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Messages - TrumpetPower!

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EOS Bodies - For Stills / Re: Wrong colors with my 5D MKIII?
« on: December 15, 2012, 04:04:34 PM »
Save your money on the overpriced grey balance targets and get yourself a piece of styrofoam instead. Styrofoam has an almost perfectly flat spectral reflectance, better than all the commercial targets except the tiny out-of-production $100+ BabelColor target, and it's a lighter shade meaning less noise in your white balance patch.

Styrofoam coffee cups are awesome. Put one in a scene with multiple light sources and you can sample the light from any direction. Fit it over your lens and you'll get an average of the light of the entire scene, similar but superior to those lens cap doohickeys. If you want something big and flat and cheap, get a styrofoam beer cooler, or just scavenge some packing material.

Another good option is Tyvek. It's a bit on the glossy side so you have to watch out for reflections, but it's spectrally almost as good as the BabelColor target. I've got a piece in the back of my ColorChecker Passport. You can find Tyvek envelopes at your local office supply store.

The best you're going to get photographically on a budget is PTFE (Teflon) thread seal tape, but it's fragile and not very big and you have to fold it over a bunch of times because it's translucent. But, if you're making your own target for color profiling, you'll want to include a patch.

And stay away from paper as a white balance target! Except for some (but not all) expensive fine art papers, the substrate is yellow and fluorescent dyes are added to make it look bright white.

The gold standard is Spectralon, but a Spectralon target will set you back as much as a camera body....



It's very likely that the lights in the arena are flickering and that you'll need a slower shutter speed to catch the whole cycle of flickering. Such is the case with a lot of indoor stadium lighting.

If you want to do it right, you'll need to install radio-triggered flashes in the overhead rafters. Assuming that's not an option, just use a lower shutter.

There's also no need for autoexposure indoors like this. The light isn't changing. If you can get there early enough to get a gray card meter reading and white balance from the court itself, lock in both manually. If not, spend the first few minutes fiddling with the exposure and manual white balance until the histogram (if shooting raw) or back-of-camera preview (if shooting JPEG) looks good. Be sure to shoot some bursts and compare shot-to-shot exposure and color...if there're visible changes, it's because the lighting sucks, and your only option is to keep slowing down the shutter.

And, yes...if you let the shutter get too slow, you'll get objectionable motion blur. That's why the proper answer is high-powered flashes. (And you can actually see such flashes regularly going off on TV broadcasts.)



Portrait / Re: Food pics - help required
« on: December 14, 2012, 10:47:37 AM »
Food photography is a specialized art form, and it's as much sculpture as it is photography. Lots of things that taste great on food just don't look at all right on camera -- and that's before you get into things that melt, wilt, or discolor after just a minute or so.

I think the best advice I could offer to you would be to do a lot of experimentation to get the shot staged just the way you want it, then throw away that dish (or hand it to your starving assistant to more properly dispose of) and have the chef plop down a freshly-prepared replacement and immediately press the shutter.

Aside from that, all the usual photographic stuff applies.

As always, it's all about the light, and you're likely going to want something big and directional, like a softbox or a parabolic umbrella, and probably something smaller (bare reflector or reflector with honeycomb grid or snoot or barn doors) for some specular interest. Maybe some rim lighting, too. You can fake a lot with an off-camera hotshoe flash and a reflector if you have to and you're patient and you can tolerate higher ISO settings.

And, of course, pay attention to perspective and depth of field and what's in your background and all the rest. Ideal would be either the 45 or 90 TS-E, but you should be good with what you've got. Reach first for the macro and only go to the others if it doesn't cut the mustard.

Good luck!



Lenses / Re: Canon EF 50 f/1.4 IS in 2013 [CR2]
« on: December 12, 2012, 10:26:33 PM »
So, a bit of math.

w/o IS: 1/60s @ f/1.4 @ ISO 6400 = EV 1 => "Distant view of lighted skyline."

w/ IS: 1/4s @ f/1.4 @ ISO 6400 = EV -3 => "Night, away from city lights, subject under full moon."

@ ISO 25,600 = EV -5 => "Night, away from city lights, subject under crescent moon."

1/2s @ f/1.4 @ ISO 25,600 = EV -6 => "Night, away from city lights, subject under starlight only."

So, yes. With this, if you braced yourself well, you actually could take a handheld landscape picture of the Grand Canyon at midnight on a clear moonless night and have it be as well exposed as one under the noonday Sun. It'll be a bit noisy if you pixel peep, but an 8" x 10" print will be stunning. Indeed, you might even wind up overexposing the Milky Way if you're not careful!

(And, of course, you'll need not have anything in the foreground due to the shallow depth of field.)

God damn.


