Saturday, February 25, 2012
Friday, February 24, 2012
|Painters Pole Lighting Adaptor|
Enter some genius by Flash Zebra with their $19 Kacey Pole Adaptor. What it is is a little metal piece that is designed to screw onto the end of a standard painters pole. Once there it has the standard light stand head used for umbrella clamps or actual studio lights. It is a well built single piece of metal that once on a pole is attached very firmly. With it a photographer has the option of attaching a small flash via a standard umbrella bracket or a monobloc studio head like an Alien Bee.
I went out in search of a very sturdy painters pole and found a high quality one that extended to six feet in length for $26 bringing my total investment to a whopping $45. The pole I purchased is metal and doesn't bend under the weight of a light. They had eight foot and longer poles for nominally more money, but I figured six feet was enough for me. Not only is this lighter and sturdier than my previous setup, but it works better, and costs about one third of the price of a good monopod.
So if you are looking for a good solution for your on location lighting rig, check it out! And if you are looking for an umbrella clamp you can see a good metal one here or check out the setup I just ordered from B&H that will let me strap two small flashes on this bad boy lighting rig. I'll be pairing that with one Pocket Wizard and one of these splitter cords from Flash Zebra to fire both flashes with one remote. A very sweet combination I hope makes my life easier on location.
Thanks again for dropping by the blog, I always appreciate your visit.
Posted by Neil Gaudet at 7:21 PM
Wednesday, February 15, 2012
|Canon 5DmkII with 100mm f2.8 Macro ISO 100 f9|
Let's face it. You suck as a photographer. Sure you're better than some, but you're much worse than others. Don't sweat it though. We all suck. Even the great ones among us.
The truth is that no matter how long you've been doing this, you're going to have moments of doubt and uncertainty. Accepting that is a very important part of getting better. I have some heroes out there in the industry that I admire very much and I don't love every image they put out there. Some I actually think are pretty bad. Nobodies perfect all the time.
I went on a photo walk last week with some friends and we turned it into a little contest where people could vote on the images and decide which one they liked the best. I'm pretty sure my effort is going to land dead last. I'm really OK with that. My photo was kinda boring and a bit of a dead effort. But I've learned from it. Personal Note: When on photo walks stop chatting so much and concentrate!
I'm always hearing excuses from photographers about their images and why they aren't perfect. I do it too. I didn't have the right lens, I was in a hurry, the subject wouldn't co-operate, it was just a quick snapshot. Whatever. But when we do this we rob ourselves of the opportunity to learn and grow. Robin Wong talked about this recently and I thought he was right on.
You can't trust your mom, your spouse (though my spouse rarely likes my images) or your cat to tell you the truth about your work. It's important to be self critical (I'm not bad at this, I hate almost every image I've ever done not long after I shoot it) but also to put yourself out there with your peers and hear what they have to say. Even if it's anonymous. Kenneth Jarecke had a great blog post up on Wired recently that is worth a read on why we suck. I hope you take the time to read it.
Last summer in a course I took with Jenn and Steve Bebb we went through an image critique where we submitted our five favourite images to be critiqued live by our peers. The experience was powerful for a few different reasons. We, as artists, get attached to our images and sometimes can have a hard time letting go of our love for them. For me having a couple of my images receive poor reviews was really hard, but also, after I got over it, really helpful. One image in the end I had to agree was pretty bad. The other I still love. And it's OK to disagree with your peers, it's your art after all.
I was also deeply flattered and humbled by the steep praise I received for one of my images, especially since it was one of the experimental ones that I did sheerly out of love for the art. It wasn't one I showed clients, but it was one that I would have loved to get paid to shoot. It helped me see that when you shoot with passion, the praise and the paid work follows. Show what you love and your skill and craft will shine through, in turn bringing more work that hires you for what you actually enjoy photographing. Kinda nice right? Now I work hard to show images I love even if I'm afraid of how they will be perceived. It has gone a long way to identifying my natural style.
Another thing I learned from the image critique though was the message or branding my images were putting out there. I hadn't really looked at my work as a whole and what message it was giving about me to my clients. I did pretty well in staying consistent from one image to another, but some photographers were so varied in their art that it was hard to pin down just what they were good at. To me it was a lesson in clearly defining yourself in public. A Jack of All Trades is really not a master of any. If you have a variety of styles and things you enjoy photographing, it's important to separate and brand them apart from each other. Or at least I'm convinced it is.
