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"Be careful what you wish for..."  A couple of years ago I started thinking that it would be a good idea to supplement my traditional photography business by adding video services for clients. The idea was that I'd be able to offer a turnkey solution so that we could efficiently do photographs as well as video on various assignments. The job acquisition and actual shooting/directing/editing/photoshopping is going well but I wish I had given more thought to the packing and production end of the hybrid photo/video idea. 

It's all very well to say that we'll use LED lights for everything since we have a bunch of LED lights but sometimes reality bites you on the butt and makes you realize that there is no "one size fits all" strategy when it comes to shooting photographs. Much as I would love
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It's odd. I have been a working photographer for more than 30 years and in most of that time, while I may have dabbled in constant light sources (LED, Tungsten, Fluorescent..) my commercial work was done mostly with electronic flash. In the early days it was because film was relatively insensitive and the bigger formats we worked in demanded smaller apertures to keep everything we wanted to have in focus sharp.

Our first studio electronic flashes were huge and heavy. I remember why we needed assistants so desperately, a Norman PD 2000 power pack weighed in at over 30 pounds; we traveled with three of them. Add in the flash heads and the heavy light stands and there was no way one could survive going out of the studio solo.

Eventually flashes got smaller and more efficient. In tandem we moved from large format to medium format and then; mostly, to a 35mm style of camera (this transition coinciding also with the advent of primitive digital cameras) and the overall gear package shrunk in size and weight.

I never truly abandoned studio flash and up until very recently
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Abstract: Chromatically complex light adds much more realism to your lit photos.



Today’s Lighting 103 post features excerpts from a bar conversation with Greg Heisler. It's just as if we cornered him at a conference (which I did) and he agreed to have a drink and talk color (which he did).

This is roadmap stuff. It's above and beyond the specific info he includes with each of the assignments in his book, 50 Portraits, the companion text to L103.Read more »
The G85, on a crowded desk, with a SmartRig cage on it.


My last experience with Panasonic cameras was with the workmanlike GH4. It was actually a very well done camera with exceptional 1080p video quality and a wide range of both video features and very decent photography chops as well. But it sported a lower resolution EVF, the anti-aliasing filter in front of the sensor robbed the camera of that last tweak of sharpness and the shutter was a bit loud.

While I am certain that I'd like a GH5 I'm not at all ready to give up the sterling photography and video performance I get from Sony's A7Rii to plunge down into yet another full camera family change. In fact, I've written here before that I am now certain the minute I sell off or trade in my Sony cameras and lenses on whatever looks better on the other side of the fence will be the day that Sony announces a camera that will fit my needs even more perfectly. I'll be honest and say that I think the G85 is somewhat a camera for people who really would like a GH5 but can't justify the cost of a wholesale system change. In my mind the GH5 can only be justified if you see it as a video camera that's capable of great still images instead of a still imaging camera that can take great video.

On the other hand, the Sony A7Rii is resolutely a great still photography camera that can be pressed into video service and deliver the goods but with a penalty in handling and connectivity. (What a marvelous camera it would be with the addition of a full HDMI plug and the option to use some of that processor bandwidth to delivery 10 bit 4:2:2 in 1080p....).

I bought the G85 because I was very happy with the video performance (color, tone, handling) of the Panasonic fz2500 and thought I'd try one of the interchangeable lens, M4:3 cameras with the latest magic to see if it might be a great addition to the cameras I use for video work. After all, if the image stabilization lives up to Panasonic's promised and the color and tonality is at least as good as the fz2500 then I would have a great new tool to shoot handheld video content on the run. Right?

Since the camera was more or less brand new to me last week I decided against taking it on my trip to shoot stills and interviews in OKC. The combination of the Sony RX10iii and the A7Rii gave me a sterling still performance and great video, all with the same basic menu structures, profiles and batteries. The time crunch was too great to work with a new camera under pressure. No time to fix unexpected stuff...

But now that I'm back and the photographs from that assignment have been delivered I've dived back into my explorations of the G85.

First of all I should briefly describe the camera for people who are unfamiliar with it. The G85 is the replacement for the G7 (corrected model name; thank you anonymous commenter). The G7 was a good camera but subject to "shutter shock" and also endowed with some sloppy feeling dials. The G85 is a micro four thirds camera with the same type of 16 megapixel sensor but the anti-aliasing filter has be removed (or weakened, more likely...). The camera also inherited the same dual OIS image stabilization afforded the GH5. This allows the camera and lens stabilizers to work together (with a small number of currently lenses) to provide up to five stops of image stabilization for stills and 1080p video along with lesser capability when shooting 4K video. I've been using the camera with the elegant little 12-60mm f3.5 to f5.6 lens and have found the I.S. to be very, very good.

When I mount one of my older, manual focus, Olympus Pen FT lenses on the camera a menu automatically comes up asking me if I want to input the correct focal length into the system in order to match it to the camera's I.S. programming. A very nice touch and one that will keep me from having to dig through menus to set the right focal length every time I change non-system lenses.

The color and tonality I got from my older Olympus EM-5.2 cameras is similar to what I am getting here and while the Jpegs are lower contrast they are very malleable in post processing. The video menus are truncated when compared to what I have in the fz2500. By this I mean that a range of setting options for video files is less generous. First, this is not a "world" camera. You can't switch form NTSC 24 fps to PAL 25 fps. None of the PAL frame rates are included. Also, the camera doesn't give you the option to wrap your files in a .MOV wrapper. You get ACVHD or Mp4 and that's it.
So when you shoot 4K you are shooting 100 mbs into an Mp4 file.

