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Member Since 01 Oct 2013
Offline Last Active Oct 31 2013 04:16 AM

#6521 Playing with strobe lighting

Posted by onewiththecamera on 31 October 2013 - 04:20 AM

A couple weeks ago I had some fun with a friend. We were at a home football game and were behind the end zone with the band (I shoot a lot of band photos for them). He has one of the top end Canon point and shoot cameras that has a hot shoe on it. I got out my Yongnuo YN-560 II and a pair of radio triggers. We placed a trigger on the strobe and the other on his camera. After a few test shots we got the exposure dialed in on the manual setting (hint... it will usually be at around f/8 with the shutter near flash sync speed - I always do 1/160th of a second). He had the camera and I was holding the strobe. As he shot images I would move the strobe to different angles for the photo. We took multiple shots of each scene of band members. At one point I tossed a grid on the speedlight too. We probably took around 50 shots. It was awesome to play around with the lighting. He learned a little about shooting speedlights, and I got a chance to really play with light angles and effects.


So take a photography friend out with a camera, a pair of wireless triggers, and a speedlight. Have some fun just playing and experimenting. This is the best way to start to learn about the effects of lights on a shot!

#6507 Upgrading from D3000 to D800

Posted by onewiththecamera on 31 October 2013 - 03:48 AM

You said that continuous frame rate is one of the big reasons you want to move beyond th D3000. The D800 only shoots 4 fps so is almost as slow as your D3000. The D800 is not built for fast continuous shooting at all. It is intended as a portrait and landscape type camera where you often don't shoot in continuous mode. You would be better off with either a D5300, D7100, or D610.


Yes the D800 can do a DX lens, but it severily hampers the image you get. Basically you are shooting only a portion of the image sensor and the camera "turns off" the rest of the sensor. The feature is really meant only for limited use.


Is there another reason you feel you want/need to move up to an FX body? There are few really legitimate reasons to move to FX bodies (holding up tomato shield now). The most important thing for your image quality is lenses by far. The D3000 body does have some definite limitations, and not just the frames per second. But most of them can be solved by going to the D5300 or the D7100. You will save a whole ton of money in the process too.


So what I would recommend is going with either the D5300 or the D7100. Then the first lens to get is the Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8 lens. I reviewed that lens on onewiththecamera.com blog post. It is a stunning lens and is only $500 US. I was shocked at how awesome it is. I recommend that everyone on a budget have that lens in the bag. I recommend it before the 50mm f/1.8 even. Then the next lens you would want to look at is the Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 lens. That lens will run you a bit more. It is around $1,500 US. You get another tack sharp lens with a fast continuous aperture again for a fairly reasonable price. I am currently shooting a D5100 and love it. I shot some football with the 28-75mm f/2.8 lens when I rented it and was reviewing it. I don't recommend that lens for football, but for basketball it would be great. Keep in mind I was at the sidelines when I was shooting too. For sports from the stands you definitely will want the 70-200mm.


As far as 50mm f/1.8 or 50mm f/1.4 lenses, save the money if you decide to get a 50 and do the f/1.8 lens. Your depth of field is so shallow already at f/1.8 that many people get a lot of junk pictures from depth of field being too shallow and not having the focus spot on. I did a photo using my old D80 where I was like just under 2 feet away from my daughter. I got the focus point on her nose and her eyes were already out of focus. You have less than 2 inches of DoF when that close.


The other thing you will get with either the D5100 and up or the D7000 and up is stunning high ISO. This will revolutionize your ability to shoot lower light. I shoot my D5100 all the way to ISO 6400 with comfort. I have a photo recently that I got an honors rating at our camera club that was shot at ISO 5000 (one of the football shots with the 28-75mm Tamron lens).


Bottom line is if you get a D5300 body only ($800), the Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8 ($500), and the Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 ($1,500) you will have the full set for $2,800. So for the same price as the D800 you can have a stunning new body with high ISO and two awesome FX lenses. You get 5 frames per second. You also get a camera shooting 24 megapixels and does not have the optical low pass filter so the images are even sharper.

