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Messages - ereka

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EOS Bodies / Re: Selling 5D mk ll. Reasonable price?
« on: February 27, 2012, 01:25:48 AM »
A little too close to the new price for me. I might be tempted at around $1200 though  :P

Lenses / Re: Lens recommendations for fashion photography (catwalk)
« on: February 26, 2012, 06:37:46 AM »
Having said that, on a newer body e.g. 5DMkII with better high ISO performance, I guess f/4 or f/5.6 would have been easily achievable. There again, that might have resulted in too much depth of field to separate the models sufficiently from the background?

Indeed, looking at these shots it's very close quarters and a small dof is called for. The fashion shows I had in mind leave more than 1m between the model and the audience in the background :-p ... and concerning iso noise, this is of course a moving target. Do all shots get automatically rejected when they show the slightest trace of grain?

I think 'slightest trace' is an understatement with the 1DMkII (i.e. without some fairly aggressive noise reduction in post and even then there's the danger of losing detail and making the images too soft; also it takes time). Have you tried using ISO 1600 or 3200 on the 1DMkII?  :-\ I find that ISO 800 is manageable but anything more is a bit of a struggle.

Lenses / Re: Lens recommendations for fashion photography (catwalk)
« on: February 26, 2012, 05:27:52 AM »
I really would like to know this one: Everybody seems to be using a 2.8 zoom - but if you look at your (lightroom or whatever) stats, at which aperture and zoom range where the pictures shot that got you anywhere at the end of the day? I am wondering if a f4 or even f5.6 zoom or a fixed prime would be ok too for these occasions.

I can't comment for anyone else, but for these particular fashion shows I was shooting permanently on f/2.8 at ISO 800 (the highest I can really get away with on the 1DMkII) to maintain fast enough shutter speeds to keep the images sharp.

Three of the resulting pictures have just been published which I'm pretty sure wouldn't have happened if I hadn't had f/2.8 available i.e. either I wouldn't have got the shots at all or they just wouldn't have been sharp enough.

Having said that, on a newer body e.g. 5DMkII with better high ISO performance, I guess f/4 or f/5.6 would have been easily achievable. There again, that might have resulted in too much depth of field to separate the models sufficiently from the background?

Regarding zoom versus prime, as I only have one camera body at the moment I'd have been struggling to frame both full length and mid-length shots without a zoom and even if I had two bodies, I suspect it would have taken way too long to put down one body and pick up the other with the rate the models were racing down the catwalk and also impractical due to the sheer number of other photographers crammed into a small area at the end of the runway.

With 'only' 8mp available to me, cropping full length shots to mid-length and resizing them by interpolation might not produce sufficient sharp detail in the clothing? With more mp I guess that wouldn't be so much of a problem.

Flash would be another option, but from my limited experience that isn't ideal when there are so many other photographers shooting at the same time. Actually, there were plenty of photographers using flash and I have to say it ruined a good number of my shots due to gross overexposure.

At the end of the day, you work with the equipment you have with you in the circumstances in which you find yourself (which you can't always predict with absolute certainty). Having f/2.8 available just adds some flexibility in the options available to you, so I'd rather have it than be without it.

Lenses / Re: Lens recommendations for fashion photography (catwalk)
« on: February 24, 2012, 02:29:55 AM »
For what it's worth, I think you did a really good job. You've certainly got some fantastic shots to line your folio with! As for the "tool" I'd like to think I'd have served him nuts to go with his drink but don't know exactly what I'd do in that situation. Looks like you played it about right though as your got good shots and didn't get arrested! ;)

I do think I'd have to deal with him though, in one manner or another. Can't stand folks like that!

Thank you - I just wish they weren't so noisy, the venue had been better and I had a better shooting position (it was as much as I could do do hold the camera steady in the circumstances, let alone frame the shots properly, but I guess it does prove the effectiveness of the IS on the 70-200mm f/2.8L IS MkII as virtually all the shots ended up pretty sharp). I definitely think I'd have been seriously struggling without the IS on that lens!

