Tuesday, December 19, 2006
First of all, in my opinion, IS has limited uses. It is absolutely necessary, in my opinion, in long lenses starting at about 400mm. Even on a tripod or monopod, the lenses are so large and heavy that some camera movement is bound to occur, even at higher shutter speeds. Having IS in these lenses helps cut that down greatly. But having IS in other lenses does only two things.
1. Drain your battery quicker.
2. Empty your wallet quicker.
Now, I do very little landscape photography and focus mainly on action and news, but I honestly believe in the 1/focal length rule for the most part. What ever lens you have on, as long as you can keep the shutter speed at least at or above the focal length, a 200mm lens would be 1/200th shutterspeed, you are going to have a sharp photo. Using slower shutter speeds than this can introduce camera shake....if you are not careful. Holding your breath, using a wall, table, or chair to steady yourself, or using a bean bag, monopod, or tripod is going to be cheaper and do a better job. Most landscape shooters will use a heavy duty tripod, cable release, and set their camera up for mirror lockup. People seem to think that in camera IS will solve that problem, but it wont.
In order for the in camera IS to work, the sensor has to move around to adjust for camera movement. While this movement is only a millimeter or two, you are now making your sensor even smaller. What if you are trying to fill the frame with something specific and the sensor shifts that 2mm, and suddenly along the edge of your image there is something that you do not want, or, worse yet, looking through the viewfinder, you can not see that the IS is going to do this because it is no longer OPTICAL. With in lens IS, you can see the IS smoothing the bumps out. In camera, you will see nothing.
Also, in lens IS is more accurate. IS from a 600mm lens is different than IS from a 400mm lens. The 400mm is tuned to give the best possible results from the 400mm focal length. You put the 400mm IS into a 600mm lens and compare it to a 600mm lens with the 600mm IS mechanism in it, the one with the 400mm IS will be less accurate. Basically, in lens IS is fine tuned for the lens it is in. In camera, you are either going to have IS that falls short compared to lens based IS or you are going to see camera's that either loose some features to make room for the IS software and mechanics. There is only so much room inside the cameras for all the data they need to work, and only so much room for the processors that make this data work. So, you have a Canon 30D. Pretty good AF, quick, accurate. Buffer clears out ok, not super fast, but better than previous models. Suddenly Canon releases a 35D, basically a 30D with in camera IS. You think great! A camera that is killer already, now is even better. You go out and switch that IS on and the first thing you notice is that the autofocus is moving a bit slower, not too noticable, but it is a tad slower, and not locking onto subjects as quickly. Take a burst of 4 or 5 RAW photos and suddenly you notice the buffer is taking for ever to empty as the images are written onto the memory card. Now, I am not saying that this would happen, but in all honesty, the 30D has one main CPU to handle all the cameras processing. 1D series has two, one for AF, one for everything else. Adding in body IS is going to slow down the camera slightly.
Another item that people tend to over look is flash sync. I do not know why this is, but it appears that in camera IS reduces the flash sync. Most Canon cameras are either 1/200th or 1/250th of a second flash sync, with the original 1D at 1/500th of a second. Adding in camera IS will change this. I do not have the specs in front of me, but I remember the Minolta 5D had a 1/160th of a second X-Sync without IS, turn IS on, and that dropped to 1/125th of a second. Shooting in studio and using studio strobes to shoot high school sports, 1/500th on my 1D and 1/250th on my backup XT (I know it says 1/200th, but I have successfully strobed at 1/250th) is a major necessity for me. If in camera IS is going to slow down the X-Sync, then there is absolutely no way in the world I will get a in camera IS body.
I do see how IS can be useful for some sports shooters. Shooting a baseball game under sunlight and having to drop your shutter speed down to about 1/60th to quickly take a shot of someone in the dugout, IS would be a benefit, but for the most part, with the exception of long lenses, my opinion is that IS is a gimmick.
Some of the greatest photographs of all time were taken long before IS, Autofocus, even color film, and to get them, even if it meant having an assistant help you, a good, sturdy tripod was use, and in my opinion, there is no better reduction of camera shake out there than a good, heavy tripod with a very sturdy head.
Monday, December 18, 2006
Just because you have a nice camera does not mean you can take photos where ever you want. Let's say you head out, the day after Christmas with your brand new camera to take pictures of the winter wonderland out there. You head downtown to take photos of the decorations and you have no problem. Suddenly, while framing a nice image of a decorated front of a office building, a security guard approaches you and tells you that you can not take pictures of the building. How do you handle this? Lately I have been reading about photographers who fly off the handle at security guards, screaming about public places, freedom of speech, etc. This is absolutely the last thing you should do. Apologize to the guard and tell him you were just taking a photo of the decorations and was unaware that this was not allowed. Ask him if there is someone in the building you can talk to about getting permission to take a photo. This is the absolute best way to handle this. So you are on a public sidewalk? Big deal. If you were taking a photo of a leaf on the sidewalk, he would have no ground to stand on, but taking the picture of a building, while it might be open to the public, it is owned by someone, and there may be actual restrictions on photography. Crazy, huh? Not really. Just because you have a camera does not give you a license to shoot anything, anywhere, at anytime. Let's say the same situation above occurs, but instead of you, it is a newspaper photographer. More than likely, either the photographer, a reporter, or someone from the newspaper has already made contact with the building management to get permission to photograph the building. Or, when the photographer got there, prior to shooting, they would make contact with the building management on site or with security letting them know who they were and why they were there. Even if they did not do this, if they were approached, they would more than likely have their press ID issued from the newspaper with them, identifying them as someone with a legitimate reason for being there.
