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Messages - dafrank

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Sports / Re: Cars cars cars (and some bikes)
« on: February 21, 2013, 12:16:37 PM »
Here is a recent shot I like: it's not exactly a car shot per se, but a "people" shot of a person driving a car - a little different emphasis, mostly in what appears sharpest and most in focus. However, I still like the car in it and the whole feel of the shot. It looks even better, the bigger you see it; it's on my website slightly larger, along with another nice static shot of the same subject. The car is an old Morgan, either a '49 or early 1950's model - I forget which. Enjoy.


Street & City / Re: Jon Rafman's work: Unedited or not?
« on: February 20, 2013, 08:51:20 PM »
Alright sleuths, can any of you prove that some of his work has been edited in post(other than resizing)?


Some of them looks like they blatantly used Instagram filters.

I haven't looked for proof, but, obviously, all or very close to all of these photos have been edited in post, either to give that Lomo/Instagram filter look, or other quite obvious repeated image, or "cut and paste" out of alignment, or many other such faux avante garde and artsy treatments.

Frankly, I'm not impressed, either by the concepts, which are somewhat shopworn and unoriginal, nor by the intended irony. I'd rather be looking at postcards at Walgreens. It's not that I "don't get it." I actually do. I just think that it still isn't very good or interesting. Sorry. It's not worth my time to look for proof of anything.

EOS Bodies / Re: Big Megapixel Camera in 2014
« on: February 17, 2013, 11:39:13 AM »
I fully understand that something like the 1Dx will be perfect for some, all I want is for Canon to consider both sides which at the moment they are not doing.

So what would be in it for the customer? I would hope:
1. At least one "native" UWA of much better quality vs size/cost than SLR UWAs (why are Leica WAs so compact yet highly rated?). Possibly tilt/shift.

Just to let you know a little detail about the Leica wide angles. They are always small and sometimes light in comparison to all wide angles for SLR cameras of any sort, because they are designed totally differently; they are true wide angles in design, while SLR and DSLR wides are "retrofocus" designs - reverse telephotos in effect. Take a telephpoto lens, look through the front to the rear and what you see is the type of field effect that a retrofocus wide angle will yield. This design is necessary because of the mirror inherent in single lens reflex design and the extra space it takes up between the back of the lens and the sensor; it imposes a design requirement to achieve a wide angle of view that makes a "true wide angle design" like Leica's impossible to use, because those are designed for a camera in which their rearmost elements can be situated very, very close to the sensor itself. This allows them to be very small in size compared to SLR lenses, but also introduces some optical problems of their own when using digital sensors, rather than film. Leica and others have done a very good job with these designs and the results speak for themselves. But, Canon cannot make their DSLR lenses that small; such a design would have to defy the currently understood laws and limitations of optical design.


I've shot extensively with the following cameras, each of which I've owned: 1DsII, 1DsIII, 5DII and 5DIII. The 1DsIII was better, took better pictures, resolved more detail, shot good quality at slightly higher ISO and had less failures (see mini firewire port) than the 1DsII. The 5DII was almost as good as the 1DsIII in most respects (except for build quality, of course, where the differences were "major"). The 5DII did have a tiny higher high ISO advantage over the 1DsIII and could also shoot HD video - a couple of usefull advantages, but was really not  in the same ball park for pro stills photography.

After testing the 5D3, I abandoned my 1 series Canons altogether, as I don't shoot a lot of sports/action, nor
do I shoot in a lot in inclement weather, the only two reasons I can think of where the 5DIII falls much short of either the 1DsIII or 1DX, much less the earlier 1DsII.

As far as the 1DsII is concerned, it was a great camera in its heyday, and I happily made a lot of money with it. However, it is clear that the 5DIII camera is far superior to it in all but a very, very narrow set of shooting conditions. You may feel very comfortable with the 1DsII, but, unless your testing ignores about 3/4 of what you use a camera for, you will never see better results from the 1DsII than the 5DIII, or even from its successor, the 1DsIII.

