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:

review: Canon EF 85mm f/1.4L IS lens

This review of the Canon EF 85mm f/1.4L IS lens (B&H), is split into two parts: In this review article we will look at lens sharpness and other important factors. The accompanying review article specifically looks at the bokeh of this lens compared to other 85mm lenses in its class. This is an important update of their 85mm lens, since it includes stabilization. The legendary Canon 85mm f/1.2L II  (B&H) (in both incarnations), is much loved by photographers, even to the point where some ascribe some near-mythical quality to the look of the images it can produce. Can this new lens match, or even surpass that? I think so. I do believe a new legend was born.

There is a combination of  things I look for in a lens – central sharpness, edge-to-edge sharpness, bokeh, speed of AF, repeatability of focus. Some of these factors might outweigh others, but the overall balance of how the lens performs on all fronts, will determine its value for me. For this review, I compared these three lenses which are all in the same price bracket, and max aperture bracket.

In my opinion this new  Canon EF 85mm f/1.4L IS (B&H) stabilized lens is the clear winner. The Canon 85mm f/1.4 IS definitely focuses faster than the classic Canon 85mm f/1.2 II. The stabilization is incredible, and really extends the usefulness of this lens. Scroll down to see an example of how sharp a 1/4 second handheld image is. This lens is sharp, appears to be very well constructed. It feels solid, yet weighs less than the other comparable lenses.

In summary, this new Canon 85mm f/1.4 IS lens easily outperforms the older Canon 85mm f/1.2 with speed and accuracy of focus, but most importantly, sharpness! This new lens wipes the floor with the legend. It’s that good. The Sigma 85mm ART lens performed well, but focusing was inconsistent with the Sigma – when it was on, it was sharp, but then there were too many slightly mis-focused images.

A few things to note about this review:  I shot everything with the Canon 6D. I shot multiple sequences at apertures ranging from f/1.2 to f/4 but in the end we are mostly just interested in what these type of lenses do when used wide open. In other words, here we are only going to look at f/1.2 and f/1.4 apertures.

Another caveat: I have to admit that I have a bias against Canon. I am not a particularly big fan of Canon. I have been burnt in the past by poor quality control of Canon gear, as explained in more detail in the Canon vs Nikon article. The subsequent implication then is that if I think a piece of Canon gear is really good, then it really is really good! And the Canon EF 85mm f/1.4L IS lens (B&H) is spectacular. And I can back this up with images shot specifically for this review, over several photo sessions.

Let’s have a look at some images:

 


 

Specifications of the Canon EF 85mm f/1.4L IS lens

  • The fast aperture makes the Canon EF 85mm f/1.4 IS, well suited for portraits. Especially with the stabilization capabilities, it extends the use of the lens in low light.
  • As an L-series lens, it is characterized by a sophisticated optical layout that includes one glass-molded aspherical element to greatly reduce spherical aberrations and distortion for improved sharpness and clarity. Individual elements also feature an Air Sphere coating (ASC) to suppress lens flare and ghosting for greater contrast and color fidelity in backlit situations.
  • As with all L-series lenses, this 85mm f/1.4 has a dust- and weather-resistant construction, as well as a fluorine coating on exposed elements, to benefit its use in harsh environmental conditions.
  • A ring-type Ultrasonic Motor (USM), along with optimized AF algorithms, is employed to deliver fast, precise, and near-silent autofocus performance.
  • Optical image stabilization minimizes the effects of camera shake by compensating for up to four stops of shutter speed.
  • A weather-resistant design protects the lens from dust and moisture to enable its use in inclement conditions.
  • Nine rounded diaphragm blades contribute to a pleasing out of focus quality that benefits the use of shallow depth of field and selective focus techniques.

 


 

Bokeh

The bokeh of the legendary Canon 85mm f/1.2 II is very much part of its appeal, so with this review it should be something we look at more closely. For that please follow the link to this accompanying review article

 


 

Image sharpness

We’ll look specifically at edge-to-edge sharpness in the next section – here we are going to look at the central sharpness. With the sharpness comparison, the  Canon EF 85mm f/1.4L IS (B&H), stood out. The Sigma 85mm f/1.4 ART  (B&H) was sharp … when it nailed focus. There were too many focusing inconsistencies though with the Sigma lens on the Canon 6D that I was using. The Canon 85mm f/1.2L II  (B&H) has its own look, whether at f/1.2 or f/1.4 but it was noticeably softer compared to new the new f/1.4 optic.

And yes, it was a cold and windy day. But you’ll get the idea. This was typical of the sharpness that I got with these lenses.

 


 

Edge-to-edge sharpness

There is this little eatery close to where I live which I thought would be ideal for a test to check lens sharpness from edge to edge. I thought this would be ideal – I can stand across the road, and shoot on a tripod, and then we can see how the lettering appears at various apertures for these lenses. I went inside and just checked with the owner that it would be okay, and he agreed. I set up the tripod … and then someone parked right in front and walked in to sit down for breakfast. Oh well, we can still see the edges of the frame. But I had to mention this in case you were wondering why there is a pick-up trick in the middle of this non-photograph.

With this quick test, the Canon EF 85mm f/1.4L IS lens  (B&H) wipes out the older Canon 85mm f/1/2 II  – it is clearly more sharp from edge to edge. The Sigma and the new Canon are close, but I would still give it to the new Canon 85mm f/1.4 IS. You may well argue that edge sharpness isn’t too important with this kind of lens – and it is something I mention specifically in my review of the Mitakon Zhongyi 50mm f/0.95  lens, where there is so much optical aberrations to the edges of the Mitakon, that you are forced to shoot photos which are centrally composed. In that case, I am okay working around the limitations of the usual f/0.95 optic. However, when you are dealing with a more expensive lens that you want to use for serious or professional work, then it has bearing on the matter – I want a lens that is as sharp as possible, from edge to edge, even at widest aperture.

With these examples, I am only showing the results at f/1.2 and f/1.4 even though I shot a number of repetitive sequences all the way down to f/4 for all three lenses. I picked the sharpest of the images out of any particular sequence, just in case there were slight mis-focusing, or error in my technique. I’m pretty confident that what is shown here, is representative of the three lenses I had for testing.

 

 


 

Stabilization

The stabilization works! And it works surprisingly well. Even better in my experience than mentioned on the specifications list where it is stated that the IS improves hand-holdabilty by up to 4 stops of shutter speed.

I took numerous sequences of this early-evening view of Manhattan. I was mostly getting sharp images even down to ridiculously slow shutter speeds of 1/4 second handheld!  Even down to 1/2 second handheld, I got a few sharp-enough images, but the success rate did start to fall at that crazy slow shutter speed. I handheld this shot, and didn’t brace myself against a railing or anything. Just handheld. And even at 1/4 second, most of the sequences I shot ranged from ‘sharp’ to ‘pretty sharp’. This is incredible performance!

Read that again. Handheld at 1/4 second. One of several sharp shots! My success ratio dropped at 1/2 second … only a few were sharp. Above 1/4 second, consistently sharp (although I did obviously lose a few shots.)

Oh, and if you want to quibble the sharpness of this image, keep in mind that there will be some haze in the air – I am shooting across the river, and this is a busy city with turbulent air.

 

Vignetting

Of course the lens vignettes at the widest aperture – nothing unexpected there. For me, I don’t mind the vignetting at full aperture for portraits – I think it helps for portraits. (The image below is uncorrected.) When you stop down, it disappears, as you’d expect.

 

Summary

I am wildly impressed with this lens – it focuses fast. Definitely faster than the classic Canon 85mm f/1.2 II.

The stabilization is incredible, and really extends the usefulness of this lens.

This lens is sharp, appears to be very well constructed. It feels solid, yet weighs less than the other comparable lenses.

You can buy a copy of this lens via B&W: Canon EF 85mm f/1.4L IS lens  (B&H)

 

Related links

 

The post review: Canon EF 85mm f/1.4L IS lens appeared first on Tangents.


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review: Bokeh of the Canon EF 85mm f/1.4L IS lens

In the accompanying review article, the Canon 85mm f/1.4 IS, it really stood out in terms of image sharpness. I want to linger a bit on the bokeh of this lens, especially as compared to the much-loved Canon 85mm f/1.2L II  (B&H). We’ll also look fat how it compares to another equivalent lens, the

The comparison includes these three lenses, since they are in the same league:

Please also check out the review: Canon EF 85mm f/1.4L IS lens.

Now, before we progress any further, we need to be distinguish between Bokeh, and Shallow depth-of-field. While DoF affects the bokeh of a lens, those two terms are not interchangeable: Bokeh vs Shallow depth-of-field (DoF). Bokeh is the quality of the background blur. In other words, the aesthetic appeal of the blur. Bokeh is not another word for blur, but a descriptor of the blur of (usually) the background. It can be smooth, it can be harsh. It can be pleasant, it can be jittery. It can be appealing and enhance the photograph, but we can’t have “more bokeh”. That makes no sense. Okay, with all that behind us, let’s go on.

For this review, I photographed various models during various photo sessions. All the images were shot with the Canon 6D, and I used a light-weight tripod. While I did use the tripod to keep my angle the same, our models aren’t statues, and they will move slightly between frames.  This meant I had to adjust the camera slightly on the tripod. The light did change subtly over time as I did the sequence. And each lens will have a different rendition of the colors anyway. Some lenses appear ‘warmer’ in how they render the scene. So there will be some slight change between the images, but I do believe the images are close enough that we can form a valid opinion about what we prefer.

In summary: The difference in the blur is … well, you can make your own mind up, but to my eye they all look pretty similar with a smooth rendition of the background blur. The new Canon 85mm f/1.4 IS lens holds up very well against the classic Canon 85mm f/1.2 II. I don’t think anyone who upgrades to the new lens will lose any of the “magic” of the older 85mm lens.

