Geoff Dickinson writes: All you have to do is take the photos. Yeah Right!
If you thought you’d read the last of my random monthly ramblings, think again! Your new President and Committee recently asked, nay pleaded, on bended knee, for more of my thoughts on photography. Oh go on then, here goes. Inspiration does not always come easily and some of my pieces have at times been a little thin. This month though I would like to report on the Society’s contribution to the Hamilton High Schools Centennial. You may recall that I had offered our services to cover the events that were to be held at Hamilton Girls High School. I was given to understand that all we had to do was take the photos, documentary style. Great, I thought, we can do that. It turns out that one of the events was of posed year group photos. And of course people would want to buy prints. And images of the other events. Oh and a special shot to mark the Girls High 100 years. And don’t forget the Centennial Concert at Founders Theatre.
Enter two people without whose logistical, IT, financial and organisational skills the whole exercise would have foundered. Val and Virginia kindly agreed to take on the burden of taking orders, money, getting the images printed (on the same day) and delivered to the grateful punters. Not only that but Virginia set up a special page and ordering system on our website. This was a mammoth task which has taken a lot of their time but you will be surprised and I hope delighted to hear that the Society has made the tidy sum of just over $1,000 net after expenses. Val even found time to take some images at the Friday night fashion show showcasing school uniforms down the years. Excellent photographic contributions from Rose from various events rounded things off nicely. Thanks also to Ron and Helen for some excellent advice and support. And me? If you saw the Waikato Times of 19th March you may have noticed the 100 photo. This was an idea I had when I first heard about the Centennial a couple of years ago. I have mentioned before about the importance of research and planning photos but this was an interesting and challenging project with only one chance of getting it right. The idea was to get all the students and staff in the shape of the number 100 on the school field with the buildings in the background. That way we could get as many people in the shot as possible and give a good view of the school. At noon the sun would be in pretty much the right place but of course there was the ever present challenge of harsh shadows. On the day though there was some nice, high cloud which gave a soft diffused light. How to get the height? I had casually mentioned to the Principal that a cherry picker might be useful. No problem, we will organise that. Just turn up and take the photo. So I did fully expecting a chauffeur to drive the thing. “Used one of these before, mate?” asked the guy from Hire Pool. “Err……sorry, but no I haven’t, there’s not much call for that in a legal office”. “Don’t worry, you’ll be fine, here’s your safety harness. Just twiddle these buttons for up, down and rotate and you will be fine. You can even speed it up.” Hmmmm……maybe I might just not use that switch.
By now an audience of 1500 students and staff were in position watching my every move. Yikes, pressure time. 10 minutes later and 15 metres in the air I was in position, sort of. I began thinking how it would be nice to move the cherry picker a couple of metres further back. Even at 18mm my standard zoom lens wasn’t cutting it. No chance of moving though as I was sure the starving horde down on the field would not tolerate a further lunch delay. The students wouldn’t have been too pleased either. Plan B and time to reach for the 10.5mm lens which I just happened to have with me. Once again this cool little lens came to the rescue and I got the result that the school wanted.
The major challenge of the weekend was processing 700 odd images. We set up a mini media centre at Founders Theatre and also used Virginia’s motor home. The routine was to transfer all the images to the laptop, import them into Lightroom and then work through them one by one. This required an instant editorial decision as to which to keep and which to dump. Next was cropping, levels and sharpening followed by an export to USB stick. Nothing more. This is why in my view it is essential in this type of photography to get the image right first time in the camera with white balance, resolution, ISO and exposure. Otherwise you could be busy for some time.
We feel this event worked really well and despite the time investment was a valuable exercise in dealing with aspects of photography which are not always obvious and providing a welcome funds boost. We are looking for further opportunities to take our Society out there in the future.
We hope to show a selection of images from the weekend at our meeting on 26th April.
See you around Geoff (April 2011)