I've been looking at some of the official London Fashion Week venues appearing on TV news recently with envy. They seem to have taken the photography aspects of the shows into account when designing the catwalks e.g. a large clean plain background in place behind the models when they step onto the runway and good bright even lighting, making it almost like shooting high fashion in a studio. 

Regarding the noise in the images, even at 800 ISO, the minimum I could get away with on this occasion, it really is very noticeable on the 1D MkII prior to noise reduction in post production. If it weren't for the "high" ISO noise issue with the camera, I don't think I'd feel such a strong need to replace it, but I look at the (alleged) high ISO performance of newer cameras and can't help wondering how the images would look e.g. from a 5D MkII or 1Dx.

Having said all that, I was sent an image recently, by a London portrait studio, for retouching and I wasn't really that impressed. It wasn't until I looked at the exif data that I realised it was shot on a 5D MkII. It didn't look nearly as good as files from my 1D MkII. Having said that, the shadows were badly clipped, so I guess poor shooting technique probably had a lot to do with it.

Yes, I agree ... I'd have loved to have taken issue with the rude fellow who hassled and threatened me. I held back mainly because I didn't want to become involved in a fight and be thrown out myself, especially after having travelled so far. Also, it wouldn't have been fair on everyone else who'd made the effort to attend or on the organisers and designers who had a vested interest in the success of the show.  Another consideration in my mind though was that it was my first time photographing a catwalk show and to be fair, it's quite possible that I was in the wrong. I still don't know exactly what it was because the fellow wouldn't tell me. When I asked him (as politely as I could) he just glared at me like I was an idiot and said I was "messing with his money" and he knew the game I was playing. Well, he knew better than I did and I still don't have the slightest clue what he was on about! I don't think there was any justification for his threatening behaviour though, especially as I was so willing to compromise. I'd have responded much better to a polite "please don't do that (whatever it was) because its ruining my shots". It could have been that I was standing too close and cramping his movement, although all the photographers were really in the same boat so I don't know why he should feel so special and he didn't offer any explanation e.g. "I'm the official photographer and the designers are relying on me". It could have been that I was shooting rapid bursts of around 6 to 12 frames at 9 fps when the models stepped out onto the runway and that was a little loud in his left ear and he found it annoying or distracting, but why not just say so. Most of the advice I received before the shows seemed to point to continous shooting with no flash being the way to go, so that's what I did. Much to my surprise though, most people seemed to be using flash and single shot. 

Finally, I've had the opportunity now to look at the websites of a few of the other photographers who attended the shows and on that basis it appears my results are somewhere in the middle - not the best by a long stretch but by no means the worst, so I guess I didn't do too badly for a first attempt :)

Lenses / Re: Lens recommendations for fashion photography (catwalk)
« on: February 21, 2012, 08:17:49 AM »
damn someone really said that? what a tool anyway looks like you got some good shots,
backgrounds are a bit distracting, would have been good to blur them even more but as you said you were already at f2.8, Your shooting angle was also quite high, you must be reasonably tall, I would have sat on the floor and shot from a low angle to do two things
1) get less background distraction and
2) make the models look more imposing and dominant
glad the back button worked well with the ai servo it's nice and reliable on the 1D series

I would guess the guys using flash would have more killed shots due to all the other flash and flashes recycling, but i looked pretty well lit and the 1D can handle iso 800 easy.

so would you do it again?

