Learning to See … Part 1

Intro

Every time I go out with a camera I have a child like scene of excitement. I hope to discover something or be inspired to take new photos. I don’t just want to clip off any old image I want to create some thing, to combine my “Camera skills” with “that I saw”. It my sound easy, but being in the right location with the right light at the right time doesn’t happen every time. There is a very satisfying feeing in the fact that “I know I took that”. And from what i can tell im not alone in this feeling. About 10 years ago I was down at lake Constance, it was the golden hour and there was a lot of traffic on the lake coming home for the evening. For once I wasn’t concentration on taking photos but enjoying the scenery. All of a sudden a person about 10m away from me started to scream with joy “YES YES YES”, I couldn’t resist but to ask the elderly gentleman what had happened. He promptly replied “I just took the best photo of my entire life”. I was suddenly in a warm fuzzy moment and could relate to his sense of joy. I think about this moment a lot when I’m out shooting: “how ill I know when I take the best photo of my life”, “Have I already taken it”, “how do I define my best photo” etc etc etc.

Since that trip to lake Constance I have taken a lot of photos I am very proud of. But it did get me thinking about how do we define a great image, What I like you may hate. There are defiantly photos from people such as “Henri Cartier-Bresson”, “Dianne Arbus”, “Helmut Newton” or “Vivian Maier” to name a few that seem to have the special something. The didn’t have access to the technology that we have today, but still took photos that are simply stunning. They seem to have a connection with their surroundings, understanding the light, anticipating the right timing, and seeing things just a bit different from everyone else. Within that single frame, they are able say, “This is the way I see the world.”

Photography is the art of capturing light. Whether in a studio, out on the street or setup on a tripod need an understanding of light. For some people this comes naturally, for others its comprehensible. So, even before I raised the camera to my eye. I try to see my photograph because I am aware of the light. I try to introduced to my subject by the qualities of the light and the potential it had to transform the world around me. This approach to seeing is based on asking yourself three simple questions:

Where is the light coming from?

Awareness of where the light is coming from (not just the source but its direction as well) informs you of the settings you’ll use on your camera to achieve the best exposure. It also helps you to choose where to position your subject and/or your camera in relation to the source of light. When you begin to see where the light is coming from, you train your eye to analyse how many different types of light there are and how light is transformed when it comes into contact with different objects (for example, when it’s reflected off the surface of a large, white wall).

What is the quality of the light?

When you know where the light is coming from, you can start to analyse its physical qualities. If the light is coming from the bare midday sun, you see the harsh, deep shadows it produces on the opposite side of the subject and other elements in the frame. On an overcast day, that same sun is filtered through clouds, creating a more diffused soft light. That softens the shadows and reduces the contrast between light and dark. If the light source is a candle, the light very warm in colour—markedly different from the light produced by the camera’s built-in flash, which has a harsher and colder quality.

How much light do I have to work with?

This question is very important, as it determines your ability to pull off a well exposed and sharp photograph. On a bright sunny day, you have an plenty of light to work with, which means you have a lots of options when it comes to the combinations of shutter speed, aperture, and ISO that you can use. In a low-light situation (e.g. at sunset, or at a concert), those options are more limited, and you have to make compromises—for example, using a slower shutter speed and sacrificing sharpness and/or using a wider aperture and sacrificing depth of field, or puch your ISO up higer and risk “digital noise”

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Blogging here and there

I wrote a blog about looking after your memory cards on the lightGIANTS blog. to be honest having more than 1 blog is getting hard to keep stuff separate. I don’t know if i should re post it here or just link it….. think ill link it for now.

http://www.lightgiants.com/en/1607/ 

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The Wedding season has started

Well its that time of the year again. Love is in the air, rings are being exchanged, and photographers are smiling all hard earned wedding shoots (and I thought I had little time to blog in the last few weeks). Last weekend I got a real chance to test out all that gear I stockpiled and blogged about over the last few months. I had a great time with the EX 400 battery powered Monolight in combination with the Delamax 150 cm Fiberglas Umbrella I have a big, bright, light source that could easily light whole group photos. I will have to order 1 or 2 more batteries for the EX400 though, the 2 that I have were just enough. The RAW files are almost finished and I will upload a few before this week end.

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Latest lightGIANTS blog is up …

Last month we had a fantastic last friday of the month shoot in the lightGIANTS studio. If you are intersted in having a look here is a link.
http://www.lightgiants.com/en/1552/

And tonight is a workshop for first time studio users “Studio lighting 101” so hope to have that blog up soon

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Delamax 150 cm Fiberglas Umbrella preview

Intro

I have a lot of umbrellas and mostly use “shoot through umbrellas” as you can place them very close to your subject. This is fine for one or 2 person shoots but as the group gets larger and you move your light source a bit further away I tend to use “reflector umbrellas”. My biggest problem is when I mix a shoot through and a reflector I never seem to be happy with a colour balance. So I went looking for a practical solution…

