Photo session with the symphony

My daughter is part of the Sacramento Youth Symphony, and all parents are required to volunteer 10 hours or you pay a fee. Unfortunately, I thought my husband was going to sign us up to volunteer and he thought I was going to sign us up, so between the two of us, neither of us signed up!

Too late, we discovered the main volunteer slots had all been filled and the others left were ones that would be been challenging for us to fill.

Fortunately, we discovered they needed a photographer and that could count towards volunteer hours! I was quite delighted because 1) I love photographing and 2) we could fulfill our duty to volunteer!

So last night I went with my husband to the rehearsal. While he helped sell tickets and shirts, I went around and took pictures. It was so much fun. The time flew by.

The main challenge was the lighting. The indoor lighting was barely enough for my older camera to pick up. As a result, the pictures are not as clear as I would like. (When I take pictures during concerts, they turn out beautiful and crisp.)

The other challenge is that people move when they play in an orchestra. So there were a lot of blurry, fuzzy pictures.

Here are some of the ones that turned out pretty well.

I really love French horns. Not only do they sound cool, they look cool. Being a person who loves shiny things, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to take a picture of the French horn players in a row!

I also noticed how the flute players all seemed to be color-coordinated in wearing solid colors that complimented each other. Even their jeans matched. It was almost like they had planned it!

There’s definitely a trend here in my photos as I tried to get people all in a row. Must be my natural organizing tendencies coming out.

I also experimented with extreme closeups. This was a bit tricky with the way people kept moving around, but definitely gives a different perspective to the beauty of the music that was being played.

After a while I started experimenting with tilting the camera. This gave a feeling of energy and movement.

I really like how the f2.8 setting creating a very shallow depth of field. Advantage is that the background gets fuzzed out. Disadvantage is there were a lot of blurry pictures because I had to focus manually because it was too dim. I tried to multiple pictures of the same people while focusing and in most cases at least one of them turned out.

Here’s another example of the shallow depth of field. It’s really cool how there is a foreground and background that is blurred out and the subject is clear.

This picture combines the cool effect of shallow depth of field with my love of rows and organization.

Here’s an over-the-shoulder close-up shot of the music.

Another point of view of a musician playing the music.

The tympani player was really good. Unfortunately my lens couldn’t zoom out enough without cutting off his head (my back was against the wall). I only have one other lens, 35-70 or something like that, which is f5.6 and way too dim for the lighting in the room. So I had to use my massive zoom lens.

Of course I like this photo because my daughter’s in it! Ah, the biased mother comes out in me.

These kids are extremely talented. It was a wonderful evening not only taking photos but also thoroughly enjoying the music!

Time for me to upload all the pictures for the symphony people… once my husband and son get off their online video game. I almost killed their game by slowing down the bandwidth to a crawl because I was uploading photos. Oops!

A Yee

Angela Yee is a professional designer (graphic design, stage design, interior design — and teaches leadership skills at

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  1. Glen Nielsen - January 28, 2010

    I really like these pics! Loved your use of angles, focus, and perspective. The extreme close-up is very nice! The row-thing is quite intriguing and does seem reflective of your arranger theme. I agree that the angled shots provide a sense of motion … nice touch! Viewing these reminds me of how much I need another photo lesson! Nice work …

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