Graduation Ceremony and High ISO Desperation

Graduation Power Failure - Austin, Texas

Graduation Power Failure – Austin, Texas

I take my duties seriously as a parent and enthusiast photographer. I was determined to document one of the key life events of my son. But the power outage certainly put a massive damper on the entire situation. I was at my son’s high school graduation, and the carefully laid plans were going out the window.

I brought two Fuji cameras, the same setup I had for my older son’s college graduation. On the X-T10, I had the 18-55mm f2.8-4 lens attached. On the X-E3, the 55-200mm f3.5-4.8 lens I bought for both graduations. Oh, and I also had my brand new iPhone 12, which I talked about yesterday. As I explained in yesterday’s post, the iPhone did a remarkable job of making a good image in truly marginal light. But how about my dedicated cameras with sensors that are 15X larger than the iPhone. The results didn’t look nearly as encouraging

With post-processing, I was able to produce some acceptable images. My Fujis have almost none of the sophistication of the iPhone. The large sensor size, Capture One, and my post-processing expertise are the only ways to counter the iPhone. Was it enough to overcome the machine learning and HDR sophistication?

I converted the first image to black and white for artistic reasons. The color version also looks good, which you can see below.

Graduation Power Failure - Austin, Texas

I made this picture on the Fuji X-T10, and with the widest focal length, I was able to get f2.8 at ISO 1600 with a 1/8th of a second shutter speed. I’m not pushing the camera at this point, and the results look good or perhaps better than the iPhone after post-processing. However, I needed to get a closeup of my son as he walked across the stage. A wide-angle photo would not be enough.

Graduation Power Failure - Austin, Texas

With the X-E3, I zoomed to a maximum of 200mm, with an aperture of 4.8 — I wasn’t gathering much light. At ISO 6400 and 1/50th of a second, the image looked hopelessly dark. Here’s the actual photo before post-processing.

Graduation Power Failure - Austin, Texas

With extensive processing, I was able to lighten the shadows and get a usable image. However, the color was really blotchy. I converted to black and white — more to get around the sub-optimal color — instead of aesthetic reasons.

Graduation Power Failure - Austin, Texas

Here’s another photo with the X-E3 but shot at 55mm, which gave me a slightly brighter f3.5. I upped the ISO to 12,800 and shot at 1/15 of a second. The picture isn’t great, but I was doing everything possible to eke out a usable photo. I was desperately trying to figure out how to photograph my son as he walks across the stage. The technology I had wasn’t cutting it, and I didn’t have many options.

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