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  #1  
Old August 11th, 2008, 03:07 AM
Josh Blackwood Josh Blackwood is offline
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Default A bit of advice needed!

I am in need of your advice. I've recently gotten my first real job, working for my neighbor, who runs a business that provides adventure-based programs and corporate workshops. Basically anything from backpacking trips to corporate team-building exercises, ropes courses, canoeing, rock climbing, beach games, you name it.

My job is to maintain and update his website, as well as (and this is where the advice bit comes in) photograph the workshops and adventures. Then the photos will go up on the website for the participants to view.

Tomorrow (Tuesday that is, it's almost 5:00 AM as I write this, but I've been up all night so it feels like Sunday still to me) we have a corporate workshop that will last all day, and will involve a ropes course and orienteering. I'll be charged with photographing the group in their activities. I'm not sure how large this particular group will be, but it should be somewhere around 30+ people, I think.

I don't have much experience photographing large groups of people, (actually, I don't have much experience period) and I would really appreciate any advice and/or tips y'all could give. General stuff, like...honestly, I don't even know. That's why I'm asking! :sheepish grin: I'm not expected to be perfect—my employer knows I'm still learning and have little experience—but I'd really like to do a good job of it. I'm getting paid pretty well for my first job, and I want to make sure I earn my wages.

If it helps, I'll be shooting with a Nikon D40 and 18-55mm kit lens, in what should be fairly bright sunlight and shade. Everything will be outdoors. I have a circular polarizer which I may experiment with as well. I've been thinking of getting a monopod for future shoots, as everybody will probably be moving a lot. Thoughts on this? I've been looking at the Bogen 679B and the Giottos MM 9750.

My weak spot seems to be exposure; getting it right the first time and knowing how and what I've done wrong. I've got the (very) basic ideas of basic exposure, but I haven't got a good grasp of the more in-depth bits yet.

I'm not necessarily nervous, per sé, but I am concerned about doing my best, and I'd like to draw on your collective experience and wisdom here; after all, that's why I joined OPF. Thanks in advance, and e-cookies to all that reply! :thankful grin:
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  #2  
Old August 11th, 2008, 10:16 AM
Gary Ayala Gary Ayala is offline
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This is not the advice you seek ... but good advice nonetheless.

With all due respect Josh ... get a pro photog. A professional photogapher who is new to web design (using a consumer design program) would not deliver job equal to a professional web designer (using state-of-the-art software).

Likewise for photography ... a non-professional will deliver less-than-professional results. Josh, whether it be web design or photography, you get what you pay for.

Gary
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  #3  
Old August 13th, 2008, 03:08 AM
Asher Kelman Asher Kelman is offline
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Josh,

Gary gives good advice.

By now you have somehow got through the assignment. Maybe you might share the experience! If you can get the work, then you can always hire pros to execute the work. Anyone can make things. However few can get the orders in the first place. Business can be more about selling than making! So you can be the businessman and they get the job done and everyone gets paid fairly. You'll have to give away some of your profit but maybe your skill is in getting good jobs.

Anyway, let us know!

Asher
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  #4  
Old August 15th, 2008, 05:13 PM
Josh Blackwood Josh Blackwood is offline
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First of all, thank you. I know you both mean well, but you're right, Gary; that's not the advice I was after. I must admit, I took that post a bit more harshly than I'm sure it was intended.

I perhaps didn't explain myself well enough, though. My neighbor doesn't want another 'professional' photographer to do this, he wants me to do it. He wants to give me the opportunity. After all, how did those pros get to be pros without taking on some challenging jobs to learn from? While you are correct—a non-professional will often deliver less than professional results—the only way to gain experience is to get out there and DO it. I'm a firm believer in hands-on learning; I've taught myself most of what I know this way, and it's worked well this far.

I taught myself the basics of web design (HTML, XHTML, CSS, a bit of PHP, the basics of running SMF and vBB forum software) over the spring and early summer, started my own personal site (which is badly in need of an update, I know) and co-developed a forum as well as becoming administrator at another large forum. I pride myself on my ability to learn quickly whatever it is I need to learn in a given situation. This is no different. I joined this forum to assist in the learning process involved in serious photography.

I mean no offense here, I just want to make sure we're on the same page.

I did get through the day, and I think I got some good shots considering. The weather turned bad on us, and it was threatening to rain the whole time through the ropes course, then finally did as soon as we finished. We were in the woods as well, so the lighting was quite dim, and in order to keep a fast enough shutter speed to freeze motion I had to dial down the exposure compensation more than I would have liked and then pull it back up in Photoshop using the old duplicate-layer-in-screen-mode trick. Getting good depth of field in the group-spanning shots was tricky; I had to use shutter speeds of 1/80 at times, but it worked.

Most of the shots were taken at an upward angle, as there were a lot of high ropes activities, and metering was tricky against the patches of sky; I learned quite a bit about the D40's metering system and its limitations, if nothing else. Spot metering is interesting with only three autofocus points and fast-moving action shots. I improved as the day went on, though.

Now, these are admittedly not spectacular, and I saved out a couple of my best shots for future use in the web pages, but you can see the 16 I selected to post to the site's gallery here (the top album): Duracell Challenge Course

Any thoughts, advice and constructive criticism would be much appreciated (I also designed the layout and look of the site as well)!
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  #5  
Old August 15th, 2008, 05:59 PM
James Newman James Newman is offline
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I tried to take a look but at least for me, I am only able to see a partial screen on your site. I cannot get a full screen view in which to look at the photos.
James
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  #6  
Old August 15th, 2008, 06:46 PM
Josh Blackwood Josh Blackwood is offline
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If you go into the individual album, (try this link to eliminate the iframe, if that's an issue) then click on a thumbnail, it will load the image at about 85% or so. If you then click the image again, it will load full-size. All images are at 800px width for speed reasons and to fit within the width of the frame correctly (the site is fixed-width: 900px).

Thanks!

Josh
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