I am often asked “can I not leave my camera on AI-Servo (AF-C if you are a Nikon etc)?
The answer is: not a great idea normally. Because you cannot recompose. The moment you try that, taking your focus spot(s) away from your subject, the camera focuses on whatever is behind the subject!
But there is a trick, and I used it today to photograph these amazing insects:
- Set your autofocus mode to AI Servo/AF-C.
- Select “back button focus” in your camera’s menu (i.e. focus when you press a button on the back of the camera, not whenever you half-press the shutter button).
Now you focus as follows:
- Follow the insect, or hockey player, or whatever you are shooting.
- While doing this, keep the back button focus pressed, so your camera adjusts to follow the subject’s distance.
- But when the butterfly sits and you want to recompose, let go of the back buttoin focus. You can now move the camera to recompose, yet when you shoot, the camera will not adjust its focus.
Done and done!
A quick note about that amazing insect. Nature knows what many beginning photographers do not: you need a catch light in the eye to make it look real and alive. The butterfly’s owl eye has that catch light (the white circle part ion the “pupil”)! Amazing, eh? So learn from nature and always include a catchlight in your portraits.
A repost of a recent article, following popular request:
So… did your favourite holiday icon deliver any photographic gifts to you this last week?
For your sake, I hope he/she/it did. And if so, my advice is: learn how to use it properly. From a new camera to a new flash to modifiers to accessories, they are all much more effective if you learn how to use them properly. And the good news: it is easier than you think. Often much easier. And more often than not, adding additional extras will extend your creative options.
So is photography about the equipment? No, it is not. But without that equipment, there is no photography. So let me take you through some of the main equipment I use, to give you an idea of what you might like to look at if you wanted a full “pro” kit. Of course you do not need all this, but it is worth knowing what the full range would be. And this is pretty much a full range. Click on the links I provided for your convenience to read details (and to order: Amazon has amazing deals – especially on the perfectly good older models, i.e. the Mk1 instead of Mk2 lenses).
Why one crop body? To make my longer lens (200mm) appear even longer (320mm) when I need it!
Prime (fixed) Lenses:
Why so many fixed lenses? Well—their quality is great, they are typically smaller, and they provide wonderful consistency in your work. And.. they are usually faster (lower minimum “f-numbers”). Finally, some lenses (macro, tilt-shift) are only available as primes.
- Honl Photo range of flash modifiers (highly recommended). Like the softbox, the invaluable grid, the gels, and the speed snoot. I could not live without these.
A few of my add-ons, etc:
There’s a lot more, but these are the main items. In future posts I’ll mention some more for you. Have fun—and remember, always carry your camera.
OK, it’s not Monday, but that alliterates.
You all remember my mnemonic “400-40-4” for indoors flash for events? If not, read up on the Willems 400-40-4 rule for ISO, shutter and aperture.
I have another one for you: 4000-400-4. That is 4000 ISO, 1/400 sec, and f/4. And that is for hockey in a well lit hockey arena. Easy to remember, and results are thus:
200 mm lens, 4000 ISO, f/4, 1/400 sec, stabilizer mode 2
Photographing coins is notoriously tough. They are shiny and matte; the shiny bits can be dark or light depending on how you shoot them; they need to show coin detail without showing dust detail; and above all they are three-dimensional, not flat: to do it properly takes a lot of equipment and skill.
But you can do a lot with a little: an 80-20 rule says you can get 80% of perfect with 20% of the effort.
Let’s take a look. A macro lens and a ring flash gives me the following, for a 2015 proof quality coin.
First, the ring flash is held not quite right:
A better positioning gives me consistent results like this, for the obverse (front) side:
And here’s the reverse (“back”) side:
Not bad for five minutes work, no?
Remember that 80-20 rule. Often, you can do with “good enough”. Like when selling on eBay: perfection makes people suspect that you have simply copied a commercial picture, and hence the item pictured is not your item. So this is a good compromise: pretty good, little effort.
- Macro lens
- Ring flash (or in this case, Orbis ring flash adapter)
- Flash set to manual, 1/4 power
- White balance set to flash
- Camera set to 200 ISO, 1/125 sec, f/11
And Bob’s your uncle!
I spent Sunday night shooting pictures at a wedding—photo booth pictures, to be precise. And while some photographers think of this as a low-end endeavour, I love it, and I recommend it to all.
“Photo booth” means photos of people using props and funny poser, and printing images on site.
This needs a computer and special software:
And a tethered camera with a studio-type lighting setup:
And, ofcorse, props…:
And finally, technical knowledge as well as people skills.
The printouts people are handed look like this:
Look, by the way, at that last picture. How do you fit around 15 people in front of a backdrop meant for two? Here’s how!
And that’s why I love booths: all my varied photography knowledge comes together for this single purpose.
The result: as the bride told me: “They will remember this wedding because of the booth photos”. If that isn’t the best compliment ever, I don’t know what is.