About joecanon

Owner of Foetoss - Light Photography; www.foetoss.com

Repairs, Returns, and Relaxation

Repaired flash umbrella canopy.

The umbrella canopy was unravelling and the metal grommet long detached.

To my faithful readership,

I apologize for my long absence!  No excuses, I was doing plenty of writing in the last 2 and a half years in which time I earned my Masters degree in Business Administration, as well as teaching and learning so much more about photography as an art but also a business!

I have also photographed events in that time and some pretty fantastic pieces of history that come from national and international programs such as music, sports, and space exploration.

All of this set aside though, I want to share with you the money saving tips of salvaging equipment that otherwise might be considered trashed or ruined.  I came across an flash umbrella that was in disrepair and always skipped over when equipment was gathered for a photo shoot.  I found the whole and broken pieces of equipment and took the two broken pieces, setting them aside while matching the other pieces to make a whole operable unit; then showing the broken pieces to the equipment manager whom said he would prefer purchasing new equipment and that the broken pieces could be discarded.

I obliged his direction and brought the umbrella to my personal studio and repaired it.  In

Umbrella support attachments.

The left half of the images is the original attachment. The right half is the

the image you see to the left, the original attachment, and the attachment on the right is repaired.

Obviously I wanted to keep the repair small, thus avoiding strange light reflection from the repair or creating shadow.  Thus I chose to use a headless brad and made my own low profile attachment.  It actually is not obvious unless thoroughly inspected which I believe informs us of the affective repair and the limited or no change in operable effectiveness.

The opening picture of this post shows the repairs made to the umbrella canopy that had lost its metal grommet allowing the guide rod to maintain the pressure evenly around the canopy points, and the stitching was undone allowing the seems to open.  Once these sewing repairs were made, sewing a fabric cap in-stead of the metal grommet allows for a flexible and inexpensive repair.

Keep imaging your inspired photographs to which you are first introduced through your eyes!

Terms – Exposure 2

So what is the difference in exposure between photography fields? The answer may be more fascinating than you realize.

Without an in-depth knowledge of a science it seems basic and small. Thus it would seem incapable of containing enough product for very many markets. However they more the science is studied and further discoveries are taken the science’s markets begin exploding with possibilities. Within each market is a specialized way of dealing with the product for that market. Allow me to explain:

A coin to the founder is equal to his time, resources and product used in minting it. To a collector (still in the market of the numismatist) this coin no longer holds only the value of the coin upon its date of minting, but now any more historical and geographical significance, making its value increase (besides the rising value of precious metals).

To photograph such an item as marketed to a collector, he will be interested in seeing the coin’s condition, its inscriptions, distinguishing marks and a clear representation of the metal color. This suggests to the photographer a specific method of lighting, absence of artistic embellishment and being close up for the best view of the coin’s condition. Can we safely say this requires skill and vocational specialization? Yes, without a doubt.

Take the same coin but in a different market. This coin is not being photographed to a market focus on collectors but sold to a precious metals store who pays out cash to the seller. Photography in this market (if used) would most probably focus on damage detail, over-all likeness and any metallic tarnishing. While these shots are close enough in description, the execution and lighting set-up of the shots are quite different.

While the subject is lit just as well in both shots, the lighting is different because of the market’s push for equal, over or under exposure of the background in reference to the subject. The details of how this is accomplished is still a new topic of discussion.

Terms – white balance

White balance is an interesting setting for digital cameras. When shooting portraits the photographer is sure to want the colors true. This is a setting of “custom” white balance.

Gary Fong has posted a video to YouTube giving visual instruction of how to set you Canon 5D custom white balance. Custom white balance Canon SLR settings are not complicated to adjust.

If you do not have the tools for setting your white balance that Gary does, a white card with true black and 30% gray sections are perfect for the same use.

There is only one difference to remember as you set the white balance…instead of letting the light come through the dome as Gary demonstrated, simply hold the card next to your subject and take a picture of the white section (making sure to have your memory storage in your camera whether internal or CF or SD).

I mention the memory card because some photographers will automatically transfer the images to a computer or hard disk and not in their camera. When this is done the camera cannot reference the photo for color imbalances.

Enjoy, and keep the colors true!