Getting criticism is helpful for new photographers and experienced photographers alike. I can tell you that I know several long time pros that have been in this game longer than and have really sound technical skills, that really need to up their game. If your business is dropping off and you've been doing this a while don't blame the new people. Maybe consider if your images have kept up with the times or if your skills need refreshing. The craft changes now constantly and new photographers are coming up all the time with new eye-popping styles and amazing work. It's up to you to bring in paid clients with relevant and current work. Don't expect anyone else to automatically step aside for you based on tenure.
Later this month we are hosting an image critique at our next Smug meeting which I'm looking forward too. I just can't wait to see the lightbulb moments for the people there. And for any readers of this blog that don't have a chance to take part in a live peer critique, I encourage you to ask for criticism in places you feel safe doing so.
Now please don't take this blog post as a license to go around the internet trashing people's images in the guise of being 'helpful.' That isn't the spirit of what I'm trying to say. Offer criticism where it is requested but otherwise say nothing if you have nothing nice to say. Random image trolls out there, at least to me, are often just blowhards that know little about the actual art or craft of photography and frankly if you look them up their work it is usually boring and uninspired. They are to be ignored.
Thanks again for dropping by the blog. I hope you are having a great week! Don't forget to join the conversation on our Facebook page. You can find a link to it on the right hand side of the blog.
Posted by Neil Gaudet at 10:41 AM
Wednesday, February 8, 2012
|The Olympus OM-D........nice|
For a company that was pretty much on their death bed to end 2011 Olympus just might have themselves a life raft here. My E5 is pretty likeable, but the full sized DSLR never really gave the benefits of size to us that put up with the smaller sensor. And the magic they've done with this sensor appears to be pretty impressive with early sneak peeks putting the ISO performance as better than my 5DmkII. I have no idea how they pulled that off, but the proof will be in the pudding once I actually own the camera.
They've also announced a couple of new prime lenses a 75mm f1.8 and a 60mm f2.8 macro. I'm a big fan of my 45mm f1.8 from them so far so I think I may lay down some cash for those lenses as well as the 12mm f2.0 that I've been hesitant to spend on up until now. This camera just might justify the cost of the lenses attached to it. And primes were a weakness of the regular four thirds system I thought. They spent a lot of time building really impressive f2.0 zoom lenses but really left us out in the cold on any primes brighter than f2.0 with the exception of the Panasonic-Leica Summilux.
While I wait I'll be enjoying my E5 as much as I can and it's been wonderful. I did though very much appreciate the 5DmkII last Sunday while photographing a clothing line for a sweater company. I chose an ISO of 800 at one point knowing that I'd get clean files suitable for commercial use. That was pretty sweet and made my job easier. The E5 would have been fine, but noise would have been there for sure. Yes I could have just pumped the lights, but I was enjoying the ambient light. The right tool....
|Canon 5DmkII with 24-70 f2.8 lens at ISO 800. Out-take image after wrap-up.|
Posted by Neil Gaudet at 5:30 PM
Thursday, February 2, 2012
I love the new 40mm f2.8 pancake lens. It's small! And I always have dreamt of owning that 77mm f1.8 limited prime Pentax makes. It would be sweet on this camera. Am I going to buy it? No, probably not, but I applaud Pentax for thinking out of the box. Boring this is not.
Posted by Neil Gaudet at 7:06 PM
Wednesday, February 1, 2012
|Olympus E5 and Leica 25mm Summilux at ISO 640 f2.0 1/60 of a second|
As a young photographer and one of the first students that graduated with an art degree in photography in the USA Francesca created a series of utterly impossible to explain yet captivating images of (usually) the female body. While at the same time morbid, the images are beautiful and force you to consider the story involved. If all great art creates emotion in the viewer, then this is surely among the best in the photography art world.
Woodman committed suicide at the age of 22 and 5 years later was featured in her first gallery show. The images she left us are ghostly and often feature urban decay and narrative self portraits of the female form. If you have a chance to see her work in a show do it. I know it's on my list. For now, I'm happy to own this book of her work and wonder about this amazing artist that ended her life so young.
You can find a link to the book, as usual, on the top right of the blog.
Thanks for dropping in.
Posted by Neil Gaudet at 6:53 PM