RAWs by @archiemcgwirevisuals; quick processed by @lael.aprieto athlete: @kenziedurant1
(post in progress...)
Did a shoot with a couple, with their pets. Since I already have sold most of my Canon L-lenses (I've only kept my 24-70 2.8L for everyday use), I accepted the task since it was the perfect opportunity for me to:
1. test shooting all manual focus
2. test my new setup and find out if it does improve focusing
3. shoot stills and moving shots of a horse (if you think it's hard with an AF telezoom, then guess how it is with a MF 135/2 prime)
4. shoot couple photos
5. conclude if my switch from AF to MF is a legit move
I'm not planning to make detailed reviews of my new equipment, nor compare them to other products. All I intend to do is share the results from my shoots.
As the title implies, all photos are taken with manual lenses. These are "temporary" quick-exports, and may be post-processed further.
Been working on the supposed-to-be 49-image HDR panorama, but encountered several issues regarding the left part of the image. I didn't manage to successfully merge the 3 sections to the left, so what you see below are the 4 to 7 sections. I actually don't remember the exact number of photos in this, but I think it was either 15 or 16 shots.
Proud to be from Larvik - Thor Heyerdahl's homecity! Major creds to the artists as well. I think the plan is to create a series of 5 ginormous street art portraits of famous norwegians with roots from our city. I really hope vandals would keep their untalented hands away from these amazing works of art.
I don't know... probably because I shot it full manually, so it kinda gives a satisfying feeling of mastery (call me Sensei). In all seriousness though, the image was shot from a couple of meters away and is cropped quite a bit. hence the forgiving DOF. But it was shot at f/1.4, so I wasn't expecting the entire face to be that sharp. Was pretty amazed by the outcome. It definitely gives a confidence boost to go analog on shoots. I don't know if it was pure luck or just coincidence, but I actually decided that day to start shooting without filters. That's right, we got a badass over here! Generally speaking, an extra layer of external glass will inevitably reduce the image quality / reduce the aperture speed, regardless the price of the glass. The amount of reduction in image quality and f-stop may vary of course, but the key fact is that it does decrease! I personally don't spend loads of money on filters. Primarily, I buy them just to protect the front element. But the other day, I just realized that it is quite counter-productive to invest shizzleloads of money on expensive optics, and then mount a cheaper piece of glass in front of it. Don't hate! I bet Confucius would have said the same thing.
A few of many honorable mentions from the same days:
Forced myself to wake up 5 a.m. during a cabin trip, to practice some bracketing. First thing I immediately learned was ND/graduated ND filter is pretty much a must-have when shooting landscape. Second, if you have a lot of memory space, just keep shooting and don't delete photos. You never know, maybe an accident shot may turn out pretty well in post-process. Just like this 3-image bracketing that fired while I was wrapping it up. I merged them, and gave it a spin. Turned out pretty funny (and slightly trippy).
(New lenses, new location, zero prep)
Step 1. Aquire new lenses
Step 2. Aquire a client
Step 3. Pick a new location
Step 4. Spray and pray for nice images
Tried it. This is how it went.
Sometimes, you gotta think and work fast. Everyone has to train for that.
Lenses: Helios 44-2, Zeiss Planar 50, Sigma 35 A (all manually focused)
Not usually a big Sigma fan, but I got to admit, they've really brought their a-game in the "A" series. These are some pretty serious glass.
A photographer was trying to sell this lens the other day, for a reasonable price. I grabbed it. It was inevitable. Every forum, review or benchmarking site is talking about these lenses. The ultimate (Big) Bang for your buck. Don't take this the wrong way, these bad boys don't come cheap, although, they are considerably cheaper than their competition. Set aside weather proofing like a Canon L-lens, and you definitely have a beast of a lens. The majority of benchmarkers actually puts this lens on the top of the list, beating the Canon 35mm f1/1.4 L II in sharpness and vignetting. Its weight, build quality and ergonomics are spot-on. Arguably, the aesthetics might also be better compared to all the other 35's out there.
Now, let's cut to the chase. I definitely read and research a lot before purchasing something, and it was no exception this time. I was fully aware about the fact that the lens may probably require some micro-adjustments/firmware updates. The first thing I did after unboxing the lens was to do a wide-open test shot on someone's eyeball, at the minimum focus distance. I did about 10 shots, and as suspected, it did slightly miss. Since this is my first Sigma, I don't own a dock for the lens, yet. I had to make do with the lens calibration application in the camera for now.
I made a DIY lens calibration target, tethered my camera, and did a bunch of samples to do a thorough examination. I snapped 3 images in a row for every calibration step, just to verify the precision of each micro-adjustment performed. The first test image does confirm back-focusing. The next is the final test shot, after working my way back and forth. I ended up at -12.