Terms – Exposure

I have written several posts that mention photos should be properly “exposed”. What does it mean to properly expose a photo? Good question. That is exactly the issue I intend to demystify.

“Back in the day” when every photographer used film to capture a scene for posterity the process included light rays piercing the film and chemical coating. When I refer to exposure, it is based on this process and how long the film is “exposed” to the light. If the film was left available to light it will be unintelligibly “bleached”.

So what this means in our digital world is we look at our digital exposures for areas that does not accurately represent the colors of our scene.

Proper exposure is not dependent on your field of photography. For example, a photo-journalist does not use a different measure for proper exposure than a commercial portrait photographer would. Each vocation specialty may prefer different exposures for their purposes, but there is one common key; they all want their subject in this range of proper “exposure”. We will discuss this more in-depth in our next post “Terms – Exposure 2”.

Exposure is effected by length of shutter speed, amount of added light (flash, strobe or constant) and lens aperture. All of these we have covered in earlier posts. For now, what are the keys that will help us discern a proper exposure?

Detail – How much detail is visible in the photograph? Detail represents the photographic subject and the surrounding scene.

Depth of Shadow – How dark are the shadows in the photograph? This will cause detail to be obscured.

Bright areas without detail – What areas in the photograph are saturated with more light than necessary? This will cause detail to not be visible.

As you look through pictures take some time to look at shadows and bright areas. Look for detail and consider other places the photographer could have stood for more or less light to expose the shot.

Terms – Soft Focus

A soft focus leaves nothing in sharp focus keeping your subject partially obscured for the viewer’s imagination to fill-in.

Normally in a photo the focus would be sharpest at the point you want the viewer to look. So obviously total focus is not always desirable. Keep this in mind: the human eye will search out a point on which it can rest. The purpose for resting is not important now but to know this is huge.

A resting point for the human eye is important so keep your focal point in context.

Search for yourself and find some examples to illustrate your findings through research.

I have found that the eye is looking for the point with the most detail and least distraction. This leads me to believe that the point closest to fully focused (if properly achieved) should be a type of funnel apex. While this makes the most sense logically it may not always work out as intended because of the effects of lighting, contrast and other factors.

I was once told there were four steps to building habits that can be applied to such things as finding the right portrait locations and photographic practices. These steps are:

  1. Unknowingly ignorant
  2. Consciously ignorant
  3. Consciously implemented
  4. Unknowingly implemented

It is “Okay” to make mistakes. It is “Okay” to even repeat mistakes that you do not know are being made. This is giving you the opportunity to consider a possibility in refining your skill and work. This may be your help to see that you are halfway to being a better photographer!

If you choose to make some changes when mistakes are called to your attention and consciously fix or avoid the problem, you have made it to step 3! Keep it up because all that is necessary for step 4 (unconsciously implementing the solution) is consistent good practice!

Terms – Focus

Focusing is an important part of clear sight. In fact focus can be one of the first overt statements in a photographer’s arsenal for effective communication.

Some shots may have a “softer focus” for a glamour affect, but these are specialty shots which we will discuss in another post for the sake of avoiding too many technicalities.

A viewer may be misled if the photographer’s intended subject if a picture is taken out of focus. At-least very confused about what the true subject is. Focus is important.

What is focus and how is it achieved?

20130330-234916.jpgIf you will notice the pansy looks nice enough until you get closer in to see that the pansy stamens are not as detailed as the lace on the table top. The focus placement should draw your eye to the lace over the molded pansy. However, this would not have been my chosen point of focus. Take my next illustration for an example.

The next image of the molded pansy clearly portrays the detail I want to communicate. Looking closely at the pansy it is satisfying to see it in enough detail so to not feel like

20130330-234927.jpg

you should blink to make it clearer. This is the difference between being “in focus” or being “out of focus”.

Achieving a proper focus can be achieved by taking notice where your camera thinks you want it to focus. Digital SLR cameras will flash one or more zones that it detects should be in focus as you look at the scene through the view finder. Consumer model or “point and shoot” cameras will flash boxes around these zones and finally smart phone cameras usually respond to tap point focusing.

I have found that some “point and shoot” cameras will focus better when closer to your subject. To ensure a certain part of your subject is in focus (such as the eye) you might also have to square them in the frame, focus (press the shutter release button half-way down), adjust your frame to your desired place and release the shutter.

