photography

I broke my camera

I haven't really but it has happened. 

So, what if you did, what do you do? Firstly obviously have a little cry and say "why does this always happen to you" once you've gotten over that rubbish you have a few options. First, take it to your local camera store. They normally will be working with a camera repair company that will charge a set rate and they will fix your camera for you after a few weeks. In theory, you can pay twice by doing it this way once to the camera shop and once to the repairers, so the price could add up. You could always go straight to the manufacturer, that's what I did. 

 With any product, you get a warranty. Sadly if the problem is accidental the warranty doesn't normally cover it,  some times they do might as well ask first. That's the same when taking the camera to your local store, if it's in warranty it could be covered. 

Taking it to the manufacturer you are guaranteed the work is done properly and it's not someone who learnt to repair the equipment by watching Youtube videos. I always recommend going to the source. They made it they should repair it. 

Best thing to do is keep your camera safe this way you won't need to go through the repair process. Keep a strap on your camera, always have a bag. it may be weatherproof but keep it out of the water. Safety first. 

What camera should I buy

When you first start in photography it can be a little tricky to know what to buy. Well here are my tips that hopefully make it less stressful for you. Firstly the make does not matter, get that out of your head. If you like Canon you're going to get a Canon if you like Sony you're going to get a Sony. What matters is, does it have a manual mode. Thats it. If it has manual mode great. Firstly if you don't know about photography and modes best thing to do is, put your camera in Shutter priority mode or Program mode and see what the camera's light meter is telling you. Normally the flashing lines will give you the information, then switch it back to manual mode and mess around with the settings. Thats the beauty of digital photography you can change all the setting and keep snapping until you're happy. Photography is a form of art so a really under exposed photo could look great compared to the "correct" exposure. 

 There are lots of things in photography you might need to know at some point but at the start as long as you get a correctly exposed image thats all that matter. It sound be fun not stressful. 

The thing I'd buy if I was starting fresh with photography 

  1. Camera with a standard zoom lens say 24-105mm or 70-300mm 
  2. Tripod
  3. Spare battery 
  4. Memory card
  5. Bag

That's about it really, you can pick up good starter kits from most camera manufactures, they will give you camera and a lens and I'm sure whatever shop you buy them from they will do you a good deal on spare battery and memory. 

Try SRS Microsystems in Watford,UK. Not only will they help you  on what camera to buy but they will help you set up your camera so you'll have no problems starting out. 

 

Be Creative

You can be very creative with photography, either in camera or in post. Long exposures, double exposures, light painting. They are the kind of things you can do in camera. in post you can do all that in theory and then some. 

This is both light painting and long exposure. Very simple really, just make sure your camera is on a tripod the room is dark. With a touch while the shutter is open light paint. Going over areas you want to stand out more. 

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Shot with flash and low ambient light to bring out the subject. I then moved the image into photoshop and edited in the sparkle effect. You can do sparkles in camera but that would mean doing a long exposure and over exposing the subject, not the look I was going for. 

In photoshop you can create actions and even purchased action from website. This image was created by using an image from Unslash.com and the Energy action by Seven Style. You can see and buy more actions by Seven style by clicking here. With all actions you can tweak them to your own style, add things and so on. 

Photoshop has change photography for the better. Be it removing spots to doing extreme things like above. The best photographers now days must be good at photoshop. 

Music videos

Any good photographer needs to offer more than just photos luckily most DSLR's and Mirrorless cameras do video and film in 1080p. High definition or HD for short. The newer models are filming in 4k, or UHD.  The more you spend on a camera the better the results. High-end, full frame, 4k cameras can cost a lot. If you're not looking to spend a lot you can get a low budget camera that will give you good results, not the best but way better than the miniDV cameras they use to produce.  I've had the chance to film a few music videos for some musical acts. Most of my video I go for the comedy angle. Stupid and silly, with good music as the key. I've seen far too many videos of bands playing on top of cliffs or in the woods. If you want people to view your videos you have to keep them entertained. That's my opinion and yes there are many good music videos with woods and cliff but I'd mainly stay for the music. I find laughter the way forward. 

Here are some of the videos I've filmed and edited 

If you're looking for a cheap, simple, funny and fun video for your musical group let me know. 

Watch photography

Now-a-days if you want to tell the time you'd look at your phone. The smart phone has changed everything from taking photos, filming videos, browsing the internet and telling the time and so on. Well, people still wear watches, and people still pay crazy sums of money for them. As a person who doesn't wear a watch but is still fascinated by the repair process, Jewellery and Watch photography are on the same line. They are both small products that need good eye catching images to sell. The more detail in a photo of a watch can definitely increase the potential of selling the item. 

The best way to shoot a watch is on a photography table, having a main light and then a few other lights to pull out the detail. Always find out what background the client wants first. In each shot you need to highlight the brand, making sure it is visible and if you need an extra bit of light and don't have any more lights, then you can use a reflector and if you don't have reflectors a white card will work nearly just as well. All product photographers have white card. It's something you'll use for the first time and think why wasn't I using this all the time. Like all products you photograph you should always focus stack the images. You can use Helicon focus or photoshop. I recommend Helicon Focus. 

I took some shots of a watch repairer, or horologist, to use the proper term. 

A guide to editing Jewellery

So you've been asked to photograph some Jewellery. Firstly you need to know what background the client wants the item on. White, Black and so on. You'd then need to shoot the item making it look the best you can. The diamonds need to sparkle, you don't want a reflection of your camera and tripod in the item, so make sure you shoot the item correctly. I'll go into shooting jewellery in more depth in the future. 

Now the item is shot but the background isn't pure white. What do you do? Firstly take the image into photoshop. Create a new copy of the image in a new layer, on mack thats cmd and J. Once on you have your new layer make sure that the correct layer is selected. 

