Aperture

Night Club Photography

Night clubs are always a great place to take pictures in, because of all the energy. In return, you can really capture some great candid memories. Some also do it because it’s a great way to expose your work to a larger audience, especially now with social media. I do it just as favors for friends because I don’t like risking my camera. But when I do take my camera out to a club, it’s always worth it.

Nikon D800, 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6, Aperture: f/3.5, Shutter Speed: 1/125

Nikon D800, 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6, Aperture: f/3.5, Shutter Speed: 1/125

Here are a couple of pointers when you plan to take your camera to the club.

1. Define your point of view.

A lot of photographers are hired to go to the night club specifically to take photos. It means that there is a certain barrier between them and the subject because they will most likely be posed. There is nothing wrong with that but you lose a lot of energy in those photos and they are very generic. However, most clubs don’t allow DSLR’s and so being hired does give you an advantage.

In my personal opinion, it is still better to find ways to bring your DSLR in a club without being hired. You have a fresh perspective and can focus on capturing unposed portraits. It’s all about capturing memories and you can focus on your friends. If you aren’t a hired photographer, I would avoid wandering outside your group of friends because you might be thought of as a creep.

Nikon D800, 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6, Aperture: f/3.5, Shutter Speed: 1/60

Nikon D800, 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6, Aperture: f/3.5, Shutter Speed: 1/60

2. Flash

I would suggest investing in a flash that can rotate its head vertically and horizontally. This enables you to bounce your flash so that it doesn’t create a harsh lighting on your subjects.

Bouncing your flash basically means directing your flash towards the ceiling or a wall. In return, your flash’s light travels more distance, making it softer and more spread out. Your light will be more diffused and thus, less hotspots. Hotspots are harsh light on a subject (usually on a person’s nose). You also don’t get that annoying red eye that you usually have to edit out.

3. Flash Sync

Flash sync speed is the fastest shutter speed you can use with a flash. Most off camera flashes will have a maximum flash sync of 1/250th of a second. If you want to capture the motion of the lights and the atmosphere, then you would have to use a shutter speed slower than 1/250th. If you want to completely freeze all of the action, then use 1/250. I often use a slower shutter speed so that I can get those nice laser lights that add a lot of mood to the photos.

Nikon D90,18-200mm f/3.5-5.6, Aperture: f/4, Shutter Speed: 1/30

Nikon D90,18-200mm f/3.5-5.6, Aperture: f/4, Shutter Speed: 1/30

4. Lens

You usually just bring one lens to a night club because you don’t want to be bringing a bag with you. Therefore in my opinion, the best lens for a night club would be a lens that can do it all. I usually carry around either my DX 18-200mm lens or FX 28-300mm. These super zooms/wide angle will make sure that you don’t miss a thing.

Do not worry about depth of field and aperture as much because your flash/light will be responsible for separating your subject from the crowd. Your flash has a certain reach due to its power and therefore will only illuminate a certain part of the picture. You can control this to add focus to your subject. However that being said, my personal choice for aperture is as wide as your lens can go (low f number).

Nikon D800, 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6, Aperture: f/5, Shutter Speed: 1/80

Nikon D800, 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6, Aperture: f/5, Shutter Speed: 1/80

5. Friendly reminders

Don’t drink and shoot: You know how they say don’t drink and drive? The same rules apply when taking photos in a club. You don’t want to mix drinks and taking photos. The last thing you would want is to damage your camera or lose it while being drunk. If you do plan to drink, have a sober friend help keep an eye out for your camera (just like a designated driver).

Bring a Handkerchief: Getting drinks spilled on you is always a risk at a party. It’s even more of a risk when you have your camera with you. Most DSLR’s are weather-proof and can afford to get a little wet. However, you would want to dry up that alcohol as soon as possible and that is where a handkerchief comes in handy. If anything though, keep your distance from people that are too drunk.

Nikon D800, 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6, Aperture: f/3.5, Shutter Speed: 1/125

Nikon D800, 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6, Aperture: f/3.5, Shutter Speed: 1/125

I edited these photos mainly using Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom 4. I also used Portrait Professional Studio for retouching. If you have more questions on how I produced these images, feel free to comment here or post on my wall on facebook.

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Defying Gravity

I want to start of this blog discussing my first ever planned photo shoot, entitled “Defying Gravity”. It was taken in the November of 2010. In a nutshell, this shoot inspired me to become a full blown photographer. I will always have a soft spot for this set and it will always remain my most prized works of art.

It started off as one of my IBHL Visual Art pieces. Having the background of traditional art helped me escalate my skills of story telling because I was exposed to the process of brainstorming and creating thumbnails. This aids me in visualizing the outcome before I even start the shoot. Do not underestimate these skills and practice them as much as possible.

For this shoot, I asked my crew mates from my breakdance crew, Riot Kings to model for me. The idea was simple, to create images that will make the audience question the reality of it. I have always had an infatuation with the power of photography and this was its embodiment. I thought that dancers would best portray this idea because dancers are able to defy gravity or at least to their audience’s perception of gravity.

This was our first shot of the series:

“Defying Gravity”

“Defying Gravity”

My lack of photoshop and photo-manipulation skills ended up as an advantage because I was forced to set the shots up without any composites, which made it much more real. For this shot, it took about 50 tries to get the one we wanted. Here is the raw file to prove that it is not a composite:

Nikon D90, Shutter Speed of 1/200, Aperture f/5.6

Nikon D90, Shutter Speed of 1/200, Aperture f/5.6

When you are just starting off as a photographer, your camera’s settings is usually the hardest to understand and master. However, knowing it and practicing it will be your most essential tool. For this shot, I used a shutter speed of 1/200. Even though it seems as if there was a lot of light for this shot, I was still shooting indoors and there was still not enough light for me to go faster than 1/200 without increasing ISO (which in return, would increase noise). Fortunately, 1/200 is already enough for me to freeze all the motion. It may sound basic but the faster your shutter speed, the more you can freeze action. Also, when you are holding your camera by hand, it makes your image sharper and clearer because you are also stopping the motion of your own body.

I did a lot of experimentation with this shoot, which left a lot of room for error. However, those experiments are what paid off the most. Do not be afraid to experiment, especially when you are just getting started. You learn so much from it. The biggest risk I took was shooting against the light. I was just starting out so I did not know much about lighting. However, I was able to save most of the detail on the faces using Lighroom 3. I increased “Fill Light” and decreased “Black”. I also increased “Clarity”. This created a lot of noise in the image, which I was able to decrease using “Luminance”. Same technique was used for this photo:

“Without Boundaries”

“Take-Off”

“Take-Off”

The most important lesson I took from this shoot is the importance of having a concept. Art has been, and is still currently going through a paradigm shift, in which the balance of concept and technique are being weighed. However, concept is much more important when it comes to my own personal opinion. Learn how to conceptualize first. Technique will follow. You need to create depth behind your art to keep your audience interested.

Its a relief being able to finally write all of that down. I hope you guys enjoyed my first blog post and I promise there will be a lot more coming up soon.

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