Monday, February 21, 2011

New Love: Film

Well, I've gone backwards. I'm shooting a lot of film for personal enjoyment lately, and I'm loving it. Digital is nice and convenient, but when it comes down to it, it's almost too easy. Digital files are clean, easy to manipulate, and you can tell instantly if your shot turned out well or not. You can shoot thousands of photos within a few minutes and you won't even care. You get home to hundreds if not thousands of photos, and you don't even know what to do with them. They end up being archived somewhere in your computer and you'll never really see them again.

So why film?

I've been shooting medium format film for a couple of reasons:
1. bigger negatives
2. using a completely mechanical camera, no electronics whatsoever.
3. expensive per shot.

These three are all equally important to me. I love the bigger negatives as it records a ton of detail. With a good scanner I can get a good ~40mp out of the negative. The fact that my camera, a Hasselblad 503CX is a completely mechanical camera means I don't have any batteries to switch out or charge on a trip. Lastly, being more expensive per shot, I'm forced to be a lot more careful about taking shots. I won't just go around, shoot a couple hundred shots and load them onto my computer when I get home.

Number 2 and 3 actually work really well together. Manual focus and exposure means it takes me a lot of time to adjust each setting before I can take a shot. It takes careful planning, and on average it takes me at least 30 seconds to a minute or so before I'm willing to fire the shutter. Being forced to control each aspect of a frame slows you down to think about each aspect of the photo. Do I need more depth of field? Do I need to freeze the action or do I need to drag my shutter? What is the focus of my shot? What does my background look like? How bright do I want the scene to be?

If you learned photography with digital camera and haven't touched film yet, I strongly encourage you to give it a try. Film makes photography fun and exciting again. I know I can't wait to get my roll of Velvia 100 back from the lab. For black and white film, I do my own developing. It's a great feeling when you finish developing the film and you pull it from the reel for the very first time.

Here are some shots from the Hasselblad:

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

hello friend

Little grasshopper friend.
Published with Blogger-droid v1.6.2

Monday, March 29, 2010

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Cherry Blossoms!

Spring is here! I love cherry blossoms, they are such a nice "pop" to all the green around here. I love driving by and seeing all the pink pops between the trees. Absolutely beautiful.

Sunday, December 13, 2009


I've moved the official blog to Blogger was just a little too rigid in terms of customization. Wordpress has a gazillion themes that do 90% of what I need, so I switched over to that.

Now, prepare to suffer the endless ramblings of ... ME!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Modern Tech + Weddings = Magic.

The D700 is my favorite camera of all time. Although, I've always used older Nikon glass with it. I use the 35mm f/2 and 85mm f/1.4 as my walkaround lenses, and the 80-200mm f/2.8 AFS as my main telephoto. Not that there's anything wrong with that, they are great lenses.

But they lack that special something.

At the wedding I shot this weekend, I finally rented and spent some time with the Nikkor 14-24mm f/2.8 and 24-70mm f/2.8. I must say, they blew my mind on how good they were. I never knew lenses could focus so fast, and stay so sharp. They are very resistant to flare as well.

Here are some samples of what I'm talking about in terms of sharpness.

100% crop

D700 + 24-70mm 2.8 @ 2.8, 1/500, ISO 2000 +1.10 EV in post.

Look at the micro-contrast! It's insane!

I am thoroughly impressed, definitely a keeper.

Note: I'm not advocating that sharpness or lens is a determinant of how good a photo is. It's totally not. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I can take the same shot with a Holga and it would still look hawt (at least to my eyes).

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Wedding Prep

A common question people ask is, what does it take to shoot a wedding? There are so many different answers to this question, but I'll give it my best shot.

1. Knowledge. First of all, you've got to know what you're going to be up against. The timeline, the venue, possible weather conditions, etc. Visualize in your head how the day will play out, and then strategize where you should be standing while each event in the timeline is going on (you should also account for possible tardiness). Scope out the venues ahead of time, look for good portrait areas when the wedding party has time for photos. Plan out some shots, and plan out what kind of photos you're going to shoot.

2. Gear. Now that you have the knowledge, or at least have taken a good stab at it, you should be able to list the lenses and flashes that you will need to in order to get the planned shots. Try to pack light and bring what you need, don't bring your entire arsenal if you don't have to. For example, if you know the reception is going to be very dim and you can't use flash, bring a nice set of primes and leave the zooms in the car/at home. Bring at least two bodies so you don't have to change lenses. If you can't afford the gear you need, rent. If you can't rent, buy and sell used.

3. Back up gear. What happens if one of your bodies hits the ground? What if it malfunctions? Always bring AT LEAST two camera bodies, and some duplicate focal length lenses if you can. For example, if you bring a 14-24, 24-70, and 70-200, if your 24-70 stops working, you can still use the 24mm and 70mm of the other two lenses. A bit heavy and inconvenient, but you can still use 'em in a pinch.

4. Be Active, not reactive. Anticipate the moment. Continually play out what's going to happen next in your head so you know where to stand to get a good shot (angle and height wise). For example, if the room is pretty bland, but happens to have a large window, you don't really want to show the context of the room, but want some good shots of the bride getting ready. So you know you want to use the window to blow out the background to isolate the bride. You would change your camera to spot metering, meter off the bride's face, and anticipate the moment for a good expression or what you deem as a good photograph/scene.

Things happen very fast on wedding days, even those 12+ hour weddings. So be active in finding your shots. You should be able to walk into the room, and have an idea of what's going to happen, and where to get the best shot.

5. Practice/Experience. You've got to have experience in shooting portraits. People are counting on you to make them look good. You've got to know some basics on how to flatter the subject. You've got to be able to give direction when needed. The bride and groom are most likely not professional models, so they need a lot of direction.

You should also be able to walk anywhere and think to yourself, "Hm, this would be an awesome place for a portrait!" and have a billion ideas bouncing around your head on different photographs. This takes a lot of practice, a good exercise is Street Photography. Studying a lot of different photographers' work also helps. Not necessarily stealing though, but taking the concept and applying your own style to it.

6. Be relaxed, be confident. The last thing the bride and groom want is to be more stressed out. Being nice, fun, and confident really relaxes them.

These are what I think are the necessities to have before shooting a wedding. If you think you are lacking in certain areas, practice. Get friends, family, pets, and PRACTICE!