Monday, October 26, 2009

Canon 5D Mark II....

So I've had a few people notice that I've got access to a 5D Mark II on a frequent basis now and wanted to know my impressions on it. Since it's been one of the things that I've been particularly busy with the last two weeks, so I figure I'll say a few things about it. It probably wont be anything that anybody much better hasn't said somewhere much more important than here as the camera has been in much more awesome hands than mine for several months now. Also I'll probably throw a bit of technical mumbo jumbo that I don't understand in there from place to place too so be warned now. Or if you just like looking at pictures that's cool too as I'll be sure to post some extra ones this time. Nonetheless, here we go.

(Canon 5D Mark II, 250ISO, Canon 16-35mmF2.8L@16mm. 1/30th@F4. Single Canon 580EX Speedlight set to 1/4th power fired by pocket wizard to camera Left held by Suzanne the Koorsen Marketing coordinator. NO light modifier, except for the built in bounce card.)

Quite Frankly the camera is awesome. Yup, I said it. The Canon 5D Mark II is awesome; but it's not an end all be all by any means of the imagination. The shot above is for a special section the newspaper is working on. It is the owner of Kooresen Fire and Safety here in Indianapolis in their firefighting museum. In terms of detail, with 21.1 million pixels the camera does a pretty solid job.

That's a 100% crop of the first image in the blog. As you can tell at 250ISO the image is as clean as you would imagine from any modern digital camera. Notice how cropped in that is too, this camera has some serious resolution. The D3x has marginally more resolution, but at 22ish megapixels you don't notice the 2 more that the D3x has. AKA D3x 2 more megapixels...whoopdy freakin doo. The D3x costs more than twice as much as the 5D Mark II does also.

(Canon 5D Mark II, 320ISO, Canon 16-35mmF2.8L@24mm. 1/50thF7.1. Canon 580EX Speedlight to camera right set to 1/2 power fired by pocket wizard through a 60" Translucent umbrella. Single Canon 580EX Speedlight set to 1/8th power fired by pocket wizard shot into the wall in the booth with the two students in the background.)

The Autofocus has problems in the dark, but the Autofocus is also the exact same module out of the original 5D making it like a bazillion years old. (ok more like 5 but who knows how to count? Seriously?) It does ok, especially with F2.8L glass when using the center Autofocus point in the viewfinder, but I don't trust anything but the center point. The Radiology shot above was about as dark as I'd trust the Autofocus in on anything that wasn't moving while using the autofocus assist. Ambient light in that room was 3200iso, F2.8 1/30th. Turns out you can't take X-Rays in bright places? I don't know thats just one of those things that I just didn't ask. I wanted more of an ambiance shot of the Radiology students, and I think my normal two speedlights provided that just fine. While we are on the topic of darkness though, the High ISO on the camera is pretty solid for the resolution. I'd say the D3 is about 1 to 1.5 stops better at High ISO image artifacting, but the 5D Mark II is twice the resolution. At 50% the 5D Mark II files look just as clean which is outstanding.

(Canon 5D Mark II, 4000ISO, Canon 16-35mmF2.8L@16mm, 1/40th@2.8)

That's Tom. He's a shooter in town that often helps me out with various projects here and there. I bet I could count the number of instances on one hand the photos where Tom ISN'T throwing the bird. Unfortunately I don't know where one of those 4 photos might be, so he gets to show finger extension on the blog to demonstrate High ISO. The images are manageably clean, ESPECIALLY for being 21.1 million pixels. You need to click on the lower photo to see it close up to understand the noise. Funny part is that the way I shoot things, I probably won't go much over 400 except for video. Video which is phenomenal out of this camera by the way. Anybody who has read this knows that I've gushed about the video on this camera. NIKON YOU NEED VIDEO LIKE COMES OUT OF THIS CAMERA. THANKS. Not that anybody who reads this can make any difference in that, but I feel better for saying it.

(Canon 5D Mark II, ISO 400, Canon 16-35mmF2.8L@32mm. 1/50th@F5 Single 580EX Speedlight set to 1/8th power shot on camera shot into a low white florescent light fixture above the receptionists desk.)

