Lenses Which Is Right

Lenses

Time for a discussion about lenses. I am a Canon person so for obvious reasons we’re going to talk about them.

Now I know we’ve all heard the comment banded about that its the glass that matters when you are taking photos. It’s true mostly. Now there is obviously going to be a difference between a 6 megapixel camera and a full frame 22 megapixel camera, but all things considered the lens is going to make the biggest difference.

I for one probably have more lenses than I truly need, but I find they all have their uses.

Lets talk about prime lenses first. For those of you that took photography in high school you’re probably acquainted with the 50mm f/1.8 lens. The canon version if this lens is very inexpensive in comparison. The current version II runs approximately $130 as compared to the f/1.4 which is currently listed at $389.99. There are multiple reasons for the difference in prices. One is obviously the difference in the aperture, the construction is another, and the final is the USM motor in the 1.4 version. The USM or ultrasonic motor is faster and quieter then the alternative. 50mm is considered to be the ultimate in portrait lenses. Personally I like it for the shallow depth of field as well as its low light capabilities. It is my go to lens for shooting concerts and other limited light events. The main drawback to this lens is the obvious, you have to zoom with your feet.

There are several lenses in this category. The ones I love are the 28mm, 135mm soft focus (great when you want a glow, beautiful on portraits as well as weddings)

Next in the line-up is the telephoto lens. That is anything longer (higher number) than a 50mm lens. Many people assume that any telephoto is a zoom lens. Not true. The “zoom” part is exactly what it implies. You can “zoom” in and out, saving your feet and allowing you to get closer to your subject without physically moving closer. Some of you might think “duh!” but you would be amazed by the people that do not understand the difference. My favorite telephoto zoom lenses are the 70-200mm L. f/2.8 IS II, and the 100-400mm L f/4.5-5.6 IS. These are both fairly heavy lenses, but are worth it for their clarity. For shooting in low light the f/2.8 with the image stabilizer make it a go-to lens. Though it is not cheap by any stretch it is a worth while lens to have in your arsenal. There are those that say that an image stabilizer isn’t necessary, but I would say they are wring. Unless you are very physically stable and can hold 52.6oz plus the weight of your camera for however long your event lasts, you need the IS or a monopod. I prefer the IS as there are places that don’t allow monopods, and I’m not all that stable. The 100-400 is great for nature and I love it for the zoo and general animal (and small child) photography. It gives me the ability to zoom through the fences and get close in without entering their sphere of influence.

Lastly (in what is condidered the “normal” lens categories) we have the wide-angle lenses. Anything wider than 50mm is considered a wide-angle. I have three favorites. The first is the 24-70mm f/2.8 L, the second is my 17-40mm f/4 L. On my 7D the 17-40mm isn’t all that wide, but on the full frame 5D mark II it is perfect. Again the L-series is probably the part I like best, but on the convenience part the 2.8 of the 24-70 is a must. It is my go to lens for most things at his point. My third lens is not only a wide angle, but also a fish-eye. Now I know there are people that use that lens for almost everything, I however see it as a play toy. It works really well for a different look on your wide-angle photos. On the full frames it is especially cool as it makes a complete circle. There are programs that will take the fish-eye effect out of the photos, but I find that pointless, defeating the reason for having a true fish-eye lens.

The other type of lenses that I find important are the macro lenses. I have the 100mm f/2.8 IS L. I love that lens. It works great for any number if things including, but not limited to macro photos. It is amazing the things that look like true art when photographed up-close and personal. There are other versions of macro lenses. Canon makes a 60mm, and a 180mm as well as the 100mm.

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The 2012 Kansas City Classic

I’d like to personally thank all of the people that came out to the Kansas City Classic on Saturday. It was a wonderful day with some amazing dancers. I am currently working on the editing of the photos from the event and will get them uploaded as quickly as I can. Here is the link KC Classic and don’t forget the password is kcclassic2012. Thank you for your patience as it was a long day with lots of pictures taken. I am uploading them as I finish editing, so it may take a few days for your pictures to show up.

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On Another Note

As Kansas City awakened this morning we found ourselves under a severe fog advisory. Being the eternal optimist I decided that it would be a good thing to go find out if there were any intriguing photos to be found as this is not a frequent occurrence in this area. So this being said I found myself thinking that the river would be the best place for finding these images.

After taking my initial photos of the river shrouded in fog I decided to wander into the woods to get some pictures of the trees. As I was walking in I noticed a gentleman in camouflage carrying a crossbow silently shadowing my path. After making myself known he was kind enough to inform me that there were possibly more hunters in the woods. I wisely decided that this was probably not the best place for me to be.

Needless to say, I cut my travels short. Soooo, the message is clear. be careful! you never really know what is going on around you. You as a photographer need to ensure your own safety. Take the camera away from your eye and look around. What you see might surprise you.

On a positive note I did find some beautiful pictures.

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Ordinary Places

Monday I made the arduous trip home from South Dakota. The trip went pretty well, however I got snowed on in 4 states.
On the way home I caught the sight of a bald eagle out of the corner of my eye. So I drove in a 20 mile circle and got my camera out. I was pleased to capture some beautiful images of him and his friends. It just goes to show that as a photographer you need two things, your camera and attention. If you pay attention to your surroundings you can capture beautiful images in ordinary places.

