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The Championship Game That Wouldn’t Be Had and The Kickass Cookout/Potluck That Did

The two topics that I won’t discuss here on my blog are religion and politics. There’s plenty of other venues for that kind of stuff, and I just can’t find a place for it in a photo blog. But, with that said, I’m sure we can all agree that there wouldn’t be politics without drama and bullshit surrounding it. If not, there would be a whole lot of paparazzi type photographers that follow the hot politicians around left without a job. PNLL is no exception. The championship game that was scheduled to take place today did not happen. However, the awesome cookout and potluck that was scheduled for after the game did.

Whereas I thought that I would just share a couple of my favorite pics from the cookout without any clear direction other than to share them, it occurred to me to share a few pointers that I employ to get the candid and up close shots that I love to come home with, in case there are others that are interested out there. I came packing with my Canon 1D Mark II N and my Tokina 100-300mm f/4.0 lens, but don’t for one second think that if you don’t have a fancyass setup like mine, you couldn’t possibly take these same images. The best news is that you can!!

Whether you have a all-in-one ultra zoom camera like the 30X to 35X zoom cameras that Canon, Nikon, Olympus, Sony and a couple of others have on the market now, or you have an interchangeable lens system with a DSLR, there a just a few things that you have to keep in mind when taking these images.

1. Be sure to give your subject some distance. Most subjects, whether they like to be photographed or not, are aware if you are standing close to them when the camera is pointed at them. The best advice I can give you is to get comfortable with the long end of the zoom and get as far away from your subject as possible to avoid detection. You can get some great candid shots when they don’t expect to be photographed, as I have done below.

2. Place your camera in the burst mode setting, if available. Candid shots happen once and that’s all folks. How do you capture them? Well, if your camera has a burst mode function that shoots a series of photos in a short duration of time, setting the camera to that function will allow you to capture the precise moment you are looking for. Some of the ultra-zooms have a burst function that will give you up to 10 fps for 10 images prior to having to buffer and delay taking additional photos. Just be aware of what the limitations are in your particular camera model in regard to the burst mode so that you don’t end up with a bunch of images just before the ones you really wanted to take. Buffering is bad!!! If you don’t have that function on your camera, be ready to shoot as many photos as your camera setup will allow.

3. Don’t be afraid to get in close with your zoom.  Although body shots are great, sometimes you get more of a portrait look if you zoom in on the subject’s torso or head. You don’t want to get in too close that it’s creepy, but you’ll have to play with this in order to gain comfort in how to employ this. In these particular shots, I shot all over the place, from 100mm to about 250mm. At all times, I was almost ten to twenty feet away from my subject.

4. If shooting a group of people, don’t focus on one subject too long. If you are photographing a group of kids (as I was in this example), I always try to keep in mind not to focus too much attention on one kid in particular, even if it’s your own. Kids are funny when they interact with each other and are constantly saying things to make each other laugh. Groups of kids messing around with each other will always yield great photos of them having a great time.

5. People laughing or smiling make great images. Although there is a time and place for serious portraits, family gatherings aren’t one of them. It’s actually a pretty creepy to see family gathering photos with a lot of serious people. So, try to point the camera at the folks having great conversation and laughing it up. If everyone had a great time, you’ll look back at the images years down the road and remember the great time that was had.

6. Speeches or presentations make for great shots as well. Don’t forget to include your host or hosts in the photo session, especially if there is some type of recognition being given. A trophy, diploma or simply a pat in the back can be a great memento to record for both the person giving the praise and the person receiving it. Everyone loves a pat on the back!!

7. When photographing outdoors, always be aware of the location of the sun. Any camera when shooting directly into sunlight will give you an image full of contrast that is sometimes difficult to work with, if visible at all. Some fancier lenses employ hoods of various lengths to combat the additional glare that can be cause by any light source from the side or back. However, no lens hood can help if you are pointing the lens in the direction of that light source. I decided to include one image of said rule below simply because I liked the effect it gave. I did add a little saturation to bring out the yellow in the sunlight during dusk, but I liked the image. So, my advice on this point is not to never point the lens towards the light source, but to be aware of where the light source is coming from.

8. Always be moving!! Staying in one particular spot to photograph a whole session like a freaking sniper is weird. All of your images will come back with the same vantage point and will not add variety. If you are at an event that prevents you from moving around, that’s one thing. But a family gathering or cookout gives ample space to wander around, so use it.

9. Never shy away from a willing participant. Every so often, you’ll come across a subject that is completely open to having their picture taken, so take it!! Sometimes you can coax a smile out of them. Sometimes they give you a funny pose to work with. Don’t pass up the opportunity.

10. When you have a subject that is camera-shy, you can sometimes get great candid shots as they run. The great part about subjects that are camera-shy, is that the majority of them will shy away or run laughing to avoid being photographed. It’s during these moments that great candid shots can be had, so be ready.

That’s about it for now, but I’m sure I’m missing a bunch of other things. I’ll be sure to come back to this posting and update the information as I remember other pointers to pass along.

To all my fellow PNLL Rockies players, coaches and family members, we had a heck of a season. This was a great team and we had a ton of fun!! Thanks for everything!!

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