Friday, April 29, 2011

Night-shoot test with Tokina 11-16 f2.8. Light-painting cars...

Has anyone gone out to play with this lens at night?  I took this out Friday night and am very impressed.  As usual I tried a few different things and learned a few other things.  There was no moon out, so all lighting is from my ever growing collection of flashlights.  Also as usual, whenever I go out to shoot with my friends Todd and Butch, I tend to forget something.  Tonights something: My tripod.  Fortunately Todd had a spare so all was not lost.

All shots with 40D, Tonkina 11-16. Wanted to see how it did wide open at night. Going forward for night time I think I would raise the ISO to 800 ish to capture the stars, but I was not displeased by this lenses performance!.

(1) F2.8, ISO100, 30 seconds, 15mm

(2) F2.8, ISO100, 30 seconds, 11mm

(3) F2.8, ISO100, 58 Seconds, 11mm

(4) F2.8, ISO100, 58 Seconds, 11mm

(bonus image for Todd)

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Naming Convention for Storage

So, first things first.  The 'before you press the shutter' time.  This is the time you should really have a look through your camera's manual.  Depending on the make of your camera, you should be able to set up your name and copyright info into the camera.  What does this do for you?  It will embed your information into the EXIF data of your images.  Regardless if you are a seasoned pro, or a casual Guy With Camera (GWC), this is always good practice.  Unfortunately as of this writing, Flickr and Facebook strip a fair portion of your EXIF data out so you will have to decide if you want to post your images to places that do this.

So, a little about me and the way I shoot.  I am married.  My wife and I have a networked drive where our images are stored.  She does not have any kind of RAW viewer installed on her machine.  She doesn't want it.  She doesn't care.  She does, however, want to be able to see what is in the image files. I shoot in RAW.  I view and sort using Adobe Bridge.  I process the images that grab me, the ones I like.  Which is maybe 10% of what I shoot if I am lucky.  All of that being said, I found that I could set my camera to take a RAW + small jpg of each file.  This allows me to do what I want and not have to add the human element in to have to remember to convert all of the RAW's into a small jpg.  Done and done.

A little more pre-work.  I have ONE folder that I put all of my photos into.  Really?  Only one?  Yes.  so I know that all of my photos are there and I do not have to go hunting through any storage device to find them all.  I call this folder 'Images'.  In that folder, I have the next set of folders: '2004', '2005', '2006' and so on.  In each year folder I have 12 folders: 01 through 12.  Yes the 0 is important here as it keeps those folders in order.  I am a little OCD that way.

"I have shot a bunch of photos now I am ready to get them into my computer, what do I do"?  Many people use Lightroom to import and handle their images.  I am not that person.  I use the software that came with the camera.  With this software I can operate my camera tethered or for this writing select and download my photos.  I will use the interface to select the photos I wish to load into my computer.  Another interface will come up asking me how I wish to name my images and where I want them stored.  Here is the cool part - today's date is 04-21-2011.  I will browse to the 2011->04 folder in the 'images' folder and press download. Part of the last interface is about the location - here is where I will select 'create new folder' making sure I am in my 2011->04 folder.  I will name this folder '20110421 - "brief description"'.  Now invariably I will have a few one offs that I will have taken through the month.  So in the 2011->04 folder I will also have a folder named '201104' which is the catch all for all of my non-shoot shots. You know, kids, family, dogs...

So, now I have a folder here: Images->2011->04->20110421 - Mary Jones Senior Shoot.  I will now fire up Adobe Bridge.  Direct it to look into that folder.  I can chose to suppress the jpgs to cut out 50% of my culling files.  Under each file, there are five blank stars.  I assign a star level to all of the RAW files I have in there.  I have come up with this system and it works for me: 5 stars = These are the best of the files I just shot. 4 stars = these might be cool, worth another look - likely similar to some of the shots in the 5 star range.  Maybe call them back ups if you will.  3 stars = files that need work - ie, I like the head on this one image, but the body in this one. 1 star = major focus or exposure issues - completely without value.  I do not use 2 stars right now.  I am reserving that one for growth and expansion.  I may need that category some day, I just don't need it now.

Now I will pull in the 5's and work them.  These typically only need minor adjustment.  Levels, curves whatever.  When I am happy with that file, I will "save as"... Now remember, in this file I have all of my original files in RAW (in my case, CR2 as I shoot Canon) and jpg.  When I am saving this file, given that I just edited it in Photoshop, I will save it as a PSD.  I do not have to worry about over writing my similarly names files.  For example, I will have 'img_1234.CR2', 'img_1234.jpg' and now 'img_1234.PSD'.  But now I want to post this to the web and maybe print this...

