Three Tools For Pros

Most of the time, special event photographers don’t have (or take) the time to set their equipment up to take the very best images possible.

To be honest, there are events where I don’t even shoot RAW images!

I shoot JPGs when on family vacations and when the situation demands JPGs over RAW images. Such was the case when I shot the Mayor’s Baseball Tournament a few years ago. The organizers wanted the images immediately after the last game for projection during the dinner that followed.

Wow! Talk about a high-wire act. First, I need images small enough to download instantly but large enough to project. Also, I wasn’t going to have a lot of time to delete the images which were out of focus or badly cropped or exposed. So medium size JPGs were the order of the day.

Another advantage of shooting JPGs of medium or even small size is your high-speeed frame rate goes to maximum and the buffer can hold a ton of images. Don’t try this on RAW settings as the camera will bog down under the size of the files it’s recording.

If I want to use a lot of post-production filters and image manipulation then RAW is the only way to go. I shoot RAW images of the Toronto Zombie Walk and most of the jazz festivals as the images really benefit from a splash of NIK’s filters.

These days I occasionally shoot models, engagement shots and, for my sins, the occasional wedding.

Now these shoots require above all perfectly exposed images. Not images based on what the camera thinks. Not even images based on what I think. So it’s time to get out the photography tool box.

First thing I’d recommend is really decent light meter that measures incident light and flash.

Two light meters come immediately to my mind and both are made by Sekonic. The first is Sekonic’s new L-308DC for HDSLR and cine. This compact light meter is perfect for those of us shooting video on our DSLRs and who also shoot with flash off the camera. I’m not going to review all the reasons to buy a light meter as Sekonic has a ton of videos on their site that explain why.

The other light meter I highly recommend is the one I own and it’s a L-358 FlashMaster. One accessory I need to buy is the Pocket Wizard radio transmitter module which allows the flash to trigger the remote flashes that are being controlled by Pocket Wizard remotes. Very cool and essential if you’re working in a studio setting.

Number two on my list is the xrite ColorChecker Passport.

Here is an explanation on how the Passport works as posted on The Luminous Landscape site.

But even special event photographers can benefit from using the Passport. Here’s a report from a sports photographer who used the Passport to create colour profiles for his two cameras.

Finally the third tool is an ExpoDisc. The ExpoDisc very quickly allows digital camera shooters to create a custom white balance. It’s always shocking how wrong the automatic white balance setting in a camera can read the light. Even going to a pre-set white balance can miss the mark.

Here’s a great tutorial on white balance that will help explain what happens in camera.

These three accessories will take your photos from okay to spectacular when it comes to getting the exposure right. Essential for landscape photography and portrait photography once you get used to incorporating these tools into your shooting routine you’ll wonder how you ever did without them.


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