Category Archives: Special Events

Free Collage Makers

Late last year Instagram introduced the free collage maker “Instagram Layout” which has resparked interest in making Photo Collages and sharing them on Social Media.

However, if you are at School or Work where Instagram is blocked by the Network Security, then you need to use one of the many other free web based Collage Applications instead.

In this article we look at some Free Photo Collage makers that can be used on a laptop or desktop computing device that runs Windows.

We used Google Chrome as our laptop browser while making our Photo Collages with these free online Internet/Cloud Applications.

These apps are easy to use and produce quite satisfactory results.

Once you have made your collage, the apps allow you to save it onto your computer as a JPG file and/or share it online to Social Media.

At the end of the article we have included some web lists of Collage Applications for Apple Mac and Mobile Phones.

 

Fotor Collage Maker

FotorCollageTwo500k

This free collage maker requires no online registration, and is very simple to use.

Note that the above example collage probably would have been better made with yellow borders for this article’s white page background. There is actually a white border frame that goes all the way around the outside of the collage, but it cannot be seen against the white page is it sitting on.

It loads up in edit mode and you can start work straight away.

First you choose a layout design, and then you can upload photos from your computer and move them around just like making a Facebook Header.

Text can be added, and the text editing tools and fonts available are a good selection of styles and designs.

Finally, you can save the collage to your computer or share it online.

Defualt collage size is 1366×768 which results in a fairly large 500k file, but sizes can be changed to suit different phone screen sizes.

Several Design features for borders and backgrounds are not available unless you upgrade to the paid premium version, but the free version has all of the basic features that you need.

The link to the Fotor Free Collage maker is as follows:

Fotor Collage Maker Website

 

Pic Monkey Collage Maker

PicMonkeyCollageTwo1000wide

This maker has a great two minute video on the home page which shows you what is available and how to use the application.

Like Fotor Collage there is no email registration and you can go straight into making a Collage from the home page.

The first step is to open up all the photos you want to use from your computer. Note that you can hold down the Ctrl key and select multiple photos to import all at once.

Then comes the drawback…… a lot of the good layout designs are “Royal” ones marked with a crown which means they are only available in the Paid Version.

So we tried a create your own layout, but it only lets you add photos horizontally in a one row horizontal strip that is locked at 2000 x 469 in size. HOWEVER when you save the Collage to your computer you can adjust this size to whatever you like.

You cannot add a second row, but the single row layout is good for what it is, as in our example above.

There are multiple row preset collages that are free, but it seems like these presets are not modifiable in any way.

Once you have made your Collage you need to save it and then proceed to the “Edit” button where text and effects can be added. A warning is given that once you proceed to this step you cannot go back and modify the collage at all.

To get a color dipper for the text, it is necessary to go to the color intensity vertical bar at the far right and click which then brings up the dropper symbol.

The filters are good and nicely enhance a completed collage, although several of them are not available in the free version: you can try them and see they look great, but you cannot apply and save them.

You can then save the the final collage image, at various sizes, to your computer as a Jpeg file.

What we liked most about this Collage maker was the easily adjustable rounded rectangles and the backgrounds available to put the text onto. The filters are also good.

Pic Monkey Photo Collage Website

 

Photo Collage

PhotoCollagePSone550wide

This is free with no sign up just like the other internet collage makers.

This one is very much do it yourself, where you load in your photos and resize and rearrange them onto the work area with total control.

The downside is that the text fonts and colors are very limited, and once you have set the text color and font once, you cannot go back and change it; all you can do is resize it.

When you save it to your computer, it goes to the downloads folder which is also a bit of a pain, as you then need to copy it manually to another folder.

It does not seem like you can change from having a plain white border dividers, and the photos came out a bit washed out once they were imported and collaged.

This meant that we needed to take our saved Jpeg file into Adobe Photoshop and tweak the Brightness, Contrast, Sharpness, and Saturation, to get our collage looking bright and crisp.

