Thursday, July 13, 2006

The Art of Revisits

Visiting a photography location more than once seems rather tedious to some. But there a lots of good reasons to take a second trip to a location.

Obviously there can be different light conditions which can radically change your visit & photos. In fact visiting at a different time of day is a good idea. And there also may be areas you didn't notice or explore fully the first trip. Or perhaps there was one area you wish you could have spent more time at, but didn't. Last but not least, you may just have different lenses or equipment to use.

Apart from those obvious reasons, revisiting often makes you work harder the second visit, either by improving the execution of ideas you formed the first time or looking for new ways to shot your subject.

To assist me I often go over the older photos I shot, analyzing areas of interest and looking for areas of improvement. I found I can't get enough practice on the execution of photography. If I find a photo that had a good idea but I failed to execute properly, I'll focus finding a better method to capture the idea.

On the other hand, if I like what I shot I'll practice looking for new ideas. This is fun because I don't get bogged down with technical details. Using this thought process, I often shoot less and focus on more abstract subjects/ideas.

Either way I find revisiting is helpful to keep both the mind & eye sharp.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Strobist Assignment #2

So I've joined the Strobist Online Bootcamp. What is the Strobist? Well you can learn all about it here but the short version is its an online class to learn how to use portable flashes effectively.

The first assignment was a simple headshot. The current assignment is a portrait with a lit background. So I came up with a few ideas and developed a good plan for them. Later I shared them with the Future Mrs. and she provided great feedback and improvements.

The first idea was to shoot me, in the garage with my motorcycle. Ideally I would have liked to have three seperate flash units, but I only have 2 so I had to make do. As it turned out I was quite happy with the results although, setting up the shot, shooting & modeling can be a lot for one person to do. I took a lot of photos cuz I wasn't pleased with my expressions. Next time I'll find a model.

Tech data:
Pentax *ist DS ,Tamron SP AF 28-75mm f/2.8 XR Di LD (IF)
1/90s f/6.7 at 63.0mm iso200 with Flash
Pentax AF360 on camera for fill in light about 20ft away
Sigma EF500 from camera right bounced off umbrella about 8ft from subject

The second idea was to shoot a simiar photo on a road with a Curves Ahead sign in the immediate background. We decided we didn't really need my bike as the attire & sign would be suggestive enough. We drove around for a while searching for a sign with the right scene, facing the right direction etc. We finally found one on Mulholland just east of Kanan. I set up the lights & camera took a couple test frames and starting shooting. As luck would have it, a motorcyclist came by, and I was able to capture him driving across the background. I took a couple more photos but I think I knew the one with the motorcycle was "the" shot.

It was a long day of prep & shooting but in the end I think it was worth it.

Tech data:
Pentax *ist DS ,Tamron SP AF 28-75mm f/2.8 XR Di LD (IF)
1/60s f/8.0 at 43.0mm iso200 with Flash
Pentax AF360 lighting road sign from above camera 20ft away
Sigma EF500 lighting subject from camera left at eye level 4ft from subject

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Planning for the 4th of July Fireworks

What's the most crucial element for a successful fireworks photo on the 4th of July (other than the actual fireworks)?

Getting there early & saving your spot?
A good tripod?
Shooting a couple test frames to ensure your exposure is correct?

While all these are good & very important, they don't quite carry the weight of the most crucial step to planning a great fireworks photo.

The most important part of a great fireworks outing , is knowing where the fireworks are. That's the step that Derick, Tom & I will be making sure is at the top of our lists next year. You see, we did everything else right. Tom drove down to the Long Beach Harbor the night before to scout the area & shoot a couple of test frames. We arrived about 3 hours early on the 4th and saved our spots, with the Queen Mary directly across the harbor from us. We set up, determined our compositions & exposures and even tested a few frames to improve our shots.

All it took was 3 seconds and we realized all our planning failed. When the fireworks show started we discovered we were facing the wrong way! What happened next was a scene right out of 3 Stooges. We all said "D'oh" and tried to move our tripods to a better location. Only thing was we had no room to maneuver and had 3 tripods almost on top of each other. As it turned out we had to duck & lean out of each other's way to shoot. Tom went high & extended his 'pod fully. I went low and in the corner. Poor Derick, well he was caught in the middle. I remember thinking this isn't what we planned for. And it wasn't. We did our best in the situation, but when all was said and done, something Derick said kept ringing in my ears... "There's always next year."

Monday, July 03, 2006

You Can't Afford Not To Get

So in trying to get myself a good professional image, I decided to get some business cards. And I mean real 4 color press, coated business cards. Cards you can feel proud to hand out, and not the kind you print at home and feel you have to apologize for.

After cruising various online forums reading both good & bad stories, I settled on using Their webpage is very simple to use and I have to say they must have the best set of online instructions I've seen anywhere. They list a wide variety of detailed instructions all based on whatever application you have installed on your computer. I used the Photoshop instructions and they were easy to follow, had graphic examples and were accurate.

After about 20 minutes (most of it was me screwing around PS trying to get the photo just right) the business card was all done and my order processed. I decided to order 100 cards because I didn't want too many lying around and I can always order more. I choose 4 color printing on one side (as a photographer you have to have a photo on the front) with a white back for room to write on. All in all with ground UPS shipping the grand total was $20. Just twenty dollars.

The cards arrived about 6 days later (I did say I ordered UPS ground). I was very impressed with both the quality & accuracy of the design. Essentially what I had seen on my monitor was now in my hands.

A couple of days ago, I found a discount for to use at overnightprints. Use the code VALUEDCUSTOMER and you'll get $10 off your order. That's half off an order of 100 cards. Now that's a deal you can't afford not to get.