Best $85 Ever

That’s what it cost to attend STANDOUT! Photographic Forums yesterday in downtown Toronto.

Held at the HangLoose Media studio (cool place) on Logan, the all-day workshops were sponsored by a host of sponsors including PhaseOne and MamiyaLeaf and organized by B3K Digital.

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There’s nothing like somebody handing you a $30,000 camera to make your hands shake 🙂

The pro-level workshops included American Photography Association president Tony Gale who talked about how to break into the US photo market followed by Douglas Sonders’s workshop on how to bullet-proof you location shooting, pre-production and digital tech-ing (his word). Both talks were excellent and filled with great info.

Next up was Walter Borchenko, founding partner at B3K Digital who did an overview of the Capture One photo editing software.

Now I’ve heard a lot about Capture One. If you Google Capture One you’ll see there’s a whole bunch of online tutorials and lots of very happy photographers raving about it.

Now as many of you know I used to teach for Henry’s Cameras here in Ontario and I teach (and use) Lightroom along with just about anything else to do with photography. (I’m working this week on a workshop about shooting street photography for a couple of camera clubs in the GTA.)

So let’s be clear here. I love Lightroom. Once I figured out how to setup my image files and bought a bunch of presets my ability to process thousands of images very, very quickly went way up. Everything in Lightroom works perfectly (okay I’m still struggling with some weirdness in printing to the Epson 3800 and usually use Photoshop to print.) and I’ve got the Adobe Lightroom/Photoshop subscription.

So while I was interested in Capture One, I wasn’t highly motivated to check it out.

Ah, well, ah…I hate to say it but after seeing Walter’s overview I’m sold on a couple of things. Capture One creates a better raw image to work on than Lightroom.

Okay! There I’ve said it.

When Walter projected two identical images on the screen we could clearly see the Capture One was sharper and clearer. And it was sharper and clearer by enough to make my jaw drop!

Second and really neat is Capture One works a little like my old favourite processor Nikon’s super and now unavailable NX Capture 2. I wonder if there’s not a hint here in the name? Doesn’t matter but what does matter is Capture One will allow you to change both global and local settings in really simple and elegant ways.

For example, Walter showed us a contact sheet of images with similar issues which could be fixed simultaneously in Capture One.

On one contact sheet he changed an over-exposure skin situation on all images at once. He did the same thing to a colour of a sweater changing all colours at the same time. But more importantly when one parameter in the images was changed, other parameters were left alone. Other software editors don’t do this.20121009032354-thumbnail-mark-seliger

I’m going to see if I can get my hands on a copy of Capture One and do an in-depth review at a future date.

The afternoon sessions at STANDOUT! where all equally useful and well presented but the highlight of the night was a 30-year retrospective of the work of Mark Seliger.

Mark is famous for his shooting for Rolling Stone magazine among others. A gracious and funny presenter, he’s a serious photographer who is at the top of his game right now. It was an honour and pleasure to be in the front row to hear the man and see his images.

All in all a great day of photography.

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Class Acts

So I volunteer to help my dear friend Donna Papacosta by shooting some images at a social media workshop she gave in the offices of the Toronto Board of Trade.

Donna and I exchange favours whenever possible as she is a world-class podcaster and owner of Trafalgar Communications and an expert all things to do with social media and I am a wandering old press photographer and magazine and community newspaper editor who is always looking for opportunities to shoot photos.

(BTW I’ve got a new gig of creating blog copy for corporations, small businesses and non-profits.)

Shooting in the Toronto BoT boardroom was pretty tough with a variety of different lighting, small space and no way to use a proper lighting setup or even a flash. So I set the Olympus OM-D to shoot raw images at ISO 800 with the 12mm wide open at f/2 and then to capture the fleeting expression’s on Donna’s face I was firing at 11 frames per second on silent mode in available light.Intro

Three hours of shooting and I’ve filled a 32 gig memory card with 2,000 images. Because of the tough shooting situation paralleled with the need to get Donna looking her best I quickly cut the number down to 200 of which I did post production on just under 100.

Trying to colour match the images took sometime as did working to getting the skin tones consistent but after a couple of happy hours the job was done and I sent Donna a link to a private folder in my SmugMug gallery. I was hoping she liked the images which were suitable for social media posting but wouldn’t hold up as big prints for the wall.