This is a camera that you will want to use almost always in 4k as none of the 1080p files, Mp4 or ACVHD are bigger than 28 mbs. Not really enough information to make insecure videographers feel like they are getting enough information to work with in post. The only use I can see for the smaller 1080p files would be long for documentation like recitals, stage shows or corporate events for which the documentation video doesn't have to reach broadcast standards, or a near approximation.

The flip side of the coin is that the 4K files that absorb information at 100 mbs are very nice and very easy to work with. Panasonic seems to be using the same style of file for 4K that they provide in the fz2500 and that is very good, especially at 24 fps. While the fz2500 provides a wider aspect (and slightly bigger format- 17:9 ) cinema 4K at 24 fps the G85 does not provide the cinema version and is limited to 24 or 30 fps at the UHD ( 16:9 ) format. I don't see it as a roadblock for personal or corporate work but if you were using this camera as a "b" camera in a movie/cinema production with cameras that can go wider (17:9 )  you'll have some issues with editing that will require you to either do some letter boxing or cropping and neither are good, after the fact solutions where quality and control are concerned. The aspect ratio imbroglio.

The other poke in the eye, as far as serious video production is concerned, is the lack of a headphone jack. While photographers won't care anyone who is filming an interview certainly will. It's just too easy to not hear potential sound disasters if you don't listen through high quality, enclosed headphones. You'd miss everything from a bad electrical hum to appliance noise and even the rustling of a microphone on clothing. It's not an automatic disqualified for the camera's use in video since the Arri Alexa Mini at over $20,000 doesn't have a headphone jack either.... But it's a pain in the butt and, if they can put one on their bridge camera you'd think it would not be too difficult to work into this camera as well.

I have a good and then a better workaround for the headphone issue but both add bulk and complexity to the camera. The first is to use something like the Saramonic SmartRig+ which is a pre-amplifier for external microphone. It has a built in headphone jack. But it's limited. You'll be able to hear that what the mic and pre-amp are doing is fine but you won't know if the camera recorded it well until you play back the footage. It's a good way to catch noises and general problems but you'll spend time watching your meters on the camera to make sure you are getting enough level into the camera and not too much. About $100.

The better way (at least as far as making certain you have good sound) is to use an external, HDMI monitor that provides a headphone jack. The monitor is getting a signal after it's been processed in camera so you are seeing an image and hearing sound as the camera will hear them. While the monitor adds much bulk to smaller camera set ups it does deliver peace of mind for video makers.

A decent, 4K enabled, 7 inch monitor can be had for under $300.

Through I like the files coming out of this camera aesthetically I have to admit that the RX10ii and RX10iii, as well as the FZ2500 are much better solutions for video production.

Looking at the camera as a still photography tool shows me the camera in a different light. There is a laundry list of things I like about it. The EVF is good, detailed and has better stand-off than the Sony a6000 series cameras. The image stabilization, especially when using a lens with OIS -2 is closing in on Olympus territory. The files are sharp and their color is good. The body is a good size with nice heft and a good level of finish. The shutter is like butter. You probably will never need to switch into the silent mode since this camera, along with first curtain e-shutter, is so quiet it puts most other cameras to shame.  And, while the battery is not the same high performance one found in the GH4 and GH5 it is the same as the one in the fz1000 and fz2500 and if used well provides lots and lots of reserve. I have five batteries across two cameras but you have to know that I am a bit compulsive on redundancy.

Do I like using the camera? Yes. It's a comfortable camera and it delivers beautiful stills when used with the kit lens (12/60mm) or one of my little, gem-like Pen lenses. It's small enough to be a comfortable daylong shooter for me. The DfD focusing seems fast and accurate and the dials feel good. The menus (except for the AF menu) are easy and straightforward. It's a fun camera to use.

But....would I buy it again? For my kind of shooting? If I had it to do over again I'd probably choose the other fork in the road and buy the Sony a6500. It might not feel as elegant and finished as this camera but I like the array of video options and video performance better and, by all accounts, it is a low light monster --- perhaps the best in the whole APS-C world. The 4K video files are downsampled from 6K for incredible detail and sharpness. And I can use the Pen lenses on that camera too.

With the other cameras I own satisfying me on most jobs I'm not in a rush to get rid of the G85 or lunge toward yet another Sony camera. I'll concentrate on figuring out what the G85 does superbly and focus on its strengths. I do like the 4K video very much. I also like the way the camera makes photographs. In the end though it's just a camera. I should know my way around these by now....







A home-studio setup with speedlites

With the article on lighting a white seamless studio backdrop in the studio, the question came up how you would do that in a home-based studio where there is less space. The answer? In pretty much the same way. This tutorial video on how to set up a small home studio using speedlites, will show you that the techniques remain the same, whether it is a speedlite, or a powerful studio light.

A few notes about this video:

  • For this video, I ended up going with B&W images only of our subject, Matt. I liked the result. It worked very well with the white backdrop. However, the skin tones and colors looked fantastic in the color images. You can see two examples further down in this article.
  • I used a white paper backdrop here to show how I would make sure it is white with no detail. You could as easily use a color backdrop, or a grey one.
  • As I explained in that previous tutorial, I like to start with the white background, getting my exposure for that, and building up from there. You could as easily (and sensibly) start by lighting your subject first. There is no specific single way of doing this. What matters are the results. So adapt from this what you need.
  • In editing this, I noticed I slurred my words occasionally – I can only offer chronic insomnia as an excuse.

In the end, this video hopefully shows that getting nice, elegant results is easy, and well within anyone’s reach. It takes two speedlites and a few accessories. You can do this!

