I’m a member of the Indianapolis based camera club, the Photo Venture Camera Club. One thing I like about the club is the monthly photo field trip. This month we did the Peru Amateur Circus during family night. The organizers gave us free rein of the place, as long as we stayed out of the way of the performers and off the performance area.
I had visited the event a couple of years ago, so I knew in advance the photo conditions were definitely a challenge. The performers were bathed in spot lights, but everything else was pitch black. It made for situations where images were either blown out, or way too dark. This was a venue where fast glass and manual settings were the way to go.
I took a Nikkor AF-S 35mm f/1.8G prime, Nikkor AF-S 50mm f/1.4G prime, Nikkor AF 24-70mm f/2.6, and finally a Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 Di LD (IF) Macro AF. In order to avoid a heavy backpack I used my thinkTANK Pro Speed Belt V2.0 with 2 Skin 50 pockets and a Lens Changer 35. This setup easily handled my lens along with backup cards and a small flashlight. I also took a monopod just in case.
As is the norm with most of my photoshoots I took too much kit. I primarily used my Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 uber lens, and my Nikkor 50mm f/1.4. I used my Tamron a few time, but have become convinced that in all but well lighted scenes this lens is worthless. It really doesn’t focus well, it’s slow and there is no VR. I bought it a few years ago because I didn’t want to shell out for a Nikkor equivalent, and I’ve been kicking myself since. I suspect most people say it’s a great lens, but for my typical shooting I don’t bother with it. I didn’t use the monopod for more than 15-20 shots, so that was wasted space.
Anyway, all of my shots were in manual with only a few in aperture priority. Typically 1/50th of a second shutter speed and aperture set at f/2.8. On occasions I stopped down the aperture but then I had to slow down the shutter to 1/30th of a second. In post processing I found anything slower than 1/50th was not sharp enough. Almost all photos had the ISO set at 1000 to 1600. I could have gone higher with my Nikon D300s, but I wanted to minimize the potential for noise. Even for a DX sensor noise really isn’t a problem with the D300s. I’d love to have a D3s or D3x, but I won’t go there!
With my camera set, I spent about 3 hours wandering the circus and shooting away.
Post processing was straight forward. I increased exposure in most pictures and added a bit of fill light using Adobe Lightroom 3. In some cases I had to change the color temperature, but that really wasn’t a problem because the spot lights appeared to be pure white. Very little problems with color caste. I did heavily use the noise reduction slider which is amazing. Several images were also processed in Adobe Photoshop CS5 mainly to selectively goose the exposure or contrast.
Overall, it was a fun night shooting lights, people and action with the photo club. A really enjoyable time.