Thursday, March 31, 2011
Saturday, March 19, 2011
Thursday, March 17, 2011
I have to start by coming clean. I’m a geek. I love stuff, electronics, gear, and feel out of sorts if I’m not in possession of the remote control (preferably matched up to a nice HD TV). When I complete my taxes and it asks for my position at the company, I write in “Photogeek in Chief”. So…I love photo gear. With a rather unhealthy passion.
That being said, I also used to be a Finance Director for a small non-profit. That means, there has to be a reason for every purchase, and the reason has to be more than “I REALLY want it!” (say it in again your head with a nasally whine, it will sound more realistic – “I REALLY want it!”).
So here is some of my gear buying criteria…
- -How does it help me create better photographs, and does it let me do something that my current gear doesn’t allow me to do?
- -Will the difference that this piece of gear will bring to my photography allow me to increase my sales and profits? This usually takes the form of allowing my to create more dynamic work and increase the demand for my services.
- -Will the new piece of gear inspire me to create new and better work? A common thing that happens with gear for me is that it will make me find new ways to use that particular piece. That, in turn, gets me to use the gear in different ways than I normally do.
- -And finally, is it cool? Of course it’s cool, otherwise I wouldn’t have wanted it in the first place!
Once I have all that information, I make a presentation to my Chief Financial Officer. More commonly referred to by myself and others as “Leslie”, or (mostly by me) “hey, beautiful wife".
This normally comes in the form of, “Hey, I was looking at this (lens, flash, etc.) today…”
“Oh. No…” says the Chief Financial Officer.
“…and I’m thinking…” says the Photogeek.
Conversation continues with the big, mean CFO grilling the poor Photogeek (Leslie, I’m kidding!). Then it ends with…
“You know your going to buy. Just do it now instead than worrying about it for a month!” says the beautiful, loving CFO. About a month later, Photogeek buys said piece of gear.
Anyway, that was quite the revealing tangent, wasn’t it? Here is my first in a new series of articles that I’ll call, “My Favorite Toys!”
My first toy that I’m going to talk about is the Canon EF 24mm f/1.4L. This may be my most loved lens, and that is really saying something. I use this lens constantly. It makes up about 40% of all the images in my portfolio. I should mention that I use a full-frame camera, so this quite a wide lens.
Here is a photo of the lens itself. (Lovely studio product image taken with a couple of small Canon strobes and a piece of white posterboard).
It is a medium sized, but very dense, rather heavy lens. It is a polycarbonate body that can take some abuse. You can see some signs of past little incidents on the lens hood. I think the lens hood is actually designed to show every time it’s touched by anything. I have the version one of the lens, but there is a version two out. If you look at my criteria for buying above, I can’t come up with a reason to sell my version I and get a version II.
This lens has the rather unique characteristic of being both a wide angle lens and having the ability to have very shallow depth of field. If you don’t know what depth of field is, you can look below and see how the subject is sharp and the background is blurred and out of focus. That is called shallow depth of field while if everything was in focus, that would be a deep depth of field or greater depth of field.
Another great benefit is the amazing low light capabilities. To give you an idea, with each full stop, the lens cuts the amount of light in half. This lens has an aperture of 1.4 which allows you to take images in one-fourth of the amount of light of a lens with the aperture of 2.8.
Now for what everyone wants to see…the samples!
This is an excellent example of what this lens can do. This couple was married during mass at Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church in Seattle. Because the couple was married during mass, they did not know most of the people around them. I wanted them to stand out from the crowd, so I made this photograph with a shallow depth of field with the couple sharp and the surrounding background soft.
This smart groom is watching his waistline on his wedding day. This is another example of the sharp subject and shallow depth of field that I love from this lens.
Groom waiting for his bride to see her for the first time that day. I love the sharpness on his face and the out of focus detail of the bride coming up behind him tells the story.
Wedding couple kissing in an alley at in the U District. I love the
With this image, I used the 24 and a smaller aperture to make the clouds and background sharp. I also used a flash to light up the couple.
This image was taken from a viewpoint at the Olympic Sculpture Park. I used the shallow depth of field the 24 1.4L creates to make the background beautifully out of focus.
Another image using the shallow depth of field to make the groom stand out.
This image uses the great light-gathering of the 24 1.4L.
Thursday, February 19, 2009
I just got some new
toys tools for wireless, off-camera flash called Radiopopper PX. What they basically do is take Canon wireless flash technology and make it useful somewhere besides in a dark room with the flashes pointed at each other. You then use the flash system on your flash to set up lighting ratios, manually change the flash settings, use automatic flash without having the light source coming from on top of your camera. Today I took my son and Sounders FC superfan, Kyler, to the park to play with the system.
I wanted to test a few things: the High Speed Sync, speed of operation, and a comparison of the eTTL system versus the manual flash adjustments that I usually do. I used a flash 580EX flash on my camera acting as the master unit with a Radiopopper PX transmitter attached to the top of it and two 550EX acting as slaves with the Radiopopper PX receivers attached.
My conclusions are that the Radiopopper PX system works really well for doing portraits. The system fired the flashes every time the flashes were ready and charged. It works well at distance. It provides a reliable system to use the HSS (high speed sync) allowing for flash and shallow depth of field at the same time. And it allows me to change my manual flash settings without going over to the flash and pushing buttons (I can push buttons from wherever I am with the camera).
Where it falls down in my mind is the difficult installation (you actually have to semi-permanently attach it to the flashes you are going to use rather than take it on and off at will) and the fact that it is limited to speed of operation of the Canon wireless flash system. I tested it on motor drive and was able to get only four out of 12 to fire at 1/128 power at three frames per second (frames 1, 2, 3, and 9 of the 12). This was because the Canon master flash was not ready, not because the Radiopoppers or the receiving flashes were not ready.
Finally, I found that I got the results that I wanted most consistently when I used manual flash exposure. The eTTL was right about 75% of the time, but for me being wrong 25% of the time doesn’t cut it.
It is a very cool time to be a photographer with all the awesome equipment available!