Quick Event Portraits

Quick Event Portraits
by Osjua Newton December 16, 2009

Last Thursday my college held a cosplay dance party called Rasengan III (in which I did the poster for). Two weeks before that on November 24, my college also held a Pep Rally for their sports and offered a series of free events for participants. For both, it was a perfect opportunity for me to try out my new studio equipment in the field.

As you can see from the image above, my setup for the pep rally consisted of a two lights, a foldable sheet of foam core, and the Botero #23 collapsible backdrop as discussed in a previous article. The light on the left is my main light, while the light attached to the background dual functioned as both a backlight to separate the subject from the background, and a hair-light (the guy in the frame was one of the participants in waiting).

The pep rally was organized into separate booths offering free services and gifts with my photo booth located somewhere along the middle. After a few test shots to make sure both my camera and light settings were calibrated properly, the shooting quickly underway. Now I did do a similar booth setup before, except outdoors with no lights and a makeshift backdrop, for a Relay For Life rally also on the Lehman College campus. However, the turnout for this event at my booth was a bit more overwhelmingly welcoming than before. I guess free photos are as good as free food. Well, almost.


Although I did get a lot of good photos from this shoot, being the first time that I used this background, I did encounter several problems.

  1. Because of the limited space (it is only a 5 x 7 background), I need to limit the amount of people to no more than two in the frame. Moreover, I donít have enough flashes to light everyoneís faces.
  2. 2. I need a third light to act as more fill. The bounce board is doing an ok of a job in this setting, but the fill isnít noticeable enough and has to be bumped up a bit in photoshop, which is time consuming.

In any case, this setup worked generally well for the prep rally, so I reused it again for the dance except gelling the backlight for a orange hue. Unfortunately, not everything went as well as I would have liked. Frankly put, auto-focusing in the dark is pain. The party was in the dark except for a small ceiling light, which was barely enough for camera to use to get a proper focus. Therefore, I had to rely on my 50mm 1.4 manual lens, which at times can provide some sharp portraits, but is usually hit and miss when adjusting in poor visibility. Nevertheless, I tired to make the best of the situation (and luckily I wasnít charging for this event because there would be a hefty amount of blurred photos to sort through) and in fact did get some good shots.

All in all, my sitters did enjoy the photos they received and moreover, it was a perfect opportunity to advertise my skills. If more events do occur in my area, I do intend on offering my services again, probably for a fee, but most definitely with some changes.

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