Flying off the handle does absolutely nothing for you or other photographers. If you upset this security guard, the next time you or another photographer shows up, they may bypass talking to you at all and call the police. You can throw out all the freedom of speech that you want but, why ask for problems, when it is very easy to just ask for permission to shoot? If they say no, move on. Don't make it an issue. Not being a person with inside information at the building or whatever, means that you really do not know if there are restrictions. If it is a special architectural design, the architect may have copyrighted his design and to protect it, there is a restriction. I know it sounds silly, but it can happen. A while back in the Tacoma, Washington area, at the Tacoma Dome, there was a ridiculous rule about taking photos inside the facility. There was some real bad neon artwork that the artist did not want reproduced in any form. So, any photograph not taken for media use only, inside the dome, was not permitted. If I remember correctly, that did not last long, and I am not even sure if the neon is still there, but it was a rule, and security enforced it. A high school football championship was being televised and the TV cameras could not be in some positions that they wanted because the artwork would be in the background, so they had to shoot from less than desirable positions to avoid breaking the rule. While they were technically media, they wanted to avoid any possible infractions that may come later, like using footage to promote the event the next year and having this artwork in the video.
Basically, you just do not know, so when you don't know, ask. There are many so called public places that in reality are not public. Just because a park is public, there may be a group that has rented the park for a day and they may have restrictions on photography for a event or something.
My schedule has been interrupted for the next month or so as my mother prepares for open heart surgery. I have been canceling shoots and taking time off each week as I take her to doctor appointments, shopping, and running errands for her. I squeeze shoots in as I can and I hope to be able to get out to shoot some ECHL hockey this week as most of the high schools and UAA prepare for their winter breaks.
I did receive some nice news recently as I got a check from Icon SMI, one of my wire services. I knew that I had a photo in a recent issue of ESPN the Magazine, but it turns out I also had a shot earlier in 2006 picked up on ESPN.com. Along with that, my other wire, Newsport emailed me that I had sold a shot from the Quad Rugby event at the 2006 National Veterans Wheelchair Games. With not a lot going on in Alaska, it is nice to have 3 sports shots picked up for national publications.
Besides working on a review of my new 120-300 2.8 from Sigma, I am working on a full review of a couple Think Tank Photo products. I was sent a Airport Antidote and a Pro Modulus Speed belt set to put through the ringer for Fred Miranda's Digital Darkroom. Right now, after only using the gear for a short time, I can honestly say Think Tank got everything pretty close to perfect. I do have a few suggestions already, and once high school basketball and other events get going locally, I will be able to give them more of a workout.
I hope you all have a wonderful time during this last part of 2006 and wish you all a great 2007.
Links from this post.
Monday, October 30, 2006
I have been wanting this lens for a while, or a Canon 300 2.8 or 400 2.8. The lens I picked up was used, but in brand new condition. Picking the lens up for the first time you are amazed on just how heavy it is. I have had a few Sigma lenses in the past, but this one is the biggest and seems to be built like a tank. Looking at the lens cover/cap, the first thing I can honestly say that Sigma missed the boat on is the design. The cap can only be used in the storage position, or at least used correctly. There is a little notch cut out to lock around the hood knob, but when the hood is in shooting position, forget it. I have heard a lot of complaints about the hood. It is a bayonet style hood. You thread it into a notch set up on the lens, turn till it locks and tighten the knob. I like the stile and think it works well.
So, even before I attached my camera I twisted my monopod onto the beast. Pretty good balance, but if you get an older non DG lens be sure you get the larger lens collar. Mine is on order. This is the same lens collar on the 70-200 2.8 and it is just too small and compact for this lens.
I attached my 1D to the lens and it is a nice tight fit. Headed outside into the snow and started testing out the AF. Seems to focus quickly and accurately, but it will take some testing to figure out how good the AF is, but so far I am impressed. Two days after getting it, I finally had a chance to test it out. High School JV Volleyball. Bad lighting, so I was forced to shoot at ISO 3200 at 1/400th and 2.8. The lens performed great. I missed some shots, but that I attribute to user error. I am sure as I use the lens more, it will perform better and better for me. I have hockey, wrestling, and basketball coming up, so it will get lots of workout.
The view through the lens is great. Bright, contrastiy, and clear.
Honestly, with the exception of the lens hood/cap issue, the lens itself is great.
Now the case it comes with, that is another story. The Sigma Lens case plane sucks. I am looking for a new case for it, and I am leaning towards the Think Tank Photo Glass Taxi, but for now, it fits in my Lowepro MiniTreker Classic along with the 70-200 2.8 second body and some more short lenses. I have not tried it yet in my Stealth Reporter AW650 or my Kata stuff (which is for sale), and of course the Domke is just too small for it. The Sigma case is awkward and falls off my shoulder a lot when just walking along. Not nice if you have the lens in it.
I will update the review of this lens and add pictures as I go....
