Jul 272015
 

I used the Fuji X-Pro1 60mm f2.4 at couple of 1940’s events over the last couple of weekends, Kelham Island Sheffield and East Park Hull. Probably the most challenging of things to shoot were the Spitfire/Hurricane Flypast at the Hull Veterans weekend. I intended to use my Nikon D700 with 80-200mm but was caught out after being told the flypast would be Sunday.  It actually happened very late on Saturday. I only had time to flick to AFC and shoot  fortunately the camera was set as described in my last post resulting in the aircraft images included below. The exposures were f11 1/350 or better all at ISO 400.


Kelham Island & Hull Veterans 1940’s – Images by Paul Drabble

Jul 152015
 

Fuji X-Pro1 and Fuji XF 60mm f2.4 Macro

Today I added the Fuji XF 60mm f2.4 macro lens to the Fuji X-Pro1 XF 18mm f2 & XF 27mm f2.8 in my kit bag. My understanding is the XF 60mm f2.4 is a tad on the slow side when it comes to focusing, especially if compared to the rather more expensive XF 56mm f1.2 but is there away to gain an edge if using the XF 60mm for anything other than Macro work?
I would say yes and the trick is understand the problem and plan ahead. Think what you want to achieve with the camera lens combination. One thing I want to try with the lens is some candid portraits and grab shots without getting too close to a subject. The problem that needs to be overcome with the Fuji is a combination of slow focusing lens and the fact the the Contrast Detection AF (CDAF) employed by the X-Pro1 cant predict where the subject is going to be. I should probably also point out that unlike a DSLRs which use Phase Detection AF (PDAF) you don’t press the shutter halfway down to start the continuous AF. The correct way to use AFC on the X-Pro1 is to aim the camera at the subject with the cross hairs on the bit you want sharp and squeeze the shutter release in a single movement until the camera fires. I figured a small enough aperture with a reasonable DOF would help the focusing but as with all cameras that results in a drop in shutter speed and the possibility of losing the sharpness to camera shake or subject movement. My first instinct was to wind the ISO up but that has two drawbacks first is a drop in image quality second is a danger of over exposure in bright light. Fortunately the X-Pro1 has the option to program an Auto ISO. You get to tell the camera the minimum & maximum ISO you want to use and the minimum shutter speed it should be trying to achieve. What it doesn’t do is stop the camera working if the shutter speed drops too low it just tries to get up there if it can.
After a little fiddling about I settled on a minimum ISO of 800 a maximum of 6400 and a minimum shutter speed of 1/250. With the aperture set to f5.6 and AF set to continuous I roped in some help from my partner and our dog. As you can see from the images I had her throw a dog toy towards me so he would run towards camera chasing it. Each of the four images below is from a different throw of the toy. There were five throws in all and the results are pretty consistent for a slow focusing macro lens. The first throw I failed miserably and got only grass throws 2, 3, 4, 5 resulted in the images below. They have been cropped but still I think they are pretty impressive. You can find the camera settings for each shot in the captions. I have included the Thistle, shot in Macro, and the dog portrait to give a feel for what can expected if you forget to change the setting back to your ‘usual’ ones for situations that are more sedate.


I have to admit It was a glorious sunny day and the results may not be so good in poor lighting conditions but I feel I may just have an edge that maximises my chance of the subject being in focus while minimising the chance of camera shake with a set of camera settings that alow the X-Pro1 and Fuji XF 60mm f2.4 Macro lens to be used quickly and without too much though of anything other than composition.

Aug 292013
 

Make Modern Photographs Vintage- With the increase in popularity of vintage events, 1940’s weekends and re-enacting seems to have led to a trend for ageing digital photographs and trying to make them look like period images. To help photographers who want their photographs to look like film from the 40’s here are a few tips to make modern photographs vintage

DLI August bank Holiday Weekend 25/26 August 2013 Image © Paul David Drabble www.pauldaviddrabble.co.uk (Paul David Drabble)DLI August bank Holiday Weekend 25/26 August 2013 Image © Paul David Drabble www.pauldaviddrabble.co.uk (Paul David Drabble)

The first problem is image quality. Most modern digital cameras handled correctly produce images of significantly higher quality than than their equivalent from the 1940’s. My method of knocking down the image quality is to take my original image, size it down by 50% or more then interpolate it back up to its original size. This can still leave the image too sharp if it is I use a blur filter to soften the image further.

