26 February 2008

Focus - the aftermath

I visited Focus at the NEC on Sunday and still have mixed feelings about it I guess. It was very useful visiting the show in some ways but in others I didn't feel that it was much different to previous years.

On the plus side I did attend some very interesting talks on Photoshop, ProShow Gold and portrait photography and also got to get my hands on some interesting bits of kit to try out. I also made a few useful contacts which I perhaps wouldn't have made elsewhere.

The lighting for portraits talk given by Mark Cleghorn on the ePhotozine.com stand was very interesting and showed some great examples of working in challenging conditions and details of the set ups used. Jim Mark's talk on celebrity portraiture on The Flash Centre's stand was more of a showcase of his work but again, it was well presented in a fast paced style with good info on how the shots were created.

The downsides for me were that it was really busy after about 11.30 in the morning and for the rest of the day. There also didn't seem to be that much in the way of bargains available but as I wasn't really after anything in particular, that didn't matter too much.

Would I go next year? Not sure to be honest; having now been to the Nikon Expo and SWPP Trade Show, I felt that there was a lot of repetition going on. Still, it was worthwhile for the hints and tips I picked up during the day.

22 February 2008

Focus on Imaging at the NEC

Well, the weekend has finally come round and one of the largest camera events in the UK is about to open at the NEC in Birmingham.

Focus on Imaging has been around for a good few years and has gradually built in size and following. Having already been to the SWPP Trade Show earlier this February in Hammersmith, it will be interesting to see how this year's Focus lives up to expectations.

There are a few stands I'm looking forward to visiting to see how they can take me forward with my photography - particularly on the event side of the business. Dye-sub printers are featuring now quite high up my desired kit list. The offerings from Mitsubishi and FujiFilm are definitely the front runners at the moment.

No doubt some other stands will grab my attention too! Just wondering if anyone will be offering the Nikon D300 at the sub £1,000 mark yet!! I can wish I suppose!

Shoot London and HDR photography

A few weekends ago I went into London with a fellow photography friend. We spent the day travelling around looking for suitable subjects to cover.

First stop was Speaker's Corner by Hyde Park. I've not been there before and it was quite an experience! Seeing the different speakers up on their soap boxes with the crowds gathered around was a great photo opportunity and kept us busy for an hour. Next stop was SoHo and Chinatown where the Chinese New Year decorations were up in preparation for the big event later that week. We moved on down to the Embankment before heading down towards the GLA building and Tower Bridge.

Luckily we were at the GLA Building for one of their weekend openings so we got to head up to the viewing platform to take in the sights. The best opportunity for shots though seemed to be inside the building on the way down the long spiralling staircase. As the light was fading, everything was lit up and gave us some great shots. Below is an example looking back up from where we'd come down:

We then headed across Tower Bridge to get some shots from the north embankment. My friend got me interested in taking some HDR (High Dynamic Range) shots which I gave a go. Not having tried the technique before I was keen to see what I could achieve. So, setting the camera in bracketing mode and firing off 3 shots on the tripod at 2 f-stops either side of the regular meter reading, I ended up with my photos ready for the post processing.

Back at home and using Photomatix pro software, I ran the HDR generate feature and ended up with the shot below. Not bad for a first attempt I think!

The technique allowed me to capture pretty much all the detail that would have otherwise been blown out in the highlights or under exposed.

Elinchrom's in use

Well I've done a couple of shoots using the new Elinchrom Dlite 2's now and I've been very impressed.

My first go at using them properly was for a family portrait shoot just a few days after getting the lights. Everything was really easy to set up and I was up and running pretty much straight away.

As the shoot was in a regular sized living room of someone's house, the lights were barely set above half power for the settings I needed to use. I can see that these are going to get more and more use over the coming years.

Below is one of the photos that I took on the day and has had a bit of post production applied.

The clients are really happy with the images I captured on the day so hopefully this investment in new kit will pay off soon.