Part 1 of 3 - Swim Team Photos @ J & Jeanné Wagner Jewish Community Center

This summer I had the opportunity to take some portraits of the youth swim teams at the IJ & Jeanné Wagner Jewish Community Center... 

I had a great experience and wanted to share some of my steps in preparing, capturing and editing these images.

Having taken portraits of various sizes of teams, families and concert goers, I took this opportunity to expand my skills in large group portraiture. This was a shoot that needed minutes of research as the size of the group and the location of the shoot were at the time unknown.

The area available to me being the community center pool area, I decided to both arrive early and I also used google earth to get some ideas as to where to place my subjects and my lighting set up.

Not knowing if the pool area would be totally crowded or chairs laid out all over. I thought that the best staging area would be the top of the pool's swim lanes (as highlighted in red). A straight line to arrange the subjects and with the pool as the background there was just enough space for my lighting set up and camera.

I arrived about 20 minutes early with the need to set up and get some last minute checks out of the way. I found myself with 4-5 feet of room for each group another 2-3 feet for lighting and tripod. I checked my batteries, set up lights and roughly composed my shot.

Set up was:

 1) Photoflex Reflective Umbrella 2) 71 inch shoot though umbrella from Neewer 3) Profoto B2 Location Kit (rental from local store Pictureline: Kit including Manfrotto lightstands, B2 heads) 4) Sandbags: *Must have especially when outdoors and with wind catching umbrellas near a pool.... 5) Lowpro Backpack of mine propped on the bigger lightstand for added weight on this stand with the massive modifier. 

Lastly with my camera (not pictured because I took the picture with it.) A Canon 6D with a Tamron 24-70 f/2.8 zoom lens.

Swim Teams' POV of the set up.

As shown in the EXIF data from the image below, I was in manual mode, had an aperture of f/6.3 for deep enough for focus on a small group at the focal length of 27mm while still having a reasonably fast shutter speed of  1/160. I arrived at these settings by metering for the sky behind the group allowing for the blues to be visible and highlights not blown out. Then letting the TTL capable Profoto B2 pop off as much light as needed to light my subjects.

*A helpful aspect of the shoot: Talking with the coaches before and during the shoot. I observed that the swim teams looked up to and followed instructions of their adult teachers very well. I was easily able to have the attention of the group and have them at ease (for a few minutes anyway). We took a bunch of shots rapid fire asking for both "serious" faces as well as a "crazy face" (as seen in final gallery). 

As for editing the images:

Below is a straight out of camera (SOOC) image. You can see that overall exposure is pretty decent, only a few tweak are necessary as well as a quick straightening and removal of two life guards that I had failed to account for while focused on my subjects.

Making a few basic changes such as a slight reduction in overall exposure, bringing down the highlights and whites to give details back and adjusting the tone curve to fit my tastes. With a dash of warmth to compensate for the early morning blue hue I have create what I think is a solid portrait of these kids that in my mind would hang on their parents walls for all eternity. 

With this similar formula repeated in a few of my "keepers" from the shoot, here are a few of the finals that were sent to the client for your viewing pleasure.

STAY TUNED for Part 2 and 3 of this overall JCC Swim Team Shoot.

Up Next: Solo Swim Team Member Portraits.

Thanks for looking!

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Be sure to contact me at LOGAN@LMSORENSON.NET 

or at (801) 455-9957

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