 

 

Photo gear mentioned in the tutorial video

 

For the background

 

The reflector

  • Here I used the Sunbounce mini bounce kit (white / gold)   (B&H / Amazon),
  • however, in the studio where I have space, I prefer the the Eye-lighter (B&H / Amazon).
  • Ultimately, any reflector or white board would work. It might not even be necessary in a smaller space where the walls are white.

 

The light modifiers

 

The lens

 

Color calibration tool / Color checker chart

 

  • Consistent Color Control for RAW Imaging
  • White, Gray, and Gray Ramp Patches
  • Color Target Includes Skintone Samples
  • Works with Adobe Camera RAW (ACR)
  • Includes Software for Mac and Windows

 


 

 


 

Credits

 

Related articles

 

The post A home-studio setup with speedlites appeared first on Tangents.

AcraYoga at Eeyore's Birthday Party, 2017. This image has nothing to do with the subject matter of this blog. It's just part of my continued sharing of images I like. Sony RX10iii.

I thought it might be interesting to write a piece that outlines a day of visual content creation on location, complete with what I'm thinking about as I go through the day. It's something new I want to try out so here goes: 
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How to fix loose rubber on Nikon cameras

I make no secret of it that I’m not overly thrilled with Canon in general. I was stung badly over the years by their poor quality control. However, I will concede one point to Canon where they are immeasurably better than Nikon – Canon makes a glue that sticks! Not like Nikon where the rubber parts of the camera grip eventually will peel away. It’s a Nikon thing. The latest is this rubber peeling loose from the memory card door on my Nikon D810.

I love Nikon, but this is tedious. Catch up with Canon! Do some industrial espionage and figure out the Canon glue recipe!

And you may well ask why not send it away for repair? Because it will cost me more to ship it to Nikon USA and pay for the out-of-warranty repair. Also the spare part that you order from nikonusa is for the rubber … which doesn’t include glue or sticky something to hold it to the CF card door. I suppose you could order the entire door, but that’s even more spendy. You can buy them on eBay from a Chinese vendor. $38 but it is always a bit dicey buying off-brand stuff from eBay.

Someone gave me this hardy suggestion – to buy 3M double-sided adhesive tape (Amazon) – and stick the rubber down properly again. Better (and less messy) than glue. You cut the shape that you need, and this double-sided tape will hold the rubber securely … for at least a little while.

 

From 3M’s literature on this tape:

Double-sided adhesive tapes or sheets using 3M’s 300LSE adhesive are the strongest and most versatile ones commercially available.

The most important advantage of this triple-layer construction is that it allows the sheets to be cut by knife or scissors without the edges along the cut sticking together – a problem commonly found with tapes or sheets that employ only a single layer of 300LSE. The triple-layer construction of 9474LE sheets also increases stability when the two bonded objects are subjected to shear forces.

The post How to fix loose rubber on Nikon cameras appeared first on Tangents.


There are some things I just don't do with my camera and one of them is swimming. I suppose I could rivet a Go Pro to my head and document every stroke but I'm pretty darn sure the audience for the resulting images/video would be about one, and even I would tire of it quickly. 

We have two masters workouts on Saturday mornings. One is the serious/low conversation/high yardage workout that goes from 7:30am- 8:30am while the second is a more crowded, boisterous, engaging and eclectic workout - from 8:30am to 10am. Make no mistake though, while we have fun in the later workout we do get our yards in. 

Last Saturday I woke up early for no good reason at all and decided to go to the early workout. I had a big glass or water at home and drove the mile and a half on quiet, almost empty streets. I hopped into lane three with Ann and Tom and we followed Ann as she dragged us through each set on tight intervals that I could barely make. It was great to watch the sun come up over the hill next to the pool and send beautiful rays of light through the (almost) crystal clear water. 

I was tired at the end of the first workout but stayed for the first half hour of the second workout. I probably swam in four different lanes; just to mix things up. 

The Western Hills Athletic Club seems to be one of a fading type of club --- one almost completely dedicated to the sport of swimming instead of being a social club for upper middle class networking. Kids workouts and teams trump everything but masters workouts are still a top priority. The club has no food service, no bar, no service staff. Just lifeguards, a pool manager and a freelance tennis pro. You mostly come here to swim. And usually you come to swim hard. 

I've spent so many beautiful days here over the last twenty years. Saturday was a wonderful day of swimming and recharging. I'd write more but I'm heading over to participate in the noon masters practice today. I wonder which former gold medal winning Olympian will be our coach today? 





Camera: Panasonic G85. 12-60mm f3.5-5.6

Steve, at our lake location. A quick lighting test. 

Our trip to Oklahoma City was a fast paced affair. My client and I flew out from Austin on Monday morning, arrived in OKC mid-afternoon and immediately headed over to our primary shooting location to meet the our contacts and scout the locations. When the project started on Tuesday we shot video and stills; intertwined. I went without an assistant on this adventure and I'm happy I did. I was able to handle what needed to get done and I didn't have to keep track of anyone else. I like having my hands on all of the controls.

Lots of the photographs and video content were done in the available light of a well lit research facility. This meant that I leaned on my lighting kit less frequently than I usually do. I won't say that I over packed here because I did use all three of the lights and light stands that I packed, but the need to light was much more about getting the right aesthetic than it was just providing enough photons to operate. The two, plastic, Amaran 672W LED panels travelled well, as did the smaller LED panel I toted along. I came home with at least 50% battery power remaining for every light.

I also packed one Godox flash unit, along with its cute radio flash trigger and used it only in one sequence of shots in an exam room where I wanted total control of the light's color temperature. The lithium battery in that flash is pretty amazing and I was able to bang off a hundred perfect frames at half power without making a dent in its capacity. I love using small flashes to light "big" by bouncing them into wall and ceiling intersections. It's a fun technique. And being able to sit at camera position and control power output is always a lazy man's bonus...

