Sunday, 30 May 2010

Shoreham Airshow 2010 - Park Cameras Photo Workshop

Shoreham Air Show in Sussex has to be one of my favourite shows of the year for many reasons - including proximity to home and the fact that the flight line is illuminated by the sun for the whole day. I’ve been to air shows where you end up shooting into the sun which doesn’t help when trying to create decent images. All you get is a headache from looking into the sun for too long. All the images in this blog where created by me during the last 5 years at the Shoreham Air Show.
  
Replica WW1 Biplane Fighter

The 2010 Shoreham Airshow will be special in many ways. It’s the Centenary year of Shoreham Airport and the 70th anniversary of the Battle of Britain. The flying show this year starts at 11:30 AM and concludes approximately 6 hours later. I’ve been asked by Park Cameras to host an air show photography workshop based in the VIP enclosure on Saturday 21 and Sunday 22 August 2010. This promises to be a great day for all as we’ll benefit from our own parking area away from the crowds and our own space within the VIP enclosure.



Whether or not you’re an aviation enthusiast, a place in the VIP enclosure has to be the best way to experience Shoreham Air Show - the whole air show centres around the VIP enclosure giving you opportunities to get photographs other will not.




There is always plenty going on in the air at Shoreham and this year is no exception. There’ll be the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight, aerobatics, parachute displays, the Harrier and Tornado Euro Fighter. For more information go to the Shoreham Airshow website www.shorehamairshow.com.




Park Cameras have put together an incredible package including a pre-show airside tour with loads of opportunities to get some special shots away from the crowds. With any luck there will also be a special photo call with the Breitling wing walkers, their 1940s Boeing Stearman biplanes and flight crew. Places for this special package will be snapped up quickly so be sure to book your place today. You can find out more by going to the dedicated page on the Park Cameras website.

And another good reason to book your place now - all participants will benefit fro exclusive pre-airshow offers! I look forward to seeing you the 21or 22 August for what will be a stunning two days of airborne thrills and entertainment.



Aerosuperbatics Wing Walker on Boeing Stearman 1940s Biplane

All images photographed at Shoreham Airshow. Copyright © 2005 - 2010 Ian Pack.

Saturday, 29 May 2010

Off Camera Flash Portrait

This is a very simple set-up using one off camera Speedlite or hot shoe flash to create a stunning portrait.


This portrait was created on in my back yard under a large sun shade which was actually protecting us from rain. First of all I needed to evaluate my background exposure and then set the camera so that the background didn't overpower the foreground.

Initial Exposure1/100th sec f4 100 ISO  and Background exposure 1/200th sec f4 100 ISO

I set the camera to 100 ISO and daylight colour balance. I then shot a frame to judge the background exposure, left above and decided I'd like it darker so under exposed by 1 stop. The initial frame was shot with the camera set to Av (Aperture value) the second with M (Manual). Initial exposure f4, 1/100th sec, actual exposure f4 1/200th sec.

Background exposure 1/200th sec f4 100 ISO with subject in place

The light source is to camera left, approximately 2 feet from the subject. In this case the light source is a Canon 550 EX Speedlite fitted with a scoop reflector pointing onto a flat white disc reflector to give a broad even light. The Speedlite is clamped to the umbrella upright with a Manfrotto 175 Justin clamp and the disc reflector held in place with a Joby Gorillapod SLR. The Speedlite was set to Manual 1/8th power and trigger with a cheap Ebay radio trigger. Had I pointed the Speedlite through the white disc I probably could have set the power to 1/16th or even 1/32nd. The white disc is translucent so light was being lost through the disc behind the photographer.

Remember that the closer your light source is to your subject the softer it will be and will also fall off quicker. You should aim to keep your power settings as low as possible so the flash recycles quickly and you don't miss fleeting expressions.

Canon 55 EX Speedlite with White Scoop Fired onto White Disc Reflector

As you can see, this gives a broad flattering light with soft shadows. Working with a relatively wide stop on a 50 mm f1.4 prime lens gives good separation from the background. The camera was a Canon 50D, so the lens is equivalent to 80 mm on a full frame (36 x 24 mm) sensor.

The "straight" frame without any warming on the flash and an under exposed background

All of these frames are pretty much as they were shot without any post-production; just a few tweeks to Clarity etc in ACR (Adobe Camera Raw). Personally, I like to see flesh tones warmer rather than cooler. I've never had anyone complain about looking a little sun-kssed, even in England! I could warm the whole shot in post-production, which without creating a layer mask would warm the whole image. Alternatively, the subject's skin tones can be warmed up locally by the use of a coloured gel over the flash, in this case a Roscolux #08 Pale Gold from the Rosco Strobist Gel Collection. This was held in place with a Go Pro Photo Gel Clip instead of messy tabs of gaffer tape or Velcro which leave a sticky residue on your flash.

