Busy Weekend

As photography is my passion and not my living the actual time that I can devote to it dictated by the working week. Occasionally that means that the weekends can get a little crowded. The one just gone is no exception with four separate photographic outings over the two days. I intend to write each one up as a separate blog post over the next week, but here is a teaser of the “sneak peaks”

The lovely Megan from Saturdays shoot at Palmer Heads
The lovely Megan from Saturdays shoot at Palmer Heads
Sunday Morning "The Color Run" in Upper Hutt
Sunday Morning “The Color Run” in Upper Hutt
The Colonial and Mrs Hudson from the Wellington Steampunk Group
The Colonial and Mrs Hudson from the Wellington Steampunk Group
Jade looking lovely in a bridal makeup shoot on Sunday afternoon
Jade looking lovely in a bridal makeup shoot on Sunday afternoon



Managing the workflow

In the days before digital only professional shooters working for newspapers and magazines, and wedding photographers, would have been concerned with planning how they were going to process their images. For the rest of us it was very simple. We had a 36 exposure film and once it was shot you sent to the lab for processing. A couple of days later you had (hopefully) 36 images back.

Skip forward a little over 15 years and now we have cards capable of holding in excess of 5,000 images and when you couple that with a spray & pray attitude to shooting then an average shoot could generate a lot of images.

In this blog post I am going to run through my workflow in the hope that it may be of some use to readers. By no means is this the perfect workflow and others may have different suggestions, all of which are quite valid. In reality workflow is about finding what process works best for you.

The flow below is from a typical model shoot for which I will shoot between 100 to 200 images, or for a wedding somewhere between 500 and 1000 images will be in the order. In the contracts that I sign I commit to give the other party completed images within 4 weeks, and I generally give them a high and low resolution version of the image. Usually I will also produce a sneak peak within 7 days of the shoot for posting in social media.

My workflow actually starts with the ethos that where possible I will try to get it right in camera. This means that once I get the model into position and even before I take the first image I looking for distractions or items that I may want to fix up later. Whil070212_2113_ShootingPeo4.pnge a lot of things are relatively simple to fix in the computer, the reality is that even a simple fix taking only 1 minute to fix in Photoshop adds up to a lot time if you have to apply it to 60 images. It is far better to spend 5 minutes at the shoot getting it right.

For a model shoot I will generally shoot everything onto one card but for a wedding I will use a separate card for each part of the service as well as using the second slot of my D600 to replicate the other card. This is just a safety procedure.

So after the shoot then this is the workflow:

  1. I download all the images from camera to computer. If the shoot only involves a single card then this will be done via Lightroom (LR) import, however if it is a larger shoot (such as a wedding) I will use Bridge to load the images from the card, and then import into LR from the saved location. Generally I will create a new folder for the shoot and save all the RAW files into a subfolder. The LR import has a preset in it that adds all the copyright material. Also in order to keep my images better defined I have separate LR Catalogues for models, weddings and paid commercial work. 
  2. Once the import is done I ensure that a backup is taken of the drives. 
  3. I will then use the LR grid view and go through the images very quickly and look for any that have obvious errors with them. These get flagged as rejected and once the first review is complete are deleted from the machine. In the whole process these are the only images that are actually deleted from the machine. 
  4. I will then go through the images again and this time I will use the rating system. I will set the LR filter to display only those images without a rating set, so that I can jump around the shoot if I want. Images that I believe are suitable for editing receive a 3. Those that I am unsure of will receive a 2 and those that I do not wish to proceed with get a 1. 
  5. Once this process is complete I will then change the filter to only show those with a 3 and I will look at the set as a whole. If there are images that are very similar then I may downgrade some to a 2. If I feel that a particular look needs some additional photos then I will go back to the 2 selection and elevate one. For a model shoot this is generally quite a quick process however with a wedding it will take longer as I need to ensure that my total set captures the day and the people who attended. 
  6. Once I have selected my images for editing I will start the processing. Generally I will start with global setting such as exposure which if I adjust on one image I will then generally apply to all of the images from its set by synching the adjustments. After these global setting has been done then I will work on each using the other adjustment tools. I generally do not crop the images in LR because I prefer to do that in Photoshop (PS). 
  7. When the LR editing of an image is complete I will change it’s ranking to a 4. That way if I do not complete all the images in one session I can use the LR filters to show me where I am up to. 
  8. I will now export the images as full size jpg’s into a folder called “Finals” and in the process change the names and generally have “HR” at the start of it. This stands for High-Resolution and is the set of images intended to be printed. I will them open each document in PS and do any adjustments that I think are needed such as removing blemishes or objects I don’t want in the image. I will set the crop tool to 6in by 4in and then crop the images. I save them at Quality 12. 
  9. I now go back into LR and import in the High Resolution Images. I then select them all and Export them but this time I precede them with “LR” for Low Resolution. I will set the JPG quality to around 75% at 96dpi and I will set the physical size to be a maximum of 800 pixels on the longest length. 
  10. Once the files are complete I open these images in PS and run an action against them that adds a border and my watermark to the image. These are saved at quality 8. 
  11. Finally the images are burned to CD.