Thanks for the critique. It's all new to me, this catwalk photography and it was a good learning experience. I can see that I'm at the bottom of a very steep learning curve! The venue didn't seem great, but it's the only one I've shot at so I can't really compare. I was actually standing on a chair behind around 30 or 40 other photographers for the Yes London and John Peter shows, which was the only way I could get any sort of look in. I didn't want to go anywhere near the aggressive fellow again! He had plonked himself smack bang in the middle of the runway at the front so if I'd sat at the front I'd have been right in his eyeline - goodness knows what stick he'd have given me then! I thought it better to stay well clear and out of eye and earshot! Not only that, but because of the low ceiling I'd have got that in the shots, which would have been an even worse distraction in the images? It wasn't a pretty ceiling - just polystyrene ceiling tiles with a smattering of lights and smoke alarms. I could easily cut the models out and put them on a different background, but that sort of defeats the object of shooting at a live fashion show? ISO 800 isn't great on my camera (don't know if it's typical of the 1D Mk II but it's pretty noisy at ISO 800 and the images I posted have all had quite strong noise reduction applied in a batch via Topaz DeNoise). Looking at the files, I think they'd benefit from some individual attention, but its all very time consuming and I haven't caught up on my last shoot yet! I need a more efficient workflow. Would I do it again? Probably, given the opportunity. I see it as a challenge now!!!

Lenses / Re: Lens recommendations for fashion photography (catwalk)
« on: February 21, 2012, 03:05:14 AM »
Well, I went along in the end and here are the results if anyone is interested:

* 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II lens on a 1D Mk II

* No flash (but almost everyone else used flash, ruining a good proportion of my shots it has to be said)

* Lighting was mixed and white balance ended up at around 2650 Kelvin (going by grey card)

* I had to shoot on ISO 800 and f/2.8 to achieve shutter speeds between around 1/250th and 1/500th sec

* Back button focus on A1 servo worked really well and the vast majority of the images ended up pretty sharp (I haven't applied any additional sharpening to the images in the galleries on my website, other than the standard capture sharpening when converting from RAW using CS5)

Apart from one photographer who called me a "bl%&^ amateur" and threatened to smash my equipment and throw me out, it was a good experience and I'm glad I went.

Thank you to everyone who offered me advice and the benefit of their experience, all of which helped enormously on the day. Constructive criticism on the results will be very welcome if anyone has the time and inclination. Apologies if this is in the wrong forum.

Lenses / Re: Lens recommendations for fashion photography (catwalk)
« on: February 15, 2012, 04:24:52 AM »
nice low ceiling to bounce flash, the models look good. should be able to get some decent shots for a portfolio
just make a trip of it with your wife
with all the competition you are going to need the 1D mk2 fast burst rate
get yourself a yongnuo external battery pack to help boost your flash cycle time so it can keep up
do you have 2 flashes you may overheat one and need to swap it over to let it cool down.
go for it

I'm not sure whether flash will be allowed or advisable - with well over 50 photographers in attendance, would flash not dazzle the other photographers and p*** them off??? I am erring on the side of going though, just for the experience and I'm sure my wife will enjoy the show anyway, so I'll notch up a few brownie points there hopefully  :)

I've already had a go at the back button focussing technique, photographing birds of prey in flight - I should think it's probably a little easier keeping focus on a catwalk model but we'll see!

One thing I haven't tried is zooming whilst in A1 servo mode - how easy or difficult is it to zoom whilst maintaining focus? It seems like yet another skill to practise i.e. holding down the * button to track focus, zooming out at the same time whilst the models walk towards the camera and also controlling the shutter release button for short critically timed bursts - quite a juggling act I suspect!

Lenses / Re: Lens recommendations for fashion photography (catwalk)
« on: February 14, 2012, 12:34:00 PM »
I think it all sounds very dubious. It might be fun, and you might even get some decent photos for your portfolio (the idea of payment seems completely nonexistent to me), which might be handy if this is the industry you're trying to break into.

All in all, you don't sound sure and I think the travel & accommodation money could be better spent.

Maybe I'm just getting cold feet, although if I were convinced that it would be worth my while I'd have no hesitation in biting the bullet and giving it a go! I guess another way to look at it is ... what have I really got to lose? Not long after St Valentine's Day and my wife gets to stay in a 5* hotel in Central London and see a couple of fashion shows (she loves fashion)! I'm trying hard to convince myself here!  :-[

Lenses / Re: Lens recommendations for fashion photography (catwalk)
« on: February 14, 2012, 09:17:16 AM »
I've just been sent a link to a video of last year's show:

Looks like a pretty low key affair to me and it's not even a proper catwalk? What do you think - what should I do?

