Nikon Z6 pushed to the limit without using flash

Organist in the Roswell Presbyterian Historic Sanctuary for the 8:15 am Worship service. [NIKON Z 6, 28.0-300.0 mm f/3.5-5.6, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 2200, 1/200, ƒ/4, (35mm = 28)]

Today I photographed three different worship services at my church using my Nikon Z6 mirrorless camera. I arrived early and knew I had to shoot without a flash, but wanted to see could I shoot with the silent shutter.

So I switched the camera to silent mode. Here are the instructions from the camera manual.

After setting the camera to silent mode, I took a picture of the plain wall and got banding as you can see here. So I couldn’t shoot in silent mode. But with the Nikon Z6 it is still much quieter than with the DSLR.

Test Shot [NIKON Z 6, 28.0-300.0 mm f/3.5-5.6, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 8000, 1/200, ƒ/5.6, (35mm = 250)]
Dad helps his daughter to follow the song in the hymnal during worship at Roswell Presbyterian Church’s 8:15 am service held in the Historical Sanctuary in Roswell, Georgia on Sunday, January 26, 2020. [NIKON Z 6, 28.0-300.0 mm f/3.5-5.6, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 20000, 1/200, ƒ/5.3, (35mm = 92)]

I was shooting wide open apertures most of the time. I had the Auto ISO set so that I was @ 1/200 for shutter speed.

Rev. Jeff Meyers, Senior Pastor for Roswell Presbyterian, has Rev. Lyndsay Lee Slocum, Executive Pastor laughing during the 8:15 am worship service held in the Historical Sanctuary in Roswell, Georgia on Sunday, January 26, 2020. [NIKON Z 6, 28.0-300.0 mm f/3.5-5.6, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 11400, 1/200, ƒ/5.6, (35mm = 210)]

In the historic sanctuary it was pretty dark. I was shooting for the most part ISO 2200 in the balcony with the organist. There was a flourescent light directly over her that kept the ISO lowest in the room. In the pews ISO 22800 in the middle of the room. I was able to shoot as low at ISO 8000 by the windows.

8:15 am Worship [NIKON Z 6, 28.0-300.0 mm f/3.5-5.6, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 22800, 1/200, ƒ/5.3, (35mm = 98)]
8:15 am Worship [NIKON Z 6, 28.0-300.0 mm f/3.5-5.6, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 8000, 1/200, ƒ/4, (35mm = 28)]
8:15 am Worship [NIKON Z 6, 28.0-300.0 mm f/3.5-5.6, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 20000, 1/200, ƒ/5.3, (35mm = 100)]

After the first service I captured the minister talking to the people outside.

Bill Elder a member enjoys a light moment with Rev. Jeff Meyers, Senior Pastor for Roswell Presbyterian after the 8:15 am worship service held in the Historical Sanctuary in Roswell, Georgia on Sunday, January 26, 2020. [NIKON Z 6, 28.0-300.0 mm f/3.5-5.6, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 220, 1/200, ƒ/4, (35mm = 28)]
A member enjoys a light moment with Rev. Jeff Meyers, Senior Pastor for Roswell Presbyterian after the 8:15 am worship service held in the Historical Sanctuary in Roswell, Georgia on Sunday, January 26, 2020. [NIKON Z 6, 28.0-300.0 mm f/3.5-5.6, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 180, 1/200, ƒ/4, (35mm = 28)]

So for the first service I shot everything with the Nikon 28-300mm ƒ/3.5–5.6. It worked just fine.

11:00 am Contemporary Worship [NIKON Z 6, 85.0 mm f/1.8, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 51200, 1/125, ƒ/1.8, (35mm = 85)]

With Auto ISO set go to ISO 51200 I found the shutter speed was dropping to 1/15 at ISO 51200. I ran to my car and got my 85mm ƒ/1.8 and 35mm ƒ/1.4. Even with those fast lenses the light in the Contemporary Worship service was dismal. I was in a gym using mood lighting. It was dark.

I was still at ISO 51200 but at ƒ/1.8 I could have shutter speed of 1/125 when photographing the people in the congregation.

11:00 am Contemporary Worship [NIKON Z 6, 85.0 mm f/1.8, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 51200, 1/30, ƒ/1.8, (35mm = 85)]

Some parts of the room I was dropping to 1/30, ƒ/1.8 @ ISO 51200.

