Friday, September 28, 2007

Decisions, decisions.

Mama got me a Canon 1DmkIII for my 40th birthday! I love her SOOOOO much! But with all the chatter on the net about the focus issue with the camera, I put it on hold - there was no way I was going to take a chance with $4500.
Since I already have a 1DmkII, I also thought about just getting a 40d as backup at $1300 I could squeeze in a 300F2.8 and not be too far off the mkIII cost. The reviews on it's IQ and low noise performance have really peaked my interest and with a 6.5 fps rate its not much slower than my mkII.
I also thought about the 5D with it's full frame but I'm sure it's going to get revamped anytime now so I know I'd have some serious buyer's remorse if I bought it and a new 5DmkII came out a month later.
So I think I'm gonna hold off until I either here that Canon has conclusively corrected the mkIII focus issue or the 5dmkII is released.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

10framesasecond - Workflow changes

Okay, week 2 now with 2 games 700+ images, culled to about 400 to evententally post 180. My workflow didn't change that much, I did try to export right from Lightroom to an FTP site but no go. I think it's a windows OS thing but its probably safer to export locally and then upload. So no breakthroughs on week two and my total time from CF card to images posted to site was about 4 hrs.

The best intentions

Well after the first week of shooting my kids sporting events I had two things that I thought I would change for the next time to make things easier in post processing.
First was to put the camera in manual and keep the camera setting based off of meter readings prior to the game and also put the camera in a fixed White Balance setting. Basically fix every thing so so that I could hopefully apply a global adjustment in post. (Last week I found that the bright jerseys was freaking out the metering system and caused me to adjust about 3/4 stops in both directions.
Alas, the best laid plans went south when the clouds rolled in ing the after noon so the subjects would move from cloudy exposure to bright sun- about 2 stops difference. So I was forced to put the cameras back into auto exposure but I did end up leaving the WB set to cloudy - this worked out okay as I didn't get any noticable color shifts in the changing daylight.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

10framesasecond: My workflow

With a couple CF cards full of U9 soccer pics, I set off on my first attempt at creating a workflow to get images from camera to my exposuremanager site in the shortest time possible.
  1. Calibrate Monitor - even though I have my exposure manager site set up for display only, which allows me to make final touches to each picture as it is ordered, I thought now is as good a time as any to get into a habit of routine calibration.
  2. Import images from CF with Lightroom - ever since Lightroom's official release of 1.1 I've given up on the windows move command for transfering files - Lightroom's file renaming and Metadata templates really make it a one step process. 605 images imported.
  3. Cull images - Once one card is transferred and the the second one is being imported, I start going through and using the 'reject' flag to tag all the out of focus shots and 'missed' shots. I do this in the Loupe mode with as big an image as possible. I also will take this opportunity to identify any 'must post' shots with a 5 star rating. Once done I just have Lightroom delete all rejects. 211 images deleted.
  4. Identify shots to post for sale - So now that the bad ones are out I start back at the beginning and use the 'B' keyboard shortcut to send images to the 'quick collection' as a temporary place to store the pictures before tagging them and exporting them to Exposure Manager. Just how many should be posted? I struggled with this one a bit - I've heard interviews with photog's that claim they post everything because there always surprised at what images people buy. But when I look at a gallery with 500 pictures, I just can't believe anyone would have the patiences to browse through that many pics. So I went with just what I thought were my best shots. 97 images collected.
  5. Tagging - Right now I'm tagging pictures to Identify: which team has the ball (I'll use this tag to create sub galleries in Exposure Manager), the jersey numbers of the prominent players in the picture (this will be used for the search function in Exposure Manager ), and a 'posted' tag so I can later track what's been posted and what's been sold.
  6. Setup Collections - Right now I'm making a collection set that will mirror the gallery structure in Exposure Manager. Not sure if this is useful or if it will stay in my workflow but I'm doing it for now.
  7. Export Images - select all pictures in a team collection and export them to a Temporary folder and name it with the team name. I do this for both teams. Once again the templates in Lightroom really make this a easy to setup once and forget.
  8. Upload using FTP - I have my Exposure manager FTP site setup as network drive on my Windows machine so it just a matter of dragging and dropping the exported folders over between my local drive and the FTP site. I haven't tried exporting directly to the FTP site with Lightroom maybe I try this next week.
  9. Assign Gallery - once the files on on the Exposure Manager site, its just a matter of logging on to the account and telling what Gallery to assign the FTP files to. You must also tell Exposure Manager to create sub galleries from each folder.
Total time: 4 hours (with a couple breaks to lay down some licks on Guitar HeroII). Ouch! need to refine this much further....

Things to try next time - Although I hate to add to the workflow, the 500 pixel images are just too small to see any detail so I'm gonna have to start cropping the picutre to maximize the impact of each image. But we'll see how this impacts sales.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

My first sports shoot of the season.

