Tincture to prepare ten days in a dark place then it is filtered.priligy side effectsPatients askaridozy most often are treated santoniny, sankafeny, or piperazin.However the most important point of treatment of prostatitis in house conditions is the constant control of the attending physician and approval of all applied methods by it.where can i get priligyApproximately in one and a half months the course can be repeated again.Patients askaridozy most often are treated santoniny, sankafeny, or piperazin.priligy preise5.

http://nikonclspracticalguide.blogspot.com

http://www.neilvn.com/tangents/index.html

http://www.strobist.blogspot.com/

http://www.photographytips.com/page.cfm/374

http://jzportraits.home.att.net/

Posing:

http://www.phototraining4u.com/topics/posing-guides

http://web.archive.org/web/20060721192257/http://www.photocrack.com/pages/download/ModelPose15.html

http://web.archive.org/web/20070321221419/http://www.eddiej-photography.co.uk/posing-the-female.htm

http://photographycourse.net/12-basic-posing-tips

http://www.jurgita.com/articles-id104.html

http://www.freedigitalphotographytutorials.com/advanced-tutorials/35-photography-poses-tips-tricks-guidelines-part-2/

http://www.lighting-essentials.com/shoot-thru-umbrella-and-bounce-umbrella-a-comparison/

http://www.lighting-essentials.com/lighting-diagram-tool-for-lighting-essentials/

http://oneperfectmoment.com/blog/images/boudoir/album-finao/NV1_9046.jpg

http://oneperfectmoment.com/blog/images/boudoir/album-finao/NV1_9047.jpg

forum:

http://neilvn.com/tangents/2007/10/25/directional-light-from-your-on-camera-flash/#comment-13261

After Dark photography education – Cincinnati, anemia
OH

In an earlier post I mentioned how impressed I was with After Dark’s workshops & seminar series in Las Vegas. I was invited by Dave Junion to teach at the Cincinnati venue this past week as one of the Mentors.  I presented 4 seminars and shooting sessions, infection
and another impromptu demonstration late the one night. It was exhilarating and energizing to be a part of it.

After Dark has a certain structure –  10 areas / pods set up for seminar presentations; and 10 studio bays set up where Mentors can teach in a direct hands-on manner. But all this doesn’t really describe the easy-going flow of activity and learning and sharing that goes on. In that earlier post I described After Dark as ‘controlled anarchy‘. And that is what makes it so unique. You can move around between presentations and shoots, and learn from anyone. You can even ask any of the Mentors or attendees to help you. It’s an incredibly supportive and nourishing environment for any photographer.

Just as cool is that there are studio bays that are open, which might not be busy at any point. You can then mark down that you want to spend some time there. You also get the opportunity to play with a huge variety of lighting gear. You can play around on your own, or have someone help you. You can make mistakes. You don’t have to impress anyone. You just have to learn and have fun with it all …

This fairly straight-forward portrait above was taken with just a single Westcott 7′ Parabolic Umbrella (B&H). This massively large umbrella isn’t something I’d normally be able to play with – the studio space I can scrounge in my home is far too small for this impressive light modifier. So it was interesting to play around with it. I really really loved the light from this parabolic umbrella. The way it wraps light around your subject is just wonderful. Oh, and yes, there were models available.

By placing the light fairly close to the background, I got enough light on the background that I didn’t even need to light the background to bring it up close to white. This shot from behind will give you some idea of the size of this monster light modifier. (It is surprisingly inexpensive too.) It just seems like one of those can’t-go-wrong ways of lighting your subject in the studio.

Finally, here is another image that I grabbed at one of the studio bays. Our gorgeous model was lit by a ring-light (continuous light), giving that typical Fashion look with the very even light on her. I shot this with my Fuji X100, so I didn’t have the telephoto reach that others had, so I decided to include the ring-light as part of the composition.

By the way, that is the out-of-camera JPG from the Fuji X100, shot at 1/500 @ f4 @ 800 ISO … and it looks wonderful at 100%

Anyway, the point about all this is that you get to try various lighting setups and equipment and techniques on your own, or with a Mentor or any other knowledgeable photographer. After Dark is just a cool place to be if you’re considering a lighting and photography workshop. Check their website, or join them on Facebook, to be kept informed about the future dates and events.

If you find these articles interesting and of value, then you can help by using
these affiliate links to order equipment & other goodies.   Thank you!

Stay informed of new articles via the monthly newsletter.
Also join us on the Tangents forum for further discussions.

now available on iBooks : on-camera / off-camera flash photography

I’m very happy to announce that both my books on flash photography are now available on the Apple iBook Store. The image quality is very good, sale
and like the other books available on iBooks, the readability is excellent. There is a difference in price between the two books that I can’t explain – these things are out of my hands – however, the off-camera flash book is available for less than $20.00

So for those who have requested an electronic version of these two books … there they are now!

Of course, the printed books are available via Amazon, or can be ordered directly from me for an autographed copy.

initial impression: Fuji X100 – not quite the review yet

The Fuji X100 must be one of the most eagerly awaited cameras in recent times. The camera just looks beautiful. Retro-cool. With initial reports being mostly very favorable, endocrinologist
I was quite keen to get my hands on one of these. My X100 arrived last week, just before I was to leave for the After Dark Photography Education workshops in Cincinnati, OH. What better time to geek out over a camera with gorgeous models around and so much opportunity to play with photo gear and lightning techniques.

The photograph above of Alyssa, (one of our models), was lit by LED video light. Now, when using video lights for photography, you’re dealing with wide apertures and high ISOs. An immediate challenge for a camera. And the Fuji X100 excelled. The image above was from the in-camera JPG, with the color balance tweaked slighting in Photoshop. The image was also slightly straightened.

camera settings: 1/60 @ f2 @ 1000 ISO … manual exposure mode

Now before I show the 100% crop of the shadow areas in that image …

here is the camera itself:

Clearly designed with an eye on the classic cameras, the Fuji just looks beautiful. But the camera’s looks wouldn’t mean much if the image quality doesn’t hold up.

image quality of the Fuji X100

For an overview of the camera’s specifications, the best place would be Fuji’s official site. What is important to note here, is that the Fuji X100 is a 12 megapixel rangefinder-styled digital camera, with an APS-C size sensor. So you wouldn’t expect digital noise to be as well-controlled as it is.

Looking again at the image at the top:

From the area below her left elbow (camera right) – 1000 ISO
(not sharpened in Photoshop)

But this in itself wouldn’t be impressive if the low level of digital noise was achieved at the cost of detail. Now, this isn’t a proper review yet, so there aren’t comparative images yet, but the next image should give you an idea of the amount of detail this camera can capture. This next image was shot at 800 ISO. (Close enough to 1000 ISO to still give you an idea of the way the noise is controlled vs potential reduction in detail.)

Also shot at the After Dark workshops, I bumped into the group that my buddy Chuck Arlund was leading around the plaza in Cincinnati. He had somehow convinced a model to get into the fountain. Using only the available light at the fountain

camera settings: 1/125 @ f2 @ 800 ISO  … manual exposure mode.
Available light only.

A 100% crop of the statue under the fountain:  (not sharpened in Photoshop)

The detail is there! With a further in-depth review, we’ll definitely have a look at how the camera performs at higher ISOs than merely 800 and 1000 ISO. With the initial images I shot with the X100, I am quite happy with the image quality.

controls, operation & handling of the Fuji X100

Here I have to confess two things immediately:

- I have no experience of range-finder cameras aside from briefly playing with Leicas that friends owned. But I never shot with one. So, no experience of rangefinders. But then, the Fuji X100 isn’t a range-finder camera. It is styled like one.

- At this point I haven’t read the manual yet. I’ve been too busy to sit down with the manual and figure the camera out from start-to-end before using it. I’ve also been too excited about the camera to not just go out and just use it. I also think it might be easier to read and understand the manual when there is some familiarity with the camera already. So, I’ll get there.

But in the meantime, I have used the camera already.

So for all that, being a complete noob with rangefinders in general and the Fuji X100 specifically, I found the camera easy to understand. I am sure there will be more details and functions that will be revealed once I delve deeper and properly into it. But for now, the camera isn’t a mysterious awkward camera. The operation and the menu is simple enough to decipher from just placing your fingers on it.

So how does the camera feel? Surprisingly light. From the metal used in building the camera, you’d expect something more hefty, but the Fuji X100 is both light and fairly compact. (And have I mentioned yet that it looks beautiful and elegant?)

The shutter dial and aperture dial and exposure compensation dials, all feel solid with a silky movement. This camera quietly tells you that it is a quality machine when you handle it. It feels good to hold and use. Even the lens cup comes off with a soft gliding movement.

I should also mention that the Fuji X100 has a fixed 23mm f2 lens, which is the equivalent of a 35mm f2 lens when compared to a 35mm or full-frame digital camera.

What I will have to adapt to in using this camera, is that the X100 isn’t a Nikon D3. The Nikon D3 is a fast, responsive brute of a machine. The X100 needs a more considered approach to taking a photograph. The simple act of looking through the viewfinder to the side of the camera is quite different than looking through the viewfinder of an SLR. The controls are also different than a DSLR. I am used to having the ISO selection immediately available. For me, choosing the ISO is as much part of exposure metering as is it is to change the aperture or shutter speed. With the Fuji X100, I changed the Fn button to bring up the ISO so I didn’t have to go through the menu to find it first.

Now, much mention has been made of the Hybrid viewfinder of the X100.
To quote from Fuji’s site:

The Hybrid Viewfinder combines the window-type “bright frame” optical viewfinder found in high-end film cameras, such as 35mm or medium-format cameras; and the electronic viewfinder system incorporated in fixed single lens or mirror-less digital cameras.

You have the choice of the electronic viewfinder (which I dislike a lot in every camera that I’ve encountered it), and the optical viewfinder. What you do need to actually see for yourself, is how bright this viewfinder is. Even better, it has all the info you need .. aperture, ISO, metering display … and best of all, a histogram overlay in the one corner.

Every photographer that I’ve shown the camera to, has responded with an “oh wow!” or “holy crap!” when they look through the viewfinder. Reading about it on a website or on a brochure doesn’t quite describe how impressive it is when you actually use it. Fuji really did their home-work on this.

Better yet, it is possible to set the View Mode of the camera, so that the live preview can be seen on the back of the camera (like pretty much all compact cameras behave) … but the moment you lift the camera to your eye, the camera senses it, and moves the display inside the viewfinder. So the camera (for one of the View Modes), will do that – flip between LCD preview on the back, and the view inside the viewfinder. Elegant!

So far I really like the camera. It does have a few quirks which I’ll get to with the proper review. (I also need to familiarize myself properly with the camera.)

You may well ask why I bought the Fuji X100 and what I might use it for. Since Fuji is billing this as The Professional’s Choice, one may well wonder where the Fuji X100 would fit in with a working professional’s kit. Here I can only answer for myself – currently I shoot with Nikon D3 bodies, and I would not want to hamper myself in any way during a paid shoot or event, by using a camera that is less responsive or is limited to only one fixed lens.

For my personal photography, I wanted a camera that is a point-and-shoot, but without being too simplified that I have no control over it. I also wanted image quality that wouldn’t fall down entirely in comparison to a camera like the Nikon D3. And this is where the Fuji X100 fits in perfectly. It is small enough to be  walk-around camera. It has superb image quality (going by the first images I’ve taken with it.) And then it offers something that most smaller cameras don’t have – a classic elegance and stylishness that was meant to appeal to the serious photographer and connoisseur. The Professional’s Choice.

But we’ll come back to all this with a more complete review of a camera that is destined to become a modern classic.

The Fuji X100 and accessories can be ordered from B&H
through this affiliate link.

If you find these articles interesting and of value, then you can help by using
these affiliate links to order equipment & other goodies.   Thank you!

Stay informed of new articles via the monthly newsletter.
Also join us on the Tangents forum for further discussions.

mixing the white balance of different light sources

While we would do well to gel our flash when working in a very warm or incandescent spectrum, here
(such as when shooting at a venue bathed in Tungsten light), the last few articles showed how we can use it to our advantage when using different light sources with different color balance. The effect can be quite dramatic.

The examples shown have been varied:

In the first example (with Bethany as our model), we looked at using random found available light as portrait lighting. With the next example, the effect was purposely sought by gelling our flash for effect. A similar contrast in white balance can also be found by using a Tungsten-gelled LED video light in a non-tungsten environment, forcing all the daylight colors to go toward a bold blue tone. The most recent example showed how we could use the modeling light in the studio with additional flash as rim light, to give a punchy image with warm colors.

Those four examples all had entirely different scenarios, but the same idea was used in all  of them to get punchy colorful images – using light sources with different white / color balance.

This image here at the top was shot with a similar set-up as the sequence where we gelled our main flash with 1/2 CTS gels to allow the background to go blue

With this first image, both the foreground flash and the background flash were ungelled, and shot at Cloudy WB. The blue tint of the drapes in the background, were from lights in the ceiling. This is exactly the same light that gave the strong blue background in the other article on random found available light as portrait lighting.

With this image which is the starting point, I decided we could make the background far more bold by once again gelling our main flash (in the Lastolite Ezyboz softbox), with two 1/2 CTS gels.

And this is how we ended up with the final image shown at the top, where the background goes to a neon blue. Quite striking.

The main flash on her was a speedlight in a Lastolite Ezybox softbox, set to camera right. The background light was a speedlight bounced straight up into the ceiling to the left here of our model, and further back than our model’s position.

The motion blur seen there was purposely done by shooting at a relatively slow shutter speed while there was such movement.

camera setting: 1/60 @ f4 @ 500 ISO … TTL flash @ +0.3 FEC

Finally, all this is to bring home again the idea that we could use the same thought-process in a variety of situations. While each situation was different with different light sources used, there was a similarity in the approach to the lighting (or even recognizing the lighting). This gives us a method and thought-process to come up with striking images under a variety of conditions – by creating and using light in our images which have divergent color balance.

Equipment used with this photo session:

Nikon D3;  Nikon 70-200mm f2.8 AF-S II (B&H)
(3x) Nikon SB-900 (B&H);  (2x) Nikon SD-9 battery pack (B&H)
(3x) PocketWizard FlexTT5 transceiver (B&H)
Lastolite EZYBOX Softbox Kit (24?x24?) (B&H)
(2x) Manfrotto 1051BAC light-stand (B&H)

If you find these articles interesting and of value, then you can help by using
these affiliate links to order equipment & other goodies.   Thank you!

Stay informed of new articles via the monthly newsletter.
Also join us on the Tangents forum for further discussions.

photography: mixing different light sources in the studio

While playing around in the studio late this evening with a group of attendees at the Treehaven workshop, this
someone challenged us each to come up with an idea, web
using any of the lighting equipment there …

I decided to rim-light our model, Amy, with a studio flash behind her. The main light on her is the modeling light in the large softbox that everyone else was using. I preferred to disable the studio light’s output, and just use the modeling light on her as the light from the camera’s point of view.

The modeling light, which is a continuous light source, and is quite warm. I expected it to be close to Tungsten / Incandescent, but it wasn’t quite as warm. Still much warmer than the ‘cold’ light from the studio flashes … or the speedlight I eventually used as a rim lighting.

I intentionally under-exposed her, wanting the rim-light to etch her against the out-of-focus (and darker) backdrops. In the first shot I took of her in this pose, I liked the light, but the gridded light on the floor behind her, cast too much light on her chin from beneath, causing too large an area to blow out. Overall, the image looked good, but it needed to be fine-tuned.

The fine-tuning took place as I replaced the gridded light on the floor with a speedlight on a light-stand directly behind her. In carefully positing myself and Amy and the light-stand with the speedlight, I was able to completely hide it behind her. No editing in Photoshop needed to remove any part of the back-light. I didn’t gel the speedlight behind her, since I wanted the rim-light to be more blue than the light from the front.

About the exposure:

There is no one specific “correct exposure” here. It is just whatever looks good … or is preferred. And I liked it like this. So even though it is technically “under-exposed”, the rim-light is what defines her. The light on her from the modeling light inside the large softbox is just there for a touch of detail. It could’ve been brighter or less bright. It’s a matter of taste then. It is the rim-light that does all the work here.

The speedlight was set to 1/16th power. It doesn’t quite matter though. Since the rim light is there to blow out the very edges of her form in this photograph, the flash’s brightness can vary, and it would still look great. As such, it need not be correctly metered.

camera settings: 1/125 @ f4 @ 1600 ISO

More about the choice of white balance:
This image is very warm. Again, intentionally so. I used Daylight WB, knowing that the light on her would go quite warm as a result. I liked that bit of a red glow the light at this exposure and chosen White Balance.

This brings us back to the idea about things needing to be “correct”. Just as the exposure here is a matter of choice, the White Balance too, is a matter of preference. What supersedes the idea of “correct”, is the need that the image looks good. I’d rather have pleasant WB than correct WB. (Although it is easier to get to a pleasant WB if you have correct or near-correct WB.) Someone else might have chosen a much cooler WB, but I have a preference for warmth.

In that sense, this article ties in with the current series on different situations where the difference in White Balance in the image was used for effect.

Equipment used with this photo session:

Canon 5D mk II (B&H); Canon 70-200mm f2.8L IS II (B&H)
Canon 580EX II Speedlite (B&H);
Canon ST-E2 Speedlite Transmitter (B&H)
Radio Poppers
Photogenic studio light

If you find these articles interesting and of value, then you can help by using
these affiliate links to order equipment & other goodies.   Thank you!

Stay informed of new articles via the monthly newsletter.
Also join us on the Tangents forum for further discussions.

using a gelled LED video light for a change in color balance

Continuing with the theme of combining dramatically different color balances in a single image, order
there is this striking portrait of Rebekah. She is one of our models at the workshop at Treehaven, visit this site
WI, therapy
this week. Working in the fading evening light, I had Rebekah pose somewhere in the middle of a large clump of trees. I knelt down so that I could shoot up and catch the last remnants of the evening sky as the background.

The blue light filtering through the trees was then exaggerated by using an LED video light with the deep Amber gel on it. LED video lights are balanced for daylight, so the light from them is quite ‘cold’ compared to Incandescent light. By now using the specific gels that are supplied with it, you can change the color balance of the video light to match Incandescent / Tungsten light. It is normal to work with the Amber gel to shift the LED video light towards the warm spectrum of Incadescent light.

In photographing our model here, I wanted to use the warm light from the Amber-gelled LED video light to create a big jump between that and the color of our background light. (I specifically didn’t want to use the LED video light as daylight-balanced light source.) This now caused the blue-ish tones of the evening light to go to a much deeper shade of blue. The rapid fall-off in the light from the video light, gave that typical spot-light effect. This really accentuated her face.

