In April, I was asked by a friend if I had time to photograph the San Francisco Maritime Museum's Beer Fest. The Maritime Museum needed some new photos for their website and social media. And since it has been a while since I visited Pier 45, I agreed. Also, I figured, why not get some practice in! Pier 45 is home to two World War Two Era fighting ships: the U.S.S. Jeremiah O'Brien and the U.S.S. Pompanito. The O'Brien is the more famous of the two, having last seen action during Gulf War Two as a supply ship.
As this was an event, I brought along the XF 16-55mm f/2.8. It's the equivalent field of view of a 24-70mm f/2.8 lens on a full frame camera. No prime lenses for this event because quick reaction time, and speed in getting good framing would be essential. Wouldn't want to miss the shot!
I like the first shot, and kinda don't like it at the same time, but I needed an intro photo for this blog entry. What I like about it is that you can see the little beer steins and you have a pretty good idea of what the event might be. What I don't like about the shot are the Office Depot raffle tickets. I should have flipped the ticket around because the printed lettering of the ticket takes away from the lettering that should actually be the focus of the shot.
At least in this next shot, I got it right, and with the ship in the background as well. I could have left out the first shot, but this blog is about both the good and the bad, and lessons learned from the latter. Everything in the first shot actually works as far as composition, it's just the lettering from the ticket that gets in the way.
If there's a key photo for the event, it's definitely this one.
I lit the above shot with a quick burst from my Nissin i60 speedlight that was mounted directly on the X-T2. The flash was set to TTL mode.
For the next shot, the beer bottles were lined up so I decided to use the leading lines composition technique. Why? Because it was there so why not?
No speedlight for the shot, but you can see that the ISO was increased to 640. Depending on the situation, I might trim the exposure using the ISO, especially if I think the shutter speed is too low. In this case, it was. X-T2 photos still look fairly clean to me, up to ISO 1200, so I wasn't worried about any grain.
The next set of shots definitely needed some help from the speedlight. The event started officially at 6pm, so there were some strong shadows along the pier. You can tell sun position, but looking at how dark the pier is compared to the ships. The light is even in all of the shots -- no noticeable flash spots anywhere -- because while the flash was mounted atop the camera, I tilted the flash head up about 45 degrees and bounced all of the light off of the white card on the flash. This meant increasing the flash exposure by two full stops, and that happens to be the max (+/- 2 stops) for the Nissan i60. I find that rather odd, but because the i60's older brother, the i40, has a +/- 3 stop power adjustment. But the flash output is definitely much stronger on the i60 vs the i40.
For the above and below shots, i really wanted to get some background interest. I was able to stage both shots the way I wanted because the event had just started and there weren't a lot of people on the pier yet.
Again, in the next shot, no direct flash on the subjects, hence the even lighting.
This next shot also required the same flash technique.
I was hoping to get a close-up of their hands exchanging the little beer stein, but it's just hard to get that close.
And, of course, our final shot, a toast!
This was an interesting event. There was another photographer there, shooting with a Sony A7R III and she had an assistant with a soft box on a boom. Their technique also produced some nice, even lighting that evening, The soft box is a great way to diffuse the light, especially with a large group.