True Words

Hi everybody and welcome to a short blog post about how camera gear can influence your success.

When I read my G+ stream this morning I saw a post from Lisa Bettany who wrote something about “not to be limited by the camera gear you own”.
On January the 10th she also wrote something similar linked with a success story of herself. When she started photography with an Canon Rebel DSLR she experimented a lot and shot a backlit cowboy during sunset. She published the image on flickr.com and a year later Lisa got a request by Penguin which wants her image for a book cover.
So, the quintessence is, that she took an experimental photo with entry-level camera gear which got published on a book cover of a Penguin Readers book.
That’s cool, isn’t it?

I can confirm such kind of success with entry-level gear. When I was new to DSLR in 2005, I shot and experimented a lot, too. I started with an entry-class NIKON D70s and cheap but good SIGMA lenses. I went out there in the woods and nature to take great images. While I was walking around and looking for a nice scene, I took notice of a sunlit forest path. The whole scene was backlit and the sun glanced through the branches and flood the path with warm yellow light. I composed a bit then pressed the shutter.
Someday I found a postcard publisher on the net and decided to sent them a few of my images, maybe they would use one for their postcards. A few months later I got a reply from them that they want to use the “sunlit forest path” image for a postcard. Finally, this image got published as a postcard and was distributed in Germany.

As you can see, success doesn’t has to do that much with high-end camera gear. Of course, you cannot cover a fast sports action scene in a dark gym with just a 3 frames per second, noisy ISO 3200 entry-camera and a 18-50mm f3.5-5.6 kit-lens and expect high-class images. Just use your gear in fields that it is suitable for. And use it as effectively as it is possible to cover the best images possible.

And Lisa’s G+ post contains another good tip: If you really need high-end gear for a job, you can always rent it.

Think about it. As a photographer you always have to think of profitability aspects, too.

Have a nice weekend!

Bye!
Chris


Wow, suddenly they are using flash!

Hi and welcome to this short blog post about the current sports photography circumstances in Alsfeld.

When I opened the local newspaper’s sports section yesterday (and today) I was pretty surprised. A local sports photographer used flash for an indoor football game coverage! It’s interesting that after the publication of my strobed indoor sports photos other local sports photographers suddenly use flash, too.


This shot is a nice try in terms of using flash, but it’s still a simple straight on camera flash that – in all probability – disturbs the players, causes cast shadows, red eyes (see the goalkeeper), a flat 2D impression and no kind of dramatic. Of cause, this flash reveals the players and enables a faster shutter speed, but it’s just an unfavorable type of flash – it’s a straight flash. However, this photographer still made a good start to get better images in dark gyms. It’s really necessary to rise the level of the picture quality in our local newspaper – especially in the sports section.

Nevertheless let’s have a look at a shot that was made by using a professional off camera flash technique.


As you can see, this shot doesn’t show any cast shadows of the players. It’s kind of 3D because I was using two strobes that also helped to create a dramatic light. The visitors in the background are primarily lit by the available light and the players by the flash light. Because the flash light comes from the ceiling and is mixed with the ambient light, it doesn’t disturb the players.

Seems like my sports images and my way of lighting causes a new understanding of quality in local sports photography.  Would be nice to see more sports images of good quality in our local newspaper. 🙂

Bye!
Chris


This was 2011!

Hi and welcome to my first blog post for 2012!

I hope you had great holidays!

So, what’s up? At the moment I’m working on my Bachelor Thesis in General Management. I will graduate in March, hopefully. 😉
Well, more about the prospects of 2012 in one of the upcoming blog posts …

Today let’s look back on my photographic aspects of 2011.

2011 I began with a new approach: “Going professional.”

In 2010 I already sold a lot of things that I wouldn’t need anymore. From the proceeds I bought photo gear. While the 4th quarter of 2010 paved the way for this approach, with new photo gear, methods and ideas, now it was time to put it into action.

Therefor I started my own flash photography project. This should help me to practice the usage of flash in the field.
I was almost obsessed by using flash and available light in the best way possible just to move on from that dull looking amateur photos – in order to create photos that have that professional clean look.  It’s bad, but I never really mind the light – until now. Like Dave Black says: “Light is the greatest influence.” And he’s absolutely right. It’s so obvious that light MUST be the greatest influence because photography means “drawing with light”! So why don’t we use the light to create awesome “light paintings”? This was the first thing I had to realize before I could go on.

I read lots of books and blogs of professional photographers all year and analyzed their photos. That help me to increase my knowledge while the regular shooting increased my practical skills. I learned the theory than went out into the field to practice until I got acceptable results. It was that easy, indeed.

