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:

Trioplan 100mm bokeh

Lens review: Trioplan 100mm f/2.8

My favorite adventure in photography for the past year or so, has been to explore vintage lenses. Many of these lenses render the background in an interesting or unusual way which makes them appealing in helping to create a distinctive look to your photography. A recent purchase was the Trioplan 100mm f/2.8 lens (affiliate) for use with my Sony A7ii camera. The Trioplan 100mm f/2.8 is well known as the ‘soap-bubble bokeh’ lens. Created by the Meyer Optik Görlitz  company, it gives perfectly spherical circles in the background when used in the the right situation. Meyer Optik has seen a resurgence in recent years, releasing various of their classic lenses again, updating them with Schott glass for increased contrast and better color rendition. The Trioplan 100mm f/2.8 is a manual focus lens which has a 15-blade diaphragm which helps in creating that unique bokeh. For this review of the Trioplan 100mm f/2.8 lens, I met up with Anastasiya in Times Square in the early evening.

Most of the examples of photos with this lens that I have seen online, has been of flowers and things in a garden. When the subject is close-up, and the background has pin-points of light, then the high-lights in the background become perfect spheres. This lens really has an unusual bokeh. But since this was winter still, there were no delicious details in the garden to be photographed. Instead, I wanted to see what the lens does when used as a more usual portrait lens.I haven’t seen many portraits online with this lens, which made me curious about it.

Times Square is awash in ever-changing colors with the huge number of billboards constantly changing their displays. Watch what happens to the Times Square night-time background – it becomes a pastel wash of colors. The light on Anastasiya was all available light from the billboards. There weren’t many pinpoints of light, so the background doesn’t show as many perfect circles as this lens is capable of when used with specific intent.

Trioplan 100mm bokeh

Initially I was a little disappointed because I couldn’t get those bubbles of bokeh in the background. You will have to Google ‘ Trioplan 100mm bokeh’ to see these kinds of images. We didn’t quite get them here because of our working distance, and the distance of the background. But just look at the photo here how the highlights, and the car (to the left) and the barrier (also to the left), is rendered. There is a certain painterly quality to this.  Click on this photo (and the photo at the top) to see a larger version of this photo. It really needs the larger photo to see how splendiferous the background looks!

When I stepped a bit further back to get a longer working distance to Anastasiya, the background (as expected) becomes slightly less out of focus.
Look what happens here to the background – slightly more detailed, but still with that impressionistic appearance of the background.

Trioplan 100mm bokeh

Moving away from the center of Times Square to one of the side streets, we looked for possible pin-points of light. We didn’t quite get that, but I still liked the results we got with larger neon light sources in the background.

 


 

You can purchase the Meyer Optik Görlitz Trioplan 100mm f/2.8 via these affiliate links:
B&H:   Canon  |  Nikon  |  Sony  |  Fuji


 

Initial test shots with this lens in the garden and a nearby forest, as the sun was setting through the trees and leaves.

Playing with this lens in Times Square while photographing Anastasiya, I realized why I haven’t seen many good portraits with this lens … which still shows the ‘soap bubble bokeh’. That effect is maximum when the lens is at the closest focusing distance – and then a portrait of someone means their face nearly fills the frame … and you don’t see much of the bubble-background. The further your subject steps away, the smaller the bubbles appear, until at some point, the lens just renders the scene like a more usual 100mm lens.

Here for example are the same neon lights shot from the same distance, but with the camera focused to different distances. In the top image, the camera was at the minimum focusing distance of 1.1 meters. The second shot was with the lens focused to 1.5 meters, and you can see the circles are already smaller. As you focuser further and further away, the bubble highlight start disappearing.

 

Summary

When I first started researching interesting classic optics, I was immediately fascinated by the Trioplan 100mm f/2.8 lens. The bokeh of this lens was eye-catching and unusual. With this initial photo session with Anastasiya, I was at first mildly disappointed that the lens’ bokeh effect was best achieved at specific settings with regard to distance. But then I saw the images we created, and I fell in love with the effect. That painterly quality to the background really creates an unusual look in camera! Without resorting to Photoshop black magic, you can get back to the true spirit of photography – exploring your environment and being surprised. This lens brought that kind of fun back for me.

You can purchase the Meyer Optik Görlitz Trioplan 100mm f/2.8 via these affiliate links:
B&H:   Canon  |  Nikon  |  Sony  |  Fuji

 

Related articles

 

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Focal length comparison: 645 format vs 35mm format

We all know know that when you use a full-frame lens on a crop-sensor camera, that we can consider there to be a new “effective focal length” of the lens on the crop sensor because the field of view changes. When we now change our composition with the crop-sensor camera to match that of the 35mm camera, we change our own position, we then effectively get thane 1.5x or 1.6x focal length increase. This has been explored in the article:  Full-frame vs Crop-sensor comparison : Depth-of-field & perspective. But now what happens when you put a medium-format lens on a 35mm camera? How does the effective focal length change? Specifically, let’s look at 645 vs 35mm focal length lenses. What happens when we put a lens designed for a 645 format camera, on a 35mm camera body.

Of course, when we use a full-frame lens on a crop sensor camera, the actual focal length doesn’t change. However, in the way we have to change position between the FF and crop camera (with the same lens) to get the same framing of our subject (perhaps a portrait), our focal length effectively changes. It is easier to think about it this way during an actual shoot, since it directly affects our composition.

I was curious what would happen with a 645 format lens on a 35mm camera, or perhaps a 6×7 format lens on a 35mm camera. With how easy it is to use older manual focus lenses (of any lens mount) on a Sony mirrorless camera, I thought I would give it a practical try, and see.

For example, if you use a 200mm lens for a 645 camera, the angle of view is similar to that of a 125mm lens on a 35mm camera. You get the same composition as if you used a 125mm lens. With that, you can see there is a 1.6x factor involved. Or a 0.625 factor, depending on which way you look at it.

 

You may wonder if a 200mm f/4 lens for a 645 camera would magically turn into a 320mm f/4 lens. (200 x 1.6 = 320mm). Or does the 200mm lens, which is similar to a 125mm lens, magically turn into a 200mm lens? (125 x 1.6 = 200mm.)

Already knowing the logical answer, I wanted to confirm it properly with actual photographs to satisfy my curiosity.

I got hold of an old Pentax 200mm f/4 lens, as well as a Pentax 645 200mm f/4 lens. Each of the with the proper lens mount adapter to use on the Sony. I use my Sony A7 to use vintage lenses. As mentioned, the way that Sony (and Fuji) implement manual focus, makes these bodies ideal for use with the older lenses.

I met up with Anastasiya in New York, and took a sequence of comparative photos to see the actual results.

 


 

The first image was shot with the Pentax 200mm f/4, and the second image with the Pentax 645 200mm f/4 lens … and they look virtually identical. The same composition; the same perspective; and from what I can see from other images, the same depth-of-field.

Exactly what should have happened, happened. If you use a medium format lens on a 35mm camera – it remains the same, actual focal length. The only difference is that the image shot with the 645 lens was sharper – it is a more modern lens, and we only take the central, sharper portion of the image circle. (You won’t be able to notice the difference on these web-sized images.)

 

Summary:

This is anti-climactic, if not slightly disappointing though – wouldn’t it have been great to effectively get a superb 300mm f/4 lens buy delving through the medium format lenses on ebay? Unfortunately, we can’t side-step the science here.

The 200mm focal length of the 645 lens is effectively the same as a 125mm lens on a 35mm camera, and when we crop the image by using the 200mm 645 lens on a 35mm camera, it effectively becomes exactly that – a 200mm lens.

BTW, the image at the very top was processed with Aurora software for a mild HDR effect. This is why it looks different in tone than the other two images shown here.

 

Related articles

 

645 format focal length vs 35mm lenses

When we calculate the comparative focal lengths between medium format lenses and that for 35mm, the diagonal of the frame / negative is measured. This will give us a sense of the angle of view that the lens covers. However, since the aspect ratio is different between all the formats – 2×3 (for 35mm); 6×4.5; 6×6; 6×7 – there is an approximate focal equivalence when we compare it to a full-frame (35mm) camera.

645  format = 0.625 factor
6 x 6  format = 0.55 factor
6 x 7 format = 0.5 factor,
when converting for an equivalent 35mm focal length.

 

 


 

The lenses

And for comparison, here are the two Pentax lenses to show their relative size. The optic on the right-hand side is quite petite.

The beauty of the Sony E-mount mirrorless cameras is that with the DSLR mirror box gone, there is the space to adapt any legacy lens to the Sony E-mount. The adapters are usually fairly inexpensive as photography gear goes.

The adapter on the left is the Fotodiox lens adapter for Pentax 645 to Sony E-mount (B&H / Amazon), and has the larger throat for the larger 645 lens. The adapter on the right is the Fotodiox adapter for Pentax K to Sony E-mount (affiliate). It is as simple as that to use pretty much any legacy or vintage lens with the Sony mirrorless cameras.

 

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Kodak DCS 760C. 6 megapixels
Sony R1. 10 megapixels
Kodak SLR/n. 14 megapixels. Shot in the 6 MP mode.
Kodak DCS 760C. 6 Megapixels.
Fuji S5. 6 megapixels.
Kodak DCS 760C. 6 megapixels.
Fuji S3. 6 megapixels. (Shot in 2006, still in use by client).
Kodak DCS SLR/n at 9 megapixels in square crop.
Kodak DCS 760C. 6 Megapixels.
Kodak DCS 760C. 6 Megapixels.
Kodak DCS 760C. 6 Megapixels.
Kodak DCS 760C. 6 Megapixels.
Kodak DCS 760C. 6 Megapixels.
Kodak SLR/n. 6 megapixel mode.
Canon 1D mk2. 8 Megapixels.

Nikon D700. 12 Megapixels.
Nikon D700. 12 Megapixels.
Nikon D700. 12 Megapixels.
Nikon D700. 12 Megapixels.
Kodak DCS 760C. 6 megapixels. 


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I wasn't sure what to expect when I twisted a 55mm macro lens onto the front of my newly acquired, ancient D2XS camera and steered my car toward the my familiar stomping grounds. If the mainstream photo press (incuding bloggers, v-loggers, gear review sites and more) are to be believed then any camera older than a year is so fraught with technical deficiencies that it's mostly unusable for any photographic work more demanding than a quick social media post but I wanted to see for myself just how atrocious the files might look --- especially since I've had the opportunity to use much more modern cameras, like the Sony A7Rii and A7Riii as well as the Nikon D810. I was prepared for devastating disappointment. 