Let me put it this way, if like your 1DsII that much, then by all means keep it. But, if you were to give the 5DIII a little more time, I'm pretty sure you'd come to the same conclusion I have: the 5DIII is a superior camera in almost every way.


Lighting / Re: Specular Highlights... Feed Back Please
« on: February 01, 2013, 11:48:08 AM »
I've been trying to work on specular highlights, and I think I'm there, but might just have this completely wrong. Just looking for a little feed back please :)

I don't quite think you've got your terms straight here, but I'll try to help. Ordinarily, specular highlights are very small areas in an overall image - usually what you might call, but are not literally, points of light which read either 255-255-255 or close to it. In any case, your picturte might have a few actual specular highlights, but I would guess that perhaps you are actually referring to the very large highlight areas in your shot and wondering how they look and how they could be improved.

Unless your image could be thought of as "high key," which this image is clearly not meant to be, there should not be very large areas of 255-255-255 (or very close to it) in it, because then these are just commonly defined as "burned out" and contain no useful color or detail. Your large broad highlights in this image are indeed burned out for the most part and are covering up way too much of the main subject - the wine bottle - to make what most people would feel was a good image. Also, your highlights are not connected everywhere where they should be, and some of the edges of the highlights are ragged looking.

The previous poster's suggestion to use black boards to reflect in the bottle is a good one. Also move your light reflectors (or diffusers - whatever they are) more towards either side of the bottle so that the bottle is not so frontlit. Furthermore, you might want to experiment with graduated flags or other similar techniques or devices to gradually "cut" the light output of the main sidelights at their forward edges, leaving a hard 255-255-255 rimlight effect around only the very edges of the bottle as well. Also rmember that, on the wine label itself, you want to show some highlight (in your example at least), but you also want to easily see the detail and color in it as well. Better controlling the highlight levels, size and shape is what you need to do.

In general, experiment, experiment, experiment; move your lights, flags, cutters, reflectors (both black and white) around quite a lot to preview the different possible effects; extra digital captures cost you nothing, so you can try lots of different scenarios without a care in the world. Last, check for flare, detail sharpness (micro contrast) and color balance, all of which you could improve upon in your posted example.


Software & Accessories / Re: Any value in using DPP along side Lightroom?
« on: January 27, 2013, 12:08:04 PM »

I have been using Lightroom since long before I had an EOS camera, so I have to admit when I got my 60d two years ago I never bothered at all with the Canon software and have always used lightroom and elements for my workflow.

Having recently gotten a 5D iii, I thougt I would install the software (mostly for the EOS utility). DPP seems pretty neat; but is there anything it does that lightroom cant? Is anyone using both in conjunction, or any of the other canon supplied software?

Wondering if DPP handles noise reduction better... Or maybe makes workflow faster for processing simple RAW changes, using picture styles perhaps.


There are reasons to use either program over the other, depending on your needs. The latest iteration of DPP is now a fairly mature program that will convert your average files very, very well, but still doesn't have the extremely "fine-grained" control that Lightroom or ACR has at the moment. Many people, however, don't need that much control over the image, if either your capture is very good and fairly near ideal to begin with, or, if you don't care to work so hard to wring the last 5% out of the raw file; then, DPP is a great and, not unimportantly, a free application that will probably meet all your needs.

DPP usually yields excellent color out of the box, and has several tools that are either somewhat limited but easier to use, or just better than those available in Lightroom. The compositing and HDR tools are eamples of the former and the quick check tool is an example of the latter. Again, Lighroom (and/or Photoshop) certainly has tools to accomplish the same tasks, but they are a little more complex and require a little more knowledge and practiced judgment to use well. In my book, however, nothing beats the quick check tool in DPP for quickly eliminating non-keepers in your first edit go-around. I will always use DPP for that alone, even if I later open the raws in another program. DPP is also pretty "small," pretty speedy on a good computer, and is not a resource hog.