Group Shoot

While most of my photography is done with a bare minimum of help I find that from time to time it is great to join up with other people and do a group shoot. These enable you to work with a large number of models as well to see other photographers in action.

At the end of February I joined a shoot organised by make up artist Grace Krishnan, photographers Kevin Nj and Sharyn Reeve, and models Grace, Jasmine and Stacey.

Grace did most of the arrangements for the day which was no mean feat as she was holidaying in Australia at the time and only arrived back in the country last on the night before. She was then up by 7.00am to start makeup on the models. On top of that she loaned the girls their outfits.

We had chosen Kaitoke Regional Park for the shoot. We knew that the models would be ready around noon so we needed a location that offered us shade. The contrast between ball gowns and forest also appealed.

The day went without too much hitches. We started in the forest area and then moved to the river bank. The models then got changed and while Sharyn shot Grace in the river I worked with the other two.

A group of school boys added some entertainment at one point as well. Below is a selection of images from the day.

Jasmine in one of my favourite shots of the day
Jasmine in one of my favourite shots of the day

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Stacey and jasmine in a change of style
Stacey and jasmine in a change of style

It just got harder

In December 2012 I wrote a blog post about the perils of people using Facebook as their sole marketing tool. This came after news that the company had changed the search algorithm so that only about 15% of posts would appear in newsfeeds (unless you paid for them).

Today came another post suggesting that Facebook intends to push this down to as low as 1% but at the same time allowing more content to come into feeds from advertising. Now Facebook is a publically listed company and it has to make a living so there is nothing wrong with it wanting to make a return for the billions invested in it. There are some real issues with this change though. Firstly there was a recent video that showed that many of the clicks that people were paying for were actually fake, and so where the number of “likes” that a page was receiving. On top of that many of the photographers with facebook pages (myself included) have been blinded by wanting as many likes as possible and have encourage other photographers to “Like” our page.

The net result is that as the number of people who will see your post in decreased by Facebook then the greater chance that those who see you post will not be interested in the material anyway. This just further the arguments that I put up in December 2012 that if you are trying to promote your photographic business then Facebook needs to only be part of the solution.

It can’t be that difficult, can it?

One of the great joys that many kids (and quite a few adults) share is blowing the seeds from a dandelion head. When I got my macro lens I did attempt several shots of the delicate arrangement designed to spread the seeds on the wind. Now static shots were great but I wanted to capture something better. A shot of the seeds actually leaving the stem.

Fortunately my wife agreed to provide the wind power provided that she was not in the shot and a local field provided us with a fine selection of specimens that were carefully brought home. Expectations were high that this would be very simple. After all it can’t be that difficult to shot.