I bought and used Andrew Reid's (EosHd.com) formula for setting an optimum picture profile for the Sony A7 and RX cameras. It's a method of fine tuning color and contrast in order to get nearly perfect files out of the cameras, ready to deliver. I have to say that it worked really well. The profile set-ups he suggests are clearly intended for video work with those cameras but worked for most of the outside images I created; both as photographs and video. It was a very cost effective expenditure; a whopping $15 for a big savings in post production time on many of my set ups.

Here's the way the camera use broke down: I used the A7Rii for almost all of the still shots I produced. I shot in uncompressed raw and I'm processing the 600+ images in Lightroom. About 12 of the images need some additional care (retouching out a lens that creeped into the image, dropping out a background for a social media photo request by the client, etc.) and I'll drag them into Photoshop and fix things that are either unflattering (I'm no strict journalist) or goofy mistakes on my part.

The remaining files were grouped and post processed this morning and I'm writing this as they export into folders as Tiffs with LZW compression (client mandated format....).

I know I was hesitant about buying a 28mm lens for my A7 cameras but in retrospect I am glad I did. We were working in some tight spaces and it was great to have a sharp, fast wide angle that wasn't so wide that it would cause too much perspective craziness. The 28mm f2.0 is small, light and very sharp in actual practice. I also used it to very good effect in a number of exterior shots in which the subject needed to be prominent and the background pushed away. I've given the 28mm focal length the cold shoulder too often. It can be nice. I'll be using it more often.

The other two single focal length lenses I took along feel like variations of old friends. One is the 50mm f1.8 FE and the other is the 85mm f1.8 FE; I am delighted with both of them and they each performed flawlessly. I amazed myself by finally having the discipline to limit myself to a trio of primes instead of bowing to my usual anxious overkill of having overlapping zooms, supplemented by a bag full of obscure primes for, you know, just in case stuff...

The other camera I took along was the RX10iii. I used it for all of the b-roll video and as the "A" camera for the interviews we did with our subject, Steve. The only video I took with the A7Rii was when I used it as a second angle camera for the interviews. I didn't bring a second tripod but mounted the camera onto a Leica ball head and mounted that to the 1/4 inch screw on top of a small light stand. Sure, there was some vibration and movement when I turned the camera on but it subsided before we got the interview into full swing, and, as long as no one touched the assemblage it was solid as a rock. Funny, a $50 light stand and a 50 year old ball head filling in for a $1,000+ video tripod ---- and doing a damn fine job. As long as no one tries to pan it...

I fed audio into the camera from one of the Saramonic SmartRig+ pre-amplifiers which was attached to a Rode NTG-4+ on a Gitzo boom pole. I was able to monitor the audio with headphones plugged into the camera's headphone jack. It worked well. I brought a second microphone along but didn't need to use it. I also brought along a second Saramonic SmartRig+ but we'll file that desire for redundant back-up under excess gear anxiety...

The only issue I've ever had shooting video with the RX10iii is achieving good manual focus, even when using magnification. The problem was finally solved for me by, again, Andrew Reid. In his instructions he advised that for many types of shots it was wholly unnecessary to set the camera to the little movie camera icon and then shoot. In that mode the camera only gives on 5X magnification of the frame and at a lesser resolution! If one leaved the camera in the regular "M" mode one can fine focus using magnification all the way up to 16X and will be doing so on a much higher resolution image (the still frame versus the reduced resolution video frame). The result of doing it this way is much improved focusing parameters. There are two downsides, only one of which is critical. The first downside is that you view the frame in photography 16:9 when in the "M" mode but when you push the red record button the frame shrinks a bit. This is a pain mostly if you are wedded to a very specific crop. The second issue could bite you on the ass. When you are outside the dedicated video mode (little film icon) you give up manual audio level control and the camera defaults to automatic level control. That's okay if audio is not important to the shot but for interviews it's pretty important to be able to set levels that stay....level.

I got into the habit of focusing in "M" mode and then switching to the dedicated video mode to shoot interviews. It worked well. The "M" mode focusing was a revelation for all the b-roll shots. Just a great way to shoot with manual focus.

The new Manfrotto case worked well as did the more seasoned Tenba rolling stand case (it always amazed me when it arrives someplace new with all of the bottom casters and wheels still attached).
I was able to toss in a shirt, boxers, socks and a shaving kit of the second day so I passed entirely on taking anything for "personal" luggage.

There were no direct flights to OKC from AUS so no matter how you do it you're going to spend some quality time in an airport in Dallas. I like to fly Southwest so I knew I'd be spending a couple hours each way at Love Field. It's nice. Only one terminal and only 18 gates. You won't miss a tight flight because the tram was out of order or the distance between terminals too great. A bonus is that Love field actually has a Whataburger in the terminal so that native Texans can get their burger with chopped jalapeños. Airport comfort food?

There is only one thing I hate about traveling these days and that's the making of calculations about when to head to the airport. I always go early. I've been burned by crazy traffic en route to the airport, to car fires shutting down the main parking garage and the human roadblocks at TSA checkpoints caused, on a regular basis, by the mass, temporary migrations of people coming to or escaping from Austin concerts, events and conventions. The check in lines in our moderately small airport can be as long as two hours. But if you choose too early you'll have an equal number of experiences where you arrive, slide into a parking place and hit the airport at a time when you are the only one standing in front of a Sky Cap and the only person going through security. At those times you might wish you had slept in another hour or wish that you hadn't splashed to for the TSA Pre-Check or Global Entry. But then you visualize that Whataburger with those spicy peppers, smile, take a seat and read that great novel you brought along... Ah.....Jalapeños....

