“Your Best Shot of the Summer” – Image Contest Recap

18-Pix-by-Robyn

Last month, many of you participated in our contest called “Your Best Shot of the Summer.” The theme encouraged you to share your most compelling, inspiring and fun shots from your summer season. Wow, we were amazed by the incredible images that you shared!

Tennessee-based photographer Robyn McIsaac won the contest with her heartfelt image entitled “Little Miss America.” For her creativity and efforts, Robyn won some sweet ShootQ prizes! But more important, she won the hearts of many viewers who saw her winning image.

Since ALL of your images inspired us – and your friends and families – we wanted to encourage even more discussion and sharing. So, we’ve created this blog post for you!

The winning image by Robyn McIsaac of Pix by Robyn

The runner up! Photo by Joshua Frith of Joshua Dwain Photography

Photo by Love and Life Photography

Photo by Stephanie Hunter-Drago of Stephanie …

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Image Contest: Submit and Get a Chance to Win a Free Year of ShootQ

Photo: Joe Buissink

Submit Your “Best Shot of the Summer,” and Get a Chance to Win $1,958 in Prizes.

 

It’s easy to enter. Just send your “best shot of the summer” to contests@shootq.com between Sept. 15 and Sept. 21, 2013 (web-res jpg format). Please include your address (city and state) with your submission. Once the submission period closes, we will upload all eligible submissions to an album on the ShootQ Facebook page and promote the voting period, from Sept. 22 through Sept. 28, 2013. Share with friends, family and colleagues to garner “likes” for your submission. The image with the most “likes” by the end of the voting period wins!

Make sure you include a logo or watermark in the lower right-hand corner of your image to get more exposure for your studio. We also encourage you to share the call for entries Facebook post and tag ONE photographer friend who inspires or …

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Why Every Photographer Should Lose “Weight” by Michael Maganis

why-every-photographer-should-lose-weight

If you do wedding photography year after year, the physical labor takes a toll on your body. Photographers often carry multiple camera bodies, along with multiple lenses, flashes/studio lights, tripod/monopods and other accessories. Wedding after wedding, we’re carrying fifity to sixty pounds of equipment – plus we’re on our feet all day long!

I remember carrying all my gear and hiking half a mile to a mountain-top ceremony in Muir Beach. It was exhausting, and I knew I couldn’t carry on like this for years. So, for the past few years, I’ve focused on shedding equipment weight and improving efficiency, while delivering the same quality (or better) results.

Here’s what my toolbox looked like in 2010:

Bodies: Nikon D3, 2 Nikon D700, D300, D90

Lenses: 24-70, 70-200, 17-35, 35, 50, 85, 105 Macro, 18-55, 19-35

Flashes: 3 SB-900, SB-800 and SB-600

Accessories: Tripods, monopods and other accessories

As you can see, I had overlapping lenses and camera …

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On Location Lighting With Speedlites Part 1 – Portraits by Casey Fatchett

© Casey Fatchett Photography - www.fatchett.com

I like to travel light. Maybe it’s because I spent many years working without an assistant. Also, as I grow older, I don’t really like carrying a lot of equipment. You know what I mean, right? Aches and pains aren’t fun. So, instead of hauling hundreds of pounds of studio lighting equipment I decided that I would create a system for using my speedlites whenever I had to go on location – whether it’s for weddings, portraits, headshots, or fashion shoots.

Here’s what I use on my shoots:

• Speedlite (or two, depending on the size of the group or if you want a rim light) • Wireless Trigger (I use a Pocket Wizard Mini TT1 and Flex TT5) • Light Modifier (beauty dish, softbox, umbrella, etc.) • Light Stand (or even just a monopod). I have even held the flash away from the camera with one hand in a pinch. The most important thing …

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A Wedding Photographer Reviews the Leica Monochrom by Chris Williams

“Be quick, but don’t hurry.” – John Wooden, former UCLA basketball coach

I love this quote and I think it fits perfectly with photography.

I started out with Rangefinders in wedding photography. Partly because those are the tools I had but also because I loved the intimacy I could achieve with a Leica due to it’s small size.