The only things that aren't up to the level of many other raw converter programs are more complete and fine control over individual color channels, very complete sharpening and noise reduction options, the most extreme levels of highlight and shadow recovery, and, of course, no cataloging of your images, unlike with Lighroom's module. Frankly, I have been cataloging finished 16-bit tiffs, and then raws, for the past 16 years with a couple of good digital stand-alone programs, so I don't feel so attached to Lightroom for that reason alone.

As far as overall speed with very large shoots involving many hundreds to thousands of images, very experienced users of Lighroom can get through their work faster than someone with DPP alone, but if your dealing with a couple hundred files or less, the difference is very small and you don't need to learn as many tricks and shortcuts to use DPP in that way.

Don't rely on DPP for noise reduction. You may want to do none or simply sharpen it up a little with the "sharpen" command at levels 1 to 3, but don't bother with the unsharp mask control; it's much better to save that function to Photoshop or whatever program your Tiffs or Jpegs go to later. Noise reduction in DPP is good, but use it very judiciously, if you find you need a lot of it, skip it and do this in another program following DPP's conversion. Lastly, as far as picture style is concerned, that is not really the domain of DPP, but is really the process by which you control the camera's internal development of Jpegs directly from the camera. If I'm wrong about this, my apologies, but that is what I've always assumed. In DPP, you can cook up different "recipes," or even multiple "recipes," to apply to multiple files with only a click or two, and that operates in the same way with raw files, as do picture styles with Jpegs.


Landscape / Don't just shoot; look and really see.
« on: January 22, 2013, 10:23:43 PM »
To the OP: thanks for posting those literally awesome pictures.

I feel like I should share something else about the night sky to those who might be interested. Just go to a really dark place as some on here have advocated, and, if you're a city or suburban bred person, just look. When one hasn't seen it before, it is a revelatory experience like few others you may have in your lifetime.

I grew up in the LA area and then on Long Island - near NYC - and then settled in the suburbs around Detroit. I had never thought much about the night sky at all, except that it was a little better to sleep with less light coming through my widow than during the day.

I remember, when I was about 26 years old, going with an old girlfriend to visit her artist friend who lived in the woods, waaaaay off the beaten track, in the vast empty Michigan Upper Peninsula, in a couple of small sandwiched together mobile homes with the adjoining walls broken down to form a sort of fiberglass and plastic hillbilly castle. We all three sat on the steps leading up to his doorway one chilly November night, and I, certainly not expecting much, had a near religious experience when I looked up to see what seemed to be literally millions of visible stars. I was shocked, astounded. I just silently sat there, open mouthed, and stared for over an hour and a half without uttering a sound. Wow!

I repeated that same experience when out working in the deserts of California, Arizona and Utah. Shooting cars at sunup and sundown brought me to places where light pollution was almost non-existent. Sometimes, when setting up for a dawn shot, we would work on the cars and camera positions until just after the end of "nautical" dusk and then stay the night in vehicles or in sleeping bags until the just-before-dawn call time. My whole crew would typically barbeque some food, drink beer and then smell the occasional burning cigar or wafting bouquet of an assistant's trusty blunt break up the nearly perfect lack of anything from the city . After scaring the new guys with tales of scorpions and rattlers under the tarps and hearing an occasional coyote or other small critter break the otherwise eerie silence, we would all look into the sky and see the miracle of the universe right there before us, in the real world 3-D that makes those plastic glasses and Imax screens seem puny and uninteresting. I kind of wished that someone of us could play some mournful tune on an old harmonica, just to compliment what I felt were the faint voices in the desert wind of the ghosts of all those lonely cowboys of the American West who really had lived under the stars and loved it so much that they stayed living there, in the insufferable deserts and on the desolate prairies, as long as "progress" allowed.

Sometimes, pictures are not enough. Sometimes, you should just put down the camera, to not just record the world, but to live in it. The brilliantly adorned night sky, as countless generations of our long past forbears in song, story and legend saw it, is one excuse to sometimes do just that.