As I left my car a light rain started falling but I decided to believe all the reviews I'd read in the distant past and left the camera and lens exposed to the elements to see if all the talk about "weather resistance" was bogus or an actual thing. By the time I'd walked the first mile a steady rain was being propelled toward me and my unprotected camera by a zippy north wind. Every once in a while I'd brush the accumulated water off the camera with my gloved hand and wipe my glasses clean with the front of my sweatshirt. 

It was a dim and contrast deficient day. At ISO 200, using the lens at f4.0 and f2.8 the shutter speed mostly hovered around 1/125th. Sometimes higher, sometimes lower. The rain and cold were good disincentives for sidewalk traffic so downtown looked a bit deserted. A few brave food trailer operators were open for business but as I walked by there wasn't a customer in sight. 

So, what did I find out about the decrepit and obsolete camera during and after my two hour long, outdoor adventure? 

Well, first of all, I have to give credit to the camera and lens for not giving up the ghost because of the rain. Neither of them seemed worse for wear and when I removed the lens back at the studio there was no sign of water intrusion into the camera body or into the workings of the lens. 

The two important controls on the camera; the exposure metering and the focusing screen passed all my tests. The meter seemed to accurately nail every situation I threw at it while the screen had enough bite to it to allow me to manually focus the lens, at wider apertures, with no front or back focused images. I didn't really test the camera's ability to do white balance as I used the "cloudy" preset and also because I used the raw file format. 

During the course of my soggy walk I shot about 150 images and chimped a little bit but the battery indicator didn't budge from 100%. After years of using Sony's dwarfish batteries I'd forgotten just how efficient the old DSLR cameras are with batteries; and also how big the batteries in the old pro cameras were. 

The camera is hefty but as I'm generally only carrying one body, one lens and my favorite credit card (for necessary coffee and potential, emergency camera equipment purchases...) it was hardly overwhelming or overly burdensome.

The most pleasant part of the adventure was my triumphant return home with a still functional camera. I rarely subject my cameras to a couple hours of rain without some sort of protection since I actually buy my own cameras and can't just return them to a promoter or P.R. person with a shrug...

I plugged in a USB3 card reader and ingested the files I liked into Lightroom. Of course I was expecting them to be an unholy mess. I mean, really, the camera's sensor score didn't even top 60 on the DXO site!!! But surprise, surprise! The files were nice and rich. Detailed and sharp. Color neutral and tonally virtuous. It's almost like I shot everything with a current APS-C camera. 

While I didn't test it today I am sure that modern cameras will outperform this old professional tool as soon as the ISO starts to rise. But, to my eye, keeping the camera between 100 and 320 ISO means getting files that rival current higher end tools in everything but sheer resolution. 

This revelation, that ancient top-of-the-line cameras can be as effective (in a smaller operational envelope) as current cameras is dangerous. Dangerous for me and, I think, dangerous to the camera makers. 

The danger to me is that my wily brain will now start to fabricate reasons to buy alternate lenses so I can "explore the vast potential of old tech..." I'm already unearthing stuff from the cabinets that I overlooked in the last giant Nikon purge. I'm already scrubbing through the Precision-Camera.com website, looking for locally available bargain glass (after all, if the old cameras are this good how might the older lenses fair?).

The danger to camera makers might be an wider awakening to the idea that (other than lower high ISO noise) not much has really fundamentally changed in camera I.Q. over the last five or seven or ten years and maybe it makes more sense for cash strapped, potential professionals to mine the junk yards of the retail camera world to find that cast-offs from that coterie of buyers who have an insatiable need for the newest and greatest stuff. 

As someone who until recently made most of my income taking portraits the thought had crossed my mind that a couple of these old D2XS cameras and some select older glass would be more than adequate for just about any real business need. And would be available for a song... I'd miss things like eye detection AF, and, of course all the art modes but if push came to shove you could make the old stuff work for just about anything the newer cameras can do. Need bigger files? There's a menu item in PhotoShop for that...... For now I think I'll just be happy with the new toy and stop wasting money on these kinds of nostalgic adventures....... But I did happen to see a copy of my very first Nikon interchangeable lens digital camera on a used shelf. It was a D100 for about $95. I wonder how that one is holding up?

















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If you're tired of the equipment rat race and frustrated with the demands of trying to stay "current" in the fast moving world of cameras you might be ready to step off the ever accelerating, new introduction carrousel and try an alternate method of assuaging your deep hunger for acquiring cameras. It came to me just a day or so ago as I was sitting around trying to "decide" which camera I "needed" to get next. I've been shooting with Panasonic GH5's and have been very happy with them but then Panasonic went and introduced two new models and the lust for a new camera welled up strong and quick like blood from a fresh knife wound.

I read the same bubbly reviews in the style that I recently decried. I watched poorly done videos of other peoples' renditions of creative spec sheet reading.  I looked in my check register, trying to see where the cash might come from to pay for my obsessive compulsive need for the latest and greatest in camera gear. And then I hit the wall...

It dawned on me that I've been engaged in the new gear dance for well over a decade now and have precious little to show for it. We had a good time deducting the wretched excess from our taxes and we had many a good discussion about the merits of various new models while saluting photography with frosty and salty margaritas but it's hard not to feel
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The disheveled cotton candy of the linear mind. 

I wrote a piece a couple of days ago that was, on the surface, a critique of the latest Fuji camera. It was, of course, a tongue-in-cheek critique of the current photographic press, many of whom are making an entire career of endless junketeering tours, hosted by the makers and marketers of the cameras about which they write. That content being the "product" they use to lure readers and advertisers to their sites. The new generation of professional reviewers are just like the writers of columns about automobiles who are often flown to wonderful locations, housed for a while in five star hotels, and feted like princes and dukes, who get to drive the latest cars on wonderful winding roads and then, ostensibly, write unbiased reviews for their hosts.

And we now have a coterie of likable, affable and effusive video bloggers, review sites and old fashion typed-blog site writers who live anchored to the nurturing breasts of the camera makers' P.R. teams in much the same way as their car loving cousins. I find it amusing (and depressing) that we've gone from having online sites where an expert, deeply involved in his or her preferred camera system, wrote from hard-won experience,  about nuts and bolts of the system they knew, with the benefit of long experience and laser like focus, and we have now moved to a frenzied and unregulated market place where the process of reviewing extends to the products and models of any and all systems makers who are willing and ready to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to extend "courtesies" including: air fare to fun locations, copious alcohol, shooting opportunities and prime lodging to our industry's blogger celebs so those writers can be spoon fed tailored "experiences" that form the homogenous bedrock of hundreds of near simultaneous and transparently similar camera "reviews". Even the images (since they were all generated at the same event) are interchangeable. All just so positive and sparkly. 

A few of my readers didn't seem to get the "inside joke"; that I was using the Fuji marque as nothing but a foil of my (obvious) target, the ersatz press sales process. Several denounced my "hatred" of Fuji or my fanboy attack on Fuji. In the past I would gloss over all of this but it's been a tough quarter so far and I'm loathe to accommodate painfully literal thinking and obtuseness, and even less inclined to give it power or public voice. 



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For many years I have listened to people refer to the ebb and flow of partisan politics as akin the swinging of pendulum where one side or party, having secured the right kind of leverage, takes their pet policies and runs with them, outpacing the general electorate which eventually reacts to the lopsidedness of the new paradigm and pulls the whole process back to the other side. More or less analogous to a sine wave. At some point we conjecture that there is a stable middle ground which is largely logical but never attainable. One theory is that the amplitude of the changes will eventually become smaller and smaller and somehow logic and reason will have us all meeting closer and closer to this theoretical middle ground.

In capitalism we often talk about cycles. In commercial real estate, in which I have some long experience, the accepted wisdom is that we tend to overbuild, panic and then overcorrect, which leads to a shortage of inventory which then leads to overbuilding, followed by surpluses and panic and then the inevitable overcorrection. General consensus is that this is a seven to ten year cycle in most parts fo the U.S.

Cycles, Sine Waves, Pendular Swings. This all makes our politics sound like an arena where the majority of Americans are making changes to their own perspectives and changing their point of view on issues with a degree of flexibility and open-mindedness that I have rarely seen in "the real world."

It dawned on me yesterday that, where politics is concerned, the model of the constituent swing is just wrong. The real model is a giant 24/7 tug of war over an open pit of hot lava. Each side straining and pulling to gain ground and capture territory, inch by inch. One side gets ahead and, perhaps in a celebratory moment, is distracted for a small fraction of time. This gives the other side an advantage which they press with vigor. A big victory makes one side feel as though momentum has arrived as an ally and they can now coast a bit. The sting of a big defeat galvanizes the other side to pull harder to capture back lost territory. People on either side either let go of the rope in a play for self-preservation or are pulled into the lava and die a quick and excruciating death.

But the real point is that the opposing teams rarely loss their team members to the other side. Defections are rare. Minds are not changed. The rope, the struggles is the only thing that energizes each side. The struggle is continually energized by millions on either side.

In the theory that there is a natural ebb and flow there is effort followed by a period in which the fruits of one's labor (or ideology) can be savored with a respite from the process. The wave will continue, supposedly, until it hits its natural peak and then ebb back. The pendulum will swing too far, slow toward its furthest travel in one direction and then accelerate back in the other direction.

But in the tug of war lava pit theory there is no real respite only the struggle and the commensurate balancing of two divergent views on either side of the philosophical lava pit.

That's all I was thinking about today.


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Here's my breathtaking and highly original announcement. You heard it here on the VSL blog. This may be one of many decent cameras to be announced in 2018. It may be even better for some uses than other cameras which will also be announced. It's possible that some people will take good photographs with it.

so. Where's my "real world" "hands on first impression" "what you need to know" review?  Okay, I've got this. Here's my "I've read the same press release as everyone else so I'll take a stab at summarizing how I feel about a camera I've never seen" journalism:
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Are you looking for a good test of your patience, you lighting skills, your manual dexterity and you photographic technique? You might want to try your hand at the devilishly hard process of photographing the innards of microprocessor and micro controller chips. If they are lit correctly you can get some interesting patterns and colors. But you'll need to get a lot more magnification than you'll get out of that 50mm macro lens attached directly to your DSLR camera....

At one point back in 2004 we were photographing eight or ten sets of chip dies a month for the folks at Motorola. They had two big fabs in Austin and it was a time in which the hardware side of the tech business was booming. 

I'd get a phone call from someone in marketing and I'd head over an pick up a heavy duty plastic container with tiny, tiny little squares of silicon with even tinier photo etched circuits on them. The clients needed clean, colorful photographs that they could blow up big and use in printed brochures and magazines, and it was always a bonus if we could make them high enough resolution to print onto 4x4 foot wall posters. It was always a big "ask" with a miniature deadline. 