759160_1

My requirement were

Light, Strong, White (not silver) and under €120.00

I found a range of Umbrellas made my Delamax the looked like they fitted my demands and were very reasonably priced
185cm Diameter €69.90
150cm Diameter €49.90
114cm Diameter €21.90

 

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At first I was going to get the 185cm but then settled on the 150cm for a bit more portability

• Weight 1kg
• Umbrella diameter: 150cm
• Centre tube diameter: 8mm
• Outside colour: Black
• Inside colour: White
• Rib Assembly/Stretcher: Fibreglass

In the delivery
1x Delamax Reflex-Umbrella 150cm black/white
1x Carry case

My main intention fort this umbrella is as a large reflector surface for my mobile studio. But of course it can easily be uses in the lightGIANTS studio but due to the fact it is described as light and strong its main job role is as a mobile. I have a few outside shoots booked for later in the spring so I will let you know how it works out.

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EXR 400 Ring Flash review

Intro

I have wanted a ring flash for a long long long long time. My original plan was to save for a while and get the Bowens Ring Flash Pro plus a generator. But when i stumbles across the Godox EXR400 ring flash I thought I would give it a test.
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Technical data:

  • Model: EXR400
  • Max power output: 400W
  • Power variation: 9 steps Stepless
  • Guide number: 55
  • Recycle time 0.5 ~1.8s
  • Illumination angle: 65°
  • Voltage of the charger: AC 240V 50Hz
  • Battery: rechargeable Ni-MH battery
  • Battery charging mode:  AC 240V 50Hz and Car charging 12V DC
  • Replaceable Battery
  • Full charge indication: green light
  • Over 200 Flashes at full with one charge (I managed to get around 160 with a full charge)
  • I already have a portable monolight from the same manufacturer so the fact that it used the same battery pack was a large selling point for me. I paid €386,05 + €11,35 postage + €22.50 import tax.

    The kit contains:

  • Flash head with handle
  • 1xPower pack
  • 1xBattery pack
  • 1xCharger
  • 1xWireless remote trigger and receiver
  • 1xPower pack bag
  • 1xAluminium case
  • 1xTranslucent cap
  • 1xSync cord
  • 1.5-meter power cord
  • 1xCar charger
  • 1xMounting bracket
  • My Impression

    “I have the power” well I don’t but the flash dose, it as a lot of power. At its minimum power setting, ISO 100 I had to work at between f/11 and f/16. I was hoping to use a shallower depth of field. Full power at close range will be very uncomfortable for your models. It has the same basic faults as my other unit from the same manufacturer. They need to have a much lower power out put at minimum level, but you can easily deal with this problem by taking an extra step away from your subject and zooming in a bit more. One item that I found very important is the “Power pack bag” as this gives you more mobility, the cable between the ring flash head and the power pack isn’t the longest. If you place the power pack on the ground and shoot you wont be able to move around your location a lot. But the power pack isn’t very heavy so by using the shoulder bag that is provided, you will be able to adjust your flash easier and move around your shooting location easier.

    Posted in pimp my camera, Uncategorized, wow thats flash | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

    Blackrapid RS DR-1 Double Strap Review

    Intro

    A while back i reviewed the Phottix Velo camera straps. In general they weren’t 100% reliable due to very poor quality metal parts, some of which i have to modify to make them usable. The crew at Blackrapid sent me a set of RS DR-1 Double Straps …..

    RS DR-1 Test

    Like the “Phottix Velo Quick Strap for two cameras” the “Blackrapid RS DR-1 Double Strap” is a designed for use with 2 cameras. They have a list price of about €130.00 and as far as I know there isn’t a lot of variation in the price.
    rsdr1-02They are very comfortable and easy to adjust (as you would expect). The biggest differences between the 2 systems are the carabiner and the way the camera is attached to the  carabiner. The blackrapid system uses high strength steel that feels strong and secure.
    brconnectr2To put them to the test I used my 2 heaviest set ups. On the right hand side I had.

    * Sony Alpha 900 with Vertical grip and 2 batteries

    *Tokina 80-200mm 2.8 ATX-PRO (very heavy old lens)

    *Minolta 5600HSD  with external battery pack

    and on the left side

    *Sony Alpha 700 with Vertical grip and 2 batteries

    *Zeiss 24-70mm 2.8 SSM

    *Sony HVL F42AM

    I then ran up and down 2 flights of steeps (hoping that my camera insurance was paid up), but nothing fell off. Then i put the blackrapid  to a real test. I attached the carabiner to my work bench and pulled on the straps as hard as I could. I’m not a small guy so the stress I was putting the straps through was a lot more then they would be expected to withstand. I am please to say that they passed with flying colours, if they can withstand  the “Scott stress test” then a few kgs of camera is no problem.

    Final conclusion

    A comfortable, easy to use, stable, system that fells like it was designed constant use. I would like to see a base plate that is easier to use with a vertical grip but that is only a miner point. Blackrapid have a product that is superior to the Phottis Velo system simply because you can trust it not to fall apart.

    Posted in pimp my camera | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment