Photography Shopping – Part 2

It is not easy for me to swallow a number on a price tag with numbers that continue 3 or more digits and then appears a decimal, especially when I consider that amount as coming from my wallet. However, this is not considering the purpose for the product purchased.

We considered some questions to ask to help decide the purpose of the shopping trip and each piece of equipment. I also mentioned that I cannot give you any suggestion on “coupons” or price breaks because anyone making this compromise is taking a serious risk that can and most often will be more expensive than the price of the lens.

I write this to urge you to be wise in what you buy, because somethings are not worth “going cheap”. If your photographs are worth good money, then be willing to pay good money for your equipment. I have read many articles on what is most important for creating good photographs. Some have a good understanding of the process and others do well at articulating what they do not understand. I want to both understand and be able to articulate it so that you can learn from my mistakes.

Good photography is not about 1 piece being more or less significant. It is about all the pieces working well together. In any team sport, the team must work together to carry out their goal. Thus it is the same in photography. Photography is my sport and my team consists of me, the camera body and the lens. Also in this team sport the team that will win must use the actions of the opposing team to their advantage. This “opposing team” in my sport of photography is a light source, object and shadow (meaning contrast).

I win the game when my team works together without error, using the light, the object and the shadow to tell the story I see.

How will you choose your team? Will you choose the team that “gets by” or the proper team for the win?

Photography Shopping

Looking for photography equipment? What is your intended purpose with the photographs?

Understanding the equipment and what it will do for you is an important part of shopping. rebel_xTiBuying the best piece of equipment on the market will not do you any good if its capabilities do not exceed your expectations. Each manufacturer has technical and general specifics on each camera they make for your convenience in research.

Do you want sharpness in each photo?

Looking for large format ability?

Want to shoot great photos in low-lit surroundings?

It is important to know what you will do with your equipment. The key to sharp images is good “glass” (or lenses in other words). Good “glass” meaning the quality and design of the lens and its parts. Research is important, especially for lenses because the manufacturer will not put these lenses on the market for no cost. All of that time in material gathering and manufacturing a lens does not come cheap so your equipment cost is going to grow. There is no good way of compromising on price for a lens of this quality. So I suggest that you do not go cheap on your lens for sharp images.

The large format issue begins a new line of questions; “How large is your project?” The smaller SLR camera image sensors can handle image sizes up to 20 x 30 inches. If you want to screen print vehicle window clings or prints for the full side of vehicles, you are looking for camera with a very large image sensor. Now you will be looking at spending the same amount of money on a camera as the lens spoken of above.

Shooting in low-lit situations means you will be looking for camera that does not create a lot of “digital noise” when the ISO is raised above 100.

I hope these “bench marks” are helpful to you as you search for the right camera and lens for you. Enjoy and do not feel obligated to buy from a store. The customer service employees are paid to help you find the right product, so ask them for advice and take their “sales pitch” with a grain of salt. Enjoy!

Reflections – Part 2

As you attempt to stay out of the reflections in your photographs, it is important to wear colors that will blend with your surroundings as I mentioned about shooting the Christmas ornaments in the window of Neiman Marcus.

For instance, I wore a red shirt one day and in image review I saw a brilliant red reflection in the product! Your face may be well hidden but be careful to also hide bright colors.

While this is a negative for color in reflection, this brings up something I often say with the phrase “Think outside the box”. If a bright-colored shirt appears in reflections, why not learn the effects of using black, white and gray cards?

Gold objects will brighten when reflecting light colors like white and pick-up richer tones when reflecting black. Your purpose will dictate which color fill card should be used, so outlining colors to products will put you back into a box more than helping you out of one.

As the reflective object is exchanged with another of a different color tone, the fill card color may also change. Keep your purpose in mind and use the proper color of fill card.

Engraved surfaces have better contrast reflecting one color over another, and while I have my opinion of which color it is, another viewer may see the engraving better with another. If I see the engraving plainly in both reflected colors, I will defer to the other viewer, however this gives reason to pursue other options for better visibility for all viewers.

