Kids camp photography

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This topic contains 28 replies, has 6 voices, and was last updated by  Lydia Bennett 10 months ago.

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    Lydia Bennett

    My uncle and aunt run a 6-day camp in mid-August, and they just asked me to be the camp photographer for them. The person who normally does it cancelled on them last minute, and they didn’t have anyone else who could do it, so they needed me.

    I’ve never been to this camp before, but my aunt said they’re expecting about 125 kids, who are split into 2 camps (5-8th grade and 9-12th grade), and then as I understand those camps are each split into 4 teams each.

    The kids are all together for meals and chapel, but other than that, they do their activities separately – at the same time, but in separate locations at the camp. I will be the only photographer, and I’m supposed to get pictures of all the different teams doing all their different things. My cousin puts together a DVD each evening of pictures taken throughout the day. It’s sounding like I’ll be pretty busy!

    I don’t have too much more info than that at this point since I just talked with my aunt this past weekend, but I thought I’d throw this out there and see if anyone has any suggestions for me to bear in mind as I’m running around! 🙂

    Thanks in advance!

    Camera: Nikon D3100
    Lenses: 18mm-55mm; 55mm-200mm
    Other equipment: a monopod
    *My aunt mentioned I may be able to use their camera in addition to mine; I’m not sure what kind it is or what equipment they have, but once I find out, I’ll mention that here as well.


    Morgan Giesbrecht

    Hi @bennett-family!

    Wow, sounds like a fun but very busy week you’ll have!

    I was blessed to work on an ACTION photograhy team this past April; now, I am far from being an experienced event photographer (as that was my first time!) but these are a couple things I learned that weekend…

    1) I used my 70-200mm lens all weekend long because it worked best for me being in a very large building. Depending on the size of the building and whether you’re shooting indoor or outdoors will affect the lens you use. Aperture range is another thing to watch for on lenses…mine was 2.8+ and that worked fine for indoors. Using your longer zoom lens gives you the ability to capture the moment without being right there in peoples’ space but your wide angle lens would work better for getting group shots (dinner, chapel, team pictures, etc.)

    2) ISO…if your shooting indoors, you’ll have to increase your ISO depending on your lighting. 3200 was about as high as I went, but I think a few other photographers in the group were going 6400-8000 for some shots. Do what is necessary to keep your shutter speed and aperture where you need them; ISO can be adjusted post-processing need be.

    3) Shooting mode…Av (that’s a Canon term…A for you I think) was suggested for event shooting. I was shooting in Tv (S for you I think…shutter speed priority mode) and it worked best for me. In a pinch, I’d say shoot in Program (P, I think it’s the same for Canon and Nikon).

    4) Low-lightning would be the best reason to use your monopod, I’d think. It would give you more stability and likely help you not have to raise your ISO so high.

    5) Focus…try to keep the eyes in focus and have engaged subject expressions.

    6) Enjoy it! You will be crazy busy but have fun with the experience! It’s hard trying to be in a gazillion places at once but the practice and experience is rewarding. 🙂

    That’s all that comes to mind right now…hope it helps a little!


    Lydia Bennett


    Thanks for your response, Morgan! I really appreciate it – very helpful, well-explained and clearly laid out! 🙂

    I think I’ll mostly use the 55-200mm lens, for the reasons you mentioned. I believe much of the time I’ll be outside so that should be good with the lighting and space to move around. And Shutterspeed priority will probably be good to capture all the action.

    I’m looking forward to it – I think I’ll learn a lot through the week 😉


    Logan Lamar

    Hey @bennett-family!
    I happened to be alongside @morganwriter1gmail-com on that ACTION photography workshop. It’s great to run into her often on these forms.
    I actually had the opportunity to use one of James Staddon’s (or his assistant’s) lenses for the event, and I actually found the opposite of what Morgan was saying. The 24-70mm f/2.8—not the 70-200mm—ended up being more useful to me. I found I felt very limited when I was using the 70-200mm. There were times when I was itching for that extra reach, but most of the time I was able to grab the shots I wanted with the shorter lens. I was using a 1.6x crop sensor camera (a Canon 60D… and I don’t remember what Morgan was using), so that may contributed to my desire for the shorter lens. I think if I had been walking around the super crowded vendor hall with the 70-200mm, I would have had a lot of shots I would have missed because there would have been more people in between me and my subject.
    However, you’ve got an 18-55, and a 55-200mm… I think I would primarily stick with the 55-200mm. It feels like the 55mm end might be wide enough in the event that you find yourself up against a wall (literally), and you’ll love having that 200mm option to get in close with out actually getting in close.

    About using shutter speed mode… I personally—who am not a professional and haven’t tried using it for an event—wouldn’t use that mode. Maybe it’s different on a Nikon (I was playing with my aunt’s and it was getting a bit frustrating 😉 ), but on a Canon, I use aperture priority mode (like @jamesstaddon taught us at ACTION) and then change my ISO to get my shutter speed to closer where I need it. If it’s too slow, I boost my ISO. If it’s safe for me to dial back my ISO because my shutter speed is faster than it needs to be, I’ll do that. I read an article once that explained why shutter speed mode is practically useless. The author’s main point was that it really doesn’t matter if the shutter speed your camera sets is 1/125 or 1/500. If something is frozen at 1/125, it’s likely also going to be frozen at 1/500. If you lock off your camera at one of those, it forces the camera to compensate by changing your ISO (which could be acceptable) or changing your aperture (which messes with your depth of field).
    Personally, I would stick it in aperture mode, leave it there, and either boost or lower my ISO if my shutter speed is too fast or too slow. I won’t be caring too much if it’s at 1/60 or 1/80.
    Hope this helps some (I’d give you more, but I have to leave now!)



