Why Do I Shoot Large Format Film? Why do I shoot large format film? That question can be also rephrased to why shoot film at all? The problem with the world today is instant gratification. Instant coffee, online buying, instant 24-hour support etc. This also crept into the photographic arena during the time of film photography when people shot polaroid images. The next question that usually comes up is: “Is digital better than film?” The answer to either way of asking this question is… no. Just as one might prefer the crisp, clean sound of a digital song, another may prefer a classic vinyl record for its depth, tone and warmth. In the same way, digital photography gives way to predictable, clean and precise results, while film brings in a warm beautiful imperfection that often times speaks to the romance of a scene. Grain is not noise, grain is film and in the right composition ISO 3200 pushed to ISO 6400 can produce beautiful images. Ever wonder why there were so fewer professional photographers in the days before digital? Photography was a skill, an art and craft to master. Today, every cellphone has a camera, everyone is a photographer, and anyone can walk into a camera store, buy an entry-level camera and announce themselves as a professional! Do they really know their craft, have they acquired the necessary skill needed for the task at hand? With 14fps and high megapixel cameras, anyone can fire away and hope to land 3 perfect shots in that second. Spray and pray they say! With 35mm, 120 medium format and large format film - 4x5" and larger, there is no back of the camera peeping to see if you got it right the first time, every time! You need to wait until the film is processed to know if you got it right in camera! Film slows you down, you need to think about your composition, make sure everything is 100% before you press the shutter button. If you shooting 35mm, you will more than likely have 24 or 36 frames to complete. On medium format, that is 12 frames. Large format and ultra large format film, it is 1 sheet at a time, which are not cheap, more so if you going above 4x5''. There is no delete button and try again, once the shot is fired that is it! It has to count, it has been exposed and you cannot under that, there are no second chances, more so in critical moments. Shen Hao HZX45-IIA When you shoot film, you are rewarded with images that stand out, knowing that you had to go back to basics to create that shot. You captured the moment on an old outdated camera, some nothing more than a wooden box with a ground glass, bellows, lens and no electronics! Large format is a totally manual shooting mode, no autofocus whatsoever the only external electronics is your lightmeter. Seeing the film image come to life in the darkroom before your eyes is something else to behold. Seeing the resolution in comparison to 35mm digital is astounding! This is why I shoot 35mm, medium and large format film, its the challenge of getting a 100% success rate for every roll or film sheet exposed, slowing down, thinking about what I am are doing, capturing images that I will actually print and most of all, to enjoy my photography. The rewards from large format for me is once you get it right in camera, the results are mind-blowing, get it wrong and they are amplified as much! Here are two images from a shoot recently shot in my studio. I had my friend Chris Hart fire the shot for me while I posed with my mom, the other I took of my makeup artist - Anne-Mart. Works like these get me so excited about film! Do look out for an upcoming blog regarding this studio shoot. Noleen & Craig Anne-Mart I began photography in 1998 on a Pentax MZ50 35mm camera after playing around with a few point and shoots. My foundation has been a solid one in film, and I am all the better for it. People with a discerning eye know that digital does not look like traditional film, even with the available film plugins or filters. Both can be beautiful in their own right. The artist needs to decide which method or combination of methods best produces the final work of art. What Different Formats Do We Get? The different size formats are as follows 35mm, medium format also called 120, 220 and 645, large format and ultra large format. 35mm or 135mm 35mm or 135 film, was introduced by Kodak in 1934. Individual rolls of 35mm film are enclosed in a single-spool, light-tight, metal case that allows it to be loaded into cameras in daylight. The standard image size on a 35mm film roll is 24 x 36mm with a perforation size of KS-1870. This standard ensures that the film properly advances eight perforations to allow a two-millimetre gap between frames and eliminate overlapping of images on the film. On my Nikon F5, I have an MF28 databack attached, which allows me to record various fields of information such as date, time, shutter speed, aperture and more between these frames. Nikon F5 Medium Format Medium format film is much larger than the 35mm counterpart and is usually preferred by many professional photographers - digital and film. Of course, due to the size of medium format film, a medium format camera will be needed to use it. Most often, medium format film is 6x6cm square or 6x4.5cm rectangular (commonly referred to as 645). In addition, there are also these following sizes - 6x7cm - 10 exposures and 6x9cm - 8 exposures; and longer if you doing panoramas. Each format creates an image with one side equal to 6cm. Today, medium format photography utilizes the 120 film format and, in some cases, the 220 film format. These formats are nearly identical except that 220 film is twice as long and allows twice the number of exposures. With 120 film, you can get either 12 or 16 exposures and double that amount with 220 film. So if you think that Instagram is a new thing, think again, these are generally square images. Why not give a try and upload these to your Instagram account? One Of My Two Yashica-Mat Cameras Large Format The most common large format is 4×5", which was the size most common cameras used in the 1930s-1950s. The 4×5" sheet film format was very convenient for press photography since it allowed for direct contact printing on the printing plate, hence it was widely used in press cameras. This was done well into the 1940s and 1950s. Less common formats include quarter-plate, 5×7", and 8×10" (20×25 cm). Large format film works a little different than both 35mm film and medium format film as there are no spools used. Instead, large format film is individual 4x5" sheets that are loaded into a special film holder that locks into the back of a large format camera. Film loading using sheet film holders must be loaded in complete darkness, or a dark space to load and unload the film, typically a changing bag or darkroom. The holders will hold two sheets of film on both sides. When loaded into the back of the camera, the light protective sheet or dark slide is removed and will allow you to expose the film, once the shutter is released. The protective sheet or dark slide is then returned to the holder before your film is removed. The film will remain in the holder until ready for development. In May 2017, I had seen a post circulating on social media where Paul Joshua was photographing Formula 1 with a 104yr old camera, a 1913 Graflex 4×5" View Camera, at the time he was on his 5th season of Formula 1. Here are the links to those articles and on PetaPixel, definitely well worth the read! If ever there was a sport that required rapid fire photography, Formula One racing is it. Which makes what photographer Joshua Paul does even more fascinating, because instead of using top-of-the-range cameras to capture the fast-paced sport, Paul chooses to take his shots using a 104-year-old Graflex 4×5 view camera. The photographer clearly has an incredible eye for detail, because unlike modern cameras, which can take as many as 20 frames per second, his 1913 Graflex can only take 20 pictures in total. Because of this, every shot he takes has to be carefully thought about first, and this is clearly evident in this beautiful series of photographs. Shen Hao HZX45-IIA Shen Hao HZX45-IIA Ultra Large Format Above 8×10", the formats are often referred to as Ultra Large Format (ULF) and may be 11×14", 16×20", or 20×24" or as large as film, plates, or cameras are available. These cameras are extremely heavy, and usually made of wood. There is an article on F-stoppers where an 8x10" large format photographer - Ben Horne captures an astounding 709-megapixel image! His 150mm lens is referred to as a wide angle lens! Ben ends up with a digital file that's almost 30 000 pixels on the long side and weighs in at an astounding 4 GB for the *.tiff file, but it appears the unwieldy size is worth it. This image was shot on Velvia 50. The YouTube video is worth watching. What Gear Do I Need? Camera I shoot a Shen Hao HZX45-IIA 4x5" format field camera as pictured below. These cameras new at the time of writing, retail for around $1000 or more depending on where you buy. The tripod in this set up was seriously expensive, more than the camera itself; together they do a very good job as the camera is by no means light. Although the camera is a Chinese make, the quality is very good and I am well satisfied with mine. Shen Hao HZX45-IIA at Nieuwoudtville Wildflower Reserve Specifications: • Made from Black Walnut and black stainless steel. • Format: 4X5" • Movement: Front Rise - 37mm Rear Rise - 45mm. • Fall 32mm • Right Shift rear - 40mm • Left Shift rear - 40mm • Swing 17° +17° • Front Swing 20° +20° • Rear Base Tilt: 90° • Front Base Tilt: 90° • Rear Center Tilt: 10° +10° • Rear Back Front 40° • Back Rear 20° • Forward Rear 70mm • Bellows extension from 50mm-360mm. • Dimensions: 17X17x10cm • Weight: 2.54kgs Tripod And Head The tripod that I am using is the Gitzo GT3542L Long series 3 Carbon Fiber Tripod which is designed to securely support professional cameras with 300mm lenses (up to a maximum of 400mm), and to reach eye-level when fully extended. This professional tripod features Carbon eXact tubing with larger leg tube diameters. Its top leg-section diameter of 32.9mm and high modulus carbon fibre lower leg sections make this tripod stronger, more rigid and more lightweight than its predecessors. The Gitzo GT3542L weighs just 1.95kgs, reaches a height of 178cm and folds down to 59cm. This tripod is the perfect choice for professional photographers who want highly resistant, reliable support that is light enough to carry for hours while exploring the great outdoors. Large format gear is far from light, and this is a great tripod for my digital long primes too. The tripod’s rapid centre column is easily removed, transforming it into a ground level set enabling photographers to capture the broadest range of perspectives. It also has a reversible column mechanism. The Gitzo GT3542L four-section legs are secured by G-lock Ultra twist locks, with a built-in O-ring that keeps dirt and dust out of the leg mechanism. The tripod’s top spider is newly designed for extra rigidity, and large leg angle selectors provide broader grip-area for leg-angle adjustment. The tripod features a stabilizer hook on its centre column to add weight and increase stability when required by terrain or equipment weight. Its removable feet enable it to adapt to any type of surface. A wide array of heads and other accessories can easily be added via the 1/4" and 3/8 attachment on the upper disc. It can support 21kgs. Gitzo Tripod Mountaineer Series 3 Long, 4 Sections The Gitzo GH5381SQD Systematic Series 5 Quick Release D Ball Head is a low-profile tripod head that fits into the upper casting of any Systematic Tripod or attaches to any tripod via its 3/8” thread, providing an ultra-stable platform. The D-profile head is supplied with an Arca-Swiss compatible plate, enabling the included Quick Release plate to be snapped into the head from above, which is faster and easier than sliding it in from the side. With the GH5381SQD, cameras can be mounted very close to the top of the tripod for optimal support. It tilts up to 28° in all directions and features a hydraulic locking system for fast control and smooth locking speed. A ring adaptor (GS5300S) is included and is required when using this head with a Series 5 Systematic Tripod. This tripod head model also features the new Systematic safety catch: when used together with the latest Systematic tripods equipped with the safety button, the head is held safely in place until the release button is pushed, so that it stays safe, along with any camera equipment attached to it, even if the tripod’s top casting is inadvertently left open. The tripod head is made of high-quality, resistant aluminium, weighs 930g and secures an impressive payload of 30kgs. It includes a built-in spirit level to facilitate flawless framing. Gitzo Systematic Ball Head Quick Release - Series 5 Cable Release I am using the Nikon AR-3 Threaded Cable Release, this is a standard type cable release plug for cameras that have a threaded shutter. This screws into the Copal shutter that you using with your lenses. It can be tightened at the trigger end to facilitate long exposures beyond the lowest shutter speed supported before using B and T. There are no electronics on my Shen Hao. Nikon AR-3 Threaded Cable Release Lenses Nikon Lenses All of the Nikkor large format lenses are multicoated. Nikon never made any single or non-coated large format lenses. Nikon SW Series The SW-series lenses feature wide covering power and a wide image circle. Maximum apertures of f/4 and f/4.5 assure fast and pin-point focusing and bright images, corner to corner. Covering power can be extended to 105° ~ 106° by stopping the lens down. SW series lenses deliver high contrast and resolution, reduced flare and excellent colour rendition, thanks