Behind the Scenes..

BTS - Daniel K Cheung in Action

BTS - Daniel K Cheung in Action

So how does it all come together? I thought I would make a quick post just to show how it all comes together, from behind the camera. Each final image usually has a lot more of time put into it that the average viewer would think. Sure it may be taken in a flurry of shots amongst a day.. but it then gets imported, makes the first cut, makes the second cut, receives and edit.. then a touch up.. then a review.. then an export and finally an upload. I would hate to think on average the time spent on getting just one image from the shutter button to the online album!

In my shooting I haven’t shot behind the scenes much before, but I am increasingly liking the candid side of these shots… just to show the kind of times (early morning), weather, danger (waves), light, locations and general effort that is put in by the photographer to bring out some of the best shots that people get to enjoy.

This is just one of my good friend Daniel K Cheung at Ben + Kat’s wedding this past Saturday. I have a few more from the day I will include in the final wedding album, but I will definitely aim to show you a little bit more of what is going on behind the camera.

Me @ Sunrise - Shot by Campbell Simpson

Me @ Sunrise - Shot by Campbell Simpson

Here is a shot of me at Coogee in the very early hours of March 2010 (6:15am I think).. I had gotten up at 4:00am… made some tea.. checked my gear and made the tired old drive to the beach with Pantera blaring to get me up. Was it worth it? Hell yeah! This has given me one of my most favourite shots to date which you can see below (albeit perhaps a little while after the shot was taken of me).

Coogee Sunrise HDR

Coogee Sunrise HDR

I look forward to bringing you the rest of the Wedding set later this week.

Till next time..

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Better Half & the 17-55mm f2.8

Better Half

Better Half

So an unexpected surprise this week.. ive been aiming for the Nikon 24-70 f2.8 for the last few weeks now.. ready to pounce on a brand new one from DWI. I had previously considered (and put in an offer) for a 17-55mm f2.8 the flagship DX lens from Nikon. Dan says to me “Mint Condition, Aust Stock 17-55mm f2.8 $1k cash” … let me just say it didnt take me long to be convinced.. and as you can see from the above I am definitely not dissapointed!

Rushed to pick it up today, to use on Saturday (Assisting Dan with another Wedding) and I really look forward to seeing what it can really do. The AF is snappy, the build quality is good.. the zoom ring is a little stiffer than I expected but all in all I am a very happy chappy. Ill pop up some more examples (most likely once ive processed the wedding)

But watch this space! A big thanks to Dan…

Till next time..

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35mme – Nikon 35mm 1.8 Self Portrait

35mme

35mme

The latest addition to my slowly growing collection of gear… 35mm 1.8.. picked up second hand and am hoping it opens up some new doors in comparison to the 50mm… Ill do a comparison between the two very soon!

Till next time..

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1 Stop, 2 Stop, 10 Stop.. MORE!

Caution

Caution

No it is not your average amount of toilet breaks for a family trip.. its a filter.. or 3 that I have in my skyrocket. My latest being a Hitech 10 Stop filter from Formatt.co.uk. An interesting filter indeed, and one that may take some mastering. An interesting concept the 10 stop filter, it is as black as welding glass and you think from first look that it is impossible to see through. Well.. it practically is, and you need to expose for a long time to suit! One of the biggest annoyances is the fact that you cant focus through it, so you have to focus and slide it into place. Not such a problem you say? Well well.. when its dark it is hard enough.. and well with my current setup (D40 and 10-20mm) it makes this extra difficult. Normally I would simply switch the AF off on the D90, and focus infinity with the 10-20. But since the 10-20 doesnt have a switch (for af/mf) and the D40 has no inbuilt focus motor, it is an automatic occurance!

10 Stop Boats

10 Stop Boats

Blast I say, these boats were a challenge but also good fun. Coming in at roughly 30% of the price of the Lee Big Stopper.. I would have to say.. perhaps the Lee is worth the price that is asked of it. Why? Well the challenges with the Hitech 10 stop filter go well beyond the simple fact it makes it difficult to focus. This comes down to the fundamental construction of filters, and how it handles IR (Infra-red). This is resulting in a massive magenta cast over the majority of my shots with this filter thus far. I have tried different white balances, fixing in post.. but short of me finding a white/grey card to use when I use this bad boy I dont forsee the problem going away whilst I continue using my D40. Perhaps the D90 will handle it better? Who knows… I have successfully taken shots with the filter during the day and exposed it correctly. This left a very slight magenta cast, and something that should be fixable in post.

Floating Tuning Forks

Floating Tuning Forks

For now, I may just have to result in converting to B&W.. which yields also some special results. Long exposures and black and white really works for me. Adding some contrast and some unusual water/light and object forms and you have a combination that can quite easily work well together.

To give the filter a break for once though… I need to test more and I need to perhaps use it in some more useable light. There is an element of user error (in terms of exposure time) and I hope to give it a really good bash before deciding whether it will be retired to Ebay or form part of the family.