But if you want total control of the layout to make a customised white bordered collage, then this one is a simple and great tool to do it.

Photo Collage can be accessed at the following link:

Photo Collage Website

 

Be Funky Collage Maker

BeFunkyCollageThree

This is like the other Collage Makers and is free with no sign up, and has a great layout that is very easy to use.

If you change collage designs though, you lose photos, and then might change again and have empty gaps.

These are easily refilled by going back to the Upload symbol icon and dragging photos back in.

The default size for a collage is 2400 x 1333 pixels but this can be changed in settings.

One particularly great feature in this application is that you can click and edit an individual photo in the collage and change its colour, sharpness, etc and even add a vignette around it and then return to the Collage.

There is a strange looking double bubble icon symbol in the top right hand corner of a photo when you click it in the collage maker, and clicking this takes you into basic photo edit mode. If you then click the “Open Image in Editor” button you get taken into the full photo editor.

Being able to apply vignetting (a dark oval shape shadow around the edges of a photo) to the people shots in this collage was really helpful.

The text fonts seem to be all the normal ones from Windows, but several of them like Bauhaus93 do not seem to work, and just produce some type of times new roman default font instead.

Another nice feature of this collage maker is that you can mouse over borders and resize them in a collage.

The Collage Maker also suggests an initial layout to use based on the Photos that you have uploaded to use.

Overall this is a great collage maker for a collage of people shots.

Be Funky Collage Maker can be accessed at the following link:

Be Funky Collage Maker Website

 

Other Photo Collage Applications

A Quick search of the web found the following Free Photo Collage Apps; there are literally hundreds of them out there.

Several of these are for Mac/OS, iPhone, and Android.

Fifteen Free Collage Makers

Twenty Five Free Collage Makers For Windows

Thirteen Free Photo Collage Makers

Ten Free Photo Collage Makers

Ten Free Collage Makers for Android

Ten Free Collage Makers for iPhone

Photo Collages the next old again new again thing for grouping together your happy snaps.

Enjoy,
Paul at Photos By Passy

 

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Teachers Games 2014

Photos By Passy was the official photographer for the Victorian Teachers Games held in Bendigo during late September 2014.

The Teacher’s Games involves teachers from schools all across the state of Victoria competing in a range of Individual and Team Sports.

There are also nightly social and party activities to attend, and so it is always a week of very little sleep.

For this job I used nearly every piece of camera equipment that I own, and it all found a use somewhere.

My main Go To camera was the Sony A77II with the 16-50mm Sony Lens. Overall I was delighted with its performance, in spite of some of the indoor sports ISO difficulties.

 

What follows are separate write ups for the events and functions which were covered. These are discussed one by one, with notes about camera settings and shooting approach, as well as links to the final online photo albums.

If you are interested in attempting some sports photography, then you should find some useful tips and tricks in this article.

If you want to learn more about the technical side of photography, then check out the How To Guides on our website at the following link:

Photos By Passy – How To Guides

 

If you just want to see the pictures, then simply scroll down and click on the links to the various albums.

 
 

Games Registration

Victorian Teachers Games Bendigo 01

Games Registration and Check In was held in the Bendigo Stadium foyer, and the lighting was good enough for many of the camera shots to be done without flash.

The aim of the shoot was to get plenty of shots of people checking in, along with the tables of volunteers and officials in attendance.

 

Games Registration Photos

Games Registration Photos

Here are the links to the Games Registration Photos

Games Registration Photos on Flickr

If you would like to download copies of photos from Flickr, then use the following instructions:

How To Download Photos from Flickr

 

Games Registration Photos on Facebook

 

EQUIPMENT:

Sony Alpha A-77 Mk II Camera
Sony 16-50mm SSM F2.8
On board Camera Flash

The camera was set to Intelligent Auto and many of the shots were taken without flash.

