Fun assignment for the last 14 years. And it was fun again, last night.

Just above the children's choir, slightly to the right of center frame, was this year's honoree, Charles Butt. Standing to his left is former Texas Supreme Court Justice, Harriett O'Neill. 

There is an organization in Texas called, Texas Appleseed, that does good legal work for underserved people in our state. They work with law firms across Texas to tackle legal issues that range from the criminalization of students for minor infractions to developing protections against excesses of the payday loan industry. They do great work.

Every year they have a fund raising event at the Four Seasons Hotel to honor someone in the community who has made a big difference for children and at risk people. This year they honored Charles Butt who is the CEO of HEB, the biggest grocery store chain in Texas (and beyond).

Every year I provide photographic services at the banquet. I started doing it 14 years ago at the behest of my friend, Annette La Voi, who was the initial executive director. I think this non-profit organization does good work and I've continued to provide event photographs for them every year. In doing so I have met the absolute top legal professionals in the state along with a number of Texas Supreme court justices and many elected officials.

At almost every banquet I am amazed at the amount of good works people are doing with very little (or no) fanfare or press. Sometimes I leave with a lump in my throat when I realize
that, without the hard work that many of these people are doing, pro bono, our state would be a poorer and meaner state in which to live and work.

I showed up yesterday with my cameras, my cleanest suit and tie and a sense of excitement. Having grown up in San Antonio, the headquarters city of HEB, the Butt family; and Charles Butt, were legends in my home town.

For the pre-dinner, cocktail hour I made small group shots and random shots of couples. I used a Nikon D810 in Jpeg fine, with the file size set to medium (20 megapixels). I shot with the 24-120mm lens which was absolutely the perfect solution for this kind of highly mobile event photography in a crowded space. I used a Metz TTL flash with a Rogue Bounce Card flash modifier.

I set the Nikon to ISO 800, shooting in manual with exposures of 1/40th of second (for room ambiance) and f5.6 for a good compromise of depth of field, flash recycling and pleasant background rendering.

The images were great. That camera seems to nail white balance like no other camera I've shot.

After cocktails we moved into the grand ballroom and were all seated for dinner. I hopped up every few minutes during dinner to snap shots of various speakers at the podium but I've become fairly adroit at making sure I cover everything but still have slices of time in which to enjoy the culinary bounty of the Four Seasons. The food and the wine selections were wonderful, especially when one considers that they were serving nearly 500 people at one time.

For all the shots at the podium and award shots on the stage I used the reliable Nikon D750 at ISO 3200, shooting with the 80-200mm f2.8D  Nikon  zoom lens. I was very happy with the sharpness of the lens at f3.2 and the integrity and color balance of the files.

This morning I post processed the files and edited out about 25 frames that failed technically and 50 frames that had great images of people blinking....

Two cameras, two lenses and one flash. Very manageable but very powerful in this situation. Why the Nikon system again? Because I trust the flash. I trust it nearly 100% of the time. 


typingtalker said...

I believe that Harriett O'Neill is standing to Charles Butt's left, not right as stated in the caption.

Anthony Bridges said...

When I shoot events with my Dslr's I almost always shoot raw. Recently I was reading another blog (Ken R.'s) who talked about the virtues of resizing large megapixel files in camera to smaller ones to bypass some of the problems with bayer interpolation. I've been trying it and sure enough the files look crispier. Now I see you're doing it with the D810. Makes sense. How often is a 23, 36 or 42 megapixel file needed for a typical event? It may come in handy for some really big group photos but not for most photos in my opinion.