Till next time..

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Beware Photographer!

Beware!

Beware!

A capture from Saturday morning and my expendition to the Mahon Pool near Maroubra. I checked this spot out before hand, for a little while (had been in the area for a while) to see if any big sets or waves had come up high.. it looked clear so I ventured down onto the plat form below. There was another tog further along the platform, but probably 5m further back from where I was.

3rd wave, bang this big sucker! I captured it good, and the camera gear was fine (just resulted in me being wet). But it is a reminder to all out there to be vigilant! Never turned your back on the sea (not even for a moment) and be prepared to skedaddle out of there if required.

Processing some more shots from the morning and will post about it soon.. more stormy coming up as well! I left him at work for a few days and missed out on some photo ops, im thinking he will be getting his Octoberfest on very soon!

Till next time..

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So I migrated to Adobe Lightroom three point zero..

Old Land, New View

Old Land, New View

Dont hit me! I am not a traitor to Photoshop CS5.. more just of a now selective user. As someone who does not yet have a massive photography catalogue (sitting between 5 and 10,000 photos) I had not yet thought much past naming conventions. Easy enough, I quite like my folder system of ‘YYMMDD Description’ It is something that will list.. probably well belong I pass (and lets hope thats many years and hundreds of thousands of photos later). Now a lot of my tog buddies have all told me about lightroom and how necessary it was. Me, well I actually came from using photoshop for graphics work, and naturally was used to the work flow. Adobe Bridge irked me much like Alan irks Charlie in Two and a Half Men. So where did that leave me? Using a third party image viewer, remembering file names I liked (or writing on postits) and generally a flow that got the job done but perhaps at a level of inefficiency that would cause strokes in the most relaxed of bean counters.

So to help me with this transition, enter stage left my friend Rob and his knowledge. He’s dropped over during the week and given me a run down on how the file management works, along with the basic use of presets, tools and exporting. Infact, paired with my previous knowledge and the detailed run through im now up and running (as you can see above). More to the point, I also now have a watermark (would like to know if you think it is too intrusive, I dislike but I digress… we are in a digital age).

Initial thoughts are .. wow.. I can quickly edit, have preset sizes and standard processing for images I do often (such as Iron Photography entries and Stormy Stormtrooper) and the ability to quickly check images on the fly, rate them, tag them, search them and sort them. I dont know why I didnt move over before?

A little tip for new users, I worked out what put me off.. it was a double sharpen.. one in LR and one in the export phase… it cost me 2 weeks of laborious photoshop work! Dont make the same mistake!

Might give a run through of some specifics over the coming months as I learn more, also perhaps how to make your own watermark.

Quiet week this week.. no sunrise.. bad weather.. but this gives me hours in the house with Stormy Stormtrooper.

Till next time..

Darth Paper & A4 Stormtroopers

Darth Paper & A4 Stormtroopers

Darth Paper & A4 Stormtroopers

OCAU (http://www.overclockers.com.au) is a fantastic Australian based online forum. Originally created for the hobby of overclocking computers, this vibrant forum has expanded into many different hobbies and activities; one of these being Photography. In fact the forum is responsible for a lot of inspiration and also where I purchased my first DSLR.

So each month they have a themed competition in the Photography section. This is called the ‘Iron Photographer’ with the winner receiving a prize. Now i like to try and get creative with these themes, and I find it a good way to gain inspire and try something outside of the box. So this month the theme was ‘paper’ and after having a look around, I found some paper stormtrooper models. Going with the whole star wars theme and my current project 52 with Stormy Stormtrooper; I decided it was a great opportunity to try something new. Infact.. I think it has worked marvellously and the entire thing was done with paper and a printer (plus many hours of my hard labour, some paper cuts and lots of swearing).

Never the less.. I am very happy with the result and I hope I have earnt your vote this month!

Some more Stormy Stormtrooper coming this weekend :) Here is a behind the scenes shot, of how I set the photo up.

Behind the Scenes – Photosetup

Till next time..

Joby Gorillapod SLR & Yongnuo MC36R Cable Release

Joby Gorillapod SLR & Yongnuo MC36R Cable Release

Joby Gorillapod SLR & Yongnuo MC36R Cable Release

I love new toys :) Recently for the trip to the snow I quickly aquired a Joby Gorillapod SLR tripod for the trip.. lightweight.. easy to carry and easy to adjust I thought this perfectly fits the bill! After much use, I think I have certainly found a winner… it is a great bit of kit.. moreso for taking shots of small things at close range. This makes a big difference for me as setting up my 190XPROB & 804RC2 combo can be tiresome and toooo much effort for a small shoot.

Ill do a shoot this week for Stormy’s adventure using the new Gorillapod.