The pull-back shots reveal just how big a jump it really was in the color between our surroundings and the video light …

I love the way her face is now that single spot of warm color in the pool of blue light and dark tones. It really draws your eyes in.

camera settings:
1/125 @ f2.8 @ 1250 ISO

equipment used:
Nikon D3; Nikon 70-200mm f2.8 AF-S II (B&H)
Litepanels MicroPro (B&H)

more articles about the use of video light for photography

If you find these articles interesting and of value, then you can help by using
these affiliate links to order equipment & other goodies.   Thank you!

Stay informed of new articles via the monthly newsletter.
Also join us on the Tangents forum for further discussions.

multiple off-camera flash – gelling your flash for effect

All the light you see in this image here, disease
is from two speedlights. The blue color in the background is because I gelled my one flash. While that might give you the idea that I gelled the background flash with a blue gel, what I actually did, was gel my main flash with two 1/2 CTS gels. That’s all I had with me, but I wanted those hard cold blue tones to the background.

A single 1/2 CTS gel would take the flash to 3700K. Adding a 2nd gel didn’t take it as far as a full CTS would’ve, but closer to 3350K, going by my settings with the RAW file.

By having my main speedlight (in a softbox) now at a color temperate of around 3350K, meant the background shifted towards blue in comparison. Intended effect achieved!

Now, about the placement of the speedlights, and to explain what the spectactular background actually is ….

Photographing Bethany in the foyer of the night-club where we did these photo sessions, I saw this curved wall lined with small mirror tiles. Just like one giant curved disco glitter ball. All kinds of awesome. But it needed light. This club, outside of hours, was dark!

In this first pull-back shot, you can see the main light on the left – the Lastolite EZYBOX Softbox Kit (24″x24″) (B&H). In the middle you can see the blue hot-spot on the mirrored wall as the other flash lit it up.

This pull-back shot, shows Bethany in relation to the flash providing the background light. The area was too small to do a complete pull-back shot, getting everything in a single frame. This background light had a black foamie thing on to flag (block) any direct light from it hitting Bethany.

Without the blue background, the results were nice … actually pretty good … but not as other-wordly as the final images.

Adding the blue background (via the un-gelled flash), immediately gave it an unusual feel. Something like a modern-day Marie Antoinette in a futuristic night-club.

The statically posed shots we came up with looked really good … but then Bethany suggested some movement to get her jewelry swinging around … so we did a sequence of photographs were Bethany spun around on the spot. Quite a few missed shots as I mis-timed or she blinked … but in the end we got several shots that worked. The image right at the top of this page is a favorite, as well as this next image.

A fabulous model in an unusual setting … all sweetened with some interesting light, and I think we have  some eye-catching results.

Technical details & settings:

The two speedlights were both fired via two PocketWizard FlexTT5 transceivers (B&H). I had another FlexTT5 transceiver on my camera, on top of which was an SB-900 controlling the output of the two speedlights.

The light on the background was adjusted to taste by looking at the camera’s preview. I’m not even sure it would be possible to use a light-meter to meter for that, since there is so much reflection of light. So it was quicker for me to set a low power setting of around 1/16th full power, and adjust from there. I controlled the output with my on-camera (with TT5) SB-900 speedlight which was the Master controller. (I don’t recall the exact final power setting of the background light though.)

As mentioned earlier, this background light was flagged with a black foamie thing to make sure that there was no direct flash on her from that side.

Both speedlights were set to manual output since it was much simpler controlling the exposure like this. There was no real way to predict what TTL flash would do here with such a reflective background.

Camera settings: 1/60 @ f6.3 @ 200 ISO

another article on Tangents, featuring Bethany:
available light portrait

Equipment used with this photo session:

Nikon D3;  Nikon 24-70mm f2.8 AF-S (B&H)
(3x) Nikon SB-900 (B&H);  Nikon SD-9 battery pack (B&H)
(3x) PocketWizard FlexTT5 transceiver (B&H)
Lastolite EZYBOX Softbox Kit (24″x24″) (B&H)
Manfrotto 1051BAC light-stand (B&H)

If you find these articles interesting and of value, then you can help by using
these affiliate links to order equipment & other goodies.   Thank you!

Stay informed of new articles via the monthly newsletter.
Also join us on the Tangents forum for further discussions.

random found available light as portrait lighting

With the recent trip to California for the workshops, buy more about
I was also keen to meet up with another favorite model, order
Bethany. We were allowed to shoot in a night-club on a Sunday afternoon when it was all quiet with no one there. It’s an interesting place to work with a beautiful model, vitamin
finding interesting spots and then figuring out how I might adapt my flash setup. I had 4 speedlights with me and 2 softboxes and a slew of the new PocketWizards.

The first series of photos of Bethany however, was shot with just the available light there. But first I had to recognize the light as being interesting light for a portrait. I had to “see” it first. As it happened, I only saw that this might be useful light for a portrait when I did a few test shots while Bethany was having her hair and make-up done.

As photographers we should always be aware of the light, and how the interplay between light and shade affects our subject. And how the quality and color of light changes.

Sadly though, I didn’t recognize that the light was interesting just by looking at this scene. I only saw it once the test images popped up on the back of the camera, and I went hmmm!

Here is a pull-back shot a little bit later on, when Bethany was completely ready. The main light was simply that bare incandescent light-bulb which the make-up artist used to do Bethany’s make-up. Simple as that.

But the magic happened in how the warm Tungsten light worked with the much colder existing light within the night-club. I’m not sure what the other light source was, but it looks like it might be Daylight balanced light-sources in the night-club. Perhaps more blue / colder than that. Whatever it was, it looked great in that first few shots of Bethany’s prep.

When Bethany was ready, this is then where we started.

posing and directing a model

When working with hand-held video-light, we most often work by moving the light until it falls onto our subject in a way that is flattering. But with the single light-source now being static, I had to direct Bethany so that the light shining on her was flattering. It helps in that Bethany is an experienced model, being able to work with very little direction from the photographer. But she, like most models, will have no immediate idea what the photographer is attempting in terms of lighting. I did show her the test shots during prep, so she knew what I was after, but she still needed to be directed.

In posing her, I had her leaning into the light a bit, taking care that I got loop lighting. The way that the shadow falls  under her nose, means it is just that ‘loop’ of shadow there. It is most often the way that I use a hard or small light source. It keeps from weird shadows falling over your subject’s mouth, or a strong shadow of your subject’s nose falling across their cheek. So I tend to keep it simple like this, since it is usually the best place to start and get good results immediately.

Now it was just a matter of a few quiet instructions like, ‘drop your chin a little bit’; ‘turn your head slightly more to me’ … until the light looked good falling on her.

And there’s the result:

camera settings:  1/60 @ f2.8 @ 1000 ISO
Nikon D3;  Nikon 70-200mm f2.8 AF-S II (B&H)  … zoomed to 155mm

That was just the start of the photo session though. What I really was after was working with multiple speedlights in those interesting nooks in the night-club. But that’s for another article.

If you find these articles interesting and of value, then you can help by using
these affiliate links to order equipment & other goodies.   Thank you!

Stay informed of new articles via the monthly newsletter.
Also join us on the Tangents forum for further discussions.

MiniTT1 & FlexTT5 for Nikon by PocketWizard on Vimeo.

using the PocketWizard MiniTT1, viagra sale
FlexTT5 and AC3 during photo sessions

While in Vegas earlier this year during WPPI 2011, PocketWizard recorded a video clip of me while photographing two photo sessions.

The first part of the clip shows the sequence while I work with my friends, Natalie and Chris. The final image was a dramatic B&W portrait of the couple, in the vein of old Hollywood Glamor style portraits. My description of this photo shoot appeared in that article on Tangents.

Afterwards I photographed model, Shawna, still with the idea of getting a dramatic and glamorous portrait of her, using the new PocketWizard MiniTT1 and FlexTT5 units.

In watching this clip now, I realize I was speaking too fast. A combination of nervousness and my usual manner of speech. So be ready for a rush of words.

old Hollywood Glamor style portrait with Natalie & Chris

dramatic and glamorous portraits of Shawna

The PocketWizard MiniTT1 and FlexTT5 radio slave system for Nikon:
(B&H affiliate links)


MiniTT1 transmitter

FlexTT5 transceiver

AC3 ZoneController

The PocketWizard MiniTT1 and FlexTT5 radio slave system for Canon:
(B&H affiliate links)


MiniTT1 transmitter

FlexTT5 transceiver

AC3 ZoneController

If you find these articles interesting and of value, then you can help by using
these affiliate links to order equipment & other goodies.   Thank you!

Stay informed of new articles via the monthly newsletter.
Also join us on the Tangents forum for further discussions.

Continuing the photo session with Ulorin, dermatologist
we worked inside the hotel room for the next part. The photo above is a candid shot of Ulorin fixing her hair between changes in clothing. Ulorin’s next outfit shown in this article, was more revealing than the previous outfits during the photo session. (Just a heads-up for the Tangents readers who are surfing from their workplace.)

Photographing inside the room, I initially tried to work with just the window-light, but hit a small snag. The indirect light through the window kept changing on me as clouds moved in and out. Instead of changing my settings continually to match the light, I decided to revert to using flash to mimic the window light. This would give me consistent light.

off-camera flash as window light

This is the quality of light that I was after … soft directional light that still added a sense of drama. The light shown here is mostly flash, with a bit of ambient light. It took a few adjustments though to get to this point where I really liked the look.

camera settings for both images:
1/250 @ f5.6 @ 800 ISO … manual off-camera flash.

The slight change in contrast that you see in the light on her face, is because Ulorin shifted in position relative to the light as she changed her pose. (I edited out the white bedsheets in the top image to see if the image was improved without the distraction of the white bed sheets.)

This is where we started. In these test shots you can see the table and clutter in the background. This is before we moved everything out of the way. What is also immediately noticeable is that the exposures here are different, even though my camera settings were the same:
1/200 @ f4 @ 650 ISO

The available light looked good (as in this image below), but it was too inconsistent. I’d rather be concentrating on the photography, than have the rhythm of the photo session be broken by constant adjustment of settings.

1/250 @ f3.2 @ 800 ISO .. available light.

I then thought I could mimic the window light by placing an off-camera flash in the window. The flash pointed outwards and up, bouncing off the glass of the window. I had the flash-head zoomed wide.

The result was a flood of light into the room. I guess this would’ve looked like window light on another sunnier day. And with the room not facing another hotel across the narrow road. It just didn’t look like I wanted.

The next step was the Big Adjustment. I moved the light to the left of the window frame, and rotated the flash so that it pointed to the left. Now the light bounced off the glass towards the top of the window pane. Yes, even though I am pointing the flash outwards, enough light will bounce off the glass to make the difference.

And now the direction of the light is exactly what I was after. I had zoomed the flash-head to a tighter angle to make the swathe of light less broad. I wanted the light to accentuate Ulorin’s face. And here is the result …

And in case anyone needs convincing that bouncing the flash off the glass had any effect, here is the shot without the flash.

Camera settings for both images .. in fact for all the images with the flash positioned here:
1/250 @ f5.6 @ 800 ISO

The manual off-camera flash was controlled in the same way as for the photo session with Ulorin in the red latex outfit. The speedlight was controlled via a PocketWizard FlexTT5 on which the flash was mounted. The output of this flash could be controlled as manual flash via the FlexTT5 and AC3 ZoneController on the camera.

As photographers we needs to pre-visualize what we want to achieve with our lighting .. and work towards that by figuring out where we need to place our light. Then we also need to figure out what we want to achieve with the light.

As shown in the previous post with Ulorin in the red latex outfit, the lighting set-up that we end up using can be quite simple. It needs some thought and adjustment and experimenting to get to where we want to be with the lighting. As in the previous post, a simple speedlight offered unexpectedly good results.

other articles on Tangents, featuring Ulorin:

model – Ulorin
Ulorin in red
manual off-camera fill-flash  (model – Ulorin)

Equipment used with this photo session:

Nikon D3;  Nikon 24-70mm f2.8 AF-S (B&H)
Nikon SB-900 (B&H);  Nikon SD-9 battery pack (B&H)
(2x) PocketWizard FlexTT5 transceiver (B&H)
PocketWizard AC3 Zone Controller (B&H)
Manfrotto 1051BAC light-stand (B&H)

If you find these articles interesting and of value, then you can help by using
these affiliate links to order equipment & other goodies.   Thank you!

Stay informed of new articles via the monthly newsletter.
Also join us on the Tangents forum for further discussions.

 

There are many interesting articles on the net however some of them are better that the others. Here you can find list of syndicated articles from several photo blogs i like the most such as Niel vN, sickness
strobist, pharm
nikon cls guide. Some more Visual science lab, tooth
wedding photo workshop.

Some of them does not have RSS feed however I really belive you should have a look there:

Spekular – versatile continuous lighting kit

I use a range of continuous lighting in the studio – it is essential for video of course, but even for stills, it is sometimes easier to work with continuous lighting than flash. There’s a way to control the light for more nuanced effect because with continuous lighting, what you see is what you get. When the Spekular LED lights (affiliate) hit the market, they caught my eye. What makes them unusual is that the kit comes as 4 LED bars which can be hooked up as a panel, or in any number of shapes up to 8 bars. The Spekular website shows some of the options. This kind of flexibility makes it a versatile continuous lighting kit.

I have other LED panels that I have been using on location and in the studio, and I love them. But for a larger light source, I have to rely on the Spiderlite continuous lights, which aren’t as powerful as I sometimes need them to be. That diffuser panel eats up a lot of light. Hence my interest in this new Spekular set – it is very bright! Now, all this versatility in how you can configure the strips, and the power of the light, don’t mean much unless the lights have a high quality of light, i.e., can deliver a pure white. The Spekular is guaranteed to be 94+ CRI and 96+ TLCI. This is also discussed in a previous article on buying a video light for Photography & Video.

For a first test in the studio, I set three of the kits up as large hexagonal lights:

Camera settings & photo gear used during this photo session

Being spread out as hexagons turned these into relatively large light sources, even though they aren’t a singular panel of light. Consider this as if the light comes from a larger area now, instead of a narrower strip.

Using this as a ring-light, you can imagine already that the catch-light in the eye would be hexagonal. Interesting.

 

You can purchase the Spekular kit and accessories from these affiliate links

 

Summary

So far I am impressed with these lights, and the concept behind them – the multiple ways you can configure them in. Ultimately, I think that using them as a panel, or as a ring light would be the most useful (and common) ways of setting these up. More to come – I hope to have a longer review up shortly.

 

Related articles

 

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5DayDeal – A bunch of photography goodies for a low, low price

Yes, it’s coming our way again – the 5DayDeal – where a bunch of photography related goodies are available for a heavily discounted price of $117

It’s a mixed bag of educational material and … well, just scroll down below to the screen captures of what is included. Or click through on the 5DayDeal link and have a look!

A portion of the proceeds go to various charities. Then there is an add-on that can be purchased for $24.97 which would increase the amount given to charity. For even more, there is the Pro Add-on for $12.47 with even more added. Details in that link.

 



 

 

 

 

 

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Noelia H. helps me test the Mamiya 28 MF.

An interesting conundrum for portrait photographers. I got a call a while back from an engineering company that needs 24 portraits done. They would like to do the portraits at their headquarters building here in Austin (no problem) and they would like the images to have a consistent look (no problem) but the issue I'm grappling with came later, after we'd struck a deal and were moving forward...

The client had used a different photographer in the past and that photographer, who is more focused on a PPofA portrait style (which works well for families, and kids), used a custom painted canvas background that is now impossible to source and also looks (to my sensibilities) a bit dated. I have scoured the web to see if I can find a close match but at the same time I'm more inclined to go back to the client and discuss alternatives that would benefit them.

I find detailed backgrounds (and the previous photographer obviously believed in f16 as an optimum portrait aperture) distracting; especially when the primary use of the images is in a website gallery with dozens of other small images. My first choice would be a steel gray background with no texture and my second choice would be a gray canvas background with minimum texture. Also, I like to through backgrounds out of focus so I like to shoot FF cameras at f4.0 and m4:3 cameras at something like f2.0 or 2.8.

One way or another I'm scheduled to shoot one week from now so I feel that I have to go back to the client today and discuss how we'll proceed. I think I'm going to suggest my preferred style but I'm also researching with a couple of good, local retouchers, the cost (in bulk) to take the existing portraits currently being used by the client and have them drop out the backgrounds and replace them with a clean image of my chosen background. That's a hassle and the it's likely to involve some compromises in some of the images.

My other suggestion is that they consider the new background as a standard going forward and work over time to re-photograph the people who were photographed in the previous style.

Has anyone else had a similar situation arise? Suggestions most welcome!


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Which image resolution should you use? 72 dpi /ppi, or 300 ppi / dpi?

I feel that as modern photographers who shoot with digital cameras, there are a few basics which we absolutely need to know and understand. Some concepts that are so intrinsic to the digital format, that we have no excuse not to grasp the basic tenets. One of these things would be the resolution of images – the image size. Not in kilobytes or megabytes (since this is rooted in a more archaic form where images were scanned) – but image resolution as in pixel dimensions. Megapixel size. That kind of thing. The confudled question often then also hinges on which image resolution should you use? 72 dpi or 300 dpi?  (Or also, 72 ppi vs 300 ppi.)

It is a topic that has been discussed here before:
Image size & Resolution – 72 dpi or 300 dpi

But if that is something you don’t understand and you’d rather not deal with in your workflow … I’m offering a new service to photographers – I can change your images from 72dpi (or ppi) to 300dpi (or ppi). I can also change them back. Either direction. As often as you want.

This is for the low, low fee of 25c an image. There is a bulk rate of 10c an image.
After reading some threads in various photography groups on FB, I see there is an urgent need for this. I think this could be a real boost to your workflow if you’re stuck.

But before anyone showers me with easy money, let’s go over this 72 dpi / ppi thing …

The first thing we need to be aware of – ‘dpi’ is for ‘dots per inch’ which is a printer option. We will usually work with ‘ppi’, which is for ‘pixels per inch’. For our work, this is the definition we will most likely work with – how many pixels per inch we need.

When you export your RAW file to JPG (or TIFF), then the Save Options menu will give you an open choice as to what you want your resolution to be. How many pixels per inch. The reality is that you can just leave it at any default option in that box. It doesn’t matter … unless you start working with dimensions in inches or centimeters.

Let’s say you have a 24 megapixel image: 6000 x 4000 pixels.
If you multiply that, you will see you get 24,000,000 which is 24 million. In other words, 24 megapixels. So far, so good.

Now, whether you export that 24mpx RAW file as 72 ppi or 300 ppi (without resizing), you will end up with an image that has the same pixel dimensions. It will remain 24 mpx. Nothing lost, nothing gained. Try it. Have a look and see for yourself. You end up with exactly the same size image.

Ergo, the choice in ppi has no real bearing here. It does not matter. Your image remains the same size.