 

SPORTS
I started my personal flash training with shooting sports. Therefor I asked the local sports clubs if it is possible to take pictures during the training. This also helped me to learn something about the planning of shoots and making arrangements. It was not always that easy to cover a training session or even a game. It needs so many permissions that it is really elaborating to establish a shoot. Often coaches are skeptical toward using flash because they think it could disturb the athletes. So, it needed some cogency to arrange a shoot. But it was worth the effort.
Finally, I shot several indoor and outdoor sports like swimming, motocross, track and field, handball, basketball and football during the year. My favorite sport was motocross. Since I went to the first motocross race with my uncle in 1989  I like it. It was always fun to watch it, but to shoot it was much better! As I shot it the first time and saw the results I was amazed! The results were awesome! I made a quantum leap from dull amateur pictures to high-quality professional images.

I also used professional off camera flash solutions and techniques to realize high-quality images in extreme dark gyms. This effort helped me to contrast from competitors once more. Now I’m ranking  a bit higher in the Mount Olympus of our local sports photographers. 😉

 

 

 

 

 

PHOTOJOURNALISM

Thanks to all these flash tips I got from the pros and the intense training, also my press photos became better. The coverage of the opening of the MUNA museum for example was just fun to cover. Shooting indoors with flash was suddenly easy-going!

 

 

 

 

 

In June the village in which I’m living was underwater because of heavy rainfalls and a dried out soil. When I woke up from a short breathing pause and glanced out of the window on that evening,I saw how the water had flood the meadows in front of our house. It also flood the households near the river. I grabbed the camera and covered this disaster. I sent the photos to the local newspaper immediately. Finally, the German Press Agency (dpa) bought them and the next day I found my photos in well known German newspapers and online magazines. On one hand a success for me, but on the other hand a flooded village. That’s life.

 

 

 

 
COMMERCIAL
Commercial photography was another very interesting thing I did in 2011.
I love the clean look of commercial images and wanted to know more tricks about commercial photography. My sports images had already a commercial look so I used these techniques to create car shots. I also searched the web for great car photographers. Studying their photos helped me to get similar results in my own style.

 

 

 

EDITORIAL and PORTRAITURE

I also acted in the field of editorial and portraiture in 2011. Well, I nearly got through every field of photography that I’m interested in. Portraiture was the most difficult. I tried many lighting setups and read Joe McNally’s Books that helped and inspired me a lot.
This portrait of a bassist was some kind of elaborating. I shot one flash through a window on the 2nd floor, another one through an umbrella from the camera left and a third one I used as contour light from the camera right. I gelled all flashes wit a CTO (except the contour light) to create a sunset look.

Another highlight was my first Engagement Shoot with Timo and Jessica in November. They asked me if I could take nice pictures of them for their marriage invitation cards. And so I did.
They wanted the shoot to be in the nature, so I looked for nice places around our house and found some. For the whole shoot I used flash and 300mm to 600mm lenses to create a smooth background that doesn’t distract from the couple. With a fresh and bright style the images looked great for an invitation card of a happy event like a marriage.

 

 

 

CONCERT

Okay, now we are coming toward the end of my 2011 flash experience. Concerts. At Eaze hired me to cover one of its shows in October. I know the band since 2008 and covered a lot of their shows, so I had the possibility to use flash for the coverage. This wasn’t my first try to use flash in a concert, but it was the first one with an professional approach. Off camera flash helped me to keep the disturbing low, to create clean images and to reveal important subjects like the drummer and the audience. At Eaze loved the results and that’s so much honor. Thanks.

 

 

 

NATURE

From August to September I shot Ospreys at the reservoir and this was the only field of photography where I didn’t use flash. But I will. It’s an elaborating project for this year. I will also use remote cameras to capture unique moments of wildlife. This project will be hilarious – I’m sure.
I went several times to the reservoir nearby to capture Ospreys while they are hunting fish. The problem was: A focal length of 600mm was much to short to get close-ups. Well, seems like I have to rent a larger lens next time – maybe 800mm and use it with a teleconverter. However, the hours at the reservoir were the most extensive photography moments of 2011. I loved the silence and the opportunity to watch some kind of wildlife that people around don’t really notice. Local nature has plenty to offer you just have to look for it. Also photos of mushrooms in the wood can look professional if using fill flash.

 

 

 

 

 

Finally, I learned a lot about using flash and creating interesting scenes and therefor created fantastic images. I learned to use the light because “Light is the greatest influence.”. And I learned that if you want to learn something about photography you better ask the pros. Forums are a great thing to exchange experiences, but you should never use a forum to learn photography. Ask the pros, buy their books, go to professional workshops and practice what you have learned! That’s the best way.

Well, this was my review of 2011. A year of flash photography. A year with a professional approach. A year with much better images than the years before. A year of personal success in terms of photography. So, let’s see what we can do for 2012. 🙂

I wish all of you the best for 2012!

Bye!
Chris