Wednesday, 28 October 2009

10 Tips For Shooting Live Music

1. Don't use flash. Flash kills the colors of the stage lights and you will just end-up with smokey dull photos.

2. Use a high ISO, at least 1600, but it will depend on how good your camera is. Most medium to high end Canon and Nikon's will shoot great photos with little noise at 1600 and above.

3. Use a fast lens with an aperture of at least f2.8. Use one with image stabilization if possible.

4. Most gigs have a three song rule. Photographers can shoot as many photos as they like but only have until the end of the third song to get what you need.

5. Try to get access to the side of the stage for some of the time (like the shot here). You will also get closer to the guys at the back (keys, drums, backing singers).

6. Try to get a rapore going with the band. It will help your shots and the band will go out of their way to give you some good stuff.

7. Take plenty of shots. When you shoot in low light with energetic musicians, there's no way that all of your shots will be in focus and have no motion blur.

8. If you use Lightroom or Aperture for your post processing, add black to get rid of most of the noise. Levels will work wonders in photoshop. Try some noise reduction filters too.

9. Drummers are the hardest to photograph. They are at the back and not always in the best light. Plan ahead and come up with a way to overcome the problems. Sometimes you might need to get the drummer to play on his own before or after the gig, so you can stand on stage and get some cool shots. Keyboard Players are the next hardest ones to shoot.

10. It helps if you know the music that the band play, so you can be ahead of the game and know where the songs build up and when the action will happen.

Monday, 26 October 2009

The Candid Frame

If like me, you love photography podcasts, I really recommend you check out The Candid Frame. I like my photo gear as much as the next technology hungry photographer, but it's very refreshing to hear people talk about the art of photography and like the theme of recent shows says "living the photographic life".

I've been listening to The Candid Frame for a while now and I get real inspiration from the wide variety of guests that appear on the show. Host Ibarionex Perello has a nice laid back style and a fantastic smooth voice for podcasts. Ibarionex really makes his guests feel at ease and you feel that you're almost eavesdropping on a couple of photographers having a conversation over a coffee in a hotel bar. If you haven't listened to The Candid Frame, you should check it out at iTunes and start from the earliest ones and work your way up to the latest one.

Friday, 23 October 2009

Adobe Lightroom 3 Beta

Adobe Lightroom 3 Beta is available for download here. You should also watch the three tutorial videos at AdobeTV while you are finding your way through the new version. This is a Beta version for testing, and not the official release. At first glance there doesn't look as though much has changed, but when you start to poke around, you can see that there's quite a lot of new features.

The Library Module: As soon as you click the import button you will see a full new section that can be set to full screen mode for initial set-up and then reduced to a thin bar for day to day imports. A great new feature here is the ability to save import settings as snapshots. Unfortunately the import page keeps causing Lightroom to freeze all the time (it is Beta). Another great new feature in the Library Module is the ability to upload directly from Lightroom to Flickr.

The Develop Module: The big changes here are in the sharpening and noise reduction. There is a new Effects panel that revamps the way that post crop vignetting is applied. The Grain slider is a very welcome feature too.

As I've only downloaded L3 Beta today, I haven't had time to go through the full application, but I like what I've seen so far.

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Find Great Light

Photography is about light. The most mundane and boring scenes can be transformed into fantastic shots just by the time of day that you shoot them. Photographs taken in the middle of the day tend to be uninteresting and more like snapshots (although there are exceptions). But the best light tends to be the first and last hour of daylight (known as the golden hour). Now I'm not saying don't take pictures at any other time, just don't miss the very best light there is, get up early or head out late. Winter is upon us, so sunrise is not that early and sunset is not late at all.

I'm lucky enough to be able to see up to six sunrises and sunsets per week, which is probably more than a lot of people see in a year! The shot above was taken yesterday at 7am with a Canon G9. The photo is straight out of the camera, with no editing whatsoever. The G9's meter overexposed slightly because the scene was quite dark, but I couldn't be bothered fiddling in the the menu to adjust the exposure compensation. I switched the flash on to fool the camera into bringing the exposure down. The foreground was far enough away that the flash had no effect. Go on, get out of bed and see what you're missing!

Monday, 19 October 2009

Photoshop Snapshot Layers

Here's a tip for one of the quickest ways to edit in Photoshop. It's called Snapshot Layers and is based in the History Panel and uses the History Brush. Load a photo into Photoshop and make sure you have the History Panel displayed, if not, got to the Windows drop-down menu and make sure there's a tick next to History.

For the photo above, I went to Filter then Blur and then Radial Blur. Click Ok and the Radial Blur will be applied to the full image. Now click on the small Camera icon at the bottom of the History Panel to make a snapshot. Make sure the new Snapshot is highlighted (it's the one at the bottom). Now you need to select a source in the history that you want to brush back onto the image. Click the small box to the left of the original Snapshot and a History Brush icon will be displayed in it. Select the History Brush from the left hand Tools Panel. Now paint in a circular motion in the centre of the photo and if you have chosen the right source and destination, the original photo should start to show through the blurred image (like the image above.

To darken a sky, adjust the Levels or the Bightness/Contrast for the full image and then use the History Brush to bring back the foreground. Or why not change the image to Black & White and use the History Brush to bring back selective color (color popping).
The best way to see the full potential of Snapshot Layers is to mess around with it. It's a quick and easy way to do most jobs in Photoshop. Remember to click on the Camera icon each time you make a change to the image, that way, you can bring back pixels from any point in the history of your editing.