Let’s have a look at some of these comparative sequences:

Please note, I cropped these images to a 4×5 ratio to make them viable on desktop computers when I resized them for 900px width. This means that a little bit off the top, and a little bit off the bottom of each image was cropped off to make viewing easier within this blog format.

With the comparison photos, I didn’t bother with the f/1.4 images of the Canon 85mm f/1.2 II, since the differences between f1/2 and f/1.4 were marginal, and barely discernible.

 


 

 

 


 

 

 


 

Bokeh and ‘real world’ importance

With the next few images, the background changes as the people on this 6th Avenue (New York) sidewalk swirl around. So we can see the bokeh is wonderful but we can’t really compare in any useful way between the lenses. Still, they look good. In that sense, if we were to do a photo shoot or a wedding or such with any of these lenses, it would be difficult to pick which lens was used with any particular image.

The bokeh of a lens is important, but not when the differences are marginal. Then other aspects of a lens’ abilities and qualities are more what we should consider.

 


 

Summary

As mentioned in the review  of the Canon EF 85mm f/1.4L IS, I am hugely impressed. The lens is crazy-sharp! Not only does it focus much faster than the legendary Canon 85mm f/1.2 II, the bokeh in my opinion also holds up very well in comparison. The Sigma 85mm f/1.4 ART lens is also very sharp, and the bokeh is comparable to at least the Canon 85mm f/1.4 IS lens, but it does lack the stabilization of the new Canon lens.

All around, the Canon 85mm f/1.4 IS lens stands out above the other two lenses.

You can buy a copy of this lens via B&W: Canon EF 85mm f/1.4L IS lens  (B&H)

 

Related links

 

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review: Sony FE 85mm f/1.8 Lens

I’m a bit of snob when it comes to the sharpness of lenses. Vintage lenses and lenses such as the Mitakon Speedmaster 50mm f/0.95 are the exceptions – they have a different character. Modern lenses though – I want them sharp. As a friend once said, there’s sharp, and then there’s stuff you can shave with. Until now, I’ve had no native Sony lenses – just a drawer full of vintage lenses for the Sony – I had to go out and buy a Sony lens to try with the review loaner Sony A7Riii that I have on hand for a few weeks. Since I use Nikon cameras for the serious work, I couldn’t justify the purchase of the Sony FE 85mm f/1.4 GM Lens  (affiliate) yet. The ego wanted the 85mm f/1.4 GM, but instead I bought the more affordable Sony FE 85mm f/1.8 lens (B&H / Amazon) …. and holy smackeroni! Wide open it is crazy-sharp! Further down in this review of the Sony FE 85mm f/1.8, I show a 100% of the eyelashes of one of the models – and this is as sharp as I would ever need.

In summary, the Sony FE 85mm f/1.8 lens is small, light-weight and best of all, affordable. And razor sharp! Focusing is fast. There is honestly no down-side that I could find in this lens.

As an aside, here is my review of the Sony FE 85mm f/1.4 GM Lens – it might very well be the best 85mm lens I have ever tried..

But back to the Sony FE 85mm f/1.8 lens (B&H / Amazon). All images shot at f/1.8 – all the images shown here were shot at f/1.8 and you will see that the bokeh is smooth. There is no “jittery” edge to the background details – just a smooth out-of-focus blur. The bokeh of this lens is superb!

 


Specifications for the Sony FE 85mm f/1.8

  • This is an E-Mount Lens and is for full-frame cameras. It will work on crop-sensor cameras too of course.
  • There is a Focus Hold Button on the side of the lens – perfectly placed for your thumb if you should need to hold focus. No need to fumble for a button on the camera body.
  • The diaphragm of the lens has nine blades and is circular – this will help explain the smooth rendering of the background – i.e., the bokeh of this lens.
  • One extra-low dispersion element is featured in the optical design and helps to limit color fringing and chromatic aberrations for heightened image clarity and color accuracy.
  • Double linear autofocus motor delivers smooth, precise, and near silent focusing performance to benefit both stills and video applications.

 


 

The shallow depths of field of the f/1.8 aperture, combined with the smooth rendering of the backgrounds, makes this an ideal compact short telephoto lens for portraits. With selective focusing you can isolate your subject.

 

The background here is again rendered in a beautiful pastel-like way – partly because the background is brighter, but also because of this lens’ smooth bokeh. Working in the shadow side of this building, I wanted more light on our model, Allira. To pop more light on her, I had my assistant hold up a Profoto A1 flash (affiliate) for off-camera lighting. Even though my copy of the Profoto A1 is a Nikon mount flash, I could control it in the usual way with the Profoto transmitter that was on my Sony A7R III (affiliate).

 

The detail at f/1.8 – every sharply focused image had this level of detail! Combined with the 42 megapixels of the Sony A7R III (affiliate), there was more detail than you probably comfortably need for portraits.

With Anelisa in a coffee shop, hiding out from the cold. Below is the iPhone shot, to again show you the wider context. Again you will see how easily the 85mm lens helps isolate your subject for a portrait anywhere.

 

Similarly with the image shown at the top – here is the wider shot, (taken with my iPhone) so that you can see the context. By using the tighter focal length, I could include only what I needed in that composition.

Then the wide aperture threw the lights, and any other detail, completely out of focus.

 

Random detail in the background here in Bryant Park in New York – and it is all a smooth blur. The areas that are sharply in focus- such as Anna’s eyes, are breathtakingly sharp.

The lighting here on Anna’s face is from sunlight reflected off a nearby building – this gives the impression that we used off-camera lighting. The busy city scene behind her is a non-intrusive blur.

 

Summary

It should be obvious that I am hugely impressed with this lens. It is compact, super-sharp … and quite affordable. If you shoot with Sony, I would heartily recommend this lens as a superb alternative to the f/1.4 GM, if that is out of your reach. You’ll love this little gem!

You can purchase this lens through these affiliate links:   Sony FE 85mm f/1.8 lens (B&H / Amazon).

 

Related articles

 

The post review: Sony FE 85mm f/1.8 Lens appeared first on Tangents.


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 Panasonic's cute, cuddly and capable G85.

There are some cameras that are extremely capable but aren't much fun to shoot and then there are cameras that just beg you to keep their strap over your shoulder and take them everywhere. They are like a perfect traveling companion; unassuming, quiet (especially the shutter), compliant, collaborative and easy to get along with. Over the many years in which I have plied my trade as a professional photographer, and have satisfied my yearnings as a devout and committed hobbyist, I've owned plenty of both kinds of camera. 

I put up with five pounds of the Kodak DCS 760, and it's voracious appetite for batteries, only because it was capable (within a tight operational window) of producing some of the absolute best images of its day. I put up with all the foibles of the Nikon D2x for much the same reason.

Over the years digital cameras have become operationally better but there is still some combination of handling characteristics, design decisions on the part of their creators, and their innate affability that makes certain cameras gloriously fun and effortless to enjoy. The Leica M3 is one. The Nikon FM is another. What Nikon user didn't like the F100? How about the Canon 7D? Or the Olympus OMD EM-1? All cameras that bring a smile to the face of most users. All cameras that make the pursuit of photographs a bit more fun.

And then there are all the cameras whose files were technically perfect but
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The Rollingwood Pool in the middle of Summer.

It's so easy to do easy stuff. It's easy to swim in a pool filled with nice, warm water. Even easier to swim in a nice, warm pool when it's sunny and warm outdoors. But then there are those days that push you right up to the point of defeat. Days that test your discipline. Days that make you want to stay at home and eat cookies and drink coffee and sit on the couch, wrapped up in a blanket, and watch movies on Netflix. Those are the days when the temperatures drop into the upper 30's and your comfortable, heated pool is closed (for months now) for repairs and your best swimming option is the 69 degree water at the (outdoor, unheated) Deep Eddy Pool. 

Today was just such a day. I started out slow, drinking a perfect cup of Illy coffee (thank you! most generous reader, Michael Matthews!!!) and reading the typically depressing news on the laptop that sometimes lounges at my end of the dining room table. Studio Dog was sitting next to my chair and looked a bit cold so I tossed my old, worn down jacket on the floor and she curled into it with a smile on her perfect face. 

I put off swimming as long as I could today, I even went to the Blanton Museum to see the new show. (See previous posts). At some point I realized that left to the tyranny of my subconscious I would skip the swim altogether and rationalize it all away. In my brain's defense, it may drop into the high 30's, midday, in your neck of the woods but it rarely does in our little corner of Texas. The wind was whipping a cold, steady rain around in a sadistic, staccato pattern and leaves were falling all over the place. The sky was steely gray. Everything was working against my resolve.

Then I remembered that my friend, Emmett, had asked about swimming today and, in a fit of hubris, I had assured him (days ago) that I'd be at the pool and ready to swim promptly at 2 pm. Now, when I promised this the sun was shining, the birds chirping and the cute young people were in shorts and t-shirts taking advantage of the mid-80 degree day. But, a scheduled swim is somewhat sacred so I grabbed my stuff and headed off to the car.

I looked back over my shoulder to see Studio Dog in her down bed by the front door just shaking her head....

When I got to the pool the person at the front desk (an open air front desk....) was in a big, fluffy jacket and also had a blanket wrapped around himself. He smiled and said that the water was great. I should have known it was a lie.

I walked into the open courtyard that is the men's changing area (open to the top but not on the sides....modestly. I mean we're swimmers for God's sake, not politicians or actors...) and changed quickly into a Speedo Endurance Jammer suit, grabbed my goggles and (slightly) insulated swim cap, wrapped myself up in a towel, stuck my already freezing feet into a pair of Croc's for the long hike down the stairs to the water, and headed out.

