M5 Photography

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Shooting lighter…First day of Spring mountain bike shoot


It doesn’t rain a lot in Socal..but the rain has been showing up these days and was trying to get in the way of one of my photo shoots. I had planned to shoot on a Saturday and the forecast showed rain but in the evening. I decided to trust the weather people and move forward with shooting in the afternoon.

Charles aka the “voice activated light stand” volunteered for light carrying duty and we headed into the hills. With us was local rider Travis who continues to amaze with his bike riding ability and willingness to do sections numerous times allowing me to get a few different angles.

I changed up one thing from what I do on my “normal” mountain bike shoots and that was deciding to go with only a single strobe. I’m glad I did as we were able to move to new locations much faster and setting up was always quick. Not having to use a light stand was a dream and having the ability to ask Charles for slight changes in direction was a huge time saver. My set up was a single Boling Strobe fired by Pocketwizard Mini TT1 and Flex TT5. Again the new Pocketwizards offer a freedom of shooting with nearly any settings I choose. Shooting all afternoon without worrying about syncing at 1/250th was the best.

A big thanks to Charles and Travis for making it a smooth afternoon. The rain did show up as the experts predicted…and didn’t stop for what seemed like 24 hours.

Shooting lighter and having one less thing to worry about was a nice change.

Camera: Canon 7D
Lens: Tokina 12-24 f/4 and Sigma 70-200 f2.8
Strobe: Single Boling Strobe fired via Pocketwizard Mini TT1 and Flex TT5
Light stand: Charles (not for sale..well everyone has a price)

As always click images for a larger view.


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Having fun with the GoPro

I’ve been keeping an eye on the various helmet cams out there for a few years now. I hadn’t made a purchase for a few reasons..One they were kind of pricey and two I couldn’t narrow down my choice between all the brands. I feel the price issue is solved with a number of companies offering up helmet cams for the price of a decent point and shoot. As for choice of brands? Well that isn’t any easier these days with even more companies coming out with new options.

A couple weeks ago I made the choice to go with the GoPro. The main purchasing factor for me was the number of mounting options offered and the option of their new LCD back. I knew the LCD would help with shot set up and shot review after capturing the video. If you’ve seen any of my photo work you know that I like to mount the camera in interesting spots when possible. GoPro seems to have a mounting option for just about any situation. I found a great deal online for the camera and purchased many of the mounting options too.

I’m not by any stretch of the imagination a video guy. In each of my few experiences with video my appreciation for the people who work with it goes way up. I got out my GoPro with a few mounts and went for a bike ride. My goal was a simple one…have fun with it. This is another great venue for me to be creative and do so while enjoying a sport I love.

I had some initial ideas and attempted to carry those out while not spending too much time off the bike changing mounts. You’ll see a few of those mounts in the video below along with a long stretch of downhill footage. We could have certainly spent the entire day out on a ride setting up more shots, but that wasn’t part of the days plan. As I said before I wanted to have fun with this…I know part of that is understanding this isn’t a photo shoot.

Watch the video on Youtube if you want to see the HD version.

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Published on:
March 16, 2011 12:42 pm
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General
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Shooting wide with the Tokina 12-24 f/4


I’m sure like any photographer out there when one of our friends is looking to buy a camera they come to us and ask our opinion. Canon or Nikon? This model or that one? I usually give my best politically correct answer and allow them to research it on their own. Most people have their mind made up before they come to you anyway. One area I will provide a very strong one sided opinion on is when they come asking what wide angle lens I shoot with.

When I was doing my own research years ago on wide angle lenses I kept seeing the same name come up…Tokina. Of course the purists insisted that Canon was king and that I would only get quality out of a Canon L lens. What caught my eye when Tokina was mentioned was build quality. I read about it being built like a tank…solid and heavy. I knew at the time that I would be using this lens outside 99% of the time and a solid build made a lot of sense. And outside for me is in the dirt shooting BMX, mountain biking and motocross. Of course a great price also gave me a push in Tokina’s direction.

