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This is why I suss out location before the big day! Zomg!

I originally posted this to facebook - click here for all the images:

Pitching photos on line that don’t make the cut are probably not the way to drum up new business, but showing that you make mistakes and how you learn from them (I think anyway) is a rite of passage for us rookies.

The exposure triangle.... ISO / Aperture / Shutter speed - and how they hang together in Manuel mode. I learned a couple things today.

The grainy photo above... I am feeling rather cross about. ... low light...gym lighting...any photographers challenge.... but for a rookie its more than most a challenge. Now I could have used Auto setting and sat myself near the only natural light source they had a snapped some solid photos up close but I don’t learn anything from that so what good is it to me?

253 photos about an hour at physie training, trying to get my lighting right for future comp shoots. I get them home and realise most of them are grainy and I barley have two photos to rub together. This is why I practice before the day. On the positive I shot in RAW so the grain can be salvaged a little for web with some post production if its going to be viewed on a mobile phone I guess. But not really who am I kidding... High ISO how you taunt me.

Anyway on the positive, when Monday afternoon rolls around I’ll be back at it trying to hone my photo game and get the settings right - tripod in hand.

The challenges

> Movement - the subjects are all moving and not at the same speed/time.

> Lighting - Its bad, its fluorescent, its from above and its not natural.

> No Flash - Cant use one or I’ll distract the dancers

> Its training - Not a comp so I have to be careful not to photograph other peoples kids (privacy reasons) and mine are mixed up amongst them.

So here I go, first thing I did in preparation for the shoot was to research the Manual settings that work for these sorts of scenarios and what I got was the suggestion to shoot 1/500, F 2.8 with and ISO of 3200.

This is how I played with them and the experience I gained was very valuable:

1) You have to get the shutter speed HIGH so that you are freezing the motion I started with 1/500 but ended up somewhere around 1/2000 at one point as I experimented with the settings. I think I settled on about 1/400th of a second to 1/500th of a second and that worked pretty nice depending on where the kids were in the room and how close they were to the door (AKA only natural light source).

2) You are photographing movement in low light without a flash, so you have to open it up wide to let the light into the lens and allow it to capture as much detail as you can without over exposing it, and because you are shooting at such a high shutter speed you have to get the exposure right or post production exposure will make the grain worse! I got my aperture at F 5.6 as I couldn't get the cheeky bugger down any lower (I wanted circa 2.8). I think if I had the camera on a tripod I could have adjusted the settings to get a clearer shot that was less grainy (as I wouldn't have had to pump the ISO so hard). The lighting in this places is notoriously bad, the roof causes flickers that you cant see with the naked eye but the camera catches. I literally fired off a burst of 5 shots and all of them had a different exposure because of the lighting. If I could have pulled up the roller doors all my woas would have gone away!! But alas I would once again learn nothing.

3) High ISO - So the recommendations I got online were to go with something circa 3200 but I seemed to get more pleasing results with lower ISO when I played with settings. All the ones in focus were circa 3200 and they were all as grainy as the photo above.

What will I do differently next time? Well I want nice sharp well exposed photos so I’ll look to set up Manual mode as follows and then snap a few in Auto as a comparison for my blog:

1) I will set the camera on a tripod 2) I will set the shutter speed to about 1/500 3) I will position myself closer to the action on the sideline 4) I will get my aperture down as low as it will let me go to get that light in around F2.8 5) I will adjust the white balance controls, exposure and flash compensation controls by about a point respectively. 6) I will learn from the grain and not ride the ISO so high.

So here are the photos I took just so you can see the grain, there are a couple below I took outside the building shooting S Mode with a high shutter speed to compare the clarity with.

Aghhhhh so much learning!

In the below two you can see how improper exposure in the first instance leads to even WORSE grain in post production!

Here are the ones that you can use to compare gain to that I took outside a few minutes later:

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