Next desaturate the image but desaturation alone tends to give a harsh and crisp black and white, which leans towards having a blueish tinge. Using colour balance tools to add yellow (or remove blue depending upon how you look at it) and add red will allow you to get a warmer tone that you can make look anywhere from a natural looking black and white through to a sepia tone.

DLI August bank Holiday Weekend 25/26 August 2013 Image © Paul David Drabble www.pauldaviddrabble.co.uk (Paul David Drabble) DLI August bank Holiday Weekend 25/26 August 2013 Image © Paul David Drabble www.pauldaviddrabble.co.uk (Paul David Drabble)

Now add the film grain effect. Create a new layer which will need to be in overlay mode or similar with 100% opacity of middle or 50% grey. On this new layer you carry out two steps.

First add noise, how much will depend up how grainy you want your final image to look, again I start around 50% however make sure the noise is monochrome, there would be no colour noise in a 1940’s B&W photograph.

DLI August bank Holiday Weekend 25/26 August 2013 Image © Paul David Drabble www.pauldaviddrabble.co.uk (Paul David Drabble)

Second step is to blur the noise so it looks less like sharp dots and more resembles real film grain Gaussian blur is my preferred choice usually around 2 or three pixels.

DLI August bank Holiday Weekend 25/26 August 2013 Image © Paul David Drabble www.pauldaviddrabble.co.uk (Paul David Drabble)

At this point it’s worth comparing your manipulated image with genuine pictures from the period to make sure you have a reasonable match for colour tone and softness before merging the layers and moving onto cropping.

I prefer to crop either the 3:2 proportion of 35mm format or the square format of 6×6 you could also use 10×8 but a give away that your image may not be “period” would be to crop it at A4 as this probably would not have been a popular shape of the time unless you are going on to mock-up a period magazine cover. Once cropped its time to add a white border I add a 10% border relative to the cropped photograph This can be done by using something like the “Canvas Size” tool in Photoshop or you could just create a new plain white image document in your editor then drag your manipulated photograph into the middle. Once the border is sorted for that final touch of authenticity you can use a softening tool like adobes blur tool to soften the really hard edge between the beginning of the image and the white border and really make modern Photographs Vintage.


Jan 092012
 

Selling something on eBay and need to photograph it? Here are a few very basic ebay photography tips to help improve your eBay photography and hopefully improve your chances of a sale.

 eBay Photography Tips 1 – Don’t post an incorrectly orientated photograph
A photograph is there to help sell your item. Rotate the photo once its on the computer so the item is correctly orientated. You may not care how the item you’re selling looks, potential buyers do.

 eBay Photography Tips 2 – Dont use a blurred photograph
How obvious is that? but I see it. eBay listings with blurred images. There can be a number of reasons for this Not enough light causing camera shake, too close to a small object in an attempt to fill the frame puts the object inside the minimum focus distance of the camera, thumb print on the lens, autofocus isnt focusing correctly. What ever the reason find out

eBay Photography Tips3 – Don’t use someone elses photograph
Even if you bought an item on eBay and are re selling it on eBay. Copyright in a photograph belongs the whoever shot it. Using their photo is an infringement of their copyright.

 eBay Photography Tips 4 – Find an Appropriate background.
Backgrounds are important. Items that don’t belong can look very out of place and distracting. You will not notice a cable or plug when you take the photograph but buyers will once its listed on eBay. Take the time to find somewhere to create temporary “mini studio”.  A plain table cloth or bed sheet will work as a background when photographing smaller items. If its a car or caravan you are selling drive tosomewhere there is room to work without getting in street lights, your garage door or next doors car.

hover mouse over slideshow images to read the captions

 eBay Photography Tips 5 – Fill The Frame
Potential buyers want to see what they are about to bid on, don’t take the photo from too far away so its surrounded by loads of space, but keep in mind if you are photographing something small it may go out of focus if you get too close. If that happens check to see if your camera has a “Macro” setting which allows it to focus on items close to the lens.