Two cameras was just right. The trip was just right. Now I hope to get the post production to the same level. It's good to be home. Someone has to nap on the couch with Studio Dog....

I'll be at the Austin airport first thing Monday morning. I'm heading out of town for two days to shoot a project that requires both video and photographs. It's not an especially complicated project. We'll be shooting two separate interviews and then we'll need video that shows our main subject engaged in activities of daily life. These will include walking with his dog and fishing. We'll need close up shots of the client's product in all phases of these activities. The interviews will take place inside an office and the active shots will take place outside. The photographs need to feature the two subjects from the interviews working together (patient and clinician) as well as a few "product in use" photographs.

We travel and scout tomorrow but scouting tomorrow doesn't help much with packing today. I tend to want everything I need close at hand on assignment and I know we only have four hours with one of our subjects on Tues. If we need additional gear there's no time to run out and get more; we'll just have to figure out a way to proceed with what I've packed. 

In my main case (above) I've got: two large, 672 W Aputure Amaran LED panels, in their cases. I also have a smaller Amaran LED panel snugged in next to them. In the center, front area I have a big, sturdy Manfrotto fluid tripod head, and in the same compartment (just under the blue  case with the gray/white target) I have a Pelican case with a set of Sennheiser wireless microphones. On the right side of the case I have two different shotgun microphones, headphones, two preamplifier/phantom power devices as well as my usual Beachtek XLR to 3.5mm adapter box. There is an Ikan shoulder mount for shooting video and two 25 foot XLR cables; along with lots of connectors and adapters. 

Somewhere in the front of the case is a Leica tabletop tripod with a ball head. 

In the rear section of the case is a big set of Manfrotto video tripod legs. The legs are sharing the space with two Chimera 4x4' collapsible aluminum frames and several kinds of diffusion cloth. In a pocket in the same compartment is my Skidmore College-branded, wood paneled pocket knife; it's basically a Swiss Army knife with convenient things like a screw driver blade and a cork screw. 

The case is a Manfrotto as well. Fully loaded, in this configuration it weighs in at about 35 pounds. 




My next case is a Tenba 40 inch, rolling light stand case. I have three medium weight Manfrotto light stands and two nano-stands strapped in as well as a microphone boom pole, some grip heads, and various reflector cloths as well as two Westcott collapsible, shoot thru umbrellas. This case will also get a small shaving kit as well as a pair of pants, a pair of extra socks and a shirt for the second day. 

The case has casters on the bottom and bigger wheels at one end. Packed as spec'd it weighs in at about 30 pounds. The two big cases get me up and running for an unmanned microphone on boom pole for interviews and they also get me lighting control for the interior shots, as well as possible overhead diffusion for close up exteriors. Being able to toss in shirt/pants/socks, etc. saves me having to pack any sort of suitcase. I'm flying Southwest Airlines so I get to check both of these without hassles. The final case is the camera container. 


It's the same Amazon Basics Photo Backpack that I used when I went to shoot in Toronto in February.  I've got it packed with a Sony A7rii, an RX10iii and a complement of three prime lenses; the 28mm f2.0, the 50mm f1.8 and the 85mm f1.8. I'll lean on the A7Rii for the interviews and depend on the RX10iii for all the action/moving/dolly/handheld shots. We're shooting 4K. 

Also in this case are eight batteries for the cameras, neutral density filters for all the lenses, cleaning cloths, a Godox flash and a remote trigger for the flash. The bottom right compartment and the one just above it are stuffed with big lithium batteries for the LED panels. You are no longer allowed to include lithium batteries in checked luggage. Now the weight gets added to the carry on. Ah well, safety first... I'll add to this collection my phone and its charger along with a vintage/retro 40GB iPod that I recently re-discovered in the clutter on my desk and have been enjoying immensely. It's nice to listen to music and not be interrupted by phone calls or text notifications...

That's pretty much it. I'm overpacked and under packed as usual and, if I knew for sure in which direction I was erring I would lighten my load, but I have a duty to come home with good, useable content and it's not going to make itself. 

Why a small backpack instead of my ThinkTank Airport Security case? Hmmm. Well, on two of my recent short jaunts I had a connection delay and even though I had arranged for early check-in I was one of the last people to get on the plane. The overheads were full and my roller case had to be gate checked. I pulled the cameras out and wore them but I still fretted about the lenses. On a different flight we ended up doing one leg on a regular commercial jet and then the second leg on a much smaller regional jet and the overheads were too small for anything bigger than a backpack. Yep. Another gate check. I wanted to stop tempting fate with my gear and it seemed smarter to just pack down a bit and find something that would both fit and be portable enough to jog with all the way from one end of the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta Airport (yes, I had to do that to make a connection on the last trip..).

Travel sucks these days. If I can get to my destination in six hours or less in a car I'll do it but for anything else air travel still makes sense. That doesn't mean it's fun, it just means we (generally) save time. But traveling with gear these days always turns into a nail biter. Will it get there? Will it still work? Will our cases be held for baggage fee ransom? Are there ever enough light stands? Why do extension cords weigh so much? 

When I write something like this there is always a chorus of voices suggesting that I ship everything via Fedex. Yeah. If we were staying in a big hotel like a Four Seasons or a W I'd consider it but a lot of the time we're heading for a rural area and we're lucky to find a nearby LaQuinta or Holiday Inn Express. Not sure I trust that set up for basic gear security. And....we've had stuff lost in transit before. My take is that if you want to be assured of an item's use on arrival it must travel with you. In the cabin if possible. 