    Jinny Schober

    I also got to participate in an ACTION photography workshop, and I found that I used my 55-300mm lens the most. It depends on how big the rooms are that you will be photographing in, but if you want to get good close ups of the kids, I would suggest your 55-200mm. But if you are just walking around getting cute pics, I would suggest your 18-55mm. That way you can include more of the scope, have better aperature, etc. Have fun!


    Lydia Bennett


    Thanks for sharing that, Logan.

    I don’t know about not using shutterspeed priority at all… I’m anticipating a fair amount of outdoor fast-paced action games, and I need to know that photos I’m snapping are coming out clear without necessarily having lots of time to review them in the moment.

    Perhaps I should use shutterspeed priority for those activities, and then switch over to aperture priority for slower paced games/canoeing/archery/etc./indoor activities…?

    What do you think? If you still think I should avoid shutterspeed priority, go ahead and sell me on it 😉


    Lydia Bennett


    Thanks, Jinny!

    I do plan to have both lenses on me, so I will be able to swap to the 18-55mm when necessary.

    …My siblings and I are working on putting together a custom-made photography tool belt so I’ll have my extra lens, extra batteries, SD cards, etc. on me and not have to lug around my camera bag or run back to my room for anything 😁


    Morgan Giesbrecht


    Thanks for posting your findings from ACTION; it’s nice to hear what others did/didn’t do and what they learned. Yes, I know @jamessaddon recommended using aperture priority mode (and I did for a little while), but in the end, it just wasn’t working for me and I wasn’t happy with the results. James was surprised when I told him, but she said to do what worked for me. Noisy photos also really bother me…so going up super high in ISO was hard; that was one reason I opted for the Tv setting. And, unfortunately, I forgot about being able to use our instructors’ lenses.
    If I had been using that wider angled lens (like you were using), I may have switched back to aperture priority mode. For me, shutter speed priority mode was best for eliminating motion blur since I only did one posed shot all weekend; everything else was candid and in motion. Since I was shooting in the better lit areas, namely the hallways and main entrance, aperture wasn’t really a problem until the one general session on Friday night. I can’t remember if I changed modes for that or not…
    The only other lens I own is a prime 50mm and I knew that just wasn’t going to make the cut. I was shooting with a Canon 7D but it’s not a full frame.
    For the shooting of the vendor hall scenario, I absolutely agree – 70-200mm would not have been a good option. I wasn’t shooting in there in April…I was outside on silent auction, and though I did run into the problem of people in the way a few times, but the long lens did work well all considering (besides being heavy to lug around all day!).

    Thanks again for sharing!


    Morgan Giesbrecht


    Happy to help, Lydia! 🙂

    Logan has some really good points – James did recommend aperture priority mode for that particular ACTION event. I would suggest you play around and decide for yourself. Since Logan and I came to two different conclusion, it’s likely you’ll find what works best for you. 🙂

    If it were me, I’d be inclined to shoot in shutter speed priority since your dealing with moving kids, etc. But like you mentioned, moving over to aperture priority for stiller images or posed images might be a good idea. Just a thought. 🙂



    Morgan Giesbrecht

    By the way, that custom photography tool belt sounds like a great idea! 😃


    Logan Lamar

    @morganwriter1gmail-com, and @bennett-family… okay, you asked for it: This should explain why I now elect not to use shutter speed mode. I find myself always shooting in Aperture Priority mode, and I’m just trying to train myself to keep an eye on my shutter speed when I’m shooting things like sports.
    It’s a clean article (one use of “man”); I haven’t previewed the rest of the site.


    Morgan Giesbrecht


    Thanks for the link. He’s got some good points…will have to try it out and see. 🙂


    Lydia Bennett


    Okay, I read the article….. I will definitely practice and experiment more with aperture priority over the next few days, and see how it goes. 🙂
    Thanks for sharing that.


    The belt didn’t end up being quite as “custom” as we thought originally, my brother came along with an old work belt of his that just about fits everything… it does seem like it’ll be really handy!! 🙂


    I’d love to hear thoughts you may have concerning this discussion of aperture priority vs shutterspeed priority


    Logan Lamar

    @morganwriter1gmail-com @bennet-family, I think shutter speed priority mode would be waaay more useful if it gave you a range of shutter speeds to play with (e.g. between 1/250 and 1/1000, or don’t go slower than 1/60, or don’t set it faster than 1 sec). Hey Canon and Nikon (and Pentax and Sony and Panasonic and whoever else), are you listening?


    Logan Lamar

    @bennett-family @morganwriter1gmail-com Oh! I thought of an option that would let you (sort of) do that!
    Throw your mode switcher to Manual, and leave the ISO on Auto (I know Canon lets me do that, I’m not sure about Nikons, though). That way, you’d be able to set your shutterspeed to match the activity, leave your aperture where you want it, and let the camera set the ISO.
    Just a thought…

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