to Nikon Super Integrated Coating and strict control of aberrations. SW-series lenses with a maximum aperture of f/8 are compact and well compensated for distortion. Nikkor-SW 65mm f/4S The Nikkor-SW 65mm f/4S can only be used from f/16 as the image circle is too small at f/4 on the 4x5 format at 110mm. At f/16 you will get an image circle of 170mm. The f/4 allows you to focus better under low light conditions. This is a wide angle lens which is the 35mm equivalent of a 20mm lens. The rule is to divide the focal length by three to arrive at the 35mm format approximate equivalent. The Nikkor-SW 65mm f/4S is excellent; it weighs in at 370g. The f/4S makes it easy to compose, focus and make camera movements. It has a 67mm front filter thread with 7 elements in 4 groups. The shutter is a Copal № 0 T, B, 1-1/500 which is also the sync speed in the studio. Of course, you don't actually shoot at f/4.5, where it's a little soft due to coma. This is the same as other f/5.6 lenses; stop down to f/8 or smaller for the best performance when you shoot. For landscapes, you generally shooting at f/22 and f/32. Nikkor-SW 65mm f/4S Nikkor-SW 65mm f/4S Nikkor-SW 65mm f/4S Nikkor-SW 75mm f/4.5S The Nikkor-SW 75mm f/4.5S can only be used from f/16 as the image circle is too small at f/4 on the 4x5 format at 126mm. At f/16 you will get an image circle of 200mm. The aperture of f/4 allows you to focus better under low light conditions. This is a wide angle lens which is the 35mm equivalent of a 25mm lens. The rule is to divide the focal length by three to arrive at the 35mm format approximate equivalent. The Nikkor-SW 75mm f/4.5S is excellent; it weighs in at 420g. The f/4.5S makes it easy to compose, focus and make camera movements. Like the Nikkor-SW 65mm f/4S, it has a 67mm front filter thread with 7 elements in 4 groups. The shutter is a Copal № 0 T, B, 1-1/500 which is also the sync speed in the studio. Of course, you don't actually shoot at f/4.5, where it's a little soft due to coma. This is the same as other f/5.6 lenses; stop down to f/8 or smaller for the best performance when you shoot. For landscapes, you generally shooting at f/22 and f/32. Nikkor-SW 75mm f/4.5S Nikkor-SW 75mm f/4.5S Nikkor-SW 90mm f/4.5S The Nikkor-SW 90mm f/4.5 is both huge and excellent; it weighs in at 600g. I had the opportunity to buy the f/8 version (which weighs 360g), but chose this faster lens instead, as the f/4.5 makes it easy to compose, focus and make camera movements. It has an 82mm front filter thread with 7 elements in 4 groups. The shutter is a Copal Copal № 0 T, B, 1-1/500 which is also the sync speed in the studio. The image circle is at f/4 on the 4x5" format at 154mm. At f/16 you will get an image circle of 235mm. The aperture of f/4 allows you to focus better under low light conditions. This is a wide angle lens which is the 35mm equivalent of a 28mm lens. The rule is to divide the focal length by three to arrive at the 35mm format approximate equivalent. Of course, you don't actually shoot at f/4.5, where it's a little soft due to coma. This is the same as other f/5.6 lenses; stop down to f/8 or smaller for the best performance when you shoot. For landscapes, you generally shooting at f/22 and f/32. Nikkor-SW 90mm f/4.5S Nikkor-SW 90mm f/4.5S Nikkor-SW 90mm f/4.5S Nikon W Series Covering power of the W series Nikkors is an ample 70° ~ 73° when stopped down. Lens construction of six elements in four groups in the series gives these lenses an outstanding degree of freedom from distortion, field curvature and chromatic aberration. And Nikon Super Integrated Coating applied to each lens assures high contrast and overall faithful colour rendition. The W series lenses are recommended for a variety of subjects, including landscapes, portraits, architecture, and table-top photography. I am in the process of acquiring these lenses in this series, to complete the large format lens range that suits my style of photography. Nikkor-W 135mm f/5.6S Nikon NIKKOR-W 135mm f/5.6 S The Nikkor-W 135mm f/5.6S has an image circle of 156mm at f/5.6 and at f/22 it is 200mm. The aperture of f/4 allows you to focus better under low light conditions. This is a standard angle lens which is the 35mm equivalent of a 45mm lens. The rule is to divide the focal length by three to arrive at the 45mm format approximate equivalent. The Nikkor-SW 135mm f/5.6S weighs in at 200g. The f/5.6 makes it easy to compose, focus and make camera movements. It has a 52mm front filter thread with 6 elements in 4 groups. The shutter is a Copal № 0 T, B, 1-1/500 which is also the sync speed in the studio. Of course, you don't actually shoot at f/4.5, where it's a little soft due to coma. This is the same as other f/5.6 lenses; stopped down to f/8 or f/11 it is sharp from centre to corners. For landscapes, you generally shooting at f/22 and f/32. Nikkor-W 180mm f/5.6 Nikkor-W 180mm f/5.6 The Nikkor-W 180mm f/5.6 has an image circle of 208mm at f/5.6 and at f/22 it is 253mm for 5x7" cameras. The aperture of f/5.6 allows you to focus better under low light conditions. This is a standard angle lens which is the 35mm equivalent of a 60mm lens. The rule is to divide the focal length by three to arrive at the 60mm format approximate equivalent. The Nikkor-W 180mm f/5.6 weighs in at 380g. The f/5.6 makes it easy to compose, focus and make camera movements. It has a 67mm front filter thread with 6 elements in 4 groups. The shutter is a Copal № 1 T, B, 1-1/400 which is also the sync speed in the studio. Of course, you don't actually shoot at f/5.6, for landscapes, you generally shooting at f/22 and f/32. Nikkor-W 210mm f/5.6 Nikkor-W 210mm f/5.6 The Nikkor-W 210mm f5.6 243mm f/5.6 has an image circle of 208mm at f/5.6 and at f/22 it is 295mm for 6.5x8.5" cameras. The aperture of f/5.6 allows you to focus better under low light conditions. This is a telephoto angle lens which is the 35mm equivalent of a 60mm lens. The rule is to divide the focal length by three to arrive at the 60mm format approximate equivalent. The Nikkor lenses in the T-series are telephoto-type lenses which do not require long-length camera bellows. The Nikkor-W 210mm f/5.6 weighs in at 460g. The f/5.6S makes it easy to compose, focus and make camera movements. It has a 67mm front filter thread with 6 elements in 4 groups. The shutter is a Copal № 1 T, B, 1-1/400 which is also the sync speed in the studio. Of course, you don't actually shoot at f/5.6, for landscapes, you generally shooting at f/22 and f/32. Nikkor-W 240mm f/5.6 Nikkor-W 240mm f/5.6 The Nikkor-W 240mm f5.6 243mm f/5.6 has an image circle of 278mm at f/5.6 and at f/22 it is 336mm for 8x10" cameras. The aperture of f/5.6 allows you to focus better under low light conditions. This is a telephoto angle lens which is the 35mm equivalent of an 80mm lens. The rule is to divide the focal length by three to arrive at the 80mm format approximate equivalent. The Nikkor-W 240mm f/5.6 weighs in at 820g. The f/5.6 makes it easy to compose, focus and make camera movements. It has an 82mm front filter thread with 6 elements in 4 groups. The shutter is a Copal № 3 T, B, 1-1/125 which is also the sync speed in the studio. Of course, you don't actually shoot at f/5.6, for landscapes, you generally shooting at f/22 and f/32. This is a beautiful lens for portraiture for both the studio and outdoors. Schneider Lenses Schneider 150mm f/5.6 Apo-Symmar L Lens I do not own a Nikon 150mm lens. At the time of me purchasing my 4x5" system, the Schneider 150mm f/5.6 Apo-Symmar L Lens came part and parcel with the package. I do not see the need or purpose to purchase a Nikon 150mm lens as this lens does a fabulous job. This is a standard angle lens, all-purpose large format lens which gives the highest image reproduction quality possible in a broad range of applications, equivalent to a 50mm lens in 35mm format. The 75° angle of coverage permits generous shifts on the 4x5" format, which is very useful in architecture photography. The 150mm Apo-Symmar L uses 58mm filters and weighs 267g. It is an ideal everyday lens for users of 4x5" large format cameras. Compact, extremely sharp slightly wide lens for the 4x5 format Increased coverage (to 75°) for the classic 6-element, 4-group optical design Bright ideal working aperture range of f/11-22 for shorter exposures and sharper outdoor images Small and light for unobtrusive use Maximum image circle of 233mm allows ±35.5mm of rise/fall/shift (in both vertical/horizontal composition) for 4x5" format Accepts 58mm filters Standard-style Copal #0 shutter with calibrated aperture scale and maximum 1/500th speed The Apo-Symmar-"L" series of lenses replaces the well-proven original Apo-Symmar. As some glass types have been phased out for environmental reasons, new designs with substitute formations were necessary. Seizing the opportunity, Schneider-Kreuznach has now completely re-designed this successful, all-purpose lens to bring it up to the current state-of-the-art of lens design and fabrication. The covering power has been expanded in nearly all cases and the imaging performance further optimized. The current focal lengths and the principle technical specifications are shown in the table here. Used according to the maximum photo format, the focal lengths between 120 and 480mm offered by the new "L-Series" deliver normal perspective pictures without a wide angle or telephoto effects. This is a large format photographic lens for view camera photography with film formats up to 5x7", although it's most common use is for 4x5 inch photography. It has a 75° angle of coverage at f/22. This results in an image circle of 233mm at f/22, which allows a shift of up to 52mm vertically and 46mm horizontally with 4x5 inch film. Schneider 150mm f/5.6 Apo-Symmar L Lens This is a large format photographic lens for view camera photography with film formats up to 5x7", although it's most common use is for 4x5" photography. It has a 75° angle of coverage at f/22. This results in an image circle of 233mm at f/22, which allows shift of up to 52mm vertically and 46mm horizontally with 4x5" film. Shutters Copal Manufactured in Japan by the Copal Company LTD since 1946, Copal shutters are widely used on large-format photography lenses. Fully mechanical, very reliable lens shutters, they are quite repairable by many technicians all over the world. There are two types, self-cocking or press shutters and manual cocking. They are basically old-fashioned clockwork systems with leaf blades for the shutter. Copal Shutters Specifications COPAL LENS SHUTTER № 0 № 1 № 3 № 3S Weight 115gr 160gr 372gr 340gr Outer diameter 61mm 73mm 102mm 102mm Lens mounting Front: M 29.5mm x 0.5 Rear: M 29.5mm x 0.5 Front: M 40mm x 0.75 Rear: M 36mm x 0.75 Front: M 58mm x 0.75 Rear: M 58mm x 0.75 Front: M 56mm x 0.75 Rear: M 56mm x 0.75 Cable release nipple M 3.2mm x 0.5 M 3.2mm x 0.5 M 3.2mm x 0.5 M 3.2mm x 0.5 Shutter speeds T, B, 1, 2, 4, 8, 15, 30, 60, 125, 250, 500 T, B, 1, 2, 4, 8, 15, 30,60, 125, 250, 400 T, B, 1, 2, 4, 8, 15, 30, 60, 125 T, B, 1, 2, 4, 8, 15, 30, 60, 125 Shutter speeds tolerance +- 30% +- 30% +- 30% +- 30% Maximum iris opening 24mm 30mm 45mm 45mm Minimum iris opening 1.5mm 2mm 2mm 2mm Number of iris blades 5 7 7 7 Synchronization all shutter speeds all shutter speeds all shutter speeds all shutter speeds Max. sync delay times before max. opening: 0.5ms after max. opening: 0.7ms before max. opening: 0.5ms after max. opening: 0.7ms before max. opening: 0.5ms after max. opening: 0.7ms before max. opening: 0.5ms after max. opening: 0.7ms Threaded mounting ring M 32.5mm x 0.5 M 39mm x 0.75 M 62mm x 0.75 M 61mm x 0.75 Lens board hole 34.6mm 41.6mm 65mm 64.1mm Copal № 0 This is a Copal № 0 shutter. The shutter speeds are T, B, 1, 2, 4, 8, 15, 30, 60, 125, 250 and 500. It has an aperture scale range of f/5.6 to f/64. Copal № 0 Copal № 1 This is a Copal № 1 shutter. The shutter speeds are T, B, 1, 2, 4, 8, 15, 30, 60, 125, 250 and 400. It has an aperture scale range of f/5.6 to f/64. Copal № 1 Copal № 3 This is a Copal № 3 shutter. The shutter speeds are T, B, 1, 2, 4, 8, 15, 30, 60 and 125. It has an aperture scale range of f/4.5 to f/64. Copal № 3 Film Various Film Formats Alex Burke of Alex Burke Photography a large format landscape photographer from Greeley, Colorado, in the USA has a fully comprehensive blog on various film types, both current and discontinued. Do have a look at his blog and consider buying his informative ebook on large format photography. My choice of colour film is Kodak Portra, I am not so wild about Kodak Ektar 100. My choice for slide or transparencies is Fuji Provia and Velvia. Bellini manufactures developing chemicals that allow you to process your negatives to positives or slides, so one is not necessarily limited to only Fuji for slide films, these can be purchased here. Black and white film, its a mix between Kodak and Ilford, there are other brands on the market like Adox, Bergger Pancro, Fomopan, Arista etc which I have not shot yet. I would like to shoot Rollei Infrared and would like to see how that performs, infrared produces amazing portraits with soft skin textures. Kodak Professional T-Max 100 Black and White Negative Film Film is best stored in the fridge to ensure an even, constant temperature and longevity. To prevent condensation from forming on the surfaces of film taken from a refrigerator or freezer, allow the package to warm up to room temperature before breaking the seal or opening the container. Warm-up times vary with the amount of material, the type of package, and the storage temperature. Typical warm-up times are given in the table below in hours to reach a room temperature of 21°C from a storage temperature of: FILM SIZE -18°C 02°C 13°C 120 01h00 00h45 ooh30 135 01h30 01h15 01h00 135 100' Roll 05h00 03h00 02h00 10 Sheet Box 01h30 01h00 01h00 50 Sheet Box 03h00 02h00 02h00 Film Holder Cases These are very handy, as 10 holders or 20 exposures become rather bulky in one's bag. The need for these to be either attached to your bag in a film holder or kept in your Pelican case helps keep things in order. If you are travelling light, I can strongly recommend these bags. 4x5"Film Holder Bag I have a system in place; all film that is not exposed is sealed in plastic packets, the holders are labelled with the type of film and kept in either my camera bag if I am not shooting a lot of film. The exposed frames are then put back into the opened plastic bags and those film holders placed in this bag which eliminates the mistake of double exposing my film. They are well padded and can protect and carry up to six 4x5" film holders. A mesh pocket on the front provides convenient storage for dark slides or small accessories. Film Holders These hold the same size film format as the camera size you shooting. It is basically a lightproof tray with a darkslide. Once the film holder is in place in the camera, the darkslide can be removed and the film is ready to be exposed. Once exposed the darkslide is returned and your image is safe, as long as the darkslide is not removed before development in the darkroom. I keep the white side of the darkslide facing outwards to show it has not been exposed and doesn't need the darkroom. Once exposed, I flip it around, black side outward. 