There is a moment, when your teeth are chattering, your large muscles are involuntarily shivering, and you can feel the icy wind cut through your thin towel, that you pause and think, "OMG, what the hell was I thinking?" Maybe you look around, through  your cloudy old goggles, to see if anyone actually saw you come down to the pool edge. Maybe, you think, it's not too late to retreat. But then you realize that if you back away this time it will be harder the next time and you may be triggering a series of surrenders that will haunt you, and make you fat and lazy. 

So, I tossed my towel onto the stone wall five feet from the pool, slipped off the Crocs and crept to the absolute edge. It's the moment of truth. I stop thinking. I take a deep breath and commit. The cold water instantly hits every square inch of your once warm body and you know you better start swimming before your resolve (and the heat of your inner core) give out. I lunge into the water and start swimming. Each lap gets a little less .... uncomfortable. And then you pass a certain point (at about the half mile mark) where you are actually warmed up and enjoying the feel of the water, the swim, the adjacency to the weather, and the way in which you feel strong and invincible. Unbeaten.

If I'm lucky that feeling stays with me through the next mile and a half. By that time I've swum for about an hour and I'm starting to think of other things I need to be doing. But now I don't want to stop because I know I'll have to get out, dripping wet, and make my way down the walk way to the long flight of stairs as the wind whips at me like practical joker snapping a towel at swim practice. 

But if you stay in the cold water too long then hypothermia kicks in and that requires many cups of coffee to cure.

I look with scorn at the ladder and pull myself up onto the deck. It's a mark of shame in our family to put a knee down on the deck when exiting the pool so you have to save just enough energy to pull yourself all the way up on the edge and into a standing position while looking as graceful as you can. I manage it once again. By the skin of my teeth.

I make it up to the locker room when I remember that Emmett never showed. So much for the sacred nature of scheduled swims...

As I walk to the car carrying my wet towel and suit I notice the first snowflake flutter down and melt on the asphalt and I smile. I got that swim in just in time.

 Winter in Paris. 1994.



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I recently worked on a project (as a second shooter and equipment renter) with a good friend who is a veteran videographer. While the project had one component that called for a three camera, two subject interview, with all three cameras on tripods and everything well lit, the rest of the project was classic reportage. We were tossed into unfamiliar interior and exterior locations and tasked with shooting unscripted documentations of diverse groups of people, along with on-the-spot, unrehearsed  interviews with people we were pulling from the locations.

It's one thing to shoot video when you have time to meticulously treat a room for good audio, and when you can spend a couple hours pre-lighting for an interview situation in a conference room, but it's a whole other thing to work on a windy day outdoors with difficult subjects (as well as people (non-subjects) in the vicinity who could have been dangerous and were very vocal about their distaste for any and all media presence) as the sun comes in and out of the clouds.

For me it was a two day crash course in how to most efficiently and effectively use a Panasonic GH5 as an ENG (electronic news gathering) camera.

Here's the rig (photo above) I've distilled down from my experience and the feedback of my boss, the director and producer (who was also shooting exclusively with a GH5...instead of his more familiar Sony FS-7).

The main thing is to work to the camera's strengths. This camera (GH5) does a couple of things really well. It's got great image stabilization (otherwise there's no way we could have gotten the smooth footage we did without tripods....). While it's very good at stabilizing the video image with any lens on the front it's even better with a Panasonic dual system AF lens on it. We used an Olympus 12-100mm on one camera and the inexpensive Panasonic 12-60mm  3.5-5.6 lens on the other camera. Both systems worked very well but the native Panasonic lens, in conjunction with the video stabilization in-body, was almost like using a perfectly balanced gimbal system.

I'm happy working with the Olympus Pro lens because I like how sharp it is, how much range it has and how easy it is to switch to, and use, manual focusing. If you are working in uncontrolled and quickly changing environments a lens that goes from the 35mm equivalent of 24mm to 200mm is great to have. In most situations I just didn't see how I would have had the time to change from one prime lens to a different prime lens...and still gotten some of the fast breaking opportunities.

The way I used the camera and lens combination most effectively (as far as focusing goes) is to turn off the "continuous AF" in the movie menu and to put the external camera switch setting at S-AF. I would line up a shot and then do a half push on the shutter button to get the camera swiftly lock in focus. Once I got the "in focus" confirmation light I could either push the shutter button all the way down or take my finger off the shutter button altogether and start the video recording by pushing the red, dedicated video button. Focusing was never an issue on this project. In S-AF, with center points selected, the AF just snapped into play and locked on in 100% of the situations I encountered.

Another strength of the GH5 is its small profile vis-a-vis a traditional professional video camera. We chose not to couple the cameras to Atomos external monitors/recorders (even though we did bring them along with us in the cars...) in order to keep the overall profile of the camera systems as non-intimidating as possible.

But losing the big monitors doesn't create much pain with the GH5s. The things you need in order to operate are still there: A perfect EVF and a full complement of video meters --- vector scope, waveform meter, histogram, audio level meters, etc. If we were working without the need to capture sound, as one might when trying to get b-roll for a project, we could have done without the audio adapter and the cage, but....

...the audio adapter is a low cost, high quality way to get professional sound into the camera. It's light and fairly low profile while providing clean pre-amps for professional microphones. My camera is set up with the adapter cabled to an Aputure Diety short shotgun microphone. The only thing missing from the photo above is a set of closed back headphones I use to monitor sound. With the switch of a cable I could have the microphone on a boom pole in less than a minute. Very versatile.

The final strength of the GH5 is its ability to shoot very, very clean 4K video into the camera at high bit and overall data rates. The stuff we ended up with was incredibly detailed and, using hand-tuned profiles, it was easy to color grade and match, camera to camera, in post.

Take the rig off the tripod, add a cool looking side grip to the left of the camera and you are ready to head onto the street, into a remote location, and have a chance at coming back with good material. In most instances I felt that I was the limiting factor. That's the way it should be..


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I've been waiting for a free morning to go over to the Blanton Museum and see the new show they hung in the big, downstairs gallery spaces. It was worth the wait!!! If you love the work of Robert Frank, Garry Winograd, Lee Friedlander, Eli Reed, Ryan McGinley, Ed Ruscha, William Eggleston and many more working art photographers, you will absolutely love this show. It's a fabulous assemblage of images (and curation) that more or less explains the theory and raison d'être of what we are now more or less calling "Street Photography." 

If you live within a hundred miles of Austin then get in that giant Chevy Suburban, enormous dually pick-up truck or on your carbon fiber Bianchi Oltre XR2 bicycle and get in here. The work is beautifully displayed and, in the Texas tradition of wide open spaces the gallery is uncrowded; the work is given space to breathe.

I love the idea of "The American Road Trip" and actually was approached to do a book about road trips and photography in 2010. The project fell apart in a bizarre series of very one sided negotiations with a giant publisher but that did nothing to dampen my enthusiasm for the wider subject matter.

There were a number of pieces in this show by rather famous photographers that, in seeing them in person and writ large, changed my mind (to a more positive appreciation) about several represented artists who worked in color in the last century. I can now understand their work better for having seen it as it was intended to be viewed.

Toss that old Leica M3 over your shoulder and head over to see the show. Remember that Thursdays are free and, if you are much older than me, you will be entitled to a senior discount on all the other days. 

Wow, a chance to see beautifully done, large prints by great artists/photographers rather than just another opportunity to pontificate about tiny, compressed Jpegs on the web. Who would have thought it?











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review: Mitakon Zhongyi Speedmaster 50mm f/0.95  lens

The Mitakon Zhongyi Speedmaster 50mm f/0.95  (B&H / Amazon), is an immediately impressive lens – it has that unusually wide aperture. Zero point nine five. Just how good is it then, you may well ask. Lenses with super-wide apertures tend to show some softness and optical aberrations when used wide open. Similarly then with the Mitakon Zhyongi – there are definite optical flaws, but this also adds to the character of the images you get with this lens. It’s not just the super-shallow depth-field that defines what photographs taken with this lens might look like – the optical flaws help give a painterly quality to the photographs. I photographed several models with this lens and the images in this review should give you a clear idea of what you can expect from this lens. All the images here were shot at f/0.95

This lens is a Sony mount lens, and is manual focus only. Fortunately, the Sony A series cameras are ideal for using with manual focus lenses in the way that the Electronic Viewfinder (EVF) implements being able to see the focus details in the viewfinder. It also helps that the Sony bodies are stabilized – this is invaluable in clearly seeing the highly magnified image without camera shake.

You’re going to need that magnified view to accurately focus this lens. With that narrow depth-of-field, your margin for error is really small.

How sharp is this lens?  Sharp enough … at the center. The edges go really soft, and there’s a gentle haziness to the edges at full aperture. This helps give images that dream-like painterly quality. However, you will find your compositions will have to mostly centered. Portraits that are composed off-center don’t fare well – they are just too soft with the critical details of the person’s face. There are two examples in this review which show the sharpness at 100% at the widest aperture. As you’ll see, it is “sharp enough” at that aperture (in the center portion of the photo. I did a few tests at medium apertures, and then this lens is really sharp edge-to-edge, but this isn’t why you’d buy this lens or use this lens. You want that f/0.95 aperture.


 

It was during this photo session – Portraits with vintage lenses – with my friend Pakrer J Pfister, that I fell in love with this lens.

 

Leaning over the balcony of a New York hotel to get this diffused cityscape background. I just love how the distant buildings melt away here.

 

  • model: Anna Bogun

A busier background on 6th Avenue in New York. The lighting on our model is from sunlight reflecting off one of the many tall buildings surrounding Bryant Park.

