What I've learned from my first surprise shooting as a hobbyist photographer

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SB00 New Member • Posts: 8
What I've learned from my first surprise shooting as a hobbyist photographer
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A few days ago, there was a daycare graduation "ceremony" where kids are well dressed and doing a show. At the time, my wife asked me to bring my camera (Canon 80D) even if there was to be a photographer hired for the event.

I brought my whole bag of "pro" lenses:

  • Canon 18-55mm (kit lens)
  • Canon 24mm f2.8 (pancake)
  • Canon 50mm f1.4 (aka haven't any problems with it yet)
  • Canon 55-250mm (aka I wish I could afford the 70-200mm)

Anyway, I arrived and the organiser seemed to be relieved when she saw me and asked me to take some pictures since the photographer couldn't make it. I felt honored so I said "why not!".

The ceremony is taking place in small room, adequately lit I thought. There are three rows of chairs for the parents to sit. I then took place at the back of the room (probably a mistake, but I was too shy to be at the front). I open my bag and prepare my lenses in case I have to switch (like the pros!). I take a few test shots and everything seems to be fine! My battery is at 33%, so I cursed myself to not have recharged it. But anyway, I was ready.

My train of thought was that the first "act" of the ceremony would involve all the kids, so I told myself: "Aha! I should take a wide lense." Being unsure of what was coming, I chose my 17-55mm. Yes, remember I'm in the back and there are three rows of parents in front of me. And I'm photographing kids. So when the kids went to the front of the room, I had absolutely everyone in the frame, including all the parents heads.

So I quickly switched to my beloved 55-250mm and kept it for the rest of the ceremony. I took something like 150 pictures with it and it worked pretty well. I was shaking quite a lot when the focal length was higher than 200mm, so I'm glad this lens has IS. I tried to move a bit to get different angles as well.

When the ceremony ended, they served some cake and the kids started to play in the room. I then switched to my 50mm 1.4 to try to take portraits. Now the problem is that the kids ate some cake and it's against the laws of physics for them to be clean while doing so. In the end, I took 4-5 shots, but was quite disappointed that I couldn't use my "best" element.

Fast-forward to the evening where I wanted to copy and process the pictures. I would say I was quite happy with what I got, especially the pictures of parents that were hugging their child at the end.

However, here are the problems I noticed:

  1. Horrible background. The room walls are half-red and half-light-green. The organiser chose a white curtain with green stripes as the background.
  2. Thanks to number 1, most of the kids looked sick. I think the reflections on the green wall and curtain might not help. I had to play a lot on the white balance in Lightroom to have better results.
  3. A lot of the shots were at 1600 iso. My 80D is doing an ok job, but definitely more noise. These shots were taking above 200mm and since my lense could not go lower than f5.6, I guess that's understandable.

Once I processed 30-ish pictures, I exported them so the daycare could post them to their facebook profile. I made sure to restrict the longest edge to 2048px so Facebook wouldn't compress them.

Which brings me to...

  • The organiser never checked the "high quality" option in Facebook, so the pictures are low quality.

Voilà.

What I've learned, from my point of view:

  • Always keep your battery charged (even if in the end it went ok).
  • If you're the main photographer, take the place you need. If I were at the front, I could've used my 50mm or 24mm instead.
  • Background is really important. Not only having no distractions, but the color choice as well.
  • My 55-250mm works reasonably well, but shooting indoors reminds me of its limitations.
  • Take pictures before everyone goes eating.
  • Be in charge of posting photos to social media or educate other people who might not be familiar with it.

Anything else I missed or did wrong?

Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM Canon EF-S 24mm F2.8 STM Canon EF-S 55-250mm f/4-5.6 IS Canon EOS 80D
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