So now you know how I spent my weekend. It's a process of charging batteries, putting things in cases and then thinking better of it and taking them back out of the cases. There is no perfect way. But if you think you know of one, please share.

Mirrorless cameras and B&W infrared photography

B&W infrared photographs have a distinct look – green foliage go white and blue skies go dark. Then there are the unusual tonality when some things are unexpectedly darker or brighter than you expect. This is all part of the adventure of shooting with B&W infrared. The most typical B&W infrared images that you tend to see, are the landscape images with the ghostly white foliage. My own preference is to explore New York with my B&W infrared camera. The imposing cityscapes of NYC, and the random opportunities make it even more of a visual adventure.

The surreal photograph shown above is a great example of that – two kids reaching up to touch the iconic Red Cube sculpture become a more haunting image. It’s now perhaps reminiscent of a Twilight Zone episode, with the two children becoming ghostly pale. Unsettling.

Until last year, the camera that I had been using for B&W infrared photography, was a Canon 5D mark II body that had been converted. I loved the results, but using the Canon DSLR in Live-View mode to check the exposure, felt awkward. You have to rely on the Live-View to figure out the exposure, since the camera’s built-in exposure metering is only a rough guess when it comes to infrared.

That awkwardness of using a DSLR in Live-View mode is what made me consider other options – and I ended up having a Fuji X-E2 (affiliate) camera converted to infrared by LifePixel. Instead of having the IR filter replacing the visible spectrum filter that is usually over the sensor, I decided it might be a good idea to go full-spectrum, and then add an IR filter to the lens.

There are specific advantages to using a Mirrorless camera for shooting infrared compared to a DLSR – mostly, that the mirrorless cameras have an Electronic Viewfinder (EVF) which shows you whether your exposure is good, or too bright or too dark. Superb for changing the settings quickly and  intuitively on the fly. Since exposure metering with infrared photography is less predictable than visible spectrum light, I shoot in Aperture Priority mode … and with my left thumb deftly nudge the Exposure Compensation button on the Fuji X-E2. I can now roll the EC dial for more or less light, as shown in the EVF. If you’re only used to shooting a DLSR, and not used to shooting with a mirrorless camera, this description might seem a little redundant, comparing the easy of use for something like this. But the mirrorless camera here made it easier and more intuitive to shoot.

 

Going with Fuji wasn’t without troubles – Fuji lenses tend to show infrared hot spots in the center of the frame, which get progressively worse as you stop down. Some lens designs are such that internal reflections become really bad in the infrared spectrum. The KolariVision website has a very useful list of lenses from all manufacturers which are prone or less prone to IR hotspots.

Unfortunately I didn’t know about that list, so the first lens that I bought for my infrared Fuji, was the Fuji 18mm f/2 lens (affiliate). It’s a superb little lens, compact and very sharp. However, it was a poor choice to shoot infrared with because of a strong hotspot that appeared in the middle. Some of the images below were taken with that lens, and I had to minimize the effect by shooting wider apertures, and even then using the Healing Brush. Not ideal.

A much more suited lens for this turned out to be the Fuji 14mm f/2.8 lens (B&H / Amazon). I haven’t detected any real tendency for that IR hotpost, and the focal length (equivalent to 21mm on FF), is more ideal for dramatic wide-angle scenes.

Here are more images, shot with either of those two Fuji lenses.

  • Fuji X-E2  (conversion by Life Pixel)
  • Fuji 18mm f/2 lens, with Deep infrared filter (from Life Pixel)
  • (hotspot reduced in post-production)

 

  • Fuji X-E2  (conversion by Life Pixel)
  • Fuji 18mm f/2 lens, with Deep infrared filter (from Life Pixel)
  • (hotspot reduced in post-production)

 

  • Fuji X-E2  (conversion by Life Pixel)
  • Fuji 18mm f/2 lens, with Deep infrared filter (from Life Pixel)
  • (hotspot reduced in post-production)

 

  • Fuji X-E2  (conversion by Life Pixel)
  • Fuji 18mm f/2 lens, with Deep infrared filter (from Life Pixel)
  • (hotspot reduced in post-production)

 

 

 

And finally, the most recent image, shot with the  Fuji 14mm f/2.8 lens, for a much wider view. Bryant Park in New York, looking like it was shot in the winter. What appears to be snow-covered ground and trees, are actually the infrared rendering of summer-time green grass and trees.

 

Related articles

 

Converting your camera for infrared capture

If the look of infrared photography appeals to you, then you can have your camera converted by Life Pixel. On their website they list all the options, as well as which cameras are suitable, and which lenses might be a problem. There’s a ton of useful information on infrared photography! Check them out.

 

The post Mirrorless cameras and B&W infrared photography appeared first on Tangents.


I see more and more of what I call "public art." It's mostly in the form of murals and "invited" graffiti. 
There is some really good stuff being done in the oddest places. The building on which this mural is painted is an older property near the central campus of Austin's community college. The front of the building is on 12th street and this artwork is on the side of the building, facing into their parking lot.

When I document public art I try to find a way to record the entire piece as well as the signature of the artist, then I go tighter and try to create a photographic composition that makes sense to me as a photograph instead of stopping at making a literal documentation. 

I started doing this many years ago, both in Austin and San Antonio, and recently I've found mural treasures in Denver, CO. as well. One of the reasons I walk around the downtown space here so often is that even commissioned public art tends to have a short half life. People "tag" over the original art or general wear and tear eventually degrades the work. If I walk through the areas where I know there is good art on a frequent basis I have a better chance of photographing it while it's fresh. 