I’ve done similar photos which look like off-camera flash, but really is light reflected off buildings.
Other examples of using available light like this, are described in these articles:
– Available light portrait photography
– Observing and using the available light

 


 

Mitakon Zhongyi Speedmaster 50mm f/0.95

The Mitakon Zhongyi 50mm f/0.95 (B&H / Amazon) is a manual-focus lens available in the Sony E-mount. The super-wide maximum aperture of f/0.95 is unusual, and obviously creates a razor thin depth-of-field. More than that, the optical quality is such that it renders the scene with a somewhat dream-like quality in how the out-of-focus areas look.

  • 9 aperture blades
  • Four Extra-Low Dispersion Elements
  • One Ultra High Refraction Element
  • Stepless, Silent Aperture Control  (ideal for use in video)

 

Here again you can see the pastel-like background – in part because of the shallow DoF, but also because of the over-exposure of the background. The city scenery behind Allira is that of 42nd Street in New York. Since the background is much brighter than the light from the shadow side of the library, I needed just a little more light on her. I  had my assistant hold up a Profoto A1 flash (affiliate) for off-camera lighting. Even though my copy of the Profoto A1 is a Nikon mount flash, I could control it in the usual way with the Profoto transmitter for Sony that was on my camera.

This pull-back shot also reveals something else of importance – this lens has a pretty harsh bokeh. It isn’t “creamy” or smooth. There is a certain jittery quality to the bokeh which you can see in how the trees are rendered. Most times this bokeh is masked by the shallow depth-of-field, but it can be an intrusive element with some backgrounds.

It is important that we distinguish between the bokeh of a lens, and shallow depth-of-field. Those two terms aren’t interchangeable! More about that topic: Bokeh vs shallow depth-of-field (DoF)

Similarly here, I needed more light on Allira to help balance the exposure for the background. Here the flash was a little more dominant, since I didn’t want to entirely blow out the Chrysler Building in the background.

This 100% crop at full aperture will give you an idea of the center sharpness of this lens. It is definitely sharp enough!

 

With this sequence, I wanted Allira to pop out from the more neutral wintery tones. I therefore under-exposed the scene somewhat, and popped some light on her with an off-camera flash – the handheld  a Profoto A1 flash (affiliate). Again, even though this is a Nikon mount flash, I could control it with the Profoto transmitter for Sony.

 


 

Hiding in a coffee shop from the cold weather, we used the window light for this portrait.

This 100% crop will again give you an idea of the sharpness, and the crazy shallow DoF. You will see that even though the detail in her eyelashes are there, there is also an optical haziness of some kind. This is not necessarily a negative about this lens for it helps impart that dreamlike quality to the photos shot wide open. This optical aberration disappears as you stop the lens down to medium apertures – but you know, I like it. This is part of the character of this lens!

 

This doorway of this shop  was a bit of a find. They had Christmas lights, but the brushed metal side of the door reflected the lights with a delicious smear. So that effect you see there is not the lens. It was as we found it.

 


 

Summary

The examples shown here of the Mitakon Zhongyi 50mm f/0.95  (B&H / Amazon), will give you an idea of the look that this lens imparts to photographs. It has a distinctive character, and the optical flaws it might have, is exactly what makes this lens so attractive to use. Highly recommended … for specific reasons and use.

 


 

Related articles

 

The post review: Mitakon Zhongyi Speedmaster 50mm f/0.95  lens appeared first on Tangents.


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Image from this year's Eeyore's Birthday Party in Austin, Texas

I was at our local community college for an advisory board meeting today at which we discussed the state of photographic education as it relates to our school. We looked at short term plans, the architectural drawings for a vast new studio complex that will open to students and faculty in two years, and much more. The photo program is one of the biggest and best in the country for two year associate degrees, it's well funded and well equipped. They've been at the forefront of the technology side in photographic educations for quite a while... but still also teach traditional photographic techniques and even printmaking.

As part of our annual meeting we advisors also pull out our crystal balls and try to predict the future, based on current trends. The overall consensus is that the market for photographers, both commercially and direct to consumers, is improving and that in the future the photographers who will be most successful, financially, will be the ones who are able to incorporate video, motion graphics and graphic design into their business offerings. No miraculous insight there; we've been saying that in the blog since 2010. 

After we covered all the agenda items we moved on to lunch and a less structured and more social give and take. 

The subject of camera technology came up and we looked to our fellow advisory board member, the professional representative from the biggest camera store between Los Angeles and New York City. We were curious what trends he is now seeing in the retail sector vis-a-vis camera sales. More specifically, what's selling now and which market segment is doing better: DSLRs or Mirrorless (or, as I say, "mirror-free")?

He smiled and said, "This should sum it up for you. We have 14 sales associates who work the counters at the store. Of the 14 there are 13 who have gotten rid of other systems in order to move totally to mirrorless camera offerings. There's one person left who still shoots with a DSLR."

So, the take away from this small discussion was pretty straightforward. The people whose full time jobs are to counsel and sell cameras to the general public are themselves strong proponents of the newer technology. Or at least 13 out of 14. 

It's interesting to hear this point of view since what we see on the big sites is a stalwart defense of the traditional camera companies and a minimization of the obvious shift in the markets. 

Discuss?



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Photographed with a Nikon 105mm f2.0 DC lens on a Kodak DCS 760 C camera. 
Early days of digital. 

I'm in love with the idea of using very fast short telephoto lenses to make portraits but I'm a bit conflicted right now about their ultimate utility for more routine, commercial headshots. 

I think it's safe to say that a lot of people love the look of a portrait where the eyes and lips are rendered sharply but the depth of field is so narrow that the background, and indeed, and even parts of the subject just seem to melt way into a fascinating blur.  It's a style that gets a lot of play across the media landscape. 

The easiest way to get the look is to use a longer lens than "normal" and to keep the camera-to-subject distance relatively close. (Not too close or you risk distortion...). The final step is to use the lens as close to its biggest aperture as possible. 

I'll be honest, it's a look I like in a lot of portrait work but I've always had a bit of an issue getting the look just right while using flash. One of the reasons I headed into using so much continuous light over the years, and so often, was to have the ability to dial in just the right f-stop with the easy and nearly endless combination of f-stops and shutter speeds that continuous light sources enable. When I set up studio flash shots I was limited in how wide an aperture I could use by the minimum power setting available in studio flash units,  the intensity of unwanted ambient light, or the limitations of using fast shutter speeds (with focal plane shutters) for flash sync. 

Working at f1.2 or 1.4 with flash just seemed to be a big hassle. Especially when the warm light from my modeling lights polluted the clean, daylight balanced light of the flash. If I turned off the modeling lights then focusing became problematic (yes, even with DSLRs....).

With newer flashes and high FP flash I can work with wider apertures and flash easier now than in the past but I still find it a bit daunting. 

Which brings me to the point of this post: Are fast aperture lenses wasted when doing flash lit portraits? 
I still find that if I use low ISOs and higher shutter speeds I still get alternative light contamination from windows, the modeling lights and the practical lights on the location. The only way around it is to block light sources with black curtains and to dim modeling lights after fine focusing. It's all a pain in the butt compared to shooting with LEDs or even tungsten lights. 

In most situations I'm not interested in using available light to make commercial portraits because most of the light I find just hanging around in modern offices comes from the ceiling and is a mix of "can" lights with compact florescent bulbs mixed with traditional "in the ceiling" fluorescent fixtures. The colors rarely match and in most situations there's also an incursion of blue daylight coming in to make things more interesting (and less controllable). 

But the whole reason to light someone is to sculpt the light and bring dimension to their face. It's also a great way to eliminate all other conflicting light sources. 

In a controlled environment I can choose a high enough shutter speed to kill most non-photographer supplied light sources but if I want to shoot at f1.2 I might need shutter speeds at around 1/250th, even at ISO 100. I guess it's time for me to go through this whole learning cycle one more time....especially now that electronic flashes have gotten so much more flexible and controllable. And now that modeling lights (more and more often) are LEDs that are daylight balanced. And especially now when Olympus and Panasonic are offering lenses with fast apertures that are actually very sharp even when used wide open. 

After doing this for so long it's kind of humbling to go back and re-learn again and again, but that's the nature of the game. 

If you have any secret tricks for shooting portraits with super wide open lenses and electronic flash I really wish you would share them with me. I'll try them out. Anything to keep the work from looking stale.




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The Contax 50mm f1.7 Planar, made for the Contax Y/C manual focus mount is widely regarded as a stellar normal lens for full frame, 35mm format cameras. I bought a copy over a year ago and used it frequently on a Sony A7Rii, a Sony A7ii and a Sony A6300, all with great results. While I recently dumped the Sony cameras I was not foolish enough to get rid of the little collection of Contax Y/C lenses I've acquired.

Shortly after taking delivery of the twin GH5s I ordered a Fotodiox branded Contax Y/C to micro four thirds lens adapter. It cost me about $20 and allows me to use the 50mm f1.7 lens on any micro four thirds camera.  This is a great thing but comes with several caveats. First, I have no real way of knowing just how precise and absolutely planar the mount might be. I am taking a leap of faith that this sort of machining should be child's play in an age of unprecedented precision. I taped up the graph paper on the wall and lined up the camera as well as I could and tried to look for softness in one corner or another. Nothing leapt out at me as horrifyingly out of whack.

The second thing you need to be aware of is that for $20 you are NOT getting a Metabones smart adapter, you are getting a totally dumb adapter. This means that the camera can't record any metadata for the lens you have attached, won't know the focal length, won't know the aperture at which you are using the lens and ----- absolutely won't autofocus the lens for you.

Most of these things don't matter to me but may be very, very important to you.

On some cameras you'll need to dive into
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Audio Accessory of the Year. With its attendant camera...

I was photographing for a client yesterday, a law firm in downtown Austin, and we were shooting people images for their website re-design. One of the partners who is taking the lead on the project asked me to shoot all of the portraits (both set up and candid) as squares. I was more than happy to accommodate his request but I was preparing myself for the usual task of re-cropping the images in post production. 

