It’s graduation season. Right? So many parents are out to shoot their kids’ ceremony. High School, Grade School, Music School, University: important moments in a life; milestones that really deserve to be photographed. And understandably, you ask “how”.
So in that context, here’s a few tips.
You want pictures of graduation ceremonies. Both the “handing out of the diploma” and the crowd going wild. Make it into a permanent memory. Shoot context, too. Challenges: The light is likely to be somewhat low. Your position may not be great.
Solutions: Use high ISO, a “fast” lens, and shoot lots. Be sure to get the “required” shots – like the one where your graduate is being handed his or her diploma.
- Long lens over 100mm) for diploma shots
- Wide lens (24-35mm) for the crowd shots
- Use fast lenses (“Low f-number”)!
- Bring a flash – you may or may not need to, and be able to, use it
- Bring a Fong Lightsphere: bounceability may be bad, so if that is the case and the light is low, the Lightsphere may be a way out.
- Consider bringing a monopod. Just in case!
- Mode: Manual
- Shutter: usually 1/30th – 1/60th sec (see meter)
- Aperture: f/2.8 or low as as possible
- ISO: at least 400 (at f/2.8) or 800 (at f/4) or even 1,600 (at f/5.6)
- Drive mode: Continuous, fast
- Focus points: Centre focus point/area
- Focus mode: One Shot/AF-S
- Metering: Evaluative/3D Color Matrix, or spot
- Arrive early, to get a good seat.
- Be ready for light changes (someone turns on or off the spot lights).
- Practice on kids who are in the line before yours!
- Find out if “getting up” and Flash are allowed, and act accordingly.
- Shoot wide open (largest aperture), at the highest ISO you can stand. Use the centre focus point (it’s more sensitive in low light).
- Try to catch the graduate on the way up to receive the diploma, and on the way out with it.
- Tell your graduate to look at you after he/she is handed the diploma. They may forget – or they may not.
- And especially, get “the money shot”, with the graduate shaking hands and being handed the diploma.
- Then change to wide or normal lens to catch the crowd,or perhaps “caps in the air”.
- Catch the exit line near the beginning – not near the end, where it degrades.
These tips should be enough to get you going. And don’t forget: enjoy these once-in a lifetime moments.