Perparation is Everthing

12 03 2011

Preparation is everything, what do I mean by this?
Well you are off to photograph an event, wedding, or just going to take pictures at a family event. So you need to make sure you are prepared for that task. So what do you need to do?
Before I go off on a photoshoot I run through a checklist that I have developed to make sure that I have not forgotten anything, nothing worse than turning up somewhere with a flat battery. It is a bit like to turning up to a black tie event in t-shirt and jeans, it does not look good.

So what sort of things should be on your checklist?

Well mine includes things like :

  • making sure the memory cards are cleared
  • Batteries are charged
  • Lens cleaned
  • Mirror cleaned
  • Camera bag packed with what you need
  • Lens cleaning equipment
  • spare batteries
  • spare memory cards
  • plastic bag in case of rain
  • filters
  • note book
  • maps
  • water bottle

I am sure we can all add more to the list. The more prepared you are for a photo session the more enjoyment and he better chance you will have of getting some great photos. For my trips into WOMAD, I have made sure I have everything in the above list, and since I am covering it for a major magazine I make sure I have business cards, media passes, copy of the program. I also use my iPhone for note-taking and recording sound bites as well. I also often carry a small video camera is case there is something that can only work as a moving image. If you are lucky enough to afford it a spare camera is also rather handy.

So think about what you need the next time you are taking your camera out.

Below is a pic from my coverage of WOMAD from my other blog

Media gaggle


Photographing Events

6 03 2011

It is that time of the year in Adelaide, where we have a lot of Festive events such as the Fringe Festival and WOMAD. So there is the potential for you to get the camera out and take some photos, but is there?.  You need to know what the legality of taking pictures at these events are. At WOMAD no member of the general public is allow to film or photograph the event, it is in fact a condition of entry to the event. It in fact reads:

“The recording, photographing or filming of artists in performance on stage is not permitted.”

So the only way to photograph this event is to be part of the media which requires you to jump through some hoops. I have got my media pass and will be photographing the 4 day event and you will see the results on my tech theatre blog HERE or at CX magazine.

So if you are going leave the camera at home and enjoy the music. Now the Fringe festival does have some opportunities to take pictures, these are mainly the open, outdoor free events that are happening throughout the festival. For ticketed events to following applies:

“No audio or video recorders or cameras (including mobile phone cameras) may be taken into the venue or used without permission of the event organiser and venue management by prior arrangement. A breach of this condition may lead to the confiscation of all equipment and removal of the patron from the venue.”

So if you do want to photograph an event in a venue you are going to have to do some ground work, by contacting the venue and they may give you contact details of the artist. You then approach them and hope for the best.

Now if you do get to photograph a show in a venue, what are the things that you should be aware of? Well the first thing to think about is the other members of the audience. There is nothing worse than a photographer moving around in the audience. Don’t even think about using your flash, this is rude, and if it is a dance show it will put the dancer off and cause an injury. I have seen a few cases of this as a theatre technician.

Now you decide to show your pictures that you have taken at the show on the web, or publish or exhibit. What happens here? Well you need to make sure you have written permission from the venue, performers and the producers of the show. You also need to credit them in the pictures along with the lighting designer, it is his lighting that you are also photographing. Now if you intend to sell the pics you need that in to be written in the agreements, as there is a possibility that you may have to pay a fee to the various parties involved.

Now if you are asked to photograph an event that is a slightly different matter. You still will need to have writtrn permissions and credit all of the right people, but you will probably get to photograph the event at a rehearsal, therefore you won’t annoy audiences as you wonder around shooting.

So happy shooting

I wish….birthday presents etc

15 02 2011

As I sit here on my birthday I started to wonder how many times have we been asked “What do you want for your birthday/Xmas etc”. And we have all replied “I don’t know.” Well us photographers surely have a wish list and we should maybe share this with our loved ones occasionally. Now these don’t need to be big ticket items. I mean a simple lens cleaning kit, more memory cards can make a good little presents. So I suggest that you pin up somewhere a list,(or put online)that people can look for ideas for a present. Now that does not mean put up things like that Canon “L” series lens that cost the price of a good second-hand car. Small useful items are much better as gifts and keep them within financial reach of all members of your family. Then in next to no time your family and friends may has boosted you photo equipment quite considerably. Then hopefully you then have the excuse to go and by the super telephoto lens, or photo-editing software. Well the family provided the gear to look after it 🙂

Happy shooting

OH I wish I had one

13 02 2011

Who remembers coveting a nice medium format camera like a Hassleblad or Mamiya 645, I know I do. Then it seemed like digital SLR’s took over. Well not so. You still can get medium format cameras, but the now have digital sensors, just like their little brothers. Well I suggest you get your cheque books out and have a look at the Phase One equipment. These guys are producing camera backs that are up to 80 Megapixels. This Danish company is making some amazing cameras and lenses that are pricey but will blow you away with the quality of the image. The model that they have just released is the IQ180. This model is a digital back with an image sensor, viewing screen and electronics in a module that fits on the back of a medium format camera. This fits on the Phase One control Mamiya, and as you know Mamiya has been in the medium market for many years.

Phase One's IQ180 digital back on a 645DF camera body. (Credit: Phase One)

Now this format has been rather slow to move to digital and is often the domain of photographers doing fashion shoots and high quality still life work. This is one of many areas that require extremely high quality of images. This format was slower to move to the digital medium, but it seems that these cameras will become a force in the photographic market. Now these guys may not be making thousand of product a day, but for the discerning pro photographer these may be a ideal tool for their photography.

now the IQ 180 is an extremely versatile camera back as it have a large dynamic range of 12 f-stops, a lot more than you humble DSLR. The sensor is a 53.9×43.4mm in size. This large sensor captures images in16 bits of colour data per pixel. High end DSLR’s capture in 14 bits per pixel, and lower-end models only 12 bits per pixel. This 16 bit gives better tonal range. The rear screen is touch sensitive and is of high resolution, it has been compared to the iPhone 4 retina display or AMOLED displays. These units also use USB 3.0 for high speed transfer of images to your PC. It also uses Firewire 800 so you can do tethered shooting so that you data will be stored directly on your PC hard-drive. With the size of the images the IQ 180 shoots at about a frame a second.

