Thursday, 30 April 2009

Cinefoil........................ A must have.

This stuff is a must have, it's used extensively in the TV and Film industry and it's got numerous uses for light manipulation, flags, gobos, snoots. It's basically a stiff tinfoil with black paint covering both sides, comes in a couple of widths 1 ft or 2 ft and 25 or 50 Metre lengths, either from Lee Filters or Rosco. Whatever you do, don't use it to cover the Sunday roast, the paint will probably kill you. It's really useful stuff, instead of using a snoot that just give you a round aperture the foil can be moulded into any aperture shape you want, within reason. A quick snip with a good pair scissors and you can create godos, hang a sheet of it from a stand and you've got yourself a light weight flag, it's just a great shadow FX product. I've always got some with me, whether I'm in the studio or on location, it's one of those essentials like gaffer tape or blue-tac, it's always in my accessory kit.

Friday, 24 April 2009

Extracting the dust......

Today I've been to Manchester, to Calumet, to get my dusty chip cleaned, by a lovely man named Chris. Every Friday he sits and cleans dozens of camera chips, he's cleaned mine at least three times now and I'll tell you it beats trying to do it yourself. I've had a go at the chip cleaning lark, but to be honest I much prefer someone with the skill and knowledge to do it for me. Dust is becoming a bit of a bug bear with me, it just seems that I'm being forced to change lenses in some pretty crappy environments. It's down to the type of work I'm getting, a lot of industrial settings that are inherently dusty. So what can I do to keep the visits to Chris to a minimum, I always take the lens off the camera with the camera pointing down, so nothing can drop into the shutter-box, I try my damnedest to keep my lenses clean, especially the rear elements, I give the shutter-box and chip a good blast from the pocket rocket blower after every shoot. What more can you do. I know that the latest and greatest Canon cameras have the shaking filter that should get rid of most dust, but it's not going to get rid of sticky pollen dust and a myriad of other types of dust that stick like glue to the filter. I think the dust problem will be around for a good while yet.

Tablets tablets tablets...........

I've been using a Intuos 3 tablet and pen for about 6 months, I like it, it's helped speed up my retouching and cut-outs are just so much quicker. One bug is the buttons on the left, I'm left-handed and so I'm forever brushing the left hand buttons with my little finger when I'm working. One moment the screen image is at 100% the next it's at 25%, aaaaaaaah, it's the one major design fault of an otherwise great piece of kit.
So what happens, they bring out the Intuos 4, it's pen tool is more refined and all the buttons are down one side of the tablet, so you can spin it around to suit, right handers or southpaws, brilliant, one Intuos 3 will be appearing on a well know auction website real soon.

Thursday, 16 April 2009

Toys, toys and more toys!

It's been a slow day, so I made use of it, my eldest son has plenty of new wall space in his bedroom for some framed prints, so as he's two and a half the images need to be of toys. First up was his favourite orange dinosaur, using a pair of Bowens Gemini 500 heads, both with Calumet Nova small softboxes, one as a bit of back light and a fill to front left and a couple of silver cards on the right just to put some detail back into the tail and legs. In photoshop I've cut out the dinosaur then played with the background colour and lastly given the dinosaur a ringflash shadow, I've darkened the layer in levels so it's nearly black and with a mix of various blur actions created the shadow. I've got four frames to fill and have shot a robot, below, a train, below that, and still need to shoot a car, my son is just crazy about cars.......

Elephant Prints for sale Limited Edition

You've got the chance to buy a set of my limited edition 150 sets of 12 x 10 prints, they are on e-bay, are printed on photographic paper and come as a set of 3 signed and numbered. They're un-mounted. So if you like Elephants, go on treat yourself. The Auction goes live at 12 noon today.

For the link click on the title.

