PROMETHEAN | photographer | TEACHER | listener

Photography blog

Posts tagged canon
Dark Rooms
How to photograph people in a black room.   
 Dear Lord, I was thinking, what did I do to deserve this? 
 I’m standing in a black room with black 10-metre walls, a black ceiling, a black floor, holding an eight-year-old camera that starts to blow smoke when set to anything higher than ISO 800. 
 Somewhere, in all this darkness, is a Page Three picture of an artist and his latest work. 
 The job sheet says: Go to art gallery, photograph artist and work. 
 At my disposal is a 16-35mm wide lens on my camera, a flash transmitter and a flash. 
 And a whole lot of blackness. 
 And a very patient artist. 
 I’m wishing (for like the 1000th time in what feels like as many months) that Canon Australia would send that promised (and seemingly fictional) second flash. 
 But after whispering a dozen Hail Marys only to find that an another flash still hadn’t materialised in my pocket, I got to work scheming ways to stretch the output of my single light source. 
 I start popping test shots and immediately hate the results. 
 The flash just smashes into the artist and his artwork with the subtly of a brick. 
 It looks crap. More like a Page Three-Hundred photo than a Page Three photo. 
 Keeping my chin up, I beg the gallery tech to turn a spotlight or two onto the artwork, which improves things a lot, but also makes things harder. 
 See, now the artwork looks good, but the spotlights are a constant, soft, low-powered light compared to the brutal, quick hard pop of the flash. 
 Even at the flash’s lowest power, it still nukes all the quality out of the spotlights and ruins the good work they were doing for the artwork. 
 I’ve got to get the flash away from the artwork somehow. 
 So, flash is on low power, shutter speed is around a respectable 1/80th and my aperture is fairly wide open, maybe f4 or larger. 
 I tackle the too-bright-flash problem first. Turn the power down low, back it up a bit from the subject, and use my notebook to shield the light away from the artwork and guide it on to my artist. 
 After a few test pops, I get the flash under control by shrinking my aperture to f5.6. 
 Artist looks good, but artwork is now almost black. What to do? 
 Only one thing I can do … I just start dropping my shutter speed, taking test shots until the artwork looks like it’s exposed nicely. 
 At about 1/10th of a second, I’m there. Which is a bit slower than you want usually go when hand-holding a camera, but with a few deep breaths and steady hands, a sharp shot is quite achievable. 
 ISO for the shoot was 500. 
 FYI – when shooting at low shutter speeds, adding flash into the mix helps freeze your subject sharp, so when I’m hand-holding at crazy slow shutter speeds, I’m usually adding in flash to help myself out and cheat a bit of sharpness. 
 Am I totally happy with the pic? Not entirely. I’d love to have a second light kicking back toward’s the artist’s shoulders, adding a bit of separation. 
 But, you do the best with the gear you’ve been allocated, and since the picture made it to Page Three the next day, they must have been happy with the shot back at the  office . 

 Want to know more?  Let me help.  
 Cheers, 
 Ben

How to photograph people in a black room.

Dear Lord, I was thinking, what did I do to deserve this?

I’m standing in a black room with black 10-metre walls, a black ceiling, a black floor, holding an eight-year-old camera that starts to blow smoke when set to anything higher than ISO 800.

Somewhere, in all this darkness, is a Page Three picture of an artist and his latest work.

The job sheet says: Go to art gallery, photograph artist and work.

At my disposal is a 16-35mm wide lens on my camera, a flash transmitter and a flash.

And a whole lot of blackness.

And a very patient artist.

I’m wishing (for like the 1000th time in what feels like as many months) that Canon Australia would send that promised (and seemingly fictional) second flash.

But after whispering a dozen Hail Marys only to find that an another flash still hadn’t materialised in my pocket, I got to work scheming ways to stretch the output of my single light source.

I start popping test shots and immediately hate the results.

The flash just smashes into the artist and his artwork with the subtly of a brick.

It looks crap. More like a Page Three-Hundred photo than a Page Three photo.

Keeping my chin up, I beg the gallery tech to turn a spotlight or two onto the artwork, which improves things a lot, but also makes things harder.

See, now the artwork looks good, but the spotlights are a constant, soft, low-powered light compared to the brutal, quick hard pop of the flash.

Even at the flash’s lowest power, it still nukes all the quality out of the spotlights and ruins the good work they were doing for the artwork.

I’ve got to get the flash away from the artwork somehow.

So, flash is on low power, shutter speed is around a respectable 1/80th and my aperture is fairly wide open, maybe f4 or larger.

I tackle the too-bright-flash problem first. Turn the power down low, back it up a bit from the subject, and use my notebook to shield the light away from the artwork and guide it on to my artist.

After a few test pops, I get the flash under control by shrinking my aperture to f5.6.

Artist looks good, but artwork is now almost black. What to do?

Only one thing I can do … I just start dropping my shutter speed, taking test shots until the artwork looks like it’s exposed nicely.

At about 1/10th of a second, I’m there. Which is a bit slower than you want usually go when hand-holding a camera, but with a few deep breaths and steady hands, a sharp shot is quite achievable.

