A simple team photo that could have been difficult

Well this one was a relief when I knew we had it!  Nothing obviously complex.  The hardest thing was the doubt and the second-guessing BEFORE the shoot.  The subjects made it easy and fun, plus they are a good looking bunch.  But they came from their office (about 40 minutes away) just for the photo so I REALLY wanted it to work out smoothly.  I am pretty good with groups, but there are so many things that can go wrong on location shoots like this, and you try to have contingency plans in place, but some things just can’t be planned for.  For example, you technically need a permit anywhere in the GGNRA to take commercial photos, although this is very arbitrarily enforced.  One of the ways to avoid a hassle is to avoid using too much gear, so I took one small light with me, and made sure that my assistant could hold it.  Thus no lightstand, or tripod necessary.  In the van was a large battery pack that can run my Dynalite 1000 packs, but that would open up a bunch of issues, so it was there only as a backup.  I was pleasantly surprised at the quality of this light (Quantum Q-flash), and I think it has to do with the shape and quality of the reflector/flashtube.  I am so used to the Canon flash with a rectangular shape, and a small horizontal flash tube.  This Quantum looks much more like my old Norman 200B, and it made me consider working with the Norman again (a couple new batteries, and it would be good to go).  I had just enough power to feel comfortable and shoot this at 1/125 @5.6 at ISO 200 with a polarizer (sorry to go all teknickel on you) and not have to wait too long for the recycle.  The reason I don’t pop out and buy one of these is that the cost with the necessary Quantum Turbo battery is in the $1200 range.  I think I will stick with that 200 B.  But we were lucky (and prepared).  I scouted this two times at the exact hour of the photo shoot on previous days, and then, on the day of the shoot came from the Marin side to SF (after having shot another outdoor group photo on the steps of the Capitol in Sacramento), and saw with dismay that the haze was TERRIBLE.  Luckily, once on the South side looking North, with my trusty polarizer, it all fell into place.  It was ironic that I had two outdoor shoots on one day, a day where rain was predicted until 24 hours before.  And both shoots required some permitting or dodging of a permit.  I like to go by the book when p0ssible, but there seems to be no recognition on the part of many agencies that a still photographer is NOT a full-on film crew with Hollywood budgets.  The permit and the application fee for the permit in this case would have been an additional 70% of the total invoice.  And the Sacramento permit was necessary because the last time I photographed some legislators on the steps of the Capitol, an officer came by and harrassed me, although he let us slide when he saw my subjects.  It is ironic, because every TV crew in California sets up on the steps without a permit, but the minute a STILL photographer plops down a lightstand, all hell breaks loose.  So my client very helpfully negotiated a permit in a very interesting way.  No one asked to see it.  Also typical.  I guess I am boring anyone reading this, but it was one of those funny days that all photographers would recognize.   I guess the lesson here is that preparation helps, but so does luck!  It is not a portfolio piece, but still the result was quite satisfying, and full of relief.  I was SO happy to have this one in the bag.  Too many things could have gone wrong, and none of them did.  And sadly, I am paid partly for my ability to think of what CAN go wrong, and to prevent it or provide alternatives.  I hate worrying about things that I cannot control, but by worrying, I think I am practicing some special brand of voodoo that will protect me from the things I am confronting.


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