I'd haul the little squares back to the studio and start assembling the macro rig. A very rigid copy stand with a camera holder on rails so that one had two levels of control of lowering the camera toward the subject. But between the camera and the subject was a bellow that sometimes extended nearly twelve inches along with a specialized macro lens that was optimized for magnifications between 3x and 8x life-size. 

There were three hellacious speed bumps we had to deal with on almost every job. One was getting hard light onto the subject from just the right angle to create a visual representation of the information on the surface (actually, several layers of surface). The second challenge was to keep the small (and very light) wafer in place and plano-parallel to the lens stage and the "film" stage of the camera. We cheated and used a little bit of spray mount painted on a holder surface with a toothpick. 

We had to secure the chip so we could "puff" it with compressed air just before shooting so we could make sure that we didn't get giant piles of dust in the photo. Retouching was out of the question. Too much fine detail. 

If we used compressed air on an un-anchored die it would go flying off into the infinite clutter of the studio.

The colors and the details were dependent not just on the angle of the lights but also on the aperture of the lens. Diffraction and fall off limited anything smaller than f5.6 and sometimes our best shots were at the widest aperture of f2.8. Changing apertures meant that the focus changed and that meant a whole new round of re-focusing. 

The final challenge was vibration and movement from the camera shutter. When the chip sizes went under a certain size we started to depend on opening the shutter with a black card under the lens, moving the black card and counting out "one elephant, two elephant...." and then replacing the card. No vibration --- as long as we didn't touch anything. 

If I was lucky I could get a good shot in a couple of hours. All of these images are from the same chip product. They are a result of changing the light angles, changing the elevation of the lights and changing the size of the light surface. The experiments (and re-focusing would go on until I got a handful of successful images and then it would be another hour in post processing. 

We started doing this kind of work back in the film days. A really good chip die shot could take a day to get just right because every bout of trial and error required Polaroid testing and then more testing. 

Our first foray into chip shooting was for the Apple/IBM/Motorola consortium that came together to create the RISC based PowerPC chip family. The last Motorola conference I attended was still using an 8x8 foot blow up of the original PowerPC chip I had taken (on large format film) nearly a decade earlier... 

A bigger challenge was getting a good die shot of the first IBM multi-core processor. Security in the pre-announcement stage was so high I had to take all my stuff and head over to their offices where I juggled a full sized 12 inch wafer filled with the little squares while a marketing person hovered close by. We processed the images on site and then they "helped" me to erase my CF card just in case....

Makes for a pretty iron clad NDA. 






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Time-Lapse Photography project in New York: Cipriani

The beauty of time-lapse photography is that you are able compress a much longer event, into a shorter video which can be visually grasped. One of the biggest time-lapse projects I have been involved in, is for a New York event planner, Norma Cohen Productions, who needed a time-lapse video to show the epic scale of a wedding reception that she was tasked with. It took 3 days to set up this entire event! I shot 32,500 RAW frames with 4 cameras over the course of those 3 days. And yes, it took my computer several days to grind through those!

In working out the logistics for this photo shoot, I figured that I needed a minimum of 4 cameras. The one camera was mounted permanently to a vantage point two floors up, and would shoot continuously and provide a framework for me to add the other clips to. The other 3 cameras were “roaming” cameras to get different perspectives, and capture the different parts of what was going on. All of this would then give me the footage needed for a dynamic video.

In the end, the main camera gave me the framework for the complete 4’45” video (shown later on in this article.) I rendered the video (from the individual JPGs) via Final Cut Pro X (FCPX). From this main video, I created another 3 shorter versions for my client. The video shown at the top is the shortest version at 1’50” and it probably gives the best impression of the activity – short enough to retain your interest, but with enough detail to retain the story-telling element of what happened.

With this, I want to show some of the behind-the-scenes work that went into photographing the construction of the decor at this event, and creating various time-lapse videos from this.

 


 

This is where the main, static camera was clamped into position. The camera was also connected to AC power which allowed the camera run indefinitely. Similarly, the timer that you can see there, would also fire the camera until the end of the project, 3.5 days later. Since the camera’s intervalometer maxed out at 9,999 frames, I needed the intervalometer to just keep shooting until we were done. There were two long breaks (of 6-7 hours) during all this, which allowed me to download this camera’s memory cards. Other than that, this camera was just left alone, with me checking up on it every few hours.

 

Decisions and problem-solving

Much of photography work is problem-solving. You could even validly argue that there is more of that than the actual creative process. We might have a specific thought-process or set of ideal practices to follow, but there is also a need for flexibility. You know, just what we do in photography.

With this photo shoot I didn’t have much of a brief. I find that often clients don’t know what to ask for with time-lapse, since they don’t have the technical knowledge to know what they want – they just want time-lapse. And that is where we come in as photographers and problem-solvers. So I had to made decisions based on past experience, and what I think would work best.

My main consideration was what intervals should I use to shoot the sequences. This would determine how much the action flowed. How smooth it seemed. And this would in turn give us a range for our ideal shutter speed. I needed to have this down right from the start. It isn’t something I would want to adjust on the fly because I wanted consistency.

The thought-process about camera settings and interval choice was explained in this article:  Camera settings for Time-lapse photography. Also check out the n E-book by Ryan Chilinski: Everything you want to know about Time-Lapse Photography. It really has everything you want to know about Time-Lapse Photography.

Along those lines, I decided on:
20 second intervals with 15 second shutter speed.
This would mean my ISO would vary between 64 – 100 ISO,
and the aperture would vary between f/11 and f/16

Now we come to another crucial part – with an interval of 20 seconds between each photo, a camera would take 3 photos per minute. At a frame-rate of 30fps for the final videos, a camera would need to run for 10 minutes to give 1 seconds of final video.

Therefore any of the roaming cameras had to be in a position for an hour to give 6 seconds of time-lapse video. Any video segment shorter than 6 seconds would most likely not be useful. This meant that anywhere I positioned the camera, needed to be out of the way of workers, and also needed to have something useful in the frame to give a video clip with actual usable content. I couldn’t keep chasing the action. I had to figure out a good angle where they would be busy, and hope that any workers would be consistently busy in that area for the next hour at least.

Even though it wasn’t very bright inside this venue, the slow shutter speed forced a small aperture. I didn’t want to go all the way and use ND filters. When the light levels went really low towards the end as they set up the mood lighting around the tables. the images were under-exposed by up to 3 stops. But since this is the Nikon D810, and I am shooting at the lowest ISO with a high-resolution camera … and only going to 1080p, noise would not be a problem at all. I adjusted these files by hand, using ACR / Bridge. From these I created JPGs, and then rendered the separate video clips with FCPX, and then compiled the completed videos again with FCPX.

 


 

Cameras, lenses & time-lapse gear

I took this photo the day before as I was preparing my gear. These were the cameras I took with me:

The one camera could have a grip on it. During the shoot, I found that the D810 batteries lasted about 4 hrs each, shooting at the determined rate.

With the grip, I  was able to change the grip’s battery every 4 hours without interrupting the camera … ie, this gave me indefinite battery life as it switched to the camera for a minute before reverting back to the fresh battery in the grip. This is where the Nikon bodies with a grip gives me an advantage over a Canon body. I could hot-swap a battery and the camera would continue. I just had to be super-careful not to nudge the camera. Another note – with Canon, the moment you open the CF card door, the camera stops. With Nikon I can open the CF card too, and hot-swap a card without affecting the camera’s operation … except perhaps lose one frame.

The one camera that would get the aerial view, would be on AC power.

 

This is the camera and lens combination that I mostly keep for work on a dolly for when I need cinematic movement to my camera. Here is an example of a time-lapse video shot on a dolly that gives that kind of camera movement: Brooklyn waterfront.

Even though 1080p is around 2 megapixels, and even 4K is only around 6 megapixels, I shoot with the high-resolution Nikon D810, since it allows me a lot of room for creative cropping afterwards. This previously mentioned article – Camera settings for Time-lapse photography – explains that too.

 

The Nikon D5 and the 24-70mm lens is one of those combinations that are married – the lens just never comes off, in an attempt to minimize dust on the sensor. But during the shoot I realized I needed a wider lens at some point, and I grudgingly swapped the 24-70mm out for that wider zoom.

 

 

Here is all the gear before I strapped the bags down on the cart. The big bag on top has all the time-lapse gear, including the dollies and other paraphernalia of time-lapse photography. I ended up not using any of the gear that gives camera movement, except one sequence that I shot with the  Dynamic Perception Rotational Controller (affiliate). I found that the workers were too unpredictable in where they would work on the floor, for me to set up motion. So aside from the one sequence, the rest of the 40+ sequences I captured, where static. You can see part of that rotational sequence in the longer time-lapse video shown at the bottom of this article.

The bag to the right on the bottom, only contains tripods …. three of these bad boys:
Manfrotto 057 Carbon Fiber Tripod  (B&H / Amazon),  with the Manfrotto 057 Magnesium Ball Head (Amazon)
The tripods need to be sturdy. You absolutely need to keep camera vibration to a minimum.

The bottom bag to the left has all the cameras and lenses and batteries for the cameras.

Here is a video interview with PDN magazine, where I describe the equipment that I use for time-lapse photography:  Featured on PDN: How to shoot cinematic time-lapses.

A few notes: 
– Vibration Reduction / Image Stabilization needs to be OFF on all lenses. You can’t risk the VR / IS causing even the slightest amount of subject movement in the captured frame.
– Similarly, the lenses are set to manual focus.
– All camera settings are matched, including the date & time settings.

 

Sensor dust and cleaning your sensor

With time-lapse photography you will immediately realize that your sensor needs to be meticulously clean. This is why I have two D810 bodies with lenses that just never come off. It is soul-sucking nightmare to clone out dust spots over hundreds or thousands of frames … and most often you won’t be able to convincingly do it since you will see some kind of video artifacting taking place where you clone out spots.

I describe what I use for Camera sensor cleaning. The best device that I found for lifting spots that won’t budge, is the Eyelead SCK-1 sensor gel stick (Amazon).

Ultimately, marrying lenses to specific bodies helps minimize the risk of sensor dust.

 


 

A few behind-the-scenes photos showing the cameras as they were set up to capture specific sequences of events happening.

Two of the cameras on the floor, capturing the two flower walls being completed on either side of the dance floor.

 

Because it was such a long project, I had to periodically back up the images to two hard drives so that there was no risk of data loss. That is something I am paranoid about. Data loss would be a professional calamity.

Here is the one camera as it was set up with the rotational motion controller. As mentioned earlier, I only shot one sequence this way.

