Posts

TIP on backgrounds

When I started out with model photography I used a lot of seamless backgrounds, and I think most of you do.
However the more I shot the more I grew bored with these backgrounds and I started using the studio walls and more and more and I was drawn to location work. Of course it’s not possible to work on great locations all the time, and let’s be realistic…. the background does have to have something interesting, being it structure, rawness (is that a word?), edginess (love that word, I always use it when I don’t know something else) and…. well you get the general idea, walls can be cool if they are cool.

At one point it dawned to me that if I couldn’t go to locations all the time why not get the locations in our studio, if you go through my portfolio you can actually see that a lot of my work is using models pretty much straight up or in front of walls. In our studio we actually painted all the walls in different themes and looks going from nice and dark to totally distressed with wallpaper hanging down and broken plaster. Sometimes people will actually comment on these walls and ask me when I’m gonna do some fixing up… until I tell them that those are sets and their response is “oh cool, I need that”… actually at that time I already earned my money for the workshop because in my opinion the biggest problem a lot of photographers struggle with is “seeing possibilities”. So if you see an old broken down wall don’t see it as something that has to go but see it as an photo oppertunity.

Our studio is pretty big and there is no wall in the studio that we can’t use as a backdrop, I always am stunned when I visit studios that are HUGE but have all the same color walls, it just doesn’t make sense for me, of course a shooting area for cars has to be one color, but there are also so many other walls, areas etc. that you can use and that are often left untouched, for me the studio is a working space and not an office (heck even my office has different themes, I hate plain walls I guess).

So what if you can’t do your walls like we can?
In essence all walls can be covered with wallpaper right?
So find some interesting wall paper like for example this :
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Roosmarijn Maart 29 2016 0340If you are not allowed to do this on the walls, make “small” (2.50×2.50 mtrs) panels and cover them.
But you can also paint those panels, in this case one of our interns did a tremendous job I think, and as you can see it REALLY spices things up, the image in front of it is already cool but the walls…. well they complete it, and it really also helps to enhance the styling.

Nadine Professional Imaging - 16  March 12, 2016

Indeed all the structure and blues you see is in the wall, we used a little bit of smoke to spice the set up, but the wall in combination with nadine her awesome styling makes the image complete.

But a lot more can be done.
Here are some examples of our walls in action 😀

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Now if you don’t have the options for panels, or wallpaper or…. there is always another option.
Lastolite is a brand you probably know right?
They have some amazing foldable backgrounds with great prints, and the fun thing is… they don’t take up any space and they look great in a photoshoot. I always have some with me when I teach on location (just in case).

Here are some samples from the Lastolites.


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Poeka bij FotoKlein December 19 2015 0010

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Now if you think these are too expensive (man you are hard to convince :D)
You can always use a backdrop system and mount some plastic to it and play with that.

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Or use some curtains

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So the next time you grab your seamless…. try to do something more creative and start using the walls, areas of your studio etc.
OR….. well you also use seamless of course.

Karina Feb 13 2016 Phase One workshop NY 0064

 

Karina Feb 13 2016 Phase One workshop NY 0067If you want more in depth tips and tricks check out my book “Mastering the model shoot” it’s not just on models but also has extensive parts on styling, your studio etc.
Also check out my instructional videos via this website (see the left menu), and check out my videos on KelbyOne where you can also find one on building your own studio.

MIOPS camera triggering system

Do we need remote triggers?
With modern day cameras there are so many options that one would think no… but do read on you might be surprised….

 

You guys know that my reviews are always a bit different, I don’t really like to just sum up some specs and add a link to them, to be honest you can find that on the manufacturers website :D, I always like to give you my personal opinion about a product, so read this review as my personal view on the MIOPS, your opinion may be different.

 

A while ago I got the MIOPS remote trigger and because I’m not really a landscape shooter it will always take some time to really dive into remotes. “so why get a remote in the first place?” Yeah I hear you, well it’s actually very simple. Although you might not use it all the time there are those moments where you go “OH MY I wish….” and those moments happend too often for me so I want a really good remote.

 

Now as you know I love the triggertrap device, it’s very handy, has a great app but… you have to be pretty close to your camera because the camera is connected to your iPhone, so the triggertrap is a different device (and a very good one), the thing I like about the MIOPS is that you don’t need to be connected to your iPhone, you just connect the MIOPS and from there it’s all up to the app inside the MIOPS or your iPhone.

 

Let’s first talk about the MIOPS itself
The case itself is very sturdy and just small/big enough to be fitted as “oh yeah I have to take one too” in almost any case. Meaning there is NO excuse not to bring it. Controls are very simple and feel a bit outdated with todays touch screens etc. BUT… this is actually a good thing because it also means the MIOPS is a very affordable device, now at $239.00 you might think it’s actually not that cheap but wait till you see what this baby can do….

 

Let’s look at the app and what it can do
The MIOPS can be controlled from the unit itself but via the app everything goes so much better and smoother, and I must admit it all looks very very complete.