Now, if you should resize the photo as a specific size (in width and length) in inches or centimeters, then we need to know how large the image can print, or will appear on a website. Then we need to know how many ‘pixels per inch’ we need.

Largely though, the choice between various resolutions are immaterial.

This is also an instant give-away that someone is clueless about digital photography – when they request full-resolution images as “72 dpi” images. That measurement there has no relation to the digital image you have … until you start measuring image size in inches or centimeters.

Similarly, if you are requested to send someone images at 1200 px wide (at 72dpi), then you know they have no idea what they are asking for.

You could just as easily send them images at 999 ppi …

… because the image size in pixel dimensions will be exactly the same as any of the other ppi settings. (Unless of course there are actual inches and centimeters involved in defining image resolution.)

As mentioned at the start, this article also covers the topic: Image size & Resolution – 72 dpi or 300 dpi

 

Summary

Again, if you’re still not sure about all of this, do try it out on a test image. See for yourself. As a digital photographer, you owe it to yourself, your clients and the world, to understand this.

In the meantime, if you need to convert images from 72 ppi to 300 ppi, (or vice versa), then hit me up. I need the cash.

 


 

Camera gear (or equivalents), and lighting gear used in this photo session

The light was from a single Profoto D1 studio flash (500 Ws) (B&H / Amazon), but the important part of the lighting setup here is the Profoto 1’x6’ gridded strip-box (B&H / Amazon). A gridded sjtripbox gives an interesting light on any subject – soft, but directional. Dramatic, but not too contrasty. Also, this long (gridded) softbox gives a unique light fall-off when used close to a wall. I love how I can scallop the light, and either have some of the light fall on the wall … or not. On the right-hand side you can see the white V-flat that was used to reflect some of the light back as fill light.

 

Related articles

 

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Singing in the rain interviews from Kirk Tuck on Vimeo.

Here is the video I mentioned last week. I shot all of it on a GH5 and edited in Final Cut Pro X. There is absolutely no color grading or post production on the actual video for either interviewee. I was happy with the files straight from camera. This piece was shot in 1080p. Its intended use is on the web, via YouTube and Vimeo.

I am happy to mix my stills with the video. I think it's a fun way to get in lots and lots of content.

Added on 10/10: Let's talk effectiveness for a moment. I did the video as an exercise for a non-profit client. I have a 30 year history with Zach Theatre and love the work they do. At any rate I handed off the video to them yesterday afternoon. Four hours after they posted the video file on their Facebook page they had gotten over 1,000 views. Now, about 16 hours later they have 4200+ views of the video on their Facebook page. A live theatre review site picked up the video file (with permission) on their homepage and the video has gotten another 1,500+ views. My blog has delivered several thousand views (but most are from out of the state of Texas....). These all occurred in less than 24 hours. I am guessing that targeted videos are a good resource....

Added later on 10/10: We have now published (yesterday) my 3,400th blog post. Google tells me that 23,250,000+ sets of eyes have come and read material directly on the blog since its inception and that 82,000,000 total page views have occurred, which includes referrals. It's kind of fun....



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As readers of my blog may have surmised, I love to swim. I've been doing it since I was six. I swam in high school and college, and for the last 20 years I've gotten up most days and happily dragged myself (I've never been an exceptional "morning person") to the Rollingwood Pool (AKA: Western Hills Athletic Club) to swim at 7:00 am with the WHAC Masters. It's a masters team comprised of former Olympians, All Americans and just regular vanilla swimmers like me. Some of the folks in the workouts are relentlessly chasing some demon or other; some swim to stay in really good shape while others, like me, swim five or six times a week so we can eat whatever we want, whenever we want it and still fit into the pants we bought in 1982...

The pool has been a great comfort to me in periods of stress and anxiety. The camaraderie has been priceless. The consistency of the practice helps to anchor most of the rest of my day-to-day life and add structure to a relatively unstructured freelance existence. And in good times and bad I have never winced at coming up with the $100 bucks a month to pay my dues.

In the middle of the Summer the pool manager sent out an e-mail telling us that the board of directors for the club decided that they had deferred major maintenance for as long as they could and that the pool needed to be closed for a period of time to effect repairs. They decided that the last day the pool would be open would be Sunday, the first of October. After that all the masters swimmers would have to fend for themselves, find other programs or hibernate until sometime near the end of January.

We swimmers consider our pool special. Its water is chilled in the Summer and heated in the winter. We've swum during heatwaves and snow storms. We've collectively watched the steam from the warm water melt snow flakes a couple inches above the pool in January and February. Many of us also run at the hike and bike trail about a mile away and, after a run in 100+ degrees, it's become a habit to finish the run at the pool, diving in just before the onset of heat exhaustion (kinda kidding, but not really...).

Our workouts are coached and supervised. Some of our coaches are former Olympians. One was the world champion in the Ironman a while back. Some of the workouts are brutal. Others are fun. Oh heck, even the brutal ones are fun.....as long as we survive them.

So I am in my first week of real, agonizing withdrawal from the familiarity and comfort of my swim club; my pool. At first I thought I would follow our pack to a different, competitive pool or head over to the 5:45 am workout at the University of Texas at Austin. But I chose a different path and I've been frequenting the Deep Eddy Pool. It's a 33 and 1/3 yard, deep well water fed pool (no chlorine or chemistry) and it's been an Austin landmark forever (1915). In the Summer it's too crowded to swim laps in (for me). But starting in October the recreational swimming crowd winds down and the water temperature of the well water starts dropping. Right now it's about eight degrees cooler than my beloved WHAC pool.

I thought I'd be averse to the colder water but I have a discipline streak that tends to ignore the odd discomfort in the pursuit of raw yardage; after all, there is still chocolate cake and Champagne to be savored...

I've hit the pool almost everyday this week, trying to get in two miles a day. I'm recalibrating from a 25 yard pool to a 33-1/3 yard pool and it's actually working.

Why do I swim? Well, I hit the doctor's office last Monday for a yearly physical. According to their measurements I have a body fat ratio of about 11%, a resting pulse rate of 54 and, even though I love coffee, a blood pressure of 115/65. Considering the weird profession I pursue I'm happy with all those little metrics and consider them a benefit to my work. My doctor suggests that I not in bad shape for someone about to hit 62. And swimming also keeps me in shape for hauling around gear.

Best of all, I found an old punch card for the Austin city pools that I had not used up. I've got just enough remaining swims on the card to get me through October. The admission to the pool is free from November to March. A net cost savings of $600 from now until March 2018.

This morning six or seven of the WHAC crew showed up at the Deep Eddy Pool around the same time I did. Old habits die hard. We got in a an hour and a half of swimming and then we met, as we have for several decades, at the local coffee house to socialize. I'm happy to see that the universe provides for those who grab their suit and goggles and head out the door.



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I was making some headshots for a nice actor named Celeste and at the end of the session I asked if she would sit for a few minutes and be the subject for a series of lens tests. She agreed.

Lately, I've been thinking that, with some projects coming up which require a number of images with narrow depth of field, I should buy a couple of fast lenses that I could use wide open, or close to wide open, and still get good, sharp results. I've played with a friend's 42.5mm f1.2 Nocticron and I also had my eye on the Voightlander 42.5mm f.95 lens. Both get great reviews and seem to be what I'd need.

But, I have the drawer here at the studio that has some ancient Olympus lenses. They were originally made for that company's half frame film cameras; circa 1960s-1970s. I've always enjoyed using them but thought they may not hold up well given the higher resolution of the newest m4:3 cameras...

I decided to actually test the lenses I already owned rather than just reflexively dish out $800 or $1400 dollars that might be better spent elsewhere.

I made the tests as life like as I could. Real model. Real light. On a tripod. Absolutely wide open. The fast apertures.

The image above is from the weakest of the three lenses I tested. It's the Pen FT 70mm f2.0, shot at 2.0. It may be the delirium speaking but I think it's pretty good wide open. I haven't post processed the images from the 60mm f1.5 or the 40mm f1.4 yet but I spot checked sharpness, just to be sure, and found them just a tad better than the 70mm. All need a bit more contrast right out of the camera but all are sufficiently sharp and I actually like the color a lot.

I think I'll save the cash and use this 37 year old glass. I don't think I've gotten my money out of it yet...

Sorry, nothing commercial to link to....

Bigger file:



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Rain : ZACH THEATRE from Kirk Tuck on Vimeo.

Panasonic GH5+Olympus 40-150mm Pro.


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I haven't really discussed much about the Panasonic GH5's video performance yet, instead, I'd like to write in more general terms about how I've been using my cameras. Not just Panasonics but also Sonys. When I sit down to evaluate a camera I'm no longer looking at a camera as a "single use" device that will just deliver a great photograph. I want a camera that will hit well above the bar for image quality in still photography use but I also want a camera that will do very good 4K video. And I want to spend no more than $2,000 per camera body. My basic criteria includes: a microphone input jack, a clean HDMI output, the ability to manually control audio levels and a useful and logical menu for setting all my camera controls. It's a given that the camera will have a high enough resolution for still photography (16 megapixels, min.) as well as the ability to make RAW files and also to make pleasant Jpegs which are usable right out of the camera. 

Why the $2,000 price limit? Because I like to buy my primary cameras in pairs and doubling prices gets uncomfortable quickly. Since cameras in the ascending age of video are still changing rapidly (as far as processor speed and video features) I want to be able to switch out cameras more frequently than we used to so I can take advantage of the new tech (HDR video anyone?). 

But why this fascination with cameras that swing both ways? Some interesting studies from the advertising community are revealing. Seems 70% of internet users get their daily dose of content entirely, or almost entirely, from their phones. Additionally, while reading lots of type on a phone is a pain in the butt for most people watching short videos has become as easy as breathing. Every marketer I know is rushing to provide more and more video content for not only their websites but their YouTube channels and their many social media feeds. Just last week, at a three day corporate show for WP Engine, I was asked to make photographs as well as video. At the same show we fed a stream of images to the social media managers from the company so they could upload content from the show in progress. You may want to resist working in this new way but I'm pretty certain that clients' expectations are not going to regress back to a slower, more stationary methodology. 

What I want to write about today is how I've been using video and photographs together for my theater client, ZachTheatre.org. I've been providing them with interviews of actors, directors and choreographers for their main stage shows. The idea is to invite the online audience to look behind the scenes and get a more nuanced understanding of how live theater works. How a production comes together.

I start my process by reading about the plays or musicals the theater is producing. Once I have the story line figured out I like to go to an early rehearsal to get an idea of the director's vision. Since I'll need good b-roll for cutaways, and to spice up the interviews, I always want to go to a tech rehearsal, with actors in costume, close to the opening date. By the Sunday before a Tuesday or Wednesday opening the costumes are pretty much finished and the stage set has received its last touch ups. Without an audience in the house I can spend time finding the right angles. I'm already familiar with the pacing and action since I've been to earlier rehearsals.

There are things I know I'll want to capture and weave into our video edit. For Dancing in the Rain I knew I wanted to get good footage of our lead actor actually dancing in the rain. Just 20 or 30 seconds of him tap dancing through the onstage downpour. But I also wanted to capture video snippets of each of the other main actors in character. You never know until you've finished an interview exactly who or what the interviewee will mention!

For Singing in the Rain I wanted to interview both the director and the choreographer. I arranged through the public relations director, Nicole, to reserve the V.I.P. lounge in the main theater space. It's a great place to shoot interviews because the room is modern and neutral but also because it has an entire north-facing wall of floor-to-ceiling windows. Nice lighting if you can get it! But outside light fluctuates so I also set up a big, soft main light from the same direction to establish a base so passing clouds don't mess with my exposure on the talent.

Once I had my angles mapped out for shooting and lighting I got to work on audio. I killed the power to the bar refrigerator (too much noise) and put up a few baffles on stands to try and kill the air conditioner noise (not turn off-able, non-negotiable in parts of Texas....). Then I put up my favorite two hyper-cardioid microphones at the end of a boom pole and hung them about 18 inches from the interviewee, just above the top of the frame and angled down about 45 degrees, aimed at the talent's mouth.

Since I had the PR director assisting me on this shoot I was able to ditch the tripod and try working with the GH5 camera on a monopod instead. In concert with the image stabilization system the footage looked quite good with just enough movement to keep from looking too static. I was able to do this because I had the PR director actually asking the interview questions. 

As soon as I finished both interviews the choreographer and I headed to the stage where he demonstrated the on stage rain effect by.....tap dancing through the pouring rain. I set the camera for the stage lighting WB and exposure and then handheld about three minutes of dancing while trying different compositions and framings. 

During the tech rehearsal I mostly shot photographs but would switch the camera over to video settings if I anticipated a dance number or a comedic moment upcoming. It's a lot of extra work to make multiple trips to the theater to catch different stuff that may never make the cut but the trade off comes late at night when you are editing and you remember you have just the right three to five seconds of tight video of tap shoes splashing through stage lit puddles.

When I finish recording the videos and photos and the interviews I come back into the studio and start making little virtual stacks of content. All the interview footage goes in this folder, all the b-roll video goes into that folder. I open Lightroom and put in all the photographs and look for sequences I know I'll want to use. Since I'm heading for a video edit all the stills I decide to use get cropped to 16:9 and sized for the file type I'll be using. Since this project was going to be edited in 1080p I made the files 2198 on the long side. That gave me a little breathing room within the overall frame so I could crop in where I felt it would make the presentation stronger. 

When I finally sat down to edit I listened to both interviews a couple of times, taking notes about stuff I liked and other stuff I wanted to cut out. Then I started assembling a timeline with the good content. If I felt the interviewee's delivery was too rushed I'd look for natural pauses and drop a half second or a second of black into the gap to make a pause from one thought to the next. Of course I would need material to visually cover the pauses but that's why we shot all those photographs and b-roll to begin with, right?

Once I get everything from the interviews laid in like I want it I make a pass to see if I can cut out "ums" and "ahhhs" and distracting word fluff. It's best to really stretch your timeline way out when making these kinds of audio adjustments because it allows for exacting work. 

When the interview timeline is more or less locked I start looking for little chunks of video or photographs that correspond to what the interviewee is talking about. For example, the choreographer, when asked about his favorite scene from this production, discussed a scene with a character named, Cosmo, who does a great song and dance number. I didn't have any video of that part of the play but I was able to reach into the photography folder and pull out twenty or so images that were a close reflection of what the choreographer was discussing. With a series of fast, one second cuts the images worked perfectly to add strong visuals to the narrative.

When the director discusses the challenges of making it rain on an indoor stage I had fast paced video footage of the main character slipping and sliding and tapping across the stage in the rain. It was the perfect visual to play over the director's conversation. 

And here's the thing about having a camera that can do both parts well; if all you need to do is change to the video setting and change the shutter speed to work with your fps, then the color and tonality of the video and the stills will match and intercut with each other beautifully. While the lighting on the interviews will be different the overall feel of the files will come through as a consistent element. 

It's an intangible but I can feel the work hold together better when it all seems to come from a unified source. A matching visual style.

There's a perception that all video work gets done on a big tripod with a fluid head. That the camera needs to be nested in a collage of pre-amps, cages, monitors and geared controls. But really, when shooting live action on the stage I'm happy to have two identical cameras, set to the same WB. One with exposure set for stills, one with the exposure set for video. Each dangling on their strap just waiting for me to move from one to the other, grabbing it up, making a last adjustment and then holding it as steady as I can --- regardless of file type. As clean as making snapshots. 

Your mind changes from making one-off masterpieces to making serial frames that can work in either modality. That's the promise of a "bi-lingual" camera system. 
















































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review: Nikon D850 camera

Cameras have become such complex and nuanced machines that it is difficult for one single review to encompass and test everything that a camera is capable of. With that, this review of the Nikon D850 (B&H / Amazon), is split into two parts. The first part – review: Nikon D850 high ISO test – is where you can see and download files shot on the Nikon D850, as well as the Nikon D5 and D810 and D750. You can download the files there and compare yourself – needs and requirements differ for everyone. In that vein, this (main) part of the review of the Nikon D850, is based more on my own user experience, and my expectations and need of certain functions in a camera.

Sports shooters and landscape photographers will have different requirements than an event or portrait & wedding photographer like myself. What do I need? A responsive camera that delivers files in the 20-24 megapixel range. A camera that gives superb, clean high ISO images. A camera with intuitive controls. At this point, the Nikon D5 (B&H / Amazon) is as close to a perfect camera as I have ever used … with a few minor annoyances and one major flaw.

There are a few things that bother me with the Nikon D5 – such as the ‘Quality’ button is right in the middle between the WB button and the Drive button. Barely any better than the D4 bodies where the ‘Quality’ button was right next to the ISO button – nicely placed for you to adjust your RAW file setting to small JPG, if you aren’t careful in adjusting your ISO! The Nikon D5 barely improved on that. Also annoying with the Nikon D5, you can’t change the Flash Exposure Compensation while there is an image on the LCD preview screen – the dedicated flash control button is gone.

The major flaw for me with the Nikon D5 – if you enable to silent shutter, you end up with a 7 megapixel JPG file. This is useless for my work. In fact, it is useless for my personal photography too. The feature that I had hoped would allow me to shoot silently at corporate events and weddings, turned out not to be possible with the Nikon D5.

And that’s what I need in a camera right now –  a responsive camera that delivers files in the 20-24 megapixel range, with superb high ISO images … and a silent shutter if needed. So I have been been increasingly tempted by the Sony A9 (B&H / Amazon), which offers exactly that. However, switching systems isn’t easy – I’ve done so twice before. It’s not just cameras, lenses and flashes – I have drawers-full of Nikon doodads and accessories. So there is strong inertia here.

Then Nikon announced the Nikon D850, and my interest was piqued – there was the possibility of shooting medium RAW (25 mpx) files, with silent shutter mode if necessary. Holding the camera in front of me like a tourist when in Live View mode … I could live with that, if it made my camera not sound like a Gatling gun. On top of the silent shutter feature, the literature says it offers the same AF abilities as the Nikon D5. While my demands for AF aren’t as tough as they would be for a News or Sports shooter, I do need that responsiveness to nail sharp images.

But how does the Nikon D850 stack up in all this?  On paper, the specifications of the Nikon D850 clearly makes it a class-leader, and possibly the best DSLR available on the market right now. By the way, there are links to various RAW files further down in this review article that you can download to check out and play with and compare.

 


 

A photo shoot with the Nikon D850

If you’re here, reading this, you are most likely familiar with the leading-edge specifications and features of the Nikon D850. If not, instead of me listing the long list of additional features and tweaks and improvements, you can find them on B&H’s website (affiliate link), or on the Nikon USA website. Instead, I would like to touch on the most noticeable points which would affect my photography and way of shooting. My first test run with the Nikon D850 was with a photo shoot with Lise Liu and Rafal, two models in New York.