 


 

And here is the full, 4’45” video showing the events in a proper time scale. With that, I do think the shorter version is the more dynamic one to watch, and still get a real impression of what went on.

 

Related articles

 

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I'm a fan of using cameras correctly. In many instances a really cheap camera, use right, can create files that look much, much better than a very expensive, state-of-the-art camera. If you take a decent camera, get the white balance zero'd in correctly, figure out exactly where you want to place the depth of field and then put the whole shebang on a sturdy tripod you'd be hard pressed to tell the difference between a Phase One medium format camera and, well, a micro-four thirds camera.

This is, ostensibly, a simple shot. Just hang out about three feet outside the door of the room (the powerful magnetic field created by the newest generation of MRI machines can turn innocent cameras and tripods into deadly, high speed projectiles.... think: rail gun. Also, subject to the inverse square law....) and shoot to your heart's content.

Except... the machine and the room are only illuminated by relatively few compact fluorescent bulbs stuck in ceiling cans and distributed around the room just where you don't want them... The room had deep, dark shadows and areas of burnt out highlights. This became apparent when I shot my first test frame.

Without being able to light the room we needed to work with what we had and what the camera could supply us for leverage.

I switched from my usual RAW file camera setting to the finest Jpeg setting so I could take advantage of the Panasonic GH5's built-in HDR setting. Then I took a series of exposures at different starting settings so I could evaluate the sweet spot (or sweet frame) where the highest resisted burn-out but the shadow were opened up enough so that, with a little more boost in PhotoShop, I'd be able to create files that we liked.

I used the camera on a smaller Gitzo tripod about two and a half feet off the floor. I originally composed the shot a bit wider than shown here so I could crop and correct perspective. I used the Panasonic/Leica 8-18mm lens because I depended on its ability to help me fine tune final composition. The built-in level helped me keep the shot from being too wacky.

For safety's sake I also shot a bracket of RAW shots with the idea that I could blend them in post production if my in camera HDR didn't make the grade.

At f5.6 and an ISO of 200 all of the parts of the machine that I think should be sharply focused are. The lower ISO goes a long way to equalizing the quality between a shot in this format and an equivalent shot done with a full frame camera in that the full frame system would require me to stop down two more stop in order to get the same depth of field. Probably not critical in this show as we could have dragged the shutter on the full frame camera to make the exposures equal. But nice to be able to use a lens in its optimum aperture range and still get the deep focus required without worrying about the effects of diffraction.

This was the first of many shots we did that day. Some with people and some without.

This shot prompted me to go back and look at a shot we'd done back in 1988 for Central Texas Medical Center. They had just gotten a CT Scanner (no magnetic/kinetic danger...) and part of a brochure assignment was to take a sexy photo of that machine. It was the age of color filters and 4x5 sheet film.

CT Scanner. Circa 1988.

I was working with art director, Belinda Yarritu, on a brochure project for a new hospital in central Texas. It was located in San Marcos, Texas. During the course of the day we shot a beautiful mom and baby in a maternity room setting, nurses with geriatric patients, earnest looking doctors, spiffy looking lobbies and much more. But the most technical shot we did that day was in the CT Scanner area you see above. 

We shot everything that day on 4x5 transparency sheet film because, well, that's just the way advertising shots that might end up as double truck spreads were done back then. We were also hauling around 2 Norman 2,000 watt second power packs and a box full of flash heads. 

The shot above was done on a Linhof 4x5 using a 90mm lens stopped down to about f32. I wanted to get as much in focus as I could. We used four flash heads running off two 30 pound power packs and, as you can see, we used a mess of filters. 

We were shooting ISO 64 sheet film and my meter reading told me we'd need to turn out the room lights and modeling lights and hit the power packs for four separate exposures to get enough light onto the film; we were battling reciprocity failure at the f-stop I wanted to use. We also had to put black velvet over the computer screen for the flash shots and then do a separate exposure for the actual screen information (screen on the right, just to the right of the phone...). So, four pops for the room and about 10 seconds for the screen. Sadly, Polaroid had much quicker reciprocity failure and wasn't as useful as an exposure tool for lighting situations like this. 

The shot at the top of the blog took about three minutes. Lighting and testing a shooting the shot on film, just above, was probably 45 minutes to an hour of time. A lot has changed. 

It's fun to see the difference over 30 years... It was a different and less sophisticated market back then. 





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Jennifer. Goggles. ©Kirk Tuck.


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Bloggers and reviewers of cameras tend to direct their attention to things that are measurable and comparable and, if you are into charts, graphs and measurements, this can certainly be interesting and entertaining but lately, when I'm looking for something fun to read about my hobby of photography I find myself wanting to read more about the personality of a camera or the the way in which the object itself (the camera) changed, amplified or even ruined the creative process of shooting photographs for the writer. I found myself thinking, "Tell me why this camera is your companion. Tell me stories about how you spend your time with your camera. Tell me why, after years of experience, this is the camera for you." 

There was a time when the best image making cameras on the market were also the biggest. Think back to the Nikon D3x or the Canon EOS-1Dmk3. These were the cameras that really pioneered the higher resolution sensors but they did so in frightfully expensive, bulky and ungainly packages. If you wanted the highest performance you just sucked it up, went broke, and carried around a beast.

I think most of us agree these days that the majority of cameras using modern sensors have passed over the bar which stands between sufficiently good for just about everything and "non-starter."

So just what is it that I like about the GH5 (and also the GH4)?  

When I walked into Precision Camera to see the first GH5 I was already shooting a different system; one which checked all the techno-boxes for low noise, high resolution, high bit depth, and superb detail. It was everything a technocrat could love in a camera system and I should have been happy with it but there was always the niggling feeling that the way it felt in my hands was a bit off. A bit sloppy and possessed of too many sharp corners and hard edges. It also felt a bit chintzy. As though a good, bumpy bike ride might put its internal parts out of whack.

That system was a bit schizophrenic. Its mirrorless heritage must have made the original designers feel that it should be smaller than DSLRs, as though the smaller profile would be a selling point. At the same time, in order to go toe-to-toe with the DSLR competitors the lenses (needing to cover full frame) were as ponderous and hefty as those made for all the other full frame systems; and pricier into the bargain. So, if I wanted a good performing long zoom I could by either a f4 or f2.8 version of a 70-200mm zoom, either of which dwarfed the cameras on which I could use them. It was a system of imbalances for me.

The camera system I owned a generation before that was a "professional" DSLR centric system featuring bodies and accessories that were big, obvious, inelegant and ungainly. If you wanted to play at the popular culture's version of a professional photographer you certainly couldn't go wrong strapping a bunch of these heavy bodies and lenses over your shoulders and across your torso. But you could write off any sort of discreet presentation because the sheer bulk of the system denied you any camouflage. It was essentially camera as theater.

So, when I decided that all interchangeable lens camera systems had hit the point where 95% of my jobs could be satisfied with any of them I circled back to the smaller systems. After 30 years of hauling around way too much gear I was interested in acquiring a new generation of equipment that would just get out of the way. And that could be packed in bags I could carry for miles without wanting to change careers.

I looked at the Olympus cameras but, truth be told, without the addition of battery grips those cameras are just too small to be comfortable for me. I've owned many different Olympus bodies over the years and enjoyed the files I got from them but I wanted more space for my hands, more space for hard controls, and bodies that could be paired with heavy duty, professional lenses (some of them from Olympus) and not feel ultimately unbalanced.

When the person on the other side of the counter at the camera store handed me the GH5, fitted with a 12-35mm f2.8 lens, I was immediately struck by how well it fit in my hands, how nicely the controls were laid out and also how solid the camera felt, structurally. But the proof is in the daily using....

I'm a traditionalist so once I unboxed the camera and charged the batteries I was ready to do my first bit of customization to make the camera familiar to me. I took one look at the crappy, promotional neck strap supplied with the camera, logo emblazoned in 72 point, red type, and I threw it into the trash. There must be something in every camera maker's marketing department that requires them to leave good taste at home when considering the look (and feel) of camera straps. The are all uniformly ugly and just scream, "free marketing." 

My preference is for the pedestrian Tamrac strap with integrated leather shoulder pad. Not a big pad and not a pad of contrasting color but just enough black dyed leather to give good purchase on the shoulder of a cotton shirt or wool jacket. Nothing fancy and certainly not the childish, faux military visual aggression of something like the laughable Black Rapid (camera killer) Strap. I have the Tamrac straps on every camera I own and they are like a warm handshake at the beginning of every use.

The first thing the survivor of a lesser camera body notices is that the GH5 is the round peg in the round hole. The size is perfect. Not so small as to cause your pinky fingers to curl up and cramp and not so big as to cause casual bystanders to point and gawk. Not so ubiquitously branded that everyone's uncle wants to come up and talk to you about his camera model from the same company.  No, it's the perfect size for a usable camera that can accompany you with little fanfare (or drama) as you glide through life.

I was unpacking and getting ready to shoot in a medical clinic a week or so ago. My assistant was setting up three mono light flashes on stands while I pulled one of the three Panasonic bodies I brought with me out of the small backpack in which they travel. I twisted off the body cap and put it back into the bag. I selected the Olympus 12-100mm f4.0 Pro lens as my top choice for my first shots of the day and I put it on the camera. The next step was to flick the power switch on and start checking my settings.

I wanted to make sure the image stabilization was turned on, that I was shooting raw and that I had all the parameters for the files set the way I like them so I can make good assessments as I go. Next, two v90 memory cards get loaded into their slots and each is formatted. The touchscreen on the LCD makes whipping through the menus incredibly quick and easy and it doesn't hurt that the menus are easy on the brain. No Roswellian menu icons here....

With the camera and lens configured I put the strap over my left shoulder and start walking around the facility figuring out how I'll shoot. I see something I want to make a visual note of and I reach down for the camera. I leave it on all the time while I'm shooting so there's no wait state when I'm ready to use it. I feel my right hand instinctively wrap around the grip and, cradling the bottom of the camera with my left hand I bring it up to my eye. The finder image is perfect. The best I've used.

The left side of the camera has a big, smooth space that comes in handy if I need to switch to a vertical orientation. It sits in the palm of my left hand while I work the controls with my right. While the 12-100mm is bigger than most of the primes it's not that big when you factor in what it does. And the bigger size of the GH5 makes it more comfy to use than the cameras in the lens's own system.

I'm standing on my tiptoes peering into the EVF of the GH5 and trying to set up a shot and get the composition just right. The camera is locked on a tripod and I've got it set just exactly right. But I realize I need to dial in about -2/3 stop of exposure compensation. Without having to ( or being able to) see the top panel to find the button for exposure compensation I find it immediately by touch.  I know the button is the right one because it's one of three buttons just behind the control wheel at the top of the handgrip. It's not the dedicated White Balance button because that one is on the left of the three and is tactilely identifiable by its taller profile and rounded surface.  I know it's not the dedicated ISO button because that button has two small prongs that gently remind your index finger that this is the button you push to change sensitivity. You know your finger is on the exposure compensation button because it's more flush (almost indented) and smaller than its two mates.