With past camera systems having the ability to crop square in the finder meant that your Jpegs opened up in your post processing program as genuine squares but the raw files opened "full gate" and had little lines to indicate the square crops that you thought you wanted. This meant that each raw file had to be handled and cropped individually. 

Imagine my surprise when I ingested 525 Panasonic raw files into the latest rev of Lightroom and watched as the program wrote previews as squares; just as I'd shot them. The raw files could be changed into "full gate" files but the default was ready to go squares just as
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There are two lenses that have been stand out lenses for me this year. Since I am bringing these two lenses to your attention I should point out that my embrace of them, in this calendar year, does not mean they were both introduced this year. One is relatively new while the other has been around, and earning great praise, for several years now.

No reason to belabor this; the two lenses are the Olympus Pro series 12-100mm f4.0 and the Olympus Pro series 40-150mm f2.8. Both are big, heavy (for their format) zoom lenses and both share a number of attributes. The primary benefit of both is sheer image quality. It's visible (at least to me...) when compared to every day lenses in either the Panasonic or Olympus systems. Both of these gems are sharp, detailed and nuanced. They represent a high water mark, as far as image quality is concerned, for micro four thirds system zoom lenses. 

Both lenses share a mechanical clutch system that supplies real manual focusing instead of the usual, fly-by-wire system. This means that one can pre-focus with assurance, rack focus in video with repeatable results and even shift from focus point to focus point by hand with repeatable results. That's a wonderful thing and a major reason that I also have the 45mm and 17mm counterparts stuck in my head (and in my shopping cart). 

I have shot at least 10,000 images with each lens and I've found the results to be limited only by my own skill set. When I apply appropriate technique; taking time to focus with diligence and to put the camera and lens systems on tripods, I get results that I would not have imagined. This should not really come as a surprise to me as a careful reading of posts from long ago would indicate that Olympus has been making masterful lenses for smaller sensor cameras for a long time. Back in the era when Olympus made Four Thirds cameras (they had mirrors and a different lens mount than their current cameras) they made a Pro series of lenses that included stuff like a 150mm f2.0, a 35-100mm f2.0 and a 14-35mm f2.0 that were (and still are) all spectacular. Sadly, the sensors of the day were not up to showing off the sheer potential of those lenses. If anything, the current lenses are even better.

I'll start with the first Pro Olympus lens I bought this year. It was the 12-100mm f4.0. I bought it hoping to cover the range of useful optics for my work with one solution. I worried that such a wide ranging zoom might not be up to the task of making technically good images across its vast focal range but my worries were unfounded. I use this lens when doing hand held video with the Panasonic GH5, I use it when shooting product and people against white (because of its range AND it's resistance to obvious flare and veiling flare. I use it for event work combined with on camera flash; and I even use it for general street shooting. In most capacities I use it at its widest (f4.0) aperture because it's proven itself to be sharp even when used wide open and, at its widest f-stop it's the equivalent depth of field that one would get on a full frame 24-200mm lens at f8.0 for each angle of view. Perhaps not the best tool for dropping backgrounds quickly out of focus but certainly great for making sure everything that needs to be sharp in a frame stays within the system's depth of field.

When I shoot stuff that needs to be perfect (or as perfect as any photo can be) I stop down to f5.6 or 6.3 or 7.1 to achieve the absolute best of which the lens is capable. It's a dandy process and has delivered results in all kinds of conditions.

Speaking of conditions, both of the zooms I'm discussing are water/weather resistant. While I don't spend a lot of time shooting in the rain I do end up far from the car, shooting location stuff for clients, and sometimes get caught without a rain cover handy. I've been caught out in the rain with this lens (attached to a GH5) twice now and have found no ill effects from the exposure. 

From lens cap to lens hood and all the way down to the other end of the lens barrel I can testify that this is a remarkably able and handy lens and isn't really big or heavy at all when compared to lenses made for larger formats.

The second lens is the Olympus 40-150mm f2.8 Pro. It's a lens about which I have nothing at all bad to say. It's sharp at every distance and every focal length at which I've employed it. But it goes beyond sharp into intricately detailed. When I put the lens on a tripod (with its integrated tripod mount) and take portraits using a large soft box and electronic flash, I get a level of detail that rivals that of any camera in and around its resolution (in the range of 18-24 megapixels). While neither lens is cheap both are well built and solid. 

I've used the 40-150mm at its wider end (40-60mm) for a number of portraits and have used the longer end (100-150mm) for much documentation of live theater productions and in each situation I've have gotten better files than I expected. The lens is satisfyingly sharp wide open. Becomes close to perfect by f5.6 and rewards me with better files than I imagine my talent should supply. 

If I could have only one lens to shoot with for all of my assignments it would be the 12-100mm for its wide range and high degree of performance. If I were unconstrained by commerce and wanted only one lens with which to do my own art it might be the 40-150mm. I say might because I also have a long love for the "normal" focal length; the 50mm for full frame or the 25mm for micro four thirds and I have not yet worked with the 25mm f1.2 Pro lens from Olympus.

Had I gone in a different direction I might have chosen to pair a different lens with the 40-150mm. I might have selected the 12-40mm Olympus Pro but it would be hard to give up the range and proven performance of the 12-100mm for the potential benefit of one additional stop of speed and the need to always carry two different lenses instead of being able to pack down to just one camera body and lens and still feel secure in knowing I have most working situations covered. 

Everyone comes to this craft with different need parameters. Many times these parameters are based on one's shooting history. The need for flexibility is ingrained in commercial shooters of a certain level, hence zooms feel like the right answer. 

If I were doing photography specifically for myself and no one else I'd love to take the bold move of packing just two lenses and making due with the 17mm f1.2 Pro and the 45mm f1.2 Pro lenses. Along with two identical bodies, those two would make a wonderful package for an artist. 

I know myself really well though. I would quickly succumb to the siren's song of the 25mm f1.2 Pro as well. Something about that focal length just makes perfect visual sense... But if I was shooting just for me I might want to pair all these optics with the Olympus OMD EM1.2. Logic insists that they are "optimized" for their own flagship camera. That being said, the GH5 is the perfect compromise for someone like me; trying to straddle two different imaging industries....

Camera and lens selection is almost always a moving target. I am thankful I've found two lenses that alleviate so much of my indecision and mental turmoil...

By the way, neither of these two images are from either of the lenses mentioned here. They are both from another lens that's one of my favorites; the 42.5mm f1.7 Panasonic lens. Amazing for its size and price. I often, irrationally, think of picking up and extra one, just because....







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Neewer Vision 4 Mono Light.

Several months ago I decided to get rid of an accumulation of Profoto, Elinchrom and Photogenic electronic flashes. I sold them off or traded them away for interesting but unrelated things and I was happy to see a hodgepodge of reflectors, speedrings and other geegaws exit the limited space of the studio. 

On a lark I bought a Neewer Vision 4 mono light that I saw and read about on Amazon.com. The ad copy said the light was designed and "engineered" in Germany, that it was totally powered by a large, lithium ion battery, and that it was capable of putting out 300 watt seconds of flash power 700 times in a row. On one charge. At $259 it sounded unbelievable. I bought one.

I used it several times to create some ads (with subject motion frozen) for Zach Theatre, using it along with some other, smaller, battery powered lights. I found the Neewer to be reliable and to put out a nice quality of light. I was still amazed that one could get that kind of power and flexibility for the price; especially after having purchased 30 years worth of Elinchrom and Profoto gear....

I got used to using the flash for a number of different projects (mostly on white backgrounds) and when I saw the same unit listed in mid-November, on Amazon, I noticed a price drop to $229 so I bought a second unit, along with a couple of speed rings and a collapsible 47 inch Octobank (Phottix). I've used the two lights as the main and secondary lights for even more projects since. 

Earlier this week I was looking for something I'd bought in my previous orders on Amazon (love the transaction records!) that I had sent to Ben at school (Illy coffee) and stumbled across the information about my purchase of the second light, along with a notice that the price per unit had now dropped to $199.00. I noted this and filed it away in the avaricious/acquisitive area of my brain. Later in the week I had a pre-production phone call about a confirmed photoshoot in which we'd need to freeze action of a person running, a person jumping through a banner and a person jumping and striking poses with the aid of a mini-trampoline. This was followed by a call from a law firm which wants to shoot a series of partner portraits outdoors. 

When I got off the second call I decided that it would be nice to have a third mono light with a high flash capacity and fast recycle times (instead of relying mostly on smaller, double A powered flashes) so I bought it one more time. At $199.00 it's a crazy bargain for me. It comes with a Bowen's mount reflector, a diffuser sock for the reflector, and a wireless remote trigger (which means I will now have two "back-up" remotes --- oh joy!).  It should be here early next week and I've already made a space for it in my Manfrotto flash case (wheeled for my hauling pleasure). 

As I stated previously (sorry you can't look up that review....), the only thing that vexes me about this product is the 30 to 45 second on time for the (LED) modeling light... But for the price it's still a screaming bargain in my estimation. 

Sometimes you use LED panels and sometimes you use electronic flash. All depends on your need to freeze motion in a photography for a particular collection of projects. Funny thing, looking back at the time in which I was shooting mostly with Profoto, I have spent more money on a single reflector from that Swedish company than the cost of this complete and ready-to-use flash unit. That certainly puts the cost into perspective for me...Bargain!

If you want one the $199 price sure beats the $259 price. Here's a link:




flash with included remote. The stand adapter doubles as a hand grip so you can 
have your tall assistant act as a human light stand; if necessary....




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This must be the work of that chair stacking cult I've recently read about.
They come into cities and just stack things. Mostly chairs but
sometimes also bar stools and even recliners!

