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:

David Sim and his wife listening to the audio portion of his interview for Ottobock Healthcare.
Photo: courtesy of ODL Design / Toronto, Canada

I love this image from our video shoot earlier this year. David Sim (above, left) lost a leg in a tragic accident and was speaking about his experiences using the latest microprocessor-controlled prosthesis from my client, Ottobock. I had the pleasure of working with one of our VSL "family" while in Canada and he was gracious enough to make some behind the scenes photographs of our work process. It's fun to see what I look like when I am trying hard to look smart and thoughtful. It's an expression that is fleeting for me, at best.

I spent half an hour this morning doing some retouching that was required because we're losing some aspects/guidelines of public personal presentation that used to be more rigorously followed in the past than now. At some point in the not too distant past nearly everyone who had made it to the level in their field where a business portrait was required took some care to make sure their shirts fit, their ties were clean and properly knotted and that their suit coats or sports jackets were appropriately sized and well pressed. When someone from the legal, medical or business professions walked into the studio they were, for the most part, well polished. Their clothes fit.

Over time the casual nature of Austin (and I'll assume most other locales) has caused a loosening of standards. Now suit coats are more or less bought off the rack and worn without having the sleeves properly shortened or lengthened. Many men have jackets or suit coats they acquired back when they were twenty or thirty pounds thinner and which have not be altered or replaced. Some of these issues are easy to deal with but the harder one, for me, is a situation in which the man in front of my camera has a shirt which frankly, does not fit. People have become  ever larger without compensating for things like an increased neck girth and how it affects the fit of their dress shirts. 

My nemesis is the shirt collar that is now far too small to allow its owner to button it properly (at all). The shirt collar gapes wide while the necktie is tasked, unsuccessfully, with camouflaging the gap. The problem is that the camera sees everything. I've recently had to work with images that required me to create multiple layers, grab a wide flung collar on one or both sides and transform the grabbed collar image so that it fits over the initial gapped image and is more or less accurate and presentable. It's time consuming and nitpicky work but it has to be done if the image of my portrait subject is used publicly. 

There is a simple solution. Men could pay attention to changes in their size and upgrade their wardrobe to match the here and now. I wear a size 15 and 1/2 collar. If that collar becomes to snug to button I know that I need to head to the store and buy a shirt with a 16 or 16.5 collar. Whatever it takes to be able to comfortably button the collar and provide a nice nesting place for a good tie. I can handle a person showing up with a bad tie; I have three or four dozen on hand from which to choose.

Once you know your shirt's required sleeve length and your neck size buying shirts becomes more of a science and less of an art. You can order a shirt on line or call your favorite men's shop and specify what you want. They'll ship to you. Just about anyone will. 

You may find that you've gained a lot of weight and it may be that finding a shirt with the right sleeve length and neck size doesn't give you enough shirt to get around the middle. You should be aware, especially if you need to wear a coat and tie frequently, that there are companies that will make custom shirts to your size requirements. If you are not an average size this is something you should really consider since a good fitting shirt can really make a difference in the image you project to the world. A well tailored shirt starts at about $125 and can go much higher depending on the fabrics you choose. The efficient part of the equation is that once you are properly measured and fitted, and the custom tailor knows your preferences, you can order more shirts in the future over the phone. 

A shirt with a properly fitted collar gives the impression that you are trimmer than having shirts with collars that defy comfortable (attainable) closure. Not to mention that your tie will also be much better presented. 

This sounds silly to people who work in casual industries but it makes a big difference to people in a wide range of professional occupations where one is required to speak publicly, meet with the public, and socialize with peers and clients in business situations. Whether this requirement is "right" or "wrong" a poorly assembled shirt/tie/suit can be the difference between closing a deal or walking a potential client. Given that many of the people we photograph are working with transactions worth millions and millions of dollars it seems a bit careless (negligent?) to disregard sartorial standards when doing it right can be so easy. 

Don't get me started on shoes. Or shoes and belts. Or where a pant cuff should break. It's a slippery slope. 

Get three perfect shirts. Two white and one light blue. Keep them laundered and wrinkle free.  You'll be ready for your close ups at any time.



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A journal of Lewis Carroll.

Every so often I'll write about how enjoyable it is to shoot with a camera that can show a 1:1 aspect ratio, with black borders, in the EVF. Before the blog ink is even dry someone always posts a comment telling me that all frames from any camera can easily be cropped into a square in post production; the ability in camera is, to them, meaningless. These individuals suggest I should, therefore, reject the wonderful advantages of being able to see the boundaries of the square at the time of composition and instead see the square within a more awkward flabby frame at the time of capture, and then be able to replicate same cropping, after the fact, while working with the image file in post production. This fascination with post capture cropping might have H.C.B. spinning in his grave.

Persons peddling this preposterous proposition are, of course, insane. Having black on all four sides of a square composing tool is heaven for anyone who values the perfect symmetry of the square frame. In fact, psychology professionals use this particular choice scenario to determine who might be a danger to themselves or society. In some countries having to use a camera with no changeable aspect ratios and no electronic viewfinder is punishment for petty crimes such as shoplifting or jaywalking. 

All the images here were shot with a fully functional camera. They were shot square because the photographer determined that he wanted to shoot square and he set the camera to show him a square frame in the electronic viewfinder. Shooting in Jpeg he was able to go from initial capture all the way to the final sharing on the web without ever seeing parts of a greater scene extending sloppily outside the confines of the 1:1 aspect ratio. It was great. Comfortable. Logical. Reasonable. Fun.

Going to museums with a square capable capture device seems normal and sensible to me. If you want to see the kind of havoc caused by a camera unable to realistically show only a square competition you need look no further than to the last image in this series; at the bottom of the page. 
Just image how much better that image would look if the 3:2 ratio of that camera's finder hadn't intruded in the process.....




The image below is from a Nikon D610. No 1:1 aspect ratio.

But the heart of the composition is still a square.

Dare to be Square.


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Back in 2015 I was using the Olympus EM-5.2 cameras and a bevy of lenses from Panasonic and Olympus as second system alongside my full frame Nikons. Needless to say I enjoyed the process of shooting with the Olympus cameras much more. It was the combination of a great EVF along with state-of-the-art image stabilization that made that format so much fun. 

I was sorting and deleting old files and folders in Lightroom when I unexpected came across these images. I'd almost forgotten that I'd taken them. We did it for a project that never found its footing but it's alway instructive for me to look back and see what we were doing two or three years ago. We build mythologies about cameras and lenses but it's alway nice to be able to go back and sort fact from fiction. Fact: Those two little lenses were very, very good and the files from the Olympus cameras were so easy to work with. 

Now I find myself doing the same thing with Sony and Panasonic (with an Olympus lens tossed in for good measure). I hope to look back in two or three years and be happily surprised at what we were able to accomplish. 









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 "Surban" is suburban living in the midst of an urban environment. I thought it sounded cool so I went with it. I'll try to think up some sort of artistic manifesto later; if I need to...

Camera: Sony A7Rii

Lens: Zeiss / Sony 24/70mm f4.0






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Trying to escape from the political news, the dreaded heat, the August doldrums. My Sonys were on the chopping block on Friday but a last minute pardon kept them from  becoming trade-in fodder. The Panasonic GH5 was in ascendancy and my computational faculties were in retrograde. At some point, over the course of the weekend I'm back to the sort of stasis I'd created a couple of weeks ago: Panasonic for the heavy lifting of deep, rich 4K video and the two Sony full framers for the art of the still shot. 

Many years ago a friend of mine bought a crappy used car from a car rental company. He thought he was getting a great deal but it turned out he was getting a car that could only get itself sold as part of a highly discounted fleet purchase. But, after procrastinating too long he was stuck with it. He bitched and moaned about his "Walmart" car. My advice to him, if he planned to keep the car, was this: Take it to a car wash and wash it thoroughly. Then, dry it off and wax it till it gleams. He did this and was able to bond to the car well enough to keep it around for the next two years. The car met its demise when my friend braked hard, from Texas Highway speed, to avoid hitting an armadillo crossing the road in the middle of the night... The car flipped twice, left the highway and came to a stand still, upside down, in the middle of a cactus-y field. My friend unbuckled his seat belt and walked away without a scratch. 

He was thrilled. Now he would be able to buy the car he really wanted. 

When I find myself ready to sell a camera and my friends point out to me all the reasons why I should not, I think of my advice to my friend. The analogy in the camera world is to join the unappreciated camera to a favorite lens and then go out and shoot with the combo until you like it again. 