 

  • 45.4 megapixel resolution: 8256 x 5504

The most prominent feature of the Nikon D850 is the sensor: 45 megapixels resolution, which is a massive amount of detail. Nikon also claims outstanding dynamic range for this sensor. For greater sharpness, Nikon omitted the conventional optical low-pass / anti-aliasing filter. Even though The Nikon D850 has no anti-alisising filter they say there is little risk of moiré. I didn’t notice any moiré patterns on Rafal’s waistcoat in the images we shot. That kind of fine pattern easily shows up that disturbing artifact, yet in this shoot at least, I didn’t notice any.

The photo shown here is a square crop of the larger, horizontal  composition, yet we still ended up here with a 21 megapixel image. Still a huge file that would make a huge 15″ square print at 300 dpi, without any need for resizing.

That is the obvious appeal of a camera with great resolution – it allows you great flexibility in cropping in afterwards, or making huge prints with superb detail.

Details for the photo above:

The pull-back shot to show the position of the off-camera lighting. Lise’s exact positioning with each jump wasn’t predictable, and since I needed a super-wide framing, I simply had the light nearly over-head from me.

 


 

 

Features & Camera body design

The feel and handling of the D850 are really good – the grip is ‘deeper’ than the D810, and similar to how the D750 is, but less small. For my hands, I need a large camera. The D5 type bodies feel good in my hands; the D750 felt too small. The D850 feels good. The weight of the camera by itself is 2.01 lbs / 915 g – this also helps in giving the camera a solid feel, but it’s not unduly heavy.

The layout of the buttons make sense if you are accustomed to Nikon cameras. The ISO button moved from the top left cluster (where it was on the D810), to the same position as on the D5. This makes it easier to change ISO without looking away from the viewfinder. Similar to the D5, the buttons on the camera are illuminated – invaluable for when you work in the dark and need to see your camera controls.

Just like the D750 and D5 now, you need to push one of the buttons to the side of the LCD preview … and this is a button that doubles up as the zoom button. This means you can’t change the FEC while an image displays. Mildly annoying when you expect a dedicated control for that.

Overall, if you love the D810 and the D750, this camera will feel very good in your hands.

 

  • 3.2″ 2.36m-dot LCD touchscreen 

The LCD screen is now a touchscreen for live view shooting, playback, and menu navigation – wonderful for scrolling through images fast, and to zoom in on an image. Another improvement from the D810 / D5 bodies – the LCD preview can be tilted. This makes viewing at odd angles more comfortable. It can’t swivel to the left or right though – just an up/down tilt. This ability to tilt is also a great boon if you shoot video, where you are especially less likely to shoot from eye level.

In Video mode, you can focus by touching any point on the screen.

 

  • Silent Shutter
    In Live-View mode, you can select the Silent option, and the shutter truly is silent. There is not even the slightest sound. Perfect for times when the sound of the mirror and shutter would be a huge distraction. You do have to hold the camera in front of your face, instead of comfortably looking through an Electronic Viewfinder (EVF), but that’s a compromise I can live with if I get to keep all my Nikon lenses.
  • Viewfinder Coverage 100%
  • The view inside the viewfinder offers 0.75x magnification, and gives you a clear and realistic view of the scene you are photographing. The D850 has an optical viewfinder with 0.75x magnification (the highest among all Nikon DSLRs), 100% field of view coverage and a good 17mm eye point.
  • Card formats:  XQD + SD (SDHC / SDXC)
  • Focus Shift Mode benefits working with focus stacking techniques by automatically recording a series of images at up to 10 different focus steps. Up to 300 individual frames can be recorded within these 10 steps, with the D850 automatically shifting focus between each shot to achieve an extended depth of field. The sequential images will be saved within a unique folder on the memory card in order to keep each series of exposures segregated for a faster and easier post-production workflow.
  • 4K Ultra HD video recording,
  • Slow motion video up to 120 FPS, when shooting with 1080p resolution.

 


 

  • Flash

There is no built-in flash. For me, this is no great loss, especially if it helps with weather sealing. You also don’t need the pop-up flash to trigger a wireless flash, since you can add the optional WR-R10 Controller and WR-A10 Receiver, along with the SB-5000, for proper wireless flash shooting that doesn’t require line-of-sight like the optical system would.

The max flash sync speed is 1/250 which is standard for the pro-series Nikon bodies. Of course, the Nikon D850 allows high-speed flash sync with dedicated flash units.

 

 


 

Autofocus & Focus enhancements

The Nikon D850 offers several new features (for Nikon), as well as some improvements to the AF capabilities.

The D850 sports the same Multi-CAM 20K AF system as the Nikon D5, but I still felt the D5 was more responsive, especially in lower light. With a sequence like this, where the two models are jogging towards the camera, the D850 easily kept up. I did not get to test the D850 vs D5 under more demanding conditions. For the photography work I do, this is about the level of movement I regularly deal with.

Even though the D850 and D5 have the same AF hardware, this might be the same case as what I experienced with the D700 vs D3. Even though the D700 and D3 had the same AF hardware, the D3 had noticeably more robust auto-focus than the D700.

All that said, the D850’s auto-focus capabilities exceeded what I would need.

From the literature on the D850:
“Complementing the rendering capabilities and speed of the image sensor is the robust Multi-CAM 20K AF system, which features 153 total phase-detection points, including 99 cross-type sensors for improved subject recognition, and 55 of the points are selectable for greater compositional freedom.”
“Benefitting the sensor is the EXPEED 5 image processor, which affords a wealth of speed throughout the camera system, including the ability to shoot continuously at 7 fps for up to 51 consecutive 14-bit lossless compressed raw files in a single burst.”

So there is some serious hardware and software at work here.

Furthering the versatility of the focusing system, different AF-area modes can be selected to support varying types of subject matter:
– Single-Point AF: The camera uses a single point to find focus.
– Dynamic-Area AF: Available with 25, 72, or 153-point selections, this mode uses a primary single focus point to lock onto focus, and then makes use of the surrounding points for maintaining focus while tracking erratically-moving subjects.
– Group-Area AF: This mode treats smaller groups of AF points as a single point for a wider field of recognition, and is well-suited to tracking faces or other detailed subjects.
– 3D-Tracking: Using a subject’s color information, this mode utilizes all 153 points to maintain focus on a moving subject while half-pressing the shutter button.
– Auto-Area AF: This mode makes use of all 153 points to quickly identify the main subject, and then prioritizes recognized faces as portrait subjects in any AF servo mode.

There are also other features:

  • Auto AF fine-tune function

The AF fine-tune function can be used to ensure the best possible focus for every lens you use. Rather than relying on photographing distance charts, this function lets you achieve precise focus manually in live view, and then have the AF system calibrate itself to the fine-tuned focus position in order to alleviate front- and back-focusing issues.

 

  • Focus peaking

Focus Peaking can be used to benefit manual focus control and a Zebra Stripes option is also available to help detect over-exposed areas within the frame.If you need to focus accurately and fast with manual focus, and don’t have the time to zoom in to check focus accuracy, then Focus Peaking is something you’d love. A clearly visible red outline to everything that is in focus. You can of course change the color of that, but red really helps.

 


 

 

Nikon D850: large RAW vs medium RAW and small RAW files 

In offering three different RAW file sizes, it would make the D850 appear like a 3-in-1 camera. Select the resolution you need.

As stated before, I don’t need a 45 megapixel camera for 95% of my work. I need workhorse cameras in the 20-24 megapixel range. Or 25 megapixels. That’s what had me excited about the D850, along with the silent shutter. The improved auto-focus over the D810, as well as the improvements over the D810, make seem to make the D850 an unbeatable camera.

Then while doing Nikon D850 high ISO tests, I noticed that the medium RAW (mRAW) files looked a little too soft for my taste. There just wasn’t that crisp detail in the eye-lashes. For me, like many other wedding and portrait photographers, that’s where I notice resolution – the detail in the eye-lashes. That’s kinda my on-the-spot resolution chart.

For both sequences I used a light-weight tripod, and shot around 1/60th @ f/8 with the Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8 … but you can see all that info in the EXIF data anyway. The first image has a lot of detail in the building facade. The second image might allow you a better idea of shadow detail and highlights.

Here is a 100% detail comparison between the 25 megapixel image, and the same scene with the 45 megapixel image, scaled down to 25 mpx.

 

I saw this result in every test I did. The medium RAW files are a touch too soft for my taste.

  • Similarly, I did several tests with the 20 megapixel Nikon D5 compared to the 25 megapixel mRAW of the D850 – download RAW files here.

The D5 files Are somewhat sharper than the D850 mRAW down-rezzed to 20 mpx. Similarly, the D5 is even sharper than the D850 mRAW if you uprez the D5 to 25 mpx. I’m conflicted. The difference is there, but it is small.

I think in practical terms, no one would really ever notice. If I delivered the processed JPGs from mRAW to a client, they would NEVER come back to me and complain about it.

For me, it is a confidence thing. The Nikon D5 fills me with confidence – the high ISO images are superb. The files look great. The autofocus is unbeatably fast and accurate. I can pull back details out of under-exposed high-ISO files like crazy. The Nikon D5 is a responsive beast that helps me overcome whatever is thrown at me in any situation. It fills me with confidence that whatever they throw at me, I can handle (with the Nikon 24-70VR), and Profoto lights.
So this mRAW thing is more a chink in that confidence armor.

I was hoping the Nikon D850 would be that camera, but with some extra juice that I need in my work. So this was disappointing.

For more info on how the Nikon D850 sensor works, and how the medium RAW file is processed, check out this authoritative article on the PhotographyLife website.

 


 

 


 

 

Summary

The Nikon D850 (affiliate), is a magnificent camera that is clearly in the top range of what is available right now. I would highly recommend it, with the caveat that you should make very sure that the medium RAW files are something you would either not need, or that the (mild) image softness is something that wouldn’t bother you.

Ultimately, the Nikon D850 is just not the camera that I needed it to be. I sold mine already, and I am looking at another D5, or perhaps, perhaps that Sony A9. Then again, Nikon is going to release a mirrorless camera in 2018. Maybe I should hold off for a while on any big decisions.

 

Related links

 

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All the images in this gallery were taken for Zach Theatre for their current production of

We used two Panasonic GH5 cameras and two Olympus Pro series zoom lenses; the 12-100mm f4.0 and the 40-150mm f2.8. All images were shot at either ISO 800 or ISO 1600 and both 
lenses were used at their widest apertures. 

Shutter speeds ranged from 1/30th to 1/500th of a second. 

The camera was set manually and color balance set for the basic stage wash before the start of the show. Post processed in Adobe Lightroom and delivered online via Smugmug.com.










































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review: Nikon D850 high ISO test

This article is an adjunct to the main review of the Nikon D850, and here we only look at how the Nikon D850 (B&H / Amazon) stacks up against other full-frame Nikon DSLRs in terms of high-ISO noise. How the camera performs at higher ISO settings might be of less interest to Nature photographers, but for event and wedding photographers, it is one of the essential factors in considering a camera. In this test, we’re going to look how the Nikon D850 compares specifically to the Nikon D5, D810 and D750. To make things interesting for everyone, there are RAW files you can download, at the different ISO settings, starting from 800 ISO onwards.

Of course, we are up against a challenge here in that all four these cameras have different resolutions, so we need to equalize for that.

If you are curious how some of these cameras compare at higher ISO setting with previous Nikon models, check out these links. There are downloadable RAW files there as well.

To keep this review fairly concise, we’re only going to look at 3200 ISO in the comparison photos shown here. For me, that’s about the most regularly used high ISO setting before we start working with the crazy-high ISO settings. We should be able to get a good idea of how the cameras compare when we look at that one specific value. Again, if you are interested in the other settings, and want to test for yourself, there are RAW files you can download. The file names should be obvious as to which camera and ISO setting (and resolution) they are.

Summary of the high-ISO comparisons

In short, the Nikon D5 (B&H / Amazon), shines in terms of the look of the high-ISO noise in the images – the grain is even, and not as distinct as in any of the equivalent ISO settings of the other cameras. That said, the Nikon D5 has an anti-aliasing filter, so the images are less crisp than those of the Nikon D810 or full-resolution Nikon D850. Still, the D5 falls well into the “plenty sharp” category for my professional and personal use.

The Nikon D850 (B&H / Amazon), might be marginally ahead of the Nikon D810 in terms of high-ISO noise. Or, said in another way, the D810 holds up surprisingly well, and will be a camera with fantastic capabilities for many years to come, compared to other cameras.

The Nikon D750 (B&H / Amazon), holds up remarkably well for high-ISO noise, as well as sharpness. So if you’ve been using a Nikon D750, I don’t think there is much motive to upgrade yet, unless you need specific features of the D850.

Now this is where disappointment set in for me with the Nikon D850 medium RAW files – while they have reasonably controlled noise (compared to the D750 for example), the mRAW files of the Nikon D850 are soft. This article on the PhotographyLife website explains the technology behind the D850 sensor and the different sizes of RAW files.

This softness of the medium RAW files are also discussed in the more full review: Nikon D850 camera. While every other aspect of the D850 is mouth-watering state-of-the-art image-making machine, the lack of a decently sharp medium RAW file is disappointing. Since the vast majority of my work doesn’t require more than the 20-24 megapixel range, that’s where I would use the D850 most of the time.

Again, please download the RAW files for yourself to test if you need to. Remember to resize the images for comparison. Don’t just compare a D5 file at 100% with a D850 file at 100% … they will look different. You have to equalize them in some way to give yourself a sense of how they might print or appear on a screen.

 


 

 

 

Here is an example where you can clearly see the 25 megapixel medium RAW file of the D850 is softer than the down-sized 45 megapixel file. The camera was on a tripod and set to manual focus.

 


 

 

 

The Nikon D750 holds its own!

 


 

 

The Nikon D5 file at 1600 ISO compared to the full-resolution D850 file, sized down to 20 megapixels. Once you resize the D850 files appropriately, they look remarkably good in terms of the high-ISO noise.

 


 

 


 

 


 

 

The Nikon D5 image has smoother high ISO than the D850 full-resolution file scaled down to 20 megapixels, but due to the anti-aliasing filter of the D5, the D5 image is less crisply sharp.  The D850 noise at this size looks pretty good for 6400 ISO though, even if the D5 beats it.

 


 

The lighting setup for this test sequence

I had to figure out a work-around for the very high ISO settings, since this would push the shutter speeds really high if I start at 800 ISO. I set up these two  Litepanels Astra EP Bi-Color LED Panels  (B&H / Amazon), to bounce against two white V-flats to give as soft light as I could. Fortunately, it doesn’t seem like there were any (or much?) flicker present at these high shutter speeds. The Astras are meant to be flicker-free, but I am not sure the manufacturer meant that they would be used at very high shutter speeds. Still, the images looked consistent to me. Hopefully consistent enough for a valid test.

All images were shot at f/8 except for a few images at very high ISO settings, where I had to go to f/11 when the shutter speeds maxed out.

 

Summary

I hope these tests have value for you, and give you a better idea of how these cameras might perform in low light and high ISO settings. Let us know in the comments what you think.

 

Related links

 

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I'm slowing winnowing my way toward minimalist gear status, when it comes to camera equipment. Rightly or wrongly I'm making the assumption that we're moving away from the "precious item" concept of photography to a different understanding of photography altogether. A period in which the photographic and video content and style are much more important than the ultimate qualities of traditional presentation. Now, whenever I say this a big swath of people get their panties in a bunch and tell me that they practice making beautiful and majestic prints as their art and don't give a rat's ass which way the trends bend. I try to gently remind them that my blog is not entitled, "The Leisure Photographic Life of Retired and Semi-retired Old Guys from Other Professions" rather it is called the Visual Science Lab and it's very clearly about the styles, times and trends that impact current commercial image making and multi-media. If you love making 20 x 30 inch prints, with inexhaustible detail and grandeur, of the "found objects" that catch your eye then that's what you should do but, unless you are the indefatigable Peter Lik,  I can pretty much assume you won't be making a living selling them....

My kid has one more year of college that I'm paying for so I make business decisions based on trying my best to read the hieroglyphics on the internet walls and adapt my business posture to at least sustain profits. 

In my latest shift (hopefully shifting with the market) I've purchased two GH5 cameras and a smattering of really good Olympus Pro series lenses (and Panasonic/Leica lenses) and have started using this system for pretty much everything that comes into the job queue. 

I never really feel comfortable writing about cameras until I've put in at least my first 10,000 shots so I've been relatively quiet here on the blog about making GH5 pronouncements. But looking at the image count across my two cameras over the last month and a half shows me that we're closing in on the 20,000 frame mark, and that doesn't include the work
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I'm photographing a three day show in downtown Austin and here's the technical ask from the client:


"We want really nice, big, juicy raw files of our speakers, the panels, the breakouts and all the rest of our corporate event stuff for the three days of the conference but we also want to be able to upload ample selections of images in almost real time in order to share them on our varied social media accounts (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc.). So, we want you to also be able to deliver small (1,000 pixel) jpegs from each session to our social media guy ---- who is in another city. The best possible scenario would be to shoot a session until you know you have good stuff and then to head to the media room to upload the images while the session is still.....in session."

I read the manual for the GH5 and found that I could customize how I use the card slots. I have identical 128GB V60 cards in every SD card slot. The #1 card is set to receive raw files while the #2 card slot is set up to receive much smaller Jpegs and video files.

I pull the #2 card out of the camera once I feel a session is well covered, stick it in my laptop and upload all the new Jpeg files to a Smugmug Gallery dedicated to my client's event.

The social media guy checks the gallery for new stuff and incorporates the images into the social feed.

Finally, a rational, real world reason for the existence of dual SD card slots on modern, reliable cameras!

Redundant back up? Naw, this is not rocket surgery...


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As your understanding of light and color grows, how does it affect your daily shooting? Like most things that seem complex at first, color pretty quickly becomes a secondary thought process, just like tying your shoes.

I just had the above archive photo picked up by a nonprofit, to promote children's books. Looking at it, I'm reminded that creating a natural looking color need not be complicated at all.

This was a little more than a snapshot, done with on-camera flash, and no gels. And the thought process behind the light is a good example of how you'll start to see and control color, even if you're just grabbing a snapshot. Read more »


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A handheld, image stabilized still shot from "Singing in the Rain." 

It's hard to make definitive statements about the effectiveness of  image stabilization across brands, models and different sizes of image sensors but...someone asked and I thought I'd give it a try. I haven't shot with all that many cameras so I'll focus on the ones I know of from experience. 

The current top dog of image stabilization, with utterly miraculous performance, is the latest Olympus EM-1 mark 2. Nothing else can touch it. Unless you are a ten cup per day coffee drinker you can pretty much ditch your tripod. This should not surprise anyone who had previously shot the EM-5 mark 2. I owned several of them and they were steady enough to use hand held when shooting video (see the Cantine video for end to end Olympus EM-5 mark 2 samples --- in motion).

