New challenge, an onsite photo studio!

My dad and I always love a challenge but when it was proposed we do an onsite photo studio with printing at a charity we volunteer with we had a few reservations. We only had a few weeks to get everything organized, tested and confirmed.

The equipment needed for this event included the following:

  • One rented studio kit containing one umbrella and one medium softbox
  • A Canon T1i with a 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 Lens, tripod, remote trigger and USB cable for tethering
  • Laptop with Lightroom 3 (used a PC ideally would have preferred a Mac)
  • One printer, a Canon i9900 with extra ink
  • Several packages of 8 ½ X 11 glossy photo paper plus envelopes to put prints in
  • Props, a Christmas mouse, a chirping toy and cute puppy (to keep the kids attention)
  • One rented backdrop (not used but better safe than sorry!)

Set-up and testing took several hours. We were placed on a stage and it was not the most ideal situation.  The stage curtains we used as our backdrop were black. To make things even tougher we were at a semi-formal. The big challenge how to make guests wearing black or dark clothing not have floating heads in front of the curtains. Took several tries and several setting adjustments but we got the best lighting mix for the situation. We also made sure that the flashes were not set equal to give depth to the photos.

The set-up is below (we were doing both formal and Santa photos):

I am slightly off centre to the chair, umbrella to the left and softbox to the right (sorry I am no McNally so that is about as technical as I get!). Since we were on a stage we had to tether down to the PC which my Dad manned. The set-up worked pretty well other than we were sharing the stage with DJ and were right between two speakers. Made it really tough to hear and there was a lot of hand signalling going on. Next year we need to find a quiet space to set-up in would allow us to be able to speak to guests and less miscommunications between my Dad and I.  Especially important for my sister who was struggling to keep everything organized and to take the donations for prints.

We did have a few technical difficulties over the course of the night. Pretty sure we should have been taking the photos in jPeg not Raw. The camera would at times jam as it tried to get caught up with processing. Only other solution would be to have a faster memory card. Although jPeg would have worked since we were doing the shots pretty much in camera. Only thing my Dad had to do was to crop the photos and then print. We would also make sure we do not use a black backdrop, it was absorbing too much light and photos had the appearance of being too dark. We also needed a light box to allow guests to see the photos in better lighting and realize the photos were well lit and exposed properly.

All in all it was a successfull night, took 60 plus photos including Santa photos with the kids.

The Santa photos were quite the challenge since I had to take them fairly quickly. I learned over the night I am not too bad at portrait photography once I got used to the idea of having to adjust dresses, sitting positions and keep little ones attentions. If you would like to see all the photos taken they are posted in a Flickr set.

Another blog coming soon on a Christmas photo session I did for my friend’s infant Evan. Not as easy as when Evan was a newborn!

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