On Thanksgiving morning, Patty received a text from our neighbors, asking if I would come over and take a Thanksgiving photo for them. Absolutely!
Equipment & Setup
I had been shooting a lot using the Nikkor AF-S 28 mm f/1.4E ED lens that I bought for a wedding last month. Using the cropped-sensor D500, the 28 mm focal length of this lens produces a field of view just wider than typical human, making it suitable for many inside shots; and the wide aperture minimizes the need for flash, and also produces nice bokeh from distant backgrounds.
For these outdoor shots, I installed a ProMaster 77 mm circular polarizing filter over the lens, in an attempt to get more saturated colors. I’m sure the filter helped, but I forgot to adjust it to maximize the polarizing effect before I shot. Maybe with more practice …
For most of the shots, I had my son position a Nikon SB-5000 speedlight, with the dome hood attached (automatically sets the zoom to 10 mm), mounted to a hand-held Fotodiox 20″ softbox, to balance the accent light from the sun with some light to fill the faces. With the intense sunlight, I had to drive the flash to 1/3-stop below full power in order to get the effect I wanted. The softbox also produced some nice catchlights in my neighbors’ eyes.
As usual, I ingested the D500 RAW and JPEG files onto my home computer using Photo Mechanic 5. Then I used Photo Mechanic to rank just the RAW files. Since I had constrained the D500 ISO to max-out at 200, I figured that noise would not be an issue in the RAW files, and I could use them as my masters instead of the JPEGs. This would allow more options in post-processing.
For the highly ranked group shots, I used Corel AfterShot Pro 3 to straighten and crop to the composition I wanted, and also to make overall adjustments to the photos (This included some saturation increase to the yellows (leaves) and blues (sky) for some photos.). From there I exported them to JPEG files, which I opened up in Portrait Pro 17, so that I could just make a couple of fine portrait adjustments, such as teeth whitening.
For the highly ranked individual shots, I accepted more of the default Portrait Pro adjustments (I zero’ed out the Facial Structure control.). I could have done this on the group shots also. But at this point, I’m finding that, since Portrait Pro treats each subject individually, applying adjustments separately to each face, I can run into situations where the lighting on different faces in a group truly is different, and Portrait Pro will attempt to normalize them in a way that can be unnatural. So until I get more comfortable with the software, I will probably only be using Portrait Pro for individual portraits.
I’m always looking for an opportunity to shoot. This one helped me recognize situations where I should use off-camera flash outdoors, and it also helped me discover some new capabilities in Portrait Pro 17. Hopefully, my neighbors got some nice photos out of it too.