Do not feel limited by your equipment, but use it to your advantage for excellence!

Terms – Perspective

Taking a perspective on an object can show its many sides. I refer to a view as illustrated below as perspective versus squared.

20130320-220304.jpg

By perspective I mean that one part of the object is further away from the viewer than the rest. I have found that looking at an object from more than one of its sides gives me a better idea of how I best like to see it.

Learning how to take a photo of something from the angle I like to see it can be more challenging than first expected but it will come in time. Start by using one lens only and find its range of limitations. Learn the strengths and weaknesses of the equipment. Observe and learn how what you photograph may seem distorted or disproportionate as compared to reality. All of these things give a “perspective” and will help us learn what to avoid as well as how to make this look if ever we want to use it. Learning in this way teaches us a more thorough understanding of our equipment and technique than if we learned only by textbook. Experience is key. Schools and employers both know this so do not feel like you are cheating or being cheated. This is a natural learning process that some professionals wish they had more of early on in their career.

Have fun, shoot something straight on and then find a perspective that looks good to your eye through the view of your camera and lens!

Business with Priorities

In our society we do not consider the events in one person’s life would much affect the operation and earnings of a business because we think of businesses being large corporations and not being run by one person or family.

I write so that you might consider the important dynamics of building your business. Have a back-up system or support in operation so that you are not losing business.

Questions to answer are:
1. What needs frequent updating?
2. At what frequency must they be updated?
3. For what length of time can these things sustain themselves?
4. How can I most effectively support these things that are updated weekly?
5. How long can they be supported?
6. How can I most effectively support these things for the period of a month?
7. What things could take me from the business?
8. How long could I be busy with these things?

Be sure to base your plans on length of time away and not on the event to avoid confusion. It may be that you will only use 1 week and not 1 month because you can conduct your business from a distance. Thus all the time that is required is to switch from one internet connection to another.

What are the 4 basic things you must use for doing business?

I have looked into my business and the operations involved within the infrastructure. Here are my 4 basics:
1. Internet connection, laptop and power source
2. Photography equipment
3. Web-host, web site software and e-commerce
4. Writing material

It is amazing how small things can become big problems in a short time!

Priorities

I have recently come to an understanding of the priorities for a single proprietor. It is not easy running a business by yourself. What happens to the business when ill-health or disaster strikes? How is money being earned when the doors are closed? What happens to a blog when a schedule established from over a year and a half worth of 2 weekly posts? I do not know.

Thank you for your support over this past year and more! I apologize for disappearing this last week and I want to let you know I will also be taking this coming week as a sabbatical.

I would like to think of each follower on all of my social media publications has ready every article. If not, you are no less a favored fan. In fact there is a plus for you, since you have not read every post there are 5 more days for you to catch up on them before I begin posting again.

I will be back and my estimated time of return to posting will be March 12. Thank you for your support and understanding!

Workflow – Part 3

Workflows as we discussed in Workflow – Part 2, is supposed to be a logical progression from start to finish. No worries if you do not understand the process outlined in Workflow – Part 2. While the principles will work in whatever project you apply them, the logic or thought process may not be yours. Allow me to give another perspective of this process so that you can break it down for yourself.

A workflow is “a process designed to stop detail loss; to produce the best quality product in the least possible amount of time.” This is my working definition of “workflow”; a dictionary definition gives this meaning: “progress of work: the progress or rate of progress of work done by a business, department, or person”. I have described this at the level of a personal project but will become business if you use it for your photography studio and departmental if your studio hires employees. See how quickly this expands?

Let the progression be your own, but be careful to include the details. In my experience working in the corporate world, one practice run on a workflow is good and two is better but three is wise. I have run it through on paper the first time, working out the major problems. The second time I run it through with friends, explaining to them the details: I ask for their questions, understanding and critiques. Third time through, I take a test product through my process making notes of snags and problems.

Make no mistake, by this time I am tired and ready to quit. This is the point at which you are closest to letting the workflow do your heavy lifting. You are doing a great job!

One of the best ways of making certain your workflow has everything you ought to have in your completed product is to write these details on paper. Documents are your friends!