19 February 2008

Iryna Stevens photo shoot

Update: some of the photos from the shoot are now on iStockphoto. Click here to view my portfolio on iStockphoto.com.

In an earlier post I mentioned that I had planned my first photo shoot and I am pleased to say that it took place over the weekend. It was a fantastic experience; I learnt a lot in those two hours, made some mistakes, and took 479 photos! Sure I was nervous, I didn't have any experience of using studio lighting equipment, but it wasn't like the model was a wannabe model either - it was Ukraine model Iryna Stevens! I mean, this girl has done it all, and here's me with the opportunity to photograph her.

It will take some time to go through all the photos, so check back soon, but for now here's a sneak peak at one of the photos from the session.

Iryna Stevens

I think the shoot went well considering it was my first time (darn, was trying so hard not to say that!); I'm not sure yet, but I reckon I got some cool photos and hopefully a few that I can add to my iStockphoto portfolio.

So what did I learn from my experience?

Being a little nervous I completely forgot some of the things I should have been checking as the shoot progressed. For starters, check and double check the lighting - without a properly lit model all that effort is for nothing. I temporarily messed up the lighting, where they were pretty much pointed in all the wrong angles - I can't believe I did that, but that will teach me not to rush next time.

Secondly, and without my realising, I must have turned a dial by mistake and the shutter speed was lowered from 250 to 160! I hadn't noticed until about 100 photos later. :(
To be fair, most of the photos are sharp anyway, so it was mostly the exposure that suffered a little. Messing up the overall lighting was much worse.

And finally, I took along some gray cards to use as my benchmark for proper white balance later - and did I use one? No! It completely slipped my mind and I only realised once I was packing up. Note: it was used before the session though...when I arrived at the studio I heard Iryna behind a set of doors and curtain give out a little scream when a wasp found it's way into the studio. I offered the gray card pack I took along as a means to remove the little beast!

So what about the camera and lens?

The Canon EOS 40D and the 24-70mm f2.8 L USM lens were perfect. Nuff said.

6 February 2008

Canon EOS 40D hands on, sort of

It's been an interesting fortnight for me in the photography area; firstly, I've traded in my trusty Canon 400D for a Canon EOS 40D, which launched back end of 2007. Secondly, and following on from my previous post about the Nikon D300, I've now got my hands on a Canon 24-70mm f/2.8 L USM lens.

So why did I settle for the Canon 40D and not the (just announced) 400D replacement - the Canon 450D? There are many reasons, too many to list here so, briefly, here are just some of the reasons:

1. improved AF system - cross-type AF points for F5.6 or faster lenses
2. new Digic III processor
3. 14-bit A/D converter and 14-bit RAW
4. interchangeable focusing screens
5. a larger LCD monitor (now 3.0")
6. live view - great for studio photography
7. faster continuous shooting (6.5 fps)
8. bigger and easier to handle than 400D/450D
9. partial weatherproof body
10. magnesium alloy body
11. superior noise control at high isos
12. a larger and brighter viewfinder

I could go on, really, but for an in-depth review make your way over to the excellent dpreview website to find out all there is to know about the 40D.

As for my own experiences, I've yet to run it through a thorough test - although I am looking forward to a trip to Europe soon so that will be a great opportunity to see use the 40D extensively. More on that soon, remember to check back for an update!

For now, I find the 40D to be the most complete camera I've ever used - simple as that. Everything from the handling to the custom functions 'feels right', solid and reliable. It's like the best friend you've always had but you've only just met! Partnered with the Canon 24-70mm f/2.8 L lens it is a true pleasure to use and once you pick it up you will find it hard to put down again.

Looking to the future, I promised myself I would make every effort this year to get out there and take tons of photos, and in particular, portrait photography - so with that in mind, I have taken the leap of faith and plan to book a session with an experienced model over the coming weeks, so check back soon to see how I got on. Nervous? Yes! Excited? Yes! Can I wait? No! :)