Photographs, quotes, thoughts and trees by Julie Walton Shaver


A Graduation Gift

City of Nouns: Julie Walton Shaver Lifestyle Photography 062409 ems grad blog 001 A Graduation Gift

Bradley’s middle school graduation. Lots more pictures —>

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    NOTE TO GRADUATES: I’ve been hearing from some people that they are having problems with the disk you all got as your graduation gift. If you are using a PC, insert the disk in your computer, scroll down to FOLDERS, then OPEN THE FOLDER. There will be several nested folders on the disk, so just keep opening folders until you get to the one you want. Click here to download a pdf of detailed instructions, including a print permission form which you will need in order to print the pictures at a printing kiosk or at a store like Costco, Walgreens, etc. For online printing, I recommend www.MPIX.com.

    Let me know if you need the link to the slide show! It’s awesome!

    I love the picture above. So cool to have this impromptu picture in front of stacks of books.

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    Note to self for future graduations: make sure Brad eats a good meal before leaving for the ceremony. This is the only good snapshot I got of him. He was ready to go home the minute graduation was over. I think it was because he hadn’t eaten lunch. (That’s Brad on the right.)

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    This picture is an example of perfect light and exposure, not to mention those beautiful faces. I love it!

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    Love the stacks of books! Ironic thing is: since graduation was moved indoors because of threatening rain, it wasn’t held at the middle school, it was at the high school. These are high school books. Enjoy summer while you can!

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    Besides the beautiful happy faces, what do you suppose it is about this picture that I love so much?

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    This was probably one of the most challenging photographic assignments I’ve had to date. That hallway has fluorescent lighting and skylights, plus spots of natural light coming in from the classroom windows at sporadic intervals. The camera doesn’t know what to do about all the mixed signals. Fluorescent lights have an extremely cool (blue) color temperature, while daylight is much warmer (red). I had to try to find a happy medium in trying to get the color temperatures to match in Photoshop.

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    You can see how this one looks different from the one above. She’s the class president, by the way and her speech ROCKED!

City of Nouns: Julie Walton Shaver Lifestyle Photography 062409 ems grad blog 009 A Graduation Gift

    They were standing against a yellow wall. At least I think it was yellow. Skin tone looks good, so maybe I got close. I had to manually adjust every picture because the camera warmed everything up way too much.

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    Bummer that the graduation was moved indoors. With all the graduates sitting in rows on a high stage, the only row you could see from the audience was the first one.

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    Many of our graduates will be leaving to go to other high schools. We will miss you!

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    I love this picture. You know me and blurry backgrounds.

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    I love this one too. There’s something especially interesting about kids in graduation robes and caps sitting in a classroom. Obviously they’re waiting for something to happen, which is the perfect metaphor for graduation day.

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    I love this long line of graduates in the hallway before they moved toward the procession.

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    I’ve been hanging around these kids so much in the last month that I think they’ve gotten used to seeing me!

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    He was Bradley’s first best friend. They met when they were 3 in preschool at Community Nursery School. I love this picture.

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    Procession time! High five!

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    I’m such a band geek, focusing in on the music. I played “Pomp and Circumstance” dozens of times, I’m sure.

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    A full house. With the ceremony indoors, each graduate received only 3 tickets.

City of Nouns: Julie Walton Shaver Lifestyle Photography 062409 ems grad blog 020 A Graduation Gift

    I was shooting alone, and with graduates coming down two aisles, I couldn’t capture all of them. But I love how the pictures came out of the ones I was able to snap.

    Here are some photo tips for people shooting pictures in the high school auditorium:

      First, you need a really good camera that can shoot at very high ISO, at least 1600.

      Drag the shutter, shooting at a shutter speed no faster than around 1/100, preferably around 1/40 or slower, depending on the movement you’re trying to capture.

      Shoot on center-weighted light metering. But check your exposure meter, and expose two stops below optimal exposure levels so you don’t blow out the facial skin of light-skinned people. You will need to adjust the exposure for darker-skinned people to expose at proper levels. Do not underexpose to the point of having to bring exposure up on the computer though because the intense ugly digital grain you’ll get from doing that will render the photograph unusable.

      Do not use flash. There is no flash that has a range far enough from the audience seating to make a decent exposure that resembles the photographs you see here. Plus, it’s just annoying to the people around you and distracting to the program participants.

      Finally, shoot with as wide an aperture as possible. All of my pictures are shot at 2.8 or wider.