 eBay Photography Tips 6 – Take time to get the exposure correct
In a digital age where the image can be viewed immediately after being shot there is little or no excuse for badly exposed photographs on a listing. Take the picture check the camera if its too light or too dark re take the shot to correct for the problem.

 eBay Photography Tips 7 – Avoid Reflections
Mainly (but not exclusively) a problem when using flash, the cure is to find an angle to photograph the item from where the light source is not reflecting off it

 eBay Photography Tips 8 – Photograph Using natural light when possible
If you can find bright area with lots of diffused natural light then that’s probably where you want  your “mini studio”. Its easier to use natural light if there is enough of it simply because you can see the lighting your working with so you know the result you should be getting before pressing the shutter. With flash you only get to see the result after taking the picture

Aug 122011
 

Ever wondered what you can photograph with a Digital SLR and 50mm standard lens in the Dark?

Ever wondered how much use the built in flash is on a Digital SLR?

Yes?

Take a look at this little fellow. We found him in the middle of the patio at 21:40 on summer night in South Yorkshire. Now he isn’t the type of creature you meet around here on a regular basis so I thought he was worth a photograph if only to document what he is. Caught on a wide open patio suddenly lit by a bright outside light with our dog and my partner staring at him from on high had me worried that the the little blighter would have legged it by the time I got back. No time for messing with flash guns and lens swaps I grabbed my digital SLR camera with 50mm f1.8 Nikon lens already fitted and got back outside at the double. He was still there so I grabbed a quick record shot from above looking directly down then decided to use the “get on the subjects level approach.

A small reptile found on the Patio and photographed on a DSLR with 50mm Standard lens and built in flash August 2011 Image © Paul David Drabble

Laying down I used Autofocus to focus on the head and edged forward until the lens reached the closest point of focus. The D700 was already set to 640 ISO and Aperture Priority so I popped up the built in flash checked the viewfinder info,1/60 at F4, and fired off a single frame. I expected the little guy scarper but he didn’t. Now worried the the flash and/or stress of the situation may cause him some permanent damage I decided two frames were enough and we left we left him alone in the dark to go about his business.

Shot original in Nikon Electronic Format(NEF)The first Image was interpolated and croped from this original framing August 2011 Images © Paul David Drabble

Photographers Technical Stuff

Camera Nikon D700 with 12.1 mega-pixel full frame CMOS Sensor

Lens Nikon F1.8 “Standard” Lens

Built in Flash

File Format NEF

ISO 640

Shutter 1/60th of a Second

Apperture F4.0

Aperture Priority

Single Autofocus

The resulting image was still a very small reptile in the centre of a rather large frame so I decided a little cropping and post production interpolation was need. The NEF file was opened on the PC and at this stage I made adjustments to highlights/shadows added a little sharpening and interpolated the image from The D700 best quality of 12.1 Mega-Pixel (4256 X 2832 pixels) to a 25.1 Mega-pixel ( 6144 X 4088 pixels).

Once open the image was cropped, without constrained proportions, resulting in an photograph of approximately 3 X 2 inches at 300 ppi. Wanting a larger end result I interpolated that up in size again. Using Bicubic Smoother setting I made the longest edge 10 inches. That left the final tightly cropped image as a 10 x 6.5 inches 300ppi photograph or 3000 X 1959 pixels.

I may have just over done the size increase but the image was never going to be a “National Geographic” pin sharp, full page, quality picture anyway. Considering the situation and equipment, a 50mm standard lens lit by the pop up camera flash in the dark I don t think is too bad.

If anyone can Identify just what this little guy is I would love to know.

Can any one tell me exactly what he is? please feel free to comment below August 2011 Images © Paul David Drabble

Please comment below

 

 

Jul 182011
 

They say Britain is a nation of dog lovers, they also say never work with children or animals. Have you ever tried photographing your pet pooch only to be disappointed by the results. Here (in no particular order) are a handful of photography tips to help you achieve better results when you’re photographing mans best friend.