Panasonic GH5 + Panasonic 42.5mm f1.7 lens.


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I was intrigued when Olympus announced the 45mm f1.2 Pro lens a little while back. I asked my local dealer to put one on "hold" for me when they came in. He called me last Friday to let me know that a small number of the lenses had arrived and that one had been set aside for me. And all at once I was grappling with the same old conundrum: Is this something my business desperately needs? Or, is this something I think sounds really cool that I would really like to play with?

I did the logical thing. I put the 42.5mm Panasonic lens on my favorite GH5 and went out for a long walk through downtown this morning. I pointed my camera and lens at lots of stuff and made lots and lots of photographs. Now I have just spent some quality time looking at the images in Lightroom. Between this much cheaper lens and the older, manual focusing 50mm f1.7 Zeiss Yashica/Contax lens collection (we have three) in the equipment case I think I'll be okay. If a windfall comes in I'll capitulate and indulge in the new 45mm but for now I'm happy with the coverage I'm getting from these two (in house) focal lengths and the added comfort of also having this important focal length range covered by both of my existing Olympus Pro zoom lenses. 

Cleaning out the accrued mess of 20 years in my current office space. Man, we hold on to stuff for way too long....



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Making a few changes. Throwing away the past. Archiving and curating the history of frantic change in the world of imaging was getting old. We've been throwing out old files around the studio and I thought it was time to clean up my corner of the web as well. I hope you enjoyed readying that bundle of 3,500 post from the past eight years. I know I enjoyed writing it.

Come here to read and discuss current photography, video, current culture, swimming, food, coffee and camera gear. Comments welcome. 

I found the image above on the wall of Google's offices in downtown Austin. It's nice and colorful and I'm happy they are making an effort to fit in. The image below is from a small retail shop on 2nd St. I guess a toe shoe chandelier is as good as anything to make out of discarded ballet shoes...





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Dramatic portraits: Hollywood Portrait Lighting

Shooting for my portfolio in the studio with a model, Kimberly Jay, I wanted to create sets of feminine portraits that looked dramatic, and straddled the boudoir photography genre and had a Film Noir look to them. The classic look of Hollywood portrait lighting has long drawn me, and with a set of  Litepanels Sola 4 LED Fresnel Lights  (B&H / Amazon), it is a look that I am still trying to finesse.

Other photo sessions where I have drawn on the Hollywood look:

This sequence of images that I shot with Kimberly, was with more dramatic intent than the other more ‘light & airy’ style boudoir photographs we took. With a cigar as a prop, I aimed for that Noir look. These Litepanels Sola 4 LED Fresnel Lights (affiliate) are daylight balanced. However, the main light on her was gelled with an amber colored gel. This meant the light from behind her turned blue in relation. This rim-light was gentle, and was intended to give a subtle light on her, but specifically light up the smoke from behind.

For this session I used two different cameras & lens combinations:
– My current workhorse combo – the Nikon D5 (affiliate), with the versatile Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8E VR  (affiliate).
– The Sony a7ii (affiliate) with the incredibly fast aperture Mitakon Zhongyi 50mm f/0.95  (B&H / Amazon) lens.

The photo here at the top was shot with that Mitakon Zhongyi 50mm f/0.95  (B&H / Amazon). It is slow to use, because of the demands of the super-shallow DoF, but the lens does give a specific look, as shown in this previous article: re: Portraits with vintage lenses. However, without a specific background (or foreground) to play with, the lens’ qualities didn’t quite shine. Still, you can see the shallow DoF giving a rapid drop-off in sharpness here.

The rest of the images shown here are divided into two groups – those shot with the Nikon, and those shot with the Mitakon. The lighting remained consistent.

 


Books on Hollywood portrait lighting

 

 

 

 


 

These two pull-back shots will show the placement of the two Litepanels Sola 4 LED Fresnel Lights  (B&H / Amazon). Because the lights are relatively small light sources, it did restrict how Kimberly could move. This makes posing with smaller (more dramatic) light sources more critical.

As mentioned above, these LED fresnel lights are daylight balanced. Since the main light was gelled with an Amber colored gel, it meant the light in the background shifted to blue in relation. This is because the camera’s WB set to that of the main light, for a neutral WB where the skin tones look good. Hence, the background light shifted to blue.

The backdrop is by Oliphant Studios.

My studio is available as a rental studio, and these and other lighting kits (and the backdrop) are available for use.

 


 

 

This next image, showing the backdrop and setup, was shot with the Mitakon 50mm f/0.95 and you can clearly see the quick fall-off in sharpness.

 


 

Related articles

 


Books on Boudoir Photography


 

The post Dramatic portraits: Hollywood Portrait Lighting appeared first on Tangents.


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People get all giddy and euphoric when they buy new gear. Even though they are trading the money that they traded their time for they must feel as though they'll get ahead by purchasing this latest thing and that the promise of leveraging their new gear will offset the short term pain of earning, and then parting, with the hard won cash. I know I generally feel that way...

We typically enter into the process of an eventual (photography) transaction out of boredom. In my case I already owned some good LED lights and they were working pretty well on most of the video and still projects I used them on. But recklessly, I ventured on to the internet and started just, you know, looking around to see what might be new in the world of lighting (which is generally less costly than looking around at new lenses, which is generally less dangerous than looking at new cameras).

So, it was about a year ago; maybe a month or two longer, when my "research" brought me face to face with a new generation of LED lights that boasted higher output and much higher CRI's (color rendering index) than the lights in my existing inventory. One thing led to another and I started to fixate on the (almost unnoticed) short comings of the five or six lights I had in house. How could I possible survive with lights that bared crested the 90 CRI threshold when I could be working with lights that breezed by with CRIs of 95 to 96? How would I be able to look clients in the face
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http://friedmanarchives.blogspot.co.uk/2017/11/one-amazing-incredible-camera-except.html

I'm supplying the link but am not directly involved nor harvesting affiliate cash. I've always found Gary's books to be well done, logical and easy to read. He's a clear voice in the photo world who seems capable of mastering any camera Sony can throw at him.

If you have an RX10iv and you'd like a very good tutorial this might be the right book for you.

WARNING: He quotes the nefarious Kirk Tuck in the introduction......



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... and makes the argument that this battery finally helps mirrorless achieve parity with DSLRs; in the power management department.

Apparently no one at DP Review actually tested the Panasonic GH5, GH4 or GH3 cameras and their batteries. Panasonic has been doing batteries correctly for years and years. And years. Even a cursory test would have shown that, when not using the built in flash, many users are able to get well over 1,000 still photo exposures while videographers tell of the GH4 cameras getting up to four hours of HD record time on a single battery!

But wait!!!! Here's what Richard Butler himself wrote about the GH3 battery back in April of 2013:

"One of the great advantages of the GH3's increased size is that it can take an unusually large battery for a mirrorless camera. The 7.2V, 1860mAh battery give 13. 4Wh of power, 50% more than the OM-D's battery, for example. This give the camera an impressive battery life of around 540 images per charge or 270 minutes of recording time."

(The typo, "battery give" is still in the review but should be "battery gives").

If we consider that Butler was quoting CIPA numbers for the battery at that time then the cameras with built-in flashes were always at a disadvantage as the ratings were done with 50% of the shots being done with the on board flash engaged. Something that the "pro" DSLRs did not have to contend with...

I guess we should be magnanimous and welcome the editorial crew of DP Review into the mirrorless world of 2013 (the year the Panasonic GH3 appeared in shops).

Glorious week for them. First Barney Britton's "non-hands on (un)real worldly recommendation of the Nikon D850 as his pick for "Gear of 2017" followed by blanket editorial amnesia of all mirrorless batteries pre-Sony A9.

We wait for the next Italian boot to drop... will it be "Sony camera strap, accessory of the Year!!!"?

In case you are interested here are the CIPA test methodologies from a trusted source = CIPA. http://www.cipa.jp/std/documents/e/DC-002_e.pdf

I spent a year shooting the A7Rii. I never lived in fear or anxiety about its use of batteries.



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Introducing the Strobist Lighting Cookbook. Read more »


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The market for video services can be as stratified as the market for photography services. There are people offering wedding videos and there are big, polished teams offering very high end television commercial productions; and there are a lot of producers offering services somewhere in between.  

In one sense the market for successful video production companies still has some barriers to entry while the barriers to an effective photography business have become much less daunting. The difference is not so much defined by one's ability to afford expensive gear but by one having the time to pursue a steeper and more diverse (light, sound, direction, editing, etc.) learning curve; and by having the ability to dedicate large chunks of schedule to projects with finite deadlines. 

While one might pursue a part time career as a portrait or wedding photographer by working just on the weekends, while maintaining a regular, forty hour per week job, it's a different scenario for someone who wants to provide commercial video services to companies, associations and corporate enterprises. To do this kind of work you need to be available during regular work days; not just on weekends. All of your meetings and most of your actual time in production will need to occur during Monday-Friday, during traditional 9-5 work hours.  A project with two shooting days generally requires at least a day of pre-production and two or three days of editing after the video capture. And experience tells us that during every part of the project clients expect timely communications throughout.

Smaller companies with very modest expectations (and budgets) might not expect you to show up with current  top of the line models of cameras, lenses, microphones, etc. but as you climb the ladders of the industries you target you'll be working with many full time, in-house producers who will understand the benefits of different tiers of equipment. My philosophy is that as long as the gear you use isn't a limiting factor in a given production you can use whatever you want but when you know you need better ( or more ) you'll need to bite bullets and rent or acquire. And you'll need to know where those lines are...

I'm sitting down today to get a grip on just what I'm offering clients in the way of video services. I'm doing this exercise to clarify, in my own mind, what works, and to predict, as well as I can, what I'm likely to be offering over the next twelve months. As I do this exercise I am coming to (re)understand that there is a wide range of physical tools with which most of us can successfully work but there are definitely required "soft" tools that are the underpinnings of a successful, small video production business. 

