Because photographer

Photographer. Not just anyone with a camera.

For this, for instance, taken during a recent baby shower…:

…you need this…:

…and a lot of time. Just loading and unloading all that gear and setting up takes an hour or more.

And that is why photographers charge a fee for their work, and that fee covers all that work plus the post processing. Your nephew with a camera can click, but he can’t give you the quality images that you get when you do it properly.

 

 

iPhoning

Even when using an iPhone, you need to know stuff in order to take the best photos.

Like this one here (click to see it large):

Here’s Five Tips for this type of iPhone photo.

  1. Focus, if needed, by tapping the screen on the object you want to focus on.
  2. Adjust exposure as needed by dragging up or down on the screen at that point.
  3. For a macro shot like this, actually back off a little and crop the photo later. This is a key point.
  4. And most importantly, add plenty of light. This needs to be non-direct light. I prefer outside, but out of direct sunlight.
  5. Finally, adjust your crop and white balance, and anything else needed, afterward, by clicking on EDIT.

Enjoy!


Want to shoot like a pro? Scroll to the previous post to read about the one-week-only Spring Madness Discounts!

Flare.

Sometimes, you will experience lens flare, a lowering of contrast due to incoming bright light. Like here, from a recent event:

You can’t do much about this: it will happen especially with longer lenses and lenses prone to it.

What you can do is minimise it and its effects. Here’s how:

  1. Remove any protection filter that your lens has on it. These make flare worse.
  2. Ensure that the lens is totally clean.
  3. Use the lens hood your lens came with.
  4. In addition, shield your lens from incoming backlight with your hand if you can.
  5. Position yourself so as to minimise incoming backlight. As you can see in the photo, this is not always possible.
  6. Avoid overexposing.
  7. In Lightroom afterward, use “remove chromatic aberration” in the lens correction section of the Develop module.

If you follow those tips, you have done all you can!


SPECIAL–SPECIAL–SPECIAL! … I have a very special opportunity for you:

Have you always wanted to be able to shoot pro images? Well… a short course can get you to an amazingly professional level. And for just one week, all personalized individual or group training, at your location or at mine, or via the Internet using Google Hangouts, is $60 per hour instead of $100 per hour – that’s 40% off! 

This offer is valid only until 4 May, but you can prepay now for later training. Take advantage if this opportunity and kick start your craft: Contact me today to book.

 

Colours and «croak croak»

Wednesday was another day for the macro lens. This time at the Botanical Gardens in Burlington, Ontario.

These froggies were in glass cabinets, so the main objective is to avoid reflections:

Then, plantie thingies, with some brilliant spring-like colours, because it’s spring, at least in the greenhouse:

 

And then there’s the niece:

Settings were: 5D Mk3 with macro lens; manual exposure mode, 800 ISO; various aperture and shutter speed settings achieved using the built-in light meter.

 

Focus Tip: AF-C/AI-Servo and back button focus

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:

Namely this:

  1. Set your autofocus mode to AI Servo/AF-C.
  2. 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:

  1. Follow the insect, or hockey player, or whatever you are shooting.
  2. While doing this, keep the back button focus pressed, so your camera adjusts to follow the subject’s distance.
  3. 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.

 

Repost: Gear Happy?

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).

Cameras:

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.

Zoom lenses:

Flashes:

Flash modifiers:

  • 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.

 

 

Mnemonic Monday

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

Have fun!

Coins and Uncle Bob

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.

I used:

  1. Macro lens
  2. Ring flash (or in this case, Orbis ring flash adapter)
  3. Flash set to manual, 1/4 power
  4. White balance set to flash
  5. Camera set to 200 ISO, 1/125 sec, f/11

And Bob’s your uncle!

 

Booth

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:

IMG_7717

And a tethered camera with a studio-type lighting setup:

IMG_7716

And, ofcorse, props…:

IMG_7720

And finally, technical knowledge as well as people skills.

IMG_7719

The printouts people are handed look like this:

2017-06-04_222331

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!

20170604_222321_174_1DX_5398

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.

 

 

 

 

Warm day

It was a warm-ish day today, so I went and took some car photos.

Since the sun was out, it is no surprise that I found available light a little boring:

20170408-1DX_3949-1024

So.. I added a flash, on a light stand. But as you will have guessed one flash was, of course, not enough to light a big subject like a car…:

20170408-1DX_3951-1024

…so I added two flashes. Left flash: half power manual 600EX, aimed direct at the car starboard side (zoom=50mm). Right flash: half power manual 430EX, aimed direct at the car front (zoom=50mm).

And that gave me this photo:

20170408-1DX_3965-1024

Desaturated slightly; otherwise this is the way I shot it.

But… say what—Two light stands? Fired by pocketwizards? Isn’t that complicated?

Yes, yes, and no, respectively. It is not complicated. And the results, as you see, get you immediately beyond the “snapshot”. And that is satisfying.

Michael teaches flash and other photography subjects; at Sheridan College and privately; and at his own school. If you want to know more, come to one of my regular courses (see www.cameraworkshops.ca).