That's what I did today with the Sony A7R2. It's a camera I've used sporadically for video and for photo assignments that benefit from big, big, big raw files. But for the past year and a half in which I've owned this camera I've found myself reaching for its less detailed sibling, the A7ii nearly every time I shoot a portrait and I've spent much more time shooting video with the RX10s, the a6300 and the fz2500. Even in the theater I've come to appreciate the features of smaller cameras with bigger lenses more. 

Part of my reticence always revolved around the awkward price-to-usability ratio that existed when I dropped $3200 on it, new. I didn't want to "use it up" on smaller projects or in circumstances where any other camera would do just as well. I kept "saving" it for those sporadic projects that needed all the gusto a digital camera could muster. It's just that the projects were sparser and more widely paced than I anticipated at the time of purchase.

In retrospect, I should have been using it for everything; every project in which it was even remotely called for. The sensor is great, the format is great and, when used in concert with three hand picked lenses, the performance is stunning. The heck with trying to prove to the world the efficacy of using smaller, less specified cameras all the time...

So, that was my mindset today as I headed out the door. 

I've changed my routine to compensate for the wicked hot Summer we're having. While we won't break any records (hope springs eternals) for actual temperature readings the combination of high temperatures (over 100 each day) and the high humidity this season makes for a deadly combination; if you aren't careful.

I used to just grab camera and lens, my good hat and my car keys and head out the door. I carry a credit card with me for coffee or some unforeseen purchase but that's it. Today was different. I grabbed a small, brown leather backpack I'd picked up in the Geneva, Switzerland airport back in 1995 and I put some newly considered essentials in. The main reason for the backpack addition (it's small, really...) was to make carrying my 16 ounce, double-walled, stainless steel water bottle easy and convenient. I loaded the water bottle up with ice, water and a hydration tablet (Nuuns; lemon lime) so I could hydrate if I felt the need. I tossed in a notebook and a pen in case I had a fleeting inspirational idea (none to report) and I tossed in the house keys, a couple of extra camera batteries, a cloth handkerchief, some sunscreen and a couple hundred dollars in small denominations. 

I joined the Sony A7Rii to the Zeiss 24-70mm f4.0 and headed downtown. I think it takes some training to discipline your mind to pay attention to camera work when it's uncomfortable outside. Direct sun and high temperatures drains one's energy quickly and it takes some work to stay on task and to ignore the discomfort. I guess the trick is to be able to gauge dangerous discomfort from just basic wimpiness. 

It's one thing to be hot and tired but a whole other thing to be disoriented, slightly nauseous, light-headed, dizzy or worse. You want to make sure you plan to stay out of the bracket in which these symptoms exist. Nothing on a casual walk is worth heat exhaustion or sunstroke. 

I parked the car in the old Whole Foods parking garage where I know I can leave the car for three hours without having to pay or worry about being towed. I love having the car inside a parking garage because when I return after a long, hot walk I know the car will be hospitable.  I pulled the leather straps on the backpack over my shoulders and headed down Lamar Blvd. to see what was happening at the graffiti wall.

I pulled out all the stops with my camera and lens. I set the camera to shoot uncompressed (enormous) raw files and set the lens to somewhere between f5.6 and f8.0 where I knew it was superbly sharp and vignette free. I worked on my stance and my camera hold. I worked on my slow release of breath when actuating the shutter and I worked without too much regard for the heat and glare to find compositions I liked. I kept the zebras engaged even though I was shooting in aperture priority just so I could see where the highlights started screaming. I notice when shooting in big raw that the EVF will show me a review image quickly and then, if I continue to watch it, the review image gets a bit sharper and more saturated a second or two later. It's as though the camera is taking time to process the file and write the embedded Jpeg that it will present. 

As I write this I'm sitting in my office and the air conditioning is cranking. I'm slowly draining a big glass of iced tea while I'm playing with the eighteen files I edited down to from today's walk. You don't have the benefit of seeing them the way I am right now so I'll write a bit of observational description so you can see beyond the compressed files I'm presenting here and understand the value of the A7Rii. 

When I look at a file on my monitor I am already happy enough with what I see but then I click into 100% and realize just how much detail is resident in the files. In the photograph above I can zoom in to 100% and see every hair on the young woman's head clearly defined. I can see the woven texture of her companion's t-shirt. In frames were I've under exposed to preserve all highlights (no blinking zebras anywhere) I can pull up the shadow areas as much as I want without any appearance of noise or color shift. Even in frames with the zebras blinking at 105% I can pull the exposure slider down and recover all the detail in the highlight areas. 

After nearly two hours of shooting the Wall, the Capitol, Congress Ave. etc. I finally got really comfortable with the camera and realized that I wasn't going to break it or use it up all at once. I could concentrate on little tactile features I found I liked. I found my fingers feeling the gentle curve of the body on the left side of the body. I got comfortable using the front dial to move the exposure compensation up or down. It became a transparent operation. 

Left to its own devices the camera will usually underexposure contrasty scenes by a third to two thirds of a stop so most of my compensation was to the plus side. That might bug me on another camera but with the wide latitude of this camera's files, especially at the lowest end of the ISO range, I saw it as part of a comprehensive tool set that works together to maximize the strong points of the system. Being able to accurately reproduce the brightest highlights along with capacity for almost unlimited shadow recovery. It's a pretty amazing thing. It reminded me of the freedom I used to have when I was shooting events with ISO 400 color negative films like Kodak's Pro line of color negative films make for press work. The lab could do miraculous things with those frames....

I finished off the water in the bottle in four separate stops. Near the end of the walk I went into the Royal Blue Grocery at the Austin 360 tower for coffee and one of their scrumptious walnut and chocolate chip cookies. Why coffee on a 100+ degree day? Because (par for central Texas) when the temperatures rise outside Texans seem to love dropping the temperatures inside. It must have been 60 degrees in the Royal Blue Grocery today. With the rapidly evaporating sweat from my clothes it's kind of a miracle I didn't get hypothermia. When I got back to the car it was perfect inside.

I'd accomplished what I set out to do. I took the final mystique and hesitancy out of the A7Rii and figured out its place in my hierarchy of cameras. It's fabulous and perfect for narrow depth of field, for times when I need technical perfection (not as frequently as you might think) and when I want to shoot in the same fashion and with the same disregard for operational awareness that I could get away with when shooting the old film cameras loaded with color negative films. 

I love the lens. Anyone who has every written a review dissing this lens (Sony / Zeiss 24-70mm f4.0) is just plain wrong. It's superb. Perfect. Balanced. Neutral. And there's nothing wrong with the corners if you are coupling it with a 42 megapixel sensor. 

Nice to bond with a lens over some fun photos and a disciplined approach to working in the heat of the day. I'm happy it's still here. 







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Self portrait.

I think everyone has a few screws loose, if you look hard enough, or long enough. I know what one of my main hiccups is; I love change. Even if it doesn't make sense I still love change. Every once in a while I catch myself. About a week and a half ago I bought a Panasonic GH5 and the Olympus 12-100mm f4.0 Pro lens. I immediately used the combo for a paying gig and loved it. The camera feels pretty perfect in my hands and those crafty engineers seem to have put all the buttons exactly where they thought I'd go looking for them. But the real shot of espresso shot in my experience with the camera and lens combo was just how nearly perfect the lens turned out to be. This of course whetted my appetite for more Olympus Pro lenses. Many more Olympus lenses. 

I wasn't nearly busy enough last week to stave off boredom of the most pernicious kind. Sure, I had another Philip Kerr novel languishing next to my reading chair, and I had a few lunches with clients lined up but it's August in Austin and that means everyone is doing everything in their power to avoid dealing with the relentless heat. Everything slows down. Business slows down. Socializing slows down. Naps get longer....

Like many of you I gravitate toward a path of least resistance. For me, last week, it meant cruising all over the web looking for anecdotal evidence to support my contention that owning as many of the Pro series Olympus lenses as I could gather up would irrevocably result in me becoming the world's greatest photographer and videographer. Then yesterday I went to the Blanton Museum and saw an amazing three screen, video/multi-media exhibit called, "GIANT" by Teresa Hubbard and Alexander Birchler. The video presentation and the accompanying audio was amazing (if you're in Austin you MUST go). I walked out of the museum after seeing the presentation three times, newly convinced that I would spend the rest of my life trying to do video art like the work I'd just seen. 

By the time I got home I (and boredom) had convinced myself that the way forward, at least for now, would be to buy a second GH5 (the two camera angle set-up) along with the 7-14mm 2.8 Pro lens, the 25mm f1.2 Pro lens and maybe also the 42.5 Nocticron --- just for good measure. An easy way to finesse the whole deal in less than 24 hours would be to take my Sony gear to my local camera store and trade it in on the whole ball of Panasonic/Olympus wax. 