Since I'm attempting to fine tune exposure and there is a human in the shot and I want to see something other than just a histogram or in-camera meter indication while I'm setting exposure comp. I remember that I've set the function button just behind the row of three dedicated buttons(just above) to turn on zebras and toggle them through different strengths. I set zebras to 85, get them to start doing their thing on the talent's flesh tones in the finder and then roll down the exposure comp until the zebras disappear. I want to be 1/3 to 1/2 stop under the point where the zebras stop flashing to make certain that caucasian flesh tones render correctly. Once set I hit the button again so I don't get annoyed at having to look at the zebras in the finder as I shoot.

With two ultra-fast V90, UHS-II SD cards in their slots the camera is amazingly responsive. The buffer seems to clear instantly. I'm never waiting for the camera.

The camera comes off the tripod so we can shoot super close and super wide and see a technician through the parts of a medical scanning device. I use the 8-18mm lens to get as close to the machine as possible. The lighting is low so we can read the function lights on the control panel of the machine. I need to use a slow shutter speed to keep the ISO down but the camera inspires confidence. If everyone stays still we can pull off some pretty amazing slow shutter speed shots. I try a bracket of shots around 1/8th of a second and 1/15th of a second. They are all sharply detailed. The in-body image stabilization works very well.

We're moving quickly now and I've got the camera around my neck and several speed lights set up to provide soft lighting for a series of quick portraits. Sticking the flash trigger in the hot shoe causes the camera to cancel out of "setting effect" and gives me a nice, bright image with which to focus. I pull the trigger out of the hot shoe and set the exposure by eye using setting effect. Once the manual exposure for available light is dialed in I put the trigger back on the camera and go back to the bright viewfinder image. A quick test shot shows me a good balance between natural light and the flash. We're ready to shoot.

I'm shooting handheld and the in-body image stabilization helps to ensure that the ambient light that makes up part of the exposure doesn't show off camera movement.

It's lunch time now and I stop to check a few shots and look at the rear panel of the camera. We've had the camera on non-stop for nearly three hours and we're down to the last few bars of power indication for the battery. I change the battery out, put the camera over my shoulder on its strap and grab a sandwich and some salad from the craft service table.

My client is anxious to take a better look at the material we've been shooting so as we sit and have lunch my assistant plugs a full size HDMI cable into the port on our shooting camera and connects the other end to an Atomos Ninja Flame monitor. We're able to review our work on a big, bright screen and not worry about the smaller, inherently precarious HDMI connections available on all the other more "semi-" professional cameras on the market....

We get to shooting stills for the rest of the afternoon. Near the end of our shooting day we get a visitor to our location and he turns out to be a specialist in medical imaging. The clients asks if we can get a quick interview. She means "video" interview. I set up the camera on the monopod with fluid head which I've just recently added to the car, pin a microphone on the man's jacket and check levels and lighting. We're good to go. The client suggests starting the interview with a close-up on the machine the interviewee will be discussing and the panning and pulling focus to the talent. We set up the automatic follow focus in the camera menu, do a few rehearsals and then shoot footage with a text book perfect focus pull. Five minutes later we're wrapping the interview with some great 200 mb/s All-Intra footage and we're ready to go back to still mode to get a few more shots.

The last shot is a new MRI scanner that's an example of the latest tech in medical scanners. I'm shooting low and from just outside the door (dangerous magnetic field inside).  The composition the shot is good but the lighting is way too contrasty. I switch to the fine Jpeg setting and enable the in-camera HDR, setting it to a three stop composite. The tripod is splayed so our camera is about a foot above the floor so I'm lining everything up on the rear tilting screen and thanking the photo gods for live previews. I'm focusing manually so I can place the depth of field with greater accuracy.

Several quick tests later we've found a setting that preserves highlights, brings up some shadows and works. We bracket a set and then switch back to raw to record a back up set of images to use in case we want to do a different HDR style in PhotoShop.

It's time to wrap up so I put a red rubber band around my shooting camera and toss it back into the backpack. When I get back to the studio I'll know from the rubber band that this was the shooting camera and I'll pull the cards and battery from it. In the meantime I pull a second GH5 body from the backpack, attach my favorite lens of the day (the Contax/Zeiss 50mm f1.7) on the front, set the focal length for the IBIS and hit the menu to make sure my settings are just how I like them. This is now my personal camera and it's ready to shoot anything interesting between the client location and the studio.

This camera also has an inexpensive Tamrac strap on it. The diopter is already set to work with my new glasses. The camera feels so perfect in my hand and, as my assist drives us back to Austin I find myself unconsciously holding the camera and going over each function button, re-memorizing its exact position and loaded feature.

The camera is not so big as to be a burden or an intimidation. It's not so small that it feels squirrel-ly in one's hands. It's not overwhelmed by bigger, professional lenses but not so big that pancake lenses are dwarfed by the body.

Later that evening I went for a walk downtown and brought along the camera and the very tiny 42.5mm f1.7 Panasonic lens. I chose this lens for my walk because it was twilight and soon I'd be shooting with nothing but the illumination from street lights and shop lights. The 42.5 is pretty sharp when used wide open and amazingly sharp when used at f2.5-2.8. The lens has its own optical stabilization and it's one of the lenses whose I.S. can work in conjunction with the camera's own built-in I.S. It's a feature called, dual-axis I.S. It might not be quite as good as an Olympus EM5-II or OMD-EM-1.2 but it's clearly better than anything from the other camera makers, and not far behind Olympus....

When using this combo the EVF image is perfectly stabilized with a half-press on the shutter button. It makes composition easier because it keeps the finder image from jittering or moving around. I'm walking past a coffee shop and I see an interesting customer in the window. He's in his 60's or early 70's, is impeccably dressed and has a small stack of books in front of him on a small wooden table. He's got a book open on top of the stack and he's referencing that book while jotting something down on a yellow legal pad just to the right of the stack. I take a meter reading and it tells me I'll be shooting at f2.2 at 1/8th second at 200 ISO. I line up my shot, exhale slowly and push the shutter button. The shot is crisp and detailed. I drop the camera to my side where it dangles on the strap and I move on. The small size of the camera and its dark exterior finish blend in with the deep gray sport coat I am wearing and becomes almost invisible.

I reach down one more time to wrap my hand around the grip. It is entirely possible I've found my favorite camera body of all time.

It may not have all the bells and whistles and technical superiority (for stills) that some full frame or even APS-C camera might have but many of those attributes are mostly theoretical. Most users lack of discipline and technique water down advertised perfection.  The makers of those cameras have focused solely, it seems, on impressing us with numbers and specifications but usually at the expense of handling and pure design logic.

But let's talk about image quality for a bit. Most experts agree that the color and tonal quality of the video files at 4K run rings around their competition but most people considering this camera are apprehensive about the still image quality. It's not as good as some full frame cameras when you dial up the ISO; I get that. But in my day-to-day use that's not a vital parameter.

I got a panicky e-mail from a client yesterday. There was a photo we took last year of a doctor and his family.  A young doctor, his wife and four small kids. We took the shot in the studio. We lit it with flash. The client needed a copy in a different format. I opened the file in PhotoShop and took a quick look. I blew it up full screen and it looked good. Actually, great. I remembered that we took the image sometime during my switch of systems so I assumed it was made with a 42 megapixel Sony. I blew it up to 100% and sighed, thinking of how rich that file looked and wondering if my system change made any sense at all...

Then I looked at the metadata. Oops. It was a raw file from the GH5 taken with the Olympus 12-100mm Pro lens. It looked pretty incredible. It fooled me.

I took the camera with me to coffee this afternoon. I had the old Contax lens on the front. When I left the coffee shop to head home I saw an interesting image. The camera was at my side. I flicked on the power switched, quick focused with the focus peaking and shot. It's a beautiful twilight shot in a light mix and it's perfect.

This is why I like this camera but hate most reviews. It's clearly more than just the sum of its specifications. And if you shoot video it's like getting two great cameras for the price of one.

But most important to me is that it's a camera I actually enjoy having by my side. Always.


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I liked the way I lit portraits in the time when big film allowed us to take maximum advantage of film's gorgeous highlight roll off. We could light right up to the edge of overexposure with black and white emulsion and especially with color negative film emulsions and have an almost certain expectation that we'd be able to manifest endless tones in even the brightest areas of our prints. When I shot 35mm transparency film I was a habitual user of a handheld, incident light meter so I could carefully match the light levels to a color zone system that occupied space in the logical part of my brain. The interim steps of either scanning or printing added a safety margin to our war against burnt highlights as well.

When we jumped across the chasm to digital capture it seems that the biggest casualty has always been the ability to retain great highlight detail without having to underexpose and then raise all the tones in order to compensate for our timidity. Until recently the method of underexposing in order to preserve valid highlight detail and tonality carried with it the curse of noisy and information poor shadow and lower mid-tone areas. There was also the very real disaster of banding in the shadows and mid-tone transitions that were the manifestation of lack of bit depth in the lower registers.

This was somewhat mitigated around 2014 when Sony sensors became more or less immune to the worst ravages of underexposure. Now that the technology of the shadow tolerant sensors have been implemented everywhere but in the Canon camp most of use are breathing a little sigh of relief. I have noticed though that m4:3 users are still closer to the edge in terms of highlight control versus overall dynamic range that we might want. Yes, the modern m4:3 cameras can do the same underexposure+lifted highlights trick as the cameras with bigger sensors but few are capable of shooting 14 bit raw files (perhaps only the GH5S...) and there is still some trade off between the overall information density of a camera like the Nikon D850 and the Panasonic GH5, in the realm of still photography.

Since I've cast my lot with the smaller sensor cameras I'm re-thinking how I light my portraits and I'm experimenting with ways to do so that don't depend on post production heroics or magic.

I'm more interested now in making light that's composed of smaller, closer lighting units. In the past I was a proponent of large light sources. I've often written about using 6x6 foot diffusion screens as main light sources as well as 72 inch diameter umbrellas, complete with diffusions socks over the front. Now I'm interested in using smaller soft boxes or, in the case of LED lighting, smaller diffusion flags, closer in toward my subjects and then using multiple sources to build an overall lighting design rather than just depending on big, soft sources and the necessary post partum enhancement.

