Saturday, October 30, 2010

Photoplus NYC...

Well it was fun yesterday.. the NYC Expo has yet to be a disappointment.

It seem, at least to me, that this year there were fewer companies showing stuff off.. In particular I noticed there were fewer album manufacturers (and who needs 30 friggen companies at one trade show anyway?). To make up for it it seemed like all the big names had much larger spots.

It seemed like the product of the show was the NIK's HDR Pro plug in. It was being demonstrated and discussed in quite a few forums.

The two most exciting booths were absolutely the Unique Photo booth (girls + full body skin panting.. nuff said), and the Nikon booth which had (amongst other things) a halfpipe with guys doing tricks on bikes and boards. This year I noticed many more companies offering lectures and info sessions on all sorts of topics. If you stuck around all three days you probably could amass a pretty good education for free.

So I managed to attend some lectures at the Unique Photo booth.. was pretty impressed with Lindsey Alter's lighting presentation.. The seminar I attended on night photography was pretty interesting... and I would say was worth the $80 I paid for 2 hours.. I also caught bits and pieces of various other presentations here and there..

So the show was cool.. and then afterward I shot the city at night from the Weehawken waterfront.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

500 shots later... LKR event post-mortem..

The LKR event went pretty well last Thursday. Like last year it was a pretty good challenge. Anytime you mix low/bad lighting with fast action your in for some fun.

I shot the event with two rigs. For flash photography I used my 40D with a stroboframe flash bracket (the one that rotates the flash around the lens), and a 580EX flash with a Lumiquest soft box attached. I use that configuration anytime I am doing direct flash. The 5DmkII was used with a higher ISO and available light as it has superior low noise performance. Most of the night was shot without flash.. The 5D had a 70-200 f2.8L IS on it and the 40D had a 24-70 f2.8L (although i switched em around from time to time).

As I noted earlier this was the first time I had two simultaneous cameras. Again the Black Rapid strap I use kicked some serious ass. Also some kudos to for coming through with the 70-200 f2.8 on short notice since Unique doesn't seem to have many of em in stock (and my f4 version just wasn't going to cut it).

As far as the event is concerned.. it was fun, and the VIPs were great.. Because of the tables it wasn't possible to get up close to the stage during the show.. but the room isn't too big so the 200mm was fine.. but none of the usual concert style shots that people seem to get.. more journalistic.

This was the first time I have had to deal with competing media photographers who attended the show (last year I was the only shooter). The posed shots were difficult because I had to fight for everyone's attention during those windows of opportunity. They generally stayed out of my way for the rest of it though. Having a bigger camera then everyone else helps with that..

Bernie and Kris posed for a billion photographs with people and had pretty good stage presence (Kris in particular). The kids did great.. etc.

Ended up with 500+ shots which I culled down to around 180.. for the most part I am pretty pleased with how they came out. Took me a few hours to develop the raw files into TIFFs, and then about a hour of batch processing time to put them through noise reduction, fractal size reduction, and then output sharpening.

I know a few people have already asked me about checking em out.. When they (or whatever they pick from the ones I send) become public by LKR I'll post a link... For various reasons I won't be posting any publicly.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

New England and upcoming stuff

I just got back from a weekend in New England to celebrate a friend's wedding. Had a great time, and of course I did bring my camera. No... I wasn't Bob The Photographer at the wedding.. I actually only took a few shots. My basic wedding policy is that I am there as a guest so I don't run around trying to get "shots"... after all they already had paid good $$ to get an excellent REAL wedding photographer who is going to do a kick ass job. I'll let him run around while I enjoy the cheese and wine. :)

That being said since the wedding was in an apple orchard, and it was the "peek" time for fall foliage, I focused on that. On the way back we drove around Brattleboro and I did some work at a few bridges over the CT river.. I also stopped in Hartford for a few minutes at a park on the river edge.. After culling and selecting I ended up with another 20ish images to add to my portfolio.. not bad.

Speaking of portfolio.. last night I finished going through all my recent work (since July). I've got 114 new things to develop and retouch. A pretty wide collection of macro work, scenic stuff, and some abstract architectural things I did. About 45 of the images alone are from Sedona. Not sure how long it will take to do it all but my new work station should help me rip through them (holy crap it is fast!).

