Basic Instructions

It never ceases to amaze me that no matter how many times one picks up a camera to shoot the potential to learn something new is always a pregnant possibility.

On Saturday I had an event to cover, a 12-hour day/night shift so naturally I checked all my equipment the day before and double-checked on Saturday that everything was there and working properly before I left: spare batteries, spare SD cards, all lenses as well as the camera itself.

In the past, when camera manuals were small books that came with the camera I always included it my kit bag. Why? Because if something can go wrong it will go wrong and it will always go wrong when you are working, so the book helps immeasurably with little quirks that sometimes happen – quirks that are interesting when you are at home and just playing, but stressful when someone is paying for your time. After doing this work for a few years one begins to think that there is nothing about the camera to learn, but a camera can always surprise you.

So I take my camera out of the bag, check that the dial is set to manual (I always shoot in manual) and then try to adjust the aperture, a flashing L appears in the information window and that’s it. The aperture changes in Aperture priority but nowhere else.

Things were happening and I needed to take pictures immediately so I worked around the problem for the entire event.

I thought at the time it was a software glitch, what else could it be my computer wire brain told me

It was the dedicated lock button. Three minutes at home the next day in a bright and quiet atmosphere was enough to solve the riddle.

My old 5D had the feature on the on/off switch, which often irritated me but I’ve never used the lock button on this camera, nor do I understand who or why one would. I think that, as I took the camera from the bag I inadvertently moved the sliding lock button half a centimeter, enough to cause the problem.

I now know what the flashing L means.

24-70mm, f2.8, 1/125sec, ISO 8,000

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A Momentary Moment

On Saturday I was taking photos for the Literarisches Colloquium Berlin or the LCB for short. It was the annual Garden Party day held at their stately chalet at Wannsee. A day full of reading, music and good cheer that went off exceptionally well marred only by the occasional shower of rain. It was a wonderful day, but after a few hours of photographing literary luminaries, reading, chatting and sipping drinks in a beautiful garden setting my mind began to want a little more photographically.

 

Late in the afternoon I was taking a break and talking to the writer Milenko Goranovič when a beam of light speared into the room as the day faded, transforming an otherwise dully lit space into a visually exciting Hopper-like environment. Milenko, who I have photographed before took directions without dissent, thereby enabling me to get a couple of very nice images in the short envelope of time before a door was closed blocking out the light. You might say a modern version of the decisive moment, where I took advantage of a lighting opportunity and posed someone nearby for no other reason than that a creative moment existed momentarily.

 

24-70mm, f2.8, 1/30sec ISO400.

Why Bother

I was asked the other day why I bother with experiments such as the posts on the 25th and 26th of September. For those who didn’t read the post, I’m trying to emulate old film style grain in camera with a modern digital camera.

But why?

Because for me it has always been about the finished product, not the medium and for my current project(s), that special softer grainy look usually only found in higher speed film is both what I like and especially what I want/need to make the thing work.

If you take the time to compare today’s image with that of the 25th it becomes obvious that getting that “look is not as easy as it would first appear.

Today’s image was post-processed to be high contrast grainy without going over the top, keeping it real you might say. But still, because the picture was correctly exposed there is minimal noise/grain, which when you consider that the picture was shot in bad yellow tungsten light at ISO12800, then it is both amazing and a bit dispiriting, because if, like me, you are after that soft edge and very grainy look that’s the predominant feature of high speed film, then normal exposure rules won’t work.

 

24-70mm, f7.1, 1/125sec, ISO12800

Ah Berlin

Love it or hate it, this city often offers up the most unusual images for the dedicated street photographer and what more can a man and his camera ask?

 

24-70mm, f3.2, 1/100sec, ISO200

Prime Time

I would consider myself a very practical person, one who doesn’t buy things unless there is a real need and I’ve had this need for a 35mm prime for a few weeks now. I already own a 24-70mm f2.8 zoom, but it is so heavy I dread taking it out. It is a wonderful lens, but all that great glass weighs more than the camera.

I’m doing portraits on location and as a consequence I’ve learnt the joys of shedding excess weight in the kit bag. At the moment I have the kit bag down to 14 kilos, not bad when you consider this includes a camera, three lenses, a tripod, two stands, three speedlights, four light modifiers, plus ancillary triggers, batteries, etc.

My go to lenses are the 50mm and 70-200mm, but sometimes you just need something a little wider and I struggle to be enthusiastic about carrying the 24-70mm for those few times. So it had become incumbent on me to price a light-weight wide. An original Canon 35mm f2 is €560, a lot more than I was prepared to spend on an occasional lens, and then by accident I stumbled on a page advertising Yonugnuo 35mm f2 for €120, which seemed to be too cheap for a lens of anything but meager quality. Reviews on the net seemed to think it was passable for the price so I ordered one (I finally found it for €95).

Sure, it’s like stepping back ten years to the days when lenses didn’t have super quiet sonic auto focus motors, but the build is solid and it’s as sharp as I’ll ever need. I know the Canon lenes has all the latest developments including image stabilizer, but with usable ISO’s of 3500 I’ve never used image stabilizer and in worst-case scenarios (I will be in such a scenario tomorrow) I will usually default to a tripod or monopole.

This picture was taken yesterday in Dresden with the new 35mm, which I spent the day testing. I’m a little bit in love with it at the moment, but these things pass.

 

35mm, f2, 1/1250sec,  ISO100

 

if your interested in portraits my other site is;

https://peerlessportraitcompany.wordpress.com

 

Being busy with renovations leaves no time to be out and about shooting frames, a little time to process an image is about the best I can manage at the moment.

This picture was taken in April last year and it is indicative of the way I often rely on the smallest thing within the frame to hold the picture together. The human silhouetted in this image gives the picture both depth and a sense of mystery. It also contrasts dramatically against hard lines of the massive steel structure while balancing the composition at the same time.

 

24-70mm, f5.6, 1/160sec, ISO100

Just Because

What can I say, I just like the rhythm/lines/contrasts or whatever in this picture. It has a nice balance for my eye and oddly enough, it was difficult to decide between this and the colour version. Also, while I was post-processing the picture I thought it might be better without the white van, but then couldn’t convince myself it would, so it stayed as it is.

 

24-70mm, f8, 1/320sec, ISO100