Those soft tools include an understanding of the construction of a successful storytelling video narrative. How do we tell the story from start to finish? That understanding leads to the need to be organized and to get all the pieces (scenes, clips) one needs to construct a project. From good interviews to good b-roll. From good, clean audio to logical, visually pleasant editing. These are skills. Skills come from understanding concepts (how stuff works) and are honed by hours and hours of practice. These are things you can't buy in a box and bring to a shoot in a Pelican case. They either come packed in your brain or not at all. 

As an example: In the past week and a half I noticed that I was hesitant about using my wireless microphones on busy jobs, preferring to either use a wired, boomed hyper-cardioid microphone or a wired cardioid microphone. When it came right down to it I hadn't used the wireless gear in a while and have always been a bit hazy on the exact operation of my Sennheiser EW100 G3 system. I've gotten away with my workarounds but the avoidance of mastering and using a valuable and useful tool really bugged me so I set aside all of yesterday morning to go through every parameter of setting up the system, syncing the transmitter and receiver, setting levels, running the resulting signal into my cameras and also placing the lavaliere microphones just so on clothes to make them sound good and to prevent noise from clothing rustle. 

I watched several videos that focused entirely on setting up and using the system. I unplugged everything and reset both the transmitter and receiver and then went through the whole process of putting it back together, syncing and getting everything ready to record. I mic'd myself and recorded material over and over again at different levels to make sure I understood how to set "sensitivity" in the transmitter and how to set the corresponding controls in the receiver. 

I feel so much more confident with the system today. I'll go through the same self-training at least two more times before I use the wireless system again on a paying job next week.

The same practice of concept+skills applies to moving the camera. To choosing the right file settings for the video files. It's a combination of comprehending the underlying concepts and then practicing the implementation of those concepts at every step. 

I also evaluated the broader skills ( or limitations) that I've always had. I'm uncomfortable with large crews (probably why I became a photographer in the first place) and I'm impatient with the effort it takes to get everyone on the same page and moving in the same direction. But I'm good with lighting and good at explaining what I'm setting out to do with clients. I'm good at directing interviews and I'm good with client engagement.

All these things shape what I want to offer clients. And I intuit that trying to do the business the way someone else might do the video business is probably not going to work as well for me.

What do I want to offer my clients?

The optimum project would be one that requires lots of beautifully lit, engaging interviews coupled with great alternative scenes and clips (and still images) that create visually compelling b-roll. I love getting onto factory floors and showing process and workflow. I love getting shots of people moving through the spaces as they work. I love getting closeup details and getting footage from a point of view that's different. But most of all I want to translate an interviewee's authentic story into a perfect clip. 

Here's what a perfect laundry list of my discrete services would look like: 


- lighting, shooting and directing interviews.

- lighting, shooting and directing work processes in real world situations.

- creating and blending still images into the video storytelling timeline.

-creating good quality sound at every step.

-Help write scripts that feel comfortable say out loud, and to direct. 

-Lead a small and agile crew that travels light and moves quickly. 

It would be great to offer video services that are accessible, both financially and in terms of time efficiency. This means providing the right set of camera resources with which to do the jobs we work on but not straying too far from the camera handling characteristics I'm used to. Camera handling should be second nature when on the job. 

The clients we want are corporations or organizations that need good, efficient interviews and resulting short videos that explain the client's unique position within their industry. To get across a message that's important to our client's success.

The most enjoyable projects are the ones in which we interview one or two primary subjects who tell their stories. Their interviews provide a narrative backbone on which to build the video. We might use 3 or 4 minutes of a person's video story (their audio tracks) but only see the person on screen for a half or a third of the time. The rest of the visual imagery needs to be "eye candy" ( intentional b-roll) that directly relates to what's being said in the interviews. 

If the subject talks about a love of the outdoors then we'll shoot b-roll of him walking through the woods or fishing in a stream. If the subject talks about the radical advances in his industry wrought by a new device or process then it's imperative that we show the device or the process. And show the final product and how it affects a customer's life...

The best way for me to deliver value to clients is to immerse myself in understanding what the client needs to say with the video in order to move their game forward. 

The best clients involve me in their project early enough so I can help them mould the story in a way that makes it possible to produce within their time frame and their budget. 

At the very end of the process it's wonderful to deliver a video that tells a compelling story which changes opinions, helps to market a worthy product, motivates change and makes our client look brilliant. It's a lot to aim for and that, in itself, might be the biggest barrier to entry in the business. 

What am I not going to pursue next year? 

I'm not looking for big, blockbuster projects that require lots of special effects, tricky compositing or vast legions of crew. Projects are like vacations to me; they should be fun, simple and over in two or three weeks. Nothing numbs creativity like projects that drag on forever. They are like graceless subroutines in one's mind, taking up space and attention from everything else. 

We're not looking for projects that require endless BaseCamp e-mail chains before, after or during production. And that probably means we won't be competing for the big budget work that comes from larger ad agencies.

And we're certainly not signing up to do a low budget copy cat production of something someone's VP saw in a TV commercial. 

The goal of every project is to enhance a client's ability to communicate, with video, in markets that never existed before. It's tough to afford a Super Bowl TV commercial but it's easy to leverage the internet. And that's where opportunity still seems endless. As long as you have some good video to share...





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Photography composition: Tilted horizons in photographs

A disconcerting angle perhaps with this photograph’s composition – still, there is a dynamic balance of sorts. Because Anelisa is ‘upright’ / vertical in the photo, it matches our sense that vertical and horizontal lines should be just that. Still, everything else is at a dizzying angle. While the horizon is at a slant, I placed her vertically in the composition, which hopefully creates a balance when we look at the photo.

I am not particularly fond of tilted horizons or tilted photos (also known as the “Dutch angle” or “Dutch tilt”), but I do think it can be used sparingly for effect. It is a topic we’ve discussed in a previous article on photographic composition: Tilted compositions / Dutch angle.

That said, what do you think – does the tilt work here, or is it too unsettling?

I do find that too often I inadvertently tilt my camera slighty. So if I could have just one photographer super-power, I would like it to be the ability to *always* keep my freaking horizons level. It drives me nuts when I edit and I have to continually straighten the horizon.
I really try to keep the camera level when I shoot, but somehow there’s a slight tilt to many shots. Like I maybe tuck my one elbow too much. Or something. This is even *with* the grid lines enabled in the camera’s viewfinder.

Maybe I should just accept it and call it a style – The Ever So Slightly Annoying Slight Tilt ™

This photo of Anelisa was taken during one of the occasional Photo Walks in New York. With a photo walk, we have a maximum of 4 people, each supplied with a Profoto transmitter to control the Profoto B1 flash that I bring along. The Profoto B1 is powerful enough to allow us to use a softbox with high-speed flash sync. That’s something you can’t do with a speedlight! This allows us more flattering light from our flash.

Camera settings & photo gear (or equivalents) used

 

 


Books on photographic composition


 

One more example where a purposeful tilt to the camera creates a disconcerting image. Here the sidewalk was at a slant, and I oriented the camera to the sidewalk’s angle … which rendered the building and passerby at this unusual angle. Incongruously enough, the shop’s name was ‘even’. With this image, the purposeful tilt has less to do with the overall balance of the image, and is meant to be whimsical.

 

Related articles

 

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Every so often I feel like I get one just right. Shot with a Panasonic GH5 and the Olympus 40-150mm f2.8.


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Flash Photography workshops NJ NYC

Photography Workshops in NJ / NYC  (2018)

Here are the dates for the group photography workshops for 2018.
There is the regular workshop on flash photography with speedlights, and a a workshop on studio lighting.
Then there are the 2 dates where we will do the Photo Walks in New York again.

As always, there is the possibility for personal workshops and tutoring sessions which can be tailored to your needs and to your schedule.


Flash Photography Workshop with Speedlites

The fee for the full-day workshop is $600 and the workshop is from 9am to 8pm. Lunch and refreshments are included!

The workshops are limited to 6 people, so that I will be able to attend to everyone. There will be two models with us. The workshops will be held at my studio in Little Falls, NJ. The tempo is relaxed – I want to make sure everyone benefits, and will be a stronger photographer at the end of the day.

The flash photography workshop for 2018 will take place on:

  • July 22, 2018  (Sunday)  –  NJ

For more details and to book a spot: Flash Photography Workshops.

 

Photo Walks in NYC

With the NYC Photo Walks, we will photograph a model around a colorful, interesting parts of New York City. The group will be limited to just 4 photographers, so it won’t be crowded. We will also work at a relaxed tempo, so that I can attend to everyone and help everyone get amazing images. There will be an assistant to carry and hold the light for us. We just get to shoot and have fun! Here is a recap of a previous photo walk which took place along Brooklyn’s East River waterfront.

I will provide the Profoto B1 flash, and will have enough Nikon, Canon and Sony wireless TTL triggers for the Profoto flash so that everyone can shoot individually.

The $200 fee for the 2-hour photo walk is due at the time of registration.

  • May 27, 2018  (Sunday)  4-6pm  – Brooklyn Waterfront
  • August 26, 2018  (Sunday)  4-6pm – Brooklyn Waterfront
  • October 28, 2018  (Sunday)  4-6pm  –  Brooklyn Waterfront

For more details and to book a spot: Photo walks in NYC 

 

Studio Lighting Workshop

If you’ve been curious about getting to know more about studio lighting for portraits, but it all seems too daunting or technical, then this Studio Lighting Workshop is for you. The program is aimed at being is a learning experience where you get to use studio lights and light modifiers. After this workshop, I want you to feel comfortable next time you step into a studio, knowing you have a solid place to start from, and have the confidence to experiment further.