11:00 am Contemporary Worship [NIKON Z 6, 35.0 mm f/1.4, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 51200, 1/30, ƒ/1.4, (35mm = 35)]

With the 35mm ƒ/1.4 I was wide open at ISO 51200 and shooting 1/30.

There was just no way to photograph people in a dark room like this with a zoom lens. I needed the fastest prime lenses I owned.

Being with your best friend during worshiop is lot of fun for these two at Roswell Presbyterian Church’s 11:15 am service held in the Historical Sanctuary in Roswell, Georgia on Sunday, January 26, 2020. [NIKON Z 6, 28.0-300.0 mm f/3.5-5.6, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 4000, 1/200, ƒ/5.6, (35mm = 300)]

The last service was in the brightest room. I was able to pull out that 28-300mm and zoom in and capture these two friends enjoying worship together. I love my Nikon Z6, because it lets me focus on moments and the people. I did have to think and be sure I had the right lens on the camera, but the technology let me capture the moments that will help my church show they are a place where people can be themselves and feel welcomed and able to bring anyone they know to worship with them.

Savanna Sturkie Tips for Going Freelance

Savanna Sturkie, a 2017 graduate, is being interviewed by Mark Johnson on Photo Night @ The Grady College of Journalism & Mass Communications, University of Georgia. [NIKON Z 6, 24.0-105.0 mm f/4.0, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 25600, 1/200, ƒ/4, (35mm = 32)]

The point of Photo Night is to help learn from photographers. Sturkie had graduated from UGA in 2017 and went to work as intern for Food & Wine Magazine in Birmingham, Alabama. She wanted to be a food photographer.

Sturkie was asked how she made the change from a full-time job to freelance. She first explained she was on a track for editing and not shooting in her position with Food & Wine Magazine.

She said she doesn’t recommend doing what she did for transition. Most people she said work part-time while building their freelance. She was just so unhappy with her trajectory and needed a change.

She just up and quit and moved to Atlanta, Georgia from Birmingham, Alabama.

“I emailed relentlessly photographers that I wanted to work with or learn from,” said Sturkie.

Three things she recommends
  • Get Coffee with photographers
  • Photo Assisting
  • 2nd Shooter

Getting coffee with photographers was a way to learn. She said that one particular photographer she had coffee with she never got a chance to work with, but what she learned during that coffee time was some of the most valuable information.

Coffee Time
  • Listen – This is the most important thing to do when you have coffee.
  • What can I learn from this photographer? You need to be focused on realizing you are starting out and they are further ahead of you.
  • Develop the relationship – The industry is really small and you need a network of people to make it. They may hire you, refer you or just be a resource.
Photo Assisting

While you have some skills you can learn so much by just watching another seasoned photographer. You also get to make some money when assisting. This is doing what ever they need when they are on a job. You may be getting lenses for them. Helping carry gear and setting up is also part of the job. The key is to be willing to do just about anything to lessen the load of the photographer.

2nd Shooter

80% of Sturkie’s work is weddings. When she first helped in assisting she hated it. She helped a photographer who had a style that just didn’t feel good and the lady wasn’t pleasant at all to work with.

She did find other photographers doing a photojournalistic wedding style. By being a second shooter she was getting to shoot, but also learn about the business of weddings.

Today

Sturkie is now doing food photography, weddings and other photo projects as they come up.

Personal Projects

Sturkie also said that to keep that creative fire going, you need to create your own project. The photo above is one of her personal projects. She wanted to do a 1960s fashion shoot. She paid to get all the clothes and had a studio space to do the photo shoot.

Sturkie said, “You need to self assign.”

“Glory Years Are Now”

While Mark Johnson was interviewing Dave Labelle during Photo Night @ The Grady College of Journalism & Mass Communications, University of Georgia, he joked about well this might sound like, “Get off my lawn.”

He was addressing the fact that veteran photojournalist and he were talking mainly to a room full of college students.

“What would you say is the purpose of photojournalism today?” asked Mark Johnson of Labelle.

Labelle said, “Humans are still the same.” He went on to explain while the technology to tell stories has evolved, storytelling has always been here. “Visual storytelling has also always been here as well,” said Labelle. Storytellers have always used words to paint pictures, even before there were visuals.

With technology as advanced as it has become today Labelle said, “The Glory Years are now.”