Tuesday, October 10, 2006
As many of you know, I have been the booster photographer for Eagle River High School football this season. I have shot every game in Anchorage for the Wolves and had a good time doing it. On top of that, I have been working with a local community theater and a church with some photo work. I have been working freelance with a local paper, and I have started mentoring a local high school student. Between editing, file management, shooting and more, it has been a busy time for me. And now it gets real busy. I have the big volleyball match up between Eagle River and Chugiak tonight, the Nye Frontier Classic hockey tournament this coming weekend, along with other UAA sports, and the Kelly Cup Champs, the Alaska Aces, are getting ready to start the 2006/7 season. This will lead me into November and the much anticipated Great Alaska Shootout and right into Eagle River High School basketball.
Also, as we hit mid October, the snow is on its way. I am guessing we will have a dusting soon and I have made the decision that I am going to get back out in the snow this season. My knees are not the best (the main reason I am behind the camera instead of playing the sports I love shooting), but my goal this winter is to get them stronger and get my self in better shape prior to the 2007 Iditarod. I will be getting out as much as I can to do some cross country skiing and I think some sledding. Of course my camera will be with me to document my adventures.
One of the new items I have added to my photo bag is something pretty cool. I have added a Sony minidisc recorder. I will be using this a lot for all my shooting. It will be great for high school basketball and all sports, getting ambient sounds for slide show presentations, and it is going to be priceless during news and feature shooting, freeing me from a notebook and pen and allowing me to record the information for cutlines. I am also working on replacing that great little Digital Rebel Xt with either another 1D or if football sales get better, a 1D Mark II or IIn, but I may actually go with a 30D for the crop and megapixals.
I will be liquidating some of my bags and other equipment too. So keep your eyes on Fred Miranda's buy and sell and the SportsShooter classifieds. I have about 3 or 4 bags, including my greatly loved Kata Rucksack, Torso bag, and Waist Pack which will be going on the block along with one more, maybe more. Also, I have collected so many flash cards, I no longer need my portable hard drive, so, my 20 gig FlashTrax will be on its way out. If you are interested in my Rebel at all (just cleaned by Canon), it has the box, cables, strap, body, battery, and battery grip, with box, and since I no longer have the 18-55 kit lens, I am including a 50mm 1.8. I am not ready to sell quite yet, but I may be soon after the 15th of October. I am thinking $625 for the entire camera outfit...oh, there is a cable release too.....might even find some other cool little things to add to it....
Anyway, I hope all of you are enjoying the beginning of winter and remember to stay warm and keep taking pictures.
Friday, August 25, 2006
"My friend has a wedding this weekend and he asked me to do the photos because their budget is very low. What should I do?" Honestly, tell them no. Please. Weddings, in my opinion, are the hardest thing in photography to do. A photographer goes out on a feature shoot and only needs 2 maybe 3 shots for the newspaper out of 20 to 100 taken. Fashion photographers will shoot hundreds of shots to get just a handful. Sports photographers will take hundreds, even thousands of photos just to get 10-20 great shots. Wedding photographers are expected to take 100-200 shots and have 100-200 great shots. And unlike many things shot photographically (I missed that dunk! No worries, there is 20 minutes left in the game) this is a once in a lifetime event.
"Oh, but I have a Digital Rebel and 2 lenses, and I got a 420ex flash. I have the gear, I just need to know what to look for." Did you know that wedding photographers like to be booked anywhere from a month to a year in advance? They will have meeting after meeting with the wedding party to go over details. Everything from standard group shots to special shots. They will have specific packages, and all the forms and check lists a bride and groom will need. They will make arrangements with the place the wedding will be held to come by and look things over. Talk to the people in charge to find out any photographic rules. Did you know that some churches will not allow flash in the sanctuary at any time? Some churches will not allow a photographer good access during the wedding. Some may not even allow photographs during the service. Preparation leading up to the wedding is big. Most wedding photographers will have 2 to 3 cameras, plus back ups. 2 to 4 light strobe set ups for group photos and 2 or 3 on camera flashes for candids. All the lenses they will need from low light wonders to short and long zooms. And the knowledge. Instead of reading a book on wedding photography a week before the wedding, they will have a number of weddings under their belts already, be well schooled in the art, understand what a bride wants, and most importantly be prepared for any situation. What happens if the place the wedding is being held will not let you use flash? Are your lenses fast enough? What if your camera fails the day of the wedding, or worse yet, during the wedding. Do you have a back up? Anything that could ever go wrong, will go wrong at a wedding, so it is best to know and understand this and make sure the wedding party understands it.
What about the photos? Wedding photos are processed differently than any other photos. A lot of post processing work will go into them to make the bride look perfect and correct any possible flaws in them from exposure, whiteballance, adding special wedding looks to them, and so much more. Many wedding photographers will spend 40 to 50 hours just working on the files alone after the wedding. Then set up proof books for the bride and groom to pick from. The final wedding albums can cost hundreds of dollars and should be perfect, as the books for the parents of the couple should be.
If you are approached to photograph a friends wedding, and you are not a wedding photographer or a pro, urge the couple to find a pro. Help them if you have to. If it is very close to the wedding, they may be out of luck, but if they discuss with various pro's their budget, they may be able to work something out. You could also help them by contacting a local photo club, and see if there are any pro's or semi pro's that could be of assistance. Even check with the local colleges. Students in advanced programs may jump at the chance to shoot a wedding for a lot less than a pro would charge.