#6499 Autofocus

Posted by onewiththecamera on 31 October 2013 - 03:17 AM

You want to make sure you have as few focus spots as you need to get the spot solidly on the subject that is moving. The other key is to learn to track the subject really well. You need to keep that focus spot solidly on the subject. The faster the lens focuses the better it will track too. This is where getting a more expensive lens often helps. Also, the focus points in the center are cross type focus points. These will be able to lock focus much better than the ones around the edges.

#4531 Third party speedlights

Posted by onewiththecamera on 17 October 2013 - 06:07 PM

Tony, the Yongnuo YN-560 is a fully manual flash and is compatible with anything. Not much to it as far as fancy tech. It is sort of like shooting studio monolights but in a small battery powered version. The YN-565 and 568 are full TTL strobes. So they will work with the D7100 shooting in Aperture priority too. They will have the complicated conversation with the camera about exposure and automagically set everything.


So the question is if you want to go TTL or manual. Each has advantages and disadvantages. Scott Robert Lim did a teach on creativeLIVE.com using full manual strobes and also showed why he does NOT like TTL strobes. I saw Lindsey Adler and a guy do a teach using TTL equipment and they always use TTL. So it just sort of depends on what you like better.


Currently I shoot manual. It is pretty easy to figure out and when you get the nack of it really quite easy. I am thinking of picking up an inexpensive Sekonic light meter, but so far have not been overly hampered with not having one.

#4528 Photographic Books - Choice

Posted by onewiththecamera on 17 October 2013 - 06:01 PM

One that I ALWAYS recommend is "The Moment It Clicks" by Joe McNally. It is a bit different than most photography books. It does not have a lot of text to read, Instead each time you turn the page you will see a large image and then a paragraph or two about it. Sometimes it will be about the inspiration, sometimes about a technical detail, sometimes a funny story about it. The photos are very inspiring. You will learn a ton about lighting (that is probably Joe's biggest specialty). And it is just a relaxing fun read. You will learn and not even feel tired afterwards.

#4526 Tethering D7100 to laptop

Posted by onewiththecamera on 17 October 2013 - 05:55 PM

Tethering rocks!!!! And yes I know the D80 and the D7000/D7100 can tether. I am not sure of the D40. I use Apple Aperture to tether. If you are on a Mac you can also get Sofortbild, and it is free. Lightroom will also do tethered shooting. I think CaptureNX will tether, but I am not sure.


I even shlep a little barstool with me to set the Macbook on when I am on a location shoot. I love how I can see the images on the big 15" screen. I have had a number of images when I saw them on the camera LCD I thought they were good, but when I got them into the computer they were off bad. I don't have that on the computer. It is also easier to show others that way too. And you don't have to dump the SD card later on because they are now already on the computer.


I have thought if I get a D7100 at some point that I would run an Eye-fi card in one of the slots. Then I would shoot RAW to one slot and small JPGs to the Eye-fi slot. i would then set that one up to be tethered to an iPad. That way I can get a larger screen image on something that is more portable with better battery life than my Macbook. Later I can transfer the RAW images to the MBP for editing.


It will be interesting to see what the D5300 is capable of with the built in Wi-fi. It would be cool if you could shoot RAW to the SD card and then Wi-fi to an iPad in real time.

#4523 Changing Lenses

Posted by onewiththecamera on 17 October 2013 - 05:49 PM

IMHO people are too often overworried about getting dirt in the camera from a lens change. I change the lenses regularly and don't do things like pointing the camera body down and such. I just flip it on it's back, pop the old lens off and pop the new one on. I will usually take the cap off the back of the lens while it is in the bag. Then slide the old lens in it's slot in the bag, grab the new lens, mount it on, then put the cap on the old lens. I have had a few times when in a hurry that I have just tossed the lens in the bag and closed the lid and worry about the cap later when I have time if things are moving fast.