This workshop will be held at my studio space in NJ, and it has a wide range of studio lighting gear! It is easily accessible from New York as well, and we can fetch you from the local bus terminal. There is also free parking at the studio.

  • April 22, 2018  (Sunday)

For more details and to book a spot: Studio Lighting Workshops.

 

Personal workshops & tutoring sessions

If you would like an individual workshop, or a personal tutoring session, those are available as well throughout the year, depending on both of our schedules. The studio is only 17 miles from Manhattan. Just a short hop from New York and quite accessible by bus. Oh, and there’s parking at the studio. Free parking.

If you are limited in how far you can travel, there are Skype sessions and also video tutorials to help you get a much better understanding of photography and lighting techniques.

 

 

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Deep Eddy Pool. November 25th. 2017

I think the very nature of freelance photography work has changed. The process of making a good, or at least effective, photograph has become much easier and quicker than it was. The projects that used to take weeks now take days. The projects that used to take days now take hours. Since the time required to make images for clients keeps shrinking it long ago made sense to jettison the idea of billing by day rates, or by the hour, because one would keep delivering a finished image which has equal or greater value to a client but at an ever declining rate because of ever increasing efficiency. 

For years now we've looked at projects and bid them based on the value they'll provide to the client. And honestly, we also bid based on how convoluted the client's internal processes are. In many engagements it seems we spend more time on conference calls and in meetings that we do actually shooting the images. And then there's the time we spend ensuring that we get paid......

It makes more sense to bid the creation of images as a compound process which takes into consideration the amount of time spent meeting, figuring out the creative direction, shepherding the idea of collaboration, pre-production, scouting, post production and administrative nonsense into one fixed price instead of trying to break it out into line items for some linear thinker in someone else's accounting department. 

e.g.: Three minute video interview, in town, on a client location, with two cameras and two production people = $3200  Add in editing and it's $4,800. We don't break down the numbers. We say, "It will cost $3200 or $4,800." If there are no line items then there is nothing to squabble about. The client can either afford and approve the project or walk away. 

On another note, there is a tendency for people to bring an employee mindset to the freelance field. They may offer their services at rates that are not particularly profitable but try to make up for under charging by attempting to work as often and for as long as possible. If what you do doesn't require any real problem solving and involves the same basic routine done over and over again than I guess it all boils down to how much boring, repetition you can stand? 

But if your idea of being a photographer means that you are a creative problem solver or a creative collaborator, or a translator of marketing concepts into high quality image content, then I think the idea of trying to cram 50 or 60 hours of work into every week is very counter productive. 

Creative people work best (at least from what I've seen working in the field for a long time) in spurts. It's like being a sprinter in the swimming world, you might be able to crank out a good, sub-minute 100 meters on a good day, at a race, but you can't step up to the blocks hour after hour and crank out the same stellar swim (unless you are Michael Phelps or Jason Lezak), and you certainly can't perform at that high level day after day as you get older and your endurance diminishes (as it will for everyone --- ). 

Good creative work, and the creation and implementation of evolving styles, (like swimming) requires down time, recharge time, unencumbered time to ponder and the time to look around at things that are seemingly outside the myopic world of photography. Recovery and re-imagining. As an example, to be able to take better landscape photographs of 18,000 foot mountain peaks you'll probably need to spend more time learning about mountain climbing and practicing mountain climbing rather than focusing like a blunt laser on which camera to use or which lens might deliver the sweetest bokeh. 

If you want to be a better video interviewer of CEOs it would certainly pay off to spend a bit less time experimenting with V-Log and to spend a lot more time reading up on the world of business in which your target clients are engaged. (To do this you must incorporate your experience and continuing education into your overall pricing!!!).

But most of all, if you find, or are finding, that photography is taking up every minute of every day you may want to consider that you might be in danger of becoming photo-rexic and need to dial down the compulsion to a safer level. You could spend all day, every day, reading about photo stuff on the web. Some from people who probably know far less than you already know. But you'd be isolating yourself from valuable social networks while narrowing down your focus from the things that might have once made you an interesting person into a person who.......can operate a camera.

As I age up from my long, long adolescence into "middle age" I find that dialing back the hysteric need to be "all photography all the time" is healthier. If I can clear my mind of the endless internal chatter about photography I can better see actual (non-viewfinder) life swirling around me and refreshing my ability to look at the world in a happier and more comprehensive way. If I step away from the computer my life is enriched even more.

I've been thinking about the time I spend swimming lately. I swim for a number of reasons; one is to stave off the ravages of aging and the inevitable (but slow-able) decline of physical endurance. I swim to maintain good health. But I also swim because the process of spending time with my fellow swimmers builds or reinforces social community. 

On Friday evening I got several texts from fellow swimmers as we jockeyed to find a time to meet up yesterday so we could swim as a group. We ended up at Deep Eddy Pool at 10 am Saturday morning. We all jumped into empty lanes and, after a decent warm-up, took turns suggesting sets to swim. We interspersed short sprints with long endurance swims. We kicked some sets to build overall speed. We commiserated about the (cold) water. 

But once out of the water the sense of community and connection remain. On most Saturdays we'll head off after a swim for a group coffee. We'll share stories and news. We'll find out what other people do and how their slalom through life/work/family is going. We'll offer sympathy, humor and genuine friendship. 

One of my fellow swimmers is a restauranteur. Sometimes he and I will swim in the middle of the day on a weekday. Sometimes we depend on each other for the discipline we need to get out of the office or restaurant and make it out for a swim. And sometimes, after the swim we'll head out for a ramen lunch or to grab some sushi from some place good. We can eat early or late. We own our schedules. 

But free time is valuable not just for building friendships but conversely for spending time lost in thought. Meditating. Seeing the world from someone else's point of view by taking time to read.
I find that reading novels; anything from Tom Clancy to J.K. Rowling, makes me think differently and gives me a richer visual palette to work with than when I am too busy to read anything at all. 

Would I trade time with my dog for more time with my cameras? Hardly...

So, this afternoon at 1:30 we've arranged for another swim. We all agreed yesterday that today's swim would be a physical recovery swim. No heroics. No long sets. Just a joyous batch of yards in the bright clear, natural spring water of Deep Eddy Pool, under the warm and chromatically brilliant Texas Winter sun. 

After that maybe I'll get around to tossing out a few more trash cans of older photo work I never want to see again. 

If I prioritize my life for fun/engagement/curiosity all the necessary stuff seems to come along for the ride. It's when I prioritize for work/fear/routine that everything falls apart...


I have heard the mermaids singing; each to each.
......................
                                        .......................        
Till human voices wake us, and we drown.

-T.S. Eliot


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In the interest of full disclosure I have owned the Panasonic G85 for about six months now and have used it to shoot over 10,000 images ; from stage work to landscapes and portraits, as well as using it to shoot several hours of 4K video. I am conversant with every control and menu setting on this camera. I have owned and used the 40mm lens for over 32 years and have shot many thousand images with it as well. I paired the two together to see what effect the camera's lack of anti-aliasing filter would have when combined with this much older lens. A lens originally designed for a half frame of film. I wanted to see just how sharp a file the combination would yield.

The handling of the lens is superb. It functions well on the G85 and the focus magnification makes fine focusing easy and quick. If you are stopped down to a middle aperture you can use the focus peaking in the camera with confidence. Today I was shooting most of the images in downtown Austin to ascertain whether I felt the wider apertures (f1.4, f2.0 etc.) were usable with a modern camera like the G85. 







Final image focused on the S in "signature" with the lens set to f1.4. 
The image has been sharpened in post.


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"So I don't own one (even though I'd like to), and I've barely used it. I didn't take any of the pictures in this article, or in the gallery linked below. Then why on earth is the D850 one of my two picks for the best gear of 2017? Well, just look at it, for heaven's sake." - Barney, from DPReview




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I know so many of you are short of time during the holiday season so I'll keep this short and sweet. I'm mostly a portrait photographer and don't use wide angle lenses all that often. When I do it's usually because we're working with a commercial client on something like an annual report project where, in addition to portraits and photos of people working, we need shots of beautiful business interiors, majestic exterior shots and lenses that are wide enough to make a tiny lab look.....acceptable. I learned a long time ago that wide angles work best when there is something in the foreground, more stuff in the mid-ground and even more stuff in the background. We rarely go searching for "bokeh" when going wide. 

I did my research and decided that a micro four thirds system, built around the Panasonic GH5, would best suit my varied needs (video, portraits, general business photography) and I invested in it completely this year. The 40-150mm f2.8 was a "no-brainer" purchase given its incredible performance and nearly perfect focal length range for me. 40mm-60mm is perfect for portraits while the 60-150mm is perfect for documenting live theater at Zach Theatre here in Austin, Texas. 

The 12-100mm was a leap of faith. I'd read so many good and great things about it that I decided to try it out as my "all purpose" working lens. It's a constant aperture f4.0 which is great for most stuff. I'm happy I took the plunge because it very sharp at all focal lengths and all the other characteristics which people worry about are equally well handled.

For a week or so I thought that the short end of the 12-100mm would handle most of my wide angle needs but a job came along that required a bit wider field of view. I started researching the available wide angles in earnest. I wanted a zoom, and, after my experiences with the Olympus Pro series lenses, I knew I wanted to look at the top of the range of what is available. The advantages of premium glass are, if anything, even more obvious with the smaller sensor cameras....

I had previously owned the Pansonic 7-14mm f4.0 and had some niggling criticisms of it. The corners weren't perfect and the bulbous front made any sort of convenient filtering impossible. I've read amazing things about the Olympus 7-14mm f2.8 Pro so I tried that lens on loan. It's fabulous! Maybe even a little bit better than the lens I ended up with but for a photographer who
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