Before I get too much further I should note that the Tokina 12-24 f/4 is the only wide angle that I’ve shot with. I’m not writing to push you away from Canon (or another brand) and towards Tokina. O.K maybe I am…If you are shooting with a camera with a full frame sensor then this Tokina is not for you. It’s made for those shooting with crop sensor cameras (Digital rebel, 60D, 7D, etc)….The bottom line is I love this lens. I know I’m responsible for at least 5 sales of this lens (time to sign up for the B&H affiliate program?)  and I usually point to my images as the sales tool. No….buying and using this lens won’t make your shots good, but you certainly wont be able to point blame on the lens for any bad shots either.

Maybe you can rent or borrow one and see what you think. I’m pretty sure if you do you’ll agree its a fantastic lens choice.

I’ve put a few of my favorite shots that I’ve taken with the Tokina below.



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Published on:
March 8, 2011 10:10 pm
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General
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Inspired by…Pete Eckert

I think after watching the video below it will eliminate most of your excuses for not getting out and shooting…..this slams home the point that its not about your equipment, it’s about the person behind the camera and your desire to do what you love.


| Artists Wanted | In Focus : Pete Eckert from Artists Wanted on Vimeo.

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Published on:
March 1, 2011 7:13 pm
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General
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2

Shooting people…The Volunteer

I’ve blogged in the past about my passion for shooting certain things. And if you look at my portfolio you’ll probably notice I don’t shoot a lot of people. I guess I do as long as those people are doing something…hopefully involving some sort of action. As it states in my about page, I do enjoy the challenge of all areas of photography.

I’ve decided to challenge myself over the last few months by keeping active with different photography projects and shooting subjects that fall out of my “passion” category. Before I go any further don’t think I’m out hunting down wedding jobs….Far from it.

It shouldn’t take you long to look at the people in your life and see that they are passionate about things too. I’m going to try to continue to capture some of those passions throughout the year. You can check out my VW and Harley shoots to get an idea of where I’m going.

This past weekend I had the opportunity to photograph my friend Mike. One thing Mike is really into is serving as a volunteer Sheriffs Deputy in Ventura County. While the pay isn’t great, right about zero, you can tell right away when you talk to Mike about his time on patrol that it is something he loves to do. His stories are always colorful and I appreciate him keeping our mean streets clean.

My goal for the shoot was simple. A quick outdoor portrait using my light kit. Most of my shoots are based on when my schedule fits in with the subjects schedule. In this case it was mid day on a weekend…I just needed a spot of shade and we were in business. We found some shade and I set up my light kit. The total shoot time was probably 20 minutes with 15 of that being me setting up.

Thanks for reading and as always click the image for a larger view.

Tech Info:
Canon 7D w/ Sigma 70-200 f 2.8 lens
1/2500th @ f2.8 (thanks to the new Mini TT1 and Flex TT5 Pocketwizards I wasn’t limited to 1/250th)
Single Boling 600 watt strobe with soft box.

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1

I look forward to owning this…

While I’m not a snowboarder….I will buy this DVD when it comes out. If you are at all into things creative, take a look.


http://www.artofflightmovie.com/

Also stop by http://www.brainfarmcinema.com/ to be inspired.

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The sum of its parts…

Someone recently returned a long term loan of one of my external hard drives. I had forgotten about the drive and wasn’t even sure what size drive drive was inside. So I opened up the enclosure and discovered a drive that is pretty much useless by today’s standards. It was only an 80 gig drive which should give you a clue on how long that loan was overdue.

Since I knew I didn’t need the drive anymore I thought it’d be a good time to show the kids whats inside a hard drive. Call it the computer geek in me, but I think it’s pretty fascinating. Once I started to disassemble I was impressed with the amount of intricate parts inside…and how on their own they were impressive…yet had little purpose. It reminded me of the saying that the “whole is greater than the sum of its parts”. All of these wonderfully designed and machined parts non functioning on their own.

If you were waiting for me to bring this around to a photography topic I’m about to do so. While photographing the group of hard drive parts I got to thinking how they are much like a photography business. There are so many of us who excel in one particular piece of the photography puzzle that we often ignore or don’t want to put the effort into the areas where we don’t excel. I certainly don’t consider myself to be an expert, but over the past few years I’ve learned some lessons and started to understand that simply taking good pictures isn’t enough. There are so many behind the scenes areas where the pros put countless hours into what we don’t often see…we are so focused on their results that we often think their success was just handed to them.