After swim practice this morning I came home and packed every vestige of Sony product up in a big hold all and headed to the camera store. I had previously arranged to meet my friend and video mentor, Frank, for coffee on the way to my own private Shop-A-maggedon. So I joined him and filled him in on my new plan for personal photo and video domination. He asked a few pointed questions and then smiled and laughed and said something along the lines that this would be the 8th big system switch I'd undertaken since he's known me and it hasn't changed my style much at all, anywhere along the line....

In my gear-addled state I took that all to mean that he massively approved of my basic camera logic and wished me godspeed to the camera shop. But a funny thing happened as I drove away and the coffee kicked in; I started thinking with some basic logic for the first time this week, about the whole idea of yet another massive equipment turnover.

If I thought about it rationally my reason for buying the GH5 and the 12-100mm was to make better video. When I drilled down into the lode of logic so recently surfaced I realized that the 12-100mm was enticing specifically because it held the promise of being an "everything" lens (and a damn good one). From the widest focal length I am normally comfortable using to the longest. All in one package. With great performance at every stop and every focal length. All the other "Pro" lenses I was considering were desires motivated by that hoary hold over from the film days: covering all the focal lengths. They weren't lenses that would necessarily get much use...

When I looked into the bag full of Sony stuff I started matching up memories of past successful jobs and stellar shots done with the individual cameras and lenses and I realized I'd be decreasing my shooting and creative options, not increasing usefulness. 

The two lenses that punched me in the face and stopped me in my tracks were the Sony 70-200mm f4.0 (which ends up being my default headshot lens) and my very recently added 85mm f1.8 FE lens which has quickly endeared itself to me as one of the fabulous portrait lenses whose eloquent performance I've had the pleasure of knowing. I had less regard for the 28mm f2.0 FE but mostly because I'm indifferent to the actual focal length. I'm stone cold neutral about the 24-70mm f4.0 Zeiss lens but mostly because I see it a very utilitarian tool. Not a glamorous formulation. A workhorse but not a diva.

I was halfway to the store by the time I realized that my impulsiveness had nearly cost me one really good and useful system while trying to hypnotize me into believing (once again) that new gear would yield entirely new outcomes for my engagement with my craft. I took a deep breath and realized that I liked my Sony stuff. A lot. And I've had two years in which to get used to it. That's almost a record for me in the realm of digital camera systems and I thought to extend the record instead of crashing and burning. 

So, Frank, if you are out there reading this: I got halfway there and turned around. I might add a few bits and pieces to the Panasonic stuff I've recently acquired but you were right when you (pointedly) asked if I might not miss having the full frame stuff. I know my rationale was glib but, HEY! I used to be an advertising copywriter. If I can't figure out a sellable rationale for buying something then I will have totally lost my advertising touch.

So, this afternoon I pulled out the Sony A7Rii, pried the battery grip off the bottom and stuck in a freshly charged battery. I put the 28mm f2.0 on the front and tasked myself with the responsibility of getting to at least know that much maligned and ignored focal length. It was hot and humid in Austin this afternoon but the camera and lens were balanced, trim and almost dainty. Much less of a burden than the GH5 and the 12/100mm lens. 

I didn't shoot much but I did come to understand (yet again) that it's okay not to do everything in an "all or nothing" manner. 

Now I have the luxury of two groovy systems. What a nice problem.


Not a literal self portrait.


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Neewer Vision Four with Radio Trigger. $279.

In the distant past I owned two different flash systems that were designed from the ground up to be used on location and powered by batteries. Both were pack and head systems and both were cumbersome but very useful. I owned the Profoto B600 power pack and head as well as the Elinchrom Rangers RX AS power pack and two heads. Both were older tech. They used sealed lead acid batteries for power and as you can imagine they were both heavy. The Profoto was 600 watt seconds and a nice little system but the batteries only provided between 80 and 120 full power flashes, depending on the ambient temperatures. I had to carry a bunch of heavy and expensive batteries with me to get through a day of shooting. Recharging the batteries took five hours and each replacement battery was about $250 plus shipping. The current Profoto system, with newer battery tech, is well over $2,000.

The second light was my super heavy duty system from Elinchrom. The Ranger RX AS pack and head could belt out 1100 watt seconds at full power and a single (very heavy) battery could pump out about 250 full power flashes before it needed recharged or swapped out for the second ten pound ballast I hauled around as a back up. The pack with battery weighed in at 18+ pounds and, yes, I've carried the system over rough terrain for miles, at times. Not a pleasant way to roll. 

As styles changed and the jobs that required massive amounts of battery fueled flash power declined I sold both of the units and was happy to
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A much younger Ben.

I've come to see the last weeks of August as bittersweet. We love having Ben at home for Summer vacation but when the calendar starts to slip into the second half of August I know that I'll only have a couple more weeks to enjoy his company before he heads back to school. This is his senior year. His academic achievement has been just what we expected it would be. I have a row of Dean's List Honors certificates which he has earned each semester hanging across the wall behind my desk. His excellent performance led him to the stint at S. Korea's prestigious Yonsei University last semester. 

I thought we'd struggle to make all these experiences work out financially but every step has been manageable and his commitment and discipline makes the investment rewarding.

In the first week of September he'll pack his rolling duffle bags and head back up to Saratoga Springs, NY. He's looking forward to cooler weather, rolling hills, and the camaraderie of a bright and engaging group of fellow students.

Someone asked him a week or two ago, when he was assisting me on a video project, if he was planning to follow in my footsteps as far as business was concerned. He smiled and shook his head. I think he realizes that the markets have changed, flattened, whatever and he's interested in so many other things. Too bad; he's a great director.

Ah well. I'll miss the runs around the lake with him in the Summer heat. His mom and I will miss his dry wit at the dinner table. But the family member I feel the most sympathy for is Studio Dog; she will miss him with the kind of intensity only a loyal and totally imprinted dog can feel.

I see more time with Studio Dog in the near future. I'd better stock up the treat jar...


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Good enough for any scenario? Hmmmmm.

I'm in the honeymoon period with my Panasonic GH5. The camera is shiny and new and all the little stuff like the EVF and the dials seem so just right. After shooting the first thousand photos with the camera I started to entertain the idea of taking my vast collection of Sony cameras out to the camera store and trading them in on a total immersion into the micro four thirds system. I'd get a second GH5 body for those seamless two camera shots. Toss in a bunch of cool, new lenses like the 8-18mm Pro lens and the 42.5mm Nocticron. Add the 25mm f1.2 from Olympus and maybe even spring for the 100-400mm Panasonic. I keep talking about the transition to video. In my fevered mind it was starting to make so much sense. 

Then I went to a meeting with one of my long term, medical practice clients and we started talking about Fall projects. Video came up but one of the partners in the group is hesitant to use video. What they do love using is photography. Lots and lots of photography. And when they use it they seem to embrace the idea that bigger is always better. 

One of the images that we'll be re-doing this Fall is a group shot of the doctors on the plaza of the Long Center with the downtown skyline in the background. The last time we shot this particular shot we had fourteen doctors in the the line up and shot them with lots of space around them and an ample amount to dramatic skyline in the background. They made lots of fun, large 30x40 inch prints. They made a large banner with the shot. Essentially, anything they could think of that would challenge the limits of resolution and detail was fair game. 

I went back and researched to see what camera I was using at the time. It was a Nikon D810. So that sets the bar for future shoots. What it really means to me is that the Sony cameras; and the A7Rii in particular, aren't going anywhere. There's always a need in the tool box for sheer, overwhelming detail for some shots and that line of thought extinguished my brief flirtation with crazy system change at this time. 

Thank goodness we have clients around to keep us sane.


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2007 Master's Nationals. Austin, Texas.

On the first of October the pool I've been swimming Master's workouts in for the last twenty years will be closing for much needed repair and renovation. The expectation is that the pool will be out of commission until the end of January (at the earliest). This means that everyone on our swim team will need to figure out a new, temporary home at which to swim. Not working out at least five days a week is not an option for the majority of us. 

As the closure date approaches I'm busy researching options. The obvious one is my alma mater, The University of Texas at Austin, Jamail Swim Center. My friend, Whitney Hedgepeth (Olympian: Backstroke: Two silver medals; one gold) coaches an extremely competitive Masters workout in the big pool there. It's a tough program with tons of no nonsense yardage and tight intervals. There are two drawbacks to swimming at the Longhorn's pool; the first is that it's indoors and I'm used to swimming under blue sky. The second problem is that workouts start at 6 a.m. An additional annoyance would be trying to find parking on a busy campus with nearly 50,000 students plus faculty and staff...