The "warm" frame with a Roscolux #08 on the flash and an over exposed background

Personally, I prefer the warmer frame. When you're shooting a portrait it's worth experimenting with warming gels on the flash and varying the background exposure. In this case I could achieve a brighter background as the subject was positioned under a dark green sun shade which flagged or shaded the ambient light. The green colour did not effect the overall colour of the image as the sky was heavy cloud and no light was reflected from the umbrella onto the subject.

I know photographers who keep either a Roscolux #08 Pale Gold or even a Roscolux #3409 RoscoSun 1/4 CTO (Colour Temperature Orange) on their flash permanently for photographing people, especially in England - saves the expense of a foreign holiday or sun bed sessions!

QUICK TIP
If you can do it in camera, it's generally quicker than in post-production! I know where I prefer to be, and that's not sitting in front of a screen.

Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Lowepro Pro Runner 300 AW

Just a quickie - my Lowepro Pro Runner 300 AW fits in my Lowepro Pro Roller 2 with room to spare. And here's the proof!


As you can see, it fits across the narrow dimension with room to spare. I was on my way to a job and just could be bothered to move all my kit between the wheeled Pro Roller 2 and Pro Runner 300 AW. At he top of the bag is a whole load of off-camera Strobist gear including a couple of imitation Manfrotto  Nano stands. The Pro Roller 2 is a very versatile and durable bit of kit. I've had this one for more years than I can remember. Buy quality and it will serve you well. Buy cheap and it will end up costing you more as you have to replace the item sooner rather than later.

TTFN 

Ian

EOS 5D Mark II Firmware Update Version 2.0.


EOS 5D Mark II Firmware Update Version 2.0.7

25th May 2010
Today Canon announced the following changes to the EOS 5D Mk II firmware:

Firmware changes

This firmware update (Version 2.0.7) incorporates the following improvements and fixes.
  1. Fixes a phenomenon in which the aperture exhibits abnormal movement when shooting movies in manual exposure mode and Aperture Priority AE (Av mode) using some Canon lenses (such as macro lenses).
  2. Fixes a phenomenon in which the exposure level shown in the LCD panel differs from what is shown in the viewfinder when shooting still images in manual exposure mode.
  3. Fixes a phenomenon in which the Wireless File Transmitter (WFT-E4 or WFT-E4 II) may not automatically power off when used for FTP transfers.
These phenomenon only occur with the Version 2.0.4 and Version 2.0.3 firmware.
The Version 2.0.7 firmware being released this time is for cameras with firmware up to Version 2.0.4. If the camera's firmware is already Version 2.0.7, it is not necessary to update the firmware.

Click here to go to download page.

Saturday, 22 May 2010

Strobist Tour of Britain 2010

I'm writing this on the return train journey after spending a most
excellent day with David Hobby aka The Strobist.

Not too sure what happened to the rest of the post in transmission, so here it is! Sorry.

There was an excellent turnout, as one would would expect with a photographer of David Hobby's calibre. The venue was spacious and thankfully not too hot. London's Brunswick Centre plays host to a fine international food market on a Saturday, so we were not short of choice at breaks and lunch time. I found a most wonderful Morroccan food vendor where I sample a wonderful chicken pastry flavoured with orange blossom and almonds with a very tastey red pepper salad.

The amount of information David shared was much more than I expected and this was combined with what can only be described as a well developed sense of humour. Even though some may consider me an old salt, I came away from the workshop feeling that I've learnt a lot and buzzing with renewed enthusiasm.

Thank you the Alex at The Flash Centre for bringing together and to David for venturing outside of the USA and sharing his brand of lighting with likeminded folks in the UK. Well done!

Friday, 21 May 2010

Orchid & Wild Flower Photo Workshop

Bee Orchid
Ophyrys apifera

On the 16th & 17th June 2010, I'll be running two outdoor workshops for those interested in photographing wild flowers and orchids in the South Downs National Park, close to Brighton in Sussex.


For more information visit: http://bit.ly/bYQhZA

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

Planning a Landscape Photo Shoot

Now spring is here photographers start dusting down their kit ready for the early morning starts and the late nights - that's what you have to do if you want to get the best shots. And with the 2010 Landscape Photographer of the Year  competition now open, there is no better time to start planning your spring and summer shooting schedule.

Seven Sisters at Dusk © Ian Pack

I have no doubt that you know the shots you want to create, but may not know where to start - it's all about previsualisation, the right light, and planning.

Previsualisation
Think about how the final image will look. Look at the work of great landscape photographers for inspiration - Joe Cornish, Charlie Waite, Ansel Adams. Take a look at the past winners on the Landscape Photographer of the Year website.