Finally, if you absolutely have to shoot the wedding, take as much stress off of yourself as you can. Buy a bunch of disposable cameras and put them out at the reception. Let the guests take a majority of those photos. Go through the internet and find a check list that will cover all the shots you need to get. Bride & Groom, Bride with Bridesmaids, etc. Keep that check list with you and get every shot. Get at least three or four shots. Bracket if you have to. Go to the rehearsal. Go to the place the service is going to be held. Rent the gear you may need, like a back up camera and a couple fast lenses. Look at wedding photographers websites and get ideas from their images on how you should approach specific shots.
As many know, I am a media and sports photographer. But I will do weddings. I do them differently than most, but depending on the size of the wedding, my fees can range from $2000 to $10000. I do not like doing weddings because, while they are only a hour or two long, I will put close to two weeks of work into them. People see a price of $2000 for a two hour wedding and think, Wow...$1000 an hour. I should be a wedding photographer. Well that $2000 breaks down to $25 and that is before I subtract for the wedding album proofs and final prints.
So again, I say....Let a pro do it.
Oh...Eagle River dropped this game 0-58. Ouch...come on Wolves...lets get it into gear....
Thursday, August 17, 2006
Thursday, August 10, 2006
I will let you know how to join Printroom at 50% off soon, but if you are interested, please feel free to contact me and I will email you the info.
But, on a good note, I am shooting as the booster photographer for Eagle River High School football and will be posting the Varsity images on MaxPreps.com. As Alaska's only MaxPreps photographer, it is something new for the state to see, and I hope that I am the first of many MaxPreps photographers in the state. The biggest thing this state is missing is quality high school sports photos...I mean, I can only shoot one school a night, and since I am tied to Eagle River High, that leaves numerous schools out of the loop.
If you are a Alaska Sports Photographer and you want to know more about MaxPreps, contact me. I will put you in contact with the guys who will make it happen for you.
I hope to have a few shots from the West - Palmer game up here Saturday, so check back!
Monday, July 24, 2006
Two straight series of him throwing. At 8fps, I will shoot a burst of 4 to 5 images. Then a third series of him doing the same thing, but at a slower shutter speed to look for movement, a sense of speed in his throw. I will then get shots through the backstop looking straight at him, then I will look for pick offs when a runner is on base. That will usually do it for the pitcher for me. This allows me to get photos of the pitcher out of the way and focus on the other players.
A hint for shooting baseball is anticipation and odds. Keep track of what the players are doing. The batters will face each pitcher a few times, so each time up, keep track of where they hit the ball. If the 4th batter hit a grounder to third base his first two times up, focus in on the third baseman and hope he hits it there a third time. Sometimes he will, sometimes he wont. When a runner is on first, anticipate a double play or a steal. I will prefocus on 2nd base and then if it is a double play I am already set for the out at second and the throw back to first. This is the best way to get those sharp shots of a shortstop in the air throwing the ball as a runner is sliding into second. Baseball is one sport that if you shoot, know the game. For little league, keep track of what the batters are doing and where they hit, but for higher level, like college or the pros, typically there is a radio broadcast you can listen to on a portable radio (I will use one earplug) and usually the announcers will say things like;
"The last time up he grounded to second and in his first at bat he hit a line drive to right."
That info would tell me he likes to hit to the right side of the diamond, so I will focus in on the second baseman and hope for a line drive he has to dive for, or maybe a ball hit softly that he needs to charge in to pick up.
"What lens is that?" or "What kind of lens should I buy to shoot...?"
Most people are looking at taking the best pictures they can and are focusing on the gear to do that. The thing I think is funny, in a sad way, is when people will go out and spend close to $10,000 on gear and then get mad that they do not get great photos and blame the gear because the lens is backfocusing, or the autofocus is too slow, or a number of other reasons. Now malfunctioning gear can be an issue, but in my experience, 90% of the problems hobby photographers have are not gear related, but a lack of photography knowledge. A lot of people come into digital SLR photography from point and shoot film and digital cameras. Going into a camera store and asking "What camera will give me the best results" is not the best way to go. The sales person does not know or really care what your background is, just what you can spend.
Recently, I was asked by a hobbyist photographer to look at his shots. He bought a Canon 20D and had the kit lens and a inexpensive zoom to 200mm. His shots were blurry from camera shake, exposed poorly, and not post processed. Talking to him a little I got some much needed information to help him, but he was not happy with my answers. He had shot for a few years with a Sony point and shoot digital camera, and he did a fine job with snapshots. His chief complaint, although not his main problem, was that the images are not as sharp or colorful as his Sony. He was planning on upgrading his lenses to Canon L lenses to fix this problem. I let him know not to do this.
"Your problem is not your gear. You have a good little set up here that will produce as good or better shots as your old Sony camera. You really do not need to upgrade anything at all right now."
His response to me was "But you use all those Canon L series lenses and your shots are tack sharp. That is what I want."
As I told him, and want to share with everyone is, do not spend the money on equipment to become a better photographer.
