Next to the Lights

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© 2014 Eric Christopher Jackson. All Rights Reserved.

Last week, I had the pleasure of meeting and photographing this family. Their sole request was to have the lights and atmosphere of Downtown Las Vegas in view. They picked a spot and we walked along Fremont Street passed various places.

It takes a while for me to get comfortable photographing people I just met and they have to get comfortable with me photographing them. What really helps is I show them the photos I take as we go. It turns into a collaboration on how they want to pose and where they want to visit next.

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The biggest challenge was lighting. Finding a spot where the lighting was even and they weren’t drowned in shadows. White balance was also a concern because different colors of light are cast onto them from many different directions. During editing, I tried to go with the color temperature that looked the most natural the majority of the time.

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I only tried a few of the images in black & white since I was already short on time. Moments come and go so fast. Vehicles and people were moving in the background. Construction was going on nearby. It was a busy street. In certain instances, other people stood out in the shots too much; I couldn’t use those. Still, I think I found intimate moments between them despite the surroundings. Perhaps, it was part of the beauty.

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The mood changed. My tendency to be shy and look away had to go out the window. My focus went into another gear, making sure the composition was right during these shots. And as I said before, I continued to show them what I captured on the LCD screen and they continued to think of something else they wanted memories of.

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I did not apply Lens Correction to this image. I liked it as is, a slight fish-eye effect. By this time, I was snickering because the baby was having a fit and they were laughing. 🙂 His pose is perfect, the way she’s holding him, the portrait layout, the lights in the background, it all came together at one time. This is the final shot of the night and it turned out to be my favorite from the session.

Overall, it went well. Photo editing was stressful because…night time, no external flash, various color temperatures, high ISO at 1600…I was afraid too many shots would be grainy. Some were, but for the most part, thank God. I was able to reduce the noise, chromatic aberrations weren’t too bad…sigh of relief.

Before the next assignment, I’ll try my own tests at bit more. Cap my ISO at 1250, try to stay at ISO 1000 at night. See how that goes. I’ve taken shots at night plenty of times, but the ISO would be around 320, so I wouldn’t get any grain at all. Yet, the shutter speed would be between 4 and 6 seconds which causes anything (or anyone) that’s moving to blur. Hence, I can’t use that technique here. I have to find that sweet spot to know how high my ISO can be at a fairly quick shutter speed without losing picture quality. Practice, practice, practice.

Eric Christopher Jackson

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