As you can imagine this little beauty is going to set you back a small fortune. It will set you back at least $45,ooo. So start saving this Phase One could be could value for money and who needs a car.

Phase One Back

Phase One's IQ180, with 80-megapixel resolution and 12.5 f-stop dynamic range, has a high-resolution touchscreen on the back and a USB 3.0 data connection. (Credit: Phase One)


Canon vs Nikon

13 02 2011

Well this is an argument that has been going on for  quite some time, and it is one that is never going to be won. I am a Canon person but I could have easily been a Nikon person. It just that my first camera was a Canon and I was impressed and happy. So it is very unlikely that I will ever change. It is the same with Nikon people. One of the reasons that people don’t change is that you have more than likely invested a reasonable amount of cash in very nice glass. As with quality lens, such as made by Canon and Nikon, these will last you many years and many camera bodies. A lot of photographers just upgrade the camera bodies as they get more features, higher resolution etc. Lens quality from both of these companies is pretty good. Upgrading bodies is also a lot cheaper that changing from one manufacturer to another, where you would needs lens and a body.

So is one better than another? It all depends on your personnel preferences. You might buy one over the other based solely on price eg. one is on special. You might buy one brand as it is favoured by friends and family and you know you can always borrow bits and pieces. As you know I am a Canon person, and most likely to stay that way because of the momey I hae invested in that brand.

Happy Shooting

Bird Photography

10 01 2011

Bird photography can be a very rewarding area of photography. But it can also be very frustrating. A little research and knowledge of birds and their behaviour  can be of great help. I know when I first tried to photograph birds I was rather disappointed with the results. The birds moved too fast or there was camera shake and the exposure was all over the place. So you need to find somewhere to practise and also you need to find out a little about birds and how they react. So to start with visit a zoo or aviary and try shooting birds there. These are great places to practise your art as they are at least captive. But they will still present a challenge. This will help you develop skills in photographing birds. You also learn about the behaviour of birds.

Now to photograph a bird you would be helped by having a long focal length lens around the 300 to 400mm range would be ideal. That way you don’t have to get to close and startle the bird.  Now when using a lenses of this length it would be ideal if the lens had image stabilisation and that you shoot with a shutter speed equal to or faster than the telephoto length. so if you had a 400mm lens your would shoot at speeds above 1/400 of a second.

The ISO setting is also very important, as a guide I start at 200 on a bright day or 400 on a dull day. The higher the ISO rating the grainer the image is going to get. But id you have the right photoshop filters you can minimise the look of the grain. This is handy for those times that you have to use a higher ISO setting.

The aperture or f-stop setting is also important. Bird photos look good when the background it out of focus and the way to achieve this is to have your aperture as wide open as possible, therefore the bird is in focus and and everything else is a nice softblur. So if you shoot in the Aperture Priority mode you can set your aperture and the camera will set the shutter speed. Now of course the shutter speed might then be too low so you could compensate for this by increasing the ISO setting of your camera.

Also another aid to take pictures is a tripod or monopod, this helps steady the camera therefore giving you a better chance at getting a sharp image.

Some people all use a camera flash to help as a fill light. It can give a nice highlight to the eye of the bird, thus making it look alive. This is also great if you are shooting a bird against the light. It also helps light up dark and gloomy setting that you sometimes find birds in. With the flash you time to spend some time experimenting with it and adjusting the output to get what you like in an image. With modern flashes you need to set them in High speed shutter mode so that the can work with a shutter speed above the normal flash sync speed.

But the main thing you need to have to take great bird photos is patience. You have to wait and wait at times to get that one shoot. Also since you are shooting digital you can take as many pictures as you like. Just keep pressing that trigger. And as you get more experienced at taking photos of birds you will know what to anticipate for, you will know what the bird is likely to do and what their favourite habitats are. Also it might be a good idea to get a book on birdwatching, these are handy for indentifing the birds and also tell you were you are most likely to find them.

So happy shooting.

Backing Up by Stephen Dean

2 01 2011

How many times have you heard horror stories about people having the hard drive crash permanently or worse. In most cases when this happens it seems that the only copy of photos that people have taken was on that hard drive. Well the solution to losing everything is to backup all of you important photos and documents. Now there are several ways to do this. The easiest being to copy the files to annoy drive, optical or hard drive. Copying is better than using some of the backup software solutions as you can read each file but the means to do it is free. If you are a Windows user you can use their free “synctoy” software which is really easy to use.Some of the other backup solutions backup in to one large lump of a file that needs the use of the backup software to access the files.

Now the backup solution I believe in is called “3,2,1”. All that this means is that you have 3 copies of your file, on 2 types of media and 1 backup is off site. If you back up only once to a external hard drive or CD-ROM and that is in the same place as the original, it is not a backup. This is stupidity if you think about it. If your system is stolen or house burns down you lose both copies. So you need the third off site solution. Something in the cloud. I have started using Carbonite, this is a paid service, and what this does is backup the files you tell it to the cloud. The files are encrypted and you can access your files from any pc or mac. There are also some free solutions out there as well.

But I would recommend that you all look at what you are doing to preserve your precious photos. The main thing about a backup is to have one off site.