I gotta' feeling
That tonight's gonna' be a good night
That tonight's gonna' be a good night
That tonight's gonna' be a
Good, good night
- The Black Eyed Peas I Gotta' Feeling
Nikon D750 + AF-S 16-35mm f/4G ED VR @ 35mm, f/8, 1/20, ISO 2000 Photo: RGH
I have always had an interest in photography (Link: Portraits of a Life), but that waned a little as I got older. My interest was re-kindled when I started traveling with Kari. She is an avid and talented photographer, but suffered a little from a lack of good equipment. One of the first "family" gifts I purchased was a better camera, and one of the first gifts I gave Kari was a higher-end point-and-shoot. Still, our interest and skills quickly outstripped these devices. After traveling to New Zealand on holiday in 2014, and in anticipation of moving here permanently, in the winter of 2015 we finally bought high-end camera gear. Sadly, as we struggled to learn how to use the camera, we still shot in Auto mode ... in essence, we had a really high-end point-and-shoot with fancy interchangeable lenses. Still, we played with the camera and learned, and eventually our photography started to improve.
One of our first trips with the new camera was to the mountains of North Carolina in Dec '15 ...
In Sept 2016, we made our home in New Zealand, albeit only briefly. We were here for a 1-year work contract, and while work was our reason for being here, our raison d'être was to get out and explore as much as possible. Those of you who have followed this blog from the beginning have been with us on just about every adventure. Through that year the writing on this blog got a lot better, but so too did the accompanying photography. I eventually posted two blogs with our favourite photos (Playing Favourites & Caution! Wide Load). They are heavily skewed to our later pics. Since then, our "favourites" file has changed significantly with only a few remaining and the rest overshadowed by much better photos.
Kari and I both got away from the camera's auto modes and starting taking control of our images. Along with our increasing technical abilities, our vision and composition improved as well. Having a great camera helped, but I would argue that what we learned translated to our cell phone photos also. Talented musicians can make great music with toy instruments. Athletes can translate their skills to many sports. Great photographers often "see" the photo before they shoot it. The tools they use are less important than their vision and execution. I ain't gonna' lie though ... good equipment has helped my execution more than a little bit. Along with learning how to use the camera, and how to see the composition before pushing the shutter button, I have also expanded my repertoire. I explored street photography in Wellington (Link: Keep Welly Weird) and here in Palmy (Link: Street Beat). We even dragged Little Highstead into the family hobby, sometimes as a reluctant model, but a few times as a photographer (Link: Strike a Pose). Back in the U.S. this past year, we didn't spend as much time behind the camera as we would have liked. Still, we kept trying our hands at new things ... wildlife photography, indoor sports, and portraiture (Link: Caught In the Camera Eye).
Nikon D750 + AF-S 16-35mm f/4G ED VR @ 16mm, f/8, 1/640, ISO 100 Photo: RGH
We recently had the chance to try our hand at another new-to-us discipline ... shooting a large, indoor event. Little H plays football (soccer) at several levels, including club football with Ruahine AFC. I have previously shared game-day photos with the other parents for her team, and with the club. Two years ago, some of my photos were used during the end-of-year Prize Giving (awards ceremony). A week before this year's event, I was involved in the following e-mail exchange:
R-AFC: Hi, Grant. The club was hoping to get some candid photos at prize giving this year and wondered if you might be up for the challenge?
RGH: What kind of photos are you looking for? I am happy to give it a try, but please understand that I am not a professional photographer in any manner and I can't guarantee results.
R-AFC: We don't need professional, just would like to capture some of the awards, teams, and maybe some natural shots of the moments. If you are happy to give it a go, that would be awesome!