When the camera did choose to use Flash, there was a problem because I habitually left the lens shade hood on, resulting in some round lens hood shadow visible at the bottom of the photo.

While using the lens hood is great for protection, as well as using a clear UV filter, I need to remember to always remove it for any on-board flash photos!

 
 

Brownlow Medal Pub Night

Victorian Teachers Games Bendigo 02

This was a social night out involving dinner and watching the Brownlow Medal on the big screen televisions at the venue.

The brief was to get plenty of photos of patrons having fun dressed up in their favorite football team guernseys.

 

Brownlow Medal Night Photos

Here are the links to the Brownlow Medal Night Photos

Brownlow Medal Night Photos on Flickr

If you would like to download copies of photos from Flickr, then use the following instructions:

How To Download Photos from Flickr

 

Brownlow Medal Night Photos on Facebook

 

EQUIPMENT:

Sony Alpha A-77 Mk II Camera
Sony 16-50mm SSM F2.8
Sony HVL-F43M Flash
Gary Fong Gamma Blade Diffuser

The camera was set to Manual Mode with speed of 1/125 and ISO 1250, as we do for most of our standard night club photography.

Aperture was varied from 4.0 to 5.6, depending on the size of the group of people being photographed.

The flash power was also set manually for every shot, mostly to 1/8 power and 50mm width.

 
 

Trivia Night

Victorian Teachers Games Bendigo 03

Trivia Night consists of Tables of Teams answering questions and performinng random tasks deliberately designed to be embarassing.

It is a lot of fun!

 

Trivia Night Photos

Here are the links to the Trivia Night Photos

Trivia Night Photos on Flickr

If you would like to download copies of photos from Flickr, then use the following instructions:

How To Download Photos from Flickr

 

Trivia Night Photos on Facebook

 

EQUIPMENT:

Sony Alpha A-77 Mk II Camera
Sony 16-50mm SSM F2.8
Sony HVL-F43M Flash
Gary Fong Gamma Blade Diffuser

Panasonic Lumix LX7 Camera

The Sony camera was set to Manual Mode with speed of 1/125 and ISO 1250, as we do for most of our standard night club photography.

Aperture was varied from 4.0 to 5.6, depending on the size of the group of people we were photographing.

The flash power was also set manually for every shot, mostly to 1/8 power and 50mm width.

The Lumix LX7 was used for doing 16:9 aspect ratio wide angle photos of the novelty events, and at Aperture F1.4 required no flash to be used.

 
 

Mixed Basketball

Victorian Teachers Games Bendigo 04

The mixed basketball was held inside the Bendigo Stadium which has reasonably good artificial lighting on the center court, but not quite such good lighting on the adjoining courts.

I found the best position to stand was at one end of the center court, near the end of the basketball key line, and to frame up the shot with the rim and the backboard in it.

The only problem with this position is it is usually where the referee wants to be, because it gives the best vantage point.

 

Mixed Basketball Photos

Here are the links to the Mixed Basketball Photos

Mixed Basketball Photos on Flickr

If you would like to download copies of photos from Flickr, then use the following instructions:

How To Download Photos from Flickr

 

Mixed Basketball Photos on Facebook

 

EQUIPMENT:

Sony Alpha A-77 Mk II Camera
Sony 16-50mm SSM F2.8

Sony Alpha A-55 Camera
Tamron 24-70mm F2.8

Most shots were taken with the A-77 set to Sports Scene mode, and there were not many good shots obtained with the A-55.

The A-77 in SCN “Sports Mode” tends to go for a very high Shutter Speed of 1/2000th and an ISO of 3200 which leads to grainy and dark shots.

Rapid shoot to get multiple images was used on a number of occasions so as to end up with the best photo to choose from for action sequences.

I was able to get usable pictures by using Photoshop and making adjustments and sharpening each individual picture.

Next time I need to spend time experimenting in Manual Mode with a Speed of 1/500th which would let in four times more light, and allow for a lower ISO which would give clearer pictures.

