Levi Riggs at the Taste of Tippecanoe

Inspired by Fro Knows Photo at Creative Live

I have heard about Creative Live before, but I had not actually watched one until Jared Polin from Fro Knows Photo was on it a couple of weeks ago. I really enjoyed the three days of his low light course, and in the process I found some future workshops that I think would be great. Creative Live is all about giving you great content for free.  The free portion only lasts the day of the event. After that the price jumps up pretty quick. If you are available the day of the event though it is great content for a reasonable price. You can buy the three day lesson in low light photography for around $130 on the Creative Live website. If you are struggling with low light I would say to give it a try. It may even be worth your while to pick up some tips. I was inspired to shoot a concert after watching the first day so I may have to find out where I can find a band willing to let a new guy shoot.

Editing in Lightroom 5

I really wanted to try and give this photo the rock star look. I took the photo into Lightroom to edit it one more time. The initial edit came out a bit flat for me. I was hoping that I could give it another shot. What I found out is that when the light is not there it really is not there. I started out with the HDR Look (Black and White) preset that I love from Matt Kloskowski. This preset really started me liking my photos in black and white. I went in and toned down the clarity a bit on the preset. Then I went into the tone curve panel and selected strong contrast. I have never tried this before, but thanks to the lessons on Creative Live I found out how easily you can up the contrast in your photo. I liked the look, but I think that the shot could have been better with a bit more light. I rarely shoot a concert, but next time I will use the light to my advantage.

You Can Take the Photographer Out of the Studio…

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Making Portraits in the Old Purdue Power Plant

In the spring I was able to go into the old Purdue Power Plant with John Underwood a Purdue photographer who has been with the University over 35 years. We were making pictures of the various textures that were all over the building. It really was a beautiful building in a way that only photographers think so. For some reason we like to photograph the old and decaying. This building that will soon be demolished was just that. Before we left for the day John who is a phenomenal portrait photographer had a couple of extra photos to make. He saw a portrait to be made, and made one of one of the photographers in our party. It was a very spur of the moment portrait with no extra lighting, but it just goes to show you that you can take the portrait photographer out of the studio, but he will still find a portrait to be made.

Editing This Photo in Lightroom 5

I wanted a look that was befitting this old space that we were in. I used the light HDR Look by Matt Kloskowski to start here. From there all that was needed was a small exposure adjustment. A crop to get rid of some of the distracting elements was all that I needed from there. This was a very easy photo to edit.

Photo Sale!

This image and all of my others on my website here are now 50% off until Labor Day. I thought that after the long winter that we endured a photo sale was in order. If you like the photo above just click on it, and you will be taken directly to the image on SmugMug. If you just want to browse my online portfolio you can click on the link below. Just enter the code ‘summer’ at the checkout for your savings.

50% Off

 

 

Quick Review: Fuji X100s

Using the Fuji X100s

Last fall I was able to spend a few hours using the Fuji X100s around my house. I was excited to use this very highly rated camera. I knew that I may never buy this camera due to its large price tag (around $1,300). The camera was coming to my house, and I waited all day for it to arrive. Imagine my disappointment when it did arrive, and the photos that I made with it were horrible. This was not the fault of the camera, but rather my fault. I was using the optical viewfinder, and it is not of the through the lens variety. My shots were not well framed, and I couldn’t figure out what I was doing wrong. I am used to looking through the viewfinder and seeing exactly what my camera is seeing. The slight distance that my glasses make between my eye and the viewfinder really makes a huge difference. At the time I wrote the camera off because of this feature. It could not be my fault, it had to be something wrong with the camera.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • 16.3 mp sensor
  • Full HD movie capability
  • X-Trans CMOS sensor
  • Ease of use
  • Retro style cable release
  • Makes RAW images
  • jpeg quality makes shooting RAW about white balance
  • Film simulation modes
  • Built in ND filter

Cons

  • Optical viewfinder is not through the lens
  • High cost
  • Fixed 23mm f/2 lens
  • Fixed LCD screen
  • No GPS
  • No CF card
  • Highest ISO only available in jpeg mode

Final Verdict

This is not a camera that I would buy at this stage of my life. This is a great camera for shooting one focal length very well. That is the equivalent of 35mm. I could get over that easily as well, but the price is very high for what I would use this camera for. I bought the Canon G16 for less than half the price of this camera. That being said if cost was not an issue I would love to have this camera to take on photo walks. It would be a great camera if you do not need to zoom. This is probably the best compact camera that I will get to use. If you have the money to spare this might just be for you. The cons that I have listed are very superficial.

Bonus Photos

Here are a couple of other photos that I made during the short time that I had the camera.

The Ocean City Pier

Slowing Down the Shutter at the Ocean City Pier

Every year we vacation in Ocean City, Maryland. It is a great place to spend time with your family. Early in the morning and late at night it is also a great time for me to get out and make pictures that just are not available here in West Lafayette. Ocean City is filled with sights that get me excited about photography again. Every year I look forward to our trip out east to the shore. This year is no different. I have learned a lot since my last trip to the shore, and I have some new gear that I want to use. Last year I had ideas like the shot above, but I just did not have the gear to make it work 100% that I had it in my mind. I still like how this shot turned out though. The ghosting water looks great against the dark pier in black and white. I made a few pictures of this pier last year as it was just rebuilt after Hurricane Sandy took the end of it. Everything in view here was new to me as I photographed it.