I’ll probably get some flack for this from film lovers (hey, I’m one too) but with their new Monochrom  - black and white 18mp digital Rangefinder, Leica has put the “Tri-X” back into digital photography. Perhaps they’ve even put the tried-and-true love of black-and-white back into wedding photography.

I think there’s a different thought process with black-and-white photography versus color photography. With the Monochrom, I don’t have the mindset, “I’ll just convert to black-and-white during post processing,” which can sometimes be lazy. I find myself taking time to think about the image before creating it, just …

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How to Make One Kid’s Year by Just Taking a Picture by Jeff Inglis

Jane Goodrich has a simple question: “Can I actually make one kid’s year just by taking a picture?”

Turns out she can – and you can help too, by supporting her work and sick children who need us.

Jane loves photographing children so much, she’s made a career of it. She specializes in portraiture of newborns and children. And as an identical twin herself, she particularly enjoys making images of twins. (Turns out parents of twins are often reluctant to have a photo session, fearing it’ll be twice as crazy as regular studio appointments; Jane makes house calls to help simplify things for families.)

Lately, though, she’s engaged in a project that has become almost as dear to her heart as her DNA-matching sister.

Jane had known for years that her grandmother (and namesake) died of lymphoma in the 1950s. (It’s a type of blood cancer.) In the late 1990s, the daughter of a …

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The Canon 1DX: Geek-Out Product Review by Chris Humphreys

Rather than beat around the bush with a long, meandering introduction and make you meticulously read all the way to the conclusion, I’ll just come right out and say it.

The Canon 1DX is the best camera I’ve ever used. Hands down. By far.

Ok, now that that is out of the way, I’ll get down to a few of the specifics — the things I love the most about it and a few of the things I wish Canon would fix/change. While I’ve been very impressed by the 1Dx, I firmly believe there is no such thing as the perfect camera and the 1DX is no exception.

Canon 1Dx, 1/640th, f2, ISO 1,000, 50mm

 

A few words about the nature of this review. First, this review won’t get into pixel peeping. There have been plenty of those out there, and a quick google search will net you plenty of 100% crop comparisons examining the high ISO performance of the 1DX versus the D4 or the 5D Mark III. Second, I’m not endorsed by Canon. They didn’t give me a free camera nor did they ask me to review their gear. Third, this review is not intended to be by any means exhaustive or to be loaded with technical analysis.

Canon 1Dx, 1/1600th, f2.8, ISO 2,500, 400mm

Rather, when I got my hands on the camera in mid July, I held off the temptation to write a quick “initial impressions” review after a few days worth of use. Instead, I wanted to really get familiar with the camera, use it in a variety of different environments and see how it did over several months of use after the initial high of having a new (and expensive) piece of gear wore off. In the just under two months that I’ve had the camera, I’ve shot over 40,000 images between 5 weddings, 2 NFL football games, numerous portrait sessions, a commercial shoot, and a multitude of MLB baseball games. In other words, plenty of time to establish a few opinions.

Canon 1Dx, 1/200th, f2, ISO 1,600, 50mm The Good:

The first thing that probably any 1DX owner will tell you about the camera is that it is highly customizable. Almost to a fault (notice I said, “almost”). Pick up two different 1DX cameras belonging to two different owners and the cameras are probably set up wildly differently. For example, on one of the cameras you may find the “set” button located in the middle of the wheel on the back of the camera changes the camera’s ISO settings, while another owner may have the same button designated to change the camera’s white balance, picture style, open the menu, playback the last image, or a myriad of other options. In the “custom controls” menu on the camera there are 11 different buttons that can be designated to control a variety of functions that you set up directly in the menu system. Ultimately, each photographer can set the camera to function exactly the way they want it to and designate what buttons they want to control which features.

One of the great features with the new 1DX I haven’t heard talked about much is how Canon has incorporated much of the owners manual in the camera menu itself. Even with all the different customizations available, I’ve rarely had to open the 400 page owners manual. With many of the different options available in the menu, you can hit the “info” button on the camera and a quick explanation of the different options available pops up conveniently on the screen.