In reality it was quite difficult. Firstly I should have realised that the seeds only come off when they are ripe or if you hit them with a gale. My wife was not generating enough strength in her blow and so we resorted to a hair blower. Unfortunately this worked a little two week. They tended to bend in the airflow rather than come off or move around which meant it was out of focus. Those that did come off simply appeared as a blur in the image.

DD-1I quickly determined that I needed to ramp up the shutter speed and we quickly got above the 1/200s that was the synch speeds on strobes. Add to that the fact that macro lens have very tiny depth of field that it was impossible to shoot them inside against the simple background I had set up. Bringing in a halogen light even didn’t help.

DD-2In the end it became obvious that we needed to shoot outside and my daughter took over the blowing duties. We finally managed to get three useable shots but they were still not as good as I would have liked.

The final shot taken outside
The final shot taken outside

As a footnote after the shoot someone told me that the easiest way to get the seeds to come off the head is not actually to blow across it, but to blow into the shaft (which is hollow).

Glamorous looks and guitars

In January I answered a casting call on model mayhem where a lady by the name of Hailee was looking for a series of images for her portfolio that involved her guitar. We arranged to meet over coffee and worked out that she was looking for two completely different looks.

The first was a glamorous look in the style of Dita Von Tease, and the second was a series of shots with the guitar that were inspired by a series of shots from the 60’s involving Bridget Bardow.

I arranged to use a friends studio in Wellington and Ivy Gordon agree to do hair & makeup.

While I am really pleased with the results I learned a big lesson from the session that adequate time needs to be planned for hair & makeup. The actual time for shooting ended up being rather squeezed and so it ended being more rushed than I tend to like.LR-Hailee-2 LR-Hailee-22 LR-Hailee-42 LR-Hailee-44

Back to the waterfall

As I mentioned in a previous post, (Rocks, Waterfalls and beautiful girl) when I asked for models interested in shooting at the waterfall I was so overwhelmed with responses that I was able to split the shoot into two sessions. Furthermore I decided that the second shoot was to involve two models as I believed the pool areas was large enough.

From the group that had originally applied I picked out two favourites and was about to settle on details when a fellow photographer pointed out that one of the girls was only 16. Now for a fully clothed shoot this would not have been an issue but I had made it quite clear in the casting that this was involving fabric lengths and that I did not want underwear under them. She had never mentioned her age at all. I then discovered that the other model was only 17 so she was now out of contention.  After looking at their images I decided to go with Eileen and Heidi.

That selection did not last long as the day after I met with Heidi she texted me to say that she had damaged her foot and even sent the x-ray to prove it. That was ok. Kat replaced Heidi.

Then the weather gods decided to intervene. The shoot was planned for the Sunday afternoon. It started raining on Saturday morning and continued all day. Sunday morning continued with misty rain and the temperature struggled to get above 15 degrees.  I visited the site and while the water had not much higher than the Friday, everything was wet and so I decided that it would just turn into a cold and miserable experience for everyone. The shoot would have to rescheduled for a week.

Eileen could still make it but Kat could not. So back to the list and after several others who could not make it, I settled on Renee who I had shot with before.

Everything was arranged for a meet at a location where people would not get lost and we managed to make it to the waterfall. The first series of shots were taken individually and involved the girls in fabric drapes. This went quite well although the girls were not impressed when they found a very large spider on one of the rocks.

Eileen on the top rock
Eileen on the top rock
Renee in a 5 metre lace wrap. We had to careful that it did not get too close of the water because the weight could have been an issue.
Renee in a 5 metre lace wrap. We had to careful that it did not get too close of the water because the weight could have been an issue.

For the second shot I wanted to have the girls together in the pool fully dressed. I had estimated that the pool was only about a metre deep so this should not have been an issue. That estimate proved to be way off and with an estimate that it was over their heads we changed the shoot. Both girls were real troopers as the water was very cold.LR16022014-29LR16022014-34