Next comes to the new cable shutter release by Yongnuo. This factory is based in China and the ebay store is full of wonderful items at wonderful prices.. but is this a case of you get what you pay for? First impressions are, no.. infact you get a lot more for what you pay! They keep it simple, the KISS rule is great.. especially when it comes to matching the expectations of customers. Photography is no cheap hobby by all means, so any chance I get to save a buck or two (probably to go towards a beer) gets 10 points in my book. I mainly bought this for use to capture star trails but am definitely going to play with a few different styles that can use a tool such as this.

Im thinking ill write a review of both, with example shots as well as positionings and pro’s/con’s.

Anyway just thought I would share a new toy..

Till next time..

The Power of Technology

Polaroid Stormtrooper

Polaroid Stormtrooper

It is not often i get to bring to the table new technology. My love of technology unfortunately does not stretch much further than what my wallet holds. Luckily for me, the cheapness of phone plans and available deals at the right time is almost like the moons aligning.

SO i have now aquired a new HTC Desire running Android 2.1…. my first thoughts are WOW. After passing on the iPhone bandwagon for sometime now I decided to take the route that has been less travelled somewhat for the time being.

As someone who is deeply interested into photography, the bane of my existence has been seeing numerous people do iPhone 365 projects… great i think.. as I take a pretty crappy looking photo on my old Nokia E63, I wonder how I can make my own phone into a Photo Project Machine.

So after unboxing the device and getting used to the new fandangled touchscreen and pinch techniques, my first point of call is camera apps. Played with a few before i stumbled on fxCamera, presets for Polaroid, Fisheye, Warholing, Symmetry and just regular shoot and process.

Im astounded and in love at the same time.. i simply just click share.. flickr.. upload.. and its done.. my photo is on my photostream and ready to go.. whats better.. its process and not looking half bad.

What i might do is have a go at writing a few guides to making the most of your cameraphone, i mean why not.. it can only get better from here? I feel like I am one step closer to being Maxwell Smart.. and if I pick up my game.. by the time im ready to take the next leap to the new phone generation.. I might just be James Bond.

Zeb Warholed

Zeb Warholed

Guide to Post Processing Tilt Shift Effect. Buckingham Place.. with a Shift.

Buckingham Palace Tilt Shift

Buckingham Palace Tilt Shift

So you can get a Tilt shift lens, but on my budget it all comes down to… Photoshop!

This is an effect where you can almost minaturise different situations by creating a very thing DOF (Dept of Field)

The process is quite simple, however i think it lies more within the shot of choice to create the effect.

The shot needs to be able to be blurred enough to still form the frame of the shot (i.e – you can still know what you are looking at even tho it is severely out of focus).

I currently do this Post Processing in Photoshop CS3 and CS4.

Method.

1. Load the image you want to edit into Photoshop
2. Press Q (to open Quick Mask)
3. Select the Gradient Tool (where Paint bucket is) and ensure you have the Center fading to top/bottom option selected along the top bar.
4. Now shift draw your line and you will see it create the gradient look… i find to get the best results dont try and keep too much in focus.
*TIP* The area you want in focus; draw your line downwards from roughly 50% through the area you want in focus. Draw this line a little below where you want the DOF to end. Also.. experiment with different effects.
5. Press Q again (to Exit Quick Mask) and you will see a rectangular selection of your photo.
6. Go to the Filter Menu. Filter -> Blur -> Lens Blur.
7. Ensure that Hexagon is selected, and start with level 20.
8. Apply the effect and see how it has turned out. From here, you can go back to Step 6 (or click back in History) and adjust the settings to suit your taste.
9. Once you have the desired Tilt Shift Effect you can further enchance the look by adding some Sharpness and Saturation.
10. Go to the Filter Menu. Filter -> Sharpen -> Smart Sharpen
11. Start with 20%, Radius 20.0 pixels and Remove: Gaussian Blur
12. Apply the effect and see how it has turned out. From here, you can go back and adjust the sharpen effect until you are happy.
13. Go to the Image Menu. Image -> Adjustments -> Vibrance (On CS4, earlier versions please select Saturation)
14. Bump the Saturation level up to 30 – 40. Add some Vibrance too, anywhere up to 50 and see the effect. From here, repeat or go back through the process until you have enhanced the image the way you like.
15. Crop the image to suit (If you have not cropped pre-edit). Please keep in mind the idea behind the Tilt Shift is that you would like to create the minature feel, and this means the viewer must be able to make out what the OOF (Out of Focus) area is, as a scale size for the IF (In Focus) area.

In the above image I have;
- Slightly straightened and cropped the image.
- Created a thin DOF based on the people in the photo
- Lens Blur Settings: Hexagon & Level 30
- Saturation +40
- Vibrance +75
- Smart Sharpen of 25% at 20.0 Pixels.

This image was difficult, as I wanted to retain some of the details of Buckingham Palace, otherwise it would be lost in the image. I am more happy with the OOF area at the bottom of the image.

I hope you find this small guide useful.

Till next time..

You can view some more of my Tilt Shifts here.

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