Monday, November 28, 2011

Studio shots for dresses

After the last outdoor model shoot I decided to shoot my models in my studio. It has always been a challenge shooting in my studio during the day as sunlight usually seeps in my windows...maybe I'll have that fixed in a couple of months. Though in this shoot, it wasn't really a big problem.

I slapped in my trusty Canon 50mm f1.8. This is my most useful portrait lens aside from my 70-200. My studio is a bit small so I have to use a shorter lens...something short but not too short that it may cause weird distortions on my portraits. It was the perfect companion for shooting mid body/full body portrait shots. The maximum 1.8 aperture also helps in isolating the subject from the background, though I didn't use that shallow depth of field.

For this shoot I used my beauty dish attached to my 430 ex triggered by a speedlite trigger for the highlights in the top of the head and I used a studio strobe attached to a shoot through umbrella for my main light. The beauty dish allowed me to have highlights that doesn't burn. It gave me a pop in my highlights without being too harsh. For my main light, the flash was softened by the shoot through umbrella enough to wrap the subject in a soft smooth light.

All shot in raw, then post processed then converted to jpegs.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Model shots

These past weekends have been busy for me photography wise. I did a hard drive cleanup, which is still ongoing, and I had a couple of photography jobs. Did 2 shoots in a span of 2 days. I ended up doing 505 for a model shoot and around 85 for a family portrait. So I'm pretty much still editing the shots from those two shoots. It was exhausting but it was a lot of fun.

It was a pretty day to do model shots...this time of the year is one of the warmest days to go out and have a shoot, at least for me. It was around 60 degrees out but was really sunny. Absolutely perfect for an outdoors shoot.

I was doing two models at once so I know I am going to use up a lot of memory space. I brought in 2 8gb cards and filled them up in about 2 hours. Good thing I had my trusty Ipad with me.

For the outdoor shoot I brought 2 bodies and 2 lenses. I didn't wanna deal with lens swapping for the shoot. I brought along a 17-40mm for wide angle model shots and my trusty 70-200 2.8 IS USM, which is by the way the BEST portrait lens. in the end I wasn't able to use the wide angle as I was so busy using my telephoto which was excellent in isolating the subject from the background. It's a good thing to have it with me though just in case.

Most of the time I have the models back against the sun to give them a natural highlight in their hair. Then I set my camera to aperture priority and dial in the most open aperture I can get without over exposing my subject...since I was using the 2.8 telephoto lens, I had plenty of room.

I'l be posting the studio shots after this one.

Monday, November 21, 2011

My Imac is back in action!

Finally got my hard drive couple of days ago from BH photo video and I did surgery on my Imac. I bought a Western Digital 1TB Caviar Green SATA Internal Hard Drive and installed it myself. I googled step by step processes on how to do it by yourself and there were a ton of videos online for it. The steps were pretty much straightforward. I never thought disassembling an Imac is that simple. Although I don't encourage it. Only if you know what you're doing then go ahead and do it yourself...I will not be accountable to whatever happens to your mac.

Installed the hard drive, formatted it to a mac journaled format, and installed OSX snow leopard. So far so good...hopefully the new drive will last the mac it's entire lifetime.

Now it's back to business as usual...

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Dead Imac

After waking up late friday night from a nap, I went upstairs to work on some photos, and was shocked to see that my Imac was sick...very very sick.

I have seen the dreaded grey screen of death from my friends mac mini years ago, and it was the same dreaded sight that I saw went I went up to where my mac was. I touched the back of it and it was burning hot. Like it has a fever...hahahaha. So I turned it off and restarted it. Still no luck. So I decided just to deal with it in the morning.

Next morning I woke up and my Imac still wasn't working. I then proceeded to boot it up using my OSX disc and managed to do a disk repair through there. It said that there was a problem repairing my hard drive so I went ahead to format it. I installed OSX again just for the heck of it. Surprising thing worked!

I then spent the whole day installing everything that was installed before. All my photo editing software and other stuff. It was working good for the rest of that Saturday.

Sunday night I took some shots and went ahead and edited them. I managed to save 1 file and was saving the second one when my Imac died on me again. This time the hard drive never recovered form the disk rescue utility I was using. So I decided to just replace the hard drive instead of buying a new one.

I ordered a new 1 tb hard drive from BH photo. In case it does not work, I can return it. That's why I love BH photo because they have an awesome return policy. The drive will not be here till for 2 days. In those 2 days of waiting with no computer my xbox 360 will be my best friend.

Hopefully the drive works...

Thursday, November 10, 2011

The Canon 100mm f2.8 macro usm

Since switching to a full frame dslr, I was in a dilemma of whether replacing my lenses or just keeping them. I opted to replace most of them. Since switching to a full frame is a big difference for some lenses...especially the wide angle ones, I replaced my wide angles, though I also replaced my 70mm with a 100mm macro.

The Canon 100mm USM Macro is now my main lens in the studio for still life.

Sigma did a great job in creating the 70mm macro. It's focal length is excellent when you're using a non full frame camera as it becomes a 112mm. The Canon 60mm macro is the closest to being a 100mm on a non full frame camera. The disadvantage is that it is an efs lens which means you cannot use it with full frame bodies. The 70mm served me well till I got my 5d mk2.