For creative shooting, perhaps you want bright and unusual colors! Just because colors outside the grayscale are not used in product photography does not mean it is “taboo” or even unacceptable in your form of art, thus your purpose being my qualifying phrase.

Enjoy!

Camera Troubles – Part 6

What can I see that my camera does not?

There is not an easy way to answer this question, although I will say to say that our visual capability can not be directly and equally compared to the output of film or digital cameras.

Our sight is taken in motion whereas photographs are still images possibly showing movement by blur or subtle indications of motion. So while we may remember a certain pose, facial expression or scenery of a person or place we appreciate as if the memory were a still photograph does not mean our Eye and Brain receives these memories in just such a way.

Video recorders are truly much like cameras in this way that they capture motion or movement in 72 still frames a second or more. A video recorder more closely resembles our vision in that it records motion in so many frames.

Beyond multiple frames to give the illusion of complete motion, our vision is affected by the ability to change so quickly between seeing detail in the shadows from previously inspecting the details lit by broad daylight.

From observing myself and questioning what I see and how I see it, I believe now to better understand the difference of what I see and how I can operate my camera to photograph a scene as I see it.

I see: the bright sunlight streaming through the ceiling of tree leaves, illuminating the grass and garden floor in a brilliant array of color. As I continue to observe and breathe in the wonder of the contrast and illuminated detail, I begin to notice more detail which remained hidden until I had gotten close enough to notice for the first time.

This is done in photography in several ways. Let me begin with the best and quickest being the first.

  1. Simplicity – Photography studios will set-up the portrait studio with solid color backdrop and lighting to evenly light the subject while still allowing some shadow to remain but lighting enough to see detail in both shadowed and lit areas. This is the effect of many additional flashes.
  2. Specific detail – Scenery which cannot be reproduced or moved in-studio must be shot as is. This requires additional flashes or shooting 3 or more photos  from the same place and position of varying shutter lengths and putting them together in HDR format. (For more on HDR, please see our blog posts “High Dynamic Range” and “The Make-up Of An HDR Photo“.)

So it is not that our cameras cannot reproduce something similar to what we see, but that we have some understanding of how we can enable it to see. There are no quick and simple steps to follow for every camera to shoot fantastic photos. I wish there were! Though if this were the case I believe we would have lost some of the adventure in photography.

It can be this simple though, to know that the camera does not as quickly adjust its Lens Diaphragm and Sensor to see detail in shadow and light as do our Iris and Retina. Thus we seek to separate detail we want captured per photo by the varying amounts of light in its surroundings.

Photography truly is an amazing art. The amazement is not intrinsic to itself, but because it is base off of our visual ability which we are blessed to have received from the kind Providence who created us and the world we love to photograph.

Thank you for reading! I pray you have learned and enjoyed reading as much as I have in writing!

Lists of shots

This post will not be as in-depth as others but if you take it seriously, can leave you with a very large load of homework. *Grin*

It has been my experience that I have all of these great shots in my head that I can either set-up or capture in theory. (In other words all of the elements I see in my imagination have been seen together at one time, at the same time.) However, when I find myself in a place that I have imagined a shot, I can not remember the elements I previously envisioned! Perhaps you also have experienced that disappointment and  horror of not being able to provide the photos I had in mind for my customer, now feeling like I will have to sell the shots I currently have twice as hard to make up for my lost enthusiasm. (This photo was taken in October of 2011. This is one of the times when I saw the shot, remembering it was something I had imagined without requiring me to add extra elements before immortalizing the scene.)

Here is how I am changing that costly error.

I have begun making a list of shots to compose by category, location, priority or time of day. (A time-saving tip is to input all of this information into a spread-sheet and then when I am ready to print a hard copy of my list I can prioritize them in the order that I will be shooting.)

I do not know about the rest of you, but I think about the next better shot all the time. My imagination especially runs wild after a shoot and I have just taken some exceptional shots. After I come down from the high of “a job well done”, I catalog the position and settings of the equipment set-up asking “What made the difference?” and every other question “9 ways from Sunday” about how it can be made better.