Once again this year, my wife asked me to take photos of kids with Santa Claus at the Annandale Food Bank at Annandale Methodist Community Center. I took the photos on December 21, 2017 as the families were coming through the food line, and we had the prints available for them to pick up the following week. There were a lot of families that came through that night. And where last year I delivered 38 photos, this year I delivered 62. ‘Hats off’ to Pete, our Santa Clause, who put in his usual Norman Rockwell performance!
The equipment I used for this shoot was as follows:
- (1) Custom 53″ Backdrop Rack (details shown in the post for last year’s event)
- (1) LumoPro LP605s 7.5′ Compact Lightstand
- (1) Manfrotto 119 Short (16mm) Adapter Spigot with 1/4″-20 & 3/8″ Female Threads
- (2) Manfrotto Avenger C-Stand 33’s
- (1) Manfrotto Compact Advanced Aluminium Tripod with 3-Way Head
- (1) NIKKOR AF-S 28 mm f/1.4E ED Prime Lens
- (1) Nikon D850 Full Frame Digital SLR Camera
- (2) Nikon SB-5000 AF Speedlights
- (1) Nikon WR-R10/WR-T10/WR-A10 Wireless Remote Adapter Set
- (1) Padcaster Cold Shoe Adapter
- (1) Phottix Varos Pro S Multi-Function Flash Shoe Umbrella Holder
- (1) Savage Universal 53″ Roll of ‘Flame’ (red) Backdrop Paper
- (1) Sony 128 GB SD UHS-II SF-M Series Memory Card
- (1) Sony 128 GB XQD G Series Memory Card
- (1) Westcott Rapid Box Octa 24″ Softbox
This setup was similar to last year’s, the main difference being that I used my full frame Nikon D850 DSLR versus the cropped-sensor D500 that I used last year.
Posing & Shooting
This shoot was a little better than controlled chaos. We did have a helper that got the kids in some general position, but this was not an environment where consistency was going to be high. As I could, I tried to use the D850’s zoomed-in Live View image to manually focus on the subject’s eye. In some cases, this was going to put Santa out of focus, and I knew that. If figured that would just increase his mystique. 😉
I didn’t do a lot in post-processing these. My adjustments in Lightroom Classic CC were mainly for overall exposure, vibrance, saturation, and white/black/highlight/shadow levels.
Here are some of the better photographs.
1. I need a larger backdrop
The 53″ wide backdrop paper that I use is really only large enough to take photos of individuals, or in controlled situations, couples. With Santa Clause sitting in a skewed rocking chair, surrounded by possibly multiple kids and other family members, the photos end up looking a little busy due to other features in the background of the larger field of view. The next larger paper size is 107″ wide, which right now I don’t have a stand to accommodate. This will have to be a consideration for next year.
2. I need to pay more attention to details
Besides the busy background, I also had to occasionally contend with ‘Santa’s Helpers’ within the field of view. Since we were confined to a small space, I accepted that the photos wouldn’t be completely ‘clean’, but I could have done a better job at controlling what I could control, to try to make the photos as clean as possible. On a related note, it is clear from the photos that in a number of cases, either the accent light didn’t flash (I may have forgotten to turn off the D850 Live View so they would be triggered.), or it was out of position (In some cases, you can see that the light was hitting the backdrop and not the subjects.). I could have paid more attention to this as well.
3. The prints from Costco turned out a little dark
I need to calibrate my equipment in general, but if I want to have confidence when I’m editing that what I see on the screen will be what I see in print, then I probably need to invest in a printer that I can calibrate and control myself.