This is particularly helpful navigating the different AF settings available on the 1DX. Canon organizes the different main settings on the 1DX into different “cases.” You select a case based on the subject you’ll be shooting and how you want the camera to react and anticipate that subject’s movement. Rather than go into each of the cases in great detail here, Canon has put up a very helpful guide to understanding the 1DX’s autofocus settings here.

Overall, my experience of the 1DX autofocus has been great. The camera consistently achieves a lock with the subject very quickly and tracks the subject exceptionally well, rarely recording out of focus frames even while shooting at 12 frames per second. While I’ve experimented with most of the different AF cases on the 1DX, generally I’ve stuck to the Case 1 which is meant to be an all around general purpose setting. Most wedding shooters would have little reason to ever change off of Case 1 and for the weddings that I’ve photographed, the camera’s AF performance has been nothing short of superb. Portrait photographers might make use of Case 6 which covers “Subjects that change speed and move erratically” when perhaps photographing young children playing or running around on a playground.

Canon 1Dx, 1/500th, f1.2, ISO 250, 50mm Canon 1Dx, 1/500th, f4.5, ISO 160, 16mm

 

As for sports, Case 1 seems to cover baseball quite well, though baseball in my opinion is hardly the place to put a camera’s AF system to the ultimate test. Football has been slightly trickier and I’m still playing around trying to find the best particular settings. While shooting football, there are times when I want the camera to continue to track a subject regardless of what obstacles may come between the camera and the subject (case 2), then other particular moments, when I want it to “instantly focus on subjects suddenly entering the AF point” (case 3), and others when I want to set the camera to be optimized for subjects that may move erratically in any direction (case 5). In my experience, photographing football, the AF performance has been “good”, but not exceptional, however I’m willing to give the camera the benefit of the doubt and expect that as we get farther along into the season I’ll figure out best how to set the camera up to get even better results.

Canon 1Dx, 1/1600th, f2.8, ISO 2,000, 400mm Canon 1Dx, 1/2500th, f2.8, ISO 4,000, 400mm Canon 1Dx, 1/2000th, f3.2, ISO 1,600, 400mm

 

One instance where it’s clear Canon has listened to their pro customers is the dual CF card slots. You can set the camera up to automatically switch from recording to one card to the other when the first card is full, or you can have it record to both cards simultaneously which is how I’ve had it set up. Soon after I bought the 1DX, I bought a 64 GB CF card and at weddings, put that card into the second CF card slot while I record to 4 and 8 GB in the first slot. When I come home from the wedding, I download all of the wedding images from the single 64 GB card (I have yet to shoot more than 64 GB at a single wedding). However, if the 64 GB card were to ever become corrupted or lost, I’d have the 4 and 8 GB cards as a backup.

The display on the 1DX is also a major upgrade. With over a million pixels crammed into 3.2 inches, the images you see on the back give you a much better impression of what the image will look like when you download the images into the computer. Even the color is surprisingly accurate. Recently at a football game a fellow shooter and I were comparing images on the back of the camera and we both noticed how much more accurate the color was from the 1DX compared to the Nikon D4. While this matters more to some photographers than it does to others, to me, it’s helpful to have a camera that gives you as accurate an idea as possible of how the images will look when you download it onto the computer and the 1DX does this better than any other Canon camera I’ve used.

While I’ve already stated I didn’t want to get into pixel peeping, it would be shameful to not mention the high ISO performance the 1DX offers. To me, ISO performance is a largely relative subject matter. What is “acceptable” noise to some is completely unacceptable to others. That being said, I find images shot up to ISO 6,400 to be extremely clean and useable for wedding and portrait purposes. Images shot even at 12,800 look great if they are exposed properly. In the two months that I’ve used the camera, I’ve found few situations where I’ve needed to push the camera much higher that.

Canon 1Dx 1/320th, f3.5, ISO 8,000, 200mm The Bad:

As for some of the things I wish were different. Without a doubt the biggest flaw in my mind is the transition from having the focus points being illuminated black instead of red, like how they were with every camera Canon had produced before the 5D Mark III. Much has been written on this point, on forums and other articles, and while I have my fingers crossed that Canon may at some point introduce a firmware fix for this, I’m not entirely convinced one is coming (or at least one that will completely satisfy most 1DX and 5D Mark III users).