Wednesday, 8 April 2009

Film Labs disappearing

Years ago I use to run a Professional E-6 film processing lab in Chester UK. We processed C-41 to and printed RA4 and R3 reversal prints. I was the manager for about 10 years, we use to process for almost every pro in the area, providing anything from a 1 to 2 hour turnaround on most of the rolls. I hate to think of just how many rolls and sheets of film passed through the chemistry in that time. The rug was pulled from under me by the owners of the company (Chester's largest Ad agency) in July 2002, though the lab remained open till the beginning of October, they'd lost a major client (about five million pounds worth of turnover) and because of the fall in film processing due to the fast take up of digital in the area, they decided the lab had to go. I used the picture above as the notice to clients that the lab was closing, it was taken on a Toyo 5x4 view camera with a Schneider Symmar-S f5.6 150 mm lens, Fuji Provia F 5x4 film in a local Victorian Cemetery on a very cold frost morning it was digitally scanned and then heavily played with in photoshop. I wanted something that conveyed how I felt about the closure and the real reason why the lab was closing, digital. I didn't hate digital imaging, in fact we were was using scanning backs for copy shot work, printing digital prints on an early 44 inch HP ink-jet printer but the missing ingredient was a decent scanner, the company wouldn't stump up the money for a high quality scanner for the lab. They bought one for the art studio in their Advertising Agency, though the rep who sold them it must have been laughing all the way to the bank as it was a pretty poor unit for the price they paid for it, with output resolution well below the standard of the time. So the lab had no way of linking film processing to digital printing and as such we alienated a good portion of our clients. Ho hum, death of a lab, now it's so difficult to get E-6 film processed, almost everywhere I know of has gone. The writing is on the wall for film, they may keep producing it but if you can't get it processed....

Thursday, 2 April 2009

Hasselblad Test Day-Calumet Liverpool

Spent a pleasant afternoon in Liverpool today, along with my good friend Tony. Calumet were hosting a Hasselblad road-show to exult the quality of their camera systems. The set up consisted of a Profoto head attached to a Pro-8a 2400 Air and Giant Silver 210 Reflector, a Storm Grey background paper, a Hasselblad H3DII-31 tethered to an Apple MacBookPro and an attractive model, it wasn't to long before we had a chance to get our hands on the kit and start putting the camera through it's paces. The camera feels good and not to heavy (though we were only using the 80mm lens) in the hand, the viewfinder is huge, at least it is after squinting through a Canon 1Ds MkII, only one focus point slap bag in the middle, not a problem just a different way of working, manual focusing is easy. The auto focus does hunt occasionally but locks on quickly enough. We were running tethered to a MacBookPro using the Phocus software, which is actually quite a bit better than I thought it would be after reading some of the slatings it's had on some forums, the latest version will be released shortly, which has some major refinement in it, plus Hasselblad have signed a deal with Adobe, not sure yet what that's going to mean as Paul Waterworth (Hasselblad Area Sales Manager) wasn't able to give to much away about it. I'm sure we'll see some interesting developments soon on that front.

I cracked on shooting about 90 images while Tony ran Paul over the coals about the closed system, in the end I think they came to a truce on that point. It was great then running through the software with Paul, as well as having coffee made and served by our model. Nothing I like better than a nice cup of coffee when talking shop. I've got to say, now having had a play with the software on my own MacPro and with the images in Photoshop, that I'm really impressed with the ease of adjusting the images in Phocus and with the image quality of the final results. I've really changed my opinion of digital backs and yes if I could warrant the expense in these difficult times I'd have a Hasselblad kit tomorrow. Probably going for the H3DII-39, which can also be hung on the back of a technical View Camera, the 31 wont cut the mustard for that application. I think I'm seriously going to be looking at this kit, if and when finances permit. I'll be keeping an eye on it........

Wednesday, 1 April 2009

A new arrival.......

Going to be a Dad again, should be within the next 10 to 12 days. I've just finished the computer work on two big jobs, got the disks off in the post and the other job off to the clients ftp site, done the invoicing for March, even posted them all out to. Haven't got to much lined up for the next week, then it gets busy again, though that slack time could change, only takes a phone call. I'm hoping to be able to get some time with my wife, before all hell lets loose and my son finds out that he's got a little brother and not the car he said he wanted when we asked him if he wanted a brother or sister. Another member of the family will be great. I've been decorating, first the room we moved my first son, 2 years and 5 months, into and now the nursery, it's blue, it's a boy, at least it better be. I managed to get it all done despite being quite busy and I feel better for it. 
Decorating leaves you with time to think, usually, how am I going to get that paint off the carpet, but it gave me time to consider what I'm doing and what other avenues to pursue. Weddings are out, no, I don't care, NO! There's money in it but I really hate doing weddings, though I did one before Christmas for some friends at Blenheim Palace, that was cool, but also very wet. Portraits, well I do some but don't push it enough, I should and will be. Fine Art, or selling prints, that appeals to the old lab manager in me, that's a definite, I'm looking into the various ways of making this work. Stock, nah, not at the moment I might put some images up on Alamy, if they'll take them, ha ha, they seem to take anything. Stock isn't going to make anybody rich at the moment, but if you haven't got anything with the libraries it definitely wont.
So I'm planning to take the photography world by storm, as if, but you've got to try. All these plans and a baby on the way.... Where will I find the time?