I recently saw a video by Jasmine Star where she would do roughly the same thing using a hip bag for the lenses. No caps, just swapping the lenses back and forth as needed during a wedding. I saw the forum light up with critical comments of how could she ever do that, and no professional would ever do that. Hmmmmm, she makes $10,000 just to show up for a wedding is making a massive 6 figure income from her wedding photography (she books between 20 and 23 weddings a year and that is all she wants to book). I felt vindicated when I saw the video. Sure sometimes I get a little dust, but nothing that my brush is not able to brush off.


I am more careful at the beach though. Sand is just nasty. So I always cap right away at the beach. But I have not had any real issues there either.

#4522 Long Exposure

Posted by onewiththecamera on 17 October 2013 - 05:41 PM

If you want to do a really long exposure during the day you will most likely need a very strong neutral density filter. Think sunglasses for the camera. You can also stop down a lot to something like f/16 or better, but you might find you cannot stop down enough. The photo will not look quite a good when stopped down all the way either.

#4507 Nikon D5300 Announced

Posted by onewiththecamera on 17 October 2013 - 03:31 PM

It is interesting that this camera has shipped so soon after the D5200. It seems like Nikon is on a speed race for shipping newer products lately. The specifics on this camera look really nice. However, I don't see anything that is a lightining huge change from either the D5100 or the D5200. I can see this being a camera that might get a number of people to move off like a D40 though.


The integrated Wi-fi does look really interesting. I am curious how easy it will be to use it and how fast it is. Will it be fast enough to shoot wireless tethered while shooting RAW and get reasonable response? Or is it there primarily to send some JPG shots up to social media? It is nice that they have the built in GPS function too now. Nikon has been late to the game for both the Wi-fi and the GPS. I think that the GPS function might be the bigger of these two.


The ability to shoot 60 frames per second is huge for those that are getting into video. This lets a person shoot clips to use for slow motion in post production. I don't see a lot of people using this. But it will be handy for some. The big negative here still is the inability to change aperture while in live view from what I have read. This is a huge issue that Nikon needs to fix. Although some photographers poo poo video on a DSLR, video is a huge feature that is attracting a lot of people. For Nikon to hold on to customers and gain new ones they need to get the video stuff right on the camera!


Finally, I love the red. If I upgrade my D5100 to a D5300, or get a D5300 as a second body (more likely) then I would definitely get the red one. I think that is so cool. I am sure I am in the minority here. But I think it is very stylish.

#4159 Improving auto focus in low light situations

Posted by onewiththecamera on 16 October 2013 - 07:24 AM

Sometimes we get into situations where there is so little light that the auto focus system struggles to find the focus. The details in the subject are so dark and so muted that the camera has no way to discern lines that it needs to bring things into focus. Obviously one way to fix this is the auto focus assist light on the camera. But this has some challenges. First, the light is fairly bright and obnoxious. People will tend to look away when the light goes on. Second, the light is fairly dim too. Yeah I know I just said it is bright. But as far as being bright enough to really light up the subject to get a good auto focus the light is quite dim. This is especially true if the subject is any distance away at all. Third, when the light comes on it gets more difficult to get those more candid style shots because people know you are getting ready to snap a picture. This is not so bad for posed shots, but if you are doing some sort of event shoot then it can be a killer.


There is a good solution for this though. A number of strobes have an autofocus assist light setup on the strobe that works much better. The Yongnuo TTL strobes all have this. The Nikon speedlights have this too. The nice thing about this solution is that they shoot out a red laser pattern. First, the light is less obtrusive. Second, the light has a pattern to it that makes for very easy focusing. Third, you can get those candids because people will most likely not even be aware of it. Fourth, the light travels a longer distance than the annoying light on the camera body.


The only challenge here is that the strobe will fire when you take the photograph. If you don't want the light to affect the photo, like maybe getting a sillouette or something, then you can simply put the speedlight on the lowest power and point it straight up or behind you. You could even mask the strobe with some gaffer tape.