Mark Johnson, Dave Labelle & Andrea Grace Briscoe Photo Night @ The Grady College of Journalism & Mass Communications, University of Georgia [NIKON Z 6, 24.0-105.0 mm f/4.0, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 4500, 1/200, ƒ/4, (35mm = 75)]

Photo Night was a concept started by Billy Weeks.

Billy Weeks interviews his good friend Mark E. Johnson at University of Tennessee at Chattanooga Photo Night March 7, 2018.
Billy interviews a photographer

The format is where a photographer is interviewed and brings just 3 images that they want to talk about. Many photographers often ramble and this format works great. Billy and now Mark both are able to help steer the conversation to the nuggets of wisdom the audience will benefit from the most.

Steffenie Burns, a 2017 graduate, is being interviewed by Mark Johnson on Photo Night @ The Grady College of Journalism & Mass Communications, University of Georgia [NIKON Z 6, 24.0-105.0 mm f/4.0, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 28800, 1/200, ƒ/4, (35mm = 24)]
Savanna Sturkie, a 2017 graduate, is being interviewed by Mark Johnson on Photo Night @ The Grady College of Journalism & Mass Communications, University of Georgia [NIKON Z 6, 24.0-105.0 mm f/4.0, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 25600, 1/200, ƒ/4, (35mm = 32)]
Ryan Cameron is being interviewed by Dr. Kyser Lough, Assistant Professor, Journalism, about his Sugar Bowl coverage experience during Photo Night @ The Grady College of Journalism & Mass Communications, University of Georgia. [NIKON Z 6, 24.0-105.0 mm f/4.0, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 22800, 1/200, ƒ/4, (35mm = 28)]

Here are some of the tidbits that I considered gems from Dave Labelle worth sharing with you.

Talking to the students Labelle said, “You are acquiring skills now from your classes for a job in the future you don’t even know about.”

“Calm seas never made a sea captain.” He was saying that if you have a lot of privilege you don’t learn as much as when you struggle in life experiences.

I asked Labelle is there a reason you can see the story before you talk to people? He said that he grew up with a father who got angry and would go into rages. He said his wife thinks that his background made him good at reading people and situations from a pure survival mode.

Mark Johnson asked Labelle, “How do help today’s generation look up and out from their phones?”

“I’m a hugger,” was Labelle’s response. He said he needed to engage with people. The power of human touch is what moves his soul. He said he is never bored, because he just loves meeting people.

Dave Labelle talks with one of the students during Photo Night @ The Grady College of Journalism & Mass Communications, University of Georgia [NIKON Z 6, 24.0-105.0 mm f/4.0, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 9000, 1/200, ƒ/4, (35mm = 105)]

Sharing these stories of people he finds with others is his way of giving hope to people. Hearing and seeing people overcome struggles is his way of giving the world a sense of hope to give them purpose.

Be the Hero

I see way too many photographers who play the victim or the villain in their own lives.

They have a client that picks another photographer for a job and this sends them into a tailspin. “Woe is me,” is what you hear them saying in one way or another.

Anyone can see there is a reason to be upset, but you cannot be successful living with this mindset. The problem is you are not addressing the anger you feel.

People get bogged down in feeling victimized tend to view events in their lives as happening to them and feel ineffective and overwhelmed. They also operate on the basic assumption that the world should be fair, which is a child’s way of thinking. You can learn to deal with this in a much more productive way.

You need to understand that anger is a simple, irrational emotional response to frustration.

When we examine the loss of a job to another photographer we often are thinking that the client “should” use us. We believe there is some sense of obligation of them to us.

Oxeye Daisy [NIKON D2X, 24.0-120.0 mm f/3.5-5.6, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 100, 1/320, ƒ/6.3, (35mm = 180)]

I started this blog with a picture of the forest, but what we are really seeing is the picture above. Something within the forest. Often it is just a tree or even a flower.

I think it is important for you to give up a sense of entitlement and to recognize that you do not inherently deserve to receive anything in the way of good treatment from others.

Too many photographers will talk badly about other photographers. This is often done by those who feel like a victim and now are acting as a villain. They have turned that anger into putting down others with the hopes of making themselves look better.

Putting those around you down alienates people and drives them away from you. You are now negative energy. Creatives don’t thrive in this environment and they will most likely distance themselves from you.

If you have ever watched professional ice skating competitions, then you have seen failure. It is often just one small mistake, but that means that day they go home without a medal.