RGH: I am happy to give it a go. Again, please understand that I am not a professional and can not guarantee results that everyone (anyone?) will be happy with. The best I can say is that I will try my hardest, but you can expect what you paid for. (since I would be volunteering, what they were paying for was nothing)
This is a pretty big event in a big venue. They recognise 19 teams who all walk onstage to receive medals and certificates. They also award prizes to the best Junior Team, best Junior Coach, best Senior Team, best Senior Coach, "Leaving" players (aging out of club level football), best Leaving Player, as well as a number of individual awards to players, coaches, and club organisers. They wanted photos of all of the prize givings and candid photos throughout the night. I went online to see how to organise myself, get an idea of what kind of equipment I would need, and look at photos from similar events to see how to compose them. I quickly realised that the task would be difficult for a single photographer experienced with these kinds of events, and impossible for me alone. Kari and I talked about it, and I recruited her to lend a hand. I would focus on shooting the happenings on stage, and she would shoot the "crowd" shots and candids. We decided to use only equipment we already owned, despite the temptation to go shopping. The only concession we made was to buy a flash. We showed up an hour early during set-up to practice our shots and make sure we got the lighting right. I'm really happy that we did; some of my favourite shots of the night were taken at this early stage. Putting together an event like this takes a lot of time, hard-work, and vision. What happens behind the scenes is just as important as the final product we all get to enjoy.
Nikon D750 + AF-S 16-35mm f/4G ED VR @ 35mm, f/8, 1/15, ISO 8000 Photo: RGH
Nikon D750 + AF-S 70-200mm f/4G ED VR @ 70mm, f/8, 1/40, ISO 5600 Photo: RGH
Nikon D750 + AF-S 16-35mm f/4G ED VR @ 29mm, f/8, 1/15, ISO 1000 Photo: RGH
Nikon D810 + AF-S 24-120mm f/4G ED VR
70mm, f/7.1, 1/60, ISO 560 50mm, f/7.1, 1/60, ISO 6400
Nikon D810 + AF-S 24-120mm f/4G ED VR @ 58mm, f/7.1, 1/60, ISO 6400 Photo: KAH
Of course, the entire reason for the event, and the reason we were asked to photograph it, was to celebrate the players, teams, coaches, parents, and supporting caste. Trying to get each and every player, team, and award recipient on and off the stage in a timely manner is a monumental task that was made to look easy. Trying to get them to stand still long enough for a photo was like trying to herd cats, made even more difficult by the request that I set up my camera at the far back of the auditorium ... about 50m away! I did sneak up to the stage for the individual photos, though.
Nikon D750 + AF-S 16-35mm f/4G ED VR @ 35mm, f/6.3, 1/50, ISO 5000 Photo: RGH
Nikon D750 + AF-S 16-35mm f/4G ED VR @ 35mm, f/6.3, 1/60, ISO 4500 Photo: RGH
Nikon D750 + AF-S 16-35mm f/4G ED VR @ 24mm, f/6.3, 1/50, ISO 5000 Photo: RGH
Nikon D750 + AF-S 16-35mm f/4G ED VR @ 16mm, f/8, 1/50, ISO 8000 Photo: RGH
Nikon D750 + AF-S 16-35mm f/4G ED VR @ 27mm, f/6.3, 1/50, ISO 8000 Photo: RGH
Nikon D810 + AF-S 24-120mm f/4G ED VR @ 24mm, f/7.1, 1/60, ISO 5600 Photo: KAH // Nikon D750 + AF-S 16-35mm f/4G ED VR @ 35mm, f/6.3, 1/50, ISO 8000 Photo: RGH
Nikon D810 + AF-S 24-120mm f/4G ED VR @ 38mm, f/7.1, 1/20, ISO 1400 Photo: KAH
This was a huge undertaking for us, but so rewarding and so much fun. I spent countless hours online trying to figure out how we were going to pull it off. If not for the encouragement, support, and photography skills of Kari, it never would have gone as well as it did. I am immensely proud of her and of us. It really did turn out better than I could have hoped or expected. Thanks, too, to Fiona and Hayden Burmeister for giving us the opportunity. I already have ideas about how to make it better next year ... and what new gear we're going to need.
... we're home.