Precariously positioned on the top step of a rickety old aluminum ladder, awkwardly balancing $5000 in camera gear in one hand, I had to ask myself “how did I get here?”.
I love photographing the annual holiday photo for Lee & Associates! This year they had selected the grand staircase at The Gaillard as the location for their photo shoot. I owe a special thanks to April Curci for all her help gaining permission from the venue and coordinating with everyone’s schedules. Also thank you to Emily Valentine for snapping the shots of me in action.
Arriving early, I had everything set up before the team arrived. Since it was a rainy overcast day, there wasn’t much natural light coming through the windows as we’d hoped. To augment the lighting, I mounted 3 SB-800 flashes on a Manfrotto light stand, bouncing into a 60″ Westcott umbrella. These were set to Group A on camera right. I mounted 3 more on a second stand as Group B on camera left. All flashes were controlled by an SB-5000 Master Flash on the camera, and set to 1/8 power using RadioPopper wireless transmitters.
Because of the tight quarters I was working in, I mounted the Nikkor 14-24 f2.8 to my Nikon D850. The high resolution of the D850 was perfect for the task of clearly capturing every face in this large group with excellent detail. Settings were ISO 400 at f5.6 and 1/30th second. By standing high on that wobbly ladder, I was able to shift the plane of focus to be more inline with the slope of the stairs, thus only needing a mid-range aperture to get enough depth of field. And even though I was hand-holding the camera at a relatively low shutter speed, the pop of the flashes and the use of a wide angle lens prevented any motion blur.
By tethering the camera to my laptop, the client was able to review the photos right there on site before the team dispersed. Everyone loved it!