Show and Tell at the New York Metropolitan Library Council

At the end of May, I photographed another event for my regular client, the Metropolitan New York Library Council. They hosted the first of a new series of bi-monthly show-and-tell meetups for a group called NY Cultural Tech. They are a cross-disciplinary group for practicing technologists (coders, info architects, developers) focused on the advancement of emerging technologies from within the domains of public knowledge (government, museums, libraries, educational institutions, non-profits, and other outwardly focused for-profits).

One thing I like about working with METRO is that no two events are alike. Even though they are often held in the same space which I know pretty well by now, there are always surprises. In this meeting, each speaker had just three minutes to present the project he or she was working on. This continued at a rapid pace for two solid hours, during which I had to keep up with shooting closeups of each speaker, wide angle shots of the speaker and the screen, and shots of the audience.

The speakers mostly stood behind the lectern and discussed their projects as they were projected on the screen. Luckily, most of them had animated personalities, and I focused on capturing their gestures as they talked to make more interesting photos. The problem is that once I see a gesture, it’s too late to photograph it, so within the three minutes of each presentation, I had to come to understand each person so I could anticipate the gestures.

The greatest challenge of the evening was dealing with the lighting. The room is pretty well lit, but the lights were turned down in the front for better visibility of the projected image. This left the speaker in dusky darkness next to the bright screen. Since I couldn’t expose for both halves of the scene, I chose to properly expose the speaker, sacrificing the screen, which blew out sometimes to pure white. What saved me was the new highlights and whites adjustment sliders in Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 4. Combining them with Lightroom’s graduated filters, I was able to recover much of the content on the screen. This meant that nearly every photo needed attention in postprocessing, but the results were worth it.

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