Saturday, August 22, 2009

Canon EF 20mm 2.8

Got a new lens recently. I found that with a lot of my lifestyle work I use wide angles a lot, and wanted one that was fast (wide aperture).
To that end I wound up getting a Canon EF 20mm 2.8 USM from my friends at I gotta say it's exactly what I wanted, in fact I don't know why more people don't have it.
We all hear about the 50mm 1.4 or 50mm 1.8, and they definitely are lenses you can't do without, but I'm gonna go out on a limb here and buck the trend and say if there was a fire, I'd take my 20mm over the 50mm. It suits my style better.
Don't forget too that on a crop sensor 20mm becomes 32mm which is a really good walk around lens.
Anyway to try it out I grabbed the camera this afternoon when my wife Heidi and I walked our dog Gordy along the beachfront where we live in Currumbin on the Gold Coast of Australia.

Things, I like about it:
  • Weight feels good, not too heavy but not too light, build quality seems excellent.
  • USM focus which I need, not everyone needs it but I find that in commercial work with moving subjects I have fewer throwaways with a lens that can focus fast, I'm willing to pay for it.
  • Price seems pretty good, not the cheapest of lenses but for a good quality lens I found it acceptable.
  • Image quality seems real good to me, maybe I just got a good copy, but I'm happy with it, comparable with the 50mm 1.4.
Things I don't like
  • Vignetting, Purple fringing, contrast and saturation performance seem a little weak for the price, but these can all be fixed in post so I'm OK with it.
Overall, I'm glad I got it.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Jamie Blogs (Publicity Whore)

Well I went down the street today to my mate Jamie Mitchell's house to help him setup his blog. This guy has won the 32 mile Molokai to Oahu paddle race in Hawaii 8 years in a row, holds the world record, was a finalist in the Billabong XXL monster wave event in 2007, and needs someone to hold his hand to set up a blog. I've shot Jamie a few times for various promotional and advertising reasons, and he is a legend, fun on a night out too when he lets himself drink. Don't let the photo fool you, I had the computer the whole time.
Anyway, since I set up his blog, I wrote his first blog post and gave myself a plug. Check out Jamie's blog here.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Giving it Away

I wish I had a five cent piece for each time I’ve been asked “Was this a paid shoot?” while showing someone some photos I had just taken.

Now I know that people are just being engaging when they ask that, and are genuinely curious, but I think that the misconception out there is that if the answer is no, that somehow the photos have less value or the time you spent taking them was more disposable than if they were taken for commercial purposes.

The reality is, you should work for free, we all should a lot more.

Fellow photographer and contributor Adam Bolt recently wrote an article about his experience with an initially free shoot and how he successfully used it to get his foot in the door with a corporate client.

There’s another reason why we should work for free, and this reason brings us back to why we take photos in the first place…..creativity. In order to be successful at any level, we have to maintain our creative edge. Someone throwing a roll of hundred dollar bills in our laps is not gonna turn us into artists. We take photos and create pictures because that is the only way that our chosen artistic medium works. We have to produce and share to validate our existence.

Let me qualify this with a disclaimer, by giving it away I am not talking about someone else taking it from you. There is a huge difference between embarking on your own creative works and being taken advantage of. The way that I approach it is it has to be my idea, sometimes a result of collaborating with another creative individual, but I have to want to do it for me.

I know now more than ever that I have to set aside time for my own creative works, even if this means delaying or passing up on a paid shoot, and never regret it.

Bottom line, noone can ask me to work for nothing, but I can never give it away enough.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Maddog's Run

Steve “Maddog” Madden’s training run starts in Tugun, heads across the border of New South Wales, winds through the hills of Northern NSW and cane fields of Murwillumbah, and hooks round the oceanfront back to Tugun, roughly 80 km round trip.

Serious cyclists like Steve are different from the groups you see who get dressed up and ride 2 blocks to the local cafe in athletic lingerie like a Lance Armstrong themed fancy dress party. A training run is long, lonely and hard mentally and physically.

High tec met low tec to get these shots, I wanted to get angles I hadn’t really seen before, so I rigged the camera to the bike using gaffer tape and zip ties, and used a radio trigger hooked up to the PC port in the camera to trigger focus and shutter release.

View the setup shots on my Facebook fanpage here.

The rest of the series can be viewed here

Visit my site or follow me on Twittter

Saturday, August 8, 2009

I Went to Litttle St. Kilda Cafe...You Should Know

Little St. Kilda Cafe is in Palm Beach on the Gold Coast of Australia.
View the rest of the pics on my Facebook page here:

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Shoe Shop

Shot this for a designer, funny how we can spend thousands on digital equipment with wonderful colours, noise reduction, critical focus and intelligent metering, and then photoshop in barrel distortion, film grain, and make it black and white.
In this shot I wanted to replicate those classic fly-on-the-wall shots of someone with an old camera people watching, so I got Lana to take off a shoe and look away from me so her identity felt more mysterious.
I then added the film grain and "roughed it up" in processing to get it back to how I imagined it would have been snapped by a passer by with a flim camera.

Overpowering the Sun

Someone recently wrote to me and asked me how this photo was taken, and whether Photoshop was used to achieve the dramatic effect.

Now, although some processing was done in Lightroom. The effect does not come about by processing at all. The dramatic tones are a result of the flash essentially overpowering the light from the sun.

This photo was taken for US eyewear manufacturer Kaenon Polarized who sponsor Australian Paddleboard Champion Jamie Mitchell. Jamie lives up the street from me and this was shot around the corner from where we both live just before sunset.

To give the shot the effect you see, I stopped down the aperture to about F9, which due to the time of day really underexposed the ambient light and essentially made the shot too way too dark. Then, to compensate, I used a speedlight held by a voice activated lightstand (Jamie’s girlfriend Jocelyn) and fired it at the model to bring him back into correct exposure. I put a stofen diffuser on the speedlight to soften it.

What makes the image “pop” is the rimlight on Jamie’s side nearest to the sun which seperates him from the background and really brings him out.

You can overpower the sun at pretty much any time of the day, although to do so at midday you would need a lot more light than one speedlight can offer. Doing it when there is less ambient light is much easier if your lighting equipment is limited.

One final note, last week Jamie went on and won the 57 kilometer Molokai to Oahu paddleboard race in Hawaii for the 8th consecutive time, putting him in among an elite group of atheletes who have dominated at the highest levels of there respsective sports. Congratulations Jamie!

I launched my website this week, check it out here