Ask yourself these questions: What, where, why, when and how? What are you going to photograph? Where is it? Why do you want to photograph it? For a competition, to create mood or evoke emotional response? When? Do you need to make a special trip or get up early or even camp out overnight? Do you need morning or evening light, or even foul weather?

Be prepared for disappointment when you reach your location - plan contingency shots if the light is not how you planned or visualised it. Don't walk away empty handed, you will have put in a lot of physical and emotional effort to reach your goal, don't waste it. I have waited months* on commercial jobs for the light to be in the right place, especially if building are included! But that's another story.


Seven Sisters Sunset Time Lapse from Ian Pack on Vimeo.

* Generally in these circumstances I have a local contact who feeds weather reports to me, rather than sitting and waiting;-)

Light
Very rarely do you chance upon the perfect light and landscape. Do your research. Look at maps and guide books and work out where the photographer was positioned. Interpret the map data elevation contours, rivers, lakes and other outstanding features. Use that as starting point for your shots and then look for a better alternative. Use a sun compass to calculate where the sun will rise and set on a particular day or season.

There are various sun position compasses on the market, but I've developed my own which you can download here. It's very easy to use in conjunction with a magnetic compass such as a Silva. Some GPS units have a sunrise/sunset function but I still tend to stick with the analogue solution.

For those of you with an iPhone there are some great apps available. I now use Sunrise and Set Pro for times and positions. If you're working by the sea you will also need to know the time for high and low tides for this I use Marine Tides Planner.

Planning
The key questions to ask yourself; where, when and how?

Equipment
I'm going to do a separate blog on this as I'm running out of time today. Sorry, work deadlines are calling!

Here are a couple of shots from my collection. Both required careful planning to achieve the end result. They also illustrate the extremes of focal length that can be used to achieve some great shots.

A South Downs Landscape © Ian Pack

The image above was shot with a 100 - 400 mm Canon zoom lens so a tripod was essential to maintain sharpness. Any camera shake would be magnified significantly by the long lens. As a rule, 50 mm equals x1 magnification so a 100 mm lens would be x2. The landscape above was shot with the lens set at 400 mm 8x magnification on a full frame sensor or 640 mm equivalent on an APS-C or cropped sensor - more powerful than some binoculars!

Pett Levels at Dusk © Ian Pack

This image of Pett Levels was shot with a Canon 24 mm f3.5 TSE lens at an aperture of f22 and the shutter at 1/30 th second. The tripod was not only an aid to composition but allowed me to use the small stop to attain good depth of field from the foreground to infinity.

On the 19th June I'll be leading a landscape photography workshop at Park Cameras in Burgess Hill and later in the day at Hope Gap, near Seaford on the south coast of England where the participants will be able to put in practice what they learned during the morning.

I've chosen Hope Gap as this is the place to get the best shots of the white cliffs of the Seven Sisters the beaches, South Downs and Cuckmere river.The workshop officially closes at 4:30 PM which is a little early for sunset at 9:18 PM! If anyone is prepared to wait for sundown, I'll be happy to hang around.

Landscape Photographer of the Year 2010

The Landscape Photographer of the Year 2010 competition has been announced this morning. The standard of the entries for 2009 was stunning as you'll see from the winners page of the Take a View website.

It's well worth taking a look at the winners page as there are some wonderful inspiring images. Even if you don't plan on entering the competition I guarantee you'll gain ideas and inspiration or just look on in awe!

A South Downs Landscape © Ian Pack

Remember, it's all about the right light, previsualisation and planning. Very rarely do you chance upon the perfect light and landscape. Do your research. Look at maps and guide books. Use a sun compass (see below) to calculate where the sun will rise and set on a particular day or season. Compose your shots carefully and use a tripod and low ISO to get the best quality image. Don't let your images be degraded by camera shake. Use live view or mirror lock up and a remote trigger for the sharpest results, especially when working with slow shutter speeds and small apertures.

The image above was shot with a 100 - 400 mm Canon zoom lens so a tripod was essential to maintain sharpness. Any camera shake would be magnified significantly by the long lens. As a rule, 50 mm equals x1 magnification so a 100 mm lens would be x2. The landscape above was shot with the lens set at 400 mm 8x magnification on a full frame sensor or 640 mm equivalent on an APS-C or cropped sensor - more powerful than some binoculars!

Pett Levels at Dusk © Ian Pack

This image of Pett Levels was shot with a Canon 24 mm f3.5 TSE lens at an aperture of f22 and the shutter at 1/30 th second. The tripod was not only an aid to composition but allowed me to use the small stop to attain good depth of field from the foreground to infinity.

There are various sun position compasses on the market, but I've developed my own which you can download here. It's very easy to use in conjunction with a magnetic compass such as a Silva. Some GPS units have a sunrise/sunset function but I still tend to stick with the analogue solution.

For those of you with an iPhone there are some great apps available. I use Sunrise and Set Pro for times and positions. If you're working by the sea you will also need to know the time for high and low tides for this I use Marine Tides Planner.