Canon General / My own experience with Dell
« on: January 17, 2013, 09:06:29 PM »
Back in April 2012, when 5D3's were as rare as Unicorns for those like me who had not prepaid and preordered them, I was calling to and searching on the net for anyplace which had a 5D3 that they would sell to me. Nothing came up for more than a week. Then, in a complete surprise, while on line at another photo related site, I spied an easy to overlook, tiny, postage stamp sized display ad from Dell saying they were offering 5D3's for sale. Not really believing it, I called them anyway, as I had bought computer gear from them before and I had very little to lose. To my utter amazement, they had just gotten about 30 or 40 in stock and were indeed able to sell me one - at the $3,500.00 full price, of course, while many others were selling it at $300.00-$500.00 over retail to non-preorder customers at the time. I got the perfectly new, perfectly clean USA model just when they said I'd get it, and it has served me very well since.

Just sayin' that you don't need to ordinarily fear ordering from Dell.com. They're a big company with a reputation to protect, and they would never, ever purposely "stiff" a customer with a scam like the OP described. Say what you want about their customer service or their computer gear quality, but the OP's story goes beyond any mistakes in those areas by miles; this is criminal fraud, not bad customer service management. As to them needing to investigate it, well, think about it. I'm not questioning the OP's honesty, but put yourself in Dell's position for a minute. I could ridiculously easily get a camera shipped to me, remove the camera and the other content from the Canon box, put woood in the box, and then photograph the "unboxing" as though the wood were what I actually received in the first place. Dell was nice enough to offer $100.00 for the unfortunate OP's trouble, without any corroborating evidence, but they will have to investigate, and perhaps have criminal charges filed against whatever middleman might have been the guilty party here, before they can try to ship a camera to the OP again.

Insanity is the definition of continuing to do the same thing over and over, but expect the results from your identical actions to be different, just because you are repeatly doing it. The people at Dell are not insane.


Third Party Manufacturers / Re: WW2 Kodachromes 4x5's
« on: January 12, 2013, 06:18:34 PM »
These look so good, so long after they were taken, because they were shot in Kodachrome, the most archivally long-lasting of all the practical color films of the time (and, even much, much later as well). It is essentially a three-layer B&W film, each layer of which later has attached to it a very stable primary color dye in processing - a very complex and expensive process that is just recently, unfortunately, unavailable and lost to the pages of history. Those photographers did a wonderful job with what they had - probably 4x5 Speed Graphic types of cameras and horribly "slow" film (i.e., ISO 10?) -  by shooting subjects whose movement they could tightly control and either shooting the "type A"emulsion with big cumbersome tungsten floods or the daylight emulsion with flash - not electronic flash, but, most likely, very large, multiple flashbulbs; this last is quite hard to do well without a lot of trial and error, so they had to be very experienced to properly get what they got. Their results were sometimes stilted, compared to the 35mm B&W negative shooters of the time, but they did the best they could and sometimes even overcame that limitation as well.

As to the image manipulation in scanning or in actual post, I actually see very little in the examples shown here. It looks like the images were lightened just a bit from whatever the darker examples represent, plus maybe just a very tiny goose in saturation - overall not much of anything.

We should all be very grateful for the tools we now have and the relative ease it affords in our work. Our predecessors had to bust their humps, generally have to deal with many more technical issues than we do, and work through very cumbersome limitations to achieve what they did. Finally, it's just so much fun to see what these men and women tried to show us of our country and our people in a time not too long ago.

Reviews / Re: My Mini-Review of the 85mm 1.2L II.
« on: January 04, 2013, 11:12:54 PM »
Nice, considered review Ramon. I have the 85 f/1.2 II and had the 135 f/1.2 at the same time for a couple of years. My impression of the two was that the 85 had a little more "magic' that is hard to define, but that the 135 had a kind of relentless sharpness that was quite good for its speed and focal length.

As to build, my 85 came flawless out of the box and I haven't noticed anything negative - no mechanical weakness, unintentional disassembly or dust problems. As to focusing, yes, it's slow, but, as others have mentioned, the focus motor has to move a group of very heavy lens elements. In any case, hardly anyone seriously buys this lens for fast-moving low light sports (a few diehards to the contrary). Its best use is for slow considered portraiture and even some specially rendered product shots and other miscellany, all done in a style where ultimate focus speed is almost irelevant.

