Birthday Party

The occasion: a family birthday party. The location: a boat on the Thames on a Saturday night, in 1920’s costume. The challenge was to take the photos, delivered in a monochrome / sepia finish.

Why was it a challenge? Simply put, I don’t normally do people photography. I don’t normally do indoor flash photography. I have never tried a people based mono / sepia conversion! But how hard could it really be?

The last was most easily solved. A hunt around the internet soon brought me to some Darktable “Styles” (similar to Lightroom presets). a quick look through these gave me one which would process the photos in a slightly soft sepia tone. In practice I did tweak the style a bit, to get what I wanted.

People photography in this context is actually not particularly hard, being much easier than shooting a wedding, for example. It is mainly a matter of ensuring that there is a p-leasing picture of everybody there, along with a few group / amusing / silly pictures. lighting can be an issue, but the requirement of sepia processing actually made this a bit easier to handle.

The Photo Gear

My Nissin Speedlite is only compatible with the Canon EOS 450D. So, really, there was nothing special in taking the photos. The 17-50 f/2.8 zoom on one camera and the 50mm f/1.8 on the other, occasionally swapped around produced a good set of results. Using the flash, even with a Sto-fen fitted, resulted in a stop or so of overexposure. In the belief that this would work well with the mono and sepia toning I let that stay uncorrected. I shoot RAW in any case, so was not too worried.

Processing was completed in Darktable. Check out the slide show below for my favourites.

Looking ahead, maybe I should do more of this type of photography!


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