Take note that on the Yongnuo strobes it is only the TTL strobes that have the auto focus assist light. For other brands make sure you do your research before purchasing. One final note.... this is nice too because you can now leave that annoying autofocus assist light on the camera body turned off and next time you are at your kids school play or dance recital you won't be annoying the people in front of you when it goes off and is doing nothing because you are like 50 feet away from the stage. :-)

#3874 Rent BEFORE You Buy

Posted by onewiththecamera on 14 October 2013 - 08:04 PM

Although I am a big fan of rentals, I would say that Stas has a good point. If you are looking at a very inexpensive lens, something less than say $300-400, then it makes much less sense to rent before you purchase. The other thing is to look to see if you can get the rental price put toward the purchase of the lens. Lensrentals.com has a program with a retailer that a good portion of your rental price can be put toward the purchase of a lens.


When looking at a lens that is well over $1,000 then it definitely makes sense to rent it first if you don't know for sure you will like it. This is especially true if reviews list some potential issues. In general the reviews on B&H website are pretty good. But I have seen a number of people that will list faults on certain lenses that I wonder where they are getting this from. This happens more often with lenses other than the camera brand lenses. It is not uncommon to see a Tamron or Sigma lens reviewed as having slow focus. And yet when I watch head to heads on YouTube, or try out the lens myself, I find that they focus more than fast enough. They might be a touch slower by a fraction of a second, a small fraction of a second. But they are still fast enough.


The biggest advantage of rentals is for something you only need periodically and for a very short time. Say you are into nature photography. You are going on a special vacation trip to Alaska, Kenya, or some other place with awesome wildlife. You can rent one of those huge and very expensive zoom lenses for like $150 to $200 where it would cost you $10,000 to $20,000 to buy. You could rent one for a vacation every year and it would take you 10 to 20 years just to break the cost of purchase. And who knows what cool things will come out in lenses in the next 10 years.

#3460 Flash options for macro work

Posted by onewiththecamera on 11 October 2013 - 05:50 AM

A number of things here. First, for the most part the sock simply lowers the power of the strobe, which you can also do on the strobe itself. The reason you have the white spots on the top image, like in the eyes, is the reflection of the light source in the eyes. If the flash is moved well off camera to like a 45 degree axis that would go away. Light follows very specific laws of physics. If your light is on or right near the camera then the light (in like the reflections or specular highlights) will return almost dead center on the reflective surface. This is not a bad thing. But you do lose some detail where the specular highlight is.


You have strongish shadows in the top photo because the light is what is called small or hard light. The beam is very narrow. If you snoot the light you will get the exact same thing. The more narrow the source of the light the harsher the shadows, and the highlights, are. You want to open up the FlashBender as wide as possible to get rid of that. Your goal is to make the light source as wide as possible. Rogue sells a strip box attachment for the FlashBender to make the light source even larger. That will soften your light even more. It will get a little unwieldy for hand holding, but it would work. In the studio we often will use big ass 6 foot softboxes to get very soft light. Your LED flashlight will be hard light too.


For the catapillar in the lower shot, the prickles stand out because they are white so they are highly reflective. Also, you have your light very close to the subject so the background is very dark. This makes the prickles really stand out being surrounded by black. Light falls off on an inverse square law. This means that as you double the distance from the light source you quarter the amount of light you have. The laymans way of stating it is that light falls off VERY fast. As you get the light source and the subject very close to each other the ratios are really dramatic. I am assuming you did not shoot the catapillar at night. I have gotten shots like this in the middle of the day with a strobe about 2 feet from the subject. The light from the strobe overpowered all ambient light, and the fall off was so fast that it looked like it was middle of the night.


