Recently I got the following e-mail:
"Thank you so much Ken. Although we do not often express it, we are so grateful that you take the time and effort to document our family occasions. All these photos will be cherished memories. Thank you."
Documenting family moments is important. It is one of the main reasons we take pictures. Sadly, all too many pictures taken at family events are of the "say cheese" variety.
In the above image, grandfather is celebrating his 70th birthday and his 4-year-old granddaughter is helping him blow out the candles while his other granddaughter, only 7-months-old, looks on. Including the little girl on the far right was important. She is part of the story. She was kept in the picture on purpose.
When shooting moments like this try to capture complete moments and that means doing your best to get by without resorting to relying on your camera's flash. The light is damn ugly. I asked that the room lights not be turned off for the candle-blowing ceremony. The presence of room light made it possible to shoot in burst-mode with my Canon S90. This helps to guarantee the capture of a peak moment.
I saved this image as a jpg image and not a RAW file. I also saved it as a smallish file; My S90 will either save big files or smaller ones. Shooting jpg and smaller files gives a faster burst rate. The f/2.0 aperture available in low light situations when shooting at wide angle also played a part in getting this image. The new Canon S120, the latest in the S-line, has a marginally faster lens. It opens to f/1.8.
Remember, the smaller the f/stop number, the larger the aperture and the more light entering the camera. Large apertures, like f/2.0, are for dark situations. Smaller apertures, like f/16, are for greater depth of field. But the small sensors in most point and shoot cameras make deep depth of field more the norm, even when the lens is used at wide open.