The one addition that makes the EM-1.2 the best of the best is the ability of that camera system to use both the lens I.S. and the in body I.S. together. At best the system delivers 6.5 stops of stabilization. If not for the god awful menu system I might have bought that camera instead of the GH5.

The GH5 also has a dual I.S. feature and it works very, very well with a limited number of lenses from Panasonic. Using just the in body stabilization is very, very good as well. I've been using it with several Olympus zooms and several current Panasonic primes and find it to be in the same class, overall, as the Olympus EM-5.2.

The stabilization in both the RX10ii + iii, as well as the Panasonic FZ2500, is equally good. It's the latest five axis variety and since the lenses are built specifically for the body/sensor system I believe they are able to optimize their I.S. to good effect. 

As we move up the format size in cameras that use in-body image stabilization we get less and less overall effectiveness from their systems. The Sony a6500 is at least a stop or a stop and a half behind the m4:3rds cameras and the Sony A7ii and A7Rii are at least a stop worse off than the a6500. And most of the bigger cameras have yet to incorporate competitive dual body+lens I.S. systems. 

All bets are off when it comes to comparing systems that only use lens stabilization. For one thing not every lens you want to use is stabilized. But when done well the lens stabilization can be quite good. 
When I worked with Nikon I bit the bullet and bought an 18-200mm lens even though I knew it was not a spectacular performer optically. I bought it because there were situations when I really needed stabilization and would not have time to use lights or a tripod. That lens delivered a stable shooting platform and was an eye opener. Rock steady shots but humdrum optical performance. A trade off. 

Not so with the newest Panasonic and Olympus flagship systems. You get rock solid stability and great optical performance from their Pro series lenses. My least satisfying image stabilization experiences have been with cameras like the Sony a850 and a900 full frame cameras. They gave, at most two stops of stabilization (which is nothing to sneeze at compared to ancient times) but with some lenses they seemed to perform with less enthusiasm, delivering maybe a stop different at longer focal lengths. 

My (unproven) assumption is that it's all about overall sensor size, acceleration and physics. The smaller the mass you have to move and the smaller the distance you have to move it the higher the performance is going to be and the more accurate the corrections will be. 

All things being equal (but they never are) logic would suggest that one inch sensors should be the easiest to imbue with the highest stability performance followed by the m4:3rds and then the APS-C sensors and finally, in next to last place, the full frame sensor cameras. In last place would certainly be the medium format cameras whose only advantage is sensor size and, when dealing with camera motion whose biggest disadvantage is.... sensor size. 

1200+ images shot handheld with the GH5 and some Olympus Pro lenses last night show me that the system is highly competent and workable for me. If I wanted the best offered anywhere I'd be putting those Olympus lenses on the front of an EM-1.2 camera body and never look back. But I.S. is only one factor among many in the pursuit of good photography. Compromises abound. That's what makes it all so interesting. 

(For Ed). 


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Last night I had the opportunity to document the technical rehearsal for "Singing in the Rain" at Zach Theatre. I really like using new cameras in the theater environment as I bring them into the fold in order to understand how they work in what I think is a challenging situation. The lighting on stage sometimes changes minute by minute, and those changes include shifts in color as well as intensity. In addition to lighting changes the actors are constantly moving and I have no control or ability to really anticipate changing expressions and gestures. It's a situation wherein you have to capture stuff you like, in the moment, and then edit toward the best stuff in post. 

In order to make it even more rigorous a test I sometimes deny myself the "crutch" of using the raw file format so I can get a sense of how well the cameras make Jpeg files. It's a bit idiosyncratic but then I never held myself out as a paragon of logic or consistency....

Our rehearsal started at 7pm. I got to the theater a half hour earlier so I could say "hello" to the many people on the technical staff that I've worked with for years. I also wanted to sit quietly and set up my two cameras at, potentially, the optimum settings.

I used two Panasonic GH5 camera bodies and two Olympus lenses. It seems counterintuitive but I think the two Olympus Pro lenses that I ended up buying are a perfect match for the GH5s. When I owned the GH4 cameras I chose (among other ancillary lenses) the two f2.8 zooms from that system; the 12-35mm and the 35-100mm. They were both good as well as smaller and lighter than my current  choices. I think the Olympus Pro 12-100mm is a better choice for all around photography than the 12-35 by dint of the much greater coverage on the long end. I also think it is a sharper and contrastier lens system than either of the Panasonic lenses I owned. Being able to cover most of the focal lengths I use in day to day practice is a time saver and means that most of the time I am wearing only one camera over my shoulder rather than two.

I bought the Olympus 40-150mm f2.8 Pro mostly to use as an adjunct to the 12-100mm in theater and corporate event photography where I might need both the one stop of extra speed and the extra 50mm of reach. While I found myself using the 12-100mm a lot last night I am happiest with the images I shot with the longer zoom. It's not that the files are "better" or sharper it's that they seem a touch cleaner and more detailed. I'd be perfectly happy with the shorter lens but there were a few shots, taken at the longer focal lengths, that just made me smile.

So, that was the gear inventory. The "kit." Two bodies and two lenses. Both set up nearly identically. 
I selected the finest Jpeg setting at the largest file size of 20 megapixels. I chose the standard profile for each camera and left all the parameter settings at their presets. zero, zero, zero. 

I set the camera with the 40-150mm on it to ISO 800 and the camera with the 12-100mm on it to ISO 1600 to compensate for the one stop slower maximum aperture. After consulting with the lighting designer I settled on 4200K as the color setting for the general illumination. The follow spot is cooler and some of the side spots are warmer. There's nothing much you can do about a wash of light that's homogeneously red, blue or magenta. With Herculean efforts you might be able to render a neutral color but it would be a fool's errand to try. After all, they are called accent lights for a reason. 

I tried not to use the shutter under 1/125th or above a 1/500th. If I had enough light to reach for 1/500th the logical thing to do would be to turn down the ISO. 

I shot both of the lenses wide open for the entire evening. On a wide stage shot I was hanging out near the 12-20mm range and figured that depth of field would cover any small disparity between camera and subject distance. At the longer focal lengths I was trying to grab tighter, one person shots and would depend on focusing accuracy of the system for best results. 

In earlier tests I found that the screens were brighter than the calibration on my studio monitor or my Atomos Ninja Flame monitor and knew that setting the brightness one or two notches below zero would help me push up the exposures in a good way. I also enable the histogram and put it in the bottom right hand corner of the screen, consulting it often.

While I had trepidation that the GH5 would stumble in lower light situations I found that anything I shot at ISO 800 or less was as perfect as anything I would expect to see out of any previous camera I had used to shoot this kind of work. At ISO 1600 I started to see (when viewing at 100%) the wavering hand of noise reduction impinge on overall image quality. It manifested itself in overly plastic skin tones and some harsher sharpening of bigger detail. After seeing this I tested setting the camera profile differently. I decreased sharpness by one notch under the default and brought down the noise reduction as well. With noise reduction I experimented with one and two notches under the default and I found that one notch under was enough to make the files perfectly acceptable to me while not requiring me to do anything in post production while a two notch correction required a bit of noise reduction fine tuning in post. 

I tried several different focusing options with the two cameras. I started with my usual: A custom configured AF pattern consisting of four smaller squares in the center of the frame, driven by S-AF. This method nailed every single shot I pointed the camera and lens at, and without any hesitation. It was much quicker and more certain than my Sony A7Rii or A7ii. 

Emboldened I thought I'd try out the methodology that seems to be the preference of many other photographers: To choose all the focusing squares across the frame (wide) and to set the focus to C-AF. Amazingly the camera locked on to the closest thing in the frame and worked predictably. I didn't notice any time lag at all and anytime the camera made an (infrequent) mistake it was because I started out pointing it at the wrong object. Following one actor as they walked across the stage was remarkably consistent and well locked in. 

Since these cameras are both highly competent video cameras I strayed from still imaging from time to time to shoot video snippets that I'll use in the video I am editing of conversations with the director of this play and the choreographer. I thought it would be really nice to have good b-roll of the lead actor actually tap dancing in the rain. When the stage hands turned on the rain device and we got a downpour on stage I switched to 4K video at 30 fps and followed the action. Again, the camera and the 40-150mm were able to follow the dancer (or his feet ) as he tapped his way across the stage under a convincing shower of rain. It's really beautiful footage and you'll get to see it sometime soon. 

We photographers are often given to hyperbole. Smaller format shooters would have us believe that their particular choice of camera is so special that it can transform the laws of physics and deliver performance equal to full frame (35mm) sensors across all performance parameters. Conversely full frame shooters would have you believe that anything smaller than their (35) frame size destines a user to end up with files that are nothing but mush and crap. The truth lies somewhere else. The scale isn't a linear one with full frame to 100%, APS-C at 75% and micro four thirds at 50%. The band of technical behavior and results is much tighter than that. All the cameras are in the 90%s. And there are always many compromises in each direction. As science and industry get better at solving imaging problems the ability to apply computational processing is aggressively flattening the field and reducing the differences we used to see between formats. 

I'm sure I will not be able to blow up these images to sizes as large as I would if using full res files from an A7rii but I'm equally sure that I can get close; and the reality is that either camera will make prints that are large enough so that the optimum viewing distance veils any substantive differences in overall quality. Fast lenses on small formats can equal the look of slower lenses on bigger formats. If f1.4 equals f2.8 (m4:3 versus FF) and we have f1.4 available then we gain two stops of shutter speed or two steps of ISO. Stuff works out. 

After carefully examining about 1200 photographs and six minutes of 4K video I'm happy to say that I feel comfortable using the new cameras in just about any situation. The secret is to understand how they can be set to ensure optimum operation. Used well just about any modern camera can excel. But few can match the GH5 for it's versatility (vis-a-vis the combination of video and stills). 







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Helios 40-2 85mm f/1.5 lens

The quest to add an interesting, eye-catching element to a photograph, often leads us photographers to start working with lenses that have a distinctive bokeh. One of the more affordable vintage lenses that gives a distinctive bokeh and is also a perfect portrait focal length, is the Soviet made Helios 40-2 85mm f/1.5 lens (for Canon / for Nikon). The 85mm Helios is also is surprisingly affordable as photography gear goes. 

The swirly bokeh is fairly distinctive of the Helios optic. Adding this kind of effect in-camera to enhance a photograph, without resorting to Photoshop trickery, will help with a more streamlined workflow. The challenge then is to find that balance where the bokeh doesn’t distract from your subject, but enhances the image.

With this sequence of photos of Anelisa, I used the Sony a7ii (B&HAmazon) again. As I described in the article – Sony mirrorless cameras with vintage lenses – the way that Sony is able to implement manual focus due to the Electronic ViewFinder (EVF), sets it apart from DSLRs. Fuji does it in a similar way, but because the Fuji is a crop sensor, you lose much of the effect of using these vintage lenses. I discuss the Fuji cameras manual focus mode in this linked article.

This lens is all metal and glass, and is a heavy beast, especially on a smaller camera like the Sony.

You can purchase this lens via these affiliate links:

Here are a few tips on using this type of lens to best effect:

 

Tips on using the Helios 85mm lens to best effect

These lenses tend to be very soft towards the edges – not a problem in itself, but it does mean that a more central composition works best. A centered composition also helps in allowing the bokeh swirl to pull your eye in towards your subject. So both the lens sharpness and the bokeh forces a specific composition on you.

The best bokeh effect is achieved if there are highlights in the background that will defocus to elliptical spheres. In these photos of Anelisa, I had her stand in front of a tree through which the sunlight created dappled patterns on the leaves.

A more neutral background such as this alleyway shown below in this portrait of Anastasiya, still shows in an unusual bokeh, but the effect is much more muted. So, as a counterpoint, if the swirly bokeh shown in the photos of Anelisa is too much for your liking, then you could always use a more neutral background.

The specific bokeh of the lens is more pronounced at the wider apertures. Hence all the images here were shot at full aperture: f/1.5

It also means that I had to be extra careful with the focusing. Again, the Sony’s superb manual focus technique helps here.

These vintage lenses tend to flare easily, which can be used for additional effect. In trying to let the lens flare here, it did lead to a more pronounced highlight above her which might be distracting in the composition.

Shooting into the sun like that, will create a flat image. To make these images shine, you do need to adjust the RAW file slightly. So much for the grand-standing “getting it right in camera crowd” – there are many situations where that isn’t possible. You need to adjust the RAW file!

The adjustments I made to the SOOC file (shown below) – I pulled the Black Point way down. I pulled the Exposure slider down a bit as well. I bumped up the Contrast slightly. Then the final adjustment was a a tweak to the White Balance. Aside from a few minor skin blemished that I removed in Photoshop, these were the only adjustments I made to the images.

 


 

About the lens used during this photo shoot

Helios 85mm f/1.5 – for Canon  (Amazon)
Helios 85mm f/1.5 – for Nikon  (Amazon)

 

Summary

These lenses are both fun to use, and a challenge. And part of the challenge is to allow the bokeh to enhances your photos, and not become something that is an over-used gimmick. It’s a fine balance!

 

Related articles

 

The post Helios 40-2 85mm f/1.5 lens appeared first on Tangents.


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I had to go shopping for shirts today. I have way too many shirts but I didn't have just the right shirts for an upcoming job. I'll be shooting for three days at one of the fancy downtown hotels for a high profile, high tech firm and, as usual, in discussing the project with my client I asked about dress code.
My client being a practiced hand at large, corporate stage shows just tossed out, "standard show black."

"Just like the guys from the event production company." She referenced a company that I have worked side by side with, literally all over the world.

Show Black is as follows: black shoes, black socks, black dress pants (not jeans), black belt and a black, long sleeve shirt with a collar. The shirt can be either a button up dress shirt or a long sleeve polo style shirt but it should be dull black, unwrinkled and professionally presentable. And the entire outfit should blend in nicely with the black drape around and in front of the main stage.

The purpose of wearing "show black" is pretty simple; if you need to transit an auditorium filled with an audience you don't want to take away attention from the main speaker, the panel or the on stage presentation or demo. If you are working the show in the capacity of photographer, videographer, director, lighting technician, A/V specialist or stage set technician you need to always remember that the client and their presenters should be in the limelight and you should be functionally invisible.

Many, many years ago when I first started photographing at major shows for Dell, IBM and Motorola I showed up for a stage show event in a nice pair of black jeans, a white, button down shirt, and a pair of Nike trainers. The head of the staging company (who has been a friend now for 30 years) walked over and asked me, "Do you want to keep this client? Do you want to come back and work tomorrow?" I nodded. "Heres' one of our shirts (black button down oxford with his company logo very discreetly embroidered on the pocket), go and change and tomorrow be sure to come in black "business casual slacks" and black leather shoes. Clients are paying to see your work, not you." 

In a moment of rare clarity I took his advice and upgraded my show wear. I've successfully worked at major events for those three clients (and many others ) for the better part of thirty years. And in that time I've watched executives or journalists transit in front of a stage in white or light colored shirts and khaki pants and it seems like every set of eyes in the audience watched them as they made their way across the room; the bright, white shirt like a magnet for peoples' attention.

I have five or six presentable pairs of black dress pants but the closet was getting low on black shirts. I did a show two weeks ago and by the third day I was on my last presentable black shirt. My preference these days is black golf shirts --- I like the Greg Norman ones but there are a few other brands that are very low key and well cut to my build. The material has more give than cotton broadcloth and the latest fabrics are eminently breathable. If I was fat I would stick to  button up oxfords but since I have no discernible belly bulge I'm safe for the moment in tighter fitting shirts.

And my wife would tell you that my supply of black leather shoes will never run out. I love functional dress shoes. I know I am a living anachronism but I also have a shoe shine kit and black shoe polish and I don't show up for shows with scuffed toes. (Love the way that sounded when I said it out loud).

One more thing about wearing show black and having a couple of cameras over your shoulders--- the client's team instantly knows who you are, why you are there and what your are doing; even if they did lose your badge on the way into town....

Call Time. I learned even earlier than my sartorial education that the start time of my client's program is vastly different than my "call time." On the first full day of the show I'm working this week the online agenda says that the main tent session will start at 8:00 am. And yes, that means the show will probably start at 8:00 am. But on the production schedule, which the attendees will not see, are line item call times for various production positions. The stage techs' call time is 6:00 am. It could be earlier if there needed to be a pre-show rehearsal.

My call time is 7:00 am. This means I check in at the main auditorium no later than 7:00 am. One reason for this is to provide comfort to the client. If they see your face when they walk in for last minute changes and check list stuff they know you're there and ready and it's one less person to worry about. They know they won't be getting a call ten minutes before their CEO walks out on stage with a photographer on the other end making a lame excuse about traffic or a flat tire. Your early call is one more check on the check list that means "all systems go." 

But the early call time is more than just padding. Many times a request for special coverage will come down before the show. On a recent show several speakers came into town with no headshots for projection on the big screens to announce their upcoming presentations. All the other speakers had headshots and they were already dropped into templates for the program. Since I was on time we were able to set up, shoot and deliver new headshots that fit the template just in time.

I love showing up early. I can get acclimated, drink some coffee, talk to the show techs about anything special I need to be aware of ( a surprise award presentation? )  and get a feel for the disposition of the client. I routinely offer to show up early for the production company that's designed and implemented the stage design so we can run through some lighting cues and get them some photo documentation for their portfolios. It's a quid pro quo because, if they like you, the production company is quick to recommend you to big, new clients.

Crew Meals. On some shows I am asked to wear a coat and tie since I'll be working in the middle of a group of similarly dressed executives. In those situations it's pretty much assumed that I'll have lunch with the audience. When we are asked to wear show black and fit in behind the scenes the presumption is that we're separate from the invited guests and audiences and we'll eat in a space reserved for the crew.

The food is usually the same in the crew craft service area as what the hotel or convention center is serving to the show guests, it's just that we're in a room off the stage and the food is presented buffet style since everyone's schedule is, by necessity, staggered. This is great because we can blow off a little steam without potentially embarrassing ourselves --- at least not in front of the client....

It's also great because we aren't subject to the delays that the guests might encounter, such as long lines at buffets or long service times for sit down lunches and dinners. We don't waste time waiting.

I usually head straight to lunch as soon as the last speaker of the morning surrenders his/her podium. I want to eat quickly so I can sit down at my laptop and grind out a selection of images to send to the social media person on my client's staff for quick dissemination. I don't usually have time to eat a leisurely lunch on a big corporate showcase because I tend to be scheduled pretty tightly and there seems always to be a voracious appetite for ever newer images and video as the day drags on.