4x5" Film Holder Camera Bag The made in England, 550 Original Shoulder Bag from Billingham is designed to carry a medium-format, large-format or DSLR camera plus accessories. The case is khaki with tan leather trim. It is constructed from soft-weave fabric which helps eliminate abrasions, combined with Stormblocker dual-laminate waterproof canvas and a heavy-duty, closed-cell, foam-padded interior. It has Superflex 10-15 and 10-18 partitions for organizing gear. There is a large rain flap with buckle fastening. Billingham 550 - Khaki Canvas Tan Leather The 550 bag has two full-height zippered pockets inside the main compartment, double-bellowed front pockets with press-stud fastenings, two removable end pockets, and an external back pocket. It is carried by dual handles with an overlapping leather grip or an adjustable shoulder strap with an SP20 heavy-duty, neoprene-backed leather shoulder pad. This is a really expensive and good quality camera bag. How to shoot a 4x5 camera Here is a breakdown of roughly how one goes about shooting a frame on a large format camera: Choose the camera position, approximate orientation, focal length. Set up and level the tripod and camera. Attach the lens and open it to full aperture. Focus roughly using the focusing knob. Adjust precisely the composition while looking at the ground glass. Focus precisely with tilts/swings. Determine the optimal aperture. Close the lens, cock the shutter, rap and insert the film holder. Determine the shutter speed. Set the aperture and shutter speed. Remove the dark slide. Look at the subject. Fire the shutter with a cable release. Put the darkslide back in with the black side outwards to show it is exposed. Remove the film holder. Pack and move to the next spot. With today's technology, instead of using a traditional light meter to calculate the exposure time, you can simply use an app on your phone. There are plenty of mobile phone apps which are available from the various app stores where you in dial the aperture and ISO, and it calculates the time needed to properly expose your image. I use a Sekonic L-478DR light meter as well as a phone app. Acknowledgements Product information and images have been acquired from the relevant manufacturer websites.
Have You Tried YouPic for Photographers? Have you tried YouPic for photographers? YouPic is a photo and video platform where anyone can upload their work. Photographers can rate each others work, down to specifics like composition, creativity, technical quality and content. YouPic is the place for photography enthusiasts around the world to be inspired, receive recognition and improve their photography. It is in my opinion, the best social platform for photographers out there right now. Whether you are an amateur or a professional, the YouPic platform provides anyone with useful courses, tips & tricks, and inspiration. YouPic is first and foremost a photo community, and it is based on a passion for photography and an engagement in the art form. There are currently over 1.5 million photographers from all around the world that have found YouPic and has become a part of its loving and active community. On YouPic, there are a number of ways for photographers to interact with each other and share their work with the rest of the community. So What Is YouPic? Well, its not Instagram, it is not Facebook. Why I say that it’s not really like Instagram or Flickr etc, in which you could post anything off the cuff (although you could if you wanted to), is because it can best described as being a LinkedIn version of Instagram where professionals display their work, where they can be hired, their work reviewed or even sell their works. The photographic quality standards of works are very high, as is the level of photographers on this platform. It can be used on IOS, Android and Windows devices. For people like me it’s a great place to both find inspirational photos, discuss how they were taken, and to gain useful insight into which of your photos resonate with other photographers of similar styles, and what it was about the photo that they liked. This forces you to only post photos that you think are worthy of review, which in turn keeps the overall quality level high. There are awards and levels that you receive as you get more of the typical social factors like favorites, repics (like a retweet within the platform), and engagement (comments), as well as things like number of countries your photos were taken in and other less common items. The EXIF data, tagging and geotagged information is also displayed along with your image. Your work can be shared by you or others to any of the existing social networks. It also has a Lightroom plugin so you can upload directly from within the application which is quite handy. Who Will You Find On YouPic? There is a huge passionate community of photography enthusiasts from all of walks of life. Amateurs to super professional photographers, it looks to be the new hot spot for photographers. Photographers like Adam Hinton and David Harrow even have a profiles on YouPic, that says a lot to me! How Much Does It Cost? Terms and Conditions Reading the About Page, Terms & Conditions, Privacy, YouPic seems to have their hearts in the right place. It is really encouraging to read in large letters, that photographers keeps all their rights to their works. How Does It Work? It did not take more than a few seconds after uploading my first work, that I started to receive positve responses and repics (which is like a re-tweet) and feedback based on composition, creativity, technical quality and content. Everybody is looking for something called Inspiration Stars on YouPic. When you acquire those, the human curators choose your image to be featured. You will also receive many more views and love on the special feed called Inspiration. There is also a shop feature which I havent set up yet, as I have been using YouPic for less than a week, but are planning to do so soon. The Shop is commission free, which means that I will get 100% of the revenue I make. My Take On Social Media Platforms Social media is an amazing vehicle to reach out to people instantly! Prior to the digital age, one had to work so much harder to get your name out there and to be noticed, now it's so much easier; and the competition bar can be raised even higher in the race to be the top dog in any game. In today's world, it is all about instant gratification, people dont have time to wait for a roll of film to be processed, they want the digital image today! It is good to have a presence online and a must. Personally, I do not have the time or desire to be feeding 20 different platforms and I have been very selective in what I have chosen to use for my photographic business. Facebook has the strongest social media following internationally since its inception in 2004. I use this as my main presence, followed by Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn. Twitter and Instagram are brilliant if you are shooting at a sporting event, capturing the moments now, and later competitors can see your snaps and tags and get in touch with you afterwards for images that you may have to sell. LinkedIn for me a great place to showcase my work as a business. I have now since discovered YouPic, and are very impressed with what I see and how it works! This is by no means a fully comprehensive review of the platform, I can say I am inspired by the works I have seen and are in this one for the long haul. Do give it a try and follow me here as well. Conclusion This is a fantastic platform to be discovered, seen and noticed by the photography community and by photographic consumers. Newsletter Please subscribe to my newsletter which will inform you of any new workshops, activities, products and upcoming events. Subscribe
Social Media Banners - Your Billboard On The Internet Highway By Craig Fouché Your social media banners are your billboards on the internet highway, no matter which channel you use! Nothing more nothing less! If you are wanting to put yourself out there, design something professional that will spark interest and let you stand out from the rest of the crowd! Sell your brand well, first time, every time! I had a lightbulb moment the other day after doing a shoot for a client that needed updated advertising content for their billboard in the city where I live. Far too often, including me, we post a "nice" image up on our banner on Facebook and it may stay there for quite some time. We endeavour to generate as much internet traffic through the social media channels we use, as it is ultimately advertising that we are doing to potential vendors out there to make use of our skills and services. That's when the penny dropped! It is no different to you driving down a busy highway and seeing a giant billboard advertising a brand, idea, product or service. Some billboards are punchy and eye-catching, others very quirky and punny, as well as funny, and others that are seriously bland. I recall about 15 years ago in Pretoria, seeing a large billboard advertising luxury cars and the slogan was "7>6" that is 7 is greater than 6 and that the BMW 7 series was greater than the Audi A6. Mathematically it is true, 7>6. Ultimately BMW was trying to say that their brand of luxury cars was better than Audi, albeit both are German manufacturers. Clever advertising like this stands out and makes you think, yes, seven IS greater than six and you don't forget it. In response to this, 500m down the same highway, Audi responded with "8 is better than 7"! They weren't taking this one lying down, they were saying their A8 was better than the 7-series BMW! How much different aren't we as photographers when it comes to selling our skills and brand when competing against a newbie who has just walked into a camera store, bought an entry level setup and is suddenly a professional? You have taken time to build a brand, a name for yourself, why shouldn't it show in every dimension of what you do and who you are. If you are professional, show that be noticed, stand out from the rest of the crowd! YouTube is a great source of information, use it if you stuck with a skill that you need to learn when designing in Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator or Indesign. Adobe has a great tutorial on How to amp up your Facebook profile, which is easy to follow and will help you to get your creative juices flowing. Follow seasonal trends as advertisers do when it comes to marketing. An example could be Valentines Day, change your banner to reflect that sale for that event and brand it accordingly. The first thing any visitor is going to see are your social media banners when they search for you on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram etc. Make an impact the first time so that your visitor likes, stays, uses your services and recommends you to someone else. Below are some examples of Facebook social media banners that I have designed for my client and my page: Manic Cyles Worcester Craig Fouché Photography Social Media Banners Craig Fouché Photography Social Media Banners Craig Fouché Photography Social Media Banners Craig Fouché Photography Social Media Banners How to Design Social Media Banners The ideal designing size for Facebook is 1920 x 1080px. Yes is way deeper than the traditional letterbox size, it is however a 16:9 aspect ratio which is also the size for HD video. Well, what has this go to do with Facebook you may ask? We are now able to upload videos as an alternative to photos to the banner, and slideshows too. The OLD shallow letterbox size (which you’ll still see recommended by a lot of people) is: Groups: 820 x 250 (we recommend you create this in 1920 x 1080) Pages: 820 x 312 (we recommend you create this in 1920 x 1080) Personal Profile: 851 x 315 (we recommend you create this in 1920 x 1080) Universal recommended size for all all Facebook cover photos (Page, Group and Profile): 1920px x 1080px Aim for a high resolution, as there are users out there with retina displays, futureproof yourself by sticking with 1920 x 1080 px; 820 x 461 px still looks the sharpest on older screens. The upside is a lovely deep photo to play with that renders in all its depth on mobile. However, on desktop it gets cropped a little. These deep dimensions give the best view on mobile as it uses the entire photo