Saturday, February 21, 2009


In contemporary process engineering, we identify the "as is" state, then we map the "to be" state and a plan to get there. This initial "as is" look is the baseline. We don't judge what it is, we simply note that it is where we start on our way to the "to be" state.

Today I baselined my photography practice. I have a long way to go. But I'm not judging.

Today my partner and I shot engagement photos for a young couple at a rescued mill. We know this place fairly well, as it's just a mile or so from my home. We wanted to be prepared, so we got to the site early and walked the grounds. We selected several choice places to try with the couple, scheduled to arrive an hour later. We factored in the sun, and how it would likely change, to prioritize the shooting order. We checked gear, took several test shots, and got our heads in the game.

The couple arrived on time, and we went through the shoot as we planned. Generally, everything went fine. The couple relaxed, had some fun, and was willing to try anything we asked. As expected, we struggled with lighting and shadows, especially in the old mill building. The only significant problem came late in the shoot. My partner's Nikon spazzed and refused to function. He tried everything you can do in the field without success. I carried on with the last few shots and wrapped the session. We thanked the couple and parted ways, all of us looking forward to seeing the outcome.

Over the course of the 75-minute session, I shot 335 images, while may partner shot about 500. After reflecting on the session, and reviewing the shots I took, I have learned too many things to list. A few are paramount, however.

  • I put my backpack in the car partway through the shoot, thinking I only needed my 70-200mm lens. The very next shot I needed my 28-70mm lens, and had to run to the car to get it while my partner set up the shot. I won't do that again.

  • I have the right flash gear, but I'm not using it properly. I will spend some serious time learning and practicing.

  • In post-session reflection (the afterglow), I realized that I wasn't seeing the data in the viewfinder that I normally see. It was there, but I wasn't seeing it. I shot mostly in aperture-priority mode, and occasionally in full manual. I left the ISO at 100 and let the camera sweat the right shutter speed for the aperture I set. Mistake. For some shots, especially in the old falling down mill building, I should have jacked the ISO up, probably to 400. As it was, and shooting at 200mm, I found I had some annoying lens shake.

  • Lastly, during my prep I checked every setting on the camera...except one. Apparently I had been shooting in Large JPG before today, and it was still set that way. I had intended to shoot in RAW so I had more chance to correct the exposure mistakes I expected I would commit. Next time, I'll check every setting, period.

Today was an important day. It told me where I was in relation to where I want to be. Now, I know how to get there.

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