Tag Archive | Party Photography

Fisheyes at Events

Fisheyes at Events

Fisheye lens provide point of views on events that are striking because they are images that aren’t seen very often. I like to bring my 16mm f/2.8 to events because they spice up albums. Fisheyes aren’t common in many photographers repertoires, yet they are usually very affordable and give something that viewers don’t see often.

The 16mm on a full frame camera gives about 144 degrees and lets you see the full periphery. They obviously don’t work well for portraits, but can show action or drama very well.

This photo is of the recent Food Eating Contest that Yishan Wong held.  This is during the intense hot wing eating contest.


Photobooth At An Eating Contest

Photobooth At Yishan Wong's Eating Contest

Last weekend we attended an eating contest. My husband was invited to this even through the question-and-answer social networking site Quora. I love shooting parties and an eating contest party was sure to have a lot of drama.

One thing I like to do at parties is to set up a photobooth off in the corner where I can have proper lighting and have a consistent setup. This way I can grab a decent number of perfect exposures that are tack sharp and need very little editing… well in principle.

The contest was held outside on a bright sunny day. I found a narrow corner that was out of the way and wouldn’t be disturbed. I still sandbagged the lights and the tripod with 25lbs weights. This was a great thing because there were some strong breezes that could have knocked over the camera and blown the lights away. Even indoors, it’s a good idea to sandbag the setup because kids or tipsy adults can bump into the equipment.

The narrow corner was only amenable to a 2 light setup, and in order to have people squeeze by the lighting and tripod, the key light, a softbox monolite, had to be essential on top of the camera. The fill light had be very close to the subject and set wide right and I used a monolite with a shoot-through-umbrella. The umbrella was set far enough off-center so that only one catchlight appeared.

The eating contest was going to have roughly 12 contests with a Win-Place-Show for each contest. They had victor crown and I decided that the victors for each event would be photographed with the crowns, with the King’s crown for the winner, the Queen’s crown for the second place and the Pharaoh’s hat to the third place. This went over pretty well and documented the winners for posterity.

I used my APS-C crop sensor camera for this shoot and used my full frame camera for the candids. Tend to be moving faster and hence more light. In order to the ISO down, a full frame works better (roughly one stop better). It’s also good, because the photobooth camera was going to be largely unattended throughout the night and I’d hate to lose or damage the full-frame (roughly four times more expensive).

On the camera, I used the 16-50mm f/2.8 kit lens. It’s a crop-sensor only lens, but it’s very nice and produces pretty good shots. It’s effectively a 24-75mm lens after taking into account the 1.5 times crop factor. You need pretty wide angles for photobooths when a group of people are cramming in, but when you have one or two people, it’s good to be able to get to 55-80mm (or longer if you have enough space).

As I described above, the lighting setup had some constraints to work around. We got stuck in a bit of traffic getting there, so we were down to about 15 minutes to set up — enough to get it set up comfortably, but not enough to experiment a lot. What ended up happening is that the exposures came off a bit cool. I didn’t get a chance to set a custom white balance and because the lights were in pretty close (only 8 feet/3 meters from the subject) the lighting was harsher than I would have liked.

Nevertheless, it still provided tack sharp images. The only issue was that they required some editing. The good news was that the same editing worked on every shot — which is one of the wonders of controlled lighting. I had to drop the highlights and bring out the shadows and dropped the blacks to not lose contrast.  I bumped up the vibrance and saturation to brighten the skin tones. I manually changed the white balance, bringing up orange and green. These weren’t huge changes, but you can see the difference. I think the photo quality is good and could stand up to printing.

The catchlight was a bit too dead-center on, but there was not much to be done. I would have liked to used a hair light shooting down in a strip box to help even out the light in the background. I don’t think it would have worked, but I didn’t get a chance to try it.

I’ll give myself a pass on this one. But I could have nailed it better.

Two shoot day


Since I’m an amateur, I usually only do at most one shoot a day, but today I ended up being double booked with one shoot in the home studio and the other on location.  I don’t have a dedicated space for my home studio, so I have to put it up and take it down whenever I do a shoot.   It ends up being quite a bit of work, but it does produce reasonable results.  Location shoots are fun, though they present their own challenges getting enough shots.

I did a headshot shoot in the home studio for some twins.  They’re young professionals and needed some professional shots for their school and and internships.   I set up a four light shoot with a simple white backdrop with a soft box key light, a shoot-through umbrella as a fill and a pair of strip boxes shooting down as hair lights.  we knocked out a couple outfit changes for each and a couple of candid photos of them as a pair.    I used a 135mm f/1.8 and a 85mm f/1.4.  Both work great for studio work.  Today I had the 135 on the APS-C sensor bringing the range to an effective 202.5mm, which is great for portraits.  I had the 85 on the full-frame.

In the afternoon, I went over with my husband to an eating contest.  It was held outdoors with beautiful Bay Area weather.  We set up a two-light photobooth to take photos of the victors and then had another camera doing candids.  For the photobooth, we used an APS-C camera with a 16-50mm f/2.8 lens.  For the candids we used a 24-70mm f/2.8, 16mm f/2.8, 85mm f/1.4 and 135mm f/1.8.  The 135mm f/1.8 is a relatively new lens for us, but it is has quickly become one of our favorites.  It’s a Zeiss Sonnar lens design and produces crisp images with beautiful colors.  It’s amazing when we switch over the 24-70 to the 135, the change in image quality is stunning.  If it wasn’t for the lack of range, I might stick with it for entire candid shoots.

The eating contest produced a lot of great shots and had a lot of scenes.  The best scenes were the pie eating contest, the Odwalla drinking contest and the hot wing eating contest.  We got to meet some great people, I also got to meet some of my husband’s acquaintances.

Party Photobooth

Party Photobooth

I photographed a beautiful 50th birthday party recently. When I do parties, I like to set up some lighting in the corner to take portraits. You can knock off a bunch of portraits really fast and not totally rely upon candids to get the shots of the evening. I love the look of candids, but they are dicey.  Usually I just use a single soft box key light to keep things simple and non-intrusive. This time, I had a proper walled-off corner where I could set up and not be in the way.

I used a soft box key to the right, a fill shoot through umbrella, and then two hair lights in strip boxes shooting down on the subjects.  I used a 24-70mm at 24mm on a crop sensor at f/7.1 and was a 50mm f/8.0 for most of the night.