I took this shot of jazz great Peter Appleyard, the wizard of the vibraphone, back in 2009:
So how did I do this – what was behind my decisions?
Here’s my thinking and execution:
- This called for a “situational” portrait; an environmental portrait showing him at work, as it were.
- I therefore used a 24mm lens on a full frame camera (in fact it was the 16-35 f/2.8L set to 24). 24mm is nice and wide, but not so wide I get crazy distortion in the subject (provided the subject is small in the image).
- I bounced my flash behind me to the left, off the ceiling.
- Since the venue was dark, and I wanted a lighter background, I used not my normal “400-40-4” settings, but 400-30-2.8 – ie a stop and a third lighter in the background. 400 ISO, 1/30th second. f/2.8. (Since I am using a wide lens, f/2.8 gives me enough DOF. Since I am freezing the subject with flash, 1/30th second is fast enough).
- I used “off-centre” composition (using the Rule of Thirds).
- I focused on Mr Appleyard, using one focus point, then recomposing.
- I stayed ou t of the way of the audience as much as possible.
This is the thinking that goes though a photographer’s mind quickly. Practice the same – think about things like lens, light, exposure, and composition. You will see you will get quick at this just by asking the right questions.