Fun and Challenging Indoor Photo-shoot – Some Technical Technique

I had the privilege this week of being the photographer for our church’s annual Vacation Bible School.  For years now, our church has had it’s VBS in the evenings where entire families can participate, with many, if not most of the adults volunteering to help out in many ways to make it a wonderful experience for our children as well as many other children in the community!  It spans four evenings starting with the Sunday evening service and ran through the Wednesday evening service time.  My job was to cover the entire confab and to capture all the varied classes, skits, games and activities over the four day affair.  It was challenging but a lot of fun!  Each night, several of our members with acting skills or ambitions put on a skit.  This year’s theme was “Moses”, but with a decidedly Wild Western flair.  When shooting the skits, which were in the main auditorium, I found myself shooting both from the balcony and different pews near the front.  My 50mm f1.4 was very handy for the pew shots enabling the capture and freezing of the actors in the rather dim lighting, but I found myself resorting to my 90mm f2.8 in the balcony which provided good, uncropped frames.  The dim florescent lighting presented challenges and I ended up deliberately underexposing slightly due to the actors having a lot of bright white in their outfits, which resulted in better results.

My new Pentax K-30‘s new features proved very handy indeed as the first three nights found me walking into the building in moderate rain (the K-30 is water-sealed!).  Another feature I found very useful was the new “TAv” mode combined with dual control wheels, which my K-x lacked.  I had not used this mode before, being primarily an “Av” (Aperture-priority) mode shooter myself since my film days.  With “TAv” mode, you can adjust the aperture and shutter-speed quickly and simultaneously with the wheels while allowing the camera to sling the ISO within a range you preset as needed.  This was extremely handy as I had to be concerned with both shutter speed and aperture to do the fast-paced, low-light portraiture that dominated the shoot, with less regard for ISO.  Without Pentax’s “TAv” mode, I most likely would’ve ended up setting the ISO at 6400 thus needlessly giving up image quality on many shots.  This way, I actually got several good portraits as low as ISO 800.  I bounded the ISO range to 200-6400, making good use of the K-30’s good ISO noise-reduction.

I found myself constantly switching between low F-numbers to make portraits of subjects pop out within groups and capture fast-moving kids at play and upping the F-numbers a bit to get depth of field needed with the classroom settings, etc.  Most of my shots were at f1.8-2.0 and 4.0-6.3, keeping shutters between 200 and 360ish for the kids playing games.  Pretty much all shots were done indoors in varying florescent light.  I set the white-balance to “auto” and (since I shoot raw), simply redeveloped the few that the camera did not get quite right.  As I mentioned, I used the 50mm and the 90mm for the auditorium skits and then mostly my fav. 40mm 2.8 pancake for most walk-around shots, while switching on the 21mm in my pocket for the classroom / group captures.  The 90mm is actually a macro lens, but works better than my longer kit zoom for long shots, particularly having the 2.8 aperture, which I needed in the low stage light.  On the last night I decided to change up a bit and stick with the 50mm for pretty much everything, enabling me to get some better and different portraits with a little more DOF contrast than I could get with the 40’s f2.8 minimum, which turned out a good decision for adding some variety to the album.  The only trade-off is that the 50mm is a little softer and larger (than my pancakes), while also needing a larger hood.

Thunderstorm building
Thunderstorm building Northeast of Weatherford;  by (© 2013) me.
It was a great opportunity to really bond with my new camera and I gained some good photography experience from the exercise!  Unfortunately, I can not include shots here on the wide-open web since they are almost all portraits, particularly of children.  I took nearly four hundred shots during the four days but narrowed it down to 130 for the final album I gave to the church.  At one point during a lull on the last night, I did step outside to capture a beautiful thunderhead though, which I included here.  >>>>>

In other news, we got over three inches of much needed rain, slow and spread out over four days this last week.  Summer took a vacation during that time as the temperatures struggled to get above the seventies early this week.  We now return you to your normal Summertime blast furnace, Texas…


Image courtesy (© 2013) Patricia Martin


“Flashy Photographer”, by (© 2013) Matt Lutton and M. Scott Brauer.

<<<<< Decorated, wounded Marine treated ‘shamefully’ by security screeners
by Patricia Kime, Military Times, Jul. 5, 2013.
me:There in that image, you have the two Americas personified!

Federal Government Mandates Unconstitutional Speech Codes at Colleges and Universities Nationwide
by Greg Lukianoff, “The Fire”, May 10, 2013.

Cooking Grandma
by Willis Eschenbach, “Watts Up With That?“, July 4, 2013.
“When I was a kid, the goal of the Public Utilities Commission and Pacific Gas and Electric was to provide cheap electricity…This was seen as liberating housewives from domestic slavery, and supporting business and manufacturing. It was hailed as the wave of the future and the path to success, and rightly so — cheap energy is the reason the developed world was able to lift itself out of poverty…The PUC are not the villains here. They are caught in the middle because of the stupidity of the voters and of Governor Brown. The voters put in a very destructive ‘20% by 2020’ plan requiring 20% of the electricity supply to come from renewables…[but] some congenital idiot ruled that hydroelectric power doesn’t count as a renewable energy source…” (emphasis mine)
me:That’s another reason why I’ve resisted allowing them to install a “smart meter” here!  Also, fellow Texans, don’t laugh, I’m sure Washington will soon impose this same kind of crapola on us to “save the planet”.

Now that Detroit’s bankrupt, I decided to share this video that sums up why (hint:  Liberals ‘been runnin’ Detroit unopposed for DECADES!):
“Detroit in RUINS! (Crowder goes Ghetto)”, by (© 2013) Steven Crowder, via Youtube.

How Angelina Jolie was duped by cancer doctors into self mutilation for breast cancer she never had
by Mike Adams, “The Health Ranger”, via Natural News, May 15, 2013.

U.S. Repeals Propaganda Ban, Spreads Government-Made News To Americans
by John Hudson, “The Cable“, Sunday, July 14, 2013.

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