and gives you the largest area possible for the photo on the native app. It also gives you a larger area for any text that Facebook itself places on top of the photo in some scenarios. As you don’t have an option to upload different variants for mobile vs desktop rendering you need to be concious of where your photo will get cropped on different devices. Keep text to the safe area and ensure that nothing else in the picture looks weird when savagely cropped. View sizes for Facebook Groups, Pages and Profiles This is how the different photos actually surface on different devices. Facebook Group cover photo dimensions: Overall – 820px x 461px Mobile – 640px x 360px Tablet – 820px x 303px Desktop – 820px x 332px (1640px x 664px Retina Display) For all the above create your image as 1920px x 1080px Facebook Page cover photo dimensions: Overall – 820px x 461px Mobile – 640px x 360px Tablet – 820px x 391px Desktop – 820px x 312px (1640px x 624px Retina Display) For all the above create your image as 1920px x 1080px Facebook Profile cover photo dimensions: Overall – 851px x 479px Mobile – 640px x 360px Tablet – 851px x 406px Desktop – 851px x 315px (1702px x 630px Retina Display) For all the above create your image as 1920px x 1080px Also be aware that what you see will also vary on which browser/app variants you are using. Facebook treats each of these three variants differently: Tablet browser and desktop web browser (eg Safari/Chrome) Mobile phone web browser and tablet native Facebook app Finally the native Facebook phone app This is where we really are with Alice down the rabbit hole) the photo is then cropped differently depending on where it surfaces – eg as a recommended Group vs on the Group’s home url. Saving And Optimising Your Photo For Facebook – Recommended Software It is important to optimise the photo correctly – a lot of image problems are to do with poor optimisation. It is recommended using a .jpg for optimum resolution at the smallest file size. The best way to do this is using something like Adobe Photoshop and exporting the image with ‘save for web’ as this will optimise the image better and give you a smaller file size. If you don’t have Photoshop there are several free services online that you can use. Most of the photo libraries have photo editors on their sites now. Try https://www.shutterstock.com/editor which has plenty of social media templates and enables you to edit and resize your own images for free (i.e. they don’t have to be Shutterstock pictures). Another excellent tool to use is Adobe Spark, as a Creative Cloud user, this is part of your package. For a Photoshop Social Media Banners template for Google+, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn click here to download. Disclaimer: Social media sizing dimensions and information found on various sources on the internet. Newsletter Please subscribe to my newsletter which will inform you of any new workshops, activities, products and upcoming events. Subscribe
A Guide to the Best Meteor Showers in 2018: When, Where and How to Shoot Them By Rafael Pons Here is a very informative guide by the guys at PhotoPills, who, as far as I am concerned are the industry standard for astrophotography apps. All credits in this blog belong to the authors, none of these works are mine. Their guides are very helpful,so be sure to enter your valid email address to receive one. You’re about to learn all you need to enjoy watching and shooting one of the best late-night shows served by nature: Meteor Showers. Meteors are caused by streams of cosmic debris entering the Earth's atmosphere at extremely high speeds. Smaller fragments burn in the atmosphere producing a “shooting star”, but the bigger ones can really produce an amazing big fireball. And when the space rocks (meteoroids) of the Perseids, the Geminids or any other powerful meteor shower enter Earth’s atmosphere, you’d better be ready for a great night of shooting stars. My goal with this article, using the same words that the night photography Master Lance Keimig uses in his most famous book, Night Photography and Light Painting, is to help you: "Find your way in the dark" Get the whole Meteor Showers ebook for FREE now! Content Meteor shower calendar for 2018 Where to look or frame: the radiant? The Meteor Showers’ key information How to shoot a meteor shower Inspiring meteor shower images We’re rewarding creativity 1 Meteor shower calendar for 2018 The following table gives you all the key information about the most important and active meteor showers in 2018: Pay attention to the Moon phase percentage during the peak night. The more phase the worst conditions for the watching and shooting. As you see on the table, moonlight will be blocking the Quadrantids, Eta Aquariids, Delta Aquariids and Orionids. While, the conditions will be great for the Lyrids, Perseids, Leonids and Geminids. Finally, the table also provides both the Radiant and constellation of origin of each meteor shower to help you know where to look or frame your camera. 2 Where to look or frame: the radiant? During the meteor shower, you’ll observe that meteors radiate from one point in the night sky. This spot is called the radiant. Each radiant (the point of origin from where the meteors appear to converge) is located within or near the constellation that give the name to the meteor shower. For example, the radiant of the Geminids meteor shower is located in the constellation of Gemini, near the Castor star, one of the brightest stars in the night sky. But you don’t have to look in the direction of the meteor shower's radiant point to see the most meteors. Meteors can appear in all parts of the sky. If you decide to introduce the radiant point in your frame and trace the path of the meteors backwards, you’ll realize that all meteors appear to converge to one single spot in the sky. In this case, if you're lucky enough to capture many meteors, you can create a stunning effect by using the technique described in this video by David Kingham for image post-processing. By using David’s technique, Antoni Cladera (aka, the Photographer) could built the awesome cover image of this article. I love this effect. How can you locate the radiant? The position of the radiant in the sky is defined by two coordinates: Right Ascension and Declination. Declination is the vertical angular distance between the center of a celestial body and the celestial equator. A declination of +20º means that the celestial body is located 20º north of the celestial equator. The south polar cap is at a declination of –90º, the equator is at declination 0º, and the north polar cap is at a declination of +90º. Declination is to a celestial globe as latitude is to a terrestrial globe, a vertical positioning of an object. Right Ascension is the angular distance measured eastward along the celestial equator between the vernal equinox and the celestial body. Together with Declination, it defines a position of a celestial body in the sky. It is measured in hours (1h equals to 15º), minutes and seconds. Yes, I know, both coordinates have horrible names and even worse definitions. The good news is that you don’t need to understand the theory to use PhotoPills’ Night Augmented Reality tool to locate the exact position of the radiant in the sky given by Right Ascension and Declination. Take a look at the following video to learn how to do it. We help you locate the radiant of the Perseids (Right ascension 3h 4m, Declination +58º). It’s easier that it seems, I promise ;) Once you’ve located the radiant in the sky for both the beginning and the end of the shooting, you’ll know exactly the path the radiant will follow. Then, you'll be able to frame at the right area of the sky to create an image with the same effect than David Kingham's. 3 The Meteor Showers’ key information The Quadrantids, January 1-6 The Quadrantids, well known for their bright fireball meteors, which produce larger explosions of light and color, are also known to be tricky. With a Zenithal Hourly Rate (ZHR) reaching 120 meteors per hour, the Quadrantids could be the most powerful shower of the year. But it turns out that the peak only lasts a few hours, which makes it difficult to catch. The shower runs from January 1 to 6. The best night for the watching is the one between the 3 and 4. The Peak has been predicted for January 3 at 20h UTC. This is not a good year for the Quadrantids, the Moon, with a phase of 98%, will block the stars. Unfortunately, this meteor shower is only visible from the northern hemisphere. These meteors are not visible from the southern hemisphere. Highlights: When: January 1-6 2018 Best night: January 3-4 Peak: January 3 at 20h UTC Moon Phase: 98% (poor viewing conditions) Number (ZHR): 120 Meteors/hour Meteors velocity: 42 km/s Origin (radiant): constellation Boötes Radiant coordinates: Right Ascension 15h 28m, Declination +49.5º Associated Asteroid: 2003 EH1 Northern Hemisphere: Medium rate Southern Hemisphere: Not visible The Lyrids, April 16-25 With a Zenithal Hourly Rate (ZHR) of just 20 meteors per hour, the Lyrids is an average shower. It runs from April 16 to 25. The best night for the watching is the one between the 22 and 23. The Peak has been predicted for April 22 at 18h UTC. This year, the crescent Moon will allow us to enjoy the show. This meteor shower is visible from both hemispheres. Although it’s weaker in the southern hemisphere. Highlights: When: April 16-25 2018 Best night: April 22-23 Peak: April 22 at 18h UTC Moon Phase: 38% (good viewing conditions) Number (ZHR): +20 Meteors/hour Meteors velocity: 48 km/s Origin (radiant): constellation Lyra Radiant coordinates: Right Ascension 18h 08m, Declination +32º Associated Comet: C/1861 G1 Thatcher (comet discovered in 1861) Northern Hemisphere: Medium rate Southern Hemisphere: Low rate Eta Aquariids, April 19 to May 28 The Eta Aquariids is known for its high percentage of persistent trains, but few fireballs. It’s usually a very active meteor shower when viewed from the southern tropics. Its Zenithal Hourly Rate (ZHR) is 55 meteors per hour, but it gets down to 10-30 from the equator northward. It runs from April 19 to May 25. The best night for the watching is the one between May 6 and 7. The Peak has been predicted for May 6 at 8h UTC. Trying the night before and after is also a great idea. The Moon, with a phase of 61%, will be an issue this year. It might block part of the meteors. So, use PhotoPills to check the time the moon will set in your location and get ready for the show. You never know what can happen! The meteor shower is best visible from the southern hemisphere. It’s also visible from the northern hemisphere but at a lower rate. Highlights: When: April 19 to May 28 2018 Best night: May 6-7 Peak: May 6 at 8h UTC Moon Phase: 61% (poor viewing conditions) Number (ZHR): +55 Meteors/hour Meteors velocity: 66 km/s Origin (radiant): constellation Aquarius Radiant coordinates: Right Ascension 22h 32m, Declination -1º Associated Comet: 1P Halley Northern Hemisphere: Medium rate Southern Hemisphere: Good rate Delta Aquariids. July 12 to August 23 As it happens with the Eta Aquariids, it’s better to watch this shower from the southern tropics. With a Zenithal Hourly Rate (ZHR) of 20 meteors per hour, do not expect to see many meteors. It runs from July 12 to August 23. The best night for the watching is the one between July 29 and 30. The Peak has been predicted for July 30 at 11h UTC. This is not a good ear for the Eta Aquariids, the Moon, with a phase of 96%, will block the stars. The meteor shower is best visible from the southern hemisphere. But it’s also also visible from the northern hemisphere but at a lower rate. Highlights: When: July 12 to August 23 2018 Best night: July 29-30 Peak: July 30 at 11h UTC Moon Phase: 96% (poor viewing conditions) Number (ZHR): +20 Meteors/hour Meteors velocity: 42 km/s Origin (radiant): constellation Aquarius Radiant coordinates: Right Ascension 22h 40m, Declination -16.4º Associated Comet: Unknown, 96P Machholz suspected Northern Hemisphere: Medium rate Southern Hemisphere: Good rate The Perseids, July 17 to August 24 The Perseids is considered to be the best meteor shower of the year. With a Zenithal Hourly Rate (ZHR) of above 100 meteors per hour, the night of the peak is usually epic. It runs from July 17 to August 24. This year, the best night for the watching is the one between the 12 and 13 of August. The Peak has been predicted for August 13 at 01h UTC. It’s a good idea to give it a try also the nights between the 11-12 and 13-14. The moon, with a phase of 3%, will give us the opportunity to enjoy a big show. The meteor shower is visible and intense in both hemispheres. Highlights: When: July 17 to August 24 2018 Best night: August 12-13 Peak: August 13 at 01h UTC Moon Phase: 3% (good viewing conditions) Number (ZHR): +100 Meteors/hour Meteors velocity: 60 km/s Origin (radiant): constellation Perseus Radiant coordinates: Right Ascension 03h 04m, Declination +58º Associated Comet: 109P/Swift-Tuttle (comet discovered in 1862) Northern Hemisphere: High rate Southern Hemisphere: High rate The Orionids, October 4 to November 14 The Orionids are associated to the comet 1P/Halley, the same that’s associated to the Eta Aquariids in May. It’s an average shower with a Zenithal Hourly Rate (ZHR) of just 20 meteors per hour. It runs from October 4 to November 14. The best night for the watching is the one between the 21 and 22 of October. The Peak has been predicted for October 22 at 03h UTC. Unfortunately, the moon, with a phase of 91%, will block the stars. The meteor shower is visible in both hemispheres. Highlights: When: October 4 to November 14 2018 Best night: October 21-22 Peak: October 28 at 03h UTC Moon Phase: 91% (poor viewing conditions) Number (ZHR): +20 