The Bar. Occasionally you'll have a long term client who sees you as part of their team and invites you to have a glass of wine or a mixed drink while you are attending and photographing receptions, etc. That's very much an exception. I make it a general rule to leave the bar and the alcohol to the guests and the marketing people from the client company. They truly might not care in the moment but if something goes wrong and karma catches up with you for writing a column about not needing dual memory card slot redundancy, and you lose some important images, the client may suddenly remember that one glass of wine and head down the road toward blaming your "reckless" drinking for their loss. Not a pretty position to fine one's self in.... Better to wait till the end of the night and have a drink at the lobby bar. Or, better yet, remember that you could make it to the 5:30 am morning master's swim the next day and skip that performance robbing glass of chardonnay altogether .

Memory Card Management. You are working fast and shooting tons of stuff. Eventually your memory cards fill up. You have more fresh cards to stick into the camera but what, exactly, do you do with the cards full of potential prize winners that you've worked so hard to fill up? I have a goofy system for that. I buy little coin/change envelopes at the office supply store. They are fairly small and have lick-and-stick closures. I get the yellowish manilla colored ones. When I fill up a card I lock it then fill out a time and subject description on the card and seal it into its own envelope. If I have duplicate cards I do an envelope for each and write "B/U" (for back up) on one of them. When I get back to the studio and start ingesting files into Lightroom I copy the files from the main card onto two separate hard drives with custom file names and some detailed exif. I keep the "B/U" cards separate and safe until I've done all the post processing and have delivered the final images to the client (also in duplicate -- nowadays on 64 GB memory sticks/flash drives).  Always better safe than sorry. Those little envelopes have saved me a lot of grief..... You can reformat and re-use one set of cards as long as you have one set put aside for the inevitable "rainy day."

Bill Hard and Bill Fast. You should bill for everything you originally discussed and also bill for any additions requested by the client during the run of the show. Did they ask you for print outs? Bill it. Did they ask you to come in earlier than originally agreed upon? Bill that. Were you promised an onsite meal but missed it because the client added a file send request that needed to be done ASAP? Grab a meal from the hotel restaurant when you have a chance and be sure to bill it. Does the client need a second version of the show on a second hard drive to send to their boss in San Francisco? Bill it. It's easy to get nickled and dimes at a fast moving show but you've got a smartphone and you should know how to use a notebook app to keep track. They would bill you if the shoe (black) was on the other foot.

Also, bill quick. Don't dally around after the show is over. Don't go on vacation and decide you'll bill when you get back. The excitement surrounding the show is like perishable food. It's best eaten fresh and begins to smell after it's been around for a while. Hand your client a bill with the deliverables while the show is happily fresh in their minds and remind them that you are happy to accept their corporate credit card for payment. Money in hand is well worth the meager percentage you might lose to execute the transaction. Wait too long and the show won't look as exciting in the client's rear view mirror. Then they may decide to go on vacation before they get around to picking around the edges of your invoice before sending it along to accounting; where it will go to the back of a long line of invoices from other vendors from the same show who were more motivated to get paid quickly than you were.....

First in line is always better. More to follow.





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It's been a physical week. I had a very traditional photo assignment on Monday which required shooting portraits and environmental shots at three different, blue chip law firms and at a company that provides insurance to the legal industry. I say that it's been a physical week because that job had me packing and unpacking a lot. I was able to stuff everything into one heavy backpack but it was one heavy backpack. 

I used small lights, off camera with triggers, and tried to do justice to portrait subjects in a series of quick encounters. But really, it's the packing and moving that wears one down. Tuesday was one of those relentless post processing days when the jobs done on Saturday, Sunday and Monday finally get ingested, tweaked and sent on to web galleries for their brief moment in the sunlike glare of clients' attention. 

I was back to the location work on Weds. with portraits at yet another law firm. I was using the big LED panels (Aputure Lightstorm) and four of them are a heavy package. They shared space on my multi-cart with plenty of light stands and grip gear. But the portraits I did that day were some of the best I've ever done. A lot of the quality had to do with the particular subjects but I'll give some credit to the lighting. When you finally get the perfect mix of window light and panel light, and all the planets line up correctly, if you are lucky enough to get it all balanced and sprinkled with magic pixie dust you sometimes get a gift from the photo gods. But sometimes you just get photos that are more or less in focus. I had a smile on my face when I looked at the final files this time....

Thurs. was the back-to-back work, stills and video projects for Zach Theatre. Flashes and a seamless background for full length shots of two actors at a time followed (in a different building) by two interviews (lit with LED panels) and some really fun footage of a full rain effect (with tap dancing) on the main stage. The video, when mixed with stills from the tech rehearsal this coming Sunday will get smooshed up together to make an promotional piece for "Singing in the Rain." 

I have figured one thing out. A way to lighten my load would be to lose the sandbags we use to keep stuff from falling over. But then stuff would.....fall over. A few years back Calumet marketed plastic sandbags that were meant to be filled with water at the location and then drained after use, but before packing. They worked okay for the first four or five times I used them but on one shoot, in a nice setting, they started to leak and that was the end of that. Ah well.

It's also the week I started to add some additional weight training to augment my swimming. Nothing big but even adding 50 curls with 20 pounds is enough to make one sore if one has been avoiding their weight bearing exercise....

By today I was dog tired and, after noon swim workout, I could have used a nap but instead I started reading reviews about the photographic capabilities of the new iPhone 8s. And I started thinking in earnest about computational photography. I don't think I'm breaking any new intellectual ground here when I make the statement that I sure as hell would not want to own stock in a traditional camera company from here forward. 

The inclusion of portrait modes on the new iPhone 8s that emulate the traditional optical look of out-of-focus backgrounds is going to take a huge chomp (once again) out of the low and middle tiers of the market for professional photographers. Once those cameras transition from beta computational software to the full implementation they will be able to do the few things that kept larger formats alive in the eyes of the majority of the market. They'll provide big files with lots of detail, much less noise, and the ability to drop backgrounds nicely out of focus. 

Ah, but we'll still survive because we know how to light portraits! Right? Ummm. The beta software includes the ability to change the lighting on human faces. Game over for a lot of people who were able to make a living because they could put a TTL flash with an umbrella on a light stand, get close on exposure, drop the background out of focus and depend on the generous latitude of raw files to save butt in those times when the TTL didn't quite work the way the photographer wished. And yes, you can change the background in the iPhone software. Oh, and the screens are much higher quality than just about anything on current enthusiasts' cameras. 

If I were just starting out a career in photography I'd be running for the exits so fast.... With a few well thought out accessories you and your new iPhone could be competitive with a lot of newly minted pros. Imagine if these phones ever fell into the hands of really accomplished photographers and you'll understand why I think traditional cameras are not long for the world of general photography. 

In two years there will be three classes of cameras left: the smartphones (95% of the market), mirrorless cameras with killer specs and great video (for the few working pros who are left) and traditional Nikon and Canon DSLRs for the errant dentist or nostalgia buff.  It won't be pretty on the blogs...

But I am here now and still working so I'll write about a fun lens I used for a ton of stuff this week. I've written about it before but I'll recap: I bought an Olympus 12-100mm f4.0 Pro lens to keep my first Panasonic GH5 company. I found both its optical qualities and its image stabilization to be quite good. So I've started using it for more and more work. I used it for most of the work I did at law firms in the early days of the week. And I used it yesterday, with the GH5, for both the actor images against white and the director and choreographer interviews I did in 4K video in the afternoon. I love this lens and camera combination. Everything that comes out of the camera is sharp and sassy but not exaggerated. 

The one lens that I played with this week that's even better is the Olympus 40mm-150mm f2.8. I used it wide open to make one of the most beautiful portraits I've made in years. But you just can't beat the range of the 12-100mm f4.0. And the remarkable thing is that most of the time I've been using it wide open. Pretty stunning. Everyone should run out and buy one immediately. Or not.

So, how do I feel about my recent decision to bulk up on GH5's and attendant lenses? Pretty damn good. Nearly every estimate request and bid request I get these days calls for some part of the project to be video. I was negotiating a three day event for next week and the client was pushing back on price. I pushed back too but I wanted the job. I would have ended up reducing the price if I had to but in the process the client noticed that I was also offering video services on my website and asked if I could also provide some conference b-roll video. I said, "yes" and all of a sudden my original bid was fine and reasonable. 

How much video? Roll on a speaker for 20 seconds in the middle of a session. Get some quick footage of people networking during the breaks. Show a few angles of a panel discussion. Get some footage of the band on stage at the ACL/Moody Theater. It's all stuff that will fit well around the photography I'll already be shooting. This is what the whole hybrid concept was really meant to be. 

It also works in reverse. I've been hired to shoot video interviews and had the client's marketing team enjoy the process we use with their executives enough that they were willing to add a day just to shoot portraits and some interiors. And if you think about it every single day of commercial use just about pays for one individual GH5. But none of this would work if the footage out of the cameras wasn't great. It is. In both directions. Just thought I'd throw some love to my current favorite camera. Made my favorite camera partly because of the lens contributions from Olympus. They're a better fit for me that some of the similar Panasonic lenses. 
The GH5 is definitely a keeper. 


I'd like to say that I'm planning to chill out this next week but we're already gearing up. I shoot the tech rehearsal for "Singing in the Rain" on Sunday (mostly for video b-roll) and the dress rehearsal on Tues. (mostly for marketing photography). I use any downtime on those days to do post production on the content. Then, it's a Weds. - Fri. corporate event with two handfuls of GH5 cameras. Photos and video, followed by more days of post. I've learned it's good to make hay while the sun shines. The marketing mood and the national economy have a tricky habit of turning bad on a dime...


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An almost behind the scenes look at my lighting for the actors who 
will star in "A Tuna Christmas" at Zach Theatre. In between shots.

I've pretty much cut the cord when it comes to electronic flash. After a long career of dragging heavy strobe boxes, heads and mono-lights onto location after location I've had enough. And it's never just the box and head or the mono-lights that make the process of lighting things on location such a pain in the ass, it's also the cabling, connectors and extension cords that add sheer drudgery to every job outside the studio.

In the days of nickel-cadmium double A batteries and wimpy hot shoe flashes the bigger flashes were a necessary component when lighting large groups, big products or big rooms with power hungry medium format cameras and films. Now, not so much...

The worst part of location jobs seemed to be the lack of nearby or functioning electrical outlets in whatever area in which we needed to shoot. We'd get an assignment to photograph a group of executives at a company and when we got there we would find that the location the marketing team had reserved was in a major foot traffic area in a company headquarters and that the nearest A/C outlet was 75 feet away. And on the other side of a hallway. We'd set up out lights and start stringing out extension cords. Once the extension cords were laid down we'd need to spend time taping down any part that crossed a walk way. If we needed more than one outlet our budget for gaffer's tape could get out of hand...

When I switched to mono-lights it fixed on problem (all light heads being tethered on fairly short cables to one pack) and added another. Now all four or five lights used on a temporary set would need their own power cable and those power cables needed their own extension cords. Major pain, as each cable had to be taped down so inattentive executives and their legions of helpers didn't trip over the cables and injure themselves.

I tried to go with a total battery powered system back in 2007-2008 but I was stymied by the need for all day power (so of our shoots run 1200-1500 exposures) and the need for more power than most of the cost effective speed lights delivered. I like shooting at ISO 100 or 200 and I like to use big umbrellas and soft boxes and the venerable Vivitar 283 or the Nikon SB-800 just didn't deliver.

NiMh batteries were helpful but we found ourselves changing out the four batteries in four or five flashes four or five times a day. And much of the cost of big brand name portable strobes was based on their ability to be controlled from the camera position which was a feature set we didn't need for my style of photography. Now almost every generic brand offers the same kinds of controls. But we still don't really use the remote setting features.

No, the real split between my flashes and alternating current came this year when I became aware of bigger, lithium ion batteries coupled with fairly powerful generic flash products from companies like Neewer, Godox, and Fotodiox.

I dipped my toes into the bigger battery, better performance for less money market with a couple of Godox V850 flashes and I've never looked back. Two of them made for perfect tools when lighting up a standard white background. Even with ISO 200 I'm getting f8.0 on the background above while using the flashes on manual at 1/8th power.

My next step was to play with the Godox AD200 flash which provided a bigger battery and more power, along with an interchangeable flash head. It's a really nice flash and it bangs away at 1/2 power just about forever; especially if you are using the bare bulb head. But what I really wanted was just a bit more power and a day's worth of flashes. That's when I found the Neewer Vision 4, 300 watt second, battery powered monolight. It features a big lithium ion battery that's said to be capable of delivering 700 full power flashes. I use it at 1/2 power for quick recycling and I used it that way for about 500 flashes at a shoot yesterday and still had about 3/4ths power remaining when we wrapped up.

My set up for two people, full body, on a white seamless was to use the two smaller Godox flashes at 1/8th power directly on the backgrounds. I made little BlackWrap(tm) flags to cut the light spread to keep it off my subjects. At 1/8th power the flashes recycle almost instantly and will keep popping pretty much forever.

My fill light was the AD200 firing into a 72 inch, white umbrella at 1/2 power. I used it about 20 feet back from my subjects. It was the perfect fill light.

My main light was the Neewer Vision 4 firing into a 60 inch, white umbrella that was positioned about 15 feet from the subjects (looking for the inverse square law to help me even out the light across the two actors). The light was triggered by its included remote trigger which trigger the other three lights which were set to "S1" which makes use of their optical slave modules.

With no cords to manage and no extension cords to act as potential liability lawsuit triggers I was able to position my lights wherever I needed them and to work more quickly than ever before.

I might add a second Neewer Vision 400 but....then again I may just keep on working with the exact stuff I've outlined here. Seems to be working for me well right now.

Happy to say "goodbye" to extension cords, power cables and haphazardly functional wall outlets. I'm now back in the studio watching four battery chargers flashing away for the lights and another two flashing away with camera batteries. Relaxing.



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Happy Photographer writes blog about camera size and weight 
versus the need to bring the lights...

Some of us photographers who cross over and do video like to talk about the benefits of "hybrid" shoots where we "light once and then shoot twice." By keeping the lighting instruments the same and using the same cameras for both disciplines the big idea is that we lighten our load of equipment and get multiple kinds of imaging stuff done quicker. And, as far as I can tell, it works pretty well most of the time. But never in this particular proposal of processes have I ever indicated that getting smaller and lighter cameras is an important part of the hybrid equation. I'm not thrilled with the weight savings of smaller, mirrorless cameras any more than I am thrilled by the overweight nature of professional DSLRs. The reason I don't particularly care about the weight or size of cameras is that so much of my work is done using various kinds of lighting equipment. 

I was all excited about shooting a marketing piece for a theater today. We planned on shooting various actors on a white background. I'd mastered lighting a traditional white out background with my Apurture LightStorm LED lights and I was getting ready to pack when my art director e-mailed over so final notes. The actors would be dancing and moving and might be jumping as well. Well, that kills it for the LEDs. I can't freeze someone mid jump and keep them sharp with continuous lights. I got busy packing up the flashes. 

The number of lights is basically the same so I wouldn't mind BUT..... after we shoot the marketing piece for one production, and wrap up the gear at that location, we're breaking for a late lunch and then setting up in a different building to shoot two video interview. Which, of course, do not call for electronic flash. So I'm right back to the requirement of packing two sets of lights. Oh joy!

You can make the cameras as light as you want. You could even put your lights on a diet, but for most of the stuff I shoot we're hauling around a set of background stands and a nine foot roll of background paper, six to eight heavy duty light stands, flags, three or four sand bags, a sturdy cart. apple boxes, a hundred feet of heavy extension cords,  soft boxes, umbrellas and the various hard and semi-hard cases required to keep all the breakable stuff unbroken. Saving two to five pounds on camera gear is a drop in the bucket in the overall equation of a couple hundred pounds of (necessary) lighting gear. 

Today we'll also need to bring along a large duffle filled with sound blankets because the space we're assigned to shoot in is as hot as the hood of a black car in a Texas parking lot. We need to take the edge and echo off the voice recording. By the time we pack white masonite for the floor and another c-stand and fish pool for the microphone we'll just about have the Honda CR-V filled to capacity. 

I know that some of you will chime in and tell me that you do photography strictly for the love of it and I'm happy for you. I'm not sure I chose the right career ---- sometimes it just feels light a combination of logistics and weight-lifting with a few moments of imaging tossed in...

I dream of the day when I can take just a small bag with a camera and a lens or two. But it's the lighting and accessories that make it feel like "work." 

Really should have gotten a couple of assistants for this job. They could be setting up while I get in a noon swim. Now that would be delicious.

With a flurry of back to back jobs the studio is starting to look like a warehouse.
We drop off one set of gear and grab another. The image above is as neat and clean as it's been in months....

The magic ingredient for commercial photography success, besides having a trust fund or a wealthy spouse, is a non-stop stream of coffee. Comes in handy when the client "needs" those shots the next morning and you're still on location wrapping up the shoot at 7:15pm.

Photographers tend to fixate on those "magic" cameras but I think the real 
magic is in bringing the lights and knowing how to use them. 
That, and getting along with people. 


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review: Profoto A1 flash

Profoto has a very strong reputation in the industry for making gear that are reliable, easy to use, powerful, and, well … looks really good. When Profoto entered the market a few years ago with the portable Profoto B1 flash (affiliate), and then the Profoto B2 flash (affiliate), it was inevitable then that at some point they would make a grand entrance with a speedlight. With this review of the Profoto A1 flash (affiliate), I wanted to show more how I would use it, than just cover the specs of the flash.

I met up with Anastasiya to record this review video, but it ended up being partly a tutorial video as well. In the studio we go over how I would use this in a simple way as an on-camera bounce flash – and used properly, the results can be surprisingly  good. We then went out on location and used the Profoto A1 as a trigger for the B1 unit, as well as using the Profoto A1 as a single off-camera flash.

The results look really good – as they should when you use flash with careful consideration. That’s to be expected. What you can also expect with the Profoto A1 is an elegant lighting device. The designers really put a lot of thought into this speedlight.