Editing the Photo in Silver Efex Pro

One of my favorite tools for black and white photography is Nik Software’s Silver Efex Pro. You can really see your photos shine in the program. I made some very minor edits in Lightroom to bring out a couple of details, and then I sent the photo into Silver Efex Pro to edit it. Once inside I usually go through the presets until I find something that looks good to me. I have about four presets that I usually end up on. Once I pick the preset I can fine tune it with the sliders on the right hand side of the screen. Those sliders help bring out details that may have been lost in the initial process. The presets give you a guideline of where the image is going, and the sliders get you to the finish line. In the future I will make a video that shows just how I use Silver Efex Pro in my workflow.

The Look of Love

Wedding Photography

I really don’t shoot weddings. My love is shooting sports with baseball being on top of that list. When I heard about a wedding taking place at a baseball field I knew that I wanted to photograph it. It was a unique venue for a wedding for sure. There were three photographers on the field with a couple more in the stands. The event was well covered so I tried to just capture moments. The one above during the father/daughter dance is one of those. Without having to make all of the posed portraits it freed me up to have a fun day. It also freed up my hard drive of having to store all of the posed photos. When you have multiple photographers you just have to delegate responsibility. With multiple faces to look at the people in the shot don’t know where to look. Later that night I had a shot lined up for the Lafayette Brawlin’ Dolls who I shoot for. With two photographers on them they were looking both ways which made for a photo that really cannot be used. Multiple photographers is a great concept if the photographers work together. If you want to see a few more of the photos that I took yesterday I have posted about 20 on my Facebook page here.

Shooting Video With the Canon 5D Mark III

The photo above was made while I was shooting video. I have not really messed with video on the 5D very much, but I played around with it before the wedding started. I decided to try and shoot some video during the wedding. The problem is that when I see a moment I snap a photo. The above picture is one of those times. The video momentarily pauses though which is a slight problem. I think that I am too ingrained as a photographer to try video right now. The camera does a great job though, and even delivers a great RAW file during the video. I have never regretted buying the camera.

Shooting a Wedding

The Fun and Agony of Shooting a Wedding

Today I will be shooting a wedding at Alexander Field. Shooting a wedding is an experience like no other. I feel a high shooting a sporting event, but the high from a wedding lasts all day. I get that high from the pressure, and there is no pressure like shooting a wedding. You have to get the shots, and if you do not they are lost forever. After shooting a wedding there is the crash back at home followed by the hours of editing the next few days. This wedding I will be second shooting so it really does not carry the pressure that shooting alone does. That being said I love getting the shot so I am sure that I will pack the pressure on myself. The photo above was taken at a friends wedding in 2012. I was not shooting this wedding for money at all, but of course I always have my camera on me. I am sure that the actual wedding photographer did not appreciate another camera.

Going Back to Edit Old Photos

When I first took these pictures I had just switched to RAW. I was shooting both RAW and jpeg in camera because Lightroom was a new and scary thing to me. That was Lightroom 3. Now I am using Lightroom 5.5, and I can’t imagine how I got along without it. That being said I did not do too much to this photo. I adjusted a couple of sliders slightly, but for the most part this is what came out of the camera. As much as you can do that with a RAW file that is.

Kiwanis Field Gets a Facelift

The view from the grandstand

A New Football Field For the LaPorte Slicers

Yesterday I was in my hometown of LaPorte, Indiana for the day. During the course of the day I was able to get a tour of the new football field that the LaPorte Slicers are putting down. This is an exciting time for LaPorte High School Football. The stadium really looks refreshed on the inside. I have only seen the finished result when it comes to field turf so I was very excited to see the process up close and personal. It really is a meticulous process, but these guys have it down. I believe that this is only day three of the installation of the actual turf, and they are moving right along. I never knew that the numbers and logos were sewn into the field. Seeing the process really gives me a new outlook on turf. With the talk of Purdue looking into field turf I would be excited to try a time lapse of the process. As a big kid who has grown up knowing the orange and black it was awesome to see the colors pop off of this field. I will try very hard to get back on August 29th to see the first game on the new field. I think that would make for a great Exposure page.

Real Pictures of a Synthetic Field

Here are a few bonus pictures from my short time on the field yesterday.