The A-55 in Sports Mode did not produce very good shots, and the zoom range was not well suited for the task at hand.

 
 

Womens Netball

Victorian Teachers Games Bendigo 05

It was a bright sunny day for the Netball, but the action was fast paced and not that easy to photograph.

It seemed that every time I moved position the action went somewhere else!

Sports Photography is a percentage game, and it was a matter of shooting as many shots as I could in the hour or so time which was available. The best photos were then chosen by doing a massive cull of pictures that evening.

 

Ladies Netball Photos

Here are the links to the Womens Netball Photos

Womens Netball Photos on Flickr

If you would like to download copies of photos from Flickr, then use the following instructions:

How To Download Photos from Flickr

 

Womens Netball Photos on Facebook

 

EQUIPMENT:

Sony Alpha A-77 Mk II Camera
Sony 16-50mm SSM F2.8

Sony Alpha A-55 Camera
Sony DT 18-250mm F3.5-6.3

Although I had both cameras with me, the zoom range on the A-77 seemed to be sufficient, and so I hardly used the A-55 at all.

The A-77 reveled in the bright outdoor sunlit conditions. Most shots were done in multishot SCN “Sports Mode” and they came out crisp and clear.

The A-77 MkII is a great camera for bright light sports photos, and I was very happy with the results.

 
 

Singles Tennis

Victorian Teachers Games Bendigo 06

It was a perfect bright sunny day for the Tennis, and there were some good players which helped me get good photos.

It seems for sports in general, if the standard of the game is high, you are bound to get great photos, because the game play content is just so good to begin with.

If the standard and skills are low, then the photos simply do not look right, no matter how well you frame and shoot them.

 

Singles Tennis Photos

Here are the links to the Singles Tennis Photos

Singles Tennis Photos on Flickr

If you would like to download copies of photos from Flickr, then use the following instructions:

How To Download Photos from Flickr

 

Singles Tennis Photos on Facebook

 

EQUIPMENT:

Sony Alpha A-77 Mk II Camera
Sony 16-50mm SSM F2.8

Sony Alpha A-55 Camera
Sony DT 18-250mm F3.5-6.3

The zoom range was adequate on the A-77, and so it was used for the bulk of the photos with the camera set to SCN “Sports Mode” and the shutter held down to do multishoot.

It seems the best place to stand to take sports photos is often where the Umpire or Referee would stand or sit.

So for the Tennis, I positioned myself next to the net and framed and panned with the ball play.

It is certainly not easy to get action shots of tennis because the ball moves so fast. Often times a great shot would have the ball long gone out of frame and would have to be discarded.

It is a percentage game to get the right shots, and so I just put the multishoot on the fastest speed possible and got as many shots as I could.

From a massive cull that evening, I was really happy with the final shots I had for the album.

In fact I think that the Tennis was one of the best events photos-wise that I covered during the Teachers Games.

 
 

Lawn Bowls

Victorian Teachers Games Bendigo 07

I shot this event after doing three other events, and it was hard to find excitement in Lawn Bowls compared to some of the other sports.

The standard bowling the ball shots would get a bit boring after a while, but I was lucky enough to also have some measuring happen which broke things up a bit.

 

Lawn Bowls Photos

Here are the links to the Lawn Bowls Photos

Lawn Bowls Photos on Flickr

If you would like to download copies of photos from Flickr, then use the following instructions:

How To Download Photos from Flickr

 

Lawn Bowls Photos on Facebook

 

EQUIPMENT:

Sony Alpha A-77 Mk II Camera
Sony 16-50mm SSM F2.8

These shots were done in Intelligent Auto Mode, as well as SCN Sports Mode for some shots.

It was a nice and easy relaxed shoot.

 
 

Ultimate Frisbee

Victorian Teachers Games Bendigo 08

This is an extremely fast paced exciting action sport, requiring lots of shots to be taken to get the photos that are going to be good.

