Friday Night Lights

This weekend was senior prom weekend and having family of graduating age I was afforded the opportunity to shoot four couples as they prepared for their evening of emancipation, debauchery and erotica (oh, don't they wish!). Anyway ... there were parents and point-and-shoots everywhere all wondering who the "serious" guy was with all the camera gear!?! Although, there was some kid there, I assumed he was a family member of whosever house we were at, that was using a high-end consumer, digital video camera ... perhaps a Canon GL1 or something.

Anyway, I was just using my D70s fit with the Nikkor 18-70mm AF-S DX Zoom f/3.5-4.5G IF-ED. I chose that lens because I knew I'd have a chance to work in pretty close and 70mm works pretty nicely for portraits and the 18mm could give me plenty of vista doing candids of eight highschool kids. On the camera was an SB-800 Speedlight (What a nice piece of flash equipment! If you don't have one, get one).


  • Matrix Metering

  • Aperature Priority

  • ISO 200

  • White Balance: Flash

  • TTL BL (Balanced Flash Fill)

I set the aperture at the widest possible (depending on the zoom length) to keep the background as out of focus as possible ... I really need to get that f/2.8 glass sometime. I think I rode f/4.0 throughout the shoot. The time of day was nice. We were shooting between 5 and 6 PM in a nicely shaded backyard that offered ample diffuse light with some nice sun coming through. The only problem was some pretty busy backgrounds.

I played around a little with the difference between TTL and TTL with balanced flash fill (BL). I was getting a lot of burned out highlights with straight TTL ... probably because the flash was pretty harsh. I think that next time I may also try a Stoffen diffuser to knock the harshness down. I find as I look at the shoot that the BL works nicely with the ambient light at a distance of about 2 meters. But, when I backed off I really needed an extra boost of diffuse light in TTL mode and could have added more light with exposure compensation.

Shooting the candids I wanted to be able to act quickly so having the camera in a semi-automatic mode (Aperature Priority) helped support speed but I lost the flexibility of getting more accurate exposures in manual mode. It's all give and take, I guess.

All the images in this post were shot in NEF (Nikon's version of RAW) and had no additional processing beyond exporting them to JPEG's.

Gotta go burn some CD's for the parents ...

i shoot nikon

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