Part of my investigation has to do with my increasing use of high quality LED panels in video settings. I'm re-learning how to sculpt faces better without imperiling my highlights or adding to much texture to faces that don't want to show off the daily battle scars of life.

In these undertakings it's good to remember that the inverse square law is your first assistant. Accelerating fall off is delicious, when used correctly.

I'm working on some examples of lighting that yield a tighter delineation of facial form and more interesting tonal transitions that I've used in the past. It's not enough just to get sufficient photons onto a subject; I'd like the photons, collectively, to also describe a more interesting range of information.

Just a few thoughts about lighting today. I've been watching too many Gordon Willis movies (a great DP). The lighting is just so much more interesting that most of mine. Now a conscious work in progress.


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Instagram

I’m cool and hip with this Instagram thing. So much, that I had two accounts – my main account (@neilvn), and one for the Tangents blog. But you know what – it is time to embrace just the one IG account.

So to all you groovy, groovy people – please follow me @neilvn  which will be the Instagram account is where I’ll be posting images that appear on the Tangents blog, as well as anything else that is eye-catching.  Until now, I’ve used the neilvn Instagram account purely just for photos shot with my iPhone and Instagram itself. However, I think it is long overdue that I also share everything that I do that is of interest, via one Instagram account.

So please follow me there. Or don’t. I’m cool enough to act like I don’t care. But really, I do care! A lot.

If you are curious about the photograph, (without all the text over it), you can check it out here:  Personal photos from the archives – South Africa

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I hadn't seen a lot of press about this book when I stumbled across it. As a big, big Avedon fan I had to buy it and start reading it immediately. In my estimate he's one of the five powerhouse photographers who shaped Photography across the 20th century; especially in the United States of America. His work is powerful and seems to be doing a great job withstanding all tests of time.

So here, finally, is a definitive biography of a man who changed the business of photography, written by a business partner who knew him socially, commercially and as one of his closest confidantes. 

The interesting thing, to me, about the book and the story it tells is how Avedon almost single-handedly demanded that photographers of a certain stature get well paid for their work, their insight and their art. Consider this, in 1965 he was asked to become a photographer for Vogue Magazine. He'd been the super star photographer at Harper's Bazaar previously. He demanded (and got!) a contract for one million dollars per year. In 1965. And this was not an exclusive contract, nor were the demands on his time constricting. He continued to work for the French arts magazine, Egoiste, as well as a legion of commercial, advertising clients. 

The reason he was able to command lofty fees and huge retainers? It was a simple equation; when Avedon shot something the metrics of newsstand magazines sales and client product sales skyrocketed. Clearly he was able to tap into the markets in a way his competitors could not, and he was rewarded for it. 

While the book, written by his business partner of 37 years, has a chatty, sorority girl feel to the prose and the subject matter ranges from deep insights into business and art philosophy all the way to catty name calling and reputation slamming but the underlying stories are endlessly fascinating to someone like me who is still amazed at what Avedon was able to accomplish, and the legacy he left behind. 

I'm on page 335 of 672 pages and I'm loathe to put it down; even to write this...

If you want to see just how golden that particular "golden age" of photography was then this is the history book that looks behind the seamless background paper of a master image maker who was, perhaps, even more masterful as the marketer of his own image and vision. It's well worth the read if only to serve as a kick in the ass to raise your own expectations of what can be done.

Buy it. Read it. Laugh at it. Whatever. 

Note: I know that some readers don't hold Avedon in the same regard I do and I'm willing to listen to your (valid, non-emotional) reasons but if you just want to come here and trash him be aware that those comments probably won't pass by our resident censor. 


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In the meantime I've got nothing new to post.


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Photograph from our marketing shoot for ZACH Theatre's production of:
"The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time."

I was hauling my enormous Panasonic G85 around with me this morning as Studio Dog and I patrolled the neighborhood looking for deers and skunks at which to bark. I was giving some long thought to a few things I'd read recently on the web about using cellphones as cameras, in place of "real" cameras and it struck me that we've come to believe that it's a multiplicity of uses that drives adaptation of smart phones to take some people's daily photos. 

I began to think: What if it's not the immediacy of being able to send a photo that moment that's driving the adoption? What if people just like the form factor and the fact that newer generations of processors and software have made the images from the small form factors much more appealing and technically sufficient? 

The top dog in the cellphone market right now, for photography, video and day-to-day stay in touch at all costs syndrome, is probably the iPhone X. Big screen, fast processing, many (too many) features, much technology dedicated to things like facial recognition, banking security, fast access to multiple networks, the ability to crunch more data more quickly, etc. The downside of owning the "best" cellphone camera on the market is obviously the price. It's north of a thousand bucks. 

This led me to start thinking about an alternate product; one that I would want to have, one that would appeal to purists looking to downsize from Godzilla DSLRs into a product that was capable of taking good images but really, really fit into a pocket. And how about one without a recurring, monthly price burden? 

There are many times when I think I would like to own a super small camera that did 4K video, had image stabilization, made good images and had ample storage. Something the size of my iPhone 5S but without the initial purchase price penalty or the monthly subscription to AT&T to keep the whole mess breathing.

Here's the camera I designed in my head as Studio Dog sniffed fresh deer poop: It would have the same form factor as the iPhone 5S. All internal electronics would be dedicated to the perfect processing of images and videos. There would be no web access, no wi-fi, no bluetooth, no apps. It would shoot in raw and basic Jpeg as well as H.265 video. There would be three external ports across the bottom end of the device: One 3.5mm jack for microphones. One 3.5mm jack for headphones. One USB3 C port for charging and seamless downloading of images. The interior space would be dedicated to battery, processing and storage. No antennae, no gingerbread, but also no high prices.

The mini-camera should hit the market at $199 or less. A one time buy. No contracts. No monthly dues. No endless parade of apps to buy. Just buy the device, charge it and go shoot. Finished shooting? Go home, plug it into your computer, tablet or laptop (or even your phone) and download your images. Recharge, do it again.

There are already cheap phones on the market with cameras but most of them absolutely suck as a camera. Think of this device as the iPod of cameras. A dedicated device tuned to the way real photographers want to use them. 

Yes, we are all pretty affluent and we already have phones but think about the legions of younger, less affluent people who can't afford the stretch to the very best phones --- especially the weird conundrum of unlocked phones with no service plan. I think they (the ardent imaging fans) would lunge for something like this. 

Think also of the people who need "crash cameras" for dangerous shooting situations where the likelihood of losing a camera is high. A bag full of $199 fully capable mini-cams could be just right. They would be elegant versions of GoPros but with better performance and a more enticing design aesthetic. 

I'd buy one in a heartbeat. Part of the attraction to me is the singular nature of the device's nature. It would have one role; imaging. It would have one attractive feature set: easy to carry and nearly disposable. It would be the perfect camera for kids and people who sometimes get pushed into the swimming pool with their street clothes on. Might not survive the chlorinated water but it wouldn't cost a thousand bucks to replace. 

I don't always want a phone. If I used my iPhone as a camera I would be pissed off when people called as I was trying to take a photo. If I turn off the phone I also turn off the camera. Yes, I could ignore the ring but yes, I could ignore mosquitos and loud banging noises but they don't help me concentrate on the task at hand. 

Would you buy one? Something the photographic equivalent of an iPhone 6 or 7 but without all the social magnet bullshit installed? I would. I would jump at the chance. For those times when I'm in a suit and tie and a camera slung over the shoulder just isn't right....


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Sidney. ©2018 Kirk Tuck

Tech specs: Panasonic GH5. Lens: Rokinon 50mm f1.2 UMC (for cropped framers). Aspect ratio set to square. Converted to black and white in DXO Film Pack. Tri-X setting. Finished in Snapseed. 


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Sidney. ©2018 Kirk Tuck



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Sidney. ©2018 Kirk Tuck



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Sidney. ©2018 Kirk Tuck


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Image taken in our little studio using a 4x6 foot panel with several LED lights blasting into the diffusion material on the panel. One small, battery powered LED panel on the background.

I worked with Sidney for an hour and a half and we got some fun stuff for her portfolio. It was nice to just do a simple shot in the studio for a change. Seems like everything else we've done this year has been on location.

It was fun to shoot nearly wide open and see just how well the lens and body worked together in manual focus.

More to come.


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What’s in my bag – lighting gear for headshots on location

In one of the previous articles dealing with lighting gear for headshots on location – headshot photography lighting on location – I showed the need to be flexible. There I showed a number of the setups I have used, depending on the client’s needs, and also dependent on where we are shooting. With this article now, I want to more specifically show the lighting gear I have in my lighting roller case – my usual minimum setup. As you might expect by now, my lighting choice is based on the Profoto B1 and A1 flashes. It is a reliable, and easy to use ecosystem of lights.

Most often I don’t have the luxury of a lot of time to set up – so the gear should not be fussy to use. Even then, it should be flexible enough for me to change things up a little bit.

Oh, this isn’t just my setup for headshots – this is my general setup for any kind of shoot where I need my lighting gear. For example: Fitness photography – photo session in the gym.

 


 

Here’s what I roll in with when I do headshots or similar type of studio-on-location shoot. Two large roller cases (and a shoulder bag) that contain everything I need. It looks neat and uncluttered. I need to look slick and efficient in front of a client.

The taller bag is the Photoflex Transpac roller case (B&H) / Amazon) from which I stripped out all the dividers so I can more easily fill it up with light-stands and umbrellas. The interior of this roller case is 46″ / 116 cm tall, so anything that is tall goes in this bag.

The shorter bag there is the Think Tank Production Manager 40 (affiliate), which is a high-capacity rolling gear case specifically designed for lighting gear … and the contents of this bag is what I want to show here since it contains the flashes and other accessories that I would use.

 


 

In the first two compartments you can see two Profoto B1 flashes (B&H / Amazon) – they are the two main units I use during most shoots on location. On top of them, you can see the pouches with the OCF grids and gels for the B1 flashes, in case I need those.

The third compartment has two Profoto A1 flashes for Nikon (B&H / Amazon). (They are also available for Canon). I use the A1 flashes for rim lighting, or to light up the backgrounds, or I use them as fill-flash. They are also super-handy should I ever need backup flashes to the B1 units.

That red & black zip pouch has the Profoto A1 gels, as well as spare A1 batteries. I also keep two Manfrotto Snap Tiltheads (B&H / Amazon), in that pouch. They are needed to mount the A1 flash to a light-stand and to attach an umbrella. So everything in that compartment has to do with the A1 flashes.

The 4th compartment has 4 spare B1 batteries, and the Profoto Air controllers for Nikon, Canon and Sony. I primarily shoot with Nikon, but keep all the controllers together. I have the variety because I use the Profoto B1 flashes for some of my photography workshops, and need to be able to use the flashes across platforms.

