Thursday, October 27, 2011

I Hate HDR?

This is a can of worms topic in the world of photography.  Generally speaking photographers fall in one of two categories:

  • Category 1:  "I HATE HDR, it is overdone, overused, it is a gimmicky post processing trick that attempts to turn a bad photo into a good one, and I can't stand it".
  • Category 2:  "I LOVE HDR, it is a great tool because it lets us see a dynamic range closer to what the eye sees."

Here is something to consider:  People that buy and/or enjoy photography but are not photographers seem to all love HDR (generally speaking).  These folks don't know it is HDR or even what HDR means.  They just know whether or not they like the photo.  What an interesting concept.  The end product is all they care about.  They might want to know what the photographer was thinking when they composed the image or they might like to hear the story of it's creation.  But dollars to donuts they could care less if it's HDR.

I want to charge each of you with this...  FORGET the method used for a given photograph and evaluate wether or not you "like" the image.  In the end, that is all that really matters.


Check out these other posts regarding this same topic:

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Pocket Wizards for the Nikon

 Pocket Wizards (PW) have interested me for a good bit of time. This system is designed to allow you to have iTTL (or E-TTL for Canon) control over your flashes off camera. Yes, Nikon has the CLS system that uses the flash from your camera or commander unit to have off camera flash but they are limited by line of sight. If you are outside the sun can limit it’s effectiveness as well. Until now they were only available for Canon cameras. The Nikon version of the PW exists!!! Better yet, I have them. I purchased a Mini TT1 (transmitter) and two Flex TT5 (transceiver) units so that I could control two off camera flash units. I also added the AC3 to allow full control of the flashes directly from the camera.

Below is what I see as the pro/con list.
• No line of sight required
• Range (800’)
• TTL function
• Flash Compensation from the camera
• Flash Compensation and Manual control available from the camera with optional ACR
• Mini TT1 has a low profile on the camera
• Can be used to trigger studio strobes
• USB upgradeable

• Cost
• Size of the Flex 5 is larger than expected but still small
• When using the AC3 the camera no longer has an option to mount a flash. This is only useful for when you have a large group and you are looking to add a little fill in addition to the off camera. Not a deal breaker because you can always just remove the AC3 if have to
• AC3 dials are easily moved. I am a right eye shooter so when I go vertical my nose comes in contact with the dials and changes settings. Not a deal breaker because once I am used to this it will no longer be an issue.
• The instructions are painful to read but what would you expect from photo related manuals?

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Professional Photographers Association (PPA)

Member, Professional Photographers of America

I have been looking at the Professional Photographers Association (PPA) for a couple of years but haven’t been able to pull the trigger on the $323 price tag. I wasn’t sure that it was worth that amount of money for what you get. They have always had offerings that were of interest, such as the photographer profile that people (clients) can use to find you. They offer a very high quality magazine with the membership as well. I purchased that separately and it is by far my favorite photo magazine. They have forums and webinars (free and/or paid). PPA offers help with financing new equipment and if you are a studio that has been in business for a couple of years they will do an assessment and give you advice on improving your business. They also have the Imaging USA convention hosted in New Orleans. With all of this I still wasn’t convinced.

Just a few days ago I finally decided to join PPA. Why? Well, they started a new program that I just couldn’t say no too. They now offer $15,000.00 of equipment insurance for all their active members…free!!! In addition you get Indemnification Trust insurance. That is the insurance that helps you if you mess up a photo shoot or your memory cards get eaten by dogs. Basically, if the worst happens Indemnification Trust helps with all the legal stuff.

They also offer a payment option of $27.92 per month. What a great deal!

So, if you are a photographer (professional or otherwise) you should get this just for the insurance. The rest is all gravy… and I like gravy.

You can find out more about them HERE.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Rainy Days, Macro, and Depth of Field

1/160, f2.8
I often talk about how when the weather is bad that it is the best time to go out and make some photos.  Well, yesterday about 8" of rain fell here in Homestead, FL.  That is not the time of weather to go out and make photographs.  I sat around bored out of my head so I decided that I wouldn't let the rain get me down.  One of my favorite artistic controls given to us through photography is depth of field.  This is controlled by the aperture (or f-stop) and the distance between the camera and the subject.  The closer you get the more exaggerated the "blur".  I did a post some time ago about depth of field and you can find that HERE and HERE.

1/160, f8
I figured it was time to talk about depth of field again and given the weather it was time to do some macro work.  I have a three year old in the house so there is always a large amount of crayons floating around.  My wife located a new box just for me!!!!  They make great subjects if you haven't given it a try yet.

Remember, the larger the opening in the lens (small aperture number) the shallower the depth of field.  Each image you see was shot with a shutter speed of 1/160 of a second.  The only thing that changed was the aperture.  Even the focus point remained the same (the brown crayon).  The second set of photos it was the blue crayon that I focused on with only the aperture changing.

1/160, f16
This truly is one of the greatest creative tools that we photographs have in our arsenal and for some folks it is one of the hardest to understand.  I hope that these photographs will help you understand a bit more. I mentioned it earlier but the closer you are to a subject the more exaggerated the depth of field (or bokeh).  Remember, pixels are free so practice and practice often.

I hope you have enjoyed this and as always if you have any questions give me a call or shoot me an e-mail.

1/160, f2.8

1/160, f8

1/160, f16

Sunday, October 2, 2011

The Importance of a Contract

The first thing I want to mention on this topic is the fact that I am NOT a lawyer.  If anything here sounds like legal advice...  It isn't...  This is practical advice.

Recently my wife took a job to photograph a group doing underwater dives.  She contacted the group leader and discussed the basics.  Among those basics was a price quote for her time and the end product (dvd of the images).  The price was lower than usual because it was for a good cause.  There were three dives scheduled.

Day 1:  She went and had a great time photographing the group underwater.  When she got home I asked about a contract.  I had forgotten to get one ready for her.  She said no but would take one the second day.

Day 2:  I did not get a contract ready so she went again without the contract.  No worries we will get it on the third day.

Evening of Day 2:  The 3rd day of diving was called off due to the expected seas.  My wife called the group leader to discuss how the payment was to be made and that the price would only be 2/3rds of the discussed price because the 3rd day was canceled.  The group leader told her that he had no recollection of the conversation where cost was discussed.  He said that it was supposed to be for charity/donation.  Apparently there was a miscommunication somewhere...

Here is the business nugget ...  Get a contract signed before you ever take that first photograph!!!  Always!  If we had this misunderstanding would have been evident on Day 1 before the dives.  She would have gone anyway but there would not have been any confusion or expectation of payment.

Conclusion:  Thankfully a resolution with the group leader has been met!!!

Bottom Line:  Get a contract even if you do charity work!