Sometimes going to a place on a Sunday, or earlier in the morning yields the advantage of not having to compete with cars and trucks for a good view. For example, this morning I was able to shoot a giant mural of "jeweled" frogs on the side of a downtown building at a time when there were no cars at the parking meters in front of the mural. It was the same with the mural above. Before 8 a.m. you have a fighting chance of getting a clean area in front of the art that allows you to photograph straight in, without having to wiggle your camera to one side or the other in a frustrating attempt to dodge parked cars. 

The commissioned work I see is usually very well produced. It shows the hands and minds of true craftspeople. I love the "circus" images on the back of the building that houses Esther's Follies comedy club. The "Op Art" on plywood fronting a property on Congress Ave., just a couple of blocks from the Capitol is also very nice. It's all worth documenting because, inevitably, it will go away. 

One of the earliest pieces was an ad on the side of an old building in downtown. A building got torn down in order to make way for a newer, plainer building and the demolition revealed a chewing gum ad on the building next door. 

Now, of course, if you are doing this professionally you really will need the absolute latest camera. It must have two card slots because one never knows when the wrecking ball will beat you to the re-shoot should your single card slot fail. You'll probably need a Sony a9 (I'm sure redacted website would consider it mandatory) so you can capture the work at high rates of speed. Buildings move fast. And no building will stand still if you aren't using one of those white lenses (or at least light grey...). As you might imagine, a fast, professional optic is required. In bright sunlight f2.0 might be dicey; better make it an f1.2 instead. This presumes, of course, that you'll have a raw converter built into your professional camera so you can get your "work" up on Instagram while you are still facing the subject of your study. Anything less would be temporally unprofessional. I can only use Canon and Nikon for this sort of work since they now have service trucks (like our food trucks) parked close to the art just in case one of the cameras, operating at speed, drops a cog or runs out of sensor oil. Occasionally I find that I need to borrow a 1200mm f2.8 from one of the "big boys" so I can shoot a mural from across the street. Good to know they are there. 

In all seriousness, this kind of work can be done with just about anything that has a battery that will still hold a charge. My first documentations were done with film cameras but I started photographing Austin murals in earnest with my original Olympus E-1 camera. It worked well. 

It's fun to have a mission in mind when you head outside with your camera. An ongoing mission like the documentation of public art gives me a reason to walk and a reason to bring along a camera. Over time you develop a deeper and deeper inventory of images and, in some ways, you create an archive of the change in your city.

Today I was using the Panasonic G85. That's just because it's my newest toy. My all time favorite camera for this kind of "work" has been the Sony RX10iii. Being able to use so many vastly different focal lengths gives me ultimate flexibility and the really good stabilization never hurts. 
































































I woke up this morning fifteen minutes before the alarm on my phone was set to go off. I went into the kitchen and saw this shaft of light hitting the coffee cup that holds our pens and pencils at the ready and I reached for my camera. I also took as the intention of this single ray of sunshine to act as a sign, guiding me in search of coffee. I had two things that I needed to get done today. One was to have lunch with an interesting advertising peer and the other was to go to the theater later in the afternoon and take photographs of dancers and actors for the new production just heading into rehearsal, "In the Heights."

There were other things I need to get done but none as pressing, I thought,  as those two appointments; they were the only ones with hard deadlines. It was early when I pulled out a pair of hiking shoes and pulled on an old, gray sweatshirt to keep me warm against the 52 degree breeze. It's Springtime in Austin and, even though it was a bit on the chilly side, a pair of khaki shorts is de rigeuor. I left the house at 7:30 ready to break in the new camera in the stable; the G85. I was also interested to see just how good (or bad) the 12-60mm kit lens really is.

I pulled the battery I had been using out of the camera and stuck it on the charger. I grabbed two freshly charged batteries, stuck one in the camera and the other in my pants pocket. I made sure there was a clean, fresh SD card inserted in the camera, and I headed downtown. 

I walked around and shot anything that caught my eye for the next hour and a half because I wanted to see what stuff looked like once I processed it and pulled it up on my computer screen. I shot in RAW format so I could mess with the images if I felt I needed to. I was looking for things like: How well does the camera handle basic exposure? (I had it set to Aperture Priority and multi-segment metering). How well does the camera handle auto white balance? What does the camera's rendering of blue sky look like?  How does the camera handle, overall? What's the grip like? How's the EVF?

Here's what I found today: Raw looks good but since I had the noise reduction turned all the way down on the Panasonic G85 I needed to do a little bit of post processing noise reduction even with the slowest ISOs if I did my usual post processing and raised the shadows a bit. I can only see the noise at 100% but....

The camera is very good with exposure. I needed to use the exposure compensation control only occasionally and it was always with darker scenes which could benefit from minus 2/3rds of a stop, or one stop, of compensation. I was very pleased with the auto white balance and find that this is one of the few cameras I've used that even handles tungsten lighting very well. The resulting tungsten lit files were not tinged with orange the way the files from some of the competing cameras sometimes are.

The blue sky is nicely rendered and matches, color and saturation-wise, what I was seeing as I was shooting.  The camera is solid but with the light weight kit lens becomes a very reasonable package to carry around all day long. It's light enough not to be a burden but stout enough to have some mass. And, compared to most DSLRs it's quite small. The EVF has good magnification, significant range in the diopter, and a bright, almost "high eye point" image. 

But here is my one piece of unalloyed praise for this under $1,000 camera today = It has the best shutter sound and shutter feel of any camera I have ever used; including Leica's best film cameras,  Alpas, anything. I would buy the G85 again in a rush just for the tactile and aural superiority of this shutter system. The camera has a silent mode but it seems redundant. The shutter is quiet but beyond that, I can't imagine any human hearing it and not smiling with a sense of satisfaction. It's that good. 

