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Taking Graduation Pictures

Date: 05/17/2000 
Author: Chieh Cheng  

Hi, gang,

My brother is graduating from UCLA this June. I will be attending his graduation ceremony with the rest of my family.

Do you have any tips on taking graduation pictures?

If you have samples of graduation pictures on the net, I'd love to take a look at them.


Date: 05/17/2000 
Author: Gene Rhodes  

I would set my CP990 to ISO 400, flash off, and install my ProOptic X2 tele converter stacked on top of my TC-E2 X2 tele converter (440mm 35eq). There's no exposure penalty for teles with the 990. If indoors, I would use something to stabilize the camera. If you want to see the arrangement click "CP950" at:

Date: 05/23/2000 
Author: CPU Doug

Hello CC,

Can you tell me anything about where the ceremony will be taking place (football stadium, campus theater, music hall, etc)? Will you be able to get close as your brother exits the stage area and returns to his seat?

What can you tell me about the camera you will be using? The most important information needed is: lens equivalents (for example: 38-105mm); ISO/film speed selections on your camera (ISO 100, ISO 200, ISO 400, etc.); is exposure fully automatic or can you set the aperture or shutter speed manually.

Also, for good photo TECHNIQUES, which is almost never discussed in, you may want to post your message with the above details in, and If you are in an area where flash is not allowed, and/or you are using a fully extended zoom, then it is extremely wise to use a tripod.

Date: 05/29/2000 
Author: Chieh Cheng  

I went to check out my brother's graduation location. It will be in- door, 8-(, on a basketball court. The arena is flooded with florenscent light. I metered the court and got a reading of 1/10 at f/5.6 using ISO 400 film.

I don't know how far I will be from my brother yet.

I am planning on taking my 28-135mm f/3.5-5.6 lens to the graduation to cover all situations. Since the ceremony is going to take place in- door, I will be using ISO 400 film. I can set aperature and shutter speed with my camera.

Date: 06/03/2000 
Author: CPU Doug

I don't like the sound of 1/10 sec at any aperture with moving subjects, but....

The lens you are taking will be very good. If you can arrive early and plan a few quick paths down a side isle to and from the front of graduates seating area. Choose the isle your brother will be exiting toward. This should, if you can get up the side isle, get you a good shot of him as he holds the diploma, is still shaking hands, and is turning to exit. Plenty of tension, and relief, in one action shot.

Then take a few quick steps back down the isle, and catch a few shots of your brother as he rounds the corner toward you. Select a low crouched position to keep just the lights, high wall, and ceiling as your background. Maybe even hold the camera down low, use a wider angle, and guestimate what's in the image. Keep snapping away for that one shot that will be "it". This takes practice. I've taken many impressive candids with my camera held at odd positions (on knee, under arm, arms crossed, camera held low to my thigh...). the lights, high wall, and ceiling can have a gauzian blur applied later if they are distracting.

Another thought, if you won't be able to walk down the isle due to lack of room. Get in early, and if seating is not assigned, then take a seat where you'll have a straight shot at about eye-level with your brother as he gets his diploma. The background will be messier that the ceiling type shot, but if you can zoom in close enough, then you'll have a photo worth framing as an 8x10" next to his dimploma.

Date: 05/17/2000 
Author: zeitgeist  

What kind of tips are you looking for? There are two basic aspects to photographing events like this, journalistic and commemorative portrait. Either style can be compared to their equivelent in wedding photography. Please ask a more specific question about what you wish to accomplish. Maybe if I showed up for mine I would have more info about it...

Date: 05/17/2000 
Author: Mac Breck  

Indoors? Use a fast lens, fast film (color negative), either an 80A or FL-D filter depending on the lighting, and no flash (can lead to nasty shadows during the ceremony). The focal length to use depends on how far away you are from the podium. I'd take a 35 f/1.4, 50mm f/1.2, 105 f/2.5, and a 180 f/2.8 ED. If it was really far away, I might drag out my 300 f/2.8 ED-IF (not very likely though).

Outdoors, it's much easier. Leave the 80A and FL-D in the bag and use a slower speed film.

Date: 01/31/2001
Author: Chieh Cheng 

Thanks for all the advice you all have given me. I gotten a lot of great pictures at my brother's graduation based on your advices. I got great portrait shots, full-length portraits, and pictures of him with everyone else.

One mistake I made was that I did not take any environmental portraits, which indicated where the graduation was taking place. Nothing in any of the pictures I made associated it to UCLA. It is too bad. I wish I have done better by taking more environmental portraits.

Hopefully you can learn from my mistake.

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