You can pre-order the Profoto A1 through these affiliate links:
– Profoto A1 flash for Canon  (B&H)
– Profoto A1 flash for Nikon  (B&H)

 

Profoto A1 speedlight

Features of the Profoto A1 flash

Before we list the specifications (in a very dry way lower down in this review), I want to go over a few things that stood out for me with this flash:

  • The A1 has a neat system with how you can magnetically attach modifiers and gels. No need to strap things down – everything just smoothly clips into position.
  • There is also a clip-on white bounce card, and if you reverse the white bounce card to have the black side in front, you have a flag. For those of you who regularly follow the Tangents blog, you will immediately recognize how to use this flag on the flash – just like you would the Black Foamie Thing. The Profoto A1 just looks a lot more elegant.
  • The modeling light on the Profoto A1 changes zoom angle as you zoom the flash head!  So you can immediately see how much of your scene will be covered by how you zoom the flash head. Again, an elegant implementation.
  • The way that Profoto implements TTL and Manual flash by interlocking it, is beautiful. You can do a test shot in TTL, and if the exposure looks good, you just lock it as a manual exposure. This is a handy time-saver on a stressful shoot.
  • No need for AA batteries. The Profoto A1 has a proprietary battery that clips onto the front of the flash.
  • I have used the Profoto A1 on several weddings now, and what also impressed me is how fast the flash recycles, even when fired at full power. The battery really keeps up. The spec sheet has the recycling time as 0.05 to 1.2 Sec. That 1.2 seconds recycle time is really fast for a full dump.
  • The power rating for the flash is given as 76 Ws, instead of the usual Guide Number rating given for speedlights. In testing the flash in the studio, I’d say the Profoto A1 flash is about 1/2 stop brighter than the equivalent Nikon or Canon speedlights. Not a massive difference, but it does mean the A1 delivers a respectable output for a flash of this kind.
  • Profoto hasn’t mentioned yet which range the flash’s radio signal has, but in the video you can see that I specifically shot with a 300mm lens to get full-length photos of Anastasiya – this gave me a really long working distance, and there were no misfires!  Of course, Sport photographers would work over longer distances, but for my needs (weddings & portraits), the Profoto offers more than I need in terms of signal range.

 


 

Using the Profoto A1 for on-camera bounce flash

With this photo (as shown in the video), we had the black flag on the Profoto A1 to control how the light from the flash spilled. Working close enough to a surface we can bounce the flash off … and with careful posing, we can get short lighting! This looks like studio quality lighting from an on-camera flash.

This topic is covered thoroughly in the articles linked here: Black Foamie Thing

This technique is also discussed in depth in my book, On-Camera Flash  (revised edition)

 

Camera settings & photo gear used in this part of the video

 


On-Camera Flash Photography

On-Camera Flash Photography – revised edition

This book is explains a cohesive and thorough approach to getting the best from your on-camera speedlight.

Particular care was taken to present it all with a logical flow that will help any photographer attain a better understanding of flash photography.

You can either purchase a copy via Amazon USA and Amazon UK, or can be ordered through Barnes & Nobles and other bookstores. The book is also available on the Apple iBook Store, as well as Amazon Kindle. Also check out the Amazon Kindle store.

Learn more about how the cover image was shot.


 

 

Using the Profoto A1 as a remote trigger, or as an off-camera flash

With this sequence of photos shot out on location (as shown in the video), I used the Profoto A1 initially as a trigger to fire the Profoto B1 flash. Then I reverted to using the Profoto A1 flash as the off-camera flash, triggered by a Profoto Air-TTL trigger. This makes the Profoto A1 more versatile than just being a speedlight. It doubles as a trigger for your other Profoto lights!

The lens that I used in this section is the remarkable Nikon 300mm f/4E VR  (B&H / Amazon). It is compact – less than 6″ long, and is light-weight. Combine this with the lens’ stabilization, and you have a long focal length lens that is very hand-holdable … and razor sharp!

 

Camera settings & photo gear used in this part of the video

 


 

Using the Profoto A1 in high-speed sync mode

There really is nothing to using the Profoto A1 flash in high-speed flash sync mode. With the Nikon, you simply ramp up the shutter speed to where you need it to be. Remember, that with all flashes, there is some loss of power when you go into HSS mode. This is discussed in my book, Off-Camera Flash, as well as the tutorial here on the Tangents blog:  High-speed flash sync (HSS)

During this part of the photo session, I used the Sigma 50mm f/1.4 DG (affiliate) at f/1.4 for that specific shallow depth-of-field wide open. This then pushed the shutter speed up to 1/640 which is well into HSS territory. Because I worked with the flash fairly close to Anastasiya, I could get away with using the speedlight outside, while bounced into a small umbrella. If I had worked in stronger light conditions, I would’ve used bare off-camera flash.

 

Camera settings & photo gear used in this part of the video

 


Off-Camera Flash Photography

Off-Camera Flash Photography

With this book, I wanted the material in the book to flow as a truly accessible introduction to off-camera flash. The techniques here are within the reach of everyone.

As always, the aim was for those aha! moments when things become clear and just makes sense. And then, hopefully, inspire the readers of the book to see how easily off-camera flash lighting can expand our photographic repertoire.

You can either purchase a copy via Amazon USA or Amazon UK. The book is available on the Apple iBook Store, and Amazon Kindle.


 

Profoto A1 specifications

  • Built-In AirTTL, Use On or Off Camera
  • Recycling: 0.05 to 1.2 Sec
  • Li-Ion Battery: 350 Full Power Flashes
  • High Speed Sync, LED Modeling Light
  • 9 Stop Power Range, 76 Ws Output
  • Weighs 1.2 lb Including Battery
  • Optional Wireless TTL with Air Remote
  • Includes Bounce Card, Dome Diffuser
  • Also includes Wide Lens, Flash Stand, USB Cable

 

Summary

It is clear that I am impressed with the Profoto A1. It does come with a high price though – about double the equivalent speedlights from the camera makers. However, it fits so seamlessly into the Profoto ecosystem, that I do think there will be a strong demand for this well-designed unit.

You can pre-order the Profoto A1 through these affiliate links:
– Profoto A1 flash for Canon  (B&H)
– Profoto A1 flash for Nikon  (B&H)

 

Related articles

 

The post review: Profoto A1 flash appeared first on Tangents.


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New discoveries or the relentless display of craft?

An individual's aesthetic wiring directly relates to their choice of camera types when it comes to photographing what we might call their vision. I would argue that there is a spectrum between pure documentation of the subject matter, divorced from technical considerations of presentation, and the other extreme; the exercise of technical virtuosity which would consist of the highest level of craftsmanship.

At each extreme point of the spectrum either the lack of desire to embrace technology, or the wholesale embrace of technology, becomes an impediment to the most effective presentation of a subject --- or a visual idea.

In less extreme examples we can see how this bifurcation of intention in photography; the pure documentation versus the value of craft over context, drives the choice of tools individual artists embrace in order to bring their vision to fruition.

In thinking about those whose focus is to document an event, a person, a scene, etc. with respect for the content and the energy of the image I would put up as examples photographers such as Willian Klein and Robert Frank. In the opposite camp; those to whom craftsmanship and mastery seem to be more important than subject I would point to landscape photographer, John Sexton and supposed documentarian, Stephen Shore.

In their time both Klein and Frank selected cameras not for their ultimate image quality but for their fluid nature and their transparency in terms of getting an image on film interpreted only by their selection of the moment of capture and the selection of an almost reactive composition. In an age where the standard camera format of commerce was the 4x5 inch camera, and a medium format twin lens camera was considered to be a snapshot camera, these two artists (and others such as Henri-Cartier Bresson) chose to work with the (then) tiny 35mm cameras made by Leica, and then added insult to injury (in the eyes of their generation of photographers) by using fast, grainy, less sharp black and white films.

Their images all have an immediacy that allows us to more directly connect with the objects of their observation. Once the images were captured the images were printed in more or less direct methods. While the printers may have cropped slightly or burned and dodged a bit there was nothing like the wholesale manipulation of images that we routinely see in contemporary post processing where many times the captured image is a vague chimera that will be added to and massaged endlessly by today's oppressively addictive software.

In my past role as a specialist lecturer at the University of Texas at Austin I used to take my advanced photography classes to the Humanities Research Center to see actual prints from the HRC's vast collection. We would don on the white cotton gloves and sit around an expansive wooden table and personally handle and view the quintessential photographic work of the 20th century in its purest guise, as black and white prints (mostly in sizes from 8x10 to, at the largest, 11x14 inches).

I was always left cold by the pristine work of photographers such as Minor White or even Edward Weston while any number of works by Leica toting social documentarians could perk my interest (and appreciation for their clarity and speed of seeing).

In one session we were looking at a portfolio of prints of Henri-Cartier Bresson's work. One print was a larger version of a photograph of the Pope, in Vatican City, in a throng a people. A student pointed out that HCB had missed focus. The Pope was not in razor sharp focus. We all sat back and looked at the print for a while and decided that the moment captured (and the way it was caught) certainly outweighed the technical shortcoming of the camera's operation. To be in the right spot at the right time with a functioning camera was much more important than not having the photo at all. In retrospect I have been considering how that image would have worked in a smaller print. Something like a 6x9 inch image on an 8x10 inch sheet of paper. Would we have even noticed the slight softness of focus on the Pope or would the smaller size render the technical deficiency moot?

This always starts me thinking along the lines of "What if HCB had used a bigger camera with a higher potential image quality?" Having shot with a small Leica, a Rollei twin lens, and 4x5 inch cameras I feel confident in saying that he made the right choice of camera and film for his vision and his immediate circumstances.

When I look at the work of Robert Frank I understand that, with the ability to use the camera almost without conscious thought, and with the discreet profile of the small, handheld camera, Frank was able to capture moments of social documentation that were so unguarded that we feel the emotion of the people in the moment instead of just the study in sociology that most journalism-style photography presents.

While held in high regard by many I can't stomach the lifeless virtuosity of most large format nature photographers. They really tell us nothing about nature or our place within it; they only use their naturalistic subjects as foils for their own clinical vision. Their intention seems to be to find in nature scenes that they can use as a base canvas upon which to showcase their skills and technical mastery of otherworldly tonal control, contrast and arch preservation of detail. When their audiences see the work they respond to the way the artist's control glorifies the experience of viewing replicas of nature by providing an alternative representation of what is generally visually mundane in situ.

One imagines these large format artists marching through the chaos of the woods with a folding view camera, stout tripod and a backpack full of film holders, looking for a vignette that can be forcibly composed into a structure considered "harmonious" by the masses and then stolen from its colorful and chaotic place in nature into a black and white showcase of gloriously rendered detail and order, with all the contrast of a Japanese pen and ink image. There is no impression of timeliness or emotional reaction to their moment of discovery, no AHA!!! instead one feels the plodding nature of a researcher who leisurely sets up a camera and then, in a series of investigations works around the subject more or less begging it to yield some meager measure of intrinsic magic to give even the meanest spark of life to the artist's experiment in technical perfection. As sensual as kissing a porcelain mask.

Since these artists have the time, and additionally live and die by the highest expression of technical mastery, their tools of choice are the 4x5 and 8x10 inch cameras and a selection of films with the finest grain and the highest resolution. The classic representation of detail being more important than the subject itself. But the "seeing" doesn't stop with the rigorous capture of the scenic-ly mundane it continues in the dark room with another bout of arduous perfectionism until the photograph is as much a manipulated reference as a purely photographic print. The value, according to curators, is in the artist's interpretation in the final print of the original scene, not in the power of the original scene itself.

Another way to look at all of this (at least in the eyes of the great audience of every man) is that few people outside the small (and shrinking) world of educated artists and art historians see the value of abstract painting, action painting, and non-representational painting in general. The further paintings diverge from hard core realism the less appreciated they are by most audiences. The masses demand as much verisimilitude to reality in their paintings as can be wedged into them. In this way the virtuoso photo-realistic painters, as well as those painters who just happen to be very compulsive, are publicly adored (and quickly forgotten).

In the current field of photography we seem to have same kind of situation that existed in the 1950's and 1960's. The middle of the curve of photographers seems obsessed with the need for "perfect" digital cameras. They define "perfect" as the cameras that can most accurately reproduce the scene in front of the camera in terms of sharpness, resolution, contrast and overall color correctness. They are willing to spend many multiples more money over less well appointed cameras in order to get these camera attributes so that these photographers can dogmatically pursue the creation of a "perfect image".

While any camera today can make a beautiful, reasonably sized print, there is a mania to have the camera that will make the biggest print with the least noise and the widest dynamic range. The maniacal pursuit of technical perfection blinds many to the charms and virtues of alternate tools. While a Zeiss Otus 85mm lens might be the sharpest lens in the photo cosmos it's just one focal length. If an artist has an elastic (and more interesting)  and expansive personal vision of reality that requires being able to switch angles of view with speed and agility then the Otus becomes an encumbrance to his/her vision. It may be that a camera with an almost endless range of angles of view helps bring his/her vision into existence.

A frail or aging photographer with a lively and unique vision may not be able to physically carry all the bits and pieces of the "perfect system" out in the field. The weight of "perfected progress" might hinder him or her from even leaving their home to engage in their art. But what if their vision could give birth to great work with a smaller, easier to handle camera and a small selection of good lenses? Would their work be less valid? See the work of Jan Saudek https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jan_Saudek

When I look across so many arenas of photo sharing; from Instagram to Google+ and to some of the old standbys like Flickr I am generally much more drawn to images that display immediacy and authenticity than I am to cleverly contrived and technically flawless images that lack any sort of contextual soul. It's rare that an image from a Sony A7Rii or a Nikon D810 is revered in social media for its imaging qualities --- they are almost always "liked" and "favorited" for the angle of composition and insightful  moment at which the subject is captured, or the subject's gesture or expression, not in the way the camera's noiseless purity is displayed. More often, these days, the most interesting work is coming from the least complex of cameras --- iPhones.

There is a giant cult within contemporary photography that ignores the human magic of storytelling and instead concentrates on trying to show the essence of a boring thing because a certain type of subject is a more pliable canvas on which to demonstrate the camera operator's mastery and control of their special tool. Wouldn't it be so much more interesting if they had a story, beyond all their proficiency, to tell?

I would suggest to anyone who really wants to see better to practice actually seeing by putting the A7rii/D810/5Dsr in a drawer and rummaging around to find that old point and shoot from ten years ago. Something like a Canon G9 or some Coolpix or an early Sony RX100xxxxx. Put the camera in "P" mode and go looking for subject matter than interests you for more than just its ability to serve as a canvas for your craftiness. Look for the beautiful smile of sensual person. Look for interesting clouds. React to a sweet expression. Consider a quickly fading gesture. Watch the light play across someone's elegant face. Find a moment that speaks to your sympathy for our shared existence. Reject easy opportunities just to show off your chops.

Turn off the review mechanism of the camera and just point the camera at things as they interest you, bring the camera to your eye and click. You might just be amazed to find that if you stop contemplating perfection and start embracing serendipity, and the honest reactions of your emotional self, you may like the images that arise far more than the sterile work of proving your camera is a better artist than you.

Finally, I write about discovering scenes, gestures, etc. And of technologists also on a search for perfect foils for their art, but there is another way. I consistently look back at the work of "constructionists" like Duane Michals whose work is neither "discovered by happy accident" or the result of hours of arduous manipulation and obsessive control in the the darkroom --- after being captured by the "Best Camera in the World". Instead, he imagines and then directs photographic stories that resonate with so many audiences. His stories bubble up from his life. He constructs a visual narrative but without the artifice of perfectionism. It's a third way of seeing that we don't talk about enough. It's powerful and, reading the story of his career, you can see that the camera, or type of camera he uses, is unimportant. A minuscule part of his act of creation. Seems imagination is one of the most powerful tools of all.
http://www.dcmooregallery.com/artists/duane-michals





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When I see someone play the guitar or piano very well they make the process seem so fluid and easy. It's the same when I see an Olympic swimmer repeat graceful one hundred yard repeats under a minute each. As a culture we have a tendency to ascribe mastery to genetics, luck and natural talent and we ignore or discount the reality of the artist's or athlete's years and years of training and practice. But all one needs to do is to read about swimmer, Michael Phelps's training regimen in the decades leading up to his multiple gold medals to know that even those with in-born talent still have to put in the time and energy to excel.

I thought moving from still imaging to video production would be a cakewalk. After all, I've been working with a camera in front of my face for nearly 4 decades and I've studied the science and craft of how the sensors work with light, optics etc. Hell, I've written books about it, but if all that was required to be good at motion pictures was the rote memorization of hundreds of facts and mechanical steps then most professional photographers would be able to step seamlessly into video production, right?

But I'm finding that making moving pictures is a whole different game. In photography you can compose well and then lock your camera down on a tripod and press the shutter button at the decisive moment. If you've trained yourself to see well you'll most likely get a good still image (especially so if the subject looks great...) but the crazy thing about video, especially video with a handheld camera, is that so much really depends on an integration of physical practice combined with seeing well.

In the beginning of my video journey the cameras we used didn't have stabilizers and handheld gimbals were unheard of. I thought my workaround would be to put the camera on a fluid head tripod and that everything would proceed just like still photography. I thought that until I was called on to do my very first very steady pan. Who knew that just panning a tripod head could be so difficult? My moves were jagged-y and inconsistent and the stopping and starting of my pans was just downright embarrassing.

It seems that panning (and tilting) is an acquired skill. Smoothness comes from physical practice. The practice of panning over and over and over again until you figure out how to pace and how to become more continuous in your moves. I continue to practice and agonize over the quality of my pans and am coming to grips with the need to put in more hours just practicing the moves (which also depend on distance to the subject, focal lengths of lenses used, speed of subject travel and so much more). You can buy the best tripod and head in the universe but if you don't routinely practice your pans will never be as smooth as the "talented" camera operators.

The same goes for every facet of video camera operation that requires movement. Camera movement is so much more than hand skills. The best operators use their whole bodies in the process of smoothly moving their cameras. You can't see their best work because their best work has as its goal making the camera and its move invisible. But you can routinely see okay and mediocre and bad camera pans in many TV shows and movies because not every operator has hit the point where their work can become transparent to the viewers.

I imagined that having the new GH5 camera and a stabilized lens would give me a much more solid and smooth platform with which to shoot handheld, and it's true that the camera/lens combo gives me great stabilization but even with stabilization the camera has to move and once you go from stationary to pan or tilt, or even walking with the camera, the lack of practice becomes glaringly obvious.

If I'm to be successful at handholding a moving a video camera it's pretty darn obvious that I'm going to need a lot of practice. A lot of practice. I may even have to give up drinking coffee. Imagine living the life of a monk just to make smooth, handheld video camera moves. Breathtaking in its cruelty...

My sometimes partner in video crime and I just finished estimating and proposing eight video projects for an ad agency. The bulk of each video will consist of handheld b-roll lifestyle scenes. This means getting sharp focus on the fly, moving through groups of people, quickly moving to catch great expressions, etc. While my partner has years of continuing practice (he's a full time video shooter) I've spent way to much time depending on flash to freeze motion and tripods to anchor my non-moving, still photography cameras. As we get closer to the start of the projects I've taken to daily practice moving with my camera.

I headed out yesterday to walk through Zilker Park, past Barton Springs Pool and around the lake with my camera, lens and neutral density filter in hand. Every time I saw something interesting to shoot I practiced regulating exposure by rotating the variable neutral density filter and evaluating zebras in the finder of the camera. I had the camera switched to manual so I could also practice using focus peaking to hit sharp focus. But after getting the settings correct I spent most of my time working to pan with joggers and bikers, following aquatic birds as they skimmed the water and then took flight, and I spent time panning from one object to the next. The most difficult thing to practice it to walk smoothly with the camera and I did that as well.

