Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Using Clouds to your advantage

What a difference in what 24 hours make. While walking my dog on Monday, I spotted a really neat scene of The Brothers in the Olympic Mountain range shrouded by a low-lying cloud layer.  After the walk, I loaded by gear into the car and headed to a high vantage point where I could get a much clearer picture of the mountains. The low cloud layer is what really makes this photograph stand from the one I took 24 hours later. I used my 400mm f2.8 with a 1.4 converter to get a tighter shot of the mountains. Keep on the lookout for clouds and when ever possible add them into your landscapes to dramatize and enhance the terrain.

For all who’s interested in what setting I used, here they are:
Date: 8/23/10
Time: 9:00:54
Model: Canon EOS-1Ds Mark II
Serial #:
Firmware: Adobe Photoshop CS4 Macintosh
Frame #:
Lens (mm): 560
ISO: 160
Aperture: 32
Shutter: 1/60
Exp. Comp.: -1.3
Flash Comp.:
Program: Aperture Priority
Focus Mode:
White Bal.:
ICC Profile: Adobe RGB (1998)

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Using Fill Lighting to enhance the Photo

Recently I was commissioned to take a series of informal portraits of Larry Stokes, one of Kitsap County’s Port Commissioners. The Marketing/Communications Manager warned me beforehand that he can be a bit of a difficult, but once he warms up to you, he has a heart of gold.

When getting out of the car, I was greeted by his two dogs, which treated me like a long lost friend. Round one to my side. After unloading my car and while setting up lights, on the porch, he asked since it was sunny outside why did I need portable flashes. I went into explain that it’s good to use a tad bit of fill flash to fill in the shadows, especially when you were metering for the ambient light.

After finding an ideal location on his porch, I fired off a couple of tests and showed him the results and explained why I needed to set up a few of the flashes and adjust the output for less light. While taking pictures the dogs came up to join him, which only added to his personality.

After the shoot he invited me into his den, which looked as if it was taken from a scene of an old Alfred Hitchcock move, “Psycho”. Hanging on the walls were stuffed heads, all shapes and sizes, ranging from moose, varies varieties of deer, analopes, mountain sheep to a huge Alaskan bearskin. Also posed in the room corners were a stuff cougar, raccoon and a couple of bears fighting in a corner. He said once while hunting in Alaska he came upon the two bears, one black and other fighting, and killed them. He’s also a hunting guide and a very talented taxidermist.

Posing him in the den, with a bunch of stuffed animal heads on the wall made the photograph work. Using the tools of his trade, elements in the background all added to this environmental portrait.

I wanted to get Larry in a shaded setting and away from the 3:00 sunlight. I used a two 550EX light setup for the porch pictures (both headshot and overall). One light was set about three feet from the subject on camera left, while the other was camera right about five to six feet from the subject.

I really liked the way the porch was in the shade and wanted to utilize the leading lines of the railing, decking and house as they lead right into the subject. Plus, the sunlight spilling onto the decking through the railing also added a nice touch as well. I metered for the overall ambient lighting which was 125th for ISO 50 and I set the flashes output at -1 2/3 (camera right) and - 1 1/3 (camera right). I took a few test shots to make sure the flashes didn't overpower the existing light and make adjustment to f-stop and set the Ev to Exp. Comp.: -0.3. I always strive to balance the flash output to the existing lighting so that the lighting looks natural.

Flash fighting placement for or the inside shots were: one camera left, beside the subject, pointed at the wall to shed light on all those heads in the background. Another was camera left pointed at subject and the 3rd light was camera right. I always meter for the existing light in the whatever location I’m in and then set ISO, flash output, shutter speed and f-stop to get the correct mixture lighting, so that I don't get harsh shadows.

I used my 16-35mm f2.8 lens for the porch and inside shots and used my 70-200mm for the outside headshot.

Hope this helps everyone to understand what going on through my head as I try to figure out the correct balance between the existing light and my flash output.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Educate Your Clients and Other Photographers

  A prospective customer recently emailed me saying my print prices are too high.

 “Your prices are outrageously high.  Photos are good but not $5.00 a piece good, maybe $2.00.

  I will check with the other parents who had cameras and get copies from Costco for .14 each.

 After what we paid to send them there and then to pay these prices for photos, I may consider one photo, but can’t pay these prices”.

 My response: I understand the way you feel, sending kids off to sporting events aren’t cheap. I have a son who wrestles and goes all over Washington to participate in Tournaments and a daughter who used to own a horse and go Western Gaming.

 I also added, that last year I lowered my prices so that clients could afford them. I hope you understand that I can’t give my photography away for $2.00 a print. Being a 40-year plus veteran photographer and without the benefit of another full-time job to rely on, this is now my full-time job that brings in money to support my family of four.

 When you look at my vast experience, with the costs involved with the purchase and upkeep of professional digital camera equipment and lenses, not to mention the computer,  software programs to post process the images and then add the costs of DVD’s and external hard drives to store the images on, this is expensive.  But wait, there’s the monthly fees associated with posting the images on Photoshelter, and Exposure manager. Then on top to those, add health insurance, studio rent, insurance, office supplies, phone service, utilities and the list goes on and one. I have to make a certain amount a day to meet my Costs of Doing Business, otherwise, I'll be out of business.

 Because of my experience, I'm provide field access closer to the action while most parents are limited to shooting from the stands. I know where to stand on the field and when to press the shutter button to provide my clients the best sports action photography available.

 All I can say is go online and check out the other photographers prices. Some are about the same if not higher than mine. $5.00 for a 4 x 6 is pretty damn cheap for the quality you're getting.

 I understand that with the advancements in dSLR technology and digital age has made picture taking so easy that about every housewife, father, cave person and perhaps even a gorilla can shoot a picture. I've known some have who had thoughts of turning pro after a few short months behind the viewfinder. Unfortunately, these folks, who already have full-time jobs, look upon photography as a way to make a few extra bucks and don't know the actual costs of doing business in photography. Like most under educated photographers they either charge 25 cents a photo or they give them away to friends for free.

 You can however purchase one of my 4 x 6 digital downloads for $5.00 each and take them to Costco to get your unlimited low resolution at.14 cents a prints printed.

This is a point in case that is happening to every professional photographer out there. It's up to us to educate our clients and other photographers on the true cost of doing business in photography.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Baseball umpires make good pictures too

Sometimes covering baseball can be boring as watching it on television. But each game is different and something exciting can happen: double plays and steals, plays at home plate, and diving catches in the outfield. While editing the games I came across a series of umpire pictures from one of the 15 Big League baseball games covered. An errant pitch hit the home plate umpire in the, yes, you guessed it. The game was stopped for about eight minutes or longer so the umpire could regain his composure. So, while he was bent over catching his breath, the three other umpires came over to see if he was okay and they all assumed the position. It was quite funny...they must have had sympathy pains for him.