I find its bokeh to be impeccable, but I hardly ever shoot this lens tight at f1.2 (maybe for an occasional half- or full-body shot), due to its insanely narrow depth of focus; if your subject so much as twitches, your f/1.2 shot will be a mess of misplaced focus. I find that f/1.6 is a great aperture for my purposes with f/2.0 being not much less attractive. At f/2.8, you might as well be using less expensive glass, although this lens is still quite amazing through f/4.0, compared to most others. It's not just sharpness, it 's also the "character" of the image: a combination of designed-in flaws and aberrations from the purposeful trade-off demanded by such a wide maximum aperture, its bokeh, its color, its contrast and the super-high center resolution along with dimiinshed edge and corner results. This is supposed to be, above all else, a portrait lens, and all these characteristics make it a great one. For instance, when taking a good head and shoulders picture, it is the central area of the subjects face, around the eyes, that benefits from great sharpness, not the tips of the subjects' shoulders on the edge of the picture.

When I have to quickly shoot a lot of portraits of a lot of people, as in a day of corporate "gang" shooting on location at some headquarters conference room, I always use my brilliant 70-200 f/2.8 IS II. It get's the job done perfectly, and you can somewhat make up for f/2.8 bokeh by using a longer focal length when possible. But for those occasions when I can take my time to get a really impressive single "portrait" picture, I like to use the 85, and slowly vary the focus to see what I can make of the very narrow band of focus that it affords me. For this, there is absolutely no substitute.

All in all, a terrific lens I will keep indefinitely.


PowerShot Cameras / Re: Which Powershot or IXUS
« on: December 26, 2012, 11:14:38 PM »
For some reason, my first attached picture in my last post did not display properly on the site. Therefore, I will try to post this one again. Again, it's a "product" shot of one of my cams that I sold on Ebay, done on my driveway on a cloudy day, without any of the ususal tools I use on a "real" studio product shoot, and using my SX230, instead of a DSLR. Considering the set-up, I was rather astonished at the quality of the results. Anyway, it won't win any prizes, but, like the other shots above, it gives you an idea of what the cam can do without much help.


PowerShot Cameras / Re: Which Powershot or IXUS
« on: December 26, 2012, 07:03:50 PM »
I second the suggestion of the Canon SX230 HS. It's a great little cam with superior snapshot quality up to about ISO 400 (really nice at native ISO 80-100) and decent ISO 800. 1600 is OK for tiny shots that won't go bigger than an quick email to your sister. The lens is sharper than those of most of the "travel zoom" competition and the range of 28-400 is pretty much all I need for snaps. It's really small, easily pocketable, and has only one annoying quirk - the flash pop-up that activates every time at startup, that is positioned directly under the left index finger of a two handed grip. You can just push it back down again and shoot sans flash, but it really shouldn't be popping up unless first summonedby the user, and the pushing down of the thing might effect the mechanics eventually (mine is OK so far).

All in all, a great little snapshot camera that is a fine companion when you don't want to drag a DSLR around or pay a lot of money for a super deluxw compact when you're saving up for a new "L" lens or just the next mortgage payment.

There are a few examples to follow, most interestingly a surprisingly nice couple of "product" shots done for an old Ebay listing.



I never use filters on any of my lenses unless there is a very particular reason for it. Long gone are the days when my serious film shooting required carrying around: about 60 different color correction and ND 4" Kodak gel filters, a dozen or so glass ones and a dozen or so plastic graduated filters of different color and density spreads, filter holders, thin guage black gaffer tape to work on lenses the filter holders didn't work with, my color temperatrure meter, self-made reciprocity failure and artificial lighting type correction charts custom made and researched for every individual film stock that specified filtering at various shutter speeds and lighting conditions. Good riddance! Now, things are a lot simpler and my use of filters massively curtailed.