 

There are several options which I will briefly discuss and give some examples of when to use them.

 

First up we look at scenariosIMG_8455

In scenarios you can “write” your own order of things, or in other words, what do you want to happen in which order. In total 5 “events” can happen and sensors can be used for this, sounds complicated? well it’s more a matter of just putting them in and you’re done. In total you can store 3 different scenarios. Now you just have to think of something creative to use them on….

 

Second up is timed release
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This one is pretty straight forward, just say WHEN you want to trigger the camera and it does it for you. You can use this for selfies (but there is a much better option for this), or just for any shot you want to take after a certain time.

 

Third option is press and lock
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This is a very handy for those ENORMOUS time-lapse recordings, no need to keep the finger on the shutter, just press the button, the camera starts recording and locks, and it will stop as soon as you press it again. Of course the benefit of using it on a remote is that there is absolutely no camera shake, especially when using mirror lockup.

 

Fourth option is Press and hold

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Pretty similar to the previous one but now you don’t need to lock you just keep your finger on the button and the camera will keep recording the image till you lift your finger.

 

Fifth option is “cable” release

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The old fashioned cable release, but now without a cable 😀
Just press the button and the camera will take the shot, very handy for when for example you have the camera behind a goal and want to take that killer shot just in time but you don’t want to be there in the goal with the camera, or if your camera is mounted higher up in a sports complex or other area, a very handy tool.

 

Sixth option is HDR

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With modern day sensors the need for HDR is often not as necessary as it was in the past, so IF we use it it should better well be very interesting, and the MIOPS does not disappoint, with a range of 7 shots it should be possible to make dynamic shots that even the Sony sensors can’t record (pun intended), but please…… don’t use HDR as Highly Destructive Retouching 😀

 

Seventh option (and we’re not done yet) is Time-lapse 

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Now this is one I still want to play with a bit more because some of the results can be INCREDIBLE. You set the camera for a certain time period and a certain amount of images and you just walk away (although I would advise to always stay with the camera), at the end of the period you end up with a certain amount of images which you put into your favorite video editing software and voila you have an amazing overview of what happened during the time…. well of course it highly depends on what you record, I tried one on our living area and to be honest I could have captured it also with one shot :D… so this is one I’m sure I’m gonna test out this summer more when we are traveling with our RV again. We were planning on using it in New York but it was so cold that I was glad to just take one shot, let alone stand somewhere for a longer time.

 

And we are already at number 8th which is LASER

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Now don’t misread this, the MIOPS does NOT have a laser inside, so what is the laser option?
You can use any simple laser pointer (for example for presentations) and aim it at the MIOPS, now as soon as something passes the laser beam the camera will be triggered. This is amazing for shots of something flying through the air, something like security, a balloon that is shot by an arrow, an animal that sits somewhere or arrives, etc. etc. there are many different options you could use for this.

 

Number 9 in the row is even more interesting because it’s sound

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The laser option is great but also takes some planning and you need something that hits the beam, with sound you just need the sound. Great for those moments where you throw something through glass, hit a board, drops something on the ground (or on your model and she screams, yeah have to work on that one) but also for the ultimate selfie…. just set up the camera and shout “HEY” make sure you don’t add Siri because…. well Siri will ask you what she should do which makes taking the shot a bit more difficult. For groups shots this option is awesome, everyone is standing nicely and now just let them all shout, great shots 😀

 

Now let’s look at number 10 already which is my personal favorite… lightning
IMG_8443We all have seen those amazing lightning shots and wondered “how did they do this” and we all tried it…. well I know I did, and in all these tries I might have captured maybe one or two that were decent, now I have to add that we hardly have any lighting here, but I know that as soon as we have I’m gonna set up the MIOPS and capture some of those bolts…. I think besides all the other options this is probably one of my favorite options because I’ve been wanting to take a shot with lightning for some time now…. now only hope it will happen soon 😀

 

Finally we have one more option and that’s called DIY
Now I have to be honest, I didn’t play with this one yet, but when I read the description it makes the MIOPS I think one of the most complete triggers on the market. “The DIY mode is the mode where you can hook up external sensors to your MIOPS. Your options are endless: Temperature, Pressure, Humidity etc. The advanced modes are Scenario and four different Cable Release modes. These features are only available if you control your MIOPS with the IOS application.

 

Conclusion
For some people remote controls are vital, some people claim they will never use them….. I think that last group is actually wrong. Of course an “old fashioned” cable release is not needed anymore, we have so many options in our cameras… however that is also the reason why many remote controls just end up in the closet with the dust, I also have some radio remotes that I never use any more for the simple reason that my camera has more options than the remote and thanks to the timer option I can literally do it “any” way I want.
So if you are a manufacturer and you want to release a remote that is a worthwhile investment, because let’s be honest $239.00 is not exactly a no brainer, you better step up your game and release something that is rocking… and in my opinion this is exactly what the MIOPS is, it’s compatible with most cameras, including the Sony series, and it works just as advertised, it’s fast, stable and has a overload on options and features, including a “build your own solution” which is of course great for people that want even more, think for example about people that work in labs or other industries and need very specific options, and I think for that group the MIOPS is actually very cheap.

