Annual family reunion photo

Nikon D750, AF-S NIKKOR 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR, ISO 500, ƒ/8, 1/60

Our family reunion at Emerald Isle Beach in North Carolina this year was memorialized with the family photo of those who are able to make it.

Here is the setup I used for the photo:

To fire the Nikon D750 I used the Nikon ML-L3 Wireless Remote Control (Infrared) to trigger the camera. I just had to go into the menu on the camera to set it up for triggering remotely.

Here are those instructions for you:

Here is an older blog post I did on doing these photos on the beach.

Here are some photos from another year at the beach:

While posed family photos are great to have I love capturing spontaneous moments even more.  Here is that blog post where I talked about doing this.

Use strobes even with the sun outside

Nikon D3, 14-24mm, ISO 200, ƒ/14, 1/250 [Lighting Diagram below]

Using flash outside can really give your photos that pop you need to make your photos better.

Now I often get asked to make group photos and even with some sunlight facing the subject I find that the shadows under the eyes and sometimes from people’s heads casting a shadow on another person I prefer to add strobes to take the quality up a notch.

There were clouds also in the sky, but the software for the diagram didn’t have that as a choice.

Since there were clouds the people were not squinting and the flash pops in so quickly I get some pretty decent expressions.

To me the biggest change is in those black robes. Anytime I use flash the shadow to highlight difference is minimized. While it looks like a greater dynamic range it really is just the opposite. The strobes help fill in the shadows and therefore brings the exposure all over closer to a four or five stop range, rather than the ten stops often in daylight scenes outside.

Homecoming Dance Photos

Nikon D4, 28-300mm ƒ/3.5-5.6, ISO 320, ƒ/5.6, 1/40

With a little preplanning your photos of your child’s homecoming and prom pictures we all take before with friends and family can improve your photos.

Now we tried to get all of our daughter’s friends to stop by the house before going out that night, but that just didn’t happen. This photo here out in front of the restaurant is what we did get with the group.

I hope you notice the major difference in backgrounds. Also, the on camera flash below compared to off camera flash above is also not as good.

This is how I setup in my backyard for the photos with the green background. The camera is on a tripod so that I could drag the shutter and use a low ISO.

It was easy to move parents in and out of the photos.

I just put the camera on a tripod and let our friends press the shutter so I could be apart of my daughter’s first homecoming dance.

When you plan those photos around your house where the family get’s dressed up, take the time to scout for a good background that will not distract from the people in the photo. Earlier that day we had rain and the ground was a little wet and for that reason I used a corner of the patio so people didn’t sink into the ground.

Be sure the background doesn’t have hot spots from sunshine. This will distract from the people.

Use tripod so you can shoot at lower ISO. Use off camera flash to help fill in the raccoon eyes and also help clean up the color in the skin tones.

Rock Band Promo Shot

Nikon D4, 28-300mm (44mm), ISO 100, 1/160, ƒ/5

“Hey can you take some photos of our band for a promo shot?” Was the request from Late Night Reading’s drummer Drew Cottrell.

Earlier I took some pictures of the band when they were in town a couple of months ago.  Here is the blog post I did then.  What I wrote about back then was that even the D4 was struggling to take photos in a dark hole like the Swayze’s Venue in Marietta, GA.

I had in my van my monobloc lighting kit this time in addition to the Nikon Speedlights.

I went into the parking lot a little later after they had played and set up my lights.  I also asked them if they had something they were looking for.  They didn’t have any ideas, so I took the lead and told them about this concept you see above.

Here is the setup for the photo.

Now lets play

Once I have the lights set and get a few of the shots that I was initially looking for, I asked the band to have some fun.

I then took the same setup and moved it to where you could see the Tatoo Shop and the Pawn Store lights in the background.  Here are some of those shots.

For these I used a tripod and dragged the shutter to 1/13th of second.  Everything else stayed the same since there was almost no light on the band.

I would prefer to shoot the promo photos all the time over the concert photos.  Just compare these above to the same band performing below.

Live Performance 

Nikon D4, 14-24mm ƒ/2.8, ISO 6400, 1/60, ƒ/4

The strobes are on the PocketWizard Transceiver TT5 and They are on Manfrotto 5001B Nano Black Light Stands and the Manfrotto 175F Justin Spring Clamp with Flash Shoe to hold the flashes. I am triggering the TT5 using the PocketWizard Mini TT1 and PocketWizard AC3.

I turned the ISO up to about ISO 6,400 because I didn’t want the background to go totally dark.

Nikon D4, 14-24mm ƒ/2.8, ISO 6400, 1/60, ƒ/4

Nikon D4, 28-300mm ƒ/3.5-5.6, ISO 10,000, 1/60, ƒ/5.6

While these are pretty good for shooting in a dark hole, I still prefer having the control I had with the studio strobes and moving the band members around.

My friend Zach Arias launched his successful freelancing business just shooting bands like Late Night Reading’s promo shots. He started by just using a Vivitar 285 on a light stand. He was so successful he started a workshop teaching photographers his “One Light” technique.

You can see my whole take here from the evening.