Then there is the D810 with the 70-200mm f/2.8 VR II which is my main camera & lens for headshots. Of course, I bring backup in a shoulder bag – in which I carry my laptop as well.

The two blue zip-up bags in that one compartment – the one contains the tethering cables and connectors. The other bag has hair spray and cheap $1 combs.  There is a handheld mirror that I keep in the outermost pocket of this roller case.

Then you can see the corner of a white box peek out in the smaller compartment – in there I keep a spare bulb for the B1 flashes. I’ve had one flash die on me when it took a knock and the flash tube cracked. So now I keep a spare. With the two Profoto A1 flashes, and a spare bulb for the B1 units, I should we well covered for an emergency. The small blue bag with the white box is the rain cover that comes with this Think Tank roller case.

Oh, that black thing on top of that white box is …. you guessed it, the Black Foamie Thing. Have BFT, will travel.

 


 

The Manfrotto Snap Tiltheads (B&H / Amazon), are some of the handiest lighting accessories that I have ever bought. They are compact – unlike the cheaper units with the lock handle. Then they also have some kind of spring-loaded mechanism inside, which keeps the top-heavy flash from just toppling over. Brilliant!

What also needs to be mentioned – the way the tilt-head locks the flash into position, is really good. That black textured knob right below the flash, screws up, and locks the flash into position. The flash can not fall off, even if you don’t use the flash’s locking mechanism itself.

They are well thought out to ensure your flash doesn’t get damaged.

There is the slot then for you to slip an umbrella shaft through.

As I mentioned, I keep two of these in a small zip-up bag in the camera case. They are compact enough for that.

 



 

In the aforementioned article on headshot photography lighting on location, I showed several setups. Here again I want to show three recent setups I had for headshots. Of course, it is imperative that I shoot tethered – the client wants to, and needs to see the images right then. Shooting tethered helps involving your subject in the process, and allows them to adjust clothing or hair, and suggest a few changes perhaps.

Here I used a Profoto B1 and a large reflecting umbrella as the main light. I didn’t want to bounce my flash into the area behind me, because there were other vendors right behind me. So I wanted to contain the light. But it turned out that this was just a touch too contrasty as the single light source – therefore I added fill-flash – a Profoto A1 with a handy black foamie thing to flag my flash. This extra light was just enough to give a nice lighting ratio, and lifted the shadows a bit.

For the background, I had a gridded Profoto B1 with a gel to give a warmer glow to the background. The background here is a roll of Fashion Grey made by Savage backdrops (Amazon). I am now using a Lastolite collapsible White / Grey (6×7) background (B&H) which is easier to set up.

 



 

Here I had the ceiling height to use the massive he Westcott 7′ Parabolic Umbrella  (B&H / Amazon). This is my favorite large light modifier – it is light and it isn’t expensive.

Here you can see the Lastolite collapsible White / Grey (6×7) background  (B&H) which I like for the ease with which it sets up. You can see the two Profoto A1 flashes there – one to light the background, and one as a hair / rim light.

 



 

Again, a very similar setup. but to avoid the umbrella reflecting in my eye-glasses, I chose to bounce the main light into the ceiling. This gives a nice soft light that I can still make directional by bouncing it slightly to the side. There is so much spill light, that you don’t really need a fill light to the one side – you just rotate the main light slightly.

With these pull-back shots there is flare because I had my assistant step further back for these photos. For the actual head-shots, I am next to the light, and there is no risk of flare from the main flash.

In the second photo, I stood a little to the side to show the flash lighting up the background. Of course, you can dial the power up to give a brighter background.

The rim-light here is lower than I would usually set it up, but I had to reverse-engineer a previous headshot for the client.

And here is the result – a test shot of me that my assistant took. It is also imperative that you don’t keep your clients waiting – you have to be completely ready when they arrive.

 



 

Related articles

 

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checking the details.

I shot a simple interview last Friday. It took about half an hour to set up and maybe half an hour to shoot. I didn't do much pre-planning and I let a marketing person steer the interview and now I'm in editing hell. The interview subject was articulate and video-genic but... in response to rather open-ended questions from the interviewer she gave us a fast paced recital of much (good) technical information. The pain comes when the marketing team comes back and asks for about thirty minutes of great stuff to be cut down to two minutes. At that point you realize that all that water cooler talk about pre-production is a lot more than random bullshit.

The marketing team and I are both guilty of an age old issue: we should have decided exactly what we wanted this video piece to do, mapped out exactly what we wanted and stopped treating the shooting process as a classic, open ended interview. Not a "Sixty Minutes" piece. In fact, we might have served the final purpose better by defining the answers we wanted and semi-scripting our talent.

Instead I'm slicing and dicing and using ample B-roll to disguise all the quick cuts I'm making in order to piece together a jigsaw puzzle with way too many pieces.

But before you I'm strictly a still photographer - this has no relevance for me types rush to move on to the next gear review I have to point out that what I'm learning today has relevance to both sides of the aisle. I realize that I could have been delivering better and more effective still photography for my clients if I spent a lot more time and effort up front. We have a tendency to let clients indulge in the fantasy that a photograph can serve many, many situations and still work. The reality is that matching the style, content, look and feel and intention of a photography to its final and highest priority use will make for a less generic/homogeneous image and will more solidly glue eyeballs to the screen or the page.

Here's an example that seems always fresh in my mind: Four years ago, when I was shooting mostly with the Panasonic GH4 cameras (and liking them very much) a regular client hired me to shoot a series of tongue-in-cheek images, full length, of a very talented talent who dressed and played the part of: an adventurer, a plumber, a mountain climber, etc. We shot twelve images with props in all. Here's where it got dicey! This client had nearly always worked with me on web-based projects. All our images (with a few small print exceptions) went to phone screens, laptop screens, desktop screens and 1080p monitors at trade shows. The GH4 was the perfect camera for any of these uses, especially so when we were able to bring the talent into the studio and pump up the light letting us shoot at ISO 100 and at optimum apertures. We all looked at the images at the end of the shoot. The client, the agency, the photographer and the talent. We all patted each other on the back.

It was only there at the end that I overheard the agency creative director say to the client that these images were going to look great on posters! Yikes. Here I was shooting 16 megapixel files on a small sensor camera....

When the client got into their shiny German car and sped away I casually asked the creative director to fill me in. He was happy to. The images would run on the client website...and as a series of big, 30x40 inch, printed posters. I smiled as I waved goodbye to the C.D. and then frantically got on the computer to download the latest version of DXO. I was wholly dependent on software to up rez these files into something solid for the final use.

Had I gone through a logical pre-production conversation with the agency I would have asked, first, "What is our primary use of the images? Are there secondary uses? Will there be retouching/compositing involved? Who will do that process? What kinds of files will you need? How do you need them delivered? But, of course, we had gotten comfortable with the consistency of this client's previous use of our images and were only concentrating on getting the creative stuff done.

Had I done my upfront homework I might have decided to rent a higher res camera for this engagement. The client and agency certainly had the budget to pay for it. There would have been no post shoot panic. No lunging for more software.

As it was the IDEA of failing destroyed my appreciation for the cameras I had been working with (happily) and sent me on a senseless journey of camera migration, buying and selling, that lasted years until I ended up back where I started. With a Panasonic GH camera.

This is not an isolated story. And it's not always about the efficacy of the gear. Sometimes we get wrong-headed about the concept. A lot of the time we allow the presumptions of the clients to drive our mistakes.

A few weeks ago we shot in a medical practice and the talent provided to us by the client had skull and crossbones tattoos on each bare forearm. The client was standing right next to the camera. Approved every shot. We took a break and my assistant pulled me aside and asked about the tattoos (this is Austin, after all...). She suggested we rush over to a nearby big box store and get a generic long sleeve shirt for the talent. I didn't take her suggestion and act on it. I figured the client had provided the talent and knew what she was getting.

A week later, long after the images were delivered, the tattoos became "an issue." Not for the initial use but for one of the many, many subsidiary uses for the photos which we never discussed. A long sleeved shirt would have saved us (client and photographer) hours and dollars of careful and complex retouching.

But the painful awareness about the results of not doing pre-production are hardly owned only by working professional photographers. Hobbyists could earn efficiency and make better images by taking the time to knuckle down on research and planning as well. When I am in "hobbyist" mode I often head out of the house with little or no plan other than to walk around with this week's magical lens and try to find fun images, or images that make me look like a good photographer. I often get downtown and realize that there is a motorcycle parade and that a good, longer lens would be more likely to get me the photos I want than the 35mm equivalent some spirited discussion on the web led me to buy.

I might not check the weather and then spend time loitering at the Whole Foods coffee bar, or under welcoming awnings,  waiting for a cold rain to stop. All the time cognizant that I could have been doing something better with my time. And don't get me started on the number of times I headed out without a spare battery....or even an SD card in my camera.

Now I like to go out with a plan. I'm open to chance but, based on the prevailing weather, the event schedule in Austin and some little bit of self-awareness I'm at least having more fun. Now I need to translate that level of preparation back into some of my jobs and stop showing up on autopilot.

New check list: Do I know completely what my client expects? Do I have the right gear to do it? Am I prepared for the weather? Do I have an extra battery? Do I have a big-ass memory card loaded, formatted and ready to go? Have I checked to make sure downtown isn't going to be closed for some awful political rally or construction project? Do I have an idea of what I want to get from the adventure ( pro or amateur ) and am I prepared to improvise? Finally, have I decided on where I'll go for lunch? 

So, back to my video project at hand... I wish I'd used a different microphone. The sound was great but the talent kept hitting the cord and making noise. A cardioid on a stand would have been a better choice than the lavaliere I used. I wish I had asked questions during the interview that would have led to more compact and linear answers. I wish I had reviewed all of the B-roll assets that were available to me so I could steer the interview in a direction that would take advantage of the material I had in my toolbox. I wish we had scripted to a tighter time frame. I wish I could have previsualized how the interview should go in advance. There is no team in I. And the buck stops at the editing workstation.



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It's a near constant in photography; we all love the idea of the fast glass with the rare earth elements and the big expanse of glass across the front. It comes from a constant source of self-delusion, we think that lenses with big apertures and the ability to suck in billions more photons per nano second will make our photographs mystically marvelous. I've fallen for the trap over and over again. I got caught again in the snare just a week or two ago and a few weeks before that as well. 

I think the lens sickness is even worse for people who shoot smaller format camera systems. We're subconsciously (or with both eyes wide open) trying to compensate for the more limited ability to put stuff out of background in our photographs by constantly looking for lenses at every focal length that might be a stop or two sharper than the standard/serviceable lenses at the same angle of view, always hoping that the newest lens computations, coupled with premium glass, will give us high sharpness and the ability to do what our full frame cameras seem to do in a more effortless way; drop things out of focus.  