ISO for the shoot was 500.

FYI – when shooting at low shutter speeds, adding flash into the mix helps freeze your subject sharp, so when I’m hand-holding at crazy slow shutter speeds, I’m usually adding in flash to help myself out and cheat a bit of sharpness.

Am I totally happy with the pic? Not entirely. I’d love to have a second light kicking back toward’s the artist’s shoulders, adding a bit of separation.

But, you do the best with the gear you’ve been allocated, and since the picture made it to Page Three the next day, they must have been happy with the shot back at the office.

Want to know more? Let me help.

Cheers,

Ben

How you can shoot the back page photograph
How you can shoot the back page photograph    
     This back-page photo took about two minutes to make.  
  The blokes walked into frame, struck their poses, smiled, and … click, click, I was done.  
 Yeah, right! I wish it were that easy. Technically, the actual shoot did barely take two minutes, but the photo was planned, set up and practiced almost 40 minutes earlier. Why? Well, experience has taught me that sports people on training nights are a mix of busy/preoccupied/hectic/shy/running late/etc, so, I always like to have at least a Plan B up my sleeve, ready to execute. Plan A – if you are interested – is whatever might happen that could be better than Plan B. So, once I set up Plan B, I prepare my camera for Plan A and wait … you never know when something might happen to a star player right before your lens – it’s worth being ready. So, I arrive and am told there will be a delay with the players. Which is no problem, because I’ve got plenty of work to do setting up. I’m really impressed by the sky, and want to include it in the shot so I guess an aperture (maybe f4) and then find a shutter speed that makes the sky look great. At ISO 500, I’m looking at about 1/30th of a second at f4. Which is about as slow as you want to go on the shutter when handholding with a wide lens. Then I do something you might think is strange. I crank the ISO up to about 1600. (You’ll see why in a sec.) Now I’m at 1/100th at f4, and the sky looks exactly the same as it did a moment ago. Next, I have to build the flash for fill. I dial in a really low power, like 1/128th. Put my left hand where I want the talents’ heads to be and take a picture. Look at it. My hand looks a bit dark. Sky looks great, though. Increase flash power to 1/32. Take a test picture. Hand looks too bright. Sky still looks great. Drop flash power to 1/64. Now my hand looks good. And so does the sky. 
 I spend a second wondering how I’d like the players to stand. Get that sorted in my head while I dial some Plan A settings into my spare camera, you know, just in case something happens. 
 Then, I wait. “Shouldn’t be long,” I’m assured. 10 minutes pass and light bleeds from the sky. To compensate, I drop my shutter a click of two. Another 10 minutes, and the sky gets darker. Another couple of clicks slower in shutter speed to compensate. “They’re on their way.” “Thank you.” Almost 10 minutes later, I’m down to about 1/50th of a second at IS0 1600 at f4, and my players make it into position. Test shot. Sky and flash exposure still looks the same as it did 30 minutes ago. “Smile, gentlemen. Look tough.” 
 Thanks to over-cranking the ISO , all I’ve had to do to cheat more light out of the sky almost 40 minutes later is wiggle my shutter dial a few clicks. If I’d picked a lower (and what most photographers would argue a better) ISO speed, I’d have be in a mad scramble trying to pull this shot off in the time allowed with the talent. 
 What do you reckon? Ask me anything, here. 
 Shot for  www.bordermail.com.au  
 Cheers, 
 Ben

How you can shoot the back page photograph

 This back-page photo took about two minutes to make.

The blokes walked into frame, struck their poses, smiled, and … click, click, I was done.

Yeah, right!
I wish it were that easy.
Technically, the actual shoot did barely take two minutes, but the photo was planned, set up and practiced almost 40 minutes earlier.
Why?
Well, experience has taught me that sports people on training nights are a mix of busy/preoccupied/hectic/shy/running late/etc, so, I always like to have at least a Plan B up my sleeve, ready to execute.
Plan A – if you are interested – is whatever might happen that could be better than Plan B.
So, once I set up Plan B, I prepare my camera for Plan A and wait … you never know when something might happen to a star player right before your lens – it’s worth being ready.
So, I arrive and am told there will be a delay with the players. Which is no problem, because I’ve got plenty of work to do setting up.
I’m really impressed by the sky, and want to include it in the shot so I guess an aperture (maybe f4) and then find a shutter speed that makes the sky look great.
At ISO 500, I’m looking at about 1/30th of a second at f4. Which is about as slow as you want to go on the shutter when handholding with a wide lens.
Then I do something you might think is strange.
I crank the ISO up to about 1600. (You’ll see why in a sec.)
Now I’m at 1/100th at f4, and the sky looks exactly the same as it did a moment ago.
Next, I have to build the flash for fill. I dial in a really low power, like 1/128th. Put my left hand where I want the talents’ heads to be and take a picture. Look at it. My hand looks a bit dark. Sky looks great, though. Increase flash power to 1/32. Take a test picture. Hand looks too bright. Sky still looks great. Drop flash power to 1/64. Now my hand looks good. And so does the sky.

