Monday, January 23, 2012

Shooting news with less than the best

A newspaper quality shot of Ken Lewenza, national CAW president.

The other day I covered a rally in London, Ontario. I was writing a story for the Digital Journal and needed art to accompany my piece.

As a former newspaper photographer, I can appreciate the advantages offered by top-of-the-line equipment: No shutter lag, great motor drives and phenomenal image quality.

Unfortunately, the one disadvantage is price. No longer working for a newspaper, I can no longer afford the best. So, I shoot with a Fuji FinePix HS10 and a Canon PowerShot S90. I carry a spare set of batteries at all times for both cameras.

I have one other problem when I am out shooting news. I have a heart condition. Ideally, I would have liked to be on stage shooting with the local news folk but if I had a "spell" and I was on stage, it would be embarrassing and disruptive. I staked out a spot in front of the stage. And I did have a spell and was able to ease myself out of the crowd and find a seat to recover.

My small, shoulder case with two cameras and spare batteries is quite light. It is light even for me.

I think my shots from Saturday are proof that reporters can get usable shots using simple equipment. They may not get the images that a photographer would, the shutter lag alone is enough to prevent that, but they will get good, usable stuff.

One needs at least one overall crowd shot. One quick shot from the stage delivered.

A real strong selling point when it comes to my kit is the wonderful zoom lens on the Fuji FinePix HS10. It goes from a wide angle to super telephoto and it does it with a twist of the lens, rather than a push of a button. I much prefer the manual approach over the motorized one for setting the focal length of the lens.

I'd write more but you get the idea, I'm sure. If not, check through some of my older posts about these two cameras. If you write me, I'll reply or add to this post so that all can benefit.

Good shots are made at rallies using all focal lengths.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Capturing those special moments

Shot RAW, colour is better than jpg but I still missed the peak moment.
My last post looked at saving a special moment by cutting and pasting together two images taken moments apart. It's a Photoshop ruse, for sure. But, I posted the "trick" and the voting was almost unanimous: The doctored picture was best. Even the subject in the manipulated image voted for the Photoshop worked pic.

Well, wouldn't you know it. I was back shooting a similar picture just this past weekend. This time it was grandma Cathy, grandpa Bill's wife, who was celebrating a birthday. I decided to use my Fuji FinePix HS10 set to best picture capture mode. I left my Canon PowerShot S90 in my bag. Also, I shot the image RAW.

I like the colour and detail in the highlights better in the Fuji image. But the moment captured was not the best. It is a moment too soon. The peak moment was still to come. I missed it.

There are advantages to cameras without shutter lag. There are times I sorely miss my high end Canon SLR. Motor drives are no match for good reflexes. A fast camera with no shutter lag, teamed with a blazingly fast motor drive, attached to a flash capable of firing as fast the motor drive, ah, now that is the answer to all my problems but one: Money. A camera like that makes my money problems much, much worse.

I'll just have to keep getting by.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Is this allowed or not? You be the judge.

This is two pictures taken moments apart merged.

Get a picture of grandpa and Fiona blowing out the birthday candles. It was an order.

In the old days, when I worked at the paper and used top of the line Canon pro digital SLRs, such a picture was a breeze. I might even bounce just a touch of flash into the scene to pump up the shadow detail.

But that was then and this is now. I am not at the paper and I no longer have that gear. In dark situations I shoot with a Canon S90. In this example today, I shot on auto at f/2.0. But, even f/2.0 wasn't a big aperture to capture a picture after the candles were blown out and I wasn't fast enough to capture the action the first three times.

That's right, I shot this action four times in order to get one picture. I liked that one picture but my wife didn't like grandpa in my fave picture. She liked him in a shot taken moments before. No problem, except for the morality of it all, simply grab the grampa's face from one image and paste it over top of top of the other photo.

At the newspaper, this was a firing offence. In this situation, it is a keep peace in the family procedure.

I actually like the unmucked-about-with picture best. I like the way grandpa's face looking down leads me to the action below. What do you think?

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Shooting with the best is no guarantee of quality

Lifted from the site of a well respected newspaper.

I know the equipment that is used by the photographer who shot the above photo. The stuff is the best. The image is, forgive me, very poor. I'm sure it was cropped from a larger image. I'm sure there is an explanation for the poor quality. Still, it makes a point. The very best equipment does not guarantee that the final image will be good quality.

It so happens that I shot something similar. Here is my take on this image. I took my image, not with a top of the line DSLR, but with a point and shoot. Granted, I didn't use as long a lens but if I had I would have used a tripod and the smallest aperture possible.

Whatever, I don't find the out-of-focus image professional.

Take a lesson from this. Don't feel you can not do good work because you don't have the best equipment. You can do some damn fine work if you learn to work within the limits imposed by your gear. And, you can do some damn awful work with some awfully expensive camera gear.

Happy New Year!

Blow this up and you still  have a better image than the pro.