November 25, 2018

Capturing Magic

From almost the moment I took my new camera out of the box, I noticed an immediate improvement in my photography. Since then my photography has continued to improve.

This evening, after the kids went to bed I set down at my computer to pull the images off my camera. I quickly called Domingo over, and spun my computer around to show him what I captured.

“Wow! I’m surprised you got that!” he said.

“To be honest, me too.”

His comment wasn’t a slight. The odds were stacked against us. It had been raining and gloomy all day. We decided to try for the photo towards the end of the day when we were about to lose what little light we had left. Alexis hadn’t napped, Dana was in need of hers. Both of the older girls were over excited, eagerly anticipating making gingerbread houses. On a normal Sunday I would have put my camera down and waited for a better day.

Today was also our last opportunity to take photos while my parents were visiting. When photographing a multiple kids at once, more hands are always helpful! I’ve found the faster you can get set up and everyone ready, the more likely you’ll have success. This is extra especially true on days you can expect the children’s patience to run even shorter than normal. So we decided to take a chance.

Then magic happened.

Our experience today nearly identically mirrored our experience last Sunday when we did a mini shoot for our Christmas card. That day it was smoke rather than rain clouds blocking the sun light. The kids were going completely stir crazy after being cooped up inside for three days. Naps failed. We were at the end of the day; thirty-seven minutes from sunset according to the time stamp on my camera. To say it was not an ideal time to be shooting indoors using only natural lighting would be putting it mildly. Even the photo set up was largely the same – just with Santa hats! The odds we’d get something usable seemed slim, yet we somehow managed to capture magic that time too. In fact, I was so pleased with the outcome I needed another non-Christmas photo to frame for my walls, hence today’s photo session.

I’ve been giving the new camera a lot of credit for the improvement in my photography. It’s true, our Christmas Card Photo would not have been possible with my old camera under those lighting conditions. The photo was shot at 1/250th a second on my D7500. The ISO limitations of my old camera would have required 1/50th a second, or a wider aperture. Either would have introduced the likelihood of unwanted blur.
(When photographing kids even 1/250th of a second is often too slow as holding a pose doesn’t exactly come naturally. I ended up with a few shots with motion blur, along with the keepers.)

At the same time, I don’t think my new camera deserves all the credit. The success of this week and last is partly due to a better intuitive feel for both the technical and non technical aspects of photography. I had a vision in my mind of the image I wanted to capture, and a good feel of how to execute that vision. I knew what camera settings I would need, and how to best get the expressions I was after from the kids. That means I’m more likely to get the shot I want the first time, when the kids are the most amenable to it. These days it’s rare that I don’t have at least one capture I’m proud of whenever I pick up my camera. I’m relying on luck less and less.

I guess it wasn’t more frames I needed when shooting my kids together, but another three and a half years of practice.

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