 

For us “hobbyists” it’s an investment, but I think it’s an investment that is worth every single cent, the MIOPS is designed to stand a beating, it’s small and it’s loaded, I say “HIGHLY RECOMMENDED”. Find out more at MIOPS

Rocking the BW adjustment layers

Today a new episode of Quite Frankly, Episode 61 already pffff time flies.
In this episode a REALLY cool trick with the Black and White Adjustment layer to really rock your colors.

Tethering… what if all goes wrong…

We get a lot of questions about this so I thought it would be handy to do a small blogpost about it.

 

So you want to shoot tethered right?
Well I don’t blame you, it’s the best thing ever, it’s fast, you can check your images, you can beam them to smart devices (or worldwide) etc. etc. the options are limitless at the moment and it keeps getting better. My personal favorite way to shoot tethered in the studio is by cable, and if you talk about tethering tools there is of course one brand that stands out… yep Tethertools 😀

 

But what if your brand new cable doesn’t work?

 

Most people buy an extension cable and a camera cable (and of course a jerkstopper, which is a must buy if you want to keep your port working), and in most cases it’s plug and play, and it should be that way, it’s not rocket science. But in some cases…. well it just doesn’t work, so here is a small list you can follow to find the problem.

 

1. Check your camera
Make sure your camera is on the right setting.
In most cameras you can set the USB protocol, some are called PC remote, some are called PC etc. but make sure it’s not on storage mode (if you don’t have that setting… it’s probably setup right).

 

2. Check your software
Believe it or not but if Lightroom 6 (cc) supports your camera, it doesn’t mean that Lightroom 4 also supports your camera.
Also, with for example Capture One, RAW support doesn’t mean Tethering support, so make sure you also check this.
You can check it very easily on the websites from the supplier of your software. We have best results for tethering with Capture One followed by Lightroom, both should work pretty flawless (although Lightroom sometimes looses connection, but a simple “stop tether” and “start tether” should solve that problem.

 

If your software is supporting your camera, make sure you are running the latest version of your software and OS.

 

3. Check your software 2
Some cameras will tether without any drivers from their manufacturer, but sometimes you need to install the drivers, just use the CD that was delivered with your camera and to make sure just install everything, and later start deleting stuff and see when tethering stops.

 

4. Check the cable
If it’s not the software the quickest test is to check the cable, just connect the supplied cable from the camera and see if that works, then start with the extension cable between the original cable and the PC/ Mac and see if that works, and then change the camera cable.

 

5. Switch USB ports
Believe it or not but not all USB ports are created equal, just switch the ports.
If you use a hub, make sure to first test a DIRECT connection to your PC/Mac.

 

6. Reset your PRAM/NVRAM or SCM on Mac.
On rare occasions the Macs can have a problem with USB (and other things), it’s rather easily solved, find online the term PRAM/NVRAM or SCM and reset and you’ll be set in seconds.

 

On most macs it’s as follows:

 

NVRAM (PRAM)

  1. Shut down your Mac.
  2. Locate the following keys on the keyboard: Command (⌘), Option, P, and R. 
  3. Turn on your Mac.
  4. Press and hold the Command-Option-P-R keys immediately after you hear the startup sound.
  5. Hold these keys until the computer restarts and you hear the startup sound for a second time.
  6. Release the keys.

After resetting NVRAM, you may need to reconfigure settings for speaker volume, screen resolution, startup disk selection, and time zone information.

 

To reset the SMC:

  1. Shut down the computer.
  2. Plug in the MagSafe or USB-C power adapter to a power source and to your computer.
  3. On the built-in keyboard, press the (left side) Shift-Control-Option keys and the power button at the same time.
  4. Release all the keys and the power button at the same time.
  5. Press the power button to turn on the computer.

On MagSafe power adapters, the LED might change states or temporarily turn off when you reset the SMC.

 

To reset the SMC on Intel-based Mac Pro, iMac, and Mac mini computers, as well as Xserve:

  1. Shut down the computer.
  2. Unplug the power cord.
  3. Wait fifteen seconds.
  4. Attach the power cord.
  5. Wait five seconds, then press the power button to turn on the computer.

 

If nothing works…. it could very well be that you already damaged the port in your camera (it’s very easy to do).
You can check if you can put the camera on storage mode and if the camera can be seen by your computer, if that works at least the port works, now bring it to another computer and try the tethering there, as mentioned before it’s not rocket science and in 99.9% of the cases it should flawless and at once. If it doesn’t it’s often one of the above, if not… well it gets a lot more complicated because it could be something in your machine, but that’s way to diverse to discuss here. However in almost all cases it’s one of the above.

 

Now one more thing…
If you need reliable tethertools make sure to visit the site from Tethertools or the international site.
And if you are using USB3 and experience problems, or you simply want to cover more distance, check out their USB3 booster.