Overall Impressions is that I dig the resolution this baby puts out; in stills and in video. Awesome tool for when shooting the types of things that I end up shooting at the newspaper. Yea the Autofocus is a bit slow, but I don't shoot sports for the paper. When I do shoot sports it's on the side or for me which is why I own my own D3. Great Camera, but not an end all be all. I've played with the new 7D and the Autofocus is knock out. I only wish it was in the 5D Mark II. I haven't played with a 1D Mark IV yet, but I'm sure I'll have one in my grubby mitts for a little bit soon enough.

(Canon 5D Mark II, 100ISO, Canon 16-35mmF2.8L@16mm, 1/200@F8. Single 580EX Speedlight set to full power to camera right fired by pocketwizard through a Lumiquest Softbox III.)

I guess that long story short, is that the camera handles like a camera. Use a couple lights, set it to take a photo and shaZam! You've taken a picture. The photo above is a Metromix promo. We wanted Photos of Adrianne on several Metromix boxes around Indy in landmarkish locations. That's one of the things we came up with. Joe McNally equates pressing the camera to your face, and firing the shutter like breathing, and really it's a great analogy. Last week I shot two months for the Roller Derby calendar. Saturday I shot the Tankersly's Family photos and today was a Roller Derby Scrimmage. We had set up to shoot another Calendar month, but it didn't quite work out. At the rate I'm going shooting photos may as well be like breathing; after all it seems like I can't go a day without doing it. Do what you love and you'll never work a day in your life. Maybe someday I'll just figure out what I'm doing. More Soon.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

When Ninja's Attack.....

I have to thank my buddy brad for the title of this post as he was the one who came up with it. It is a very accurate description as to what has been happening for the last week or so as it feels as though I have been attacked on all sides by not only ninja's; but as my pals at Bungie would say: Ninja's that were on fire.

That being said I am going to keep this quick and easy. Derby season is on the way. I've got 3 calendar shoots this week to finish everything up, and November 7th is the first bout. You can check out the team here. You can buy tickets for the bout here. I'm hoping to be able to post more things that I've done at work with the 5D Mark II soon. Not that I can't post them now, but I've just been so busy fighting off the Ninja's that I would almost have rather floated over International Falls in a barrel.....Actually that sounds pretty cool so maybe it's not a good example. Been a lot of late nights, lots of early mornings lots of out of towns lately as well. Last weekend was in Lafayette for the Premier of the Independant film: Thick as Thieves.

(Nikon D3, ISO 6400, Nikon 28-70mmF2.8@28mm. 1/100th@F2.8)

The image above is from the Premier. I was hired to shoot the premier, the crowd, the tailgate at the Purdue Football game, and any other interesting events that may have occurred during that day. The film itself was made by Purdue Alumni, and they wanted to premier the film in Lafayette at their Alma mater. I was there when they did the first film,and they were happy enough with the photos to call me again while they were in the area. They did the big premier in Chattanooga Tennessee which was the weekend of the Motorcycle Grand Prix.

(Nikon D700, 200ISO, Nikon AF-S 50mmF1.4. 1/640th@F2)

I find shooting events tough, as most of my day is setting up lights to eithe rmake something look un-lit, or quite frankly to make it look lit. Shooting from the hip, on camera flash, no flash at all, get it or don't......It's all a different kind of shooting to me. I was pleased with what I ended up with though.

The film itself was good. I didn't know what to expect, but these guys know how to make budgets stretch. The entire film was made on around $11,000, and what they did for that money seemed like money well spent. I probably would have lit a few scenes differently, maybe an edit here or there differently as well but EEEEEP! I know nothing about making a feature film so my opinion should be taken as lightly as anybody who has ever used the analogy "shake a stick at" to anything. I'm shakin a stick, but what I say still don't mean nuthin.