For instance, in cases where atmospheric haze or high altitude is a factor, I will use a very specifically tuned UV filter (one of two B&W's that were ridiculously expensive), or if there is some environmental factor such as industrial grit or outdoor sand or rain/snow/sleet blowing towards the lens, I will use the mildest UV I own just to protect it.

Of course, I do use good quality polarizing filters when it would genuinely help an image or correct a problem with an image, as well as color correction, ND or graduated filters on the very rare occasions when changing camera settings or PP wouldn't work as well.

The days of always using a filter on the lens to "filter" every shot, due to a general inadequacy of the lens color response are long gone. Pretty much all modern photo lenses sufficiently filter UV on their own, and are color biased so that they also don't need the slightly pink filtering afforded by the ubiquitous "skylight" filter.

As for physical protection, some photographers who constantly work in situations where rough treatment might lead to physical scratches, or other similar damage to the front element, would be wise to keep a weak UV filter on the lens merely to "sacrifice" it in the event of disaster, instead of the front lens element. Neither my work, nor my pleasure shooting, fall into that category, so my 70-200, and all the others in my kit, are usually used "bare-as#ed-naked."


The Canon 9000 is a good flatbed scanner for slides and 35mm negs, one step under the Epson V-700 and V-750. It'll give great value for the money, but not the best you can do at home with a desktop scanner.

 I use a Nikon Super Coolscan 9000 ED for 35mm and 120/220 film and an Epson Perfection V-750 for 4x5 and 8x10 transparencies and B&W negatives. They both do an excellent job fopr their formats. The Epson is not quite as good for the smaller formats as is the Nikon, but the Epson still does a wonderful job for a glass platen based consumer oriented flatbed scanner. I used to own a couple of very expensive drum scanners and used them to scan literally thousands and thousands of film images, and my experience has been that if you learn how to wring the last bit of quality from your film with these two scanners, you can produce digital files that are clearly just a fraction less accurate than with the drum scanners, especially so with the Nikon. If the Epson had a true and precise manual or auto focus feature, it would be even closer to the Nikon quality for smaller formats as well.

For some hard to pin down reason, I go back and forth with scanning software between VueScan, Nikon Scan and Silverfast, which I have installed on several computers with different enabling OS's, any which of one I can attach to and use the two scanners with. I tend to mostly use the Nikon Scan with the 9000 on an old 32bit Vista machine and VueScan on either that or one of my 64bit Win7 machines for the Epson. I never did warm up to Silverfast, despite its potentially deeper profiling options. So, I use it every once in a while to refresh my memory, but it doesn't seem to actually lead to a better scan than the other two, if I am careful and work with a well profiled monitor.

Well, that's what I use, if it helps.

Nikon stopped making their last two models, the 9000 (35mm and 120) and 5000 (35mm only) scannners, many years ago. Whether or not you can still pick up a good and clean Nikon 9000 or 8000 anymore at other than wildly exorbitant prices, I don't know. I've seen near new or "kind of new" 9000's go for as much as $5,000.00 or even more on Ebay and none (in decent condition) that go for less than about $2,000.00. The Epson V-750 and its slightly less expensive stablemate, the V-700 (the only differences are in the supplied accessories and better lenses in the 750) are still available, but who knows for how long? I'd try to buy one now, if I already didn't have one. As for getting a new Chinese slide scanner like the Plustek, or trying to snag a used Nikon 4000 or 5000, or a later model Minolta, it's a matter of the slightly better quality results of the used machines versus the convenience, warantee, modern software compatibility and the almost-as-good quality of the various Chinese models available today. The quality differences between them are mainly in the general precision of build, the whole lighting path, the optics and the electronics, with the stepper motors probably being about the same.

For a wild card, there's always the possibility of the getting one of the Hasselblad Flextight mock "drum scanners" (actually a very high quality CCD slide scanner, some of which take tranny's as big as 4x5) new for about $25,000.00 or more or taking a chance on a genuine good quality drum scanner. I'm not sure if any company any longer manufactures a real photomultiplier tube drum scanner, but if they do, it would cost a ridiculous amount of money and have gigantically expensive and hard to operate software limited to a very narrow choice of computer OS. A used one, being much cheaper, would be a better choice, but the same software incompatibility problems for those are much much worse, and the chance that the scanner is still in pristine condition is remote.

