentary producer for the University of Georgia’s Institute on Human Development and Disability. His compelling images illustrating human rights, disability and gender diversity issues are distributed internationally by Zuma Press.

Chelle Leary and her friends going to their senior prom March 10, 2017. (photo by Robin Rayne) [NIKON D4, 24.0-70.0 mm f/2.8, ISO 320, f/7.1, 1/25]

When I was traveling and could not photograph my daughter’s senior prom, so Robin helped out for our family by getting the photos of the important event in our family.

Kelemen Szab—, Dorie Griggs and Chelle Leary getting formal photos before Chelle’s Senior Prom. (photo by Robin Rayne) [NIKON D4, 24.0-70.0 mm f/2.8, ISO 200, f/7.1, 1/40]

I can always count on Robin to capture those moments. The minute I knew I was away for that all too important Prom I called Robin.

Parents watch as the limo pulls away taking our kids away for senior prom. (photo by Robin Rayne) [NIKON D4, 24.0-70.0 mm f/2.8, ISO 320, f/7.1, 1/60]

Robin sees moments and captures the emotions we feel. When asked how he does it with such emotional moments he says, “I am thankful for auto focus when covering some stories, because of all the tears.”

Great photojournalists embrace their emotions.

“Photography for me is not looking, it’s feeling. If you can’t feel what you’re looking at, then you’re never going to get others to feel anything when they look at your pictures.” – Don McCullin

Robin Rayne keynote speaker for the FOCUS Atlanta event held at Professional Photographic Resources on March 10, 2018. [X-E3, XF18-55mm ƒ2.8-4 R LM OIS, ISO 12800, ƒ/5, 1/30]

After Robin spoke this past weekend at the Atlanta Photojournalism Seminar he commented that after talking with people about their portfolios he was always asking the important question “WHY?” for the photos.

WHY does this story need to be told? WHY should the public care?

What is surprising to myself and Robin is asking this question you see the “deer in the headlights look” on their face.

Though it may be interesting or even entertaining, the foremost value of news is as a utility to empower the informed. The purpose of journalism is thus to provide citizens with the information they need to make the best possible decisions about their lives, their communities, their societies, and their governments.

Ben and Sam Schwenker, now 8 years old, were both diagnosed with autism when they were 18 months old. “Raising them is a daily challenge. We were so not prepared, but we learn more every day, ” says Jennifer, the boys’ mother.
     Autism spectrum disorders cut across all lines of race, class, and ethnicity. Autism impacts millions of children, adults, and their families around the world. Boys have a significantly higher incidence of autism than girls: four out of every five people with autism are male. Because of the genetic link, siblings of a child with autism have a greater chance of being diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder. Autism spectrum disorders affect not only the person diagnosed with the disorder, but also make a significant impact on the entire family with a variety of social, financial, and other practical demands.
     PICTURED: Now 8 years old, Sam (in yellow) and Ben still spend much of their day after school and weekends on their trampoline. They are still non-verbal but understand some of what they hear. (photo by Robin Rayne/Zuma Press) [NIKON D700, 24.0-70.0 mm ƒ/2.8, ISO 250, ƒ/8, 1/80]

Robin is a photojournalist and not just a photographer. Robin is not interested in just entertaining the public, he is interested in informing the public. He is most concerned in telling the stories of people who cannot tell their own stories.

Robin is the voice for the voiceless. Robin also see his role as one who is calling the next generation to take up the call of photojournalism. He knows he alone cannot tell all the stories needing to be told.

When I asked Robin to speak to my Intro to Photojournalism class at Grady College of Journalism & Mass Communication he challenged the class.

If we want to feel an undying passion for our work, if we want to feel we are contributing to something bigger than ourselves, we all need to know our “WHY”.

Robin explained how his why probably came about having a son with disabilities.

You have to find your niche. The combination of your WHY and HOWs is exclusively yours as your fingerprint.

Tips from covering event to celebrate Mohammad Ali

Maryum Ali is interviewed by Valerie Jackson during the Islamic Speakers Bureau celebrating the Legacy of Mohammad Ali at the Cobb Galleria Centre in Atlanta, Georgia on Saturday, Nov. 10, 2018. [NIKON D5, 120.0-300.0 mm ƒ/2.8, ISO 25600, ƒ/5.6, 1/250]
Covering events requires you to think as a photographer. This event was to honor Mohammad Ali and to do so they had his daughter Maryum Ali as the keynote address.

On the stage off to the sides were banners with Mohammad Ali’s photo on them. I worked to the side to get that behind Maryum so it was helping to tell the story using primarily the visuals.