The shoot was compounded by having two games on fields right next to each other, as well as the ugliness of park cars and buildings in the background.

However the bright sunny conditions were good for fast shutter speed sports photography.

 

Ultimate Frisbee Photos

Here are the links to the Ultimate Frisbee Photos

Ultimate Frisbee Photos on Flickr

If you would like to download copies of photos from Flickr, then use the following instructions:

How To Download Photos from Flickr

 

Ultimate Frisbee Photos on Facebook

 

EQUIPMENT:

Sony Alpha A-77 Mk II Camera
Sony 16-50mm SSM F2.8

Sony Alpha A-55 Camera
Sony DT 18-250mm F3.5-6.3

The A-55 with the long reaching 18-250mmm zoom lens was used for nearly all of the photos done at Ultimate Frisbee.

The A-55 was set on SCN “Sports Mode” and the shutter held down to do multishoot.

The Sony DT 18-250mm F3.5-6.3 lens is fanstastic in bright conditions, considering that it is only a $600 lens, and it has such a long zoom range.

This lens is my usual travel photography lens, and has served me well for several years now. However it has to have bright daylight or flash to get the best results.

I was very happy with the photos that came from this setup, and even though the A-55 is an old camera and not generally as good as the newer A77II, I am going to keep it indefinitely as my second camera.

 
 

Mountain Bike

Victorian Teachers Games Bendigo 09

This was quite a full on event, with the bikes moving faster than I had expected. Multishoot was essential, and I tried to get corner points and squat down as low as I could to capture the wheels as an emphasis point.

In hindsight I should have scouted out the course better and tried to get some more jump shots, but I was reasonably happy with the shots which made the final album.

The brief was to get several photos of every rider in the event, and so this did not leave a lot of time to visit a number of different vantage points.

This was my first mountain bike shoot, and I am sure I will do a lot better next time.

 

Mountain Bike Photos

Here are the links to the Mountain Bike Photos

Mountain Bike Photos on Flickr

If you would like to download copies of photos from Flickr, then use the following instructions:

How To Download Photos from Flickr

 

Mountain Bike Photos on Facebook

 

EQUIPMENT:

Sony Alpha A-77 Mk II Camera
Sony 16-50mm SSM F2.8

There is a lot of dust kicked up during mountain biking and so a clear UV lens filter is essential, as well as regular checking and cleaning of this filter throughout the event.

It is essential to crouch down low and try to get good vantage points on jumps and turns, as well as shots from up high above of riders going up hill.

The A77II was used with fast multishoot and set to SCN “Sports Mode”.

The conditions were overcast, and it might have been a bit better if there was more sun, but I am not sure about what effect lots of forest shadows would have on the pictures.

 
 

Fishing Competition

Victorian Teachers Games Bendigo 10

This was a really good shoot because there was a run of fish caught during the half hour that I was covering the event.

For three hours before this, only one fish had been caught and released, and fishing photos would not have been too good without any fish in them!

 

Fishing Competition Photos

Here are the links to the Fishing Competition Photos

Fishing Competition Photos on Flickr

If you would like to download copies of photos from Flickr, then use the following instructions:

How To Download Photos from Flickr

 

Fishing Competition Photos on Facebook

 

EQUIPMENT:

Sony Alpha A-77 Mk II Camera
Sony 16-50mm SSM F2.8

Conditions were overcast, and so I set the A77II to “Intelligent Auto” and for some shots the onboard flash popped up and fired.

This time I remembered to have the shade hood off, and so there is no circular dark blurring on these photos.

An easy shoot where everything just came together with the greatest of ease.

Looking at the photos in view mode, the camera in Auto Mode used ISO 100 and F4 Aperture with a shutter speed of 1/160 on most of the shots and they exposed nicely.

The A77II seems to be very good at handling both bright sunlight and overcast conditions, but it does struggle with ISO graininess in low light indoors.