Nice job guys, I look forward to your next installment in the series for sure. Until then, as I mentioned earlier; Derby season is among us. I've been playing with a lot of video lately and after shooting headshots last Sunday at practice, I pulled the 5D Mark II out of the case and took it for a whirl. (Manual Focus and all...) I'm no Vincent Laforet with the 5D Mark II, but I think I did alright and am relatively pleased with what I made. The league knew nothing about this video, so if it gets pulled down that could have something to do with it. It was shot in about an hour and a half, edited in about 2 hours on a Macbook Pro, and I don't have any canned audio to throw over the top of it or I'm sure it would be much much cooler. Like Blue hair in a japanese cartoon kind of cool...or pouring a glow stick into Homestarrunner's mountain dew during a Techno song. (I hear they have to pump your stomach if you drink that stuff...) Otherwise the girls are getting ready for Season 4, and so am I. You should be too. More soon.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Practice Makes Perfect.....ish

So I must be doing something right with the blog as someone reminded me today that it had been about a week since my last updated. In the last week I have been absolutely insanely busy so I guess I'm not surprised that I hadn't noticed, but I am here now with all sorts of factoids, and marginally interesting anecdotes from the last couple of days to spread onto the internets like a thin layer of peanut butter. Last week when I posted the blog about weddings I was waiting for the one and only Heather (as seen in this blog post). I was waiting for her to pick me up to go to the airport as I was traveling to Sioux Falls South Dakota with the Naptown Roller girls for their first WFTDA sanctioned bout of Season 4.

(Nikon D700, 6400ISO, Nikon 18-35mmF3.5-F4.5@18mm. 1/80th@F3.5)

As I've said in the past Sports in general are tough to shoot and this derby bout was no slouch in itself. The venue was an expo hall that had literally just gotten done being the fair. It was 50 degrees in the venue, super wicked dark, and it smelled like Manure. How's that for motivation? Motivation to not sit on the floor that is (which of course I did, because well..........I'm that guy.) Anyway, the girls played hard and suffered a tough loss. As usual I was extremely glad to be allowed to go. Southwest Airlines had other plans for my return home, but that's another story; possibly a story involving my hatred for the severely antiquated, "paper plane ticket". The halftime show was remote control cars, which if I do say so myself were freakin sweet. The only problem is that at 1/400th a second at 8,000ISO i couldn't stop them mid air off the jumps. They might be the grainiest blurriest photos of something moving in the dark that I've ever shot. (Other than when I print things on sandpaper eat oreo cookies over my opened camera that is...) If there was a dial on my camera that read studio photos on one side, and super insanely dark you'll never get the shot otherwise on the other; my camera was just below the insane side. I'm glad I got to practice shooting before the home season starts though; it's always good to get a bit of a warm up. You can look at the rest of the pictures from the trip here.

(Nikon D3, 1600ISO, Nikon 70-200mmF2.8VR@125mm. Nikon SB900 behind camera left zoomed to 200mm Fired by pocket wizard about 30 feet off the track taped to the outer railing of a set of bleachers set to 1/16th power. Nikon SB900 behind camera right zoomed to 200mm Fired by pocket wizard about 40 feet off the track taped to the outer railing of a set of bleachers set to 1/16th power. Both Speedlights were aimed at Turn 1.)

I did get a new camera at work this week though, and I've been using it non stop to run it through the rigors. I am no longer allowed to say that I am not allowed to have nice things as they purchased me a brand spankin new Canon 5D Mark II. I dig the resolution but the autofocus is a little slow and from what I can tell not quite as accurate as I like. Great camera though, and the video is what it was primarily purchased for anyway. Speaking of video, I produced another Gunner video this week at the Butler Homecoming. It was with the other HD camera at the office, but it is hot through the internet tubes as of this morning. The Chariot Race was neat for sure, and Gunner seemed to really be a hit with the students. You can check that video out here.