Shot Aly's opening soccer game today. The GYSA complex was packed and I saw at least 2 other photog's there with their pro gear shooting games, luckily, I was the only one on my field shooting the game so no competition.
Shooting both teams is quite a bit different than my usual routine of just shooting Aly's team, I was really burning up the memory cards.
While I was initially worried about the geek factor of strapping on both cameras - that feeling quickly went away as I camped out in the only bit of shade on the field, fortunately, it was just off on of the goal boxes. I found myself needing both the 70-200 and the 300mm as the action moved from one end of the field to the other. So I put the 300mm on the 10D and would just switch cameras when the action moved. This was really cool but after shooting with the MkII, that 10D just feels like a snail, it was almost painful waiting for it to finish hunting for focus only then to fire off a few frames and report 'busy' as the buffer is struggles to transfer its contents to the CF card.
The shoot otherwise went really smooth, we got there early enough from me to take some shots with my expo disk for setting white balance later in Lightroom. I also did a little drill I got from Scott Kelby's blog, which basically makes you run through your camera's setup to make sure you're ready before the shoot, to quote Scott:
It’s WHIMS, which stands for:
  • W: White Balance
  • H: Hightlight clipping warning
  • I: ISO
  • M: Mode (JPEG or RAW)
  • S: Shooting (Resetting to the right shooting mode for the subject: Aperture Priorty, Shutter Priority, Manual, etc.)
Things I thought went right to do again:
  • Pre-shoot Expodisk
  • Two camera workflow ROCKS! (just need a faster 2nd body... I wish)
Things to change for next time
  • White balance - take it off auto and fix it at one setting. It may not seem like a big thing since I'm redoing the white balance in Lightroom - I didn't seeing the WB move all over the place on the initial import.
  • Shoot in Manual Exposure - With the weather as good as it is here, and the games only being an hour, I think I'm going to either meter off a grey card or take a light meter and just fix the exposure manual, I found the in camera meter getting thrown by all the bright uniforms.
Thats it, I had fun and most importantly, learned a couple of things alogn the way.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Adobe Lightroom 1.2 update

Just loaded up lightroom to work on some test prints to Exposure manager and got an update notice...
Adobe - Latest Product Updates: "Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 1.2 Update September 14, 2007 Included in the Lightroom 1.2 Update: Corrections for several issues including XMP auto-write performance, Vista grid display errors and noise reduction for Bayer patterned sensors. Additional camera support for the Canon EOS 40D, Fuji FinePix IS-1, Olympus EVOLT E-510, Panasonic DMC-FZ18 and more."
I have to say Adobe is really acting like a different company on this product, public beta, actually listening to the user base, and rolling out free updates. But do I dare update before the first shoot of Fall Soccer and potentially be cursing that I can't get my pics posted for sale?? Awe heck, why not....

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Getting ready for Fall Sports

Well with the final touches to, I'm finally fairly happy with it's layout and can turn my attention to getting ready for the first game of the Fall season. My daughter is the first up with U9 soccer. I've usually used the 70-200F4L for her soccer games but it looks like their playing a full size field now so I'll be packing my 300F4ISL. Haven't decided if I'm going to schlep both lenses around - I could put the 70-200 on my 10D body but I think that would put me over the top on the GEEK-O-METER! Maybe I'll just swap lenses.
After putting a full charge on the MkII batteries - actually I used the 'refresh' button for the first time since getting the camera and getting all my CF cards ready. ( I've never shot both sides of a game before so I imagine I'm going to burn up the megabytes on the field), I found myself with too much idle time on my hands infront of the computer and started looking at some more things I needed. One thing I don't have that every sports photographer should is a solid support for my big, white lens. After the some research I found the FEISOL 1741 a carbon fiber Gitzo knock off that got pretty good reviews. I know, I always rant about Chinese knock offs but I was blinded by the $99 price tag, roughly 1/3 less than the Gitzo. ( I'm saving my pennies for a real Gitzo tripod and Really Right Stuff's ballhead, which combined is almost a grand! - I know, still no excuse...) Anyway, I 'Paypal'd them the money and I'm waiting for my pod. Hope I get it before Ryan's first Tackle football game next week.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

ISO 25,000 ???!!!

Just got done listening to the the latest episode of Inside Digital Photo Radio, their guest, Vincent Versace, was talking about the new Nikon D3 and he shared a couple things I haven't read about this camera before...
ultralow noise at high iso (says ISO4000 looks like ISO200), an a max ISO setting of over 25,000, 7,000 frames off of one set of batteries, twin CF slots that support UDMA transfer (read: fast!) can use both full frame lenses and their 1.6x crop lenses (automatically crops in viewfinder), intelligent scene and color detection (would speak much more on this one)

Man, with the new lenses that Nikon just released, this really makes this Canon user green with envy - I may have to hold off on the MkII decision till I see some side-by-side comparisons.