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Pentax K10D, Pentax SMC-A 50mm f/1.7 (manual focus), ISO 800, f/1.7, 1/60 sec, +0.7 EV, IS on

Sitting in the Southwest Airlines C gate departure lounge at Las Vegas international Airport yesterday this is pretty much what I was seeing through my glazed-over post-PMA eyes. This image is pretty much SOOC (straight of out of the camera). I did apply my standard Lightroom import processing but didn’t have to do much else. For the shot I just opened up the aperture, focused on the backrest of the seat across the aisle from me, recomposed and shot. The large aperture took care of blurring out the background and created the nice bokeh balls from all the lights. The sun had set behind me about 20 minutes before so I got a nice blue hour band through the east facing windows in the background. This is the original composition:

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It took a few tries to get the focus right but I figured I had a pretty good shot on about the third or fourth try. A few minutes later, the gentleman on the right walked up, sat down in the second row and pulled out his headphones and I knew that the shot I was looking for had finally materialized.

Shooting in airports is one of my favorite locations but they can be a mixed bag. There is so much to see and so many walks of life confined in a relatively small and typically interestingly designed space. However, you have to be careful of invading peoples’ privacy too much since there’s usually nowhere to run and hide. Shooting shots like this though, can be quite innocent as most people are lost in their own little iPod-isolated world. Also, if they give you a hard time you can show them the shot and prove that they’re nothing more than background texture ;-)

Technical difficulties involve poor and variable lighting conditions and constantly moving subjects. I tend to set my Pentax K10D’s auto ISO to 100-800 (or maybe 1000) and shoot in RAW so I can tweak the white balance later if needed. Generally I like to use my old 50mm lens left wide open at f/1.7. It is small with decent reach and not nearly as imposing as a larger and longer lens might be. Personally, I think Pentax’s SMCP-FA 77mm f/1.8 Limited lens would be a better choice for this type of photography. It is just as small and fast, sharper wide open, has longer reach, and is autofocus. Autofocus here is nice as it allows you to compose and shoot much faster with better accuracy than a manual focus lens (at least for me). That way you draw less attention to yourself while taking pictures.

Anyway, next time you find yourself at the airport, take your camera out of your bag and see what you can get! Here’s a few more that I took:

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13 second exposure @ f/16. Camera was set on window sill and triggered with the 2 second delay self timer.

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Tram passengers.

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This shot was taken at f/4 to give a bit more DoF and sharpen things up a bit.

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This was shot from the hip and I knew it would be out of focus but somehow it still works.

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Waiting in line at the ticket counter. The shutter release caused him to turn around but I feigned taking a picture of the ceiling to avoid conflict ;-)

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