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Topics - FTb-n

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Lighting / On Camera Flash Diffusers For Fill
« on: January 19, 2015, 01:57:51 PM »
Do you diffuse your flash when using it on camera for fill?

I rarely shoot with on camera flash and would mostly do so for fill.  I'm currently using two different DIY foam diffusers (pictured below).  The short one is used frequently off camera to bounce light off ceilings and walls.  The bigger one gets very little use and was designed for those scenarios when white-ish ceilings and walls aren't available (outdoors or when ceilings are too dark of too high).  Actually, I don't remember when I last used it.

Anyway, I'm discovering the some group shots, such as basketball team photos after a game, might benefit from a little fill. 

I do have the RoundFlash that I've used on occasion.  It's a great ring light, but can get awkward at events when speed is important.

With the introduction of the Fstoppers Flash Disc, I have become more intrigued with alternatives.  Still, when subjects are 7-10 feet away (which is common for me), I wonder about their usefulness when there is nothing around to bounce the flash. 

What do you use -- if anything?

Forgot to post the photos.  And I posted two of the same photo -- oops.

Post Processing / Backup to Blu-ray
« on: January 02, 2015, 02:49:42 AM »
Anyone writing images to Blu-ray discs as part of you backup strategy?  If so, which size disc?

I currently backup to multiple external hard drives.  Previously, before 25+MB RAW images, I also burned images to DVD.  A couple years ago I started burning to 25 GB Blu-ray, but I've fallen behind.  I've also had write issues with some discs failing.  Grouping images to fit 25 GB discs can also be a pain.  It's now cheaper and easier to get another external drive, like the WD My Passport to use as a backup.  But, will a hard drive only strategy be reliable in the long run?

There is something about write-once media without moving parts (like Blu-ray discs) that intuitively seems to be more reliable for long-term storage than moving-platter-based media.  But, I've had issues with burning discs on one drive that can't be read on another (even after finalizing them).  This leaves me with the fear that I could burn a bunch of discs on a drive that might drift out alignment only to find out years later that I can't read them.

I would like to incorporate the cloud, but last year (2014), I accumulated over 33,000 RAW images that consume roughly 950 GB.  A TB/year can of data on the cloud can get expensive quick.

Photography Technique / How do you nail your exposure when shooting sports?
« on: November 01, 2014, 12:52:21 PM »
I often look at exif data of sports shots (when available) and am surprised at how many sport shooters use an auto exposure mode.  Av or Tv seem most common.  It isn't that I expect "real photographers only shoot manual".  It's how they get reliable results from an auto mode that surprises me.  (Or, maybe they don't??)

I've tried Av or manual with Auto ISO and often get wide swings from overexposed to underexposed shots.  If I use partial metering, jersey colors can wildly affect the exposure.  Evaluative or center weighted metering gives me more problems with the background adversely influencing the shot.  So I most often spot meter on faces during warm-up and shoot full manual.  (During the action, spot metering a face then recomposing means lost shots.)

Indoors, some gyms have dark spots, so I try to change the shutter accordingly during play.  Most often, this is based more on my eye than the meter.  When the scene looks darker, I bump the shutter speed, shoot, then chimp the LCD to see if I was close.  But, outdoors, I run into more light swings.  Either cloud cover results in constantly changing light or players move in and out of shadows based on the direction of their play.  Still, I try to note the correct exposure -- or something close -- and change settings when I anticipate play moving into different lighting conditions.

My results are generally close, plus or minus 2/3 stops.  I still get a bunch that may be off a full stop.  But, I'd like to nail the exposure in camera.

How do you nail your exposure when shooting sports?

Post Processing / Portrait-specific post processing software
« on: October 31, 2014, 09:49:54 PM »
Anyone use portrait-specific post processing software that you can recommend -- or warn against purchasing?

I don't have Photoshop and only use Lightroom 5.  For the most part, this has met all my needs.  But, what do you use for portraits of students who have more than a mild amount of adolescent blemish reduction needs?

I often see Portrait Professional ads on these pages (I know that the ads aren't endorsed by CR) with samples that overdo things a bit.  Anyone have experience with this software?

Photography Technique / Getting the right exposure for outdoor sports
« on: October 12, 2014, 02:22:37 PM »
I mostly shoot indoor sports where lighting tends to be consistent and getting the correct exposure is fairly easy.  But, I occasionally shoot soccer and cross country where cloud cover can change the light quickly and players can sometimes be in the sun, sometimes in the shade.  I could use some tips for getting the correct exposure.