Here is the math of this for the more geekly inclined. Assume the strobe is 1 foot away from the subject. At 1 foot from the strobe (at the subject) you have full power for the exposure. At 2 feet from the strobe you have 1/4th the light or two stops less light. Each time you drop a stop of light you half the amount of light so two stops is a quarter of the light. At 4 feet you have 4 stops less light. Thus if you are lighting the subject with the strobe where the strobe is supplying 4 stops more light than the ambient light anything 4 feet or farther away is essentially in pure darkness. The interesting thing is you can add ambient light simply by going with a longer shutter speed without really impacting the exposure on the subject at all. With strobe photography you use aperture and flash power to control exposure and shutter speed to control how much ambient light you get in.


As long as your histogram is not showing any spiking in the highlights your photo is not over exposed, you have a good exposure. If you don't like the shadows then you need to soften the light by making it bigger with a softbox effect not harder with a snoot or grid. If you don't like the specular highlights then you need to rotate your flash off camera by at least 45 degrees. If you think the prickles stand out then you need to either raise your ambient light in the background or you need to darken the prickles by hand in post. At any rate I think the photos are stunning and also well lit.

#3188 Storefront window glare

Posted by onewiththecamera on 09 October 2013 - 09:12 AM

Actually what you are seeing is not glare per se. It is reflections in the window. A polarizing filter may minimize that a bit, but not by much. The best way to get rid of it is to shoot it at night with things inside the window well lit. You might find you get a lot of reflection from streetlights though, so that is something to watch for. You will also want to watch for distractions from other things in the background in the store though at night too. I would get some huge backdrop cloths of some sort and hang them behind the display. Then use lights creatively to light the display items. You can do speedlights, or you could get some of those parabolic clippy lights and put in fairly bright lights into them. Flag them in the front so they are not so prominent in the photo.


You can get rid of the reflections using flags too (not the state or national kind). Basically a flag is something that goes between things to block something. So you could get like huge sheets of say black foam core. You could get like 1/4" insulation panels and paint them black or dark grey. Then have someone hold them between the window and whatever is reflecting in the window. You could just hold up a huge black flat sheet or something like that. If it is white you will make the reflection worse. It has to be dark like black or gray or very dark blue.

#3115 Third party speedlights

Posted by onewiththecamera on 08 October 2013 - 07:37 PM

The Yongnuo flashes are incredible. The company used to make fairly cheap stuff. But they have come a very long way in the last couple years. They are obviously wanting to be a major player in the lighting market while keeping prices low. I initially used the YN-460. They were lower power, and cheaply built. But I had heard good things about what the company was doing so I got the YN-560 II. I LOVE that flash. It is powerful (as powerful as the SB-900). It recycles very fast. It is quite good on battery power. Often I am running the flash at between 1/8 and 1/16 power and it will recycle sub-second speeds with my Eneloop batteries. On the D5100 I can shoot continuous at 1/16th power on the strobe and it keeps up fine.


The YN-560 is a manual only strobe. So you have to get used to learning how to set the power and your camera settings and can only use it with the camera on manual. The YN-565 is a full TTL strobe. It also has the auto focus assist light too. This works much better than the one on your camera. It puts out a red light pattern on the subject which is much less distracting to the people and the camera will auto focus on it much better. The YN-568 is their top end strobe. It is full TTL just like the 565. It also has the wireless reciever and it supports high speed sync, allowing you to go above your flash sync speed for shutter speed.


The YN-560 runs about $60. The YN-565 is about $120 and the YN-568 is about $180. When you consider that the SB-700 is around $320 and the SB-910 is around $550 the Yongnuo strobe is a huge savings. You can purchase three of the YN-565 for the price of one SB-700.

#3075 Will Nikon ever upgrade my beloved D300s witha new Model D400 ?

Posted by onewiththecamera on 08 October 2013 - 03:35 PM

Basically NOPE.... IMHO you will never ever ever see it. It is a pipe dream. There is no where in the Nikon line up for a D300 replacement outside of what is already out there. When Nikon is selling a $2,000 full frame and the D7100 is selling so well with DX awesomeness at $1,200 there is just no room. A $1,800 DX body would just languish in the warehouse other than the 43 people that keep saying the D300s is the best thing since sliced bread.