      I used two cameras, one with a 35 mm lens set on an aperture as wide as possible for the depth of field I wanted. Generally, I had that lens set on 2.0, but in some cases I changed it to 2.8 when I wanted a little more depth, like for the aisle processional. The other camera had the 70-200 zoom lens so that I could take stage shots from the back of the room, and close ups from the front of the room. Note that I have two professional cameras designed to shoot at very high ISO for low-light pictures in places like dark homes and dark churches. I was shooting at 3000 ISO, sometimes bumping up to 6400 ISO. Today’s pro cameras are amazing!

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    I love all the people in the audience watching too.

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    Check out the very top of this picture. See how it has a light blue stripe at the ceiling? My camera caught someone else’s flash. (I wasn’t using flash.) But the shutter was ever-so-slightly off the flashing moment, which is why we can only see a small portion of the light. The reason it appears as a stripe is because the camera opens a curtain to expose the shot to my settings. What we’re seeing is the curtain in motion. It’s out of sync with that other camera’s flash. (Easy to crop the stripe out though if I needed to.)

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    I love this picture. Such pretty light on their faces.

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    The quartet sang “The Star Spangled Banner” in 4-part harmony acapella and it was AMAZING. You DO know how hard that is, right? To sing that song in 4-part harmony, and do it well, and sing your part all by yourself — I was seriously impressed.

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    Class Prez!

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    I snuck out the side door and came back in through the stage door to try to get a few shots of the 7 rows of graduates behind the first one. I actually wish I could have stayed back here longer. Lots of interesting faces. I think the next time I shoot one of these graduations, I need three photographers on headsets.

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    The lighting in this auditorium is not the best for photography. It’s uneven, making bright spots on some areas of the stage, and dark spots on others. So I use selective focus to bring your eye to the important part of the picture — the trumpet player.

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    He’s an amazing percussionist!

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    Here’s another shot of the trumpeter. I used a different lens, and I moved to the front and sat on the floor in front of the band. This was when the jazz band played “Moondance” and it was fantastic! The music program in our school system is top notch.

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    Yay Brad! Congratulations! It occurs to me now that I should have taken a picture of every graduate as they walked across the stage, but I was thinking more from the standpoint of making a slide show, and I knew that a succession of pictures from the same angle would be boring in a slide show, so I shot from three different spots with several different focal lengths. All that changing meant I missed several of the graduates. (But it’s an awesome slide show.) Note to self for future reference, if this were a paid gig, we would need another photographer positioned to snap a picture of every person from the best angle.

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    Turn of the tassle.

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    I love the sound of a packed house exploding in applause!

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    Paparazzi. I love it!

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    And they love it too!

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    This picture defines the times for this generation — the pocket camera held high for a self-portrait. I love it!

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    Beautiful picture. Can’t believe they’re highschoolers now!

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    Congratulations to all graduates in the Class of 2009! May your future be bright and prosperous.

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    Tina DiSano, a photographer-friend, and her son. Always good to snap a picture of your photographer friends since they’re usually the ones behind the camera and get so few photographs of themselves.

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    I gave Tina my camera and asked if she’d take a picture of my family. I should have moved Grex so we could see Brad’s gown. Check it out — he’s taller than Mike now! Thanks for taking our picture, Tina! I’m so glad I have this!

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    I took this picture on Brad’s first day in middle school, the first day of 5th grade.

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    Just after the closing bell on the last day of 8th grade. I love this picture! (What are the odds he’ll let me take a picture of him outside the high school on his first day there in the fall? Heavy sigh. I need to start planning for this NOW!)
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4 Responses to “A Graduation Gift”

  1. chelo says:

    Did you say middle school? Wow, they look so mature and composed- I would have thought high school! These are lovely, Julie!

  2. Beth Gallagher says:

    Julie– Awesome as usual. Surprisingly, I did manage to make it ALMOST all the way through without tears, and then you went and threw in the picture of Bradley in 5th grade right in front of his picture in 8th grade, and wham! So metaphorically powerful to see that things really can change in a blink of an eye, and little ones really do seemingly grow up overnight. I totally understand your tweet about the tears streaming down your face… Being a mom is so wonderfully hard. Congratulations, Brad! And again, beautiful job, Julie.

  3. Zak says:

    Oh my gosh!!! Love the shot of Brad walking in front of the school. he doesn’t even look the same from the 5th grade picture…at least to me. Congratulations Brad!

  4. Tina DiSano says:

    Hi Julie!

    Great pictures! As usual you manage being only one person to capture every angle and every emotion…your AMAZING! Thanks for photo tips…God knows I need more of those.

    See you soon,
    T-

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