PT.1 – Some daytime images from a recent photo excursion to Montreal. For this trip, I decided to pick up a smaller camera to take with me instead of lugging around my DSLR and lenses. After some research and testing, I settled on the wonderfully compact Fuji X20. I was originally leaning towards the Fuji X-E2 or perhaps something from the Sony NEX series, but ultimately decided that another interchangeable lens system sort of defeated the purpose. And I couldn’t be happier with the decision. The funky, retro-rangefinder styling coupled with a fast lens and great image quality is the perfect marriage of form and function for my needs. I’m not a big fan of the camera on my current phone (mostly because of a lack of control), but the X20 is small enough that it now comes with me wherever I go.
As much as I love the snow, I am just about ready for some patios, motorcycles, golf and shorts. This afternoon, after shoveling for the umpteenth time this year, I went out to take some pictures (making the most of the mild temperature) and when I reviewed them, it was as if mother nature was rubbing it in. So I’m giving this Icy Middle Finger right back at her.
Far too often, people get caught up in, or tripped up by, the numbers involved in Photography. f/stops, shutter speeds, ISO values… You might as well be trying to decode the Bermuda Triangle. But once you understand how they work, both individually and together, the world of creative photography opens up like the proverbial oyster. For years, I’ve been teaching students to keep it simple… The more you over-think the numbers, the more frustrating it becomes.
I’ve seen a lot of graphics outlining the Exposure Triangle, but haven’t really come across a comprehensive, yet easy to understand visual representation of it. So, over the past couple of weeks, I’ve been trying to devise a way to illustrate a comprehensive version of the Exposure Triangle, while keeping it simple enough so that it doesn’t overwhelm. Hopefully this helps some of you that may have been struggling with putting it all together.
Well, after a year+ of renovations to the basement following some water and (gasp!) mold issues, the studio is back up and operational. Rustic barnboard style laminate flooring, 5000k led pot lights, eggshell white walls and shaker-style trimmings. We are extremely happy with the results and looking forward to getting back to business.
If you use a lot of flash in your photography, you no doubt go through batteries like a fiend. In my experience, rechargeable batteries are definitely the way to go, but I’ve heard a lot of photographers complain about recycle time. I’ve sworn by (and continue to swear by) Sanyo Eneloop batteries for my flashes (AA) and RadioPopper wireless triggers (AAA). Sanyo recently released a new high capacity version of these extremely popular batteries (especially among photographers), and while it may seem like a good idea to upgrade in order to increase the recycle time of your flashes, it does, as one would assume, come at a cost.
I might invest in a couple sets of Eneloop XX’s for shooting in situations like bright sunlight where full power is often a necessity, but for most shooting situations where less than 1/4 power already produces fast recycles, I see little need to sacrifice lifespan, durability and $$$.
1) If you have a lot of batteries and have a hard time keeping track of which ones are charged and which are not, consider picking up a couple of small, different coloured camera bags (point & shoot style). You can often find last years bags in discount bins. Also consider getting a green one to indicate charged batteries and a red or black one for discharged batteries.
2) I also carry a compact battery tester in case I need to double check the charge on my batteries. You can find these on eBay or at your local hardware store and average about $5.
(Note: Ironically, as I was writing this, I took a break to check facebook and SLR Lounge had just posted an article comparing the flash recycle times of many of the top rechargables batteries. Take a look at number one. Go figure. http://www.slrlounge.com/best-rechargeable-aa-batteries-flash-photography)
So why not use a splash of colour to enhance their portraits! In the images below, I used Honl Photo’s Speed Strap and coloured gels on a Nikon SB910 (with the wide angle diffuser pulled out) to add a pop of colour to the background. I chose colours that would accent their personalities, clothing and eye colour. The lighting setup was a simple 2 light arrangement. The main light was another SB910 in a 26″ Westcott Octagonal Rapid Box (with diffuser panel) to camera left and at a 45 degree angle. Both lights were triggered by a camera mounted SU800 and the RadioPopper PX system (no line of sight required).
The key with kids is to try and keep it fun. Let them make some funny faces in return for some genuine smiles. It might not always work, but when it does, the results can be great.
Last week, a former student emailed me and asked for some tips for shooting concerts, and seeing as I had just shot one the week prior, I figured now is as good a time as any to post some tips, tricks and pics (note to self: start a regular segment with that title.) Below are my ‘go to’ settings for concert photography. This tip doesn’t just cover concerts, but any low light event where there is any kind of movement involved, such as; Plays, Indoor Sports, Graduations, etc.
Here is what you need:
- A high-end camera (just kidding. No I’m not. Yes I am. Well, kind of.) What you really need is a camera that handles really high ISOs with as little noise as possible. Sensors have improved by leaps and bounds since I first made the switch to digital in the early 2000’s and they just keep getting better. All this to say: if you have a newer camera, chances are you can push your ISO to its limits and still get reasonably clean images without the excessive noise that is usually prevalent with high ISOs.
- An appropriate lens for where you will be located in relation to where the action will be, and how much of the stage you want to cover. For the shots below, I was right up at the stage and I still used a 70-200 lens so I could get in close. This will ultimately depend on what works for your situation and the gear you have available, but typically a longer lens gets you closer to the action. And that’s where we all want to be, right?
- Mode: Manual – This is a necessity so that your lighting stays relatively consistent.
- Aperture: As wide open as you can get it to allow the most amount of light in. In other words, use the smallest f/number your lens will allow. Somewhere between f/3.5 and f/5.6 is typical for standard kit lenses, but if you’ve invested in better lenses, go as low as you can.
- Shutter Speed: I typically start somewhere around 1/200 to 1/250 of a second to ensure that I freeze regular action on stage. Depending on how much or how fast the performers are moving, you may need to increase your shutter speed. (examples below)
- ISO: As high as you need to go to get the right exposure. Typically in the 1600 – 6400 range. Will there be noise in the images? In the immortal words of Stompin’ Tom: Darn tootin’! Ask yourself this: “Would you rather have noisy images or blurry images?” Exactly.
- Flash: Probably the most important thing here is to keep your flash off. It will do you no good. None at all. And it might just get you booted out of smaller venues if you’re distracting the band.
Just as an example to try and tie it all together for you, here are 2 situations that couldn’t be more different and the settings that you might need to capture each:
Example: Leonard Cohen
- Mode: Manual
- Aperture: As low as it will go
- Shutter Speed: Potentially as low as 1/80 of a second because he doesn’t move much or at all.
- ISO: As high as you need to go for a good exposure. Likely the lower end of the 1600-6400 range.
- Mode: Manual
- Aperture: As low as it will go
- Shutter Speed: A minimum of 1/250 of a second to freeze all that thrashing around on stage.
- ISO: As high as you need to go for a good exposure. Likely the higher end of the 1600-6400 range.
Here are a few more pics from Lucius and Tall Tall Trees Live @ The Garrison: