Last Saturday, I wanted to get started with taking my photography to another level: that is, I want to take photo’s of more than only sports, such as hockey or soccer (which I still like, don’t get me wrong, but after taking more than 10.000 hockey photo’s, I feel quite confident that I have this part of photography pretty much under control).
So, when I heard about a nice party in Club Lux in Utrecht—I was in Utrecht anyway—I decided to just go there and ask if I could take some pictures to practise my nightclub photography skills. They were a bit surprised that I asked them on the spot, and I realised that it wasn’t really thought-through of me to not ask the manager before-hand. Okay, that was the first lesson learned.
Okay: we have a picture with lights. But that’s basically it; no interesting things on this pic. Such as hands in the air, or the DJ, or whatever. Just lights, yawn.
One big challenge
What it came to, ultimately, was that I’d completely overestimated myself. A few weeks ago, when I took some photo’s with my 50mm f1.8 lens, shot at f2.2, I didn’t seem to have any problems at all. The pictures were sharp, yet still had enough ambient light. (Well, at least, that’s what I thought last Saturday. A quick inspection confronts me with the fact that the photo’s could’ve done with a lot more ambient light).
This time, however, I had my 10-22 mm lens f3.5-4.5 lens, which basically means: a different aperture, a different distance between you and your subjects, an aperture that decreases when I go from 10 to 20mm, which means that other settings need to be adjusted when zooming, and a flash that possibly can’t handle such a wide angle, amongst many other things. Seemed like a good challenge.
If things don’t turn out as you expected, there is always the option to go for the arty black-and-white. In this case, there were no lights in the background, so I thought that black-and-white could be more interesting, maybe.
The first pictures were awful. No ambient light, therefore no colour. I was just totally tinkering with my camera settings. Decreasing the shutter speed resulted in blurry pictures in spite of the flash, which left me totally puzzled because this method (a shutter speed between 1/4 and 1/20, a wide aperture and the ISO between 400-800) actually did work fine the last time.
Increasing the shutter speed resulted in less ambient light, a higher ISO resulted in grain (which also surprised me, because if my lightening would’ve been proper, grain wouldn’t have been a problem), flash on normal power resulted in white faces, yet lowering the flash power resulted, again, in blurry pictures. I was sort of lost.
I was so busy with finding the proper settings to catch ambient light, that I completely forgot about the light source. Instead of a colourful background, I got this wall.
And then there was the “Real Photographer”, shooting beautiful pictures, who kindly gave me some tips, but also made me feel a bit nervous about my little photography project , since it was obvious that my photo’s weren’t going to be even nearly as good as the RP’s photo’s.
Practise makes perfect
And then suddenly it happened: a fair picture. With the settings I tried in the beginning. Yet, since the lights in the club constantly changed (in power, colour, shape), I kept having problems and didn’t find the magical numbers. I did practise a lot though.
And although I read some blogs a while ago, and got some tips from the RP, which were quite similar to the tips on these blogs, I needed practise. I needed trial-and error. And yes, of course I know that you’d better place people in a position that the lights are in the background. But I needed to first make some errors to really learn.
Hurray! Sharpness and a bit of ambient light! (Yet still not really taking notice of the background)
The next day, I was nervously going through my photo’s to see if there were a few that were actually good enough to send to the club, as I had promised them. Hopefully, there will be a next time 😉