I'll post more of what I've done this week as it goes live, but as I've said I've been working a lot of video this week. In fact I even spent some time practicing with the 5D Mark II's video as it is Manual Focus Only when it comes to video. Some would say that is a downfall, I'd prefer to think it'll just take a little longer to adapt to. Practice makes perfect is what I'm told, but I'd prefer to think that the more I practice the luckier I get. It always seemed that way with golf anyway. I really look forward to the possibilities that this camera has. My 8 extreme long term readers will remember when I shot the Music video for KJ Testin earlier this year with a 5D mark II. If you don't remember, you can check it out here. To get a little practice in the hopes that I might get lucky with it I shot some video at Roller Derby practice tonight. I'm working on throwing something together with it, but I'm not going to lie iMovie is the only thing I have on this computer and I hate it, so you'll have to wait. I think maybe now I've got a few ideas for at the newspaper as well as for the Roller Derby rolling around inside my noodle. You'll just have to wait and see. More soon.

Friday, October 9, 2009


(Nikon D300, 1600ISO, 10.5mm F2.8DX fisheye. 1/60th@F2.8)

2009 has been quite the year, and any of you that know me very well knows exactly what I'm referring too. It's been super busy, I seem like I'm running around like crazy but to me it doesn't seem like I have gotten anywhere. In fact I've been all over covering all sorts of crazy things here and there. Weddings usually account of quite a bit of the traveling that I do, on top of Roller Derby. Weddings can be extra stressful, and yet the images produced can contain so much emotion that I'm not sure how some people can turn down the opportunity to photograph what amounts to such a photographic period of time. Not that I'm saying I shoot tons and tons of weddings because that isn't the case. Not that I'm saying I'm the most awesomest awesome wedding photographer that ever existed, because that's definitely not the case. As I said, that day can be incredibly stressful for a photographer too, but when you find a couple that is truly in love the day will just fly by.

(Nikon D3, 250ISO, Nikon 28-70mmF2.8@62mm. 1/320@F7.1)

Locations can be tough to light, crowds can be tough to please but in the end what really matters is the love that the bride and groom share. As the photographer you're in charge of capturing those memories, and in my opinion your job is to make the capturing the memories fun, as opposed to just another job.

(Nikon D700, 800ISO, Nikon 70-200mmF2.8VR@180mm. 1/60@F2.8)

That's Kenny and Sara there at their wedding in Elkhart Indiana last July. Great couple, lot of fun. They had great spirits as the day started our pretty doom and gloom:

(Nikon D700, 200ISO, Nikon 18-35mmF3.4-4.5@18mm. 1/200th@F9. Single SB-900 set to iTTL +2 to camera left fired by SU-800 Speedlight Commander.)

Really though things worked out for them because as they got married the clouds parted, the mosquitos vanished, swine flu was no longer worried about, and as it turns out the grass truely was greener on the other side......

(Nikon D700, 200ISO, 18-35mmF3.4-F4.5@18mm. 1/200th@F13. Single SB-800 fired to camera left at iTTL +/-0 fired by on camera SU-800 Commander Unit)

Who'd a thunk that those two shots were an hour apart on the same day? Some couples don't get luck like that. I shot a wedding in Bloomington last year that was outdoors in the rain, and who baby was that fun. Left a set of reflectors on IU's campus. I hope that some photo student found them, some family had a picnic on them, or may one wild student used them as a set of ginormous frisbee's. This too was a great couple though, who knew exactly what they wanted, and were absolutely beautifully happy.

(Nikon D3, 280ISO, Nikon 70-200mmF2.8VR@200mm. 1/500@F4.5)

Really though there is a lot more to shooting weddings than just photos of the bride and groom. A lot of the time I recommend a second photographer to shoot weddings as opposed to just one person doing it all. It helps the photographer out, as well as the second person can get photos of the kids picking their noses outside, or playing in all the cute places that they aren't allowed to go in, because most of the rest of us don't fit. (otherwise it would be just fine as we'd probably all go play there too...) Not to mention it affords more time for doing shots correctly, and giving things the time they deserve. Details, details. Sometimes the details are the most important.

(Nikon D300, 200ISO, Nikon 60mm F2.8Macro Nano, 1/100th@F9. Single Nikon SB800 Speedlight to camera right set to iTTL. Single Nikon Sb-800 Speedlight to camera left set to Commander iTTL -1 on a SC-28 off camera cable)

Not only that but weddings can allow your inner stalker to come out. You don't need to get in someones face, sometimes a shot from further back can make just as much of an impression on someone. (That and she was tired of me occupying her bathroom with her of which I don't blame her one bit. It's her bathroom, and just like a small animal I'm easily distracted by things I don't understand; like makeup.)