I got back to the house and checked my messages. Oh no! There was one from the theater. Our photo project was well vetted by the marketing people but ran aground with someone in production. They decided, at the last minute, to scrap the shoot we were trying to produce. It's too bad as I was really looking forward to setting up some large (and small) flashes and having fun shooting wonderful actors and dancers with my new camera and lens. I'm sure the shoot will be revived sometime soon. It sometimes happens that way. At least I don't have to pull equipment out of various cases in order to custom pack for the lighting vision I had in my head for later this afternoon.

That leaves a nice hole in my schedule for a nap. I wonder if Studio Dog will share a piece of that couch? It's worth a shot.








Shooting my reflection in a very dirty window.


I've always had a soft spot for the micro four thirds cameras. 
Above is an EP-2 with a favorite, old Nikon lens on the front.

Caleb Pike has a course about shooting video with the Panasonic G85 on the at DSLRVideoShooter.com and my friend, Frank suggested that it would be a quick way to come to grips with the operation of my new G85 so I paid my $19, pulled up comfortable chairs for me and Studio Dog and we spent a good portion of the afternoon watching a nicely produced and informative presentation that makes me comfortable with the operation of the device. It's not a lot different than the fz2500 and that's a nice thing because there's a lot of comfort in familiarity.

Since I bought the camera, in large part, to do video work I decided, after watching Caleb's video, that I should practice with the camera so I loaded a new battery, set the camera up (nearly) as suggested and started shooting trash video around the studio; mostly on a tripod but also some handheld. 

Here's what I have learned so far: The color straight out of the camera is more pleasing than that of my Sony cameras, but with Andrew Reid's recommended settings (EosHD.com) and the Sony's remarkable setting flexibility I can pretty much match the look of the cameras to each other. But, really, chalk on up to the Panasonic for nailing color at the most basic level. I also learned that, for video I may as well use the touch screen (even though I dislike them philosophically) because it makes life easier. It's also fun to touch the screen and shift focus without touching the lens---a lazy man's focus pull. 

I first tested the image stabilization (in video) with the kit lens (12-60mm) and all of the camera's I.S. prowess engaged. This includes sensor stabilization, lens stabilization and even electronic stabilization in camera software. Altogether they add up to a poor man's instant gimbal. One can handhold the camera for video clips with reckless abandon. It's in the same ballpark formerly occupied by my brace of Olympus EM5.2 cameras. The camera also has a fun, new trick up its sleeve when it comes to stabilizing older, manual focus lenses. When I put one of the older (non-communicative) lenses on the camera and turn it on a menu appears asking me if the lens is the same focal lengths as the camera's last adventure with MF lenses or if a new focal length setting is going to be called for. If you've changed to a new focal length, manual focus lens you have the option of inputing the F.L. right there. Nice. And "nice" is a good way to describe the performance of the system I.S. with ancient lenses. The feature works nearly as well as lens-based stabilization in other systems. 

Manual focusing is  easy with this camera. I'm using the monochrome view for composition and manual focusing and the bigger viewfinder magnification, focus peaking and punch in magnification all work together to ensure that I nail focus with any manual focus lens I happen to put on the camera. I also like the AF, at least I do now that I have the custom range set to work just in the center of the frame. DFD focusing seems fast and sure with the kit lens.

Moving on to audio. I tested the camera's audio capability by attaching a Saramonic SmartRig+ to the camera's microphone jack, setting the audio levels to minus 12 and then using the gain controls on the SmartRig+ to accurately place levels for my tests. In this configuration the pre-amplifiers in the Saramonic are doing most of the heavy lifting and the combination sounds good, and nearly noise free. I used the SmartRig+ because I remembered that it has a headphone jack (no volume control) and it would allow me to at least monitor what the microphone was picking up and what kind of signal it was sending to the camera. I think that if I used the G85 as an "A" camera and was doing an interview I'd go for dual audio instead of flying deaf when it comes to monitoring what the camera is actually laying down in the audio tracks.

It's pretty simple to use the Tascam DR60ii as a combination back-up recorder and pass through device to the camera. And the combination, as tested today, worked well and was also very low noise. I get that the lack of a headphone jack is supposed to propel us upward and into the purchase of a GH5 but I remembered that my Bolex Rex 5, 16mm movie camera lacked any sort of headphone jack either and we seemed to have made that work (in conjunction with a Stellavox quarter inch, portable tape recorder and a clapper...). I'm pretty sure I can make a useable system with the camera and something like the newly announced Sound Devices MixPre 3 mixer/recorder.

The right hand grip of the camera is deep and voluptuous. I like holding on to it.

To sum up: I liked the G85 well enough as a video camera to go ahead and order a nice cage for it and to carve out a little space in my camera backpack so I can take it along with me for a corporate video project in Oklahoma City next week. 

If you've had experience with sound input directly into this camera and you want to share please be sure to comment. I would love to hear your experiences. 

It was good to put the 40mm Pen FT f1.4 back on the front of a camera again. Nostalgic but actually very, very capable.

m4:3 is still sweet. 

Abstract: You can use your knowledge of color temperature and gels to improve the quality of light in your home.



So far, everything we have done has centered on gelling a single light to create a single desired color shift. But before we make the jump into using multiple colors and light sources, one quick hack for your home's lighting that will help you to improve the quality of light in compact fluorescent and LED bulbs.

Like the gawdawful green-tinged lamp above, for example. Read more »
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