Here's some advice from the field: Don't bother spending the big bucks to go from f2.0 to f1.2. You won't get what you are looking for and you'll spend dearly for the privilege of trying. 

I packed up my fast glass this last week and went off to shoot an advertising/marketing job. I had dreams of shooting heroic faces framed against gelatinous nothingness, important machines separated from their stark backgrounds by the laws of optics and physics but in nearly every case the regular and routine photos that I take for work (and for play) seem to call for more detail, more context, more  parts in focus. 

There were a few shots where I needed to isolate a small, handheld object; in almost every situation I found that "longer" was just as good or better than "faster." If I wanted to isolate an object then stepping back a few feet and zooming in with a longer lens nearly always was more interesting and effective than staying close and trying desperately to accurately maintain focus through the process. 

The new, sharp, Rokinon 50mm f1.2 UMC was out of my camera bag and on my camera for a little while during the shoot but it quickly became obvious to me that in the modern age a lens like the 12-100mm f4.0 Olympus Pro zoom could run circles around the more traditional lens. Even though it's (gulp!) three stops slower.  It was just so much easier to get exact composition along with a perfect balance of sharp and unsharp with the zoom. 

The Online Photographer recently ran a series of posts about picking lenses. One of the articles proposed a "nested" approach to lens buying. The idea is to buy an all purpose zoom like the 12/100mm. Ostensibly you'd buy one which had a focal length range that is centered around your preferred angle of view, and the lens would also have a high enough performance to be sufficient for the bulk of your work. The lens would probably be bulky so the other part of the advice was to also choose a second lens that would be a single focal length lens also having high performance and, perhaps, a fast aperture. One would use the all purpose lens for .... all purposes and use the nested, "prime" lens for those times when you wanted to divest yourself of the burden of hefty machines and get more in touch with your photographic spirit animals. 

I'm on the fence. I think it's great to be able to change your perspective on lens choice day by day but at other times I pine for the discipline to understand and accept that a lot of lens buying is just emotional compensation for not being as good at this art/craft as I should be after years and years of practice. 

Lenses, especially zoom lenses, have gotten really good lately. Cameras have more or less pounded down the need for high speed apertures to prevent noisy files. That means the only real reason to own "fast glass" now is depth of field control. I guess it makes a certain about of sense to have some fast, middle focal length options. Maybe a 50mm equivalent and an 85-90mm equivalent as well. For those times when the background is just trashed; or needs to be trashed. 

But if I were putting together a system and wanted to stay within a limited budget I'd be looking at all purpose zoom lenses first and foremost. If I still shot Nikon my first lens would be the 24-120mm f4.0. If I were still in the Canon camp it would be the granddaddy of wide-ranging normal zooms, the 24-105mm f4.0. If I were still banging away with some full frame Sony bodies I'd be all over the new 24-105mm G f4.0 lens. In the m4:3rds realm it's always a toss up between range and speed. I made my choice with the Olympus 12-100mm f4.0 but I have a feeling I'd be just as happy with the Olympus 12-40mm f2.8 or even the Panasonic/Leica 12-60mm f-something to f-something.

I've found that these are the lenses that most people; pros and amateurs, use 90% of the time. The next up would be longer and faster zooms like the venerable 70-200mm f2.8s and equivalents. In last place are the wide zooms and after that, and only then, do people pull the primes out and frustrate themselves with tightly constrained choices. 

These are transient thoughts. A hangover from my daylong shoot last Saturday. Ask me again tomorrow and I'm sure I'll be extolling the virtues of my collection of prime lenses once again. But stick around and watch me pack that camera bag for the next job. It's zoom rich. It's prime poor. 

I chalk it up to the mythic boundary that supposedly exists between our professional work and our avocation.  

2018 Lens of the year. Yes, I know. It came out a while ago...

Random hat shot. Concentric circles and oddly sensual curves.



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Once again, the photograph here has nothing to do with the written content of the blog. It was done for fun with a G85 and a 25mm Panasonic lens. 

One of the interesting challenges for photographers who shoot a lot for medical practices is that presented by M.R.I. machines. These diagnostic machines create incredibly powerful magnetic fields that can strip the information off your credit card mag strip in microseconds. They can be dangerous. Any object that is ferrous can become a deadly projectile if it's inside the room with an active MRI scanner. Especially with the new, more powerful 3T generation of scanners. From a strictly photographic perspective the real issue is that you CAN'T take a camera into the scanner room and you certainly can't take lights and stands into the area with you. Anything you do to better photograph the newest MRIs will have to be done from beyond the doorway, or when the machine is off.

Here's the problem with turning off an MRI scanner: turning it back on and getting it back up and running can cost nearly $100,000. Yikes! You don't want to be the guy who takes one of these medical diagnostic machines offline...  And if you did happen to find a current MRI scanner that was down and could be accessed for a photo shoot you wouldn't have the benefit of the wonderful "running" lights and illuminated information panels that add the polish to the pictures.

Our first series of shots on Saturday morning were, of course, the new 3T MRI scanner at a clinic in Kyle, Texas. Since this was not my first rodeo with radiology I knew not to go past the MRI door alarms with things like my cellphone in a pocket, my good watch on my wrist or my wallet full of super high (ha, ha!) credit limit credit cards on my person. I didn't wear those Red Wing boots with the steel toes and I double checked to make sure none of my dental fillings were cast iron.

I took these precautions because I knew the first thing I'd be doing on Saturday morning would be cleaning and straightening all the stuff that piles up around these giant machines so I would not have clutter in my finished photographs. There was an angle from the door way that allowed me to capture the whole machine in a frame and I used the 8-18mm lens on a camera about three feel back from the door way to make a "portrait" of the MRI scanner. It was during this first shot that I realized how much I depend on just a blush of light to make a photograph work. Since I couldn't put lights in the room and was relegated to just using the existing fluorescent "can" lights in the room I tried all the tricks one can find on modern cameras, including the built in HDR which went a long way towards taming the shadows.

The real issue was when the clients wanted to construct portraits of the technicians who operate the scanners, in the room with the scanner. Again, since I couldn't light the portraits in any style I fell back on trying to position the techs so the light from the cans didn't fall on them directly but was, in a  sense, a feathered penumbra of light. At our first stop we photographed our models having regular scans and also biopsy scans. We had a resident expert on protocol with us so we wouldn't make any of the gaffs that sometimes occur. My favorite (self-deprecatating) medical faux pas (a long time ago) was to photograph an operating room scene in which the anesthesiologist had on neither gloves nor a face mask..... He was a real anesthesiologist so I thought he would know his way around the O.R..... (never assume).

We moved on from there to sonograms, mammography and various other modalities of diagnostic breast imaging. We used, mostly, Godox flashes on lightweight stands which could be controlled from the camera position. Two bounced off the acoustic tile ceilings and, typically, one used as a main light coming from a side angle and modified with a 60 inch photographic umbrella.

There wasn't anything technical to slow us down but there is always a molasses effect when using amateur talent and that involves their self-consciousness at being directed and photographed and their inevitable attempts to use humor to compensate. The marketing mission is always to project confidence from the people in the photographs and, usually, a big grin is antithetical to the serious gravity that a medical practice, which is based on ferreting out cancers and other life threatening issues, wants to portray to the public.

All you can really do is let the giggles and group dynamic run its course. That, and take a lot of images in the hopes of wearing down the grinning facades and replacing them with an almost tired resignation. Best case scenario is the medical tech that arrives in newly pressed scrubs, has no visible tattoos and has a confident bearing. One on a tight time schedule is even better as there is less playful banter and less messing around.

I worked on this project, with master assistant, Amy Smith, all day Saturday. We did about 25 set ups and shoot promiscuously in order to get just the right expressions, no blinks and good synergy between our model "patients" and our volunteer techs. By the time we wrapped up I'd shot about 1,400 raw frames and was on my third battery. Batteries go quicker when the camera's live preview is always on, but having a good, live preview means the client can always see and approve images as we go along.

In the early hours I tried to press my new, fast lenses (Sigma 30mm f1.4 and Rokinon 50mm f1.2) into service but in nearly every case it was important to show context --- or at least the expensive machines which were the subtext for our project. This meant we wanted sharp focus on faces and acceptable focus on our machines. The back walls could take care of themselves.

The two lenses that made life easy for me were, of course, the Olympus 12-100mm f4.0, and the Panasonic 8-18mm. Each had an important place in the process. But towards the end of the day I started feeling as though I could have done everything with the 12-100mm and not bothered to bring along the backpack with the rest of the lenses. To be able to go from a wide shot of an exam room with a bed, a scanner and two people to a tight shot of a biopsy needle held by a gloved hand was great. Even better was that at either end of the focal length spectrum the lens delivered sharp results.

We packed up around 5:00pm and headed back to Austin through the gray of a cool and overcast winter day. It was nice to work with Amy again. She was instrumental starting about a decade ago in helping me organize the photography for all five of my photography books and sourcing talent for the illustrations required. She's been working with more video and film directors lately so I hope to incorporate her into future film projects.

I'm not used to being assisted that much these days but it's really great to have a second set of eyes on the set looking for visual trouble and squashing it quickly.

If there is anything I'll change in our next radiology encounter it will be to use our Atomos Ninja Flame monitor to do our previews on. The bigger screen, which is able to be calibrated, would come in handy for aiding clients in seeing what the finals will really look like.

We're back at work here. I was working on a video edit all day yesterday and I sent it to my client for review last night around 11:30. I got notes back at noon today and, as always, I'm trying to figure out how to get it to shrink from 4 minutes to 2 minutes. Some sort of magic trick involved? We'll get out that editing knife and see what can be cut....

The raw files from the GH5 are beautiful and the rendering of flesh tones is nearly perfect. I have a little card in my camera case to remind me of the best ways to fine tune files. Always white balance each scene first and then figure out exposure. Changing white balance after setting exposure can cause the effects of exposure to change. Focus on faces when in the scene, at all other times focus one third of the way into the scene and calculate depth of field to cover.

one other note: I played with a Panasonic G9 recently and love the new viewfinder. Am currently considering (but have not decided) to trade in my G85 and get one of the new cameras. Might just be a waste of time, money and energy but....





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Long-time readers will recognize this shot, of the Glenn L. Martin Wind Tunnel in Maryland, as the photo from the very first post on Strobist in 2006. I was happy with it when I shot it. And to some degree, I still am.

But looking at it today, there are definitely some things I would approach differently. So let's walk through it, bearing in mind what we've learned since way back then.Read more »


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