That's about it.


Portrait / Re: Food pics - help required
« on: December 17, 2012, 04:15:38 PM »
I have often done all the things you are tasked to do as a working professional, so I do know quite a bit about it. Other than advising your friend to hire a really competent professional and then being at the shoot yourself to observe and learn for a possible second opportunity, there is very little you can do to help create consistently first class pictures for your friend, unless you spend about six months practicing first. As others have suggested, your request covers such a broad range of subject matter - interiors, people and/or people with food, and food itself - that giving you any specific advice is really either a "fool's errand" or a full-time job.

As to cameras and lenses, you already have whatever you need if you would be just as creative as you need to be. Hey, just look through that little viewfinder thingy in the back of the camera and observe. Does it look right? Then it is. Lighting is what you need most and need to, above all, learn.

Instead, in an effort to be helpful, I will give you the same advice which served me so well over 30 years ago when the very talented pro I occasionally assisted for gave it to me. Buy, or preferably rent, yourself some very cheap "hot lights" - two or three tungsten halogen powered focusing floods or broad lights (i.e., TotaLights or Mole or Arri true focusing floods or "nook" or broadlights) in the 500 watt range and a couple of small (200 watts) Fresnel lensed focusing spots (sometimes called "midgets" in the industry). You'll need some barndoors for the true floods and perhaps a snoot or two for the spots. For most non-quick-melting food subjects, these lights, plus some B&W foamcore, some c stands, arms with gripheads, a mini boom, clothespins, A-clamps and Mafer clamps and some gaffer tape, a sheet or two of diffusion plastic, maybe a few colored lighting gels, plus 5 or 6 sandbags, will be all you need to do such a job properly. Generally, use reflected (off foamcores or ceilings/walls) or diffused (through plastic sheeting) light for soft lighting effects, the harder direct lighting mostly with the small Fresnel's. Most inexperienced amateurs would wonder if my suggestion sounds so "old school" as to be stupid. Why hotlights when you can also do such a job with flash which seems so much more "modern" and high-tech? Well, there are lots of reasons:
1) The ambient lighting in most quality restaurants is primarily tungsten (for now - until the EPA succeeds in ruining even our nights out to dinner), so that you will have a near color-match balance between your photo lights and the ambient background lighting. Life is simpler this way.
2) You can see exactly what your picture will look like (except for contrast/DR issues) with your own eyes and very quickly adjust and change your lighting until it simply looks good; flash modeling lights are never as effective at previewing your actual pictures for many technical reasons. This concept is true for both the food and the restaurant interiors.
3) Flash (except for truly ridiculously expensive - and not quite as "accurate" - Fresnel-lensed flash units)  and other economically feasible lighting sources, like controlled photo fluorescents, just can't duplicate the control and effectiveness of a simple, cheap 200 watt Mole midget Fresnel spot, which makes it possible to make your food go from OK to great looking when you learn how to use it with precision and subtlety.
4) If, when taking your people shots, you don't have enough "shutter speed" with your tungsten, you can add a little supplemental pop to the people with a simple tungsten gelled potable flash unit, which, along with today's higher ISO possibilities, makes this use quite effective.
5) Once you know how best to light things with your tungsten experience, you can later use that knowledge with the harder to use (for this subject matter) flash lighting that you see so often. Or maybe just stick with tungsten. Whatever suits you best.

Last, per what you said in your OP, you don't always need very great depth of field in your shots, especially in your food shots, as, for the past 15 years or so, very narrow depth of field has been the more usual approach, perhaps even originally created out of necessity, but nonetheless still the current norm. Think small. Think mainly out-of-focus.

I hope all this advice helps, but I still think you ought to have your friend hire an experienced and talented pro the first time.


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