 
 

Indoor Soccer

Victorian Teachers Games Bendigo 11

This was the most difficult shoot of the whole Teachers Games.

I could not shoot through the netting, even with manual focussing, and I could not go onto the Pitch, as all areas of the court are constantly used.

This meant I had to poke the camera through the strongly elasticised slit that the players enter and leave the pitch from. Lucky I have been working at the gym and could hold the slit door open while using the camera!

Due to the fast moving ball, with continuous focus on, the camera kept wanting to set the shutter speed to 1/2000th, Aperture to F4, and use an ISO of 3200 when set to SCN “Sports Mode”.

This resulted in grainly dark photos for quite a few of the shots, until I set the camera into Manual Mode later on.

 

Indoor Soccer Photos

Here are the links to the Indoor Soccer Photos

Indoor Soccer Photos on Flickr

If you would like to download copies of photos from Flickr, then use the following instructions:

How To Download Photos from Flickr

 

Indoor Soccer Photos on Facebook

 

EQUIPMENT:

Sony Alpha A-77 Mk II Camera
Sony 16-50mm SSM F2.8

Photographing a court with horizontal lines marked on it results in levelling problems, and as the camera was crammed through a narrow slit in the netting, it was not easy to get the horizontal correct.

I used the “Disp” button to have levelling turned on, and did my best to try and keep the camera level so the horizonatal court lines and goals at the other end were not tilted.

Photos can be adjsuted in Photoshop to level them, (with a slight loss of quality), but it is much better to get it right on the original shot.

As mentioned previously, in SCN “Sports Mode” with the camera set to continuous “C” Autofocus, the camera picked the extremely high shutter speed of 1/2000th of a second.

This quickness of speed does not let much light in at all, and on the A77II is only really usable in bright sunny outdoor conditions.

The camera therefore compensated for the fast shutter speed by setting an ISO of 3200, which is too high for the A77II to get clear pictures. The highest usable ISO on the camera is probably ISO 1600.

The resulting photos, like the one shown at the start of this section were quite dark and grainy, and borderline usable.

Later on in the shoot I changed to Manual and set the shutter speed to between 1/160th and 1/250th, and Aperture of F4, which meant ISO’s of 250, 320, and 400 could be used. However this resulted in some photos that were a bit blurry because the shutter speed was not high enough.

The quality of the photos is not easy to see in the viewfinder, even when magnified, and is not until they are downloaded onto a PC that you really know what you have captured.

The actual lighting in the stadium was quite good, as they had both artificial lighting as well as plenty of skylights in the roof.

Next time I would try use a shutter speed of 1/500th, Aperture F4, and ISO’s between 400 and 800 and see what type of photos that might produce.

It is basically a Trade Off between high enough shutter speed to have clear images of the players without blurring, versus keeping the ISO down to a level where there is not darkness and graininess.

So it is a matter of finding the “sweet spot” for the camera, by trying a lot of different settings in manual mode. However in a one hour timeframe this is extremely difficult. We would need to be spending at least two hours at the event to get everything perfect.

Obviously spending about $5000 to $6000 on a Professional Nikon Camera and Lens setup would solve all of these problems, because we could shoot clearly at much higher ISOs.

Unfortunately we have no budget to do this, and so we will have to make do with the equipment we have by shooting in Manual Mode and finding the optimum settings.

 
 

Beach Volleyball

Victorian Teachers Games Bendigo 12

Like the Indoor Soccer, this was not an easy shoot. The Referee was kind enough to let me into the netted court and stand at the side of the Net. So at least I did not have to squeeze the slit door open to put the camera through.

However the ball did hit me a couple of times and narrowly missed the camera on two or three occasions. But this did make for the following brilliant action shot:

Victorian Teachers Games Bendigo 13

Most shots had to be taken in Portrait mode because the ball is hit so high in the air during this game. A lot of shots were unusable because the ball moved so fast it was out of frame by the time the camera fired.

