MediEval Days – EDays 2008 Roundup

I was going to post this over the weekend, but I ended up writing my paper instead (which I’ll post as a serial soon). I also appologize for the length of this post. It’s a little on the long side, but I packed it with some pictures and graphs for all you ADD kids. So here’s the much belated EDays 2008 post:

I’ve been shooting EDays for about 3 years now and it’s one of my favorite things to shoot. It’s three days of non-stop action with little sleep and lots of variety. Over the three days of shooting, I got about 11 hours of sleep. But I took 1190 photos and only 456 made the decent cut (38% isn’t actually half bad). Of those, I think there’s less then a dozen (about 1%) that I really like (and you’ll see those in a few months when I do my next round of inductions into my portfolio.

But, I still wanted to do something fun and different this year, so I rented a lens. In my current setup, I have a:

  • 18-70mm
  • 70-300mm
  • 50mm f/1.8

…all Nikkor.

I decided that going with a small focal length lens, somewhere on the order of 10-18mm, would be ideal to rent. The first thing I did was find places to rent from. In the greater Denver area, I found Mike’s Camera Store and Camren Photography.

Mike’s didn’t have any Nikkor lenses with a small enough focal length, so I was able to narrow the selection to the DX 10.5mm f/2.8 AF-S G and DX 12-24mm f/4.0 AF-S G.

Both those links go to Ken Rockwell’s site. He does what I believe to be the best and most useful review of lenses. When I get an aching to buy a lens, I pretty much always head over to his site and see what he thinks.

Based on data from Wikipedia on viewing angles, I whipped up this graph that shows viewing angle as a function of focal length:

DSC_3081 (by Mr Ferguson)

I found it very interesting that relationship isn’t linear, so I opted to go with the smallest focal length to get the most “bang for my buck.” That and I’ve always wanted to shoot with a fisheye.

So I rented the 10.5mm for two days and since Camren Photography isn’t open on the weekends, I got it for four days (for the price of the aforementioned two days).

Here’s a breakdown my day of the lens I used, how many photos I took with each lens, and how many photos with each lens (by day, again) ended up making the cut. Numbers above the zero axis are photos taken, numbers below the zero axis are photos that made the cut.

DSC_2267 (by Mr Ferguson)

When I edit photos, I ask myself three things: Do I like it, does it tell a story, and does it move the story along. If it doesn’t meet all three of those criteria and I can’t make it meet those three criteria, then I dump it.

That’s why there is a lot of atrophy on the lasts days pictures. I tend to take a lot of photos of action shots (because you can’t predict everything) and then severely whittle them down to ensure the story continues.

Shooting the fireworks was absolutely amazing this year. Having the wide angle lens allowed me to get all of the fireworks and often times the crowd (at least for the non-aerial shots). Many people thought that this has been the best show since 2004.

Norm Zehr (L) and  Al Ireson (R) (by Mr Ferguson)

The alumni panel was pretty interesting. I wish I could have stayed for the entire thing, but I had to race over to shoot Deanne Bell from Smash Lab. If you’ve ever seen Smash Lab, you know that Deanne is very animated when she talks. I had a blast photographing her while she presented.

DSC_2626 (by Mr Ferguson)She also had a great slide about her life philosophy that I thought was pretty spiffy as well and worth mentioning here:

  • Surround yourself with people who love what they do and are damn good at it
  • Don’t get too comfortable
  • Suck it up sometimes
  • Be confident and persistent
  • Imagine the impossible

The concert was also pretty good. The music was okay. I think that I Hate Kate should have headlined instead of Goldfinger (who enjoys listening to 40 year-old emo has-beens?). Learning from last year, I talked with all the bands and CSC before hand to get the rules for this show. All three bands were very fine with me taking picture throughout. Wes, the CSC supervisor, was also very helpful and nice, especially when compared to their performance last year.

Here are some notes I made while editing; mostly for my reference, but you may find some use as well:

  • Don’t use a flash during concerts (or anywhere else where there is non-white light), it destroys the Look and Feel (LnF).
  • When nothing is going on (relatively), posed shots always win over bland.
  • Using a fisheye makes it bit harder to crop since the distortion is uneven across the plane.
  • I need to shoot with a faster shutter more often.
  • Talk with the comics before hand. This will ensure that you don’t tick them off and that they don’t make fun of you.

DSC_2431 (by Mr Ferguson)

I’ve also come up with the official checklist for a good EDays:

  1. Are you drinking, drunk, and/or hungover?
  2. Are you sleep deprived?
  3. Are you sore?
  4. Do you have a sunburn?
  5. (Bonus) Did you meet attractive members of the opposite sex?

Answering “yes” to all of the questions means you had a good EDays.

I Remember: My First MP3

Back In The Day™, they used to not have MP3s. Yea, I know; I have no idea how the world lived before then either, but the fact still remains.

Also back In The Day™, I used to have a babysitter. I actually went though many babysitters, however that is a topic for another day. My babysitter at the time was a student by the name of Andrew Schirmer.

One of the times he was baby sitting us (Brian and me), he downloaded Winamp (version 1, so this version didn’t suck) and then played a copy of Goldfinger that he downloaded from his server1.

That was my first MP3 I ever heard. I have no idea why I still remember that either.

1 Actually I think it was his friends server…not that it matters.