Archive for equipment
I would strongly suggest a test run in any space you are considering to see if you really fit the way you want to. Take your camera, lens, lights, and even a model to do a test. I should have done this with the building I purchased. I did not really evaluate how problematic the pocket doors would become. I was too taken with the possibilities of a charming old building.
Get the width.
Make sure your camera room is wide enough to get your lights comfortably off to the side. Unless you have other rooms near by available, you will also have backgrounds to store as well as props to accommodate. As a minimum figure at least fifteen feet. You will be happier with about twenty-five feet or more.
Get the height.
Depending on what kind of studio lights you use, you will want enough ceiling height to be able to get the lights at a 45-degree angle from your subjects. I would suggest nothing less than nine feet do this comfortably.
Get the length.
For my style and lenses I use, I am able to work comfortable in about a thirty foot long camera room.
North window light.
This is a bonus as not all buildings have north windows. If you are designing a studio with north light windows, make them as tall as possible so light can fall down on top of the subject’s head as well. My new window is five foot by five foot and two feet off the ground.
Do some comparisons with other photographers who have north light windows before you start designing.
The walls and ceiling need to be white. You don’t want funny colors bouncing around affecting your subject’s skin tone.
Be sure you have the privacy you need from other tenants interfering with your peace or from you disturbing theirs.
Fortunately we photographers are creative and can make great things happen in most any conditions!
The main light-
Raise your light to a 45-degree angle for more flattering light. Placing the light at the subject’s eye level and too close to the camera makes for flat lighting equivalent to a passport.
Use a reflector for a fill instead of a fill flash. A large silver reflector will do a nicer job and not leave a second, unnatural catch light in the eye or over expose the shadows.
Use a hair light, or kicker light, for separation between the hair and the background. Make sure this is not brighter than your main light. A stop less (depending on hair color) is a good place to start.
Behind the subject-
A background light is a must to create depth in the image. A quality background will come to life with a light a stop less than your main. If you don’t have room directly behind your subject for a flash unit, pump it in from the side. It still looks good.
The right lens-
Use a portrait lens instead of a normal or wide angle for nice compression. I like to shoot between 150mm to 200mm.
Not too sharp-
Use a shallower f-stop to keep the emphasis on the subject’s eyes. Too much background in focus, especially outdoor scenes, detracts from the image being a portrait. I like to use f5.6 or wider.
Meter it right-
Record the correct exposure at the time of capture. Do not rely on “fixing it in post”. This is not only unprofessional but time consuming and detrimental to the file’s quality.
Correct color temperature is critical for printing images with pleasing tones. This is especially critical for portraits.
Depending on your camera, you may still need to do a little tweaking in your imaging software like Photoshop. If you have done all of the above, you shouldn’t need to spend too much time in front of the computer. I find, however, my files need a little contrast and deepening of the blacks.
I played with my Lensbaby for the first time on a little photo safari to Conrad, Iowa. I found all kinds of neat things to photograph in this little town.
I really liked the effect on the piano guts I came across. (Don’t ask me why someone threw out the middle of a piano.)
Get more information on the lens at: http://lensbaby.com/lenses.php?gclid=CJui693C1a4CFcW8KgodwRMLgA
This type of lens isn’t for every session you do, but I have seen it successfully used at weddings.
Let me know if you have shot with and liked it. Better yet, send me an image from a session!
I have owned my Canon EOS 5D Mark II for, well, quite a while. I knew it recorded video. I thought I heard that the TV show “No Reservations with Anthony Bourdain” was shot entirely with it. I could not find any reference to that but I did find that it was used to shoot an entire “House” season finale, and the director says it’s ‘the future’.
I have gotten my manual out a number of times to look up how to set it to record video and gave up. Today I Googled “video on Canon 5D” and found a scary article about updating Firmware (do I have to mess with that?). That didn’t appear to be what I was looking for so I called my trusted camera sales person. Movie. I was supposed to look up MOVIE not video.
Since sound is important, I purchased a lavalier microphone by Audio-Technica for $28 and the sound is pretty good! This small microphone can clip to a collar so your subject doesn’t have to shout. The only draw back at this point is that it is on a cord but I think it is a good start before I invest in any money in any wireless systems.
Get out your manuals and look up MOVIE, not video, and play with it. This should be fun!
Calibrating your monitor is a critical step in getting images back from your lab that look like they should. Monitors will change as they get older.
Again, you all know I am not a technical person, so I asked my color lab for assistance. Most professional labs are equipped to help you with this.
My main lab for more than twenty years is American Color Imaging (ACI). http://www.acilab.com/ We started out using a Spyder and now we have gone to an Eye-One Match 3. ACI even carries the equipment so it is very easy to get. Once set up, it is fast and easy to do at least once a week, I think.
When I order from a different professional lab, my images still seem fine but you want to pay attention and check your images.
Here is a link to B&H Photo Video website so you can see and learn about a variety of calibration systems.
My best advice is to start with the customer service department of a professional color lab. Also make sure you are in a room with subdued light and not a lot of color in it to fool your eyes.
Many of you do dances and proms. Do you have a system for that? Do you feel prepared or are you scrambling at the last minute?
My system starts with a file folder, backed up with electronic copies on my computer.
- The first step is making sure I have a team to assist me. I don’t have employees right now so I call the ones I used to have to help out at this event.
- My checklist of things that I need to take to the Prom which you will read below.
- My original order form that I need to make copies of.
- Extra copies of last year’s forms we did not need. Provided there are no price changes, then I am good to go.
My dance checklist is similar to my Camera bag for going on location checklist which you can find in my “Photography Studio Must Haves” available at http://barbgordonphotocoach.com/blog/products/musthaves
Here is my list I will need for dance night:
Photo session notes with contact names and cell phone numbers and my location.
My camera bag will include: Camera, Lenses, Digital media: Compact Flash Cards, Batteries, Grey card, Business cards
The accessory bag will have: Camera battery charger, Flash meter, Radio slaves: both parts and their cords, Back up synch cord: In case the radio slaves quit working. Extra batteries, On camera style flash unit: As a backup. Lens cleaner.
Lighting: Flash unit and cords, Softbox, Light stand, Reflectors
Supply bag for all of the non-camera gear: On location light stands, Collapsible soft box, Small background light stand, Flash umbrellas, Three prong adapters: For older homes and buildings with only two prong outlets.Binder clips, Background clamps, Duct tape, Extension cords, Power strip
Taking a background: Pole system, Background, Clamps
Event/Dance supplies: Change: If collecting money at the event (get the day before). Order forms: Prepare the week before. Pens, Calculator, Business cards, Bank bag: To carry all of the above in.
Be sure to give a last call for your photography services so you get everyone photographed who wants to be! This should eliminate the stress of being asked for a photograph as soon as you get your first light packed away.