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Military Ball

Today I am helping Anne from First Look Photography shoot the portraits for a military ball in Warrensburg, MO. We will start shooting at 17:30 and last most of the evening. We will not be printing on site, so that is a bonus. It’s a lot more work to do that, and I am not convinced that the quality of on sight printing is really what the professional photographer wants out there with their name on it. Now I realize that the quality that I have seen may not be the norm, but I have not been impressed.

With all if that being said, how do you shoot couples at a ball? We will have our background set, and are going to use strobes for our lighting. My Sekonic light meter will give us the settings for the lights and my Expo Disk will help set the white balance and we should be good to start making memories.

Science of Rock & Roll

Union Station in Kansas City is currently hosting the exhibit the Science of Rock & Roll.

As you enter the exhibit space you walk around cases filled with examples of what we now consider the classic clothes and gadgets from the 1950’s through 1990’s. Everything from leisure suits and turntables to Jellies and CD players.

After getting your full of fashions you turn the corner and come face to face with 7 foot tall concert posters that span the decades along with a smattering of classic concert t-shirts.

Then you receive your backstage pass and are ushered into the main exhibit.

The amount of information gracing the walls is a bit overwhelming in each of the decade spanning displays which include their own music of the period and examples of the technology of the time.

Then you move into an area that explains music. Major and minor chords, and rhythm are all demonstrated visually and with an interactive display.

The rest of the experience is very interactive even down to being able to record yourself singing, playing guitar, drums, keyboard or bass and getting a link to the video sent to you.

The Science of Rock & Roll exhibit is one that I recommend for children of all ages. Sounds corny, but it is true. I think that anyone with a love for music would truly enjoy the event.

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The day of the wedding

So it’s the day of the wedding. The contract is signed, the money collected, and the car is packed with gear. Now what?

Now is when the big decisions happen. Do you shoot jpeg or raw? With a flash or without? To bounce or not to bounce? Those questions are easily answered. It depends.

If you are certain of your exposures then jpeg is perfect. If you are not so sure or have a difficult lighting situation RAW should be the choice.

Flash however is not necessarily your choice. Always make sure you check with the (insert officiant title) to find out his or her rules on this. I have found that many of them do not want flash used during the service. Therefore you are left with using higher ISOs and slower apertures. With today’s cameras this is not as much of a detriment to your photography as it was in years past so you will be fine.

You’re ready. Your client is ready. It’s time for you to do your thing. Remember, YOU were hired to shoot this wedding, there comes a time when you have to take control and get the photos you were hired to get. This means that if you have to tell people where to go or even to get out of your way, you have to do it. Try to be polite of course, but do what you must.

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Wedding Preparations

Preparations for tomorrow’s wedding start today. So, What do you need to do to make sure everything goes off without a hitch?

First (which seems obvious) is to charge your batteries. Camera batteries, batteries for your flash, and your internal battery. So make sure you take a few deep breaths, and remember, they hired you because they have faith in you and your abilities.

Second, organize your camera bag. Make sure your cameras and lenses are clean and that you have all of the equipment you will need in your bag and ready to go. You don’t want to be trying to find that one lens you need when you’re supposed to be on your way to the wedding! While you’re at it you might want to ensure all of your settings are correct and your times are synchronized. It is never fun to have to manually organize your photos because you skipped this step.

Next, remember to format your memory cards! Nothing worse than starting your day and realizing that you have last weeks family photos still on your cards.

Lastly, pick out your clothes. Again, this is not something you want to worry about as you are getting ready to leave for the important event. There are several thoughts on this. Some believe the photographer should match the wedding party, some think you should be dressed up, and I have seen photographers in jeans (this I don’t agree with). Be comfortable and stylish without drawing attention to yourself. Remember, you are there to capture the event for your customer.

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Cultural Sensitivity

Today we are going to have a lesson in cultural sensitivity. I realize that in this day and age you would assume that it would no longer be an issue. You would be wrong.

As one of two “white” people in attendance I helped shoot a debutant pageant over the weekend with a “mixed race” company. Now normally I am not a person that even acknowledges this type of difference, but this weekend apparently it was an issue.

Somehow I inadvertently upset one of the contestants with something I said. She took something I said as a racial slur and naturally was offended. The problem comes in I am unaware of what I said, and no one else can figure out why she was offended. I feel bad that she was upset, and have no recourse in the matter.

To make a long story short, be careful what you say. No matter how innocuous you believe your words to be, you might hurt someone’s feelings.

Time To Rant

I understand that it is very tempting after you have captured those special photos for yourself or your clients to want to crop it to make it perfect. Unfortunately if you open it in photoshop draw a box around it and hit crop it is not going to print as a 4×6, 5×7, or 8×10 without further cropping! It is a physical impossibility. This being said, I would like to give everyone a few options. Do not crop your images until you figure out what size you or your customer wants, and then crop it to those dimensions. This is easy to do in CS6 as it gives you the “normal” print sizes as options. In CS5 and below it is as simple as putting the dimensions in the cropping tool and sizing to your hearts content. As you can probably tell I work in a photo lab and this is a subject that comes up frequently. 20121027-111637.jpg