Apparently there a way MORE THAN 50 photographers going to be crammed in now and there's going to be a VIP party in a club afterwards with "networking opportunities".

I'm in a real dilemme as to whether it's going to be worth the effort.

Lenses / Re: Lens recommendations for fashion photography (catwalk)
« on: February 14, 2012, 07:25:14 AM »
... interested to see some of the shots if you go through with it

Me too!  :o

Your probably right that it would be good experience and an opportunity to portfolio build, but I can't help thinking that with 50 or more "official" photographers attending I might not get a shooting spot any better than Joe Bloggs in the general audience. Also, I've been pressing for information about the lighting but keep on getting fobbed off, which leads me to believe there's a distinct possibility that this will be an amateurish effort on a shoestring budget and unlikely to produce portfolio worthy images. There will be other fashion shows more local to me I'm sure, for me to cut my teeth on. There again, it wouldn't be London so probably wouldn't look quite so good on my CV! I'm not sure whether I'm trying to talk myself into it or out of it.

Lenses / Re: Lens recommendations for fashion photography (catwalk)
« on: February 13, 2012, 04:11:20 AM »
Thanks for all the advice guys! However, I'm having serious second thoughts as to whether to go to the show at all now, after having just found out that the designers involved have no less than 50 (yes that's FIFTY ... five zero) photographers lined up to shoot for no pay. Also, all the models and makeup artists are working for free. The carrot that is being dangled is possible recognition as a model/MUA/photographer on Brazil and/or Italy and a remote possibility that the designers might purchase some of the very best images (although no mention of how much they'd be prepared to pay). Basically, I answered a casting call on a talent site, for photographers to shoot two OFF SCHEDULE fashion shows during London Fashion Week and was thrilled to receive a reply saying that the designers would love me to shoot for them. I felt honoured and privileged i.e. until I found out how many photographers they'd apparently sent the same reply to. Is this normal practice amongst designers at fashion shows i.e. to recruit 50 photographers and I don't know how many models and makeup artists to work for no pay or are they just trying to do things on the cheap? If you are in the know about these things, I'd really appreciate your opinion as to whether you think this is a genuine opportunity for a newbie photographer to the fashion scene to gain experience, possibly gain recognition and possibly sell some of the images to the designers ... or is it just the designers trying to do things on the cheap and lining up 50 photographers to make their show look bigger and more important than it really is? In short, are we all (models. makeup artists and photographers alike) being conned and exploited as gullible wannabes? Given that as the shows are late evening time and I'll not only have to foot the bill for my travel to London and overnight accommodation and meals in London I reckon I'll be out of pocket to the tune of a few hundred pounds. I'm not really stupid enough to believe that I'll be "spotted" or that I'll sell any of my pictures to the designers, but would it be worth going just for the experience alone? I'd really appreciate some advice from anyone who has inside knowledge of the fashion industry or has experienced a similar scenario.

EOS Bodies / Re: 1D X high res samples just appeared
« on: February 07, 2012, 06:37:39 AM »
Check the second protrait's background noise, not as good as I expected.
That's shot at 1600 ISO. If that's straight from the camera it's pretty good. If shot in RAW that noise is gone in a heartbeat with minimal noise reduction added. I think it's pretty good.

I didn't notice any noise when viewing the image at 100%. Only when mentioned did I magnify to 200% and then you can see some noise. I think that's what they call 'pixel peeping'? For 1600 ISO (assuming it hasn't undergone any post processing to reduce noise) it seems pretty darn good to me! It would be interesting to see an equivalent image shot with the new D800.