First step. Take classes. So my shots are tack sharp? I also have the knowledge learned in numerous photography classes in both high school and college. Just understanding the basics of Single Lens Reflex cameras can greatly improve your photography. Community colleges, high schools, on line, where ever there is a photography class that is available for you to take, spend the money you would spend on the pro series lenses on that. It will help you with focus, composition, camera operation, and if the class is geared towards digital photography, that is even better because it will cover white balance and all those digital goodies.
Second Step. Take classes. Not photography classes, but computer classes. Find a digital imaging course that will cover Photoshop or Photoshop Elements. Most cameras, at least Canon, comes with a free copy of Elements, and for a time, offered a great deal on upgrading to the full version of Photoshop. I tell people to take a digital imaging class because every image from a DSLR camera needs to be processed in some way or another. Exposure, Colors, sharpness. All these things need to be adjusted in some way or another after the photo is taken. Point and Shoot Digital Cameras will do this in camera, but not always for the better. Now learning how to do it correctly will not only make your photos look better, but will make it easy to do. You can teach your self by trial and error, but I find the best way to do it is to learn from those who know. There are some great online courses for digital workflow which will help, but one on one with an instructor is much better in my opinion. One way to look at it is, Point and Shoots are like Polaroids, DSLR files are like negatives and need to be processed. Process them incorrectly, you will not be happy, process them correctly and you will be very happy.
Third step. This is actually a group of things to do. Start off by reading your manual and learn your camera inside and out. The last thing you want to do is have the camera out and be put into a position where a great shot is right in front of you and you have to stop and read your manual to figure out how to set something specific. Read the manual, and re read it. Even though you end up memorizing it, keep it in your bag with you for those times when you go blank. Also, pick up some books. Look at books of photos that are of the same style you want to shoot, or in the same subject matter. This will give you ideas of what to look for when you produce your own photos.
Finally, I suggest getting a very good and sturdy tripod and a cable release. This will help greatly when doing fine detailed shots and will be much, much sharper than hand holding the camera.
One thing to keep in mind, there are very few things you can do well without knowing the basic fundamentals. You can cook from scratch with out knowing much about what you are doing, but to make something that can be eaten and taste good requires you to know what you are doing, and you do this by learning and practice. You can drive a car with little to no knowledge, but to drive a car well and within the law, you must take classes and practice. A team of baseball players may know and understand a game, but before playing it they go out and practice practice practice. Same goes for photography. Anyone can pick up a camera and take a photo, but understanding the abilities of your camera, understanding the art of photography, and understanding the art of digital imaging will make your snapshots look like photographs.
The top pros out there today did not one day pick up a camera and start taking award winning photos. Most of them went to school and learned the craft. Many learned from the top pros of their era, and a few are self taught. But not one of them has stopped learning. Everyday we learn something new. It might be what to do or how to do something to what not to do or how not to do something. But it all boils down to, do you need the top rated pro gear? It really depends on two things. Do you really need it and why do you really need it. As a professional shooting Canon gear, I choose my equipment by what I need, not by the name on it. I shoot 95% with a Canon 1D. Not a Mark II or IIn, but a 4 megapixal 1D camera. Why? Because that is all I need right now. I would really like a MkIIn, but at this time, I do not need it. I shoot outdoors all summer, no need for the high ISO quality of a newer body. I shoot 90% of my indoor sports with a strobe set up, so again, no need for the high ISO quality. When I do need high ISO performance, I use a cheap, Digital Rebel Xt, which I also use for remotes. The images I shoot with a cheap consumer camera and a 1st generation pro body that has seen two upgrades since it was released are regularly published in local papers, used in promotional material for various businesses and groups, and sold through various wire services, like Corbis, in the US. I shoot primarially with a 300 f4. I would like a 2.8 version, but I do not need a 2.8 version. I also shoot with a 70-200 2.8, not the IS version. Do I need the IS version? No. So why buy it if I do not need it. I shot for newspapers with a 18-55 kit lens and a third party 2.8 zoom lens for over a year and sold plenty of photos with this combination. At that time, having Canon Pro lenses would not have made any difference in the photos I was taking, so there was no reason to spend the extra money on those lenses. Anyone can complain about a product, but those who complain the least are those who know what the product is capable of.
Take some classes. Learn what you are doing and then decide what gear you need and what gear you do not need.
Tuesday, June 27, 2006
Those of you who know me well realize I absolutely hate standard team and individual photos. A photo that anyone else could have shot really does not interest me when it comes to portraits. I will do them if I have to, but if it is up to me, I would do them my way and make them fun for the kids, parents, and myself. I kind of go started doing this last year a little with the local high school basketball team, but due to conflicts with practices and uniforms, I did not get to do them all the way I wanted to. During the baseball season, usually the only team photo I take is the after championship game photo, and many times I will not do that because every parent out there will have a camera and I will not sell any.
