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Before setting off for Thanksgiving dinner with my extended family, I was stressing about whether to take just my EOS 20D which has a flash and a basic EFS lens, or the EOS 5DMKII for which I have no flash but which does have a much better low-light sensitivity.
Of course I took both.
I found that as people (about 20) were gathering, and still a little formal and stiff, the harshness of the flash was not too much of a problem. I got a few disapproving looks at first (but aren't disapproving looks and comments what Thanksgiving gatherings are all about, at first at least?), but soon others joined in with pointandshoots and cellphones. Then after the meal, as we sat around for a long while chatting and digesting, it was best to use an automatic ISO setting to take care of the low lighting conditions with candle light and some tungsten in the background. This is when I took the softest and most intimate shots. It took some care to have the exposure calculation not be skewed by a bright candle in the foreground, and to wait for a moment when the subject was moving very little so I could use a 1/15 or even 1/10 second exposure. Which is why most of the shots turned out to be of people listening, rather than speaking! I checked the image almost after each shot to see how I was doing, which kept me on track.
Then later it was a long session in Lightroom. Naturally some of the low-light shots were unusable, but it's amazing how good and forgiving an Image Stabilising lens can be. (I did not use a tripod). Then there's the matter of the Red/Orange cast to the image. In Lightroom I found that I achieved a more natural effect adjusting not so much the White Balance as reducing the saturation of the Reds and Orange hues. (Of course I always shoot RAW). There is a surprising sense of intimacy that arises from using the Soften Skin brush (particularly on women) at high magnification on the monitor, and watching shiny and minorly imperfect skin become acceptable.
Then post them up to Facebook and watch the Likes and Comments flow in from all over the world. That was pretty much the best part!
[I've blocked out the faces for this public blog post image because this was a private gathering and I did not get Model Releases from anyone, but you get the, ahem, picture].