My next choice is the Austin Swim Club run by Brendan Hanson (Six time Olympic medalist who set world records in the 100 and 200 breaststroke). The pool is outdoors and 50 meters, long course. It's about equidistant from my house/studio and there's no indication that parking is ever problematic. Brendan has a reputation as being a demanding coach with tough workouts. Some of the swimmers from our program are negotiating to get a new workout time from this club at 7:30 am. That means my trip there would be against the commuter traffic and by 9 am,  the end of workout, the worst of the rush hour  traffic heading back would be over. 

The final choice would be to swim each day at the spring fed, 1/8th mile long natural pool, Barton Springs Pool. There would be no Masters program to swim with, no pace clock and no lane lines. I would  have to be very disciplined to hit the 68 degree water before first light each morning and push myself to get a really substantial workout done. Barton Springs pool is closed on Thursdays and, when the weather is bad. You have to get there before 7 am if you want a clear path to swim down because the pool starts to get moderately crowded as the light comes up. Not as big an issue in the dead of winter when the temperatures drop....

I'm leaning toward option two. We'll see as we get closer. Might not seem like a big deal to most readers but it's a huge shift for me. I've spent six or seven hours a week, over the last twenty years, swimming up and down the same two lanes, looking at the same black line at the bottom of the pool. I think I could blindfold myself and still hit my turns from muscle memory. Like most people I fear change. 

Not a good time to also think about changing camera systems..... too much change would be overwhelming.


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OOC Jpeg with camera set to Vivid and ISO 80

I needed a walk yesterday. I'd heard the news about Charlottesville and I was disturbed that Nazism and racism reared its ugly, nasty head once again; and in such an obvious and hate filled way. I know some readers think we should only talk about photography here but hatred spreads when normal, middle class people like me choose to "duck and cover" for comfort instead of at least making the public statement that racism and Nazism is unacceptable and has no place in our society. Even less so when used as a tool by political opportunists on the far right. If you disagree then feel free to click away and never come back... 

At any rate, I decided to get away from my computer and my phone and just walk with a camera. I recently saw a YouTube video by Tony Northrup making the case that extended low ISOs were not the bad compromise that many technical photography writers have suggested over the years. He backed up his words with tests and examples and it made me curious to see what files from the Panasonic FZ2500, which has extended ISO range to 80, might look like. Would we see a flattening of the contrast or a diminution of dynamic range? Or something else? 

On nearly every other aspect of the camera I have made my peace, figured out the best ways in which to use the camera and have come to really, really like both the raw and Jpeg files I get from it. I've also discovered that the wide ranging lens is close to equalling the lens on the Sony RX10iii when proper focus is achieved. My little foray into lower ISOs would not change my overall opinion of the camera but a great performance at lower ISOs would be yet another tool in its growing tool kit. 

In looking at the finished files later in the evening, yesterday, I noticed that the skies and flat color areas were mostly noise free. No fine pattern graininess or noise. The obvious use for lower ISOs would be in video where one is working with 24 fps set ups with the shutter speed set to 1/50th. If wider apertures are called for the recourse is either to use the lowest ISO possible or depend on neutral density filters. Too bad the extended ISOs are not available in video so the lowest ISO there is 125. 

After carefully inspecting the files I would say that the lower ISO use case for best image quality would be to use the camera on a tripod, use f5.6 for optimum sharpness (pretty much anywhere in the focal length range) and then find the shutter speed that works best in combination with ISO 80. It was a bit of a revelation for me to see just how sharp the files could be. A final suggestion for ultimate sharpness at lowest ISO would be to turn down the noise reduction within your picture profile. A minus two step or three step setting in noise reduction is just about right for increasing very fine detail without introducing any noise that would be visible in normal use or at normal viewing distances. If your life is spent pixel peeping at 200% then all bets are off. 






The second part of my investigation with the FZ 2500 was to ascertain just how sharp that sometimes maligned lens is; especially when used in a normal, handheld fashion (apologies to people who live in the UK and profess to never seeing sunlight --- this is the bright stuff I live with....). The images below are mostly shot at ISO 125 and ISO 200 because I wanted shutter speeds that would allow good, handheld exposures with sharpness.  The image from Bill's Blacksmith shop is near the longest end of the lens. But the coffee sign painted on the side of the parking garage below ranges from the widest end to the longest end. 

While it may not be apparent in the web compressed images here the sharpness at all focal lengths (mostly shot at f5.6) is very, very good. On par with many of the lens and camera combinations with bigger sensor sizes that I've used in the past. 









Got brick walls if you want them..


As I've noted before, the FZ2500 is a very good still photography camera for many uses. Its one weak spot is high ISO performance. That's a trade off between its sensor size, cost and flexibility. When you add in the amazingly good video performance of the camera it's one on the best bargains on the market today.

Finally, I don't care which political party you affiliate yourself with, hateful racism and any embrace of Nazi ideas is always wrong and we should all stand up against any incursion of this into our society.


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On-location headshots

With these on-location headshots of actor and TV presenter, Andy Peeke, there is a lot going on despite the apparent simplicity. The photos were done in a very short space of time – we rained out! So I had to work fast and still nail the images as intended. Also,
– I wanted that out-of-focus city scene behind Andy, and I wanted it to appear bright.
– The lighting, off-camera flash added to the ambient light, shouldn’t intrude and make itself obvious. I wanted the light on him perfectly balanced with the way I intended the background to appear.
– Unusual for me, I shot with a Sony mirrorless camera – the Sony A7ii  (B&H / Amazon). The lens that I used here was the Zeiss Batis 85mm f/1.8  (B&H / Amazon).
– I used manual focus, even though the Zeiss Batis lens offers auto-focus. The Sony mirrorless cameras are ideally suited for this – fast and accurate manual focus. This allowed me the confidence to work at f/1.8 with precision.

Mainly, we had to work fast. In the photo below, you can see rain drops on his shirt. We rained out, but I grabbed a few last images before we dashed for cover.

The photos are part of an upcoming video that I shot with my friend, Tracy Bosworth Page, who is a busy headshot photographer based in Georgia. In the video we loosely compare our styles in headshot photography. We took turns photographing three different people in three different locations. For Andy’s session, Tracy used available light and a reflector. On the other hand, I defaulted to my usual way of working – balancing off-camera flash with the ambient light.

Camera settings & Photo gear (or equivalents) used during this shoot

For these photos I used a loaner copy of the stellar Zeiss Batis 85mm f/1.8  (B&H / Amazon). It’s razor-sharp, as you’d expect from any Zeiss optic. The Batis range of lenses by Zeiss are specifically designed to offer auto-focus with the Sony E-mount cameras. However, I used it in manual focus mode on my Sony A7ii camera (B&H / Amazon). The Sony and Zeiss combo generally nails the focus perfectly … but I didn’t want to risk it grabbing an eyebrow, for example. With such shallow depth-of-field you have to be careful if you want precise focusing every time.

There is a specific thought-process, or algorithm if you want to think of it that way, in approaching on-location portraits like these – Checklist for portrait photography on location (with Anastasiya).

 

Here are the first two test shots:

Using the Profoto B1 in TTL mode to establish exposure

I started with the background – I knew that I wanted that defocused city scene behind him. I also knew that I wanted it bright and ‘airy’. In other words, about a stop up on my camera’s exposure meter reading. Then a test shots to see how Andy would look at that exposure. As anticipated, he was under-exposed. With that, I switched on the off-camera lighting I had set up.

The Profoto B1 flash  with the Profoto OCF (24″) Octa Softbox. It is a relatively small softbox, but I had it close to me on my right to me, and fairly close to the camera axis.

This time I didn’t want dramatic light from my off-camera flash. I wanted as soft and even as I could, with such a small light source.

I purposely had the Profoto B1 set to TTL flash, so that I could get an establishing first exposure. Surprisingly, it was over-exposed. The Profoto B1 usually nails the TTL flash pretty close to correct for my tastes. But working this close, it was about 2 stops over, guessing by the preview image shown on the LCD – the right-hand image.

One of the things that I love about the Profoto B1, is that if you like the TTL exposure, you switch the Profoto remote to manual, and the exposure is locked. In this instance, I locked the exposure, and quickly tapped the exposure adjustment button to give me two stops less light … in manual. And the exposure was perfect, as you can see in the two main images.

That took care of the lighting.

About the posing – I only had to minimally adjust Andy’s pose since he is an experienced actor and TV presenter, with oodles of personality. (Here is his Instagram account.) So he needed little guiding or coaxing other than telling him where to stand, and how to turn towards the camera. Other than that, Andy knows how to switch it on!  I didn’t want him with his shoulders square to the camera. It works better with his shoulders at an angle to the camera.