As I was attending an all-day pro-level photo workshop yesterday (more to come about this) I started to see Donna was posting the images on Facebook. Lots of positive comments followed and I was a pretty happy photographer sitting there with a bunch of my peers and other pros.

But I hadn’t seen anything yet.

When I got up this morning and started to check my social media feeds I found this cartoon page that looked like Donna. I looked at it closely and it was Donna and it was my images of Donna. LOL. Wayne MacPhail a friend of Donna’s posted the page.

Now this is creative ! Wished I had thought of it. Nice job Wayne!

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Why We Shoot Photos

“It saved my life.”

That’s a quote from Canadian pro-shooter Renee Robyn who found a reason to live in photography following a near-death motorcycle accident.

Watch this video (Thanks to SmugMug) and some of the others that SmugMug has shot if you’re needing a little inspiration. (BTW I’ve been a SmugMug customer for years.)

Ask yourself: Why do I shoot?

Is it to create a living memory of past events or portraits of family and friends? Perhaps like  Robyn it’s one of the things you can do really, really well no matter what life throws at you.

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Marion and I were talking about photography and I think we might book two days and shoot the fall leaves in Algonquin Park again.

TIP: Absolutely go mid week to avoid the massive number of tour busses. Take a tripod and pre-plan your day. Don’t let a little rainy weather deter you (rain and overcast make the colours pop) but skip continuous downpours (not good for cameras or spouses). Stay overnight and get up before dawn to shoot the sunrise. You can shoot everything (just about) from Hwy. 60. Pack a lunch.

I’ve shot in Algonquin a few times and each time it’s different…and when I leave so am I.

Shoot With The Pros

I’ve had a really good summer of shooting photos for myself and for my clients.

It’s always very gratifying when people give unsolicited positive comments on your work and the last few weeks have been pretty good for me 🙂

So how do you shoot to get better?

If you’re like me (and I’ve been shooting professionally since the mid-70s) you (a) shoot a lot and (b) you take lessons from people who are better than you are. _DSC0967

Perhaps strangely I’ve taken more lessons from more pros in the last 10 years of my shooting than the previous 30 years. (The shot here was done in HDR at the Rick Sammon workshop held at a wreaking yard near Guelph. Never done HDR before. Great workshop!)

Why? Because I wanted to get better! And not better at shooting for clients so much (so long as the cheque cashed I was happy) but for myself._DSC8668-1-Edit-2-1

Care in point was the boudoir workshop held here in Toronto a couple of years ago which was sponsored by Henry’s Cameras and featured New York shooter Jennifer Rosenbaum.

Jennifer is a young, talented professional who can actually teach what she knows. Not every pro who offers lessons can teach.

Here’s a link to a recent interview with Jennifer. Have a look at her interpretation of the shot of the girl on the couch. It’s the third shot down. Notice Jen has chosen to adjust the white balance towards a cooler, brighter and more neutral setting where I went warm and darker and added a frame. Jen picked the shot where the model looked at the camera and I like mine where she’s looking away. (That’s mine above.) This girl has enormous eyes and was a terrific model.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

A side note about boudoir photography! I’m not going to become a boudoir photographer. I’m two to three times older than the typical subject and it’s not where my main interest lies but I can’t complain when a workshop leader can help me shoot the shot above.

But having said that, boudoir photography will teach you more about posing the human body (especially bodies which are scantly clad to say the least) than you can get anywhere else. There’s some tips you need to know to help slim down even the slimmest body when it comes to photography sessions.

It’s not all about shooting skinny girls who suck their gut in. Some of the best boudoir photography features real women (and men) who the photography poses in flattering and provocative ways no matter what their body type. It’s a real art form and tough to get right.

At the Toronto workshop, once the girls (and at 20-ish they’re girls) got used to the fact that the 30 shooters or so (broken up into two groups) were way more interested in getting their camera exposure right and finding the right white balance than what the girls looked liked (this took about an hour) everybody got into having a great time.

BTW if you’re in the Oakville, Ontario area, the Oakville Camera Club is featuring Ren Bostelaar speaking about Urban Photography on Sept. 21 at 7 p.m. Ren helped organize the Jennifer Rosenbaum workshop here in Toronto.