Over the last few weekends I had the pleasure of working on the set of a short film being produced by Nicole Kruex and Mitchel A. Jones of Triwar Pictures. My “official” job on set was as a Grip and Gaffers Assistant. But because I hurt my back between shoots, and the fact that for a lot of the time the Grips and Gaffers sit around doing not a whole heck of a lot, I decided to take out my camera and snap some still photos of the cast and crew as we worked.
Since I had not done any photo journalism before I was kinda flailing in the dark as to what settings to use and how to be as inconspicuous as possible while snapping away. The first day on set my photo’s turned out OK. I didn’t feel like I got the sharpness in the images I wanted while working in low light situations. I was, and probably still am, being far more critical of the photo’s than is necessary. Still, I got quite a few that I was happy enough with to share.
Fortunately, in between shooting days I had my first “Low Light and Motion” community education class. I picked up a few tips that I think really helped me capture much better images on the next two days of filming. The first was a little bit of photo journalism technique. The instructor said that in low light situations the old standard of “set it to f/8 and click away” wouldn’t work. Luckily we spent a good deal of time outside while filming, so I set my camera to f/8 and clicked away while adjusting the ISO and shutter speed for the conditions. The photo’s turned out really well.
The second bit I got out of the class was a more conscious choice of settings for when we were in low light on set. I knew that I wanted a decent depth of field so that faces and sometimes multiple subjects would be in focus at a time. So instead of running with my lens wide open I tried to keep the aperture stop down to somewhere between f/3.5-f/5 and upped my ISO to either 1250 or 1600. I was also very pleased with these results, though I have been noticing that certain ISO settings produce less noise than others, and not entirely on scale with what you might think. For example ISO 1250 is slightly less noisy than ISO 800 (at least on my camera). Which is good to know so I don’t feel like I can’t go higher than 800 if the lighting conditions demand it.
As far as being inconspicuous, I noticed that people tend not to notice you are taking photos if they are sufficiently distracted doing other things, even if you are pretty close to them. That shutter firing is really not the 100 decibels you think it is. I also liked the photos where people were engaging in doing their tasks on set the most (isn’t that what photo journalism is all about).
Over all it was a fun experience and the response from cast and crew to the final photos has been overwhelmingly positive, with several of them asking to use the photos on their websites and in their portfolios.
Below is a slideshow of a selection of the photos I took.