Wednesday, June 12, 2013

An Evening with Friends Part 2

Some more observations from the photos I took a few weeks ago at my friend's party.  Part 1 is here.

I spent about 6 hours taking photos (not including the time for setting up and for dinner).  In that time, I took a little over 1,500 shots.  I narrowed that to around 250 shots which I edited and gave to my friend.  I found it interesting that of the final shots, more than half (131 shots) were from the 70-200.  I would have thought that the majority would have been from the 28-70.

The shots I chose tended to be the ones where I liked the expressions and emotions, so I think it's not a coincidence that many were from the 70-200.  It was simply easier to capture candid moments with the long focal length.

And I think even when the subjects were aware that I was taking a photo, they were more a little more at ease because I was farther away.

To be honest, I was kind of distant and aloof, focused on my task instead of being friendly and co-mingling with the guests, so perhaps that was a factor, and a more friendly photographer would have had more keepers from a closer range.  Anyway, this makes me reconsider the importance of a telephoto lens for an event.

Speaking of taking photos at a closer range, I liked the group shots where I was closer to the group and was using a wide angle lens (28mm or 35mm), like the shot at the beginning of this post and the one below.

Those shots feel more natural and intimate to me than shots taken from a distance.  However, I should note that when I'm using a wide angle lens this way, the subjects have to be kind of close to each other or else they will appear too spread apart.  In that regard, a lot of the credit goes to the guests, because they were close friends so they were physically closer to each other.  The people at the party were also friendly to me and most were comfortable in front of the camera.

I'd like to talk about the Sigma 35mm 1.4 as well.  I found it incredibly useful.  I didn't use the 35mm for a long time, relying instead on the versatility of the 28-70.  However, the Sigma 35 1.4 had a much higher percentage of final keepers.  The 28-70 had 66 finalists out of 588 shots (11%).  The 35mm had 35 finalists out of 131 shots (27%).  At least part of that is because I was able to warm up with the 28-70, but still, even during the time when I was switching between the 28-70 and 35 1.4, the 35 1.4 had more keepers.  I think it was partly due to the field of view and partly due to the shallower depth of field.

Switching topics, about the Tokina 11-16, I didn't use it as much as I thought I would.  On the other hand, the shots from it were unique and would not have been easily done on other lenses.

In the shot below, the flowers were actually very small.  The Tokina 11-16 allowed me to move close to them and make them appear large relative to the hotel.

I used the Nikon D600, Nikon D7000 and Fuji S5.  It was incredibly useful to have the D600.  The shots from it were far cleaner than those from the D7000.  It was not even close.

The D600 could get clean shots at 25,600 ISO.  The shot below was SOOC (except for white balance and a slight crop) with no noise reduction.  With the D7000, I had to use a lot of noise reduction.

ISO 25,600
The D600 also allowed me to adjust the photos as much as I wanted.  Nonetheless, I was glad I used flash.  The flash improved the shots significantly, compared to those where I turned off the flash.

I would say my ideal combination for this kind of event would be two D600s -- one with a 35 1.4 and the other with a 70-200.  The D7000 actually is fine with the 70-200.  The only thing is that with the crop factor, the gap between the 35mm and 105mm equivalent is a little too wide.

Anyway, here are more shots from the party.