Meteors/hour Meteors velocity: 66 km/s Origin (radiant): constellation Orion Radiant coordinates: Right Ascension 06h 20m, Declination +15.5º Associated Comet: 1P/Halley Northern Hemisphere: Low rate Southern Hemisphere: Low rate The Leonids, November 5 to 30 The Leonids has a peak above 100 meteors/hour every 33 years. The last great peak occurred in 2001, so we’ll have to wait until 2034! Usually, It’s an average shower with a Zenithal Hourly Rate (ZHR) of just 15 meteors per hour. It runs from November 5 to 30. The best night for the watching is the one between the 17 and 18 of November. The Peak has been predicted for November 17 at 23h UTC. The Moon, with a phase of 62%, will be an issue this year. It might block part of the meteors. So, use PhotoPills to check the time the Moon will set in your location and get ready for the show. The meteor shower should be visible in both hemispheres. Highlights: When: November 5 to 30 2018 Best night: November 17-18 Peak: November 17 at 23h UTC Moon Phase: 62% (good viewing conditions) Number (ZHR): +15 Meteors/hour Meteors velocity: 71 km/s Origin (radiant): constellation Leo Radiant coordinates: Right Ascension 10h 08m, Declination +21.6º Associated Comet: 55P/Tempel-Tuttle Northern Hemisphere: Low rate Southern Hemisphere: Low rate The Geminids, December 4 to 16 For many astronomers, the Geminids is considered to be the queen of the meteor showers. The comet 3200 Phaethon is the cause of this meteor shower. With a Zenithal Hourly Rate (ZHR) of +120 meteors per hour, you can expect to see a good number of bright meteors. It runs from December 4 to 16. The best night for the watching is the one between the 13 and 14. The Peak has been predicted for December 14 at 13h UTC. This year, the waxing crescent Moon will not be a problem for the watching. Use PhotoPills to check the rise and set times, and choose the best time for the shooting. It’s visible from both hemispheres. Although it’s weaker in the southern hemisphere. Highlights: When: December 4 to 16 2018 Best night: December 13-14 Peak: December 14 at 13h UTC Moon Phase: 35% (good viewing conditions) Number (ZHR): +120 Meteors/hour Meteors velocity: 35 km/s Origin (radiant): constellation Gemini Radiant coordinates: Right Ascension 07h 28m, Declination +32.2º Associated Asteroid: 3200 Phaethon (discovered in 1982) Northern Hemisphere: High rate Southern Hemisphere: Medium rate 4 How to shoot a meteor shower In case you plan a night scape to shoot one of the meteor showers, the following recommendations will help you get started with the shooting: Location: Go into an area with little light pollution. Framing: Make sure you’re framing the right area in the sky. You can use PhotoPills’ Night Augmented Reality tool to locate the radiant of the meteor shower. Focal length: Use the widest angle lens possible (at least 14mm) to capture the most area of the sky. Aperture: Use a fast lens to collect as much light as possible. An aperture of f/2.8 is great. Focusing: Focus at the hyperfocal distance. Make sure you’re not focusing at a shorter distance, because you’ll get stars completely blurred, even if you miss it by one inch (2.5cm). It’s much better to make focus exceeding the hyperfocal distance by 2 feet rather than falling short. You can calculate the hyperfocal distance with our on-line Depth of Field calculator. Also, learn all you need to know about hyperfocal distance and depth of field with our extremely detailed DoF Guide. ISO: Set the ISO to the maximum level that your camera allows without getting excessive noise (ISO 1600 or higher is recommended). Exposure time: Use PhotoPills' on-line Spot Stars calculator to calculate the maximum exposure time to get stars as bright spots. Usually, you’ll get a value between 20 and 35 seconds, depending on the camera and lens used. White Balance: With no light pollution, I recommend you to use a WB between 3,400K and 4,000K. Interval: Use a shooting interval between 2 and 5 seconds to try to capture the maximum amount of meteors. Regarding the equipment, in Step 7 of our tutorial “How to Shoot Truly Contagious Milky Way Pictures”, you’ll find all you need no matter your level of expertise or budget. Make sure to take a look at it. But, knowing the camera, lens and tripod you’ll need is only the beginning. I recommend you to also bring with you at least one heater strip to fight dew back! One of the most annoying aspects of night photography is dealing with dew. Moisture in the air can condense on the cold front surface of your lens, and ruin the photos. Getting a heater strip is a great way to save the night. The good news is that heater strips are very cheap (see again “Equipment against moisture” in step 7). Perhaps, the two most popular heater strip brands are Dew-Not and Kendrick. I use a Dew-Not 3" DN004, which perfectly fits my Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8. This model has a length of 13" (33cm), enough for the diameter of the lens. Make sure you buy a strip that can go around the entire circumference of the lens. You’ll also need a portable battery and a cable connector. Dew heater Dew-Not 3" DN004 connected to a portable battery. Need more help? Take a look at our articles How To Shoot Truly Contagious Milky Way Pictures and The Definitve Guide to Shooting Hipnotic Star Trails. You'll learn everything you need to imagine, plan and shoot stunning photos of the stars. And if you wish to learn face to face with us, the whole PhotoPills Team, along with a selected group of photography masters, don't miss the PhotoPills Camp! 5 Inspiring meteor shower images From stacking a great number of photos to create David Kingham’s effect or a powerful star trails image, to putting together a timelapse video, spending the whole night shooting a meteor shower can be very productive from the creative side. The following images and videos are the outcome of the Geminids Meteor shower in 2015. It was on Monday, December 14 2015, around 10pm local time, when the clouds disappeared from above our heads, leaving us face to face with one of the most active meteor showers we remember. We spent the next 5 hours shooting and enjoying the show. What an epic time! Timelapse The timelapse is the result of playing 647 still images at 24fps. Nikon D4s | 14mm | f2.8 | 30s | 5000 ISO Star trails Staking of 647 photos. Nikon D4s | 14mm | f2.8 | 30s | 5000 ISO You can create stunning star trails by merging a series of short exposure photos into a single image using softwares like StarStaX (Mac, Windows, Linux) or Startrails (Windows). Meteor Exploding Who has seen the explosion of a meteor in the sky? We did! And with a smoky tail :) You never know what your camera will capture during the night. Each night scape is a different adventure. Converging Meteors Nikon D4s | 14mm | f2.8 | 30s | 5000 ISO The image is the result of stacking 120 photos using David Kingham’s technique. To create this stunning effect, every photo has been rotated around Polaris to keep the radiant point of the meteor shower in the same place. This proves that all meteors appear to converge from one single point in the sky: the radiant. Happy Showers! All photos in this articles have been taken by Antoni Cladera. 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The Eight Major Meteor Showers Coming to South Africa in 2018 If you enjoyed Geminids this month, this will be right up your street, here are the eight major meteor showers coming to South Africa in 2018. By Tom Head Image Credits: Pixabay / Pexels There is something so tangibly beautiful about meteor showers. They are a reminder of just how magnificent our universe is, illuminating our night skies as part of a breathtaking cosmic ballet. We all enjoyed the Geminids shower that lit up the darkness this month, so we got to thinking: When will we see something like this again? We come bearing good news… There are eight major meteor showers coming our way in 2018. So if you’re an old romantic, or a long-time stargazer, you’re going to have to make some plans for the new year. There are some stunning shows on their way to us from across the galaxy. Put the smartphone down, and treat yourself to something truly special. Meteor showers in South Africa 1. Quadrantids Meteor Shower, January 2018 When? Quadrantids wastes little time in christening 2018 with a beautiful display of shooting stars. From the 1st – 5th January, the shower will be visible from South Africa. The peak date will be Wednesday 3rd January. Meteors per hour? You can spot around 40 an hour during its peak phase Visibility? Not great. The Full Moon on the night on the 1st and 2nd of January will make for a brighter night sky, drowning out up to 80 percent of visible meteors. You have a fighting chance on the third though, as the moon dulls and Earth moves closer to the shower itself. 2. Lyrids Meteor Shower, April 2018 When? This is an annual shower that runs between 16th – 25th April. The night of the 22nd going into the morning of the 23rd will be your peak viewing time. Meteors per hour? This is a more reserved shower, and around 20 meteors can be spotted within a sixty-minute period. Visibility? It’s a good forecast. There will only be a ‘quarter-moon’ in the sky during the peak viewing hours. When that sets, it will leave a dark sky to compliment the bright dust trails flying off the meteors. 3. Eta Aquarids, May 2018 When? The first signs of this shower come during Lyrids, on the 18th April. Meteors from Eta Aquarids have been spotted as late as the 29th May. However, their peak date will be the 6th May, going into the early hours of the 7th. Meteors per hour? This year it’s likely to be just 30 an hour, but can peak to 60. Visibility? The further south you are, the more likely you’ll see it. A “waning gibbous Moon” will already be illuminating the sky, reducing visibility from its normal level. We have it on good authority from Seasky that there should be ‘a few good ones’ that are easy to spot. 4. South Delta Aquarids, July 2018 When? The shower runs on a six-week cycle every year, from 12th July – 23rd August. The peak night for viewing will be the 28th July, through to the 29th. Meteors per hour? A steady rate of 20 an hour should keep the stargazers busy Visibility? A full moon is threatening to limit what can be seen from space. However, the South Delta Aquarids is an incredibly bright offering, so you should still be able to see one of the best shows of the year. 5. Perseids Meteor Shower, August 2018 When? From the 17th July – 24th August, one of the best known meteor showers passes across Earth. It’s the 12th August when the night sky really lights up, though. Meteors per hour? It’s the event that perhaps provides the most value for your time invested. Up to 60 meteors can be spotted within an hour. Visibility? There’s a thin crescent moon which means visibility is excellent! 6. Orionids, October 2018 When? It goes from the 2nd October – 9th November, and the 21st October in the night to see this shower hit its peak. Meteors per hour? It can produce up to 20 visible meteors an hour, but these are all quite special. The meteors are all fragments of Haley’s comet, the cosmic marvel that appears in our skies once every 77 years. Visibility? Bad news, full moon. Great news is that Orionids is the brightest shower on the list. No matter what the moon is doing, nothing will stop us getting a good eye-full here. 7. Leonidis Meteor Shower, November 2018 When? This has a shorted run than most showers, but is no less spectacular. Leonidis is visible from the 6th – 30th November, reaching its peak on the 17th November. Meteors per hour? These meteors have a cyclic peak of 33 years, the last of which was reached in 2001. Although it will be a stronger display than 2017, there is still some way to go before it takes over the night sky again. Having said that, a fair 15 meteors an hour can be spotted on a dark evening. Visibility? The moon is setting early on the 17th, so any time after midnight will provide you with a dark background. This will be one of the clearer nights on the calendar 8. Geminids Meteor Shower, December 2018 When? Rounding off our list of meteor showers is Geminids. We were all treated to something spectacular this month. In fact, it was so good, Geminids has agreed to come back again next year. And the year after. And the year after. It’s an annual event, set to peak on December 13th next year. Meteors per hour? 120 an hour. There’s a reason we all lost our minds over this one. It’s the most breathtaking offering you can get from watching the stars, and next year will be no different. Visibility? We’ve got a good set up for Geminids 2018. A few South Africans were robbed this year when cloudy skies blocked their views, but everything should be going our way next December. Only a quarter-moon will be in the sky. We can’t wait another year! Newsletter Please subscribe to my newsletter which will inform you of any new workshops, activities, products and upcoming events. Subscribe
