I tried to get some good shots during Natalie's birthday party but it just didn't happen. First off, the room she opened her presents in had awful light, second my cousin kept crowding her and getting in the shot so I can't post a lot of them online since my aunt and uncle prefer their kids pictures not posted on the internet (they are paranoid). Then the cake thing was just a big crowd of people around the table, so I couldn't even get in to take a picture. I did try a few of her eating her cake but again the low light still worked against me.
I did a lot of them in automatic because of the frustration, and am really unhappy with those, really wished I had thought to put my camera on RAW & JPG so I could work with them better and do PP. This whole experience has really put me down when it came to my photography. Hopefully tonight or tomorrow I can look things over better and see what I can get a decent shot from, just really sad that I got better with my P&S last year than I got with my DSLR this year, I do understand that every year is different, events play out differently, but I was really looking forward to getting some nice pictures with my good camera and it didn't happen.
I'll have to filter through and see what came out best, maybe do some PP and hope next year goes better.
Oh, I'm so sorry the birthday was such a disappointment and frustration! I totally understand how you feel. I often feel that I'm making strides in my photography, and then something happens to just knock me down.
BUT... you said yourself, there were a lot of factors against you, and I'm sure that you did your best in the circumstances! It's very difficult where there are a lot of people around (especially if space is a bit tight), and lighting in a situation like that is rarely ideal.
I just bet that you have better photos than you thought... and anyway, as my husband reminds me, photography is about capturing moments! If the situation isn't ideal, but you've still captured a smile of joy on your daughter's face, you've done something special, even if the photo isn't technically perfect!
Those situations are always difficult. I took some photos for my friend's son's party the weekend before last, and it was a pretty tight space. I didn't get any of him blowing out the candles without kid's heads in the frame. There were just people everywhere! I was lucky, because the venue had lots of windows, so I had plenty of natural light.
I remember feeling the way you do right now with my kid's birthday parties. I just wound up taking photos in auto, and pop up flash. Sure, they're not spectacular, but I look back on those photos with a huge smile and remember how they felt on those special days. Not every picture that you take has to be portrait worthy. Some of my favorite pictures are ones just taken with my iPhone.
The most important thing is that you're documenting these moments for you to remember forever
I am sorry you are so frustrated. I agree with Tracy and Steph. There have been a few times I was so frustrated with the lack of "photo quality" I was getting that I forgot to enjoy the moment, and appreciate the memories being made. I have so many mediocre to poor photos that I hang on to. Even though they aren't perfect, I can still look at it and smile because I remember the moment. I just can't bring myself to delete them. And my mom and dad are far from photographers, so really we only have snapshots of us growing up, but we look through them and laugh and reminisce. That's what's important.
Do it again lol! No really, either before or after my kids birthdays I get a separate cake for photos. This way I know I can take my time with lighting and not have anyone jump in the shot. I would also say in a nice way "These shots are going on the web so everyone back up" (hint hint)
You can do just a family birthday. There is an amazing post on youtube on how to get the candles and smoke in your shots. I will post it when I get back gotta run out the door.