Now do not get me wrong, I know T&I (team and individual) is a great business, but if I am not having fun and the parents or kids are not really interested in what I am producing, why do it. So, the little league I shoot for has a studio that does the team pictures each season, but they did a crummy job scheduling, and a bunch of the teams could not make their appointments because they were scheduled during games or right between double headers (most parents do want clean uniforms for their kids pictures). One of the juniors teams was one that did not have a team picture. On of the parents asked me to shoot one for them. She is a great customer, so I knew I would sell at least one, so I said sure. I got word to the coach that I was going to shoot a team photo and I needed them to show up 1 hour before the game. I showed up about 15 minutes before I expected the team, and I figured the team would not all show up until 30 minutes before the game, so that would give me time to set up my lights on lightstands, take some readings, and go. The field is an ok location to shoot, but where I normally would have the team stand, I now have parents and siblings filing into the seats in frame. The other team wants to take warm ups on the field, so the ump had me move my gear. 30 minutes before the game, not one member of the team is there. Clouds are rolling in, and my mind is racing. So I decide, I will have them stand, facing the fence....I throw my speedlights up onto the fence and meter it. I have some ok exposure going, but the dark clouds are really rolling in and still no team. 5 minutes before the game starts, here they come...the whole team is there and I grab them. The coach yells at them "Come on Thugz, time for a team photo!" Thugz? Yup that was what they named themselves this season...I look at the clouds, I look at them, and it hits me. I tell them that I do not care how they stand, backs to me, sides, what ever, but look tough and if you can not see the camera lens, then move until you can see it clearly. I bumped my flash out put up 2 stops (in Canon's ETTL mode) set the 17-40 at 17mm on the 1D and changed my exposure on the camera to make those dark clouds even darker. A little bit of photoshop work and I ended up with my most popular team photo ever. Not everyone likes it, but the majority do and the entire team and their parents do, so that makes it a winner for me.
Wednesday, May 31, 2006
There is a lot of talk about Full Frame cameras. I hate to be the bearer of news that will go against what everyone in the world has believed in for so long, but all Digital SLR cameras are full frame. They may just not have the same size frame. There are 35mm sized sensors, there are APS-C sensors, there are sensors between 35mm and APS-C, there are sensors smaller, there are medium format sensors that are much larger than even a 35mm sized sensor. But they are all full frame. Now a few, some of the newer offerings from Nikon (D2X) and from some smaller companies that do, in effect, crop the sensor some. The D2X does this to improve speed. It's APS-C sensor is cropped down to a lower resolution and this increases the frames per second it can shoot. There are new cameras that will adjust the crop of the sensor to give you a HDTV orientation, or a 4x3 or a 5x7 crop. But none of these effect your lens focal length.
Before diving into digital "lens conversion", let's look back at film. As digital was emerging, there were two main consumer film sizes. APS and 35mm. APS was not as popular, and actually looked to be dying, and 35mm had been the standard for so long. The step up from 35mm was medium format. For this story, we will look at the 645 size, or 6cmx4.5cm.
Every camera type had a standard lens. With 35mm, the normal lens was a 50mm. If you kept both eyes open, it was very close to equal what you saw through the camera and with your naked eye (45mm was almost the exact as the naked eye). But you put a 50mm lens on a APS camera, things appeared bigger. Not really. The size of the film is not as big as the size of a 35mm frame, so the view you got was actually coming from the center portion of the lens. In effect cropping the lens. But....it was still a 50mm lens. You put a 50mm lens on a APS camera, it was what you expected. Now put a 50mm lens on a medium format camera and it acts as a wide angle lens. It will show much more area than on a 35mm frame, but it is still a 50mm lens. If you wanted an image to look the same from camera format to camera format, on your APS camera, a 35mm would be a good choice, 50mm for 35mm, and 80mm for medium format, but the lens focal lengths do not change.
In the digital age, that is the same. So you have an Olympus system that states 2x lens conversion. Incorrect. The frame is smaller than a 35mm frame, but it is not magnifying the lens at all, so a 100mm lens is still a 100mm lens, but compare a shot from an Olympus E-300 to that of a Canon 1Ds with a 200mm lens on it, you will at first think, that the Olympus really is doubling the lens. But it is not. The 100mm lens is acting like a 100mm lens from telephoto compression to DOF. What is commonly known as Field of View Crop, which is close to accurate, the smaller sensor is only using part of the lens. Now some manufacturers have made lenses that take this into account, but they are not "new" lenses. In fact, they are the same type lenses that were made for film cameras, but ground down to a smaller physical size. This makes them smaller and lighter and unusable on cameras with larger sensors. What makes a 50mm lens a 50mm lens is the fact that a certain part of the lens is 50mm from the sensor or film plane. So, if you could cut your lens and camera in half and measure from a specific point in the lens to the sensor you would find it the same distance in mm as your lens focal length. It does not matter what lens or what camera. On a 1Ds, a 30D, a Rebel Xt, a 50mm lens will always measure 50mm. So when you throw that 300mm lens on your Rebel, do not think that you are effectively shooting a lens that is 480mm. Your 300mm lens is still just a 300mm lens.
Thursday, May 25, 2006
Thursday, May 18, 2006
I have started my long and big personal project. Last night I visited the Eagle River Fencing Club to take some test shots and get some ideas for my main shoot there over the next few weeks. I am also working with a new Photoshop technique that can give photos an old, film like look. I applied the process to this test image because with fencing being an old world sport, I thought the old film look worked with it.
Monday, May 15, 2006
As I said in a previous post, I want to show people new to Eagle River, as well as people who have lived here for a while, all there is to do in our small town. That there is no need to complain, or sit at home because there is just nothing to do around town. Clubs, groups, and organizations are one of the things I want to focus on, and will probably be my first set of photos I do. My project is going to consist of activities, food, church, entertainment, etc.
