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My daughter attends an all-girls school that three years ago decided that they would no longer run a senior ball for year 12 & 13 pupils. It was replaced with a year 13 Graduation Dinner held in December. The girls have never considered that the new event replaced the previous one especially as parents are invited to the Dinner.

This year a group of year 13 girls hatched a plan that if they organised a charity event and did not involve the school at all then there was nothing that the school could do about it. In other words they staged a rebellion against a school ruling. The event was called the “Blue Dragon Charity Dinner”. Blue Dragon is an organisation that works in Vietnam saving children from slavery & prostitution.

Now while it was not being called a “ball” they certainly wanted everything that went with it so my daughter asked me would I be willing to take formal photos against a backdrop. I was only too willing to comply.

The venue for the event was the function room in the Wellington rowing club. Having been to previous balls and knowing the amount of space that ideally work for formals, I was concerned that there was not going to be enough space. This proved correct however you make do with what you can get and so we shot is a passageway. The major issue was that we could not get the backdrop wall to wall and this did mean that for larger groups it did not go all the way across the photo.

I used a very simple two light setup with a large 1m Softbox camera left and high being the main light with a small 40cm Softbox set camera right and positioned lower down.

It was quite a fun night with a constant line for photos meaning that I really did not get much of break. I generally took 2 images of each person or group.

The photos were intended to be delivered via Facebook and as I was travelling to Melbourne part way through the week processing them took priority on the Sunday. After going through and eliminating obvious duds (fortunately not too many) I went through and keyworded the images in Lightroom as to whether they contained a couple or a group, and then whether it was a serious or fun shot. Then I applied these keywords as filters so that I could compare and select the best images using a rating system.

Once I had my selection I then cropped them and exported them to Photoshop for a final fix up which in most cases related to extending the backdrop. Content Aware Fill and the clone stamp were used extensively.

Reaction to the images has been great although I did learn something about security in Facebook. The photos were loaded to a group and when the girls started to tag them that generated a request to me to confirm the tags. This only happens if the person is not your “friend” and there is no way to deactivate it. My daughter took a photo of the point when my notifications hit 99+.

The girls even insisted that I hand the camera over and get into one of the shots

The girls even insisted that I hand the camera over and get into one of the shots