The weather forecast looked great on Tuesday for Friday's fall hunting camp for A Soldier's Child Foundation. Imagine my surprise Friday morning when radar was predicting a full day of drizzle, rain and general bleh. At least it wasn't going to be overly cold to go with the moisture. I put on several layers and tossed a couple light jackets in the SUV and set off for Thompson Station, TN.
Today I'll be mainly using my Sony A7riv with an assortment of good lenses in a backpack that's probably heavier than I'll want it to be later in the day. My right shoulder is still bothering me, but it's of little irritation while i'm shooting, it's more of an irritation when it's relaxed. (probably should get that looked at now that we're moving into a slower time of the year for my type of shooting). I also have a backup A7iii body in a separate bag in my SUV as well as a few 1.8 primes and a 28-75 2.8 zoom "just in case".
About ASC: A Soldier's Child Foundation ( A Soldier's Child Foundation ) is a non-profit organization serving almost 4,000 children/families of fallen U.S. military members in all 50 U.S. states. They do so through yearly birthday boxes specially shopped & wrapped for each child then delivered to their home the month of their birthday, numerous mentoring / summer camps throughout the year, as well as facilitating college scholarships so these overlooked children can attend college debt free.
Great, fantastic, wonderful faith-based organization that i've had the honor to work with for over 6 years now.
This weekend is ASC's yearly fall hunting/adventure camp where children from across the U.S. will come together for a weekend of adventure, hunting and healing with their ASC friends who all share similar losses. As far as I know I'll be shooting some zip-lining, giant swing at Deer Run Camp and Retreat, then on to the always cool Strategic Edge Tactical Gun Range where the ASC kids will be mentored and guided through shooting many different weapon styles... throwing knives, archery, skeet shooting, handguns, rifles, all the way up to shooting 50 caliber sniper rifles at 1,000 yards. Yes, 50 caliber at 1,000 yards. (that's 10 football fields)
I've been shooting various events here at Deer Run Retreats for 4-5 years now, so I'm familiar with what I'll be shooting. I have chose to use some different lenses today and find some different angles I haven't used before.
The zip-line and giant swing are side by side so I can pull double-duty going back and forth shooting both at the same time. I'm going to use the Sony 70-200 f2.8 GM lens here and bounce between full frame mode and APS-C crop mode as needed for more reach. I have Crop Mode preset to my C2 button the A7riv to instantly toggle back and forth. Mainly shooting in AF-C mode for tracking of the swinging kids, or them moving away or toward me on zip-lines. Oh, and it's starting to drizzle...
The Sony live tracking works phenomenal here with kids going behind the poles while swinging, etc. The tracking stays locked on and picks them back up as needed.
The zip-lining is tougher to wrangle as there's two locations on each side of the creek valley where the camp is that the kids zip-line over and back from. I'll start out on this side then go to the other for different views. Still using the 70-200 2.8 GM as versatility is the key here.
After zip-lining and giant swing it's a quick sandwich for lunch at Deer Run's Creekside facility, then a 40 minute convoy to Strategic Edge Gun Range and Training Facility in Chapel Hill, TN. (It's a first rate professional facility for law enforcement, global Defense and Security related services for U.S. Government, NATO Alliance, State and Federal Police, and approved OGA's.) It will be my second time shooting at Strategic Edge.
A quick pow-wow with ASC Founder Daryl Mackin to remind the kids of the potential seriousness of what they're about to take part in, a bit of preparation with Tony Shankle owner of Strategic Edge as well as a group shot of the ASC kids and fantastic Strategic Edge volunteers that will be mentoring the kids through their different activiities today.
It's still a constant drizzle increasing to a light rain, which will be increasing through the afternoon. I'll be going back and forth between covered and open areas for different activities but won't be using any camera rain protection. I'll have the A7riv hanging on my hip via Peak Design Slide Strap and Quick Connectors, but won't be babying it. It's been damp and misted on for 3 hours now... no problems or glitches.
Lets get some shots of awesome kids shooting big guns!
Rather than break it up by areas or guns I'll organize by specific lens used because after all, this is a photography and design blog rather than gun aficionado site.
Sony 135mm f1.8 GM
I've had this lens a few months now and it continues to impress me. I like shooting from a distance using forground objects to frame my subject, and this lens is awesome for that when I have the distance to do so. Once again I'm bouncing back and forth between Full Frame and APS-C made to quick adjustments for distance while using prime lenses.
Sigma 35mm f1.2 Art
I purchased this lens specifically for a wedding I shot a couple months ago, and it's everything I'd hoped it would be. Sharp wide open. Great separation. Quick focusing. Only downfall is the lens is almost as big as my 70-200 2.8 GM.
Sony 70-200 f2.8 GM
For years this was my go-to lens for things like this, but this past year I've been using more prime lenses in controlled situations. I planned to use the 70-200 GM quite a bit today due to the rain and once again it performed great.
Sony Planar 50mm f1.4
I wish Sony would release a current generation version of this lens with faster/quieter focus motors, but that had no effect here today. I love the look of this lens and it's almost always in my bag when I can deal with lugging around a backpack full of best quality primes. Out of curiosity I'll have to weigh my backpack with the gear I lugged around today... I honestly can't guess what the weight was.
The day was about over and we were about to move to the lodge of a state park for a prepared dinner gratus of the Chapel Hill Lion's Club, so I wanted a versatile lens on the camera "just in case" as we convoyed a couple miles to the relocated dinner due to the rain.
The choice of the 50mm wasn't what I wanted for the dinner location so I switched to the Sony 24mm 1.4 GM where everything now was relaxed and up close and personal.
And that was pretty much the day.
Damp, but not soaked. Cool, but not cold. Tired but not entirely beat up.
Overall a fun and enjoyable day of shooting a Soldier's Child Foundation camp event.
The only thing that popped up gear-wise later in the afternoon while going between the different shooting areas in the rain was at one point my rear screen on A7riv stopped working, yet viewfinder worked fine. After a couple camera restarts and thinking about it, ended up being rain accumulation on the viewfinder sensor making it stay in that mode rather than swapping to rear screen when you were not looking through viewfinder. I simply blew on the viewfinder and it cleared the water drop tricking the camera and all was back to normal functionality.
Nothing in my gear bag was saturated, but just damp. I left my main A7riv body out overnight and left the camera bag with all the lenses in it open also just in case.
My impression of the larger 64 megapixel RAW files from the A7riv is great. I haven't really noticed much difference while editing other than Capture One getting a "bit" finicky if you try making bulk changes to a wad the big RAW files at once. Several times I've managed to lock it up doing so, but I can't track it down exactly yet. I've edited the big files on both my desktop machine with Ryzen A5 and Nvidia 1060ti video card, as well as my several year old Acer 17" laptop with mobile GeForce 960m video card in it. Even the laptop handles the files well. Well enough that I don't need to consider which machine I use or when.
If you have any questions regarding the gear i've used or how I may have approached something, please ask.
If you enjoy following-ups on a day of shooting like this please let me know. I plan to continue as well as work backwards, but it's still good to hear thoughts.
Relax. Breathe. Enjoy.