Friday, 16 October 2009

Two Websites For Great Photos

Photography Served is the place to go if you like project based photography. you can loose track of time going from one project to the next, each one different from the last. At the foot of every page you will find a link to three more projects and before you know it, it will be way past your bed time. Click here to go to the site.

The Big Picture is part of the Boston Globe's website which posts a collection of pictures from a different photographer every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. The images are chosen from all around the world. Click on each photo to view the full set. Click here to go to the site.

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

New Nikon D3s Out In November, But Don't Buy It....Yet

The D3 has had it's 's' update and is now available for pre-order from the usual outlets. If you are in the market for the D3s, I strongly advise not buying one for at least two months. I pre-ordered a D300s as a back-up from Calumet and was very unhappy when the price dropped drastically within a few of weeks. It's sad when you get screwed for being the kind of loyal customer that the camera manufacturers want.

The D3s has had a similar make-over to the D300s. 720p HD video is the obvious big addition, but the on line photographic community are already saying "why no 1080p?". The dedicated Live View button is a handy new feature, not just for video (see my Live View/White Balance tip here). The D3s also gets the quiet mode and Integrated Dust Reduction System. For a full list of the new features go to the Nikon site here.

Monday, 12 October 2009

How To Shoot Video At Night On A DSLR

I was going to write a post on shooting video at night with a DSLR, but this video does it better than I ever could in this short space. Check out the other great videos from Eye Patch Productions on YouTube.

Friday, 9 October 2009

How To See Your White Balance Live

White balance is very important, especially if you're shooting in jpeg. But it tends to be a bit of guess work and you're never sure of exactly how it's going to look. Well guess can see it in the screen on the back of your camera.

Just put your DSLR into live view mode and move through the various WB settings. You can use the usual suspects, like Cloudy, Tungsten, Florissant, but it's really helpful when you start to tweak the Kelvin settings to get exactly what you need. When you get what you want, switch off live view and you're good to go

Wednesday, 7 October 2009

The Best Camera:: iPhone App

I've been using 'The Best Camera' iPhone app for a couple of weeks now and I have to say that it's the best photography app that I've came across.

The app is by photographer Chase Jarvis, who is one of the online photographic communities most prolific contributors. Chase has also put out a book of his iPhone photos called 'The Best Camera Is The One That's With You', and put up a website that ties in with the app. Here's how it works:

You take a photo with your iPhone or use one that's already in your Camera Roll folder. Then you apply any of the cool filters that do things like - add saturation, desaturate, darken, warm-up, cool-down, add vignette....etc. You can also crop the photo into a square and add a white border. The filters can be moved into a different order to change how they effect the photo, or you can remove the ones you don't like.

After you're done with the editing side, you click on the Share button and you can save it back to your Camera Roll, send as an email, send to Facebook and Twitter (adding text to your tweet too) and even upload it to to be displayed on the site. Tap on the Globe icon and it will take you to a viewing wall (see the photo above). This is the view from the Best Camera website and is constantly changing. Now you can see your newly uploaded photo and you can click on a thumbs up icon if you like other peoples photos. Warning it's addictive...but it's cheap!

Monday, 5 October 2009

The UK:: More Afraid Of Photographers Than Terrorists?

I was in Aberdeen at the weekend and woke-up early with the sun projecting a nice orange glow on the hotel room wall. I got dressed quickly, grabbed my camera and headed out for the golden hour. After a session photographing down at the docks, I passed by The Mall on my way back to the hotel. The side entrance has lots of stairs that go from street level to shop level, which I thought might make some interesting black and white shots.

Ten shots later, and with no-one about, I was done. I headed up the stairs toward the shops, but before I reached the top, I was confronted by a security guard who asked why I was taking photographs. He told me that I needed permission and a permit to photograph in the mall. I pointed out that if it was for terrorism reasons, I don't think that terrorists would be standing their with a full sized pro body DSLR and a big Nikon 17-55mm lens. The security guard shrugged his shoulders and I left The Mall, never to return...ever!

How many people do you think take photographs in that mall every day with point and shoots and mobile phone cameras? I would think plenty, just like every-other shopping mall in the UK. I'm no terrorist, but if I was, I would use a point and shoot with a subject strategically placed so that I got whatever I wanted in the background. I would not walk in with a few kilo's worth of Nikon gear and a jacket that has embroidered on the front and back. The Mall does conveniently display a floor plan on their website for all your terrorist needs Click Here , but I didn't want to infringe on their copyright by posting the plan here.

Photographers are not the enemy! I personally don't even think the enemy are who we're told they are. I don't remember Afghanistan invading another country. I did notice that the UK and US did invade two countries lately though. I suppose it's different from when Hitler did it???

Sorry if this is a bit heavy for a photography blog, but we're losing all our rights, and worse than that, people are losing their lives! I'd rather be squeezing a shutter than squeezing a trigger!

Thursday, 1 October 2009

New Home For This Blog

Over the last few month my blog has been getting more and more visitors, which is great, but bandwidth was limited. In August I just made it to the end of the month before the bandwidth ran out, but last month (September) it ran out in the second week, which meant that my blog has been suspended for a couple of weeks.

I've moved to Blogspot for greater bandwidth and because I can finally get my logo at the top of the blog and move things about easier. Due to the old host and the new one being incompatible, I've had to migrate all the old posts manually, which took some time.

I will be posting here three times a week (Mon, Wed & Fri), starting from this Monday 5th of Oct. I look forward to some feedback from you the reader