  1. First rule of all portrait photography is focus on the eyes. Most dogs have long snouts, so if you focus on the nose the eyes can be out of focus.
  2. Most humans are tall compared to a dog, so get down and shoot from their eye level see the world as they do.
  3. Have a hyperactive dog who just cant stay still? Use a fast shutter speed to freeze the movement when they are running and jumping.
  4. For the older or more sedate natured dog, try a wider aperture setting. This will help reduce distractions by throwing the background out of focus. Don’t forget “most dogs have long snouts”  if the aperture setting is too wide  your best friend could end up with a burred nose.
  5. Some dogs are natural posers, you can get good shots just by getting them to sit while holding their attention with a treat or toy. For most distraction is the key give them something to do or play with  that you know they love then you work around them.
  6. Don’t always work alone and do a little planning. Get another member of the family to hold your hound while you move some distance away. On a preprepared signal get your helper to let your pet pooch go and you grab some great action shots as the dog comes charging towards you. If your auto focus is slow or you dont have follow focus try pre focusing the camera on a fixed spot you the dog will run through and fire the shutter as they cross the focus point.
  7. Sticking with the theme of helpers why photograph your dog in isolation? Get someone you love and who the dog is relaxed with to interact and capture that on camera.
  8. Make it fun! Photography may be fun for you but most dogs are not the type who will happily perform on command for the camera. Make things fun for your pet and it will show up in your photographs through the dogs body language.
  9. Watch,  not the one on your wrist! Watch with your eyes. Your dog is genetically 80% wolf, so while walking with your dog and camera take time to watch and learn its instinctive behaviour and try to capture a more subtle side of  your pets character in your photography.
  10. Know your dog. Good photography can often come from to knowing your subject and being able to predict what’s going to happen.
  11. Sometimes all you need to make a photograph really work for you is a caption!

Right at the start I mentioned they say “never work with children or animals” well here is another tip – many of those tips work with kids too.

Have your own top tips for dog photography?

Feel free to add them below.

Want to give your dog an outdoor portrait session give me call

Mar 182011
 

How To Create A Good PR Photo people actually want to publish?

Recently I wrote a guest post “What Makes A Good PR Photo” for Leeds based Quest PR’s blog. Bloggers will tell you that posts work best at around 300 to 500 words and it was while trying to work within these constraints I realised what I do, what all good PR photographers do, is far too complex to impart as a “How To” in 500 words or less. I was barely scratching the surface of “What Makes A Good PR Photo” let alone how to produce one and that led to this post.

How does a professional PR Photographer Create A Good PR Photo people actually want to publish? He or she considers all the things below and more, though not necessarily in list order.

Is the image sharp?

Where should I focus for best effect?

Shall I use a wide aperture or narrow aperture?

Fast or slow shutter speed?

Natural light or Full flash, Fill-in flash?

Will anything fool the camera meter?

Do I choose Wide Angle Standard or Telephoto lens?

Which camera will be best for the job?

Is it best Mounted on a tripod, monopod or hand-held?

Use camera mounted flash or portable studio flash?

What elements best tell the story?

Which do I include, what gets left out?

Is the background relevant?

Can it be made relevant or is it just distracting?

What’s the best way to set this up for maximum visual impact?

Do I put movement into to an image?

If I do should movement be frozen or allowed to streak ?

Shall I isolate the subject with a blurred background?

Use front to back picture sharpness?

How many people do I use and why?

What’s the message my client is trying to get across?

How do I get the branding in?

Does it look natural or forced or just ruin the picture entirely?

What style do I need to shoot in?

Where will the images appear?

Have done Upright and landscape shape?

Beyond considering all of the above the professional PR photographer needs people skills in bucketfuls. Some people are lucky they just enjoy being photographed and/or are simply photogenic. Many are not, good results are required even when the subject hates being in front of a camera. Photographers need to work with people from all spheres of society all ages all outlooks all political persuasions and a good photographer can deal with just about anyone. Sometimes the image will require getting people to do things they wouldn’t normally dream of doing. Other occasions it will require the photographer do something they wouldn’t normally dream of doing.

In short How To Create A Good PR Photo…..

Understand your equipment, use it to best technical effect, understand the brief, interpret it creatively, work well with people and get the best from them in what can sometimes be quite difficult situations.