I was feeling pretty good about my time in practice until I came back home, stuck the SD card into my computer and started looking, full screen, at the practice shots I'd made. They showed how the camera moved with my breathing and how any operation of camera buttons created motion havoc in the frames.
I cringed when I saw how lumpy my pans were; speeding up and slowing down to try and regulate my moves. I got a few takes that were decent and I tried to think back to what I'd done to achieve them.

At the end of the exercise, when I'd looked and looked at the shaky footage on my unrelentingly critical monitor, I dumped the footage in the trash and grabbed the camera up again --- stuck a new battery in it and got ready to practice again. Today, after paper work, dog walking and some swimming I'll be back at it practicing camera moves. It's a race against time. Will I master all the arcane methods of handholding and moving a camera or run out the clock instead? The real answer is that mastery is a classic case of ever diminishing returns but that doesn't mean I should not try for the next twenty to thirty years to become at least good at it.

What I learned this week: When starting a camera move place yourself in the position of least comfort to start and move progressively to the position of comfort by the end.

The real masters of motion picture camera operation have spent as much time with a camera in their hands as most virtuoso musicians have spent with their own instruments in hand. That's what makes both camps great.

Camera, except for its feel in your hand, inconsequential.


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This is a photo of the RX10iii, one of the best small sensor cameras I have ever used. 
Actually, one of the best cameras I have ever used....along with its
sibling, the RX10ii. 

I just read the announcement of the launch of the RX10IV on Digital Photography Review. It's the one time I hope DPR just goes insane with their product coverage as this is a product that makes sense and one for which I'll gladly line up to hemorrhage cash. 

There weren't many things I didn't like about the previous generation. The only one I can think of right off the bat would be focusing speed and sure-footed AF lock on to the longer end of the lens. Especially so in video. I haven't checked the specs (extensively) on the new camera but would also love to be able to "punch in" more than the current 5x times magnification in video in order to really nail focus when in manual mode.

The lens is the same 24-600mm equivalent Zeiss lens and the camera continues the full frame read, non-binning 4K video performance. The video is actually down res'd from a 5K capture! I found the handling and post processing performance of both 4K and 1080p video to be class-leading and the combination of all the features and performance metrics of the RX10iii to be superb. If this camera focuses better and locks focus quicker; especially in video, then I'm really to throw down money for my copy. (But I want to try it out at a bricks and mortar store before tossing around that kind of money...).

I saw other features reviewed such as silly fast frame rates for stills but I didn't pay attention to them. The older models shot just as fast as I needed them to... if you really need 24 fps then you need to be shooting video instead...

Why do I like the most recent RX10xx camera models so much? Hmmm. That's easy. The RX10-3 is an amazing still photography camera. The 20 megapixel sensor makes beautiful files when shot at 80, 100, or 200 ISO. Workmanlike files at 1600 and still decent/usable files at 3200. The image stabilization in that camera is rock solid for photography and 1080p video. Not quite in Olympus territory but as good or better than systems costing thousands more... The all encompassing lens is an "as good" or better than decent replacement for a bagful of most interchangeable DSLR lenses and has more useful reach than just about any lens available under $5000 for Nikon or Canon. Or Sony A7 series cameras. And it's foolish to discount the usefulness of a great, built-in lens; not having to change lenses means no dust bunnies, no sensor damage, no fumbling in the dark to effect the change, and much less to carry around.  You know, the difference between two weeks of shoulder battering drudgery or a real vacation.

If that was all there was to the RX10-3 it might seem expensive for a one inch sensor bridge still camera but the camera is capable of so much more. It's one of the best fully capable video cameras/systems you can get under $2,000. It's capable of beautifully detailed 4K files and, unlike other cameras in the Sony line up, I've run the camera for multiple segments of 29 minutes duration, with only seconds of delay between the segments, without any indication of overheating. You might think of bridge cameras as "amateur" but then what other "amateur" video camera comes with a full S-Log codec and a the ability to configure its video files in many more ways (knee, black level, gamma, etc.) than just about any other multi-use camera on the market? So, nearly full frame 4K at 30 fps, complete with S-Log, and the ability to write the 4K files to Pro Res files via a clean output HDMI connection to an external recorder like the Atomos Ninja Flame. Wow. And of course there are still microphone and headphone connectors, and very clean microphone preamplifiers.

I've used the RX10-2 and 3 to make video in downpours, in 100+ plus heat and in the dark of a theater and the camera has never faltered. In 2016 I used the RX10-2 and RX10-3 on enough projects that the jobs I used them on (sometimes exclusively) contributed about 25% of my fee income. So, why would I want to upgrade to the latest model; the RX10-4?

I'd do it for the phase detection AF capability that was added in the new model. Apparently it uses the same processor for AF as the new a9 camera. It focuses twice as fast as the current model and locks in (according to Sony) focus quicker and at lower EV levels. The PD AF has been well proven in the a6300 and a6500 models as well. No more dicey focus at the long end of the lens.

While I often give in to reckless hyperbole when I'm slamming around on the keyboard I believe that this new camera could provide a single tool that would be able to do most of the professional video and photography assignments most photographers will encounter in day-to-day business. Yes, $1800 is expensive if you consider comparing it directly with a larger sensor camera body. But you should really be comparing it with a whole system of lenses, a stand alone, 4K video camera and a super fast camera body. It's a camera that can replace thousands and thousands of additional dollars invested in arcane photo stuff.

I'm not saying anyone else needs to rush out and buy one immediately or their career will come to a grinding halt. This may be only really cogent to my uses. But I'm certain it will be a most useful tool.

The two biggest complaints I'm reading about the new camera model revolve around price and size/weight. It's almost as if there is a wholly uneducated but vociferous group of photographers who feel as though Sony can bend physics to their will. I've seen suggestions that the lens speed be increased to f2.0 while, in the next breath suggesting that the size of the camera be reduced by half. Many insist that, since this is not a "real" DSLR that the price should be around $599 or lower. I'm sure the same people would love a first class airline ticket to Paris for $25 --- and I'm equally sure they'd complain that their glass of Champagne had too many bubbles. That their seat should be the size of the couch at home. And that the plane did not go 2,000 mph. I'm sure these are the same people who believe their Pontiac Aztecs should be able to fly....

The camera is not as big or as heavy as any DSLR anywhere once equipped with an equivalent lens (if there was one....). The price is not just for a camera body with a small sensor but for an entire system that is capable of doing a combination of applications open to no other camera/lens system on the market. If you just broke the price in half and charged $900 for the body and $900 for the lens then perhaps it would be easier for the cognition-challenged to understand the overall value. And, since it only comes in a kit you save a dollar!!!

The RX10IV might not be perfect. It's too big to fit in the front pocket of your ever-tightening Jourdache jeans. The video specs aren't as good as those on the GH5. The dynamic range of the sensor isn't going to go toe-to-toe with the Nikon D850. But if you need to toss some plastic wrap over the top and video tape a raging flood in the middle of a driving rain storm and then walk away with near perfect 4K video, and then turn back around and make a technically great photograph of an electric transformer  blowing up on top of a utility pole one hundred yards away ---- then I think you may have found your camera.

You might not need one. You might not be able to afford one. But that doesn't mean the camera isn't pretty darn amazing. And very useful to people who need what it offers.

Go see reviews from people who bought the IV's predecessor:




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Fuji 56mm f/1.2 R

Lens review: Fuji XF 56mm f/1.2 R

For any photographer moving from zooms to using primes as well, with a strong interest in portraits, the 85mm lens is your best choice. If you’re a fan of Fuji, then the equivalent focal length would be the 56mm optic. And if you’re a fan of Fuji, then you will already know that their lenses are razor-sharp. To test the Fuji XF 56mm f/1.2 R (B&H / Amazon), I photographed one of my favorite models, Anastasiya, using the flood of light from the billboards in Times Square. While not a thorough lens review of the Fuji XF 56mm f/1.2 R, I did use this lens in a way that matches a way I often shoot – using higher ISO settings, and using the camera hand-held. If the results look great with these limitations, then I am sure the lens will perform even better when used with a more rigorous technique.

The camera I used is the little Fuji X-T20 (B&H / Amazon), a great travel camera when you don’t want to carry around a larger camera. The 56mm lens actually felt good on this small camera, and not front-heavy or out of proportion.

For this test, I only shot at f/1.2 with the idea that if you buy this lens, it is to be used mostly wide open like that.  So we will look briefly at the sharpness and the bokeh.

 

Here is the 100% crop from that frame. Keep in mind that this was shot hand-held, and that there could’ve been flare from all the lights. Even with those limitations, I love the amount of detail that is visible in her eyelashes. If it looks this good at f/1.2 then it will improve if you stop down just a little bit already.

 

 

The bokeh of the Fuji XF 56mm f/1.2 R lens

Using this lens at the widest aperture, the depth-of-field will be supremely shallow, giving your photographs a specific look. Now, keep in mind that smooth bokeh and shallow DoF are not quite the same thing – Bokeh vs shallow depth-of-field (DoF). Some lenses have a wiry or harsh look to the background, even when used wide open.  The Mitakon 50mm f/0.95 come to mind. It has a really busy bokeh.

Here are a few examples where you can see how smooth the bokeh is from the Fuji 56mm f/1.2 lens. In this photo below, the two people in the background become a pastel wash of colors! There are no hard or double edges to elements in the background.

So that you have an idea of where we shot – this is an iPhone photo of the scene in Times Square. It’s very busy with so many people and colors, but with a lens like this, it all melts away.

 

Another example of how you can get a pretty decent portrait with an interesting or complementary background, when you blur it all out. This was shot against the glass door of one of the buildings. The iPhone photo below will give you an exact idea of where we were.

In this way you can melt away the background with an 85mm portrait lens at wide aperture … or in this case, the Fuji 56mm f/1.2 lens.

 

Out of focus high-lights are pleasantly oval, without much of that crazy swirl you’d get with some of the vintage lenses.

 

A straight-forward portrait, where the wide aperture lets the background pleasantly blur.

 

This photo (and the one at the top) was shot against the overhang of the McD’s on 42nd Street – a familiar sight to any visitor to Times Square. The mild compression of the short telephoto lens was enough to capture just that part of the overhang as a striking background for a few portraits there.

 

Summary

if you are expanding your arsenal of Fuji lenses, the Fuji 56mm f/1.2 R (B&H / Amazon) should be high on your list of must-have lenses. Hopefully the few examples shown here are convincing enough of how easy it is to get striking portraits, especially with a wide aperture.

 

Related articles

 

The post Lens review: Fuji XF 56mm f/1.2 R appeared first on Tangents.


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Last lap. Ben's back at school, hitting the books and having fun. This is a photo of him from his grade school years hacking away at an old Mac laptop. He's having an after school snack of grapefruit and blue cheese. 

Time goes so fast. If you still have young ones at home don't ever put the camera away. Shoot even the most mundane stuff. You'll love it later. Believe me.


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I forgot to use the "ultimate" camera on my job....

I got up early, drank coffee and drove north yesterday morning. I left the house way too early for an appointment at 9 a.m. but you'll have to give me a little slack since the never-ending road construction on Loop One/Mopac can be a mercurial bitch. One day you breeze on to your destination and the next you sit motionless in the fast lane, staring at the tail lights and listening to someone droning away, cheerfully, on NPR. Yesterday was a miraculous day for me on Hwy. Loop One. From 7:45 a.m. on the traffic never slowed down between Westlake Hills and Round Rock. I made the trip in 25 minutes. Which left me about an hour to cool my heels at a local Starbucks before walking into the lobby of a long time client. Thank goodness I brought a book!

My assignment was to photograph the CEO of this local/national/global tech company, together with a giant prop. We needed him pictured alone, and surrounded by a group of about 25 happy, enthusiastic employees. The shoot took place in the lobby and while I shot stills the in-house video team (supplemented by a freelance sound person and a second camera operator)  captured video and then, after the CEO exited, went in for some interviews with a few of the employees. I needed to provide a bit of direction for the group photos but after getting the individual CEO shot and the group shots I  chilled out and just grabbed some candid shots of the event.

I brought the Panasonic cameras for the event. I was a little concerned (but not much) that the client would not be happy to see me shooting with a smaller sensor, lower resolution camera since everything I read on the web about professional photography would have one believe that clients routinely demand particular cameras or camera types; that those cameras reflect the current state of the art, and that clients understand the difference --- and I read way too much on the web.

I have worked with the head of this particular company's video department for well over 20 years. We run into each other at major events and shows and sometimes, just at the office. He asked me what I was shooting with and I told him. "Those are really cool!" he said. "But don't send us big files. This is all going to end up on social media."  So much for any trepidation I may have been fomenting...

We were on location early. The video guys were setting up two different cameras; one getting a wide shot and one with a shoulder-hefted rig with which he would roam around. The sound guy had his "belly bag" full of Sound Devices goodies and a nice shotgun microphone on a pole. After we figured out our angles and our working choreography I decided to add a light to the mix. I put that new Neewer 300 w/s flash on a stand and bounced it off a wall directly behind the camera position to create a nice, broad fill. The light I used is the one with lithium ion battery pack so no extension cords/power cables were needed. I didn't have to spend time taping down the cords. Progress! The flash also has its own dedicated trigger so that's nice too.

Once we got set we had time to kill and, as normally happens, we stood around and talked shop. Since the video department head has nice equipment budgets and works all over the world I assumed that they were producing everything at the very highest technical levels imaginable. I presumed 4K capture for all video and buckets of SSD drives with which to record everything in 12 bit 4:4:4:4. I asked about their equipment expecting to feel like a rank amateur with a toy camera.

In fact, neither of their video cameras were necessarily anything to write home about. One was an inexpensive Black Magic Cine camera and the other an older Sony ENG camera. No Arri Alexa, no Sony F55, no Red camera, etc. A wide cinema prime (Sigma) on one camera and an EOS zoom lens on the other. No external monitors, no gingerbread. And, not a light anywhere.

I asked if they were shooting in 4K and they looked at me funny. Turns out the only time they venture into 4K is when they are working with green screen and need high definition for masking. They shoot mostly in 1080p. Why? Because nearly everything they shoot is destined to go straight to the web via their own website or one of the social media sites. Everything seems to end up over at YouTube which mostly just crunches the hell out of everything via compression.

After the event I went home to post process the photo files and get them sent off quickly. Usually I shoot raw and then work on the files a bit. The client emphasized the need for speedy delivery so I shot raw+big Jpegs. I pulled the Jpegs into Lightroom and they looked really good. I selected about three dozen shots and uploaded them to Smugmug, making enhancements only to the files containing the CEO (I knew they'd get the most use....). I had the files uploaded within 20 minutes of hitting the front door of the studio. The clients gave me thumbs up on everything.

But this all seems antithetical to what we learn on the web. What I read always leads me to believe that everyone else out there is getting demands from their clients to use and deliver files from the biggest and most expensive state of the art cameras around. As though the clients are tapping their feet and thinking, "OMG! Are we still using those ancient Nikon D810s? When is my photographer going to get his hands on the D850?!!!. We might believe that clients are demanding that everything be sent to them as 16 bit Tiff files and that each file be retouched in Byzantine detail before they see them. But this rarely seems to be the case --- in the real world.

In the video markets we photographers/aspiring videographers seem to believe that the way forward is to offer the highest performance codecs we can afford to create. Take the biggest files we can hammer through a GH5 and send them to an external recorder so we can upgrade them to huge Pro Res files before delivering terabytes of programming to clients who may have only wanted a nice little piece to put up on Instagram. The community of new arrivals to video presume that every shot is done with V-Log (S-Log, C-Log) and that every frame will be color graded to the nth degree. (That's the way I've been thinking about it...).

There may be some parts to the overall equation of corporate production to which we are not always privy. The client's need for speed being one of them. Everything we shot yesterday will be edited and presented as a very small part of an "all hands" meeting presentation that will be broadcast to 100,000+ employees via the web. The video will be a minuscule part of the overall presentation. But it will need to be slim and right sized to work on monitors and connections all over the place. Not big and bloated and hypothetically perfect. Some employees will no doubt need to watch the presentation on phones...

At the end of the session yesterday the video operators pulled out their memory cards and quickly transferred the files to a thumb drive which they handed off to the client's video director. No big fuss.

Were all eyes on me? Hardly. Were the clients or the videographers carefully inspecting and passing judgement on my choice of gear? Not for a second. Did we all deliver right sized media for our client's needs? You bet.

The world of our work is changing quickly and the days of producing work for giant print graphics are fading away. If we keep focusing on the wrong targets we'll probably miss the right ones by a long distance. Much as we'd mostly like to concentrate on getting our work printed on double-truck spreads in magazines or seeing our video work on huge movie screens the reality is that the work we do for clients is very much headed in different directions. They're aiming at UHD monitors or projectors as being the high end use of video currently but, honestly, the vast majority of uses are still 1080p and smaller. The work we're mostly doing is much more transient than ever before so storage is less anxiety provoking. The "sell by" dates are quicker and few of the projects will be re-visited a year from now. And, across the board, the production time frames we're being handed are continually shrinking. (edit:) I had a phone conference with an ad agency creative director this afternoon about a series of videos for one of their clients. Their research showed that in their client's audience  80% of video views were on mobile phones. 80% !!!!!

If we look in the rear view mirror we can be made to feel that we MUST have the biggest and the best gear available for all engagements. In fact, the biggest and the best might be an impediment to delivery speed, flexibility and fluid action. If we look at where media and content are headed we can see that everything is changing and most of it is moving in a direction that's vastly different than the print orientation currently shared by many established photographers. Clients may be way ahead of us here.

The final thing I was thinking about as I sat in front of the monitor watching the progress of my images uploading was about how we business people allocate our assets and how it affects our bottom line. I have friends who firmly believe that they must have the world's best gear in order to compete. They routinely seek out the "best" cameras and the "ultimate" lenses to shoot with. This made sense when everyone's aim point was the lushly printed page and the state of "best" wasn't all that great (think about the first two or three generations of digital camera bodies...) but does it still make sense when the limitations of the targets (screens of various sizes) for most of our work will blind and obfuscate any differences in image quality between any of the modern cameras, across formats?

In a time when fees and budgets are under constant attack and are, in fact, lower when adjusted for inflation than any time in our careers, can we continue to justify the brutal expenses of "the best" when good, solid gear will get the job done just as well or better?

My client's video producer could probably requisition just about any cool video gear he feels he needs. He might be able to outfit his crews with $50,000 Arri Alexas. He might be able to pony up for sets of Leica cinema lenses (@$125,000 per set). But he doesn't. Why not? Perhaps he knows that good enough works great and that saving the corporation cash means more value added to his 401K. Maybe we freelancers would be smart to follow those instincts. After all, isn't it really our talent we're selling?


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