 

Unlike normal Volleyball, this is a netted cage where players can bounce the ball off the roof and sides, and so it is power hitting with hardly any spiking or the like at the Net.

This means that most of the photos show the players back-court with no Volleyball Net in sight, and so it is not obvious that they are playing an actual game of Volleyball and not just hitting up.

Again we had High ISO problems with the camera set in SCN “Sports Mode”, because based on tracking the ball’s speed the camera wants to use 1/2000th shutter and ISO’s above ISO 1600.

We did however get some clear shots in Manual Mode, but had problems with the ball blurring as in this shot:

Victorian Teachers Games Bendigo 14

 

Beach Volleyball Photos

Here are the links to the Beach Volleyball Photos

Beach Volleyball Photos on Flickr

If you would like to download copies of photos from Flickr, then use the following instructions:

How To Download Photos from Flickr

 

Beach Volleyball Photos on Facebook

 

EQUIPMENT:

Sony Alpha A-77 Mk II Camera
Sony 16-50mm SSM F2.8

As dicussed there were ISO problems just like the Soccer, resulting in some dark exposure pictures.

However the reflection of light off the white sand helped a lot, and in SCN “Sports Mode” the 1/2000th shutter speed photos were at ISO 1600 which is more usable than 3200.

Like for the soccer, I tried taking a few shots on manual mode, (using shutter speed of 1/250th and ISO 400) and it can be seen in the album that these are clearer and brighter, but often the ball is blurred.

Beach Volleyball is not at all easy to Photograph, as the only available vantage point is crammed up against the side of the net can be used, and a lot of the play does not occur near the net anyway.

Maybe a Go-Pro strapped to somebody’s head shooting video would produce a better story of what actually happened during the game!

 
 

Op Shop Party Night

Victorian Teachers Games Bendigo 15

Op Shop Night is a Social Event where people dress up in clothes they have purchased from the charity stores for poor people. The bright colors and interesting outfits make for a great photoshoot.

 

Op Shop Party Night Photos

Here are the links to the Op Shop Party Night Photos

Op Shop Party Night Photos on Flickr

If you would like to download copies of photos from Flickr, then use the following instructions:

How To Download Photos from Flickr

 

Op Shop Party Night Photos on Facebook

 

EQUIPMENT:

Sony Alpha A-77 Mk II Camera
Sony 16-50mm SSM F2.8
Sony HVL-F43M Flash
Gary Fong Gamma Blade Diffuser

Panasonic Lumix LX-7 Low Light Camera

The “Party People” photos were taken mainly at the Star Bar, but some non-flash photos were taken with the Lumix LX7 at The Foundry Hotel.

Using the Sony A77II this was basically our standard night club venue shoot, done in manual mode using ISO 1250 with shutter speed of 1/125th of a second.

Aperture was varied from 4.0 to 5.6 depending on the size of the group of people we were photographing.

The flash power was also set manually for every shot, mostly to 1/8 power and 50mm width.

The Star Bar had a smoke machine going which caused problems on many photos.

However the highly reflective cloudy smoke particles were almost entirely removed in Photoshop using Image > Adjustments > Exposure and then sliding the “Offset” to the left a little.

Photoshop is brilliant and makes all the difference when working with Digital Images.

 
 

Being Official Photogragher for the Victorian Teachers Games was a great experience, and apart from the Photoshopping into the early hours of the morning, a really fun time.

It was great to get out and about and use all of my camera equipment in different sports settings.

The Sony A77II with the 16-50mm F2.8 Sony Lens is as good as the reviews say for doing high speed sports photography, as long as you are outdoors in bright light. However, Indoors the camera is hampered by its lack of high ISO capabilities.

There are quite a few things I would change when doing Indoor Sports, as I have found that you cannot trust the camera to choose the right settings. That is unless you have a very expensive $6000 plus, High ISO capable professional setup.