I Do Not Work For Free - You Are Not My Client!! I do not work for free - IF you think I do, you are not my client, please move on!! Funny how so many people love your work until you tell them they have to pay you when they commission you! So many times clients think and believe they have the right to force their hand in making a photographer either grossly undercut another photographer to get a cheaper rate for the same shoot, or actually expect the photographer to do the shoot for free. When I tell my prospective client who made these requests that I do not work for free, they almost always seem surprised, and even a little offended, by the very suggestion that they should pay me for the work they are commissioning me to do. “We don’t have the budget for that, Jimmy does it for free!” they respond! One can almost hear them turning to their office colleagues and saying, “Can you believe the audacity of this photographer, asking us to actually pay him to photograph for us? He should be grateful we even noticed and contacted him!”, conveniently forgetting that they DO have the budget to pay everyone else involved in the project – it’s normally just the artists, musicians, writers and photographers who are expected to work for free: not because the large, household-name brands who make these requests can’t afford to pay them, but because they don’t feel they should have to. Why would they, after all, when they know many of us will work for free? Photography is a skill that is not valued, part of the issue, of course, stems from the fact that many photographers don’t value their work themselves – and if they don’t attach any value to what they do, then why would anyone else? If you as my client are going to profit from my work, then I expect to profit from it too. Exposure does not pay the bills, mortgage, insurance, and no business gives a flying fish about the exposure you were given for doing a free job, because it does not pay their bills! What About Jimmy? Just because Jimmy shoots for free doesn't mean I have to! Jimmy may be a hobbyist and doesn't have the business overheads that I do, so for him, it really doesn't matter that he works for free. The problem lies here: just about anyone can walk into a camera store and buy a camera, (that still costs money) and think they have arrived. They set up a Facebook photography page with a Yahoo or Gmail email account, happy to do business over Whatsapp messenger, and are suddenly a top notch photographic company, charging unbelievable prices that are just above zero! He would like everyone to believe that he is a top notch company though; however, there is more to taking photographs than just pressing a button! Do You Know Jenny and Steven? Jenny, who is getting married, wants the most amazing photographs of their special day. She gets swept up in the buzz of the wedding planning and contacts the caterers, the dressmaker, the venue, visits the shoe shop, contacts the DJ, spends the money... oh yes, she left the photographer for the last minute (they are an after thought), and there is no budget for that! Then there is a pity-party story she is out of budget as the dress cost so much, how can't she possibly afford you because you are so expensive, and then she tells you they having a 250 guest wedding! She then tells you, their friend either does it for free, or has the latest iPhone 7, that has a 12-megapixel camera, who, she is convinced will do the job just like I would, with my 16-megapixel Nikon D4 DSLR which costs the price of a car! Her friend can edit the images on their cellphone, as they don't need Photoshop, the apps work just fine! What she fails to see, is that a blue ribbon chef does not go to the deli and buy chicken flavoured 1-minute noodles and serve you a one minute dish, he actually prepares everything from scratch and you are served a blue ribbon meal, nothing less! Now that Jenny is no longer my client, as I do not work for free, she will then sift through many posts on relevant sites on Facebook to find her freebie photographer, and may end up using the services of Steven. Steven then finds himself in a predicament and posts the following on Facebook: Hey guys, I'm taking a huge risk here but is there any chance someone's not booked tomorrow? I'm doing my first wedding and I need an experienced photographer to assist me and second shoot for me. My support photographer cannot make it. I am prepared to cover any petrol costs. The inexperience shown by the photographer is what also what drives the prices down. Furthermore, the support or second shooter as they are known, who is more experienced is expected to be paid in fuel expenses for his time and expertise! Jenny commissions Steven, as he offered the following wedding package as per his advert below: R3 500 2 photographers 6 hours shooting 500 photos Photo album Photobooth Canvas It is impossible as a weekend or full-time photographer to edit 500 images, depending on the quality of the images and touch ups you have to do, pay your second shooter, print a photo album and canvas, make a profit on the photobooth you hired, cover traveling costs to the venue, the outlay for camera equipment and make a profit for the price quoted above! This advert actually exists on Facebook! You get what you pay for! The Digital Era The digital era has opened up photography to so many people, you never leave home these days without a camera, it's part of your phone! The instant gratification of click or delete and the photo is taken, looked at once or twice and forgotten about, is not like the days of film. There you had to wait until your photos were developed to see what you got and if they even came out! The perception people have is their high megapixel cellphone camera is more than capable of competing or performing at the same level as a DSLR camera. The fact is the 12-megapixel sensor is not the same size on a cellphone as it is on a DSLR; the results are simply not the same! In the days of film, professional photography was more out of reach than it is today. You had to shoot slide film as the print houses would only accept slides / transparencies for publications. Slide film leaves little to no margin for error. People have forgotten that there ARE skills to be learned in photography, skills come with experience, experience with time, not just delete and shoot again! What Do You Get When You Hire A Photographer? Let's look at it from both sides, from you as the client, and me as a photographer, who is essentially a professional and a business owner, working from one contract or photoshoot to the next; what are you paying for? The Client Someone who can take photographs. That simple! Your expectation is to have someone take the most amazing photographs, in the shortest turnaround time (because we live in an instant world now), usually for free or next to nothing, if you are one of those clients. You have no idea about the amount of the work involved after the shoot, you think you paying for 3 hours work, and that is it. If you are business minded and expect the best, you will employ a recognised photographer who has a professional portfolio, comes highly recommended, possibly an award winning photographer with a few publications to complete the task and concept you have in mind. You understand that the time you are paying for is not only the shoot, but the editing time after the shoot. Your need is that the end product needs to sell your brand and grow your business if this is a marketing shoot, bring you a return on the expense of your shoot, and possibly a longer term relationship with the same photographer for future concept shoots you may have. The said photographer may end up working for your opposition! The Photographer Someone who can create images that will meet your requirements under all types of lighting conditions and environments, and deliver amazing results that leave lasting impressions on all who view your images. You are paying for my time, both at the shoot and after the shoot; that is the many hours spent behind my expensive computer, equipped with the latest editing software, which is now my modern day photo lab editing your images. Even if film has been shot it still needs to be converted to digital! Admittedly, not every photographer has studied, those that have, it is many hours in the classroom, YouTube, paid online courses offered by the likes of Lynda.com and Creative Live to perfect the skills needed for the job on hand, as well as how to run a successful photographic business! As a business owner, I need to have liability insurance in place in case you injure yourself in my studio or on a shoot, or plan to sue me for future earnings for whatever reason. A professional photographer needs to have sound contracts in place, written by attorneys, we know law firms are not cheap! My photographic equipment, which is anything from a studio light to a frightfully expensive camera and lens combination, professional camera gear is not cheap and needs to be insured. I have the expenses of business running costs, that is lights and water, office rent, website hosting and IT support, telephone and internet services, data storage plans to keep your images secure on a backup system. I will also need to purchase a new camera or lens if it is not in my kit to cover a different genre of photography. I may also need to pay an assistant for the times that I am not able to work alone. Should I be planning an exotic workshop for international clients in Antarctica or any other destination, I need to save towards that trip, which is certainly not cheap. One needs to prepare, plan, save, advertise well, to attract those clients to run a successful workshop; this costs money. Remember too, I also have a family and need to put food on the table and a roof over our heads! If you still think anyone can press a button and be a photographer, look and think again, see what is actually involved, and appreciate the end product you are receiving from a professional photographer and DO NOT ASK TO HAVE YOUR SHOOT FOR FREE! I have yet to find someone ask the dentist for a freebie, and say my friend has a few instruments you can borrow, will that help lower the price? No! You go to a dentist to get a professional job done, not to a mechanic to have your teeth pulled with a greasy pair of pliers! You pay the bill for the professional service you received, as he is a professional! You wouldn't dare ask the cardiologist doing your heart transplant for a freebie either, he may just let you die on the operating table. So what gives you the right to disrespect my profession and expect photographers to work for free? Conclusion I do not work for free, if you expect me to, you are not my client! You really get what you pay for in all walks of life. To the other photographers out there: When you learn how much you worth, you will stop giving people discounts and working for free! Newsletter Please subscribe to my newsletter which will inform you of any new workshops, activities, products and upcoming events. Subscribe
Getaway Magazine Gallery Competition 2016 Winners Ientered the Getaway Magazine Gallery Competition 2016 on the 21st August 2016 and was informed that I was a finalist for the November Gallery, which can be read here on my previous blog. The final results of the competition have been announced in January 2017 issue of Getaway Magazine as per competition rules. Getaway Magazine Gallery Competition 2016 is a prestigious showcase of the best photographs their readers have to offer. Enthusiasts brush shoulders with professionals at the highest levels, as both have the opportunity to win fantastic prizes. Congratulations to the Getaway Magazine Gallery Competition 2016 winners. This year Getaway Magazine present their biggest competition yet, with travel and equipment prizes to the value of over R160 000. Prizes include the opportunity to see desert elephant in Kaokoland, one of Namibia’s wildest areas, plus fantastic equipment prizes – including a drone! The Final Winning Shots Below are the winning images, well done and congratulations to everyone that entered, I am glad I did not have the difficult task of judging, as there were really top quality images submitted! I recognised quite a few names from the various Facebook photographic pages and groups I belong to. I have enjoyed this privilege and opportunity to have been an entrant as well. Winning isn't everything, I enjoy the recognition, accreditation and validification that my work receives, it is great to have your work published. I am really pleased that my image ended up finishing with a Top Ten Finish and a Highly Commended placing overall! Getaway Magazine January 2017 pg35 Getaway Magazine January 2017 pg36 Getaway Magazine January 2017 pg37 Getaway Magazine January 2017 pg38 Getaway Magazine January 2017 pg39 Getaway Magazine January 2017 pg40 Getaway Magazine January 2017 pg41 Getaway Magazine January 2017 pg42 Conclusion I will be back again to enter, and to continue to build capacity. I am sure the submissions will be of the same high standards one has come to expect from the Getaway Magazine Gallery Competition 2017. The pages from Getaway Magazine were acquired as a E-zine and used for content to write this blog. Newsletter Please subscribe to my newsletter which will inform you of any new workshops, activities, products and upcoming events. Subscribe