For a full frame camera, the 70mm is a bit short. It does not give me enough working distance from subject to the tip of my lens, especially with the Canon macro flash installed, or a hood. I usually freak out bugs because I am way too close to them when I take macro instead of getting the shots, bugs usually would fly away. Using it as a general purpose lens was fine. Though the autofocus was whiny and it was way too slow even when you switch your focus to the non full focus mode. I needed something that would allow me better working distance for macro shots as well as a general purpose lens that focuses quickly.

The best replacement for my 70mm in my opinion is the Canon 100mm macro. It's a pretty well made macro lens that doesn't break the bank. They usually fetch around $550.00 brand new and around $400-$450 used. I browsed online for the best deal and I was able to get one for $409.00 used.

Installed in my 5d Mk2 with the lens hood and tripod collar.

3 days later I got it. No box, no instructions, only the lens. The lens though was scratches, the glass was clean. It was pretty well taken care of. No signs of use whatsoever. So I slapped on a uv filter and slapped it in my camera. Here are the best features of this lens:

Very well constructed. Metal mount, plastic barrel although feels very well made for a mid range Canon lens.
Focus limiter switch works pretty well for macro or general use.
USM motor gives the lens fast silent focusing especially for general use.
Gives you around 6 inches of 1:1 ratio distance from the tip of the lens to your subject.
Focus ring is pretty wide. Feels well dampened but not too tight.
It does not extend when focusing. Very important for a macro lens.
Closes down to f32.
Sharpness is unbelievable. Though most macro lenses are built sharp.
The color rendition is superb.

You can see the strands of wood in the pencil with this shot. Sharpness is superb.

Usm motor allows you to tweak your focus after it has locked without switching between manual and auto focus. It does not rotate either during focusing. It also maintains it's original size even when you're into the 1:1 magnification, this prevents you from accidentally bumping your lens into your subject or the surroundings...although the 6 inches of minimum focus is enough not to let you bump your lens into whatever you're taking pictures of. The auto focus is so fast it's even useful for macro. I have tried this and the autofocus seems to pick up really close subjects too. The minimum f32 aperture is also very useful for macro photography if you need it.

Pretty useful lens for photographing bugs

Set your focus, then open up the give you that awesome depth of field.

Look at the colors!

The thing that I didn't like about this lens is when you use filters like a uv filter, that it does not allow you to attach the Canon macro ring light directly to it. You would have to remove the filters first before you can attach the ring light. I would rather keep the filter in there to protect the lens even if it's a pain to remove it every time I attach the ring light. The only way around it is to attach an adapter to your filter which will allow you to attach the ring light adapter into the adapter that you just installed. In that case, there will be 3 attachments into your lens...the filter, the adapter and the ring light adapter. Pretty complicated huh?

Though it has a bit of shortcomings like the ring light issue and the lens hood not included issue, I still do love this lens. I still would buy another one if mine broke. I bought an aftermarket lens hood for it because they are cheap. I rarely use it though. Compared to my 70mm, they are pretty even in sharpness. The big difference I saw was the contrast and the color rendition of this lens. Most of my sample shots were not color corrected in lightroom. Shots usually are good straight from the camera.

Aside for adding a little brightness to the background, this image was almost straight out of the camera

For full frame cameras, this lens is excellent both for macro and general use. For aps-c cameras, this is still pretty awesome for macro shots, not too useful as a walk around lens though as it becomes a 160mm lens. For me, it's one of the best lenses ever made.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Sunset on a trail

Couple of days ago I went on a grassy trail hike. It is getting cold as it is fall and it is the perfect time to take your camera and shoot outdoors. The changing colors of the leaves of trees is always a perfect subject for nature photography. So a lot of photographers rejoice the coming of fall. Couple of weeks ago we went to a botanic garden, though the leaves hasn't completely changed colors yet. Though it is always a delight taking shots at a botanic garden. Although don't wait too long till the trees don't have any leaves at all.

I prepared by gathering the needed equipment. This was a hike so I put in my mind that I had to travel light, so I had to bring ONLY the necessary equipment needed. No extra flashes or heavy lenses that will weigh me down will go on my camera bag. So I packed my 5d, a 17-40mm, and a couple of filters for my lens. It was pretty sunny out so I left my tripod at home. I knew I was going out on a scenic shots trip so I left my telephoto at home.

So I set my camera for aperture priority, and then started walking. Most of the time I was using an f7.1 aperture as this aperture at that time of the day gave me an average of around f300/sec shutter speed at iso 100, not bad for capturing moving grass from the wind, also not a bad depth of field for scenic shots.

A 320th/sec shutter speed was enough to freeze the moving grass.

The trail was really nice. There were a lot of trees, grass and there was even a pond...which I heard was populated with turtles during summer. At the end of the walk, I looked at the horizon and the sun was already setting. So I took a shot of it.

I set this shot to where the pond is being enclosed by the trees and the grass.

Passed this mini creek in the middle of my hike.

That awesome sunset I captured before heading out to the car.

It's only a matter of weeks before the trees totally lose their leaves and it becomes too cold to walk around. Now's the time to do that autumn nature walk!