Lighting / Re: Help with choosing a soft box
« on: December 09, 2012, 02:53:07 PM »
To TrumpetPower:

Love the shot. The reference to "red 580EXii" implies that the shot was originally intended to be seen in color, right? So, looking closely at the saw body and blade I have to guess: the 580 was attached to the motor body of the saw but set so that the light angled back at the bottom of the blade. A grid or snoot might have been attached. Without the color cue it's hard to know how much red light was cast forward toward the viewer.

Client? Self-assigned? Tell us about the idea you were asked [asked yourself] to create.

I love doing setups like this!


Thanks, Jonathan.

The artist is Dad, Gary Goren, and the portrait is at least a publicity shot and will likely also make an appearance in a coffee table book of his art that I'm working on. I'll attach a shot of one of his works, the first one that's actually going to go in the book, that I finally was able to get this past week.

The hotshoe flash was mounted to a light stand and positioned just on the other side of (and hidden by) the saw's swivel post on the left side of the frame. No grid or snoot; just a piece of red gel taped over the head.

I had a vague thought of using the red as a bit of mood lighting in addition to its ability to freeze the motion of the saw blade, but it was much more useful to be able to selectively adjust the exposure of that part of the scene in post using the channel mixer in Adobe Camera Raw.



Lenses / Re: New Tilt-Shift Lenses in 2013 [CR2]
« on: December 08, 2012, 10:29:15 AM »

...but will I be able to afford...?


Lighting / Re: Help with choosing a soft box
« on: December 07, 2012, 06:20:11 PM »
I'm wondering if anyone has had experience using the Einstein with Speedlights.  I'm thinking I will either need to use a PC sync cord for the Einstein and RF wireless for the Speedlights.  I'd love a shoot-through wireless solution which I can mount on my camera which controls the Einstein and then have the 600EX or ST-E3 mounted on top.   Has anyone attempted that?

In the attached shot, I used three lights.

The main light on the artist was an Einstein with a 7" reflector and a honeycomb grid, probably 20°.

I had a SoLux halogen task lamp aimed at his hands and used a slow enough shutter to get a bit of blur in the saw.

And I had a 580 EX II with a red gel lighting the saw blade from behind to (almost) stop its motion.

The Einstein was triggered with its plug-in radio receiver.

The 580 EX II was triggered with one of the same CyberSync receivers that you would use for an Alien Bees light, except (of course) I used the PC connection rather than the phone jack.



EOS Bodies / Re: Your thoughts on M-RAW vs RAW in 1DX vs 5D3
« on: December 07, 2012, 05:23:13 PM »
Unless you have a specific workflow-related reason to *NOT* shoot full RAW, there's no reason to shoot anything else.

If you're on assignment for somebody and said somebody has a specific setting, you obviously use that, no matter how silly it might seem to you. I've heard that Sports Illustrated only wants JPEGs, but I wouldn't even bet a cup of coffee that that's the case.

If your shots are going straight to the Web and nowhere else without any editing other than culling, you should shoot sRGB JPEG at your camera's lowest resolution (which will still be overkill). You should also use whatever picture style, sharpening, white balance, etc., settings that produce the results you want, and you should do whatever you need to to the exposure so that it looks good on the back of the camera.

Both cameras have ridiculously deep buffers even with full-resolution RAW...but, if you do happen to be in a situation where you need even more, shooting M-RAW or JPEG will practically let you fill up the card before the buffer fills up.

But for 95% of photographic situations where it makes sense to use one of these cameras in the first place, you should be shooting full RAW. Storage and processing power are cheap. Having to throw away that rare extra-special shot because you didn't nail the exposure or you can't enlarge it enough or whatever will cost far more than you might ever save by not spending another $200 on CF cards or hard disks.



Lighting / Re: Help with choosing a soft box
« on: December 06, 2012, 10:52:50 PM »
Considering you're going to be going through the hassle of setting up softboxes on stands, I would strongly recommend that you should go with a studio flash setup instead of a hotshoe flash. You'll get a hell of a lot more bang for your buck.

Hotshoe flashes are great for what they're designed to do, which is to be something that you can mount on top of the camera. But you pay a premium for that type of miniaturization, in terms of both performance and price.

A Paul C. Buff Alien Bees B800 costs about as much as that 430 EX II, and it puts out so much more light that it's not even funny. The Buff Einstein flash, their flagship model, is cheaper than the 580 EX II and is ludicrously far superior in every way except that you can't stick it on top of your camera.

Don't fret too much if you're going to be shooting at locations without power. There are battery packs for most studio flashes. Buff sells the Vagabond which is good for hundreds, if not thousands, of pops with the type of setup you're describing on a single charge.

I'll also note that softboxes only work their magic when they're so close to the subject that you're having trouble figuring out how to shoot around them. It's a geometry thing...a 2' softbox is going to have to be no more than 2' away from the subject to be truly effective, preferably less, and it's not going to light up more than the person's face. a 2' softbox at the photographer's position of a 10' working distance isn't going to be significantly different from on-camera flash. A 5' softbox 5' away from the subject is going to be as effective as a 2' softbox 2' away, but it'll light up the whole person...and you can put that 5' softbox 3' away and get some amazing soft and even light wrapping all the way 'round your subject.

