A little welcome and very brief look at the store, prior to re-opening Tuesday February 16!
While I have been working non-stop, the mall has been closed since Christmas, so the only business my store has been able to do is curb-side, and emergency passport/ID photos.
But on Tuesday Feb 16, the mall is re-opening, and we’ll be fully open to the public again. In this quiet period we have been doing much to further improve our efficiency and workflow, to serve you even better at Michael Willems Photo.
At the same time, I see how COVID-19 is hurting everything. Not just in the obvious way of disease and death, but also the business environment, especially in logistics. Items that would arrive in days from China now arrive in weeks or even longer. Even in Canada – essential supplies that I had sent “expedited delivery” via Canada Post ten days ago from Toronto have not yet arrived in Ottawa – a four hour drive.
Prices, too – photo frames that we buy for resale, for example, as well as paper and pigments: everything is going way up. Some $20 frames now go for $85 – seriously.
But as much as possible, we have tried not to have things affect our customers: in most cases we have been able to keep prices the same. We even have new initiatives for students and members of the military: see here.
So while the supply-issues may mean I may not be able to do all of the prints you want the same day, they will be done with the usual care and attention. See you in the store Tuesday and beyond!
Hi Michael just wondering about your advice on a used camera lense….. I am looking at on Facebook market place …. it’s a canon wide angle zoom 10-22 for my canon 70D …. I am a little leery about buying a used lense and also buying and having it shipped sight unseen …
I understand the hesitation. The world is full of cheats and thieves.
But there are also at least as many honest people. Here’s my thoughts on buying a used lens.
- Lenses tend to work practically forever, so I am generally in favour. You get a great lens for less than the new cost: why not? DO not expect a really really big discount though: lenses keep their value for decades.
- Always ask the seller to promise that the lens is undamaged and in fully working order. Communicate via email or some other way that keeps a record.
- Make sure you agree some course of action if that should not be the case.I am not talking about a full warranty, but what if after three hours the lens dies?
- Ask for history: why are you selling, what did you use it for, do you have the box, etc. A good reason to sell would be “I am upgrading to full frame and this is a crop sensor lens”, for example.
- Always ask for full contact details. I check them, and if it’s an expensive lens I have been known to take a copy of the seller’s driver’s license. After all, the lens could be stolen: it’s no more than a sensible precaution.
- I am weary of Kijiji, so this caution doubly applies there.
- As does this caution: “meet in a public place”.
- eBay has warranties, so that is a little safer.
- I like Facebook marketplace too: much fewer ‘flakes’ than on Kijiji. Check how long the Facebook user has had an account. If that’s “one week”, then you know there are alarm bells ringing.
- When looking at a lens, take some photos at the extremes: fully zoomed in and out; lowest and highest f-number.
- Check the prices on eBay – only look for “sold listings”!
Of course always keep in mind the old adage that “if it seems to be too good to be true then it probably is too good to be true”. But there are many good lenses to be had. So if the above all checks out, you should be fine. And there’s nothing like a new lens – fun!
Yesterday’s selfie. What type of modifier was I used, can you tell?
Bonus question: what film am I emulating in the finishing?
A short note today about leading lines. We use those to lead the viewer into a photo and call attention to the subject. You can use a wide-angle lens, and you can look for lines naturally occurring in the environment. Like the perspective lines here, in the parking lot at Place d’Orléans mall, that seem to point to Rose:
As soon as I saw r=those “Alhambra-like” columns, I knew we had a photo. It’s all about opening your eyes.
This, incidentally, is one of those images that can also work very well in Black and White – here, with the super-cool grainy Tri-X film look – and you really need to see it full size to judge:
In this particular case I am not sure which one I prefer – I love both. What do you think? Let me know!
I have a useful mnemonic for you: “For a flow, go slow”.
Meaning if you are picturing something that happens as a continuous flow, you should use a slow shutter speed, to capture it as that flow. Like this, a few years ago:
To do this I did the following:
- Defy death by climbing down an unofficial trail.
- Use a tripod.
- Use a wide angle zoom lens (16-35mm, on a full frame camera).
- Put a variable neutral density (ND) filter on the lens, set to its maximum darkness.
- Camera on manual. Use 100 ISO and a high f/number; in this case, f/20
- Now see what shutter speed I need (20 seconds).
And that’s it!
- You do not always need a slow shutter. For the waterfall, 1 second would have been fine too. But the river looks better at that slow speed.
- At small apertures you will see sensor dust if there is a blank surface, like a sky, in the shot.
- Use the 2s self timer, or you will shake the camera by pressing the shutter button.
- Do not damage your equipment; it’s easy enough!
And you will get great pictures.
This is a repeat post – because it’s still true.
I am teaching a six evening “Creative Flash 301” course, using Zoom, to the Ajax Camera Club. Fun, and finally an excuse to get a little creative again.
For example. One flash above subject, with small softbox; plus a little fill from front right:
Next: One flash. How is it done, can you work it out?
And another one, showing that one or two off camera flashes is enough to create some cool shots. In this case, just one, again:
Only your creativity is the limit, really. So if you don’t yet know how to get creative with flash, learn (I can help), and have some fun.
When we fix images, as we do daily in the store (www.michaelwillemsphoto.com) sometimes it is easy – and sometimes we need a lot more effort. Like in this before/after example:
White balance isn’t enough – not even close. For these colours I needed to use Lightroom’s white balance, extensive HSL, and especially the new excellent “Color Grading” tool. If you haven’t needed it yet – you will. And then a coloured local adjustment brush to add some skin colour, quite often – this is an art as much as it is a craft and a science.
But then there’s also Photoshop to remove the small imperfections, and an AI-based de-noise tool to lower noise. (“AI” stands for “Artificial Intelligence” – it’s not the name “AL”…)
In the end, it is always worth it. Memories preserved. Because when the photos fade, the memory itself fades.
You can use some gels (colour filters) for correction, Here, from 2015, is a post with an example.
Take this: I am lit pretty much OK by my flash, and with the camera set to FLASH white balance,, but the background is a tungsten light, so it looks red. I happen to like that, but what if I want that background to look normal, white, the way it looks to me?
Well… can I not just set the white balance to Tungsten?
No, because then, while the background would look good, the parts lit by the flash would look all blue, like this:
Part 1 of the solution: make the light on me come from a tungsten light source too, so we both look red. We do this by adding a CTO (colour Temperature Orange) to the flash.
Part 2 of the solution: Now you can set the white balance on your camera to “Tungsten”, and both I and the background will look neutral:
Done. Now we both look normal.
So, in summary: when you are dealing with a colour-cast ambient light, gel your flash to that same colour cast, and then adjust your white balance setting to that colour cast.