For cross country, the courses tend to serpentine around a field so I pick a spot at the beginning, one in the middle, and one at the finish line to get runners from our school.  Keeping the sun in front or to the side of the runner's face is a factor in selecting my vantage points.  My ability to hoof it from one spot to the next before the runners get there is another.

I'm using a 5D3, sometimes a 7D, with a 70-200 f2.8L II.   I've grown leery of Evaluative meter mode because it tends to overcompensate for the sky and it can change wildly.  I most often use spot or partial metering.  I have more comfort in manual mode.  Aperture or shutter priority modes seems to lead to wide swings in exposure.  Jersey colors are not always 18% gray and the meter can often be blown out by the background.

My current technique is to try to get a bunch of test shots before the event with kids facing the sun and away from the sun so I know the range of shutter speeds to use.  F-stop is fixed at 2.8 and I pick an ISO that lets me pick a shutter speed between 1/1,000 and 1/4,000 -- ISO 400 often works.  While shooting, I'm watching the needle and the light on the runners.  I try to judge when the runner's face's appear shaded, then dial down the shutter speed to bump up the exposure.  Generally, I make sure that the needle is in the middle or to the right.  When I can, I glance at the LCD, but there often isn't time.  Sometimes the sun makes it difficult get a good read from the LCD.

My consistency needs help and I often get a bunch of shots that are over-exposed.  Lightroom fixes this, but I'd like to get better at nailing the exposure.  Listening to Scott Kelby talk about the 7D2, it fascinates me that pros typically shoot JPEGs to get their shots to their wire service with minimum delay.  This got me wondering how they nail the exposure since there's less room for error with JPEGs.  I most often shoot RAW.

So, for those shoot outdoor sports, how do you nail the exposure?  What meter modes do you like and do you trust Av, Tv, or Auto ISO?

Software & Accessories / Anyone use 3rd party presets for Lightroom 5?
« on: April 18, 2014, 01:48:31 PM »
I'm looking for ways to streamline my workflow and improve the results that I get from Lightroom 5.  Most of what I shoot are indoor sports (basketball, figure skating) and events (people candids) with a touch of landscapes.

Has anyone had success with third-party presets for Lightroom 5?  Are there any "must have" collections or collections worth considering?

Business of Photography/Videography / How do you insure your gear?
« on: April 03, 2014, 10:03:50 AM »
As a victim of Gear Acquisition Syndrome, my investment has grown significantly over the past few years.  Most of what I shoot is volunteer work for my kids' school and a local figure skating club.  But now, I'm starting to take on private clients on a very occasional basis.  I may be approaching that gray area between hobby and pro when it comes to my home owner's insurance.  So, I'm considering a separate policy that won't be voided should professional work accelerate.

For the pros and semi-pros, how do you insure your gear?

Is PPA membership/insurance worth considering?

Lenses / EF 24-70 f2.8L II Shutter Speeds
« on: April 02, 2014, 04:37:39 PM »
Long ago, before IS lenses, I developed good habits for holding a 35 steady.  I had too, since I was always pushing the limits of ASA 400 Tri-X and using relatively slow shutter speeds for candids.  But, with a DSLR, I've grown quite accustomed to using IS lenses.  For the past two years, the 70-200 f2.8 II has been my most used lens, supplemented by the 24-105 f4 during the past year.  Both are used on 5D3 bodies.

With last week's sales and rebate, I took the plunge and ordered the 24-70 2.8 II.  It arrived today.  So, the first thing that I try is comparing it with the 24-105, both at 70mm and taking shots at a wall calendar -- my makeshift test chart.  To my surprise, I'm not as steady as I thought I was.  With the 24-70, it was a challenge to hold the center focus point steady against intersecting lines on the calendar.  It seemed clear that I've been spoiled by IS.

For hand-held, non-IS shots, I've always adopted the minimum shutter speed = inverse focal length rule of thumb.  At 1/80 second (and 70mm), most test shots were sharp, but it wasn't consistent.  Some shots were blurry.  In contrast, the 24-105 at 70mm and 1/40 with IS on was more consistently sharp.  (To be fair, a few of the sharp images from the 24-70 were sharper than any of those from the 24-105).

Shooting candids and sports with shutter speeds of 1/200 and up was a key motivation for the purchase -- plus, I'm looking forward to its renowned IQ.  But, I have a question.  For those who own this lens, what's your most comfortable hand-held slow shutter speed at 70mm (assuming a sufficiently stable subject)?