Even better?

Buff sells parabolic reflectors...basically high-tech umbrellas. And they go from 4' across to over 7' across, and they make diffusers for them that make the light very similar to a softbox....



Contests / Re: Gura Gear Giveaway!
« on: December 06, 2012, 07:33:19 PM »
Sure -- sign me up. I'd love to win!

...not that I've every won anything in my life....


EOS Bodies - For Stills / Re: Picture Styles: 5D Mark III
« on: December 01, 2012, 10:30:20 AM »
Thanks for the advice, but I tried all of that in ample light with live view (as Neuro suggested) with varying settings and it still didn't improve.

Then sending it back was the right decision. Here's hoping the next one delivers!


EOS Bodies - For Stills / Re: Picture Styles: 5D Mark III
« on: November 28, 2012, 10:36:50 PM »
Here is a 100% crop of the Reikan Focal target at 24mm, about 4.5 feet away using a tripod and shutter release in silent mode, faithful picture style (no added sharpening):
ISO 100     f/11     1/25 sec.

Before you send it back, try these things:

* Use live view autofocus.
* Put a lot more light onto the scene. Your shutter is slow enough that a less-than-ideal tripod could easily be causing the softness, and you might even be seeing some mirror slap. Shoot outdoors in bright sunlight.
* Use mirror lockup (or shoot in live view, same thing).
* Make several exposures with the exact same setup (just keep clicking the shutter) and see if sharpness is differing between them.

You may have a bad lens, but right now I'm personally suspecting less-than-optimal technique.



EOS Bodies / Re: 1DX or 5D Mark III with two lenses
« on: November 27, 2012, 09:33:30 AM »
I don't think you'll get that much more out of the 50L than the 1.4. On the other hand, you're missing out on good glass at the wide end.

While the 1DX is a superlative camera, there actually are situations where the 5DIII is the better choice even if money is no object. The 5DIII has an ultra-low-noise shutter mode that, by itself, makes it a far superior choice for wedding photography as well as anything else where silence is demanded, expected, or appreciated; in those situations, there isn't anything that the 1DX actually does better than the 5DIII, making the 5DIII the clear winner.

Similarly, the 5DIII is smaller and lighter. Take off the grip, stick a Shorty McForty on it, turn on live view, and it basically looks like an advanced P&S and nothing like the monster it really is. It'll even fit in a cargo pants pocket. If you're looking for a party camera on steroids, that's it.

The 5DIII also has a resolution advantage, which is important for focal length-limited work. The 5DIII might be a better camera for birders; it's certainly not a worse camera.

Where the 1DX reigns supreme is for action photography. If you're shooting for Sports Illustrated (or will be pretending you are), you'd be insane not to get it. It also does a bit better in low light shooting (but not hugely).

But, for everything else? The 5DIII is an equal or better choice -- and, make no mistrake: it's also awesome at sports and low light, just not quite as awesome. A decade ago, the 5DIII would have eaten the lunch of every other camera on the sporting green. Sure, the cameras back then had somewhat faster frame rates, but the 5DIII's autofocus means more in-focus shots per second for an overall win.

Hopefully, that's enough to help you make some decisions....



EOS Bodies - For Video / Re: Quick help needed: Manual White Balance
« on: November 26, 2012, 03:13:16 PM »
2. frame entire white paper or gray card (do not care about closing focus requirement since you are in ai servo)

Once again, white paper is almost never actually white and almost always makes for a poor white balance target. Gray cards tend to do better, but even the ones marketed as being for white balancing are overpriced and far from ideal.

Polystyrene / styrofoam (such as the lid of a cheap beer cooler, a foam coffee cup, or packing materials) is far and above the way to go. You have to go to considerable length and expense to do better; even then, polystyrene is at least 95% as good as the stupid-expensive stuff. And, by "stupid-expensive," I mean something that will set you back more than your camera did. And, yes, polystyrene is significantly better than the photographic white balance tools people will try to sell you (except for the BabelColor target).



EOS Bodies - For Video / Re: Quick help needed: Manual White Balance
« on: November 26, 2012, 01:04:25 PM »
I've heard from filmmakers that manual white balance might not be such a good idea for videography. I think it might depend on whether or not you're mixing different scenes, lighting setup, cameras, and the like, along with how much and what type of post-production you'll be doing.

If you do use a manual white balance, you will want to use the same one for the entire production (or at least for portions of the production intended to be visually contiguous) rather than a fresh one for each scene or take. That will take some careful planning, especially if you're using mixed lighting or available light.

And, if you use a manual white balance, you will most emphatically want to use a good target. Avoid plain paper like the plague. Your best bet will be polystyrene, such as the lid of a disposable beer cooler.



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