Originally I had the idea that I would put together the photos and search out someone to print it and sell it. Now, I think what I will be doing is putting together a blog, for Eagle River activities and each week try to add something new. I am hoping to have the local paper also participate by running a photo a week or at least a month on one of these fun or little known events.
Once I feel it is near completion, I want to put all of the info onto a interactive CD and distribute to local churches, Realtors, visitor centers, etc. Kind of a welcome to Eagle River deal. Included in the CD will be coupons from local businesses profiled on the CD (advertising to help pay for this). I am real excited to get a chance to do something like this. It is going to be a long, hard run putting it together, but it should keep my busy.
Friday, May 05, 2006
Globetrotter Kevin "Special K" Daley reacts to a call made by the refs during the first of two games in Anchorage.
Monday, May 01, 2006
As you can see, I hooked my ball head (Bogen grip tripod head) to a small wheel. For larger lenses, I may look at a larger wheel for more stability, but with the 17-40 and the Xt, it works pretty well.
In 1918, 87 years ago, 72 people died in Brevig Mission after a pandemic caused by bird flu occurred. In fact, tens of millions of people died from this version of the avian flu. This is something that we all do not want to see happen again. While scientists are studying the current H5N1 strain to figure out a way to contain it, a little common sense and taking precautions can go a long way in protecting yourself if you come in contact with wild birds.
As a photographer in
The H5N1 Bird Flu, which is mainly found in Asia, greatly in regions of
I do not want to tell anyone to stay away from their local duck pond in fear of getting sick, but you can take precautions to make sure you and your loved ones stay safe. Using a little common sense can go a long way in protecting you and your loved ones. If you are taking a lunch to the pond, take a table cloth with you and have pleanty of wet naps with you. The birds have the run of the place and while the picnic tables are kept pretty clean, you never know when any one of the birds may have decided it was a great place to use as a out house. Have a small bottle of hand sanitizer with you and clean your hands after you feed the animals. Keep the urge to pet the “tame” water foul in check. I have seen many times a young child excited about touching the pretty feathers on the birds and then sit down for their happy meal. Not only is this a good idea to prevent the possibility of picking up something that you may not want, but I have found out the hard way, these birds bite.
Flu or no flu, just keeping yourself clean is always a good idea after coming in contact with outdoor animals. Also, if you have any suspicions that a bird is infected with the bird flu or some other disease, contact your local authorities as soon as possible.
Wednesday, April 26, 2006
So, you want to shoot some remote shots this summer of baseball or soccer, maybe some track and field but have no clue how to do it? Well you can for around $10,000. Whoa....I know what you are saying. "I thought this was suppose to be inexpensive!" Well, just wait. The ideal remote set up would be a 1Ds series camera, a lens (depends on what you shoot), a floor mount and ball head, triggering wire, pocket wizard, maybe a dust cover or rain cover. You want the 1Ds series for the wide angle. Low angle shots look great with a wide angle lens. Just think of a camera right at the back of a soccer goal capturing a laid out goalie reaching for a ball with the shooter and defenders in mid action, or a long jumper taking off from the line exploding for a huge take off. Set it up, prefocus, hook up a pocket wizard, set up in your normal shooting position and fire away. Shot comes up in your remote location, grab the pocket wizard and trigger the camera. Bam. Easy, huh?
So you do not have $10000 to drop on a remote set up? Ok...how about around $1000? Less than that if you already have a second camera in your arsenal. Taylor this to your own needs, but this is what I am am using for a remote camera set up.
One Digital Rebel Xt. Not a full frame camera, but it is small, light, and cheap as DSLRs go. For a floor mount, I am using of all things, a small wheel barrow wheel. Wal-Mart sells these for about $3. I picked up the axle bolt that goes along with it for about $1 more. This bolt just happens to be the same size as a camera tripod ball mount socket. 1/4". put this together and you have a pretty sturdy mount for a camera at about 8" to 12" off the ground. On the Rebel, depending on the sport, I will mount a 17-40 up to a 70-200 lens. You could get away with using the 10-22 EF-S lens if you have it. Ok. The camera is ready...now, how do I trigger it? I am using single channel radio slaves I got from ebay. Spent about $30 on them. They are not the best, and now come in 4 and 16 channel versions. The receivers are about 3.5" long and around 1.25" wide and run on 2 AA batteries. Plug the phono plug into the miniplug adapter and plug that into a miniplug to 3/32 miniplug adapter. Now prior to hooking this to your camera, you need to make sure your camera is set up to shoot. Shoot in manual (hand held meter is handy to set exposure) have the camera set to "burst" mode and set the focus. Put the lens into MF mode. Now, plug the 3/32 plug into the cable release port on the camera, and you are good to go. Not the range of a pocket wizard, but if you have the camera set up at home plate looking up to 3rd base and you are shooting from around 3rd base or 1st base, you should be able to trigger it no problem. Even though the camera is set to "burst", it will only shoot one frame each time you trigger it. Holding the transmitter button down will not keep shooting. However, if you are shooting with a second camera, and do not mind a lot of extra junk frames, put the transmitter onto your hotshoe and every time time you take a picture, the remote camera will fire. Now if you are shooting with a 1D series at 8fps and using a Rebel for a remote, for every 8 shots you take consecutively, the Rebel will only shoot at 3fps.
I will be posting some test shots this weekend. I will be using this set up for a special feature assignment. So more to come.