Third Party Manufacturers / Re: D800 - Sample Photos
« on: February 07, 2012, 05:50:02 AM »
This is from the viewpoint of someone who photographs mainly portraits. Landscape shooters, for example, might have a very different take on it. Maybe my eyes are going wonky with old age, but I've taken a quick look at the D800/D800E portrait samples and to be honest can't see any useful improvement in detail over and above my 8mp 1DMkII. Even if there is detail that I'm missing, all the emphasis in portrait retouching seems to be on blurring or 'smoothing' the skin so why would we need more detail there? Anyway, in the real (non pixel-peeping) world, do portrait or wedding clients usually examine their pictures through a loupe? There might be other advantages to the D800 (e.g. the face recognition feature that allows automatic exposure of the face in backlit situations with no need for the photographer to think about exposure compensation seems quite convenient for fast moving situations when you don't really have time to think, whenever those might be) but for pure resolution seems like overkill. Also, as someone else has pointed out, how does it perform in low light situations e.g. weddings? Possibly not a wedding photographer's dream camera? The 1Dx is looking more attractive by the minute. Canon had better hurry up if it's going to announce a 5DMkIII/5Dx though, before a lot of rich amateur/semi-pro camera users jump ship? Just a thought.

Canon General / Re: Is it worth *really* studying photography?
« on: February 06, 2012, 04:32:10 AM »
Going off at a slight tangent, what about these various 'professional bodies' where you pay an annual fee and you can get mentors and submit work to qualify for 'professional status' of sorts. I'm thing of the SWWP, BIPP and other 'pro' bodies, any thoughts on these?

That's the first time I have heard of these 'professional bodies'. Are they only based in the US? Or do they also operate online.

SWPP = Society of Wedding & Portrait Photographers
BIPP = British Institute of Professional Photography

Both are UK based.

Software & Accessories / RAW processing parameters
« on: February 06, 2012, 03:57:15 AM »
This is closely linked with my previous post, but I thought it might keep things clearer not to compound the two issues. My first post was about workflow as such. This post is about what parameters to use (or not to use) in ACR when developing the RAW files.

If you've read my previous post, you'll be gaining the impression that I tend to be a creature of habit. True to a point, but I'm also curious and very open to persuasion that there is a different and/or better way to go about things. Also, I'll freely admit that I'm on a steep learning curve that has started to acclerate recently since I retired from the 'day job' and have more time to devote to photography :)

I'm aware that I've probably developed (excuse the pun) a lot of bad habits over the years when it comes to workflow and post processing of images. Due to my increasing work rate recently, I've also become painfully aware that I need to develop more efficient methods of working if I'm to have any remote chance of keeping up with client demands for finished work within tight deadlines.

OK, so I shoot mainly people using a 1DMkII and then use ACR via Photoshop CS5.5 to develop the RAW files. Custom white balance set in camera. Colour rendition chart used to create custom camera profile. Apply camera profile to RAW files, double check white balance, synchronise all files for camera profile and white balance and then adjust individual files further as follows:

1) I note that by default the files are sharpened - I tend to turn this off and sharpen later in CS5.5

2) I note that by default medium contrast is applied - I tend to leave this on and even apply further 'linear contrast' at around 66% opacity in an adjustment layer in CS5.5 to most files; I guess this is just personal taste for contrasty files but I sometimes wonder whether I overdo the contrast as a matter of habit?

3) I tend to set the blacks to zero to maintain shadow detail but use the recovery slider to recover blown highlights (although these are mostly in the red channel only and I sometimes wonder whether I overdo the recovery - how important really is it to ensure that the red channel highlights are reading less than 255?)

4) I tend to leave brightness and contrast sliders on their default 50 and 25 respectively, leave clarity alone for portrait shots or even reduce it slightly and increase vibrance until colour saturation e.g. of clothing is pleasing to my eye without affecting skin tones too much.

I could go on, but I think these are the main adjustments I'm looking for opinions on. The main questions in my mind are:

Are there any advantages to sharpening in ACR or am I right to turn sharpening off at this stage?

Am I applying too much contrast routinely (medium contrast curve and default 25 setting in ACR, with further linear contrast added in CS5.5)?

Is there any advantage to adjusting blacks in ACR or am I right always to set this to zero?

Am I overdoing the recovery of blown highlights, which are almost always exclusively in the red channel?

I'll be really interested to hear other people's take on all this (if you've had the patience to read this far!)

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