Skaters will analyze their performance over and over. They will work with a coach to help them nail it next time.

My first go to after losing a job is to do just like skaters and look for where I failed.

Today I realize that this is often not the only thing we should be doing.

I think we need to think of things from a higher perspective. You need to think of this from the client’s perspective.

Sometimes you may lose the job because:
  • They have a friend who is a photographer
  • They have been asked to try a new approach
  • Someone offered to do it for free
  • They just want to see what someone else can do for them
  • They want some variety
  • A new person is now doing the hiring
    • They hire their friends
    • They have a photographer they worked with in the past
  • A person in the company has someone they recommended they use and that person is someone with political power
Wakeup Call
  • Let this be something to make you try new things
  • Ask yourself on the last job was I listening to the client
  • Go and produce some new work to send to that client
  • Work on updating your portfolio
  • There are seasons with clients and maybe the season has changed
  • Time to market yourself and find more clients

The Hero in a story faces challenges. It is a moving story when the hero must go into a burning building and get someone out. It isn’t interesting as a story if they just take the elevator to the 2nd floor and meet someone and they go to lunch.

Heroes in stories face challenges and overcome them.

Play the Hero. Remind yourself that this is a hiccup and you need to embrace it and learn from it. Find a way that this can make you a better person and not a bitter person.

Be the Hero of your story and not the victim or the villain.

Your Appearance & Competency

Professional headshots are not just for actresses and models. Every person in business needs a professional headshot.

Marina Tanjga

A first impression is what a person thinks of you when they first meet you. It is the feeling that they get or the initial evaluation that a person does of you when they first meet you. It can be done during a glance, a conversation or even from a distance when someone is looking at your body language.

People will judge you as warm or cold personality very quickly. They also will judge your competency in how your present yourself.

Your headshot makes you real in the virtual world. Yet some people continue to leave their headshot blank on places like LinkedIn, or they don’t take it seriously when they do upload one. 

  • Don’t use selfie. Using a bad headshot, you are making your first impression suffer.
  • Don’t use images where you’ve cropped others out of the frame; it’s weird.
  • Don’t use images with multiple people in the photo. 
  • Don’t leave it blank – this makes you less real and more suspicious in the virtual world.
Robin Rayne

Your headshot should be just as polished as all your marketing materials if you want to leave that great first impression that portrays you as the sharp and competent expert you are.

As part of your personal branding, a photo of you that communicates your professionalism and approachability improves your messaging.

If your current LinkedIn headshot is from 10 years ago, it’s time to upgrade.

Believe it or not, a professional headshot can actually be quick and painless. If you work with your photographer to plan out all the details, it should take no time at all to capture the perfect headshot.

3 Camera Video Interview

I posted this photo on my Facebook page and got a lot of comments. I thought I would just write here about my setup.

Camera 1 – Gesture Camera

My first camera, which if I am not using but only this camera is straight on and shooting a little loose. Always shooting interviews on 4K lets me crop in and do some Ken Burns Effects. The Ken Burns effect is a type of panning and zooming effect used in video production from still imagery. The name derives from extensive use of the technique by American documentarian Ken Burns. 

This first camera lets me get some gestures when the subject moves their hands.

Subject is on 1/3

I position the subject on one of the 1/3 vertical spots in the frame and normally looking to the side with more space.

Camera 2 – Expression Camera

I usually put one camera to a side that is much tighter. I like the second camera to be tighter where I am focusing more on the subjects facial expression.

Here you can see the setup from the subject’s perspective. I have one light off at 45º to just keep me from getting raccoon eyes due to the top lighting. I like having a good Rembrandt style lighting on the face for interviews. I try and keep the cameras all on the shadow side of the light to give me some modeling on the face.

Then the 3 camera is what I call the sizzle camera. Here I am using a motorized slider that is always moving on a loop.

Couple quick tips
  • FOCUS – I trying and shoot on manual focus. To keep the person in focus when they move I shoot typically around ƒ/5.6.
  • FOCUS SETUP – Once I get the composition set I zoom in to check the critical focus on the eyes. I do this on my Cameras by pushing the + button on the back of the camera. Since both the Nikon Z6 and D5 have touch screens I can also pinch them like you would do with your smart phone.

My primary microphone is typically a wireless lavalier omni directional microphone put on shirt near the subject’s breast bone centered. This is always manually adjusted using closed headphones and the audio meter on the camera.