Getaway Magazine Gallery Competition 2016 Ientered the Getaway Magazine Gallery Competition 2016 on the 21st August 2016 and was informed that I was a finalist for the November Gallery. Needless to say, I was delighted, as this is quite a prestigious travel magazine and competition. Getaway Magazine is known as South Africa's favourite travel magazine. I was then requested to submit a high resolution image on the 26th August 2016 along with either an amended or approved caption which was already submitted along with my image the first time. On the 17th October 2016, I was then contacted again by Getaway Magazine staff, requesting the unedited original/RAW of the image attached. They were in the process of judging Getaway Magazine Gallery Competition and need originals for editing comparisons. It is a wonderful feeling when one enters competitions, and you up against some of the best in the industry, some even internationally recognised photographers, like my friend Morkel Erasmus. It isn't and shouldn't always be about winning, and yes, it is awesome to win. You get the well deserved bragging rights that go along with it; this for me, is more about validation, accreditation and recognition of my work. The Story Behind The Shot I was covering the Lipton Challenge Cup 2016 which you can read about here, and as with anything else you can pretty much come prepared to do the task at hand, have all the ticks in the boxes completed, but can do absolutely nothing about the weather. This is exactly what happened! I hired a helicopter for the shoot, as I don't own a drone, and was looking to expand both my aerial photo portfolio and to shoot yacht racing from a different perspective. The days leading up to the final of the yacht race had a constant change of weather from calm days and sunny skies, to a total blanket of cloud that kept us grounded by Cape Town ATC (Air Traffic Control) and a race day cancellation, and on the last day a very cold, windy and wet day, which is great for yachting! Lipton Cup Challenge 2016, Table Bay, Cape Town, South Africa The day in question that I shot my entry was the second last day of the Lipton Challenge Cup. We had been on standby for most of the morning and the cloud forecast didn't look good at all. There were patches of rain in the early morning, and way too much low-level cloud which prohibited us from flying. Alex, my friend and pilot, and I had been sitting around waiting for word from ATC and the race organisers to let us know if we could fly, it was yes and no, yes and no, and finally no. The yacht race was cancelled for the day, due to no wind and poor visibility. As I had paid for flying time, and had to use it, Alex suggested we fly anyway, as we had a break in the clouds over the airfield, and visibility was good for that time. I was rather reluctant and disappointed, almost ready to go home in fact! I had not met my end goals and time was running out of time to capture aerial images of the race that was ending the next day. Aerial Photography - Alex & I, Philadelphia Surrounds, South-Africa - Fuji Superior 400 We took off from Morningstar Airfield, headed up the coast towards Atlantis, where I shot both film and digital images. The view was spectacular to say the least! We then headed out towards the direction of Robben Island to capture a series of panoramic images, which were just as spectacular! I have long wanted to capture the images of skyscrapers in Dubai, where the buildings are shrouded in mist, that day I did, except it was Cape Town! Flying over Blaauwbergstrand afforded me just that very opportunity! That is when I captured my competition entry image, which incidentally, did not look as great in colour as it did in monochrome. During my edits, I asked my wife Dominique for her opinion; monochrome she said, and she was right! The Fairest Cape has so many different moods and so character, the best way for me to title this image was to name it after the band, Just Jinger who wrote the song Table Talk, which aptly, poetically and appropriately describes Table Mountain: Just Jinger - Table Talk If Table Mountain could talk What would she whisper in the Lions (Head) ear? What kind of Signal (Hill) would she give, to the hill? And if she spoke spoke loud enough Could she perhaps get through to Chapman (Peak)? Or did he lose his peak, years ago, years ago? Just imagine, La da da da da, la da da da da da da This is Table Talk La da da da da, la da da da da da da This is Table Talk If Table Mountain could sing Do you think she'd be into Elvis? I have a feeling she's always been into rock of some sorts And if our mountain could think Do you think she'd be into Plato? Or did she give up long ago, and let the Cape win her Point What's the point? Just imagine, La da da da da, la da da da da da da This is Table Talk La da da da da, la da da da da da da It's on the Table! If Table Mountain could say anything, What would she say? If she could only say What would she say? There are so many images captured by so many different people, photographers, tourists, travelers and the like, each with their interpretation of Table Mountain, this is mine from a different view! I am very grateful to Alex for the the prompting and nudging that I needed to fly that day, you can see exactly what I would have missed out on if I didn't. The November Gallery Here are the entrants that were published alongside me in the November 2016 Gallery. Getaway Magazine Gallery November 2016 Getaway Magazine Gallery November 2016 Getaway Magazine Gallery November 2016 My Entry: Table Talk - Getaway Magazine Gallery November 2016 Getaway Magazine Gallery November 2016 I am also very grateful to have a full page published in this issue of Getaway Magazine Gallery November 2016. You can click on the image below to view the complete copy of Getaway Magazine November 2016 in a new tab. My Gallery of the Day A few images of what I shot on the day. Click on the images below to view an enlarged single image. All my images are available for purchase as prints. Digital images can be used under license agreement. Should you wish to purchase or license my images, please click here for more information, so I can assist you with your needs. Panoramic View of Table Bay, Cape Town, South Africa Table Talk, Blaauwbergstrand, Cape Town, South Africa Misty, Blaauwbergstrand, Cape Town, South Africa Misty, Blaauwbergstrand, Cape Town, South Africa Misty, Blaauwbergstrand, Cape Town, South Africa Conclusion The final results of the competition will be announced in January 2017 issue of Getaway Magazine as per competition rules. Getaway Magazine Gallery Competition 2016 is a prestigious showcase of the best photographs their readers have to offer. Enthusiasts brush shoulders with professionals at the highest levels, as both have the opportunity to win fantastic prizes. This year Getaway Magazine present their biggest competition yet, with travel and equipment prizes to the value of over R160 000. Prizes include the opportunity to see desert elephant in Kaokoland, one of Namibia’s wildest areas, plus fantastic equipment prizes – including a drone! I eagerly await the results, and will update this blog with the winners, when published. All the best to the entrants, I have enjoyed this privilege and opportunity to have been an entrant as well. Images are that do not have my watermark are not my work. The pages from Getaway Magazine were acquired as a E-zine and used for content to write this blog. Newsletter Please subscribe to my newsletter which will inform you of any new workshops, activities, products and upcoming events. Subscribe
The Wonderful World of Rolleiflex TLR Photography: Street Photography By Dan Wagner | There are several schools of thought regarding whether or not a Rolleiflex TLR is a good camera for street photography. On the negative side, the exposures per roll are limited to 12, the vintage design often attracts attention, and it takes longer to advance the film to the next frame. On the positive side, the camera can be operated stealthily by shooting from the waist and/or aiming the camera perpendicular to the direction you’re facing; the 120 negative is much larger than its 35mm counterpart; and the leaf shutter is quieter and has less vibration than a camera with a moving mirror or shutter curtains. More important than which camera is used, is how it’s used, and how comfortable a photographer is using it. While you may miss a few shots shooting with a Rolleiflex TLR, you will savor the ones that were caught that much more. Once a photographer is familiar with the operation of the Rolleiflex TLR, it’s time to put the camera through its paces and shoot some beautiful photographs. For street photography, a good method is to set the focus to 10 feet and the f/stop and shutter speed to a combination suitable for shooting in shade or sunlight. As you move from sunlit to shady areas, you should adjust the settings as required. By always having suitable exposure settings, a photographer will be ready to respond to photo opportunities at a moment’s notice. When you want to compose a tighter shot, it’s a simple matter to rotate the focusing knob to six or seven feet. Of course, if time permits, it’s usually preferable to focus in the traditional manner of looking through the viewfinder. And when you’re close to a subject, some photographers will appreciate moving the camera slightly forward or backward to find focus as opposed to moving the focusing knob—it’s a matter of preference. In writings and interviews, legendary photographers such as Henri Cartier-Bresson, Weegee, and others often discuss the virtues of this simple approach. These universal principles are easily applied to most cameras and formats, not just the Rolleiflex TLR. General Street Photography Strategies In urban areas, it’s advantageous to walk against the flow of foot traffic to facilitate photographing the faces of passersby. While rear views can sometimes tell a story, they’re seldom as compelling as frontal shots that include faces. Additionally, by choosing which side of the street to walk on, one is also choosing whether a person will be back or front lit, and if they’ll be in shade or open sun—providing, of course, that it’s a sunny day, that the sun is not directly overhead, and that nearby buildings, trees or other obstructions are tall enough to create shade. In areas with tall buildings, you can often find that a pleasing combination of directional and soft light is created by sunlight bouncing from reflective surfaces. One shooting method is to select an area with interesting lighting, choose a camera position with an uncluttered background, and simply wait for interesting subjects to walk into the frame. Although this method can yield good photos, it’s seldom as fruitful as simply being ready for and responding in a less predetermined manner. To increase the opportunities for catching elusive and fleeting moments, scan fifty or more feet ahead of where you are walking, for people with interesting faces and for moments in the making. Something as simple as two friends meeting in front of a restaurant can result in an emotionally charged photo opportunity. Part of the reward of street photography is improving one’s skills at accurately anticipating how people will behave, how moments will transition, where to position the camera, and how to conduct oneself to capture these meaningful slice-of-life vignettes. Many photographers are understandably reticent, at first, to point a camera in a stranger’s direction. However, with practice and a smile, it is not only possible to become comfortable with photographing strangers, but in many cases it is easy to engage in pleasant conversation with them. In fact, with their quirky, vintage appearance, the Rolleiflex TLRs are often conversation starters themselves, and can even elicit requests from strangers to shoot their photo. When considering the importance of telling stories with facial expressions, never rule out the value of expressions that run the gamut of human emotion—even an expression of discomfort can tell a memorable story. Photographer Richard Avedon was a master at this, and would often peer through his Rolleiflex TLR for awkward minutes until a subject’s “public face” fell to reveal who they really were. This is not to suggest that a photographer shouldn’t be aware of and considerate of how others may feel when photographed. However, when photographers display a sincere desire to elevate a subject or an event, to communicate their vision, and to create art, this sincerity will be apparent to others and not only put them at ease, but enlist them to the cause, as well. Although a delicate matter, it can be done. The Rolleiflex Experience While shooting with a Rolleiflex TLR or any TLR is relatively easy to do, like other artistic endeavors, it takes years of dedication to tap its full potential. For those who have never shot film, the best part of the process is often wondering what the photo will look like when it is developed, and whether or not it will meet or exceed expectations. The biggest adjustment for those who have only worked with digital cameras is that it is not possible to review a shot on the spot after it has been taken. However, with practice, it is possible to envision what the photo will look like and to make the necessary exposure and other adjustments that will realize your vision prior to releasing the shutter. Having a photo in one’s head and capturing it with a camera is a rewarding experience, and examining the finished result for flaws is an excellent way to learn and improve your skills. Rolleiflex Ergonomics Rolleiflex TLRs were designed with all the controls in the perfect location for waist-level shooting. Looking down, it’s easy to see the two, tiny windows displaying the f/stop and shutter speed, which are adjusted by thumb dials on either side of the lenses. On the left is a robust focusing knob with exposure-meter needle, depth-of-field scale, film spool releases, and filter compensation scale that corresponds to the factor number printed on filters. On the right is the film advance/shutter cocking lever, which advances the film when rotated forward, and cocks the shutter when rotated backward. The lower right corner of the camera features the shutter release and shutter lock, while the top right has the self-timer/flash synch selector, and the bottom left has a locking synch outlet. All in all, the ergonomics are easy to understand and quickly become second nature. Rolleiflex Viewfinders: Tricks and Tips Because waist-level viewfinders don’t have prisms, photographers have to become used to viewing their subjects laterally reversed. The stationary mirror behind the taking lens allows for proper vertical viewing, but doesn’t correct for the horizontal. Things can get confusing, however, when trying to follow a moving subject, because it is instinctive to pan in the same direction in which the subject is moving. However, when