I handle printing and web posting, as far as naming goes in a very similar manner.  After I have watermarked my images (you do watermark your images that you post on the web, right?), in Photoshop I will use the crop tool.  I will set the size like this: 1024PX on the long side and 683PX on the short side, with 72DPI. I will crop, almost always, the whole photo.  Then I will 'save as' 'img_1234_web' and select jpg then select quality of 12.  Remember, because I have a SOOC shot as a small jpgresized that photo to 72 DPI, I can't print at 72 DPI".  And you would be almost correct. You could, you just really don't want to. I go back through history to just before I cropped the image for web and recrop it for whatever size I want to print this.  I will change the size to 10 IN in the long side and 8 In on the short side, with 300DPI. I will save this as 'img_1234_8x10' and select jpg for file type, 12 for image quality.  If your printing house uses a different file type, by all means save it as that instead.  Want a 4x6 or 5x7, go back and do that.

So now I have in my folder:
Of course, I do not always print all of the files I process and when I do I don't usually print all of the sizes, so I don't always have 3 files for each of the "keepers".

And that is pretty much it.  Feel free to use any or all of my suggestions.  Oh, and for all of you Lightroom People, I have watched a lot of videos on it.  I really like the key wording aspect of it.  I will very likely in the not too distant future start using it.  It is just that every time I have that spare $200 in my pocket, it usually gets sucked into another direction.  One day!

Got a question, leave me a comment.


Monday, April 18, 2011

Going wideee and a different type of car shot.


I have been obsessing about wide angle lenses since I first met Todd in June of 2010.  We were there for a meet with Butch, another tog we met on the forums.  We were given exclusive access to the top of a 20 something story building in down town Dallas.  At that point I was rocking my 40D, Tamron 28-75 2.8, Canon 55-200 all perched on top of an $80 Quantary tripod.  It was set up as a night shoot.  I had never done night before, and had always wanted to shoot downtown from up high.  This was the perfect setting. 

Todd was shooting a 5D2 and 16-35 2.8L.  16 on a full frame is wideee!  I decided then I had to go wide.

The week before last I sold a guitar I have had for 20 years with the intention of getting wide glass.  I was all set to get the Canon 10-22 (10mm on a 40D is basically equivalent to 16mm on a 5D2).  Doing a lot more research while waiting on the second half of the cash to come in, I found that there were more decisions than to just settle on the Canon offering.  Sigma has a couple in this range, but I started looking at their 10-20.  But they are all the F3.5-5 range.  Then I saw the Tokina 11-16 2.8.  Looking at the sample image archives on several forums, I was impressed.  And so far no one has had much to complain about this this one.  There is some issues with the other UWA's.  I e-mailed my local camera shop for price and availability for several of these, being told by the shop that the Tokina is way sharper.  At $200 less than the Canon.  And this is the retailer suggesting I get the less expensive glass.  I think that this speaks volumes!


Okay,  for those of you who know me either personally or online, I have been hunting old abandoned cars and trucks for some time.  (IF you know of any, please comment below).  I have been a car nut for most of my life.  I had a subscription to Hemmings Motor News at 11 years old. I have had a couple of vintage bugs. I actually still have a few Hot Wheels that my 6 year old son does not know about. 

A couple of weeks ago, I stumbled across a couple of threads on a forum I frequent.  One was about OCF lighting of cars from a strobist point of view.  This is cool, and I have integrated several techniques learned there into lighting my abandoned cars.  The other thread, however, really took me by storm.  It outlines setting up a rig attached to a vehicle to mount your camera on.  This allows the camera to be moving at the same speed of the car that it is attached to.  One thing I do not like about the method most used is that it uses suction cups to attach to the body panels.  Big honkin industrial pump action suction cups.  I am seriously not feeling this.  A) multi-thousand dollar paint jobs.  B) flimsy body panels (depending of the vehicle).  C) my a$$ in a lawsuit?  I think not.  Plus all of the post processing work to remove the boom arm.  I have decided that I will design and build an under car mounted rig. Then I do not have to worry about messing up any ones body or paint.  Don't have to worry about cloning out a boom arm from across a complex body panel. I just had the idea of "going under" today.  This is going to be fun.  Stay tuned for updates.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Nighttime Light Painting Shoot: '70s era abandoned Lincoln

It was a beautiful, albiet overcast evening in the upper 70's.  The moon was just a little less than half full.  The drive was a reasonably short distance from where I live.  By the time I got to the turn off it was so dark I missed the turn 4 times.  Had to park about 1/2 mile away from where this abandoned car was positioned. Walking through a minefield of cow patties to get to it after hopping a fence to gain access to the property. Did not see a 'No Tresspassing' sign *and* it was listed as a county road so I took a chance. Fortunately I had my iPhone with a map app with me or else I would have likely not found it. Very dark out there given that this was the middle of a cow pasture in the sticks and no light polution.  It got kind of spooky when the coyotes started howling, one of which sounded like it was no further than 50 feet away.

I tried a couple of different techniques that I had not used before.  One of which was to not take more than 4 shots at any one set up.  As I got down to business, I realized that I could not light the whole car in any one frame due to the metal in front and the trees behind., so I did use up to all 4 shots to light a different aspect of the subject.

These are all 30 second shots, night time light painted. Some are multi-exposure as I was not fast enought to light the whole car in 30 seconds. Tried a couple of things that I have wanted to work on and I am pleased for the most part. The sky is as the camera captured it.

All: ISO 100, 7.1, 30 seconds.