 

Summary

Here I wanted to run through some of the thought-process with this specific sequence of photos. Of course, working in a different location with different requirements, and a different subject, the technique might well be different. There are countless ways of getting great portraits or headshots of someone. This is but one such occasion.

 

Related articles

 

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Paradise. 

Some days it's just hard for me to make up my mind. Do I want to hop in one of the lanes on the right hand side of the center of the pool and struggle to keep up with the faster swimmers or do I want to jump into a crowded lane with swimmers who are more or less in line with my speed and endurance? I was one of the first people on deck this morning and jumped into lane four; right in the middle. Lane three filled up with the people I usually swim with but my lane today, the pivotal lane between fast and not so fast, stayed lonely until after warmup.

Then I noticed a bunch of faster swimmers arriving late. Couldn't justify using up a whole lane for myself and I know I can be hard to categorize. Too fast for some lanes and not fast enough for others. I had effectively pushed all the slower swimmers into the first three lanes and had effectively pushed all the faster swimmers into the far three lanes. I decided to abdicate the middle lane and alleviate the crowding in lanes 5 & 6.

But the conundrum was "where to go?" My usual lane, #3, was filled with four swimmers. The swimmers in lane 2 were too slow for my usual pace and I didn't want to disrupt them. I looked at lane 1, which is usually the slowest lane and there seemed to be no one there. I grabbed my gear and headed over. I could pace with my buddies in lane three but, apparently, have an entire lane to myself again.

At least that's the way it looked until Tommy Hannan jumped in. He'd been swimming in lane 1 since warmup but had gotten out to answer nature's call. (Thanks for not peeing in my lane....). He offered to swim on whatever interval might work for me. There's something intimidating about circle swimming with an Olympic gold medalist. He moved through the water like a shark. A fast shark. I was happy to know that he'd tolerate and compensate for me in his lane but, after fifteen anxious minutes of swimming hard, I decided to move again.

In the end I wound up swimming in a total of four lanes today and could never find just the right mix. I stayed for a bit of the second workout just to get enough yards in. Strange to swim on those days when you just can't figure out where you fit in. And tomorrow will be totally different. I blame too much thinking about lenses and not enough thinking about swimming. That's easy to fix --- I'll just shred my checkbook.


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A client I'd done work for ten years ago called me a few weeks back and asked if I could do a photo shoot to replace the images on their website that had been there for over a decade (now that's how to get your money's worth out of a photographer!). When we did the original website it was cool just to have a well designed site and basically the photography was little more than a documentation to prove that the staff existed and that the firm actually had physical offices. Nothing fancy to the photography.

Now so much water has flowed beneath the bridges that photography for a website is a different conversation. The firm still has a central office but it's more of a way station. Most of the executives are working from home or from small, single person, satellite offices that are close to their homes. The client's thoughts about websites have changed as well. Rather than have individual headshots against anonymous backgrounds they wanted to do something much more casual and almost conversational with their people photography. Their business is still a "people" business and they want their people to be visible but they want to be seen as approachable, likable and congenial. Also important was to show their cohesiveness as a team.

I like their out of the box thinking. They asked me (as the assignment) to join their six person executive leadership team for lunch at a new restaurant and to shoot  candid images of them at lunch as they talked and laughed and shared a meal together. The client checked with the restaurant and made sure it was okay with them to have me shooting, almost randomly, in their main dining room during a busy lunch. This being Austin, Texas, home of the very idea of laid back, it was no problem.

The restaurant is near downtown and is in a re-purposed power plant facility. It's very cool. There were a couple stories of glass windows and all the furnishings were spare and modern. We wouldn't be lighting anything but I had full license to be as intrusive and
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Austin likes to call itself the "Live Music Capitol." We get a lot of musicians, bands, performers through the city on a extremely regular basis and there's well over 100 venues for live music every night of the week. So, if you've been a photographer in Austin long enough you've probably done some concert shots or performance shots. I know I have done my share.... Here's a small selection from my collection....
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Working on my New York bucket list

Today I had my photograph taken by the New York photography icon, Louis Mendes. This has been on my New York bucket list for a long while now.

I had to go in to B&H to return some gear, and when I saw Louis Mendes again on the corner of the street, I decided this is it – today! So I asked him to take a photo of me, and then had a friend take several photos with me with him.

If you’ve visited B&H, or the Photo Plus Expo, you’ve seen this guy. He has this monster hybrid vintage setup that he uses to shoot polaroids of anyone who wants one. Of course, it’ll cost you some $$ for the polaroid photo because living in New York is expensive.

What I’ve always found interesting is that he doesn’t hustle. He patiently waits for people to approach him. And if you do, you’ll find that he is engaging and has a lot of stories. Louis is a character! If you see him on your trip to New York, go strike up a conversation.

 

More info about Louis:

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Panasonic GH5+Olympus 12-100mm f4.0+Camvate Camera Rig Cage+ Saramonic SmartRig+ Pre-Amp + Aputure Diety microphone + Audio Technica isolating headphones. 
Manfrotto fluid head and Berlebach wooden tripod. Add batteries. Push red button. Make sure you see the flashing red indicator or nothing really happened.

Test it all before you go out the door. 

Make sure you can look through your viewfinder without poking yourself in the eye with the back of the microphone.

Test the lens with the body you're going to use it with. 

Have a plan to take the whole rig off the tripod.

Work with your pre-amp enough times that you know where the gain knob is without having to look.

Grab the correct release lever. Nothing worse that watching a camera slide off the rails.

Figure out how you're going to hold that puppy when you want to move around. 

Do you really need an external monitor if you need to be very mobile (not with the GH5 at 30 fps).

Can you access all the menu items quickly?

Is your cage rock solid?

Did you set the headphone levels correctly? (Any alternate advice on the proper way to set headphone levels? Chime in please!).

Did you bring the right tripod or do you wish you could go up another foot?

Did you get the advance check?

Did the bank cash it for you?




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In the early days of digital imaging I worked with an agency called, Dandy Idea, to create a series of magazine print ads and posters for the city of Round Rock, Texas. They wanted to up their tourism profile and didn't think being the headquarters for Dell, Inc. was really a major draw for families. 

Since they have great public soccer fields, an enormous number of great baseball/softball fields and lots of areas in which to give road bikers a workout the chamber decided to position the city as a destination for sports. The theme for the campaign was "Game On." and the ads used the stencil type I'm used when I created these images for my portfolio and for direct mail. 

Of course, as scheduling would have it we did the shots in the middle of an especially hot Summer. I got a lot of practice drinking Gatorade(tm) and finding convenient shade. I worked with one of my all time favorite art directors, Greg Barton, and we had a great time looking for locations and doing crazy stuff like me lying belly down in a ditch filled with stingy plants to get the bike shot, or getting my car stuck in the mud on scouting shot (rescued by some good ole boys in a pick-up truck equipped with a winch). 

The photos ran everywhere and the response exceeded expectations. Everyone was happy. You'll probably be happy to know that I can't quite remember what camera and lens I was shooting with back then so I guess it really didn't matter. Right? Just thought I'd share a blast from the days when digital cameras were barely out of the crib......

Actual Competitive Cyclist.

Little Leaguer. 


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Bounce flash and choice of background + backlighting

This is where style and technique intersect – the choice of how to use flash (or any other kind of additional lighting) at wedding receptions. Many photographers prefer the crisp look of multiple off-camera flash setups at wedding receptions. While I do think some of the photos look incredible, I am not convinced that the success rate is all that high. Hot spots in the background, and weird cross-shadows will mar many of the photos. My preference has always been for the predictability and flexibility of using on-camera bounce flash.

A question that then comes up is, what about back-lighting? I don’t back-light during the wedding reception. For romantic portraits with the B&G, yes, I might. But not the reception. I prefer the flexibility of moving around independently.

I do try to avoid that black-hole background where the subject merges into deep shadow.

This is done in two ways:

1. ) Pushing my camera settings so that I get more detail in the background.
2.) Then, I also do my best to have some out-of-focus elements in the background that is brighter. I choose specific backgrounds where there is some light which helps separate my subject from the background. This could be DJ lights, up-lighting, a doorway, sconce lights, anything. Just not a dark-hole background.

When I shoot like this during receptions … what I am aware of, is my own position in regards to the background. I don’t try and make every shot in every direction work.

 

The few examples here from a wedding in 2011 show this way of using bounce flash. Here I still used the Nikon D3, and shot at 1600 ISO. These days I would tend to push the ISO higher for a brighter background.

Working with on-camera bounce flash like this though, most often allows me more flexibility in my own movement, and I can shoot in large reception venues with a wide-angle lens without risk of hot-spots from an off-camera flash. Here is another example: Wedding reception lighting with one flash.