(Nikon D3, 2000ISO, Nikon 28-70mmF2.8, 1/100th@F3.2)

The wedding above was a halloween wedding last year actually. I had a spider-man costum on under my suit, and i was going to rip open the $8 shirt that I bought and change into spiderman during the reception. Only problem was that I was the only person who did dress up......That made things awkward when someone noticed that I had a costume on under my suit. Yup. Good times. Really though the reception is what people look forward to out of weddings, and no matter what people say I still maintain that the reception is the hardest part of a wedding to shoot. During the ceremony nobody really moves, you can wander around to a lot of different angles and you're still ok. The reception is like trying to shoot a super happy group of people who have no care in the world except that they are now celebrating in the dark. It's like that, only exactly like that. If you're in the right spot though, you really can make and see some neat photo opportunities.

(Nikon D3, 400ISO, Nikon 28-70mmF2.8@52mm, 1/30@F2.8)

(Nikon D2x, 400ISO, Nikon 18-35mmF3.5-F4.5@18mm, 1 Second@F7.1. Flash set to fire on TTL Rear Sync)

(Nikon D3, 200ISO, Nikon 28-70mmF2.8@28mm, 1/2sec@F10. On Camera Flash set to iTTL rear sync)

(Nikon D3, 2000ISO, Nikon 28-70mmF2.8@28mm. 1/400th@F2.8)

Weddings really can be one of the more fun things to shoot if you let them. I'm done shooting weddings for 2009, Kenny and Sara were my last one this year and yes that season ended a bit early for me. Not all of the photos in this post were taken this year either, but they are some of my favorites from weddings over the last two years or so. Derby season is about to begin though, and by that I mean literally. I'm updating this blog waiting for my ride to the first bout of the year for the Naptown Tornado Sirens. Not that I haven't been hard at work trying to get the 2010 NRG Calendar shot this year, but shooting the act of derby is significantly different than shooting calendar. Definitely be sure to check back here though as I'm almost certain I'll update more soon....

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

The last of the magazines....

I think at this point I am the last photographer at the Indianapolis Star Newspaper who shoots for magazine print. By that I mean the glossy paper magazine that you would find at your local Kroger, Marsh, Borders or wherever. Most of the magazines at the newspaper got axed a few months ago because readership was down, and they were a very high cost product to produce. Magazine paper isn't cheap apparently, which I guess should be evident because you can't quickly shoot for magazine. You need to take your time, shoot as low of an ISO as possible and by all means not waste the time of the people you are shooting; specially when these people should be saving lives.

(Canon EOS 1D Mark II, ISO 100, Canon 16-35mm F2.8L@16mm, 1/250th@F9. Single Canon 580EX Speedlight set to full power through a 60" umbrella to camera right set to Butt Kickin Full power triggered by Pocket Wizard for fill)

The last and only magazine that we produce is the Indiana Nursing Quarterly magazine. It is a free magazine that gets mailed directly to nurses every quarter, and from what I can tell the nurses that read it; dig it. Most of the photo nerds who read my blog know that I attempt to shoot at the lowest ISO possible all the time. For magazine that attempt has to double, because the glossy paper isn't very forgiving. It's like when you're a kid and you eat all the cookies in the cookie jar even though you were only supposed to have one.... Yea your parents don't like it very much. That paper will show the zit or 3rd eye just as much as it'll show the grain. Shooting at 100ISO outside is easy. All you need to do is give a little fill to pop the shadows on someones face. Shooting at such a low ISO at an indoor location is something that I love about photography. It's the challenge of the shoot; the hunt to wrangle the light photons into the places that they need to be, in the colors that they need to be! (insert evil laugh here). Sometimes you have good days, and sometimes you have bad days. It's just like playing a sport; some days you play well, and some days you just flat out suck...

