I was recently asked by a friend of my sister to take some photos of her family. They were not interested in the classic posed portrait studio fair as they wanted photos that felt more natural. I was happy to oblige. Overall the session went well. The lights was overcast, but that was a good thing as lighting was diffuse. The big negative of session was the wind, which caused issues with the mother’s hair as well as cutting the session a bit short. As any photographer knows, getting special shots where everything aligns perfectly will usually happen if enough shots are taken and enough time is spent on the session.
My equipment for the session:
Pentax K-5 camera + FA 31mm f1.8 + Sigma 530 DG Super flash + battery grip to even out the weight.
Pentax K-7 camera + DA* 55mm f1.4 + Pentax AF-280T flash.
The K-5 stayed around my neck and the K-7 was in and out of a messenger bag.
Some thoughts about the session:
– High speed sync was always on with the Sigma flash. This should allow for nice smooth bokeh by using a large aperture, yet still include fill flash in the shot. As I look at my EXIF data, I don’t see that I did what I had intended to. Every flash shot with the K-5 appears to be around f10 give or take a few stops (Sv mode controls everything but ISO). Now that I think about it, my reasoning was because the camera likes to use oddly high ISO in Av mode with the flash. What I should have done was shoot in Av mode but force the ISO to 80. On the other hand, if I had used apertures too large, I would have risked having some of them outside of the depth of field (sharpness). I had that happen in a few non-flash shots. Staying around f4-5.6 with flash might have been the ticket had I forced the camera to those settings in retrospect.
– I switched off with the cameras and tried to get a pretty even split of each body with and without the flash. Looking at the EXIF, I used the cameras without flash a lot more that I thought. This really isn’t a bad thing considering I generally do natural light photos. It just meant adding some fill light when post-processing.
– Bring something or someone to excite a small child so that they smile and look toward the camera would be a good idea.
– I need more practice with the AF-280T, especially outdoors considering it doesn’t have HHS. However, some of flash photos from this combo turned out a lot better than the ones from the K-5. The K-7 combo was over exposing, but in turn meant better background blur.
– Using Sv (camera controls everything but ISO) mode with the flash works and I get decent pictures, but I missed out on getting the best amount of artistic blur. I need to do a lot more with the Sigma flash and K-5 together to get an idea of what settings would be best outdoors in the daytime.
– Watch out for people on bicycles. Had a close call with one.
– I should have done more posing and giving of direction.
A few of the photos:
Edit, What I did for post-processing and the client:
– All photos taken in RAW
– Used Photoshop CS5 Bridge to tweak the pictures and “select” the ones I wanted to show the client by tagging them as 5-star photos.
– Moved all of the tweaked 5-star photos to their own directory
– Used a simple Photoshop action with the automation functionality to process the photos into full resolution JPEGs.
– Uploaded the photos to my photo site in a password protected gallery so the client could select ones they liked best.
– Took the favorite photos and created a disk of those in color, black & white, and sepia. I also put a set of every image in web resolution size for social networking sites.