Lenses / Do you top your pancake with a filter?
« on: February 27, 2014, 11:27:14 AM »
I use clear Hoya HD filters on all my lenses with large front elements like the 24-105 f4 and the 70-200 f2.8 II.  I also use hoods on these lenses that help keep things away from the filters.

But, I don't use a filter on the old 35 f2.0, which has a relatively small, deeply seated front element.  I've also found that a filter on the old 35 will introduce flare from candles or any small light that reflects off the front element and onto the back side of the filter.

The front element on the 40 isn't as deeply seated and protected as the front element on the 35.  Since I use it as a grab shot lens, it can be somewhat at risk.  Still, the appeal to this lens is it's size and I don't want to add a filter that might invite contact with stuff since I won't be using a hood.  My solution is to use the metal ring from an old rubber lens hood that adds just enough protection to deflect the lens from damaging objects when carrying the camera on my shoulder without a lens cap.

But, I'm curious.  Do any of you use a filter on your 40mm pancakes?

Technical Support / How do you store and archive your images?
« on: February 16, 2013, 02:55:29 AM »
With my XT and various PowerShots, my backup strategy involved a 500 GB external drive and burning DVD's.  With a 60D and 7D, I've had to up the capacity quite a bit.  Now it's two 1.5 TB external drives and burning BluRays (25 GB per disc). 

On the external drives, which I manually mirror, I keep straight-out-of-the camera images in one directory tree and post processed images in another.  I can shoot anywhere from 500-2,000 images per event.  Admittedly, when lighting is reliably even (particularly in color), I shoot JPG.  But, as things get moe challenging light-wise, more likely to need post work, or more important, I'll shoot RAW.  25 MB RAW images add up in a hurry.  Those 1.5 TB drives have nearly 1 TB of photos.

So, as I contemplate another set of 1-2 TB drives, how do you store and archive your images?

EOS Bodies - For Stills / 7D or 5D3 for low light candids?
« on: February 12, 2013, 11:44:02 PM »
All the discussion in this forum about the 5D3 in low light has me intrigued.  I'm particularly interested in a 5D3 w/24-105 f4L IS as an upgrade path for a 7D w/17-55 f2.8 IS.  (For low light candids, I'm often shooting at 1/30 second and find IS to be a must.)

I know that the 5D3 offers greater color depth and that full frame is typically sharper than crop.  I also understand that the 5D3 offers about a 1.3 stop advantage in noise over the 7D.  But, I'm comparing a crop body with a 2.8 lens to the full frame with a 4.0 lens and this noise advantage drops to about 1/3 of a stop.

Now the question.  A 2.8 lens lets in more light than a 4.0, which is more light for the AF system to lock in.  So which system can lock in on focus at lower light -- the 5D3 w/24-105 f4L IS or the 7D w/17-55 f2.8L IS?

EOS Bodies - For Stills / Anybody Tweaking Picture Styles in a 7D?
« on: October 29, 2012, 01:27:05 AM »
Does anyone tweak the Picture Style settings in your 7D?

I shoot primarily sports and candids -- people pics of one sort or another.  Sometimes I'm looking for a little more saturation and detail, a little extra "pop".  My most used lens is the 70-200 f2.8L II with the 17-55 2.8 for close quarters.  These lenses are sharp and shooting wide open certainly adds pop, but things can sometimes be a little flat.

I know that shooting RAW eliminates the need to rely on Picture Style, but I'm not always shooting RAW and, RAW or not, prefer to minimize the need for post work.

So, I'm curious to see what others have learned with tweaking in-camera Picture Styles.  Do you prefer Canon's default settings or have you found ways to improve them?

Lenses / Canon EF 40 f2.8 vs. EF 35 f2.0 on crop body
« on: October 22, 2012, 06:46:21 PM »
For shooting candids at events or sightseeing, I often carry a 7D/70-200 2.8L II and a 60D/17-55 f2.8.  But, there I times when I wish to travel a bit lighter and swap out the 17-55 for a 35 f2.0 -- or carry one body and the 35.  I know the 35 is soft in the corners on a full frame body, but it's quite sharp for my crop bodies.

I must admit, it is hard to do without the 17-55 when I need to cover an event.  But, when I'm shooting only for me, if I'm going to limit myself to a prime, I like the 30-40 range for grab shots.

Now, I'm intrigued by the pancake 40.  It's half the size of my 35, but one stop slower.   But, I'm having trouble justifying the loss of a stop for the savings of about 0.8" in camera/lens depth.  On a 60D or a 7D, does the pancake make that much of a difference over the 35 in the convenience department?

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