The nice part about what I do at the paper is that I can stage things to look real. Lighting those things to look real gets quite a bit more difficult than you can imagine. Like i said before, 100ISO indoors isn't easy, and a lot of people have no idea how much light that actually takes to give you a reasonable depth of field. It can get somewhat stressful for sure, it's amazing that I don't freak out while shooting every edition of the nursing magazine.

(Canon EOS 1D Mark II, 250ISO, Canon 16-35mm F2.8L@16mm, 1/40th@F7.1. Single 580EX Speedlight set to camera right slightly above subjects set to 1/4th power triggered by pocket wizard. Single 580EX set to 1/8th power to camera right set on a counter shot into one of those light up walls that you view X-Ray's on triggered by pocket wizard)

I tend to try to shoot a lot of things with only two lights. Mostly because when I shoot for the newspaper I only have two lights... I guess necessity is the mother of invention after all. The Nikon flash system is about a billion times better than the canon system, but that's what radio poppers are for right? Radio poppers and a little patience as I never get it right on the first 203 tries....

This shot was no different. Originally I shot this using a single light, which was my standard 580EX with an umbrella to the right of the frame on 1/4th power. The shot was missing something though. In a hair brained effort I covered the screen of her computer and used it as a reflector with a 580EX speedlight set to 1/64th power. You an see the difference in the two shots here, and you will probably agree that it makes all the difference in the world:

The Final shot that I ended up with was this:

(Canon EOS 1D Mark II, ISO 200, Canon EF 100mm Macro, 1/60th@F5. Single 580EX to camera right slightly above set to 1/4th triggered by Pocket Wizard. Single 580EX set to 1/64th triggered by pocket wizard on the desk in front of the nurses pointed at the computer screen which I covered in white copy paper.)

I was pleased with the shot over all. There would have been one or two other things that I may have tried differently after the fact, but these ladies save lives and I didn't want to take up too terribly much of their time; especially with my Laffy Taffy Jokes... As a special request from a couple of different people I am also attaching a diagram of the light setup for that shot. Hope you enjoy my badly rendered rendition of the event as my drawing skills match that of a second grader who's eaten too much glue. In other news, It looks like I may be getting a new Camera at the Star......More soon...

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Metromix Lovin.....

Quick blog for now, I just wanted to point out that I've got a bunch of stuff popping up on Metromix this week. First off, as I mentioned several times along the way, last weekend I shot the Zombie month for the Naptown Roller Girls 2010 calendar. We allowed Metromix to cover the shoot, and while the shots don't look anything like what the final is going to look like it's a little behind the scenes action for you. So check that out here.

Metromix also launched some new Custom content this week. The content is called, "Rollin with Gunner." It's a video segment where Gunner takes a road trip to do various activities. The premise is that a road trip can be just a block away. You never know what kind of fun you'll have along the way. The first installment takes us to the First Colt's homegame where Gunner attempts to get fans to fill his Gas can with Beer. We had a lot of fun making the video, and next weeks is going to be good as well. Lets just say I had never seen a 400lb pumpkin before..... That's next week though. You can however check out the tailgating here.

Otherwise It's been crazy busy this week. Not sure what else to say actually. I'll be videotaping a chariot race Saturday at Butler, and then Shooting KJ Testin's first show as a headliner Saturday night. I've been doing lots of printing for Ultrasun this last week, and by lots of printing I mean lots. Just finished printing an 8'x 10' wall for them. Talk about monstrous print. Most I've ever printed in one sitting, took 5 2'x10' sections. Crazy big. Anyway I'm easily excited and I digress. To leave you for now though I've got some more behind the scenes. The video below is what I do for Ultrasun, other than parts. If you've ever wondered how to shoot a tanning bed you may be able to figure it out from the video below. No it's not necessary to spin it in a circle just to shoot it, but that might have to do with the other part of the project I can't talk about yet.....Just imagine. Getting dizzy in a tanning bed... what? I dont know where the Music came from either, sorry. It's labeled as businessman in the "canned" folder at Indystar..... So if anybody knows who it is let me knwo and I'll credit them. More soon.