Monday, April 17, 2006
With little league upon most of us, I thought I would start this thread to give tips for those of us who shoot an sell online. I bring this up today because I recently have had three or four people ask me to look at their online galleries. All of them needed help, but one stood out as it required me to click 5 times after opening a gallery to view just the first image. When I was done, I had 6 pop up ads and a new friend lurking around in my computer that ad-aware had to find for me. The one gallery I looked at had 273 photos and the first two pages were of the pitcher throwing only three pitches. Ok, so if my kid is playing left field or hitting 6th in the order, and I am on page three now and have not seen anything but one player so far, I get board real quick.
Now these are just some of my tips. I encourage those of you who do sell online to share some of your tips that make things easier for you.
First things first. Have permission from the league prior to shooting a game and posting images. While games may be played on public fields, it is not ok just to start shooting and selling without the officials giving the ok. Never add information about the players on the site like names or addresses (duh!) and respected the wishes of anyone who wants their child's photo taken down. Have password protection of your galleries as an option in case parents or the league asks for it.
For youth sports, I find a mix of action and sportraits work great. As Paul said in one of his posts recently, go tight. Be sure your images are coming out of the camera properly exposed with correct WB and in sharp focus. Try your best to get your horizons straight and compose so you do not have to crop. Lenses are not long enough to reach the center fielder? Shoot an inning down the line in the outfield area then. If your lens will not get you the shot, then move to where it can.
When you download your images, take the time to go through and delete your junk photos. Missed shots, OOF, etc. etc. Please, do not post these. When I shoot 3 games in a day, this step alone can take only about 5-10 minutes. If you download correctly, you should be saving your images to two places (at least that is how I do it). One set to archive and one to work from. So as you delete, your archived originals are not being touched.
After you have done the first quick edit. I like taking the photos from each game and putting them in their own folder. I then go through again and tag the best shots to post. If I shoot 300 photos in a game, I will post anywhere from 40-80. Yes, I could post more, but why make the parents go through photos that look the same? With a 20D or 30D, you are looking at 5fps and with the 1D series, 8fps. So you shoot off a burst of the pitcher throwing, and again, and again. So you have up to 24-30 photos of the kid throwing 3 pitches. Do not post all of them. Pick your best shot from the wind up, the apex of the throw, and the release and post only those. Same with batting. Kids tend to swing the same over and over again, so, while you may have a lot of shots of a kid swinging because you were trying for that great Bat on Ball shot, is there really any need to post every single shot of the kid swinging? If you post you best, you have a better chance of selling it than you do selling 3 or 4 or 10 of the same kid doing the same thing.
Once you get your images down to a browsable number, post. Do not worry about doing any work on the images now. After all, you exposed correctly, right? You had the WB set right and they are in focus? So, what ever you use for your host, upload the photos. Any work I do on my pictures is lost in the translation during the resize and web presentation to my galleries, and I do not want to work on the same photos twice.
To cut down on workflow, I like to shoot youth sports in large jpg (more images per card), with sRGB and the saturation, contrast, and sharpening bumped to +1. Why? Let's say you shoot 6 games in two days. You have every shot you posted purchased in 1 weeks time. Do you really want to have to process 300 images? I will take a test shot from the game, and create an action for it for printing. Basically what it will consist of is a tweak of the curves (maybe) or levels (again, maybe), boost the saturation a little, and sharpen. If I get an order, I can open the image, run the action I named 4-29-06 game 1 and move on. If I have a bunch of shots? I run it as a batch for each game. It just makes things easier. And it is real easy to set up. I have a shortcut in photoshop that when I open my test image (any shot from the normal circumstances in the game) I hit a short cut that starts recording a new action which I name. When I am done, all I have to watch out for are shots that the action will not work with (dug out shots, slow shutter speed stuff...etc.) With practice, this gets easier and makes the workflow easy.
When creating a gallery, make it easy to find/view. I absolutely can not stand going to look at photos, clicking on a link and having a new window pop up. Click on the image to see a larger version and have another window pop up, and please, do not use a host that has pop up ads. Easy navigation is key. While you may think a lot of html gimmicks look cool, remember who is browsing your site. Mothers with little time on their hands to spend an hour trying to find the images of their kid you took last week.
Tackle your orders quickly. Never make a customer wait longer than they have to. If you are doing the printing and postage and stuff, get custom envelopes/mailers. Make it look professional. If you rely on a lab to print and send your stuff out, make sure you know what the quality is to make sure it will suit you.
I will not talk about pricing or different products to offer because that all depends on your individual talent, location, and competition.
I am not a gear head, well, I am, but I do not think the gear you have dictates how good your photographs are. I fully believe, no mater what your gear consists of, as long as you know your gear and its limitations, as well as an understanding of composition and a basic understanding of the subjects you are photographing will yield good photos. However, practice, studying, practice, and more practice along with a strong understanding of photographic styles and a very good knowledge of what you photograph is key in producing great photographs.
My current gear consists of Canon Digital SLR's, a 1D and a Rebel Xt. Along with this I have a variety of Canon lenses, speedlights, strobes. I am Windows based and use PhotoMechanic, PhaseOne Capture One software and Adobe Photoshop CS2.
So, anyway, that is a little about me, and what I want this blog to be. I hope you enjoy.