The numbers being placed on the field
The new grandstand color
The field stitcher
A spool of thread sits on the field
String lines help the workers keep everything straight
The Slicer name being sewn into the end zone
The exterior of Kiwanis Field

Lens Review: Canon 50mm f/1.8 II

Canon 50mm f-1.8

Reviewing the “Nifty Fifty”

I would think that for most dSLR owners this would be the first prime lens that they would own. It is a great way to get a prime lens that works well in low light. It also has a great price tag. You can pick one of these up for around $100 dollars and it gives you great results. I think that it really is designed for the crop frame cameras, but you can use it on a full frame unit. This was my first lens after the two kit lenses that I had. I loved the way that I could shoot indoors without cranking up my ISO as much. This lens was first introduced in 1991 so it is not a new lens so to speak. For having over 20 year old tech in it this lens still holds up.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Low price tag
  • Good image quality at f/1.8
  • Compact
  • Great for candids

Cons

  • Plastic body construction
  • Lens mount plastic as well
  • 5 blade aperture
  • Not L glass
  • Loud focus motor

Final Verdict

I think that if you look at the pros and cons you will see that I was really nitpicking on a few of them. The body is constructed out of plastic, but you did pay $100 for the lens. This would not stand up to the rigors of sports photography, but it does work well in low light situations. I almost exclusively used this lens indoors until I bought my 5d Mark III. Almost any family photo taken in the house was with this lens. It really has sat on the shelf for the most part since I bought a camera with a high ISO capability. It served its purpose for a couple of years though. I still get it out when I want a razor thin layer of focus. When I first bought the lens I thought that the bokeh that it produced was awesome. Now that I have tried some other lenses though I do not like the pentagon bokeh as much. The 5 blades in the camera do not give a pleasant bokeh all the time. As you can see below it can give a nice bokeh though.  Again for most just starting out this is a non factor as well. This is a great lens for the beginner trying to take their photography to the next level.

Sample Images

Here are a few images that I have made with the 50mm f/1.8 lens. Here is a link to all of my posts in which I featured the 50mm f/1.8 lens.


sacred city roller derby

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St. Michael the Archangel Catholic Church

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Photographing a Beautiful Church

A couple of years ago a good friend was married here at St. Michael the Archangel Catholic Church in Indianapolis. We were very early in getting to the church, and I was able to make a couple of images of it before anyone was seated. I loved how great this little church looked on the inside and out. I wanted to try and capture the church in all of its glory. With the lighting situation that meant reaching my goal by using HDR. At the time I was very limited in what I could do. In fact the wedding photos from the weekend in question were edited in a trial version of Lightroom. Lightroom has become such a part of my workflow that I cannot imagine using anything but it to work on my photos. With that said there was a time not long ago where that happened. On some Thursday’s I like to go back and re-work an old photo with some tricks that I have learned since I first tried my hand at it. This is one of those photos. I never posted this photo on this website, but a version of it appeared on my Facebook page at the time. While I think that technically in the camera at the time there were a couple of things that I could do better, I am very happy with how this image looks now.

Throwing the Processing Book at This Photo

Using Lightroom 5.5, Photoshop CC, and Photomatix Pro 5 to Edit This Photo

As the heading states this photo went through a couple of stages. Back in 2012 when I edited the photo I just ran it through Photomatix, and what came out of the program was what I had. Now I have a little different workflow that I think looks much better. To start off I sent the three exposures out of Lightroom to Photomatix to fuse them together. After Photomatix had rendered a 32 bit file I saved that file, and opened it up in Lightroom again. I have a lot of pixels to work with this way, and I can achieve my goals much easier. I applied the HDR Look preset by Matt Kloskowski to this image to start off. I then worked the sliders to get the image where I wanted it to be. Once I was happy with the photo I sent it to Photoshop to apply a finishing touch. Once the photo is in Photoshop you make a copy of your layer, and run the high pass filter on it. You don’t add a lot, but you just make sure that you can make out the edges of everything in your scene. You hit enter to apply the filter, and then adjust your layer to overlay. The high pass layer adds a hard edge to everything making them pop. I do not use this trick as often as I should as it really adds to my photos. I think that it really works in a setting like this one the best. Below is the same photo with just a simple black and white conversion applied to it. I also adjusted the exposure slightly. I really think that this one works either way.

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A Telephoto Sunset

Photographing the Sun with a Telephoto Lens

This is one of the things that they tell you not to do. You should not photograph the sun with a long lens. For example a 300mm lens with a 1.4x teleconverter on it will get you to about 420mm. That could do some damage to your eye. On the other hand if you are leaving a baseball game, and you see the sight that is above you may change your tune. This is just what happened to me this past spring as I was walking out of the gates of Alexander Field after a ballgame. The sun looked gorgeous, and instead of getting home 10 seconds quicker to edit my photos I stopped to make a photo. I just moved my monopod up to make one last photo. Sometimes the shots that you don’t plan at all are the best.

Editing This Photo in Lightroom 5.5 and Photoshop CC

As I said above this shot was not planned at all. I was walking out of the stadium with the rest of the crowd when I stepped to the side to make the photo. I was still at ISO 3200 from the game, and although I changed a couple of other settings I failed to change that one. The photo was a bit bright for me so the first step here was to adjust the exposure in Lightroom. After making a couple of small adjustments there I then sent the photo to Photoshop CC to work on it there. My only goal was to get rid of the two power lines that ran right through the photo. They really distracted me, and I wanted them gone. Using the content aware tool I was able to get rid of the power lines, and save this photo. The beauty of the content aware tool is that you can barely tell that this was done. I really need to get better at using Photoshop, but with this one tool the program does all of the work for me.