Using on-camera bounce flash effectively like this, is also described in my book, On-Camera Flash Photography:

 

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Bounce flash and choice of background + backlighting

This is where style and technique intersect – the choice of how to use flash (or any other kind of additional lighting) at wedding receptions. Many photographers prefer the crisp look of multiple off-camera flash setups at wedding receptions. While I do think some of the photos look incredible, I am not convinced that the success rate is all that high. Hot spots in the background, and weird cross-shadows will mar many of the photos. My preference has always been for the predictability and flexibility of using on-camera bounce flash.

A question that then comes up is, what about back-lighting? I don’t back-light during the wedding reception. For romantic portraits with the B&G, yes, I might. But not the reception. I prefer the flexibility of moving around independently.

I do try to avoid that black-hole background where the subject merges into deep shadow.

This is done in two ways:

1. ) Pushing my camera settings so that I get more detail in the background.
2.) Then, I also do my best to have some out-of-focus elements in the background that is brighter. I choose specific backgrounds where there is some light which helps separate my subject from the background. This could be DJ lights, up-lighting, a doorway, sconce lights, anything. Just not a dark-hole background.

When I shoot like this during receptions … what I am aware of, is my own position in regards to the background. I don’t try and make every shot in every direction work.

 

Camera settings & photo gear (or equivalents) used for these photos

The few examples here (from a wedding in 2011), show this way of using bounce flash. Here I still used the Nikon D3, and shot at 1600 ISO. These days I would tend to push the ISO higher for a brighter background.

Working with on-camera bounce flash like this though, most often allows me more flexibility in my own movement, and I can shoot in large reception venues with a wide-angle lens without risk of hot-spots from an off-camera flash. Here is another example: Wedding reception lighting with one flash.

Using on-camera bounce flash effectively like this, is also described in my book, On-Camera Flash Photography:

 

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NOTE: The January Cuba trip, our very first X-Pedition, has filled. If you would like to receive early notification of future trips, please click through via the link at the end. -DH



This January I'm leading a small-group trip to Havana, Cuba. It will be the first in a series of X-Peditions for photographers.

The last time I was in Havana was 2013, teaching for Santa Fe Workshops. But that was someone else's curriculum. This time the program is ours to design, and we are planning a week of exploring, learning and lots of time behind the camera.

If that sounds like your thing, keep reading.


An Immersive Week



This is not the typical photo tour group, which invariably ends up as some version of a photo walk with everyone getting versions of the same pictures. I'm working with Focus On The Story, a D.C.-based organization for photographers. The trip leaders are myself and fellow journalist Joe Newman, whom I've known for over 30 years.

X-Peditions have a maximum of 12 participants, and are very photo-centric. They include daily instruction as well as plenty of time to explore on your own—or with a teammate, if you prefer.


Photography and Learning

We'll be out shooting at the edges of the day when the light is good, and at other times as dictated by the locations we have lined up. But during the harsh light of midday, we'll typically be in instructional mode. There will be daily talks that not only help prepare you for the day's experiences, but build on your general knowledge around the intersection of photography and travel.

You'll learn how to prioritize your day to become more efficient at producing higher quality photos. This will help you reserve the time to just be a traveler; to absorb the city and watch the world go by. That downtime is important for you (and for your family, when you travel with them.) It also makes you more receptive to the insights that lead to better photos.

We are traveling to Havana under a people-to-people license, which means you'll get interaction with locals throughout the week. We'll work both individually and as a group. We'll be editing, comparing notes, evaluating what we can do better and preparing to go out and do it again.

In the evenings we'll continue the conversation and share our day's experiences, perhaps over a mojito or a glass of Cuba's famous dark rum. This sort of thing is typical when photojournalists are working together (or competing) in a foreign city.

Nights in Havana are vibrant, with the sound of music filling the city. Its economic hardships may be well-known, but life and culture always find a way.


The X-Factor



The "X" in X-Pedition is a nod to Fuji's X series cameras. Small, light, quiet and unobtrusive, Fuji X series bodies are near-perfect tools for photojournalists. And they are ideal travel cameras. I took a leap of faith on my first trip to Havana, bringing only a Fuji X100s with its fixed 35mm equivalent lens. In retrospect, it was a great decision. And it has changed the way I approach travel photography ever since.

So if you are also a Fuji shooter, you can expect tips and advice on how to get the most out of your cameras. Or to even borrow a lens if you like.

Do you have to be a Fuji shooter to come along? No, you don't. (And don't worry, we promise not to try to convert you.) But we do strongly suggest that you travel very light with respect to photo gear. It's good travel photo advice in general, but also culturally respectful in a place like Cuba where the economic disparity is a factor.


The Bigger Picture

Havana is a unique opportunity for photographers. It goes without saying that it is not going to stay unique for very long. The island is experiencing rapid change.

Our goal with this trip, and future X-Peditions, is to help you grow as both travelers and photographers; to gain the skills and confidence to choose future destinations that are off the beaten path.

__________


The Havana trip has filled. If you'd like to receive notification of future X-Peditions before they are publicly announced, please visit Focus On The Story's X-Pedition Cuba page and submit your contact info.


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The object above is the business end of my Godox AD200 which is a cross between a portable flash and a mono-light. It's small and agile and comes with a powerful, rechargeable lithium ion battery that pounds out about 500 full power, 200 watt second flashes. The even cooler thing is that the AD200 comes with two different, interchangeable flash heads. One is the bare bulb flash tube in Pyrex that you see in the illustration. The other is a more conventional flash head, like the ones you see used with on camera flashes. That head has a small, LED modeling light incorporated into the package. The bare bulb head has no modeling light. 

The reason to have the bare bulb flash tube is for how well it spreads light into a softbox or even big umbrella. But there is a diffuser that gives you a bit more control over that spread. With the diffuser in front you get a 180 degree light spread which is more efficient (and slightly less "spill-y" than the bare tube). It's well designed and even has ventilation for the flash tube. That's a nice touch. 

I used it both ways; with and without the diffuser and I found the light across the front of the 32x48 inch softbox I like to use to be more even and to have a softer quality to it overall. And there's very little light lost -- maybe 2/3rds of a stop. For a bit less than $20 it's a great addition to your AD200 flash system. Nice when a cool tool is so affordable!








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I was buying some cheap bits and pieces for my Godox AD200 flash at Amazon.com a day or two ago and, after getting my pressing flash accessory business squared away, I started doing a little good natured browsing. I was looking to see all the different lenses that are available for my Panasonic cameras. I was especially interested in a fairly fast, normal lens which, on the GH5, would be a 25mm. I was surprised to find a number of choices, including: the (most coveted!!!) Olympus 25mm f1.2 (with 19 elements, no less) as well as the 25mm f1.8 Olympus and it's counterpart, the Panasonic 25mm f1.7. The lens I wasn't expecting to find was a new product by a company called, 7Artisans. 

The lens is a 25mm f1.8 lens that is fully manual in its operation with any of the Olympus or Panasonic cameras. The thing that caught my eye was the price; it was a mild and rational total of $70. 

Usually I read a few reviews before taking any sort of action; even before sticking the item in my shopping cart for later dismissal or acceptance, but in this case there were no reviews. Nada. Nothing. But the lens looked pretty cool, the specs were nice (12 bladed aperture) and I went ahead and
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We have work to do, and art to create

A quiet word to my photographer friends. I’m in various photography groups and forums, and I see a strong tendency in the more technical forums to whine about the specs of current cameras, or to bitch to-and-fro, disparaging others or other brands.

My feelings about that:
We should always keep in mind that our photography heroes of previous eras created masterpieces with cameras less advanced than we have now. For me, Richard Avedon immediately comes to mind. There are many others.
So if you feel you’re being held back by the camera you have, consider whether you’ve reached that stratosphere yet.

In the meantime, we all have work to do and art to create. ***

 

The most recent I saw was someone complaining that the Fuji X-T2 doesn’t have built-in stabilization, and that it might be something that Fuji might incorporate in future cameras. My immediate reaction was, “where there any photographs you hadn’t been able to take with that Fuji X-T2?”

If you regularly post on FB groups how Nikon or Canon have “forgotten about photographers” because they haven’t yet embraced mirrorless cameras, then I have to wonder again – what photographs have you missed out on with your Nikon or Canon that you would’ve gotten with a Sony or Fuji camera? Enough with the whining and negativity!

Similarly, when you start comparing the figures on the spec sheets of various cameras, and see that your camera doesn’t have 693 focus points … well, what photographs have you missed out with your current camera?