Canon 1Dx, 1/1600th, f2.8, ISO 2,500, 400mm

 

Moving on, the battery life on the camera isn’t wonderful. This is particularly the case when writing to multiple CF cards. I’ve found that shooting 2,500 RAW images to two CF cards will drain about 80% of my battery. Obviously, however, carrying multiple batteries particularly for long shoots (like weddings) solves this issue. On the note of batteries, while Canon has come out with a new LP-E4N battery for the 1DX, the older LP-E4 batteries for the 1D Mark IV, 1D Mark III, and 1Ds Mark III also work.

Canon 1Dx, 1/2000th, f2.8, ISO 1,250, 400mm

 

One feature that honestly sounds a little cooler than it probably is is the 14 fps. While it is true that the camera will shoot that fast, it’s important to note that both the exposure and the AF are fixed when shooting in that mode. That obviously limits the number of situations where that mode would be useful. Also, keep in mind that the 1DX will only record JPEG images and not RAW images when shooting at 14 fps.

In conclusion, the 1DX is a major step forward. While some studio and commercial shooters may lament the drop in megapixels from 21.1 (on the 1Ds Mark III) to 18.1 on the 1DX, the camera seems to be a wonderful combination of features and specs for the vast majority of sports, wedding, and editorial photographers. Clearly, the $6,800 price tag is a big jump up from the 5D series and even from the 1D Mark IV.

So, is it worth it? That’s a question only each photographer can answer for themselves.

Canon 1Dx, 1/250th, f2.8, ISO 6,400, 90mm

 

Ultimately, the camera has been worth the investment for me. The combination of the revamped AF system, the wonderful low ISO performance, the customizable controls, and the addition of the dual CF card slots, added to the ruggedness and weather sealing that has always been the hallmark of the 1D line makes this camera a photographer’s dream tool.

About Chris Humphreys

Based out of Denver, CO, Chris Humphreys travels across Colorado and the rest of the United States photographing weddings for discerning couples who want their weddings captured in such a way as to be true to who they are.

Chris has been blessed to have been recognized by several WPJA awards and to be named one of the top 15 wedding photojournalists in the world. Chris is also a sought after speaker and teacher for other photographers.

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A Real Life Review of Pocketwizards by Doug Levy

This started as a real life review of Pocketwizards.

Basically it said, “Pocketwizards are bulletproof and if you know the tricks, they work over 95% of the time.” And then last weekend happened. Over the course of two weddings, three of my eight wizards broke.

One of them – a Mini TT1 model – broke during the rainiest and most humid wedding of the year. I accidentally overtightened the plastic shoe and by the time I realized it, the humidity and overcranking combined to cause the Pocketwizard‘s plastic shoe to jump off its track. Over the next day and a half, I managed to drop a Flex TT5 model, snapping the plastic off of its shoe, and then the battery door on another Flex TT5 snapped off completely. I’m still not sure how that happened.

Thankfully, I had backup gear, and aside from some minor frustrations, the shoots continued without a hitch. I shipped the …

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How to Select the Right Light and Cameras for Every Shoot by Jim Jordan

All photo shoots were not created equal. To select the best camera equipment for every shoot, consider a few important details. Here’s my gear selection process:

Determine the shoot location Identify the lighting scenario Research the subject thoroughly Storyboard the desired mood and select the lighting that will best convey that feeling. Carefully consider which camera body and lenses are necessary to capture different angles desired for each shot.

Controlled Light in Studio or On Location

If I am shooting in studio or I simply want more controlled light on a location shoot, I have a variety of lights that I pack. Much depends on the mood I am trying to achieve. I use Broncolor and Profoto heads and packs as my main light sources and use a variety of softboxes, umbrellas and diffusers to mold and shape the light to my liking. I sometimes use strip lights because they produce a very narrow output of light that illuminates the background and can really enhance an image.

Shaping Light

When working to shape light, I primarily use a Broncolor Para Umbrella for shooting beauty shots and close-ups. It creates contrast and shows detail, but the light is still soft, so less imperfections show up on the model’s skin, especially compared to direct light that’s not flattering.  In other words, the light is still focused – but never harsh. The umbrella is deep, which helps create an almost 3-dimensional effect that causes the light to gently wrap around the subject.