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

The Gadget Scientist - A New Book for All Photographers

I first saw this book at Focus on Imaging this year and was suitably impressed. Why didn't I think of this?

Anyway, this is one of those books that's compact enough to carry around in your camera bag for those moments when the grey matter fails you or you think, um, that would be a good idea.



Here's the press release from Snapperstuff:

The Gadget Scientist Guide to Using

Your Digital Camera is a colourful,

easy to understand and pocket -sized

camera guide to taking better

photographs.

It covers the basic and advanced settings

on all digital cameras, including point-andshoot

cameras to more advanced DSLRs.

It is the perfect tutorial and reference book

for everyone – no matter their level of

photography experience.

With over 300 colour illustrations and photos this guide will help digital camera users:

• identify the buttons, dials and settings on their cameras

• take better photos with AUTO mode

• use the advanced camera settings

• fix common photo mistakes

• learn tips and tricks used by professional photographers.

How much will it cost? RRP £12.99

Where can I buy it? www.snapperstuff.com/retailers for full list of UK retailers

Where can I see more info? www.snapperstuff.com

The Gadget Scientist product page link:

http://www.snapperstuff.com/photographyproducts/categories/Books/The%20  Gadget%20Scientist/viewproduct.asp

ISBN 978-0-9560321-0-2

Pages 216

Format Paperback (168 x 118)

About the Author Mark Burton is a professional photographer living in London. He

wrote this book to help everyone take better photos!

Website http://www.gadgetscientist.com

Spring Photography Workshop at High Beeches Garden

There are still a few places available on this special spring photography workshop. 2010 is an exceptional year for spring foliage and blooms so why not join us on Friday 21st May for a day of photography tuition in landscape, garden, macro and panoramic photography at the stunning High Beeches Garden, just south of Gatwick in Sussex?


Here's the link for further information http://bit.ly/cCXrMc


And here's a link for more information about High Beeches Garden http://www.highbeeches.com/index.php

Monday, 10 May 2010

Using CTO to Create a Blue Background


This is a trick I learned years ago when working as a corporate TV production manager/cameraman. The principle is quite simple - when your camera white balance is set to daylight, any tungsten or incandescent light source will render orange, conversely when the white balance is set to tungsten any daylight source will render blue. So, in order to render the foreground normal and the background blue you need to set the camera white balance to Tungsten (Canon users) or Incandescent (Nikon users) and balance your flash which is daylight to tungsten - remember that the daylight source will be blue and needs conversion to orange.

To achieve this you will need a CTO gel filter. CTO stands for Colour Temperature Orange and is available in densities varying from 100% or Full to 1/8th. I use either Rosco Cinegel sheets or more recently the pre-cut Strobist Collection gels which include a wide selection of colour correction gels which when working with hotshoe flash or Speedlite off-camera are more convenient to carry than large sheets or rolls of gel.

The image at the top of this item was shot for a local swim school. I started with a blue background from the pool water, but the window light was neutral, not blue. As I was working in a high-humity environment I had no choice but to work with battery operated flash - mains powered units are a no go when the atmosphere is so moist - 100% humidity!

The lighting for this shot is very simple - two off camera Speedlites, both corrected with full CTO. One light to camera left modified with a 24" (60 cm) softbox and the backlight snooted with Rosco Photofoil on a stand across the far side of the pool. The keylight was mounted on a VAL (Voice Activated Light stand) aka Laurie a very able intern. The camera shutter was set around one stop below that indicated for a "normal" look to render the background slightly darker. From the image meta data it looks as if I used a 24 - 105 mm f4 IS L Series on the 5D MkII at 84 mm with a stop (sorry aperture) of f5 and the shutter at 1/125 th second, ISO 400.

TTFN

Ian

Tuesday, 4 May 2010

Converge.Two

At the moment I'm on a train travelling home from a stunning day at
Converge.Two, the conference where stills photography meet video and
film production. This is the place to be if you want to see how video
can help your photography business. There's an all-star line up
including Philip Bloom, cameraman and blogger extraordinaire!

Tomorrow I'll be on the Rosco stand demonstrating Strobist Collection
Gels and the new LED Litepanels with both stills and HD video DSLRs.

If you can make it at short notice, there are still VIP tickets for
the day available. For more information on the event visit www.convergeevents.com
or just turn up at BFI South Bank in London for 08:30 AM on
Wednesday 5th May for a day of talks and workshops not to be missed.

TTFN

Ian

Monday, 3 May 2010

Normal service will be resumed as soon as possible

An enforced break for the last 5 days caused by lack of an Internet connection caused by a series of screw-ups by Talk Talk in the UK. I'm at Converge.Two for the next two days and can be found on the Rosco Labs stand.

TTFN

Ian