I spend a second wondering how I’d like the players to stand. Get that sorted in my head while I dial some Plan A settings into my spare camera, you know, just in case something happens.

Then, I wait.
“Shouldn’t be long,” I’m assured.
10 minutes pass and light bleeds from the sky. To compensate, I drop my shutter a click of two.
Another 10 minutes, and the sky gets darker. Another couple of clicks slower in shutter speed to compensate.
“They’re on their way.”
“Thank you.”
Almost 10 minutes later, I’m down to about 1/50th of a second at IS0 1600 at f4, and my players make it into position.
Test shot. Sky and flash exposure still looks the same as it did 30 minutes ago.
“Smile, gentlemen. Look tough.”

Thanks to over-cranking the ISO , all I’ve had to do to cheat more light out of the sky almost 40 minutes later is wiggle my shutter dial a few clicks.
If I’d picked a lower (and what most photographers would argue a better) ISO speed, I’d have be in a mad scramble trying to pull this shot off in the time allowed with the talent.

What do you reckon? Ask me anything, here.

Shot for www.bordermail.com.au

Cheers,

Ben

How to shoot into sunset to add drama
How to shoot into sunset to add drama    
 Four blokes, three cricket bats, a cute kid and a bit of sunshine. 
  What more could a photographer ever ask for?  
  Well, maybe a bit more time. The sun was dropping fast and I really had to hustle to get this shot done.  
  So while my mouth was moving, hustling the talent onto the oval, my fingers were dancing over my Canon ID Mk IV, locking in some pretty standard settings for shooting into the sun.  
  First, I tackled the ambient light … that being the light your flash won’t touch.  
  Got my shutter speed up to it’s highest native sync speed (For me, that was  *1/250th).  
  Then, I got my  ISO low (I was at 160).  
  Then, I picked an aperture as a starting point (I went with about f4).  
  And took a test photo.  
  Too bright, increase your f number. (For me, I got lucky, and it looked pretty balanced.)  
  Second, I sorted out my flash exposure. I like to work manual, so I guessed an output of probably 1/8th or ¼th, and recruited the cute little kid to hold the flash pointed in the middle of the four blokes.  
  Took another test picture. Flash exposure looked a bit hot on the blokes.  
  At this point, I had a few options. I could  turn down the power of the flash. I could  ask the kid to take a step away from the blokes. Or,  I could increase my f number and shrink my aperture a bit. All would dull down the flash exposure.  
  I opted for the easiest adjustment, moved my thumb a bit and shifted my camera to f5, which was where we ended up for this picture.  
  I shot several variations, some with the blokes blocking the sun from the camera (which left them beautifully rim lit), but I liked this look the best. It’s nice when, every now and again, your flash plays second fiddle to the best light source of all, the sun.   
  Here’s the  story  that ran for the newspaper. 
  (* I know, I know, the Canon ID IV technically syncs at 1/300th of a second. But I’ve found I  can only achieve that specific shutter speed when I use a Canon-branded off-camera trigger. I was shooting a Cactus trigger, so my shutter speed choices were 1/250th or 1/320th.)  

    Questions ? Please  ask  away.  Cheers,  Ben

How to shoot into sunset to add drama

Four blokes, three cricket bats, a cute kid and a bit of sunshine.

What more could a photographer ever ask for?

Well, maybe a bit more time. The sun was dropping fast and I really had to hustle to get this shot done.

So while my mouth was moving, hustling the talent onto the oval, my fingers were dancing over my Canon ID Mk IV, locking in some pretty standard settings for shooting into the sun.

First, I tackled the ambient light … that being the light your flash won’t touch.

Got my shutter speed up to it’s highest native sync speed (For me, that was  *1/250th).

Then, I got my  ISO low (I was at 160).

Then, I picked an aperture as a starting point (I went with about f4).

And took a test photo.

Too bright, increase your f number. (For me, I got lucky, and it looked pretty balanced.)

Second, I sorted out my flash exposure. I like to work manual, so I guessed an output of probably 1/8th or ¼th, and recruited the cute little kid to hold the flash pointed in the middle of the four blokes.

Took another test picture. Flash exposure looked a bit hot on the blokes.

At this point, I had a few options. I could  turn down the power of the flash. I could  ask the kid to take a step away from the blokes. Or,  I could increase my f number and shrink my aperture a bit. All would dull down the flash exposure.

I opted for the easiest adjustment, moved my thumb a bit and shifted my camera to f5, which was where we ended up for this picture.

I shot several variations, some with the blokes blocking the sun from the camera (which left them beautifully rim lit), but I liked this look the best. It’s nice when, every now and again, your flash plays second fiddle to the best light source of all, the sun.

 Here’s the story that ran for the newspaper.

(* I know, I know, the Canon ID IV technically syncs at 1/300th of a second. But I’ve found I  can only achieve that specific shutter speed when I use a Canon-branded off-camera trigger. I was shooting a Cactus trigger, so my shutter speed choices were 1/250th or 1/320th.)


Questions? Please ask away.

Cheers,

Ben