Occasionally, I want to produce an image in which the light is highly-concentrated. That’s when I pack my Elinchrom Octabank. If the lighting is too harsh or if I want to show less detail on the subject when using an Elinchrom, I put a diffuser panel on it to create a softer, more flattering light that shows less imperfections and detail.

Maximizing Natural Light

I love using natural light when I shoot. California SunBounce has been my go-to gear for years when it comes to reflectors and scrims. The size of the reflector I use depends on the shot I am trying to get. If I am taking a beauty shot or head shot, I use the SunBounce Micro-Mini and Mini reflectors. The amount of light I’m trying to reflect will determine the color of the reflector I select. Always keep in mind – silver bounces more light than white. If I want to simultaneously reflect light AND add warmth to the tone of the light, I use the “zebra” colored reflectors, which contain stripes of white to reflect the light and gold to warm the tone.

Selecting the right camera body for the shoot

Lighting equipment is only one piece of the gear puzzle. When it comes to camera bodies, I typically use either a Leica S2 or my Canon 5D Mark III. The sensor on the Leica is over 50% larger than the full-frame sensor on my Canon; the resolution is twice as high. This means the S2 produces even greater detail than the Canon. It also means that images shot on the Leica can be enlarged while keeping more information and detail than an image from my Canon, enlarged at the same size. The Canon 5D Mark III, on the other hand, has a shutter speed that’s faster than the Leica, which is great when I’m trying to quickly capture emotion and movement. The Canon also has a lower resolution than the Leica, which means that the size of each image is smaller than images produced by the Leica. Thus, they take less time to download, take up less space in my archive, and are still large enough to blow up to billboard size if need be!

Nuts-and-Bolts

There is specific equipment I pack and carry for every shoot. I always use high-speed Lexar memory cards because they are incredibly reliable and process images rapidly. I bring my MacBook Pro with me and tether my camera to it to download images as I shoot them. I always have my portable Drobo backup system filled with 3 terabyte Seagate hard drives with me to back up the images as I shoot them, to safeguard against data loss. All of my gear is transported in durable Tamrac bags because they keep my equipment safe in all settings and scenarios.

Live Demos of Equipment

I’m hosting one-day workshops on September 5 and 6, and I’ll demonstrate how to use each equipment item mentioned here. With a live fashion shoot, we’ll dive into selecting the right equipment, using it on set and reviewing the results. As an added bonus, Leica will be providing S-System camera bodies and lenses for test driving! Check out my bio below for more info for The Photo Life readers.

About Jim Jordan

 Born in sunny Southern California, Jim was inspired to create from a very young age. He traveled abroad as a hair & makeup artist, working with actors and actresses for fashion magazines and photographers. Then, Jim picked up the camera and created a style of his own. His work can be seen in such magazines as Interview, Elle, Marie Claire, J. Crew and Vogue. Check out more of Jim’s images on his website and blog.

Photographers who hear about his hands-on workshop through The Photo Life get a 50 percent discount; simply visit this site, click on the “Workshop Registration” tab and then click “Workshops” to enter the store. Once you are in the store you can drag and drop the item with the note “For Brooks Institute of Photography Students Only” for either the September 5th or September 6th workshop into your shopping bag. When you are required to enter a student ID, type in “The Photo Life” and the workshop will be added into your bag. Feel free to email workshops@jimjordanphotography.com with any questions.

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What Every Photographer Should Know about Pinterest by The Photo Life

Here at The Photo Life, we don’t believe in secret formulas or overnight success stories. We believe the only right way of doing business is the one that serves your unique clients and grows your business the old-fashioned way. Hard work and happy clients are your foundation for success. Different systems work for different studios, so the key is finding one that suits your clients and your business! That’s why we’re eager to bring you timely topics that spark debate. Voice your opinion by commenting below!

It’s the best thing since whiteboards in college dorms! It’s a breeding ground for copyright infringers!

Those strong statements sum up the debate currently raging like a wildfire among creative professionals. Two things are certain: neither Pinterest nor the debate about its value are going away. Just the opposite is true.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve heard about Pinterest’s seemingly stratospheric social power. Nearly 1.5 million unique …

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