As for many scenarios, it is necessary to get the camera into full Manual Mode and try your best to find some optimal settings which produce bright and clear pictures which capture the sport’s action.

 
 

Additional Reading

If you want to learn more about the technical aspects of photography, then check out the articles and how to guides on our website at the following link:

Photos By Passy – How To Guides

 
 

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Enjoy,
Passy

Robyn’s Birthday

This was a photoshoot of a private party in a very crowded room. The space was like the upstairs room in a restaurant, with all of the tables and chairs cleared out, and people packed in.

The people attending were dressed up for the event with some good colour, which really helped brighten up the resulting photographs.

A full Flickr Gallery of Photos can be viewed here:

Flickr Photo Gallery of Robyn’s Birthday Party

 
 

EQUIPMENT:

Sony Alpha A-77 Camera
Tamron 17-50mm F2.8
Sony HVL-F43M Flash
Gary Fong Gamma Blade Diffuser

The party was a tightly crowded environment, and I was very happy with how the Gary Fong Gamma Blade Diffuser worked on the Flash at such close proximity.

The general approach taken was to shoot with the Flash set at 50mm width in full manual mode. The flash power was set fairly high to get brighter than normal pictures which could then be toned down later in Photoshop.

All pictures were shot at ISO 1000 and a shutter speed of around 1/100. Aperture was varied from F2.8 up into the 4’s and 5.6 for the larger group shots. The A-77 camera was set to full manual “M” mode.

This approach worked well, and with some exposure adjusting and air brush type retouching in Photoshop; the final photos came up well.

A very experienced professional photographer at a Melbourne newspaper even commented on how good they were, so we were definitely on the right track on this shoot.

 

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Enjoy,
Passy

Johnny’s Christening

This was the first Baptism we have ever photographed, and overall it went quite well.

It was not easy getting Family Shots in the Church, and in hindsight I should have changed lenses at some stage and used my larger 24-70mm low light zoom lens; rather than just using the 17-50mm F2.l8 lens for the entire shoot.

Apart from the Church Ceremony, there was also an afterwards luncheon at a Winery, which required lots of “People Pictures” to be taken.

A full Flickr Gallery of Photos can be viewed here:

Flickr Photo Gallery of Johnny’s Christening

 
 

EQUIPMENT:

Sony Alpha A-77 Camera
Tamron 17-50mm F2.8
Sony HVL-F43M Flash
Gary Fong Gamma Flat Blade Diffuser

I needed to travel as light as possible for this shoot, as I was wearing a suit to the function. The flat Blade Diffuser was great and easily fitted in my pocket, with the Flash in the other inside suit jacket pocket.

The lighting in the church was excellent, as in the early afternoon there was great filtered sunlight streaming in, and there was no need to use any flash.

Shots inside the Church were taken at ISOs of 800 and 1250. Any over exposure was then corrected in Photoshop.

Generally we are finding that over exposure is not a huge problem, as the camera catches the detail, and it is then just a matter of toning it all down using Photoshop.

However, under exposure is a problem, as less detail seems to have been captured by the camera sensor. These shots do not brighten up so well in Photoshop.

However, we are doing all of our shots in JPEG format. My friend Scotty advises me that if you shoot in Raw, there is in fact more detail that is captured; even if the shot is under exposed. Now that we are getting our head around shooting fully in manual mode; the next step will be to learn all about shooting in Raw format. We need to get Adobe Lightroom, and then shoot an event in both Raw and Jpeg; and then compare the results. This is definitely on the 2014 To Do List.

For the after function, the Flash was used indoors with the Gamma Diffuser and worked well.

Daylight shots of people outside were taken at ISO 100 to ISO 400.

There was a bit of a problem with large Group Shots having some people, especially those on the ends out of focus. I was using apertures of 4.0 to 5.0, but maybe I even need to go higher for large groups.

Overall the shoot went well, and people were happy with the online photo album which was produced.

 

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Enjoy,
Passy