On Assignment: Party Backgrounds!

by | Mar 29, 2024 | Assignments | 0 comments

When I first found out what the theme would be for the photo assignment we would be shooting for Homeschool Summits in April, I got a wild idea in my head for what to photograph. However, I had a very difficult time figuring out how I would actually go about shooting my idea! Finally, after thinking about it for a long time, I came up with a plan. With just a few household items, I could accomplish what I was envisioning! And that’s when I started rolling the video . . .

My first shots were awful!

Group 1

But that’s to be expected. And a small piece of confetti in focus here or there gave me hope.

240319_James Staddon_3056 Canon EOS 7D Mark II, 50 mm, 1-800 sec at f - 2.0, ISO 400

The obvious thing to do was to make the background dark. So I did that. And then I tried adding some fairy lights to create some bokeh.

240319_James Staddon_3102 Canon EOS 7D Mark II, 50 mm, 1-2000 sec at f - 2.0, ISO 1600

Then blew the blower . . .but it blew the lights away! Now I just had dark pieces blowing around against a dark background without any lights.

240319_James Staddon_3123 Canon EOS 7D Mark II, 50 mm, 1-2000 sec at f - 2.0, ISO 1600

Even though some pieces caught a glint of light, this particular way of having things set up wasn’t going anywhere.

Group 2

So, I moved the entire kit and caboodle over into the sunlight!

Sadly, this introduced a whole new set of problems. Even with the one half of the container shaded, the fairy-light wires were very visible and all kinds of new reflections were introduced.

240319_James Staddon_3141 Canon EOS 7D Mark II, 50 mm, 1-2000 sec at f - 2.0, ISO 1600

So I gave up on the background bokeh idea (at least for the moment), and just blew things around to see what it was like.

Group 3

240319_James Staddon_3163 Canon EOS 7D Mark II, 50 mm, 1-2000 sec at f - 2.0, ISO 1600

I knew there was potential here, but I still felt I had a long way to go. I had to get rid of all the reflections! So I closed the blinds, made the room dark, and brought in my own lights to shine only into the container where I wanted it to shine. By now I had stopped rolling the camera and was zoning in on getting a good shot with the time that I had left.

240319_James Staddon_3174 Canon EOS 7D Mark II, 50 mm, 1-2000 sec at f - 2.0, ISO 2500

Underexposing was helping things too! I kept taking photos. Machine gun fire while the blower was blowing.

Group 4

After a lot of of photos, I realized I really wasn’t getting what I wanted. Just leaving the outcome to random chance with where the pieces decided to fly on their on really wasn’t working like I had expected.

So, I brought in some Christmas lights and placed them in the background. My hope was that they would add an additional layer of interest, and maybe even help with the eye flow.

240319_James Staddon_3202 Canon EOS 7D Mark II, 50 mm, 1-2000 sec at f - 2.0, ISO 1600

And then I started blowing things around again!

240319_James Staddon_3221 Canon EOS 7D Mark II, 50 mm, 1-2000 sec at f - 2.0, ISO 1600

Group 5

Nope that wasn’t working. The light I had brought in wasn’t strong enough to lighten up the confetti at 1/2000 sec. And I didn’t like the texture of the bokeh. It looked “scratchy”. And I realized this was because the bottom of the container I was shooting through was not smooth! It was all scratched up, so it made the bokeh look scratchy.

At this point I almost concluded that the whole experiment was a fail, so I decided to wrap up by taking some non-movement photos of the confetti sitting inside the blue container.

240319_James Staddon_3235 Canon EOS 7D Mark II, 50 mm, 1-400 sec at f - 2.8, ISO 1600

Wow. Finally a photo that might actually be worth keeping.

“But hey, what if I used the blower with this composition?

240319_James Staddon_3239 Canon EOS 7D Mark II, 50 mm, 1-400 sec at f - 2.0, ISO 1600

Wow! That was what I needed! Instead of a pure black background, and relying on random chance to catch pieces of confetti in pleasing areas, I just needed to change my composition! I took a lot more photos.

Group 6

I liked that!

My spirits were revived. “How could I perfect this now?”

Edges of the container were visible in the background. The background wasn’t smooth. And like I said before, the bokeh looked scratchy. “Why not switch to a different container?!”

I grabbed a . . . can you guess?

240319_James Staddon_3323 Canon EOS 7D Mark II, 50 mm, 1-500 sec at f - 2.0, ISO 1600

This is shooting down through a glass water pitcher.

I was surprised the bokeh didn’t look that much better. I guess the glass at the bottom of the pitcher was pretty thick. But at least it looked better. I started blowing again.

240319_James Staddon_3331 Canon EOS 7D Mark II, 50 mm, 1-500 sec at f - 2.0, ISO 1600

And took a lot more pictures again! Smile

Group 7

Stepping back to review the photos, I realized that the two Christmas light bulbs in the background looked like two eyes. I needed change that. So I moved things around, and ran the blower again.

240319_James Staddon_3372 Canon EOS 7D Mark II, 50 mm, 1-1000 sec at f - 2.0, ISO 1600

Who knows what else I did after that. Smile I changed focus points, shutter speeds, methods of blowing, light angles . . . all sorts of things. Here are some of my favorites shots from that final arrangement.

240319_James Staddon_3382 Canon EOS 7D Mark II, 50 mm, 1-1000 sec at f - 2.0, ISO 1600

240319_James Staddon_3419 Canon EOS 7D Mark II, 50 mm, 1-1000 sec at f - 2.0, ISO 800

240319_James Staddon_3433 Canon EOS 7D Mark II, 50 mm, 1-1000 sec at f - 2.0, ISO 800

240319_James Staddon_3485 Canon EOS 7D Mark II, 50 mm, 1-2000 sec at f - 2.0, ISO 800

Group 8

I was out of time. And after taking over 500 photos, I was finished with taking pictures too. Smile

I wouldn’t say the photos turned out like I was expecting, and wouldn’t say I was super happy with the way the whole photo shoot turned out in general, but I was happy that I was able to pursue my idea pretty far and I actually had a few nice photos to show for all my effort. In retrospect, I think using only round, gold confetti (made with a paper hole punch!) would have made the photos 100 times better.

Now It’s Your Turn!

Normally, I conclude with just giving you a link to the assignment details. But this time, I want to leave you with two links!

The first link is to Homeschool Summits’ “Relational Lifestyle” event that they are running April 8-12. It’s a free, online event featuring excellent speakers such as Stephen Kendrick and Eric & Leslie Ludy. The purpose of the event is to help us catch a vision for the power of a gospel-infused, joy-filled way of life in the relational spheres of family, homeschool, and church! Since we are photographing this assignment for Homeschool Summits specifically, I thought it wouldn’t hurt sign up for the event so we could get a better understanding of who they are and what kind of photos they might like more than others. So, the first link is this link to their April Summit!

Lifestyle_Event

And then, of course, the second link is to the details for this assignment! Party Backgrounds. Go gather the details, and go shoot! Looking forward to seeing what party-themed photos you are able to come up with!

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