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With this image above, I wanted one part of the necklace, so with the pen tool you cut out your item. The pen tool is very tricky to use if you don't know how, I'm still trying to figure it out now. If you can't get to grips with it you can use the quick selection tool by pressing W on a mac keyboard. The quick selection tool is great but not a precise as the pen tool so make sure you check the area you want to cut out is selected correctly before the next step. 

Once the item is selected again create a new layer via copy so cmd J on the keyboard. This will cut your selected item out and put it on a new layer. 

 This image is an example and not cut out correctly 

This image is an example and not cut out correctly 

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Then, make sure the layer below is selected and create a new blank layer. Once that is open and selected press shift and F5 giving you the Fill box. Make sure the fill content is White and mode is normal and the opacity is 100% then click ok. 

Once that is done turn on your above layer. The cut out image, if you've cut it out correctly, should end up with your item on a pure white background. 

You'll know its pure white by picking the eyedropper tool and selecting any part that is white and if the # is #ffffff then its pure white 

 Layer mask 

Layer mask 

Once that's done, you can create a reflection. This is achieved by copying the original cut out and going to EDIT in the menu bar and clicking transform. In the transform section, selecting Flip Vertical. You would then, whilst holding the shift key drag the second image below allowing the two bass parts to just about meet. Once they meet you would go back to the layers panel and create a layer mask.

You would then choose the gradient tool, and from there pick the Foreground to Transparent mode. Whilst on your new layer you would drag up. This will softly blend away, giving the impression of a reflection. 

Once this is all done you can perform the normal editing changing levels and brightness of your item and maybe some colour correction. Though if you have shot the image correctly you wouldn't have much to do.

I hope this helps anyone trying to reach these types of results. 

Equipment update

As a photographer, you always here gear isn't everything. It's true you can use your phone and get an amazing photo nowadays. Though when you have the right equipment you can get that amazing shot nearly every time. I recently sold my Canon 70-200 f2.8 mkii lens, for a Canon 100mm f2.8 macro as I wanted to concentrate on shooting jewellery and products. I do miss the 70-200mm yes, but I wasnt using it as much as I would have liked. 

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The 70-200 is the best portrait lens I've ever used. If you're shooting a wedding its great due to the focal length and the wide aperture. You can be some distance away and get a great portrait. A lot of photojournalist have them to get them celebrity shots. If you're shooting portraits it's definitely the lens you'd want to invest in. Saying that I don't mean only if you shoot with Canon. The new mirrorless systems are taking photography to the next stage. The new Sony A9 which is being focused mainly as a sports camera, would also be great as a wedding camera and with the 70-200 on an adapter you wouldn't miss a shot.  

The canon 100mm f2.8 lens in theory is an  upgrade. Upgraded is a odd word when the cost is nearly half the 70-200mm but this lens does what I want it to do. I'm actually looking to get a wide angle macro as well in the future so I can cover all the products I wish to photograph. You can get such detail with this lens, its 1:1 macro so the whole sensor will be covered. If shooting small objects its something you'd want to invest in. 

 

Moving forward, an upgrade of my camera body is needed. Having the Canon 5d Mkiii for nearly 5 years now, I feel it is being left behind. Not only by Canon themselves with the MKIV being released earlier this year but also the mirrorless systems. I had looked at the Canon 5DS for more megapixels due to product work but Sony had the A7Rii which has a larger number of megapixels than I'm using now, not as many as the 5DS but it was smaller and had a lot more gadgets built in. I kept hearing bad things about Sony and there battery life and single memory card slot. So I've held off, and mainly because they cost a lot. I don't mean a few hundred, a few thousand. Even with selling all my gear I could maybe afford the body, so no lenses, and a camera with out a lens is pointless and stupid.

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Sony then come along and bring out the A9 which is only a few more megapixels than I'm using now, the extras 20 fps, when would I use that? Probably never, unless shooting a wedding or sports event. How often does that happen, not very. Which is sad actually. I like shooting weddings. 693 focus point, my Mkiii has 60ish thats a massive jump. Total silent shooting mode, perfect for golf shots or even weddings. This camera does it all it seems. Dual SD card slots and a battery upgrade and ability to add a grip. Oh, and also no black out. No black out?  On normal cameras the shutter opens and the viewfinder or screen goes black well, with the A9 this doesn't happen, you just keep shooting. The focus tracking is working all that time too. So you're never not in focus. Again why would I need this if Im only shooting products? It's better to have and not use than to not have and need. BUT, a big but there, the cost. £4,499. no lenses. This camera is to compete with the Canon 1Dx and the Nikon D5 both professional sports cameras costing around the £5,000 to £6,500. So the Sony is cheaper. Does a product photographer need one. No. I don't believe they do.  Do I want one, 100% yes, if money wasn't a problem, yep I'd think I'd fully change from Canon to Sony. 

Till then I'm still using my Canon 5D mkiii, with the 100mm attached and when doing some landscapes I have the 24-105 f4.5 and for portraits I use the 50mm F1.8 and the 85 f1.4, though I still miss the 70-200 f2.8 it's still the best lens for portraits. 

The Space between

In photography standing out from the millions of photographers is near impossible now days. Everyone and their mum is a photographer.  You have to do something different. 

I then searched the web and was seeing great photos but mainly night time landscapes. Though they were taken up very tall building and well that's not for me. The photos produced look amazing but the portraits were all the same. I get it if you're selling a object and you have a model you don't want some crazy colours distracting from the product. 

I thought I'd try some effects on my portraits and see what happens. The response has been good, I've gotten about 100 new Instagram followers, which I know isn't a lot now days but its a start. 

I think the new style stands out more and is something that I'll keep doing. 

So models, companies, bands or who ever wants a new photo in this style get in contact

info@lawrencewalters.co.uk