Nouha Zaabab is a student at Georgia Tech studying International Affairs with a minor in pre-law. Coming from a liberal arts background at Georgia Tech, Nouha believes in the importance of interdisciplinary understanding in order to tackle global challenges. Upon the completion of her degree at Georgia Tech, Nouha plans to pursue a legal education. She is speaking at the Islamic Speakers Bureau celebrates the Legacy of Mohammad Ali at the Cobb Galleria Centre in Atlanta, Georgia on Saturday, Nov. 10, 2018. [NIKON D5, 120.0-300.0 mm ƒ/2.8, ISO 16000, ƒ/5.6, 1/250]
Now another issue in covering a dinner is the lighting.

Bill Bolling and Dorie Griggs at the Islamic Speakers Bureau celebrates the Legacy of Mohammad Ali at the Cobb Galleria Centre in Atlanta, Georgia on Saturday, Nov. 10, 2018. Bill Bolling served as executive director of the Atlanta Community Food Bank since founding the organization in 1979 until June 2015. [NIKON D5, 24.0-105.0 mm ƒ/4.0, ISO 16000, ƒ/7.1, 1/13]
To be sure the people’s faces look good I had to use a flash, but the problem is then the background would go black.

I used a higher ISO 16000 to keep the background visible.

Islamic Speakers Bureau celebrates the Legacy of Mohammad Ali at the Cobb Galleria Centre in Atlanta, Georgia on Saturday, Nov. 10, 2018. [NIKON D5, 24.0-105.0 mm ƒ/4.0, ISO 16000, ƒ/7.1, 1/10]
I arrived really early and had the guys running the sound and lighting board turn the lights on as they would be during the event. I then walked onto the stage and did a custom white balance using the ExpoDisc.

Using the ExpoDisc I put this over the front of the lens and did a incident light reading and custom white balance.

Notice the direction of the light hitting the subject.  You move to the same position to get the light reading below.

Point the camera toward the direction of the light that is falling on the subject.

When you have the perfect color space from doing a custom white balance the dynamic range is increased to the fullest potential with that light source.

Tips for covering events

  • Arrive Early and Leave Late
  • Adjust your ISO to work with your flash to show context
  • Look for angles to help capture visually what you need  words to say about the event
  • Get custom white balance
  • Shoot RAW – Because no information is compressed with RAW you’re able to produce higher quality images, as well as correct problem images that would be unrecoverable if shot in the JPEG format.

Improve your outside photos with flash

Carmen & Reaves Newsome 25th Anniversary Party [NIKON D5, 28.0-300.0 mm ƒ/3.5-5.6, ISO 500, ƒ/5.6, 1/125]
When should you use a flash, inside or outside? Would it surprise you I use the flash more often outside than most people.

Carmen & Reaves Newsome 25th Anniversary Party [NIKON D5, 28.0-300.0 mm ƒ/3.5-5.6, ISO 640, ƒ/5.6, 1/100]
Compare this photo without a flash used of the couple exchanging vows to celebrate their 25 years of marriage. No flash in this photo.

Carmen & Reaves Newsome 25th Anniversary Party [NIKON D5, 28.0-300.0 mm ƒ/3.5-5.6, ISO 500, ƒ/5.6, 1/80]
Now by having a flash off camera I was able to put some light on the husband’s face.

You see outside you get some sunlight that will create harsh shadows. Off camera flash lets you put the light where it needs to be.

Carmen & Reaves Newsome 25th Anniversary Party [NIKON D5, 28.0-300.0 mm ƒ/3.5-5.6, ISO 640, ƒ/5.6, 1/80]
Often outside, like at this party the background is so bright and the people are in the shade. Without a flash you would have blown out background and very flat light on their faces.

Carmen & Reaves Newsome 25th Anniversary Party [NIKON D5, 24.0-105.0 mm ƒ/4.0, ISO 2000, ƒ/9, 1/25]
In this group photo I have the flashes off at 45º from my camera which let me improve the light on the faces.

Carmen & Reaves Newsome 25th Anniversary Party [NIKON D5, 24.0-105.0 mm ƒ/4.0, ISO 1000, ƒ/4, 1/100]
I find that an off camera flash at 45º to 90º really creates three dimension to an object.

Carmen & Reaves Newsome 25th Anniversary Party [NIKON D5, 14.0-24.0 mm ƒ/2.8, ISO 25600, ƒ/3.5, 1/100]
I also take photos without the flash outside. I find it is good to know when to use a flash and when to not use one. Sometimes the photo can look great both ways, with and without a flash.

I recommend you try using off camera flash outside. See what it can do for your photos.

Here is the Godox flash system I use and tips on using it.