We’ve got to design, build and assemble all of the pieces of our business to make it work.

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Inspired by…A Magazine is Born

I enjoyed watching this behind the scenes video of making a magazine…Of course I never sat and thought about the amount of work that goes into something like this.

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Published on:
February 8, 2011 7:19 pm
Categories:
General
5

I only had to ask….


EXIF: 1/1000th @ f/4.0


A couple weeks ago I found myself watching a mountain bike video on You tube and realized the rider was riding trails in Southern California. I guess that doesn’t sound too exciting by itself, but this rider was riding some wicked trails and had skills that really impressed me. A quick check of his profile revealed he lived within driving distance of me….A light bulb went off. Why not email him and see if he’d be up for a photo shoot? I figured the worst he could say was no.

I fired off an email to the rider in the video and got a quick reply. Travis was interested and seemed down right excited. We agreed upon a time and place and I was thrilled to learn Travis had invited his friend Steve. We all arrived at the “location” and it was time to get to riding…or in my case hiking since I wanted to shoot with my light kit.

I had a general idea that I’d be hiking up some steep trails since I’m a mountain biker myself, but I wasn’t ready for the “location”…STEEP and loose was the theme for the day. It wasn’t too long before we were at our first spot to shoot. I let the guys pick the spots and suggested we shoot where they were most comfortable…now comfortable is an interesting term here because I’m not sure how you get comfy on some of the sections they were doing.

We did some shooting with the lights and some with out. There were a few sections where it just didn’t make sense to light…as the sun was doing a fine job on its own. In shots where we did use lights, I again was firing the strobes via the new Pocket Wizard MiniTT1 and FlexTT5 units…It was great to shoot when the sun was high and bright as I wanted to test out the ability to shoot at higher shutter speeds. It seems like pure freedom to shoot higher than 1/250th.

After a few hours of shooting we all agreed that it was time to go home injury free. The only task left for me was to hike down the trails…it was much harder than going up! I’m certain I resembled a lost tourist with all my gear and tired look.

I Look forward to shooting more with Travis and Steve soon.

As always click images for the larger view.

All images shot using the Canon 7D and Tokina 12-24 f/4 lens unless otherwise noted.


EXIF: 1/640th @ f/8.0 Single Boling Strobe 1/2 power


EXIF: 1/8000th @ f/4.0 Yeah that says 1/8000th


EXIF: 1/400th @ f/4.0 Sigma 70-200 Lens


EXIF: 1/500th @ f/4.0 Sigma 70-200 Lens



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Flickr. Worth the effort? I think so….

There are a number of options when choosing a place to put your photos online. It was years ago that I started posting some of my shots to Flickr. I don’t remember exactly why I went that direction but in hindsight I’m glad that I did. When I signed up I wasn’t sure of any real benefits of choosing one place online vs another. It was a time when I was envious of other photographers fancy flash based websites and Flickr felt a bit clunky in comparison. I guess I knew it was free (for the basic account) and it was linked to my yahoo ID which made it all easier to start. After reading some online articles about presenting only your best work, I took the time to edit what I had posted to Flickr to only what I thought were my best images. Further reading reminded me that keywords or “tagging” images play an important role in allowing others to find your work. I’ll admit taking the time to tag my photos with words didn’t sound fun and I did struggle to find the right words to describe my photos. Plus I thought who is out there searching for my images?

Not long after posting some of my “best” images I was contacted by a mountain component company that was interested in using one of my images for an ad in Bike magazine (The photo posted above). It seemed at that point that taking the time to post and tag photos to Flickr was definitely worth it. When I inquired how that company found my image they told me that they had been searching through images on Flickr. Beyond people searching Flickr and finding your images, they also show up in Google image searches. I’ve landed a number of sales from companies who started their search for images via Google.

There are more pros and Im sure many cons to using Flickr, maybe I’ll do a second post on this topic again this year. If you are a current user of Flickr, keep on posting your best work and updating those tags. You never know who is out there searching…

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Published on:
January 19, 2011 7:07 pm
Categories:
General
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