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Wed, 10 Aug 2005
Photographing a conference

Conferences and the attendant activity provide lots of fodder for "user created content". When I first started blogging, I used to try to blog something about every session that I went to. Blogging a conference in the level of detail that is truly useful is a daunting task, and I lacked the energy to keep up and do a really good job. Now there are lots of folks who are new to blogging a conference, so there's much less incentive for me to do that kind of blogging.

At PyCon, we've started a little tradition (2 years running) of using SubEthaEdit to transcribe session notes, and that's worked out quite well. I wouldn't even think of trying to do the same for OSCON -- there are too many tracks -- it's just too big.

Now that I have a camera of my own, photographing the conference is my latest foray into user created content. OSCON is the first conference that I've been to with the camera, so a lot of what happened there was me learning -- it always helps to have new photographic subjects. Fortunately (for me), I ran into James Duncan Davidson, the conference photographer, pretty early on, and he gave me a few key tips. I'd been experimenting a little bit with the ISO settings on the camera, but I'd forgotten about the exposure compensation. Since there was very little light in many of the rooms, the only way to get halfway decent shots was to set the ISO to 1600 (thank you Canon for the wonderful sensor), and crank the exposure compensation to -2ev. That let me shoot a bunch of pictures and still have something that came out. The pictures that Kathy Sierra has up on her blog were done this way. I'm pretty sure that if I had flashed these, I would not have seen what was on the projector.

There are so many parameters that affect shooting, that its tough to keep track of them all. I already mentioned my (fortunate) accident with the white balance settings. Another thing that I forgot about was fill flashing when reasonable. I really dislike the look of flashed photos, at least as they are coming off my camera, so I think I've developed a block about judicious use of the flash. There are probably a number of shots that would have improved substantially with fill flash, so I'll need to try and remember that for the next time.

It was fun to have some more social moments with the camera. James Duncan and I had a little camera shoot out. Another fun thing happened as I was standing around talking to James Thursday. While we were talking Ben Hammersley was rearranging a sofa to take a photo of JC Herz. Next thing you know, James has his camera out, so I figured why not, and JC had all three of us photographing her for a few minutes. That was fun, too. I'd definitely like to do some more 'shooting buddy' kinds of stuff.

[09:56] | [photography] | # | TB | F | G | 3 Comments | Other blogs commenting on this post
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I work at the Open Source Applications Foundation (OSAF).
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