Spend less time arguing and whining on FB groups, and use that time creatively!

 

*** Now of course, I have to qualify what I mean

A topic that I’ve touched on several times, is that the camera does indeed matter.

Therefore my statements at the top of the article might seen disingenuous, since I will be the first to say that we should use photo gear that enables us as photographers. Currently I shoot with the Nikon D5 and D810 amongst other. I also use the f/2.8 zooms and the f/1.4 range of primes. I should add that I’ve been tempted by the Sony A9 for the silent shutter mode – perfect for corporate events and wedding ceremonies.

 

 

My point is – use what have. Truly use what you have to the limit of its capabilities. If you feel your gear holds you back, please do upgrade. But for the love of photography, don’t get involved with to-and-fro nowhere debates about the minutia of the technical aspects of camera gear. Use that time and energy to create!

 

About the main photo above

The photo at the top is a B&W version of one of the images I took of a model, Bethany.

Technical details are explained here: Multiple off-camera flash – gelling your flash for effect.  And yes, that linked article is about gelling your flash, however, the photographs work really well in B&W as well.

 

The post We have work to do, and art to create appeared first on Tangents.


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We have work to do, and art to create

A quiet word to my photographer friends. I’m in various photography groups and forums, and I see a strong tendency in the more technical forums to whine about the specs of current cameras, or to bitch to-and-fro, disparaging others or other brands.

My feelings about that:
We should always keep in mind that our photography heroes of previous eras created masterpieces with cameras less advanced than we have now. For me, Richard Avedon immediately comes to mind. There are many others.
So if you feel you’re being held back by the camera you have, consider whether you’ve reached that stratosphere yet.

In the meantime, we all have work to do and art to create. ***

 

The most recent I saw was someone complaining that the Fuji X-T2 doesn’t have built-in stabilization, and that it might be something that Fuji might incorporate in future cameras. My immediate reaction was, “where there any photographs you hadn’t been able to take with that Fuji X-T2?”

If you regularly post on FB groups how Nikon or Canon have “forgotten about photographers” because they haven’t yet embraced mirrorless cameras, then I have to wonder again – what photographs have you missed out on with your Nikon or Canon that you would’ve gotten with a Sony or Fuji camera? Enough with the whining and negativity!

Similarly, when you start comparing the figures on the spec sheets of various cameras, and see that your camera doesn’t have 693 focus points … well, what photographs have you missed out with your current camera?

Spend less time arguing and whining on FB groups, and use that time creatively!

 

*** Now of course, I have to qualify what I mean

A topic that I’ve touched on several times, is that the camera does indeed matter.

Therefore my statements at the top of the article might seen disingenuous, since I will be the first to say that we should use photo gear that enables us as photographers. Currently I shoot with the Nikon D5 and D810 amongst other. I also use the f/2.8 zooms and the f/1.4 range of primes. I should add that I’ve been tempted by the Sony A9 for the silent shutter mode – perfect for corporate events and wedding ceremonies.

 

 

My point is – use what have. Truly use what you have to the limit of its capabilities. If you feel your gear holds you back, please do upgrade. But for the love of photography, don’t get involved with to-and-fro nowhere debates about the minutia of the technical aspects of camera gear. Use that time and energy to create!

 

About the main photo above

The photo at the top is a B&W version of one of the images I took of a model, Bethany.

Technical details are explained here: Multiple off-camera flash – gelling your flash for effect.  And yes, that linked article is about gelling your flash, however, the photographs work really well in B&W as well.

 

The post We have work to do, and art to create appeared first on Tangents.


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It was a super hot Sunday night and I took refuge in the chilly air conditioning at Zach Theatre's Topfer Theatre. I was just in time for the technical rehearsal for "Million Dollar Quartet" and I had a strange combination of cameras and lenses in my little Husky tool bag. It was early days for me with the GH5 but I thought I'd push it around for a while and see if we gelled or if I'd made yet another acquisition error. I would have loved to have shot the show with the Olympus 12-100mm f4.0 but it wasn't on my radar yet. I went with the ancient 60mm f1.5 from my Olympus Pen collection instead.

The image above is one of hundreds I made during the course of the rehearsal. This one was shot down at 1/60th of second at f2.8 with an ISO of 400.

There are a number of things I like about using the GH5 with older lenses like this one. First, the camera allows you to program in the exact focal length of the lens you are using, down to the millimeter. Most cameras have a list of possible focal lengths you can program in and usually they are about 5mm apart. Or they are common focal lengths. This tells the camera how to use image stabilization correctly for the focal length. I'm not sure that it makes a real difference but if you are picky it's nice to be able to select 25mm instead of 24mm if 25mm is the actual focal length.

In my limited experience, with older legacy lenses programmed in like this, the camera does a good job with stabilization.

The second thing that's nice for shooters of older, manual focus lenses is the focus peaking. After looking through a lot of frames I've found very few from the evening's shoot where I missed focus. When I first wrote about the focus peaking performance I gave the G85 higher marks because the frames looked better, in review, on the screen on the back of the camera. I gave credit to a better implementation of focus peaking. But after spending time with the files from the GH5 I found that they images were sharper when inspected on my computer monitor. Apparently, and I have duplicated this in camera, the initial write to the card generates a lower res review file but the actual file is almost always sharper. I think the camera is set up this way in order to optimize for speed of capture. Reviewing on the fly is always fraught with peril anyway.

I don't think the camera, in Jpeg, is writing 1:1 review files. There is no advantage to reviewing files at the 16X magnification on the rear screen over reviewing the same files at 8X. That tells me that 8x is the maximum resolution of the review image and going to 16X just shows you the same pixels larger; which looks less sharp. It's one of the many small things that take experimenting and getting used to working with a new camera. A kneejerk reaction would be: "Is the GH5 less sharp?!!" But it would not be an accurate assessment of the actual files.

Another observation is how much better an exposure tool zebras can be than judging a scene in the finder, by eye, or using a histogram. I've started setting my zebras at 75% because that's the point at which most caucasian skin starts to overexpose. If I have a caucasian actor in front of the camera and I'm trying to accurately set exposure I want to be able to ignore the effects of direct stage lights shining into the lens and brighter areas in the scene and just see how my exposure setting relates to correct skin exposure. I shift exposure until I start getting zebra stripes on a face and then back off until the just go away and I know I'm in a great exposure zone for the important subjects on stage. It's a great way to narrow in on getting the exposure right on the subject that you choose. This isn't particular to manual focusing lenses only; it works with all lenses.

I'm coming to grips with more and more features of the camera and as I learn what works well I try to adapt it to my working methodologies. I'll probably put the zebra control on the function button next to the lens because it's nice to be able to toggle it on and off. After I've set an exposure the zebras can be annoying. You can set two different custom zebra settings in the GH5 and toggle between them. It's a really nice way to "meter."


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A VSL reader sent along a link to a blog post from Neil van Niekirk the day before yesterday. It was sobering. Neil was the person who helped me decide to become a Craftsy.com contributor and he also provided a great section of photographs and writing for my book on LED Lighting back in 2010. He's a great photographer and a popular blogger about photography but this blog from him was completely different. 

In it he talked about having a heart attack on his first day of vacation in Italy. It sounds like he was treated promptly and got great care. He's on target to make a good recovery. But his post sounded alarms that should be heeded not just by photographers but by anyone who has let their diet, fitness and stress management get out of whack. Just what Neil admitted he had done in his post...

Neil and his cardiologist partly blamed the sedentary lifestyle of most visual creators for causing his cardiac event. Photographers and videographers spend long days sitting almost motionless in front of their workstations editing their still images, making precise corrections and, in the case of videographers, working an edit over and over again to get it just right. Sitting, it seems, is as bad for us humans as smoking cigarettes or knocking back Scotch and sodas. 

And I've noticed that the more focused we get on these sedentary tasks the more importance (and stress) we attach to what we're doing and the deadlines surrounding the processes. When we're stressed time management tends to fly out the window and we fast track our food consumption, replacing healthy meals and snacks with things that are highly pleasurable,  and easy to eat with one hand while keeping the other hand on that all important computer mouse/pen tool/touchpad/phone. Pizza. Chips. Soft drinks, etc.

It's a killer combination. Business stress, large periods of sedentary isolation, junky, convenient food.  

I had my own health scare a long time ago and I've never forgotten the lessons I learned back then. I used to think of my time in the pool as a bit selfish and self-indulgent but now I think my disciplined approach to exercise is a benefit to me and my family on which I cannot put a price tag. Swimming every morning has kept me healthy and focused. I am within five pounds of weighing what I did when I left college nearly forty years ago.  And my blood pressure is probably lower.