Next weekend I have an outdoor client shoot, and the following week I've got the Little Kids Rock concert. I also am trying to fit in a trip to Bushkill Falls at just the right time for the colorful leaves. I may be attending the HDR seminar at Unique Photo next week.. which hopefully will teach me something I don't already know. I also registered for a night photography seminar at Photo Plus... hopefully something useful rather then a sales pitch for the teacher's book. That was, for the most part, the only expo seminar that both interested me and I thought would be worth the $80. They did have a few Lightroom/Photoshop classes but I didn't think they were advanced enough. I am going to go to the Dave Cross seminar in Nov instead...

Speaking of PhotoPlus.. I plan on going on Sat to the trade show for a little bit and then spending some time in Manhattan taking pictures.. Probably down in Battery Park (maybe even go to Gov Island.. still up in the air).. If anyone wants to meet up let me know.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

FF DoF.. A-Ha! LOL

A few weeks ago I spent a considerable amount of time wrapping my head around the topic of Depth of Field in regards to my full frame camera. Specifically, how it appeared to have a more shallow DoF then my 40D which has a 1.6x crop sensor.

For those that don't know.. basic Photography theory 101:
The aperture setting not only is involved with exposure, but also DoF. The larger the f-stop the larger the DoF (and the smaller the actual opening). Sounds semi-simple right? Well it is actually more complected then that....

While the f-stop does change the DoF.. the actual *effective* DoF varies on the distance to the focus point, and the lens focal length. What varies is the zone of focus.. the distance in front, and behind the focus point that remain in focus.

As an example.. lets say you use f5.6 and you focus on the eyes of a subject standing maybe 15 feet from you at 50mm. In that case you may observe that the tip of the person's nose remains in focus. However if that person comes closer to you and you again focus the same way you may find that their nose is now out of focus... the same way that may have happened if they stayed where they were and you moved to f2.8.

So getting back to my full frame dilemma.. I did some shots in my studio and realized that my usual f5.6 was not going to cut it.. and started using f8.. which I also found had a slightly shallower DoF then I desired. My initial conclusion was that the full frame sensor had a shallower depth of field then the crop sensor.. but I didn't understand why. It made no sense. A google search directed me to several articles that confirmed that my conclusion was incorrect.. that both sensors have the exact same DoF.

So I sat there and tried to wrap my head around it.. I just kept thinking that if I took the same exact picture with both cameras the DoF on the FF camera was shallower. So WTF?

What I didn't realize was that I was forgetting something that WAS different between the two.. the Field of View.. because the FoV is larger on the FF camera I would have to either get closer, or increase my focal length to compose the same shot that I would on the smaller sensor camera.. this means that I was adjusting at least one of the two other parameters which determine the size of the ZoF! So inadvertently by just trying to recompose the same shot I was creating a smaller DoF. If I kept the distance and the focal length the same, and just cropped the picture smaller to create the same composure, the FoV would be the same as the crop camera.

It was one of those "how did I miss that?" moments that had me going for a few hours.. In the end I decided that because of this effect I was going to stick with using my 40D in the studio. Because of the large FoV with the FF 5DmkII I would have to zoom in or get closer to my subjects to get similar shots as I get with the 40D... and thus would need to raise my f-stop and strobe power.. which is ok for most things except for high-key.. So just to simplify I'll stick with my trusty 40D.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

New workstation...

For most of this year my main workstation has been crashing and locking up without warning. I figure that after 3 years of overclocking this hardware to the very edge of sanity it finally has developed some flakiness..

So I've been dealing with it.. but things got harder when I started working with the 21MP files from the new camera. I just don't have enough memory to handle all the plug ins and etc that are a part of my work flow. Photoshop CS5 is a total memory pig as well.. as compared to the slightly less piggy CS4. All this means that it locks up more often, usually after I just finished painfully creating a layer mask and was just about to save...

Sooo.. I finally broke down and ordered parts for a new machine. Instead of overhauling the watercooled pimped up monster that I currently use I decided to build a simple yet powerful one from scratch. It will have an I7 3Ghz quad core CPU, 8GB RAM, and an SSD for a system drive. I also solved my storage issue by getting a 2TB data drive (no more RAID mirror.. just my standard external backups). So in short (for the non computer-geeks) this thing should handle anything I throw at it.

Of course there will be some complexities.. for one I am moving to full 64Bit Windows 7 (from the 32bit version). Some of my plug ins that I have grown to love do not currently work under 64bit.. so I will be flipping back and forth from 32bit Photoshop and the 64bit version.. Hopefully in a few months that will all be resolved with some updates.