Polar Express - Library story time (12 images)

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Polar Express - Library story time (12 images)
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I know this is a gearhead site, but every once in a while it might do us all some good to think about what we can do in our communities with our shiny toys. Every year in December my library hosts a "Polar Express" story time for kids and parents, and I've been the designated photographer (gratis) for the last 5 years. This is more than just "come and snap some pictures", as the librarians have a very specific brief that involves illustrating how much reading, story times, and library programs in general are still considered valuable by the community they serve.

The evening begins with each child receiving a train ticket and golden bell that will be rung at the appropriate time in the story. After the story there are a few songs and then a visit by the Big Guy Himself, with cookies and punch served by middle school volunteers as everyone gets some quality face time with Santa. I've done the event with a variety of cameras, but my favorite so far is the D500 with two of the best f 1/8 lenses Sigma has produced, the 18-35mm and 50-100mm. I generally set the camera to AF-C with reduced exposure compensation to minimize the harsh overhead light, and choose a speed and aperture that will both freeze motion and give enough depth of field (using the 50-150 for example) to keep both Santa and the wide-eyed child both in focus, leaving the camera to choose an appropriate ISO. Even at ISOs in the 6400 range, grain is minimal, shots are sharp, and the librarians and parents are very pleased with the outcomes.

Below are some samples from the evening (note that the pictures of children are posted with the full permission of the parents - the complete set is available to view from the library Flickr site at https://www.flickr.com/photos/lanememlib/albums/72157712088013946)

Here's the 'full house' shot -- the challenge was to get individual visual 'stories' from the crowd of kids milling about.

So here we go ... arrival, waiting for the story, listening to the Polar Express, and then time with Santa

So that's it.  I hope people enjoy a bit of holiday cheer and perhaps be inspired to seek out places in your community that can both use a helping hand and provide you with an opportunity to sharpen your photo skills.

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Darrell

Nikon D500
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