Swim practice started right on time this morning at 7am. I was in lane three, leading my three other lane mates through the workout. I felt like I could accomplish anything. But I also realized, after reading Neil's blog post, just how important the ongoing camaraderie is as well. The joking around during the short breaks between sets, catching up during kick sets and checking in with each other as we leave the pool. 

Most people have ample opportunities to socialize all day long in their workplaces but creative people tend to spend a lot of their work lives in solitary pursuits. I remind myself how important it is to hit "sleep" on my computer and head over to the coffee shop to catch up with friends. How vital it is to my general health to meet Paul for sushi on Thursdays or to meet a few other friends for a stroll through the salad bar at Jason's Deli. 

Exercise, diet, sleep and community. It's worth remembering that none of these things are wasted time. None of them are diminished productivity. It's the opposite. We should work just enough to be able to do these things. Everything beyond work should be play. 

I'm sending all the good thoughts and positive energy I can to Neil. The great thing is that creative people tend toward resilience and discipline. I think Neil will do well. It sounds like he's focusing on creating a healthier lifestyle.

It's a reminder to me that taking time to take care of yourself is not selfish. Remember that when cabin pressure drops it's vital to put on your oxygen mask first and then help the people around you. That's just how it works. 

Think good thoughts! I think I'll head back over to the pool and get in a few more laps before lunch....



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I was having coffee with a friend and we went down the conversational path of..."What if money was no object....?" It all started because we were talking about cars. Now, you have to understand that both of us have spent the last thirty or so years pursuing photography as both a hobby and business so it's not like we're going to wake up next Monday with some uncontrolled impulse and rush out to buy a Bentley or Ferrari, (or the cash with which to do so) but when the question, "If money was no object and you had to buy a new car what would you get???" came up we both paused to think about it.

When I was in my thirties I could have blurted out a laundry list of cool cars. I could go vintage with a fully restored Sunbeam Tiger. I would have been equally thrilled with a restored 1967 Pontiac GTO with the triple carburetor set-up. There were a couple of BMW Alpinas that I would have lusted after and, of course, there was always the gull wing door Mercedes. I might have also tossed in a Lancia Beta Scorpion and, of course, one of the perennial Porsche 911 variants.

In my more practical forties I thought the BMW 5 series cars were the right blend of comfort and performance along with having a trunk big enough to haul around gear for most photo shoots and, at the time, I was happy to buy one. I was even happier to trade it in four years later after and endless series of repair bills....

But somewhere in my mid fifties my perspective about cars changed and I started thinking about them less as toys, status symbols, and fun and started thinking about them in much more practical terms. My interests had more to do with how much photo gear I could get inside, what kind of gas mileage could I get and how small my total cost of ownership could be.

So when we played the "What if money was no object?" game this time I just blurted out the first thing that came into my mind and it was: A Honda Accord. That was it, my "aspirational" car.

I guess I've realized that Austin traffic will never get better, all cars on the local highways spend the majority of their time going less than 20 mph and, as long as the air conditioning, the radio and the bluetooth connection all work well then I think I would find most sedans of a certain size more or less interchangeable. I've owned Hondas for the last ten years, have found them to be cheap to own and reliable and, so, why would I want anything else? Besides, if I had gazillions of dollars I think I would just contract with a luxe car service and never have to worry about parking, dead batteries, pumping gas or getting lost ever again. No car ownership needed.

The car conversation naturally led my mind around to the idea of aspirational cameras. Cameras that you lust after but are just way out of reach. Cameras that are a decided luxury but nevertheless keep calling out to you like the sirens of Greek mythology...

In the film days there were no cameras that were so outlandishly expensive that we could not afford them. I was never drawn to the silly cameras like Leicas cast in platinum and wrapped in the hide of extinct animals but I rarely met a high end Hasselblad I didn't like. But in those days crazy expensive was less than $5K.

When we hit the digital days I'll admit that it became much more difficult to afford the newly developed, stratospheric level cameras. I lusted after the medium format Leaf A7i and some of the very pricy Schneider glass for quite a while. The system I'd mapped out would have run me a bit shy of $60,000 but I could never pull the trigger because my CFO could run the numbers every which way and show me how I would never re-coup that "investment." Not with a practice photographing mostly people for mostly Austin clients.... And in the back of my mind I realized that the tech in the camera would be superseded (not obsoleted) by something better and cheaper within 18 months. But I still wanted that camera. I had the brochure in my desk drawer for a long time.

Then fate stepped in and a photo magazine called and asked me if I would like to review that very system. "Would six weeks with the system be enough time?" I jumped at the chance to be one of the very few people to play with the 40 megapixel, medium format camera and its near perfect German lenses.  But you know that line from the movie "The Adventures of Buckeroo Bonzai Across the Eighth Dimension"? It goes, "Wherever you go....there you are." 

When I actually started working with the camera and lenses there was no big change in what I shot. Of course the images had more detail but it was detail that was only useful in certain use scenarios. I shot a couple of images that I had the local lab make some large prints from. At 30 by 40 inches you could readily see a difference in resolution when compared to the 12-16 megapixel camera files of the day.
The difference in sensor size was nice as well. In terms of focus ramping and that special, out of focus background look one gained about as much as one would going from an APS-C format to a 35mm full frame format. In the end I came to realize that while owning a $60,000 system might be fun and ego gratifying it wasn't really going to change my game as a photographer and it wouldn't be a very smart long term investment.

I also got to test the Mamiya and Phase One cameras in their age of ascendancy and found too that they might provide the potential for better files (where larger print sizes were needed) but not so much better than they shifted any business paradigms which might make them financially productive. As far as personal work went I spent a day walking around shooting with the seven pounds of camera and 180mm f2.8 medium format lens and quickly discovered that the medium format digital cameras were too slow, too heavy and too......ponderous for any sort of normal street shooting. That and, at the time, about one hundred shots per battery charge.

The Leica S2 camera was another camera I considered "aspirational" until I played at length with one. Same issues as above. Different logo.

But now that we've hit the age of sufficiency  I'm finding no cameras that I lust after and can't readily afford to buy. My choices have so much more to do with what the cameras will do for my day to day work than anything else. I am in no hurry to step up (or sideways) from my Sony A7ii camera as my mainstay portrait camera because it just works. And it was cheap. And it works. I've used it on 14 portraits in the last two weeks and each one exceeds the technical parameters I need. Hell, it exceeds the best I could get just a few years ago for any reasonable price. It's a camera I bought used last year for about $1,000.

I guess I should want a Zeiss Otus 100mm f1.4 (if they made one) with which to make portraits but, again, it's the age of sufficiency and I'm finding the all purpose, 70-200mm f4.0 G lens is the perfect lens for almost every work portrait I shoot. I lock in at f5.6 and just blaze away. That gets me just enough focus at the 110-135mm focal range I seem to work in to get sharp focus on lips, eyes and almost back to the ears. Any less depth of field and I'll spend my life explaining to clients why "Bob" isn't totally sharp......

I wasn't chomping at the bit to rush out and buy a Panasonic GH5. It's not the ultimate portrait camera. It's not as good as the cheap, used Sony I bought used when it comes to handling most of my still imaging work. I bought it to make my video look better and to provide video features that make my work in video more productive. Hardly an "aspirational" camera.

But I'm starting to realize that all my notions of "dream" cameras seem to be vanishing. Just like my appraisal of cars. If meteor hit the studio today (and I wasn't there to see it...) what cameras would I buy to replace the splintered and melted remains of the meteor impacted previous cameras? Would I rush out and buy a Phase One 100F? I'd probably buy another A7ii and another 70-200mm f4.0, along with some wider stuff. If the Sony gear was out of stock I'd buy a Canon 5D mk4 and the same kind of lens. And if all the video oriented cameras went up in smoke then the next time around I might just buy a really cool video camera like the Canon C300ii. But the idea that all of these digital cameras will soon be superseded by more able cameras diminishes their allure as "ultimate" cameras after which we just have to lust. Maybe it's the impermanence of the new gear that removes it's sparkle as something you might cherish for 20 years or more.

I still remember when the camera I wanted, and had to scrimp and save up for, was the Leica M5. That, and the 50mm Summilux lens. Once I was able to eventually write the check for that combo the glow of satisfaction lingered on for years and years. I conferred a relative immunity to camera lust.  Every time I pulled the M5 out of the camera bag to use it I appreciated it more and more. Sadly, that feeling about current, digital cameras as left the building. Now my emphasis is on practicality and use parameters and not much more.

I'm curious to know what your aspirational film cameras were and if you've got cameras that you'd love to own in the digital age that give you the same feeling.

I can't be the only one thinking this way, right?



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