using a Rolleiflex TLR to challenge yourself, hone skills, or as a way to shake things up and shoot in a different way, each difficulty or obstacle can be viewed as beneficial. Newcomers to the world of Rolleiflex TLR’s often report having difficulty holding the camera level. My feeling is that when you don’t think too much about holding the camera level, the shots come out perfect. It simply takes a little getting used to. Of course, shooting with a focusing screen that has a grid, or looking for objects such as buildings, curbs, or trees can aid in keeping the camera level. One of the most popular uses for a waist-level finder is shooting ground-level shots, since it is possible to see through the finder without having to lie down on the ground, as with an eye-level finder. However, Rolleiflex TLR waist-level finders can approximate an eye-level finder with eye portals on the front and rear panels that function as a sports finder. While not optimal, with practice this function can prove useful in situations where obstructions prevent waist-level shooting. The advantages of shooting from the solar plexus is that people will look more “heroic,” as the horizon line and related background areas behind a subject will be shifted higher. For shooting from a higher vantage point, try holding the camera above the head while looking up to compose and focus. One can see this technique demonstrated by none other than Fred Astaire in the movie “Funny Face”—a must–see for any Rolleiflex TLR shooter. The Rolleiflex 2.8f, 3.5f, and some later 2.8e and 3.5e models have removable viewfinders. This offers the option of shooting with a chimney finder, and 90-degree or 45-degree eye-level pentaprism, which are heavy but allow photographers to view subjects without the image appearing laterally reversed. Proper Exposure with Rolleiflex 2.8f and 3.5f Cameras The Rolleiflex 2.8f and 3.5f models have removable waist-level finders, with many having coupled exposure meters, as well. The coupling feature means that when one changes the ISO setting, filter compensation dial, shutter speed or aperture, it will affect the light measurement. This is different from earlier, non-coupled meters, used by photographers to obtain an exposure value number they can then use to set the proper exposure. Unfortunately, most Rolleiflexes are more than 50 years old, and their selenium cell meters no longer function or are inaccurate. Even if the exposure meter works, it’s quite easy to learn how to do without it. Simply use the f/16 rule of thumb, also known as the “Sunny 16 Rule,” which states that in bright sunlight the correct exposure will be f/16 with a shutter speed of 1/film ISO. Therefore, with 400-speed film, set the camera to f/16 and 1/400-second. One of the best reasons for learning to set good exposures without a meter is to prepare for shooting rapidly unfolding action sequences that occur in low light, shade, or sun. An example might be at a sporting event that takes place in open and heavily treed areas. Having to spend time taking exposure readings could result in many missed shots. Depth of Field One disadvantage of a TLR, as compared to an SLR in terms of subject viewing, is that you can’t look through the taking lens and see the depth of field for a specific aperture, or see the effect of certain filters such as polarizers. Fortunately, the TLR’s focus knob has a white band that widens as the lens opening is reduced, and that corresponds to the distance scale on the part of the knob closest to the camera. Distances in the white area will be in focus and those outside this area will be out of focus. A photographer would thus focus on the closest and farthest parts of a scene they wanted to be sharp, note the distances and focus on a spot approximately 1/3 in. So, if the near distance was 10' and the far distance 40', you would set the focus to 20' and rotate the aperture dial until the white band included everything between 10 and 40'. When calculating depth of field, bear in mind that: Because the distance scale on some TLRs might require calibration, it’s a good idea to check your scale for accuracy with a tape measure. With practice, one will become skilled at guessing subject distances accurately, and knowing what distance is required for a portrait, full-length, group shot, or landscape. Generally, 10' is a good working distance for a full-length shot. During street shooting, or any photography involving moving subjects, and when shooting quickly is a necessity, the ability to pre-focus can make or break a shot. The theory is that the longer one fiddles with focusing, the more stale a given moment becomes, along with the likelihood a subject will appear self-conscious. Therefore, shooting quickly and accurately is vital. With time, one can shoot candid portraits without the subject being aware of your presence. Using a Polarizing Filter The standard procedure for using a polarizing filter is to look through the filter with the naked eye while rotating the front ring until the desired polarizing effect is achieved. Simply view the scene to be photographed through the filter, rotate the front ring until the desired effect is achieved, note the number on the top of the filter, install the filter, and rotate the ring until the notated number is on top. While this might not be as fast as using a polarizing filter with an SLR, it works quite well. One thing to consider is that many vintage Rolleiflex polarizing filters, which go by the name Rolleipol, suffer from damage such as waviness and fading. The same is often true of dark red filters. Good ones can be sourced, but it may take some effort. The numbers around the perimeter of a Rolleipol are from 1-18. Fortunately, Heliopan still makes bayonet-mounted filters in several sizes, including Bay III size for the 2.8f, and Bay II for the 3.5f model cameras. Using ND and Yellow Filters Many photographers appreciate the benefits of shooting with just one film sensitivity, such as ISO 400, which is good for many low-light situations. The downside is that when shooting with ISO 400 in bright sunlight, the working aperture of f/16 may result in more depth of field than the photographer wants. For this reason, it’s a good practice to carry a 2x or .6 ND (Neutral Density) filter. By using this ND filter, the effective film speed is reduced to ISO 100 and the photographer can shoot at f/8.0, an aperture 2 stops wider than f/16. An alternative to using an ND filter for photographers favoring black-and-white photography is to use a 1.5 Yellow filter, which has the advantage of darkening a blue sky, while also reducing the effective film speed from ISO 400 to 160. The filter factor number on the filter housing matches the number displayed on the filter compensation dial on the bottom left side of the camera. Simply rotate the dial to the number on the filter and the coupled exposure meter will adjust the exposure accordingly. For instance, the number 1 would result in an exposure increase of 1 stop, which correlates to the exposure decrease of 1 stop from using the filter. To achieve the same result when computing exposure with a separate meter, simply adjust the ISO setting by 1 stop. Fear of Flaring Rolleiflex lenses are single-coated and therefore prone to flare—so don’t forget to use a lens hood. By the way, a lens hood will also serve as a protective bumper and help shield the lens from light rain. The benefit of not being multi-coated is that by reducing maximum density, the lens creates an illusion of greater shadow detail. Flare factors to consider include the following. In 99 percent of circumstances, flare and the accompanying lowering of contrast and subject edge detail are issues to be avoided. For artistic purposes, there are occasions when a photographer will want to embrace the fear of flare, especially in strongly backlit situations, to produce cool and dramatic effects. At smaller lens openings, the five aperture blades will yield pentagon-shaped flare that is easily enhanced during printing. Flash Photography For flash usage, the leaf shutter will synch with electronic flash at all speeds, which on a Rolleiflex 2.8f or 3.5f is 1/500 of a second. To trigger a flash, simply connect a synch cord from the flash to the synch outlet on the bottom left of the front of the camera and set the flash synch lever on the upper right to X for electronic or M for bulb flash. The synch outlet on a Rolleiflex TLR has a lever that will lock when used with a Rolleiflex-specific synch cord. Small flash units may be attached to an optional third-party cold shoe that is connected to the bayonet mount on the taking lens, held with a bracket screwed to the tripod mounting screw underneath the camera or Rolleifix quick release, or handheld. The benefit of shooting with a handheld flash is that a photographer can aim the light in more directions. Summary Shooting film with a vintage Rolleiflex TLR is a great way to return to or learn the basics of photography. The knowledge acquired from film shooting and developing can be readily applied to digital work, and vice versa. And for photographers interested in building a distinctive body of work, shooting with a specific camera and format for several years has a good chance of producing the desired result. If it’s fun, challenging, and feels right, you’re on the right track. The Wonderful World of Rolleiflex TLR Photography is a three-part series. If you missed Part 1, Buying a Used Rolleiflex, or Part 2, Loading Film, just click the links.
The Power of a Print I am constantly blown away by the power of what we do with light and the little black box that captures it. Each day, we arm ourselves with the latest and greatest cameras, lenses, speedlights, reflectors, tripods, and other photographic accessories. We create. When the shoot is over we return to our computers with memory cards full of vision and inspiration. We download our creative triumphs. We back them up. We tweak them. We edit them. We retouch them. We post and share them on social media. We email them to the client. Do we ever print them? Exciting stuff capturing images! But when was the last time you printed one? It’s not a Photograph Until It’s a Print I remember in the earlier days of film when everything got printed. Good or bad. Overexposed or underexposed. Didn’t matter. You got to the end of the roll and you got your prints. You brought them home and some, if not most of them went into an album. CNA used to have the booboo bin, where you only paid for the prints you wanted. Once in a while something really awesome came along and it got printed again, this time bigger so it could be framed and put on the wall. Prints were physical, tangible proof of a memory. A moment in time. If you were a professional there were contact sheets. Then proofs. Then prints. Much of what we do today as professionals is handled electronically, but even as professional photographers, each and every one of us shoots for ourselves once in a while. Zanzibar, A1 Print Above The Fireplace The Print Take a minute and try estimating how many gigabytes or terabytes worth of images you have stored on your phone, your tablet, your hard drives, and your cloud storage combined. Now think about how many of them you have actually ever held, printed in your hands. How many of them have you ever looked at from further away than the distance between your eyes and your monitor? Zanzibar When digital photography first took hold, “nothing beats the look of film,” was a common refrain among the skeptics. At the time they were right. But when today’s digital cameras are paired with great print labs, the results can be pretty damn amazing. You may be editing on an incredible monitor, but you’re still only looking at your stuff constrained from about two feet away. If you want the most solid indicator of just how good that shot is, get it printed big and hang it on a wall. Look at it up close. Look at it from the side. Look at it from 3-5m away. Make it the first thing people see when they walk into a room. Zanzibar A1 Print After Collection I know that a lot of you already know what I’m talking about. If you don’t, I challenge you to pick one photo from your archives. Just one to start. Print it big, A1 at least, but preferably bigger A0 or more if you can. Hold it in your hands. Put it on the wall. Step back and tell me I’m wrong. The absolute best way to appreciate the full detail of your image, the life that you breathed into it, and its effect on people who view it is to print it. The bigger the better. ‘If they aren’t photographs, then what are they?” As long as they are happily dancing around inside your devices as ones and zeroes, they are nothing but image files. I realize it might be a matter of semantics and that it sounds like I’m just twisting words around, but what have you really created if it only exists on a hard drive, a timeline, or a photo stream? Two hours after you’ve posted an image on Facebook, it’s been replaced by other content, depending on which forum you posting to. So much of photography has changed so drastically in its relatively short history. The digital age ripped the door off its hinges and changed our industry forever. We can debate the pros and cons of those changes, but one very important thing remains the same. Prints are the great equalizer. There is nowhere to hide. Nothing to interpret or spin. No better judge of your work or legacy. It’s just you and that tangible piece of a memory. Zanzibar, A1 In The Lounge All my images are available for purchase as prints. Digital images can be used under license agreement. Should you wish to purchase or license my images, please click here for more information, so I can assist you with your needs. The power of a printed photograph. Let it speak to you!