The downside of only using the camera's micro-adjustment function is that you can only set a profile for a certain focusing distance. I tested both 40 cm and 1 m away from the target, and -12 did the job. Although, at infinity, it's just way off.
The image above shows the lens' potential when it focuses correctly (cropped; original frame below). I did use manual focus on this one though. I probably wouldn't use the lens professionally until I get my hands on a docking. Credible sources claim that this is a "normal" issue and you have to expect calibration when using 3rd party lenses. Users also claim that the dock really patches all its flaws - allowing you to do multiple adjustmens on different focusing distances. I'm pretty confident about the purchase and really believe that I'm gonna get good images with this lens; it's just a matter of getting the AF on track. Now... is anyone selling a cheap Sigma lens dock?
It's just one of those days when you decide to start collecting certain objects. For me, today was a "I think I'm gonna start collecting manual lenses" kind of day. I already own a Contax Planar 50, but the voices are telling me to aquire more.
So, I did follow my dreams this time (or the voices in my head, rather). Browsed the web, and found these three guys. They have been hybernating in a garage since the early 90's, and they looked exceptionally filthy - thick layer of dust and fingerprints all over the glass' surfaces. No lens caps. They were just laying on the floor. *shake my head*
I had to bargain. It's in my blood. I convinced the seller that it's quite a gamble (which in fact is true). I asked for close-ups and they sent me some snapshots. Bad snapshots. Given the looks and handling shown in the images, the probability of them being totally useless/worthless due to haze, fungus or internal dust, was actually quite high.
Fast forward to the happy ending: I got them for 27$. After a thorough cleaning and checkup, I eventually managed to make them work on my Canon full-frame. Here are some quick test shots to check their performance WO (click photos to enlarge):
First off: the 24mm f/2.8. Original frame on the left, crop on the right. Shot at approx. 30 cm away from focused point @ 24/2.8
The rear part of the lens hits the mirror on infinity. But as you can see, it's totally possible to use it solely for wide-open, wide-angle shots.
Next: 135mm f/2.8. Shot approx. 1.5 m away from focused point @ 135/2.8
Aesthetically, this lens is major eye candy. The build and ergonomics feels so right. Focus ring is as smooth as a baby's cheek. Aperture ring is snappy with very low resistance. And it has an extendable lens hood on the front part of the lens, which I actually discovered by accident. But its smoothness can also be its weakness. The focus ring has a very good grip, good diameter, and moves effortless. But probably a bit too slippery? I struggled quite a bit in locking focus. In fairness, I definitely need more MF practice.
Last but not the least: 50mm f/1.7. Shot approx. 45 cm away from focused point @ 50/1.7
Based on the quick test shots I took, I think that this lens is the best performer among the three. Decently sharp wide-open. And of course - bokehlicioso! Will definitely shoot more with these lenses, so stay tuned!
Want to know the quickest and most effective way to getting used to your manual lens?
I'll tell you anyway: find a subject that is constantly on the move, focus, take single shots (not bursts), and do like 10 in a row before reviewing the shots...
...what I'm basically saying is - consider going to a dog park. Practice quick-focusing while the subjects are moving. No treats! That's cheating.
Was on my way home and passed by the neighborhood's dog park. I did 5x10 really quick shots, and got ONE decent photo! Not sure how I'm supposed to feel about that.
I have a childhood friend who is now based in Antwerp, Belgium. He owns his own fitness apparel, and does fitness photography on the side, plus some other businesses. Check out @archiemcgwirevisuals
He asked for my assitance one day, and assistance did he receive.
He basically asked me to process an image for him, allowing me to do whatever I wanted with his photo.
Left: his attempt on the image. Right: original RAW image.
1. Definitely color, not b/w
2. Attempt to enhance the clouds to give the picture more depth and texture
3. Straighten the lower body, perpendicular to the ground. Makes the pole look heavier and leaning towards the subject, rather than the subject leaning onto it
4. Give him a tan, which is normal for fitness shots
5. Crop away the top part of the pole
6. Minor dodging and burning
And the final result:
During a party, a friend of mine asked me if I could snap some awesome picks of her golden retriever - Theo. I didn't hesitate and said "Yes!" before she even finished her sentence (may have been my liver talking at that very moment, though). It didn't dawn on me until an hour before the shoot, that I've never actually photographed a dog before. What if it went total Roadrunner-mode? How am I supposed to get a good framing? And I just sold my 7D!
Long-story-short, that didn't happen. In fact, I was the one running, crouching and proning all over the place, attempting to cover every possible angle. He basically held a pose when he was told to. Even I could order him to hold still, up to 2-3 minutes! That really impressed me. My mom can't even sit that still for a few phone snapshots. Totally pawesome. (yeah, I'm a punny guy; deal with it).
"Yes!" to more pet portraiture!