LEDs may represent the future of studio lighting but a number of the currently available options come with a caveat or two for the new professional or aspiring pro. Some LED solutions are affordable but may be too physically small for efficient use in a studio, or they may be large enough but too expensive for the shooter who just wants to dip their toes into the LED waters. Measuring 14x7.5x2.75” and costing less than $200, Flashpoint’s 500C LED Light appears to be a good solution for the LED newbie who wants to see what all the fuss is about.
Alien Skin Software’s Exposure 5 is powerful monochrome conversion software that lets you produce accurate film simulations while adding a range of creative effects. Wrapped up in a redesigned and easy-to-use interface, Exposure 5 can also be launched as a stand-alone application, which can be useful in a workflow that doesn’t support plug-ins. This latest version includes controls for emulating color or black and white so you don’t have to switch between modes or, as in previous versions, separate plug-ins. It’s all one happy family.
A website has more in common with a daily newspaper than a studio brochure and photographers should constantly update it with new images and information about themselves and their services. That’s why having a blog—and updating it regularly—is a must these days. Your site’s overall design must also be reviewed and improved on an ongoing basis to keep it looking fresh. A website is like a living organism that must constantly grow and change in order to survive. When was the last time you updated yours?
All You really need to take a picture is a camera and a lens, but if you decide what you really want to do is make a photograph, a few extra tools come in handy. Any one of the imaging tools in this month’s column will make creating a photograph or making a portrait easier and, in some cases, better than they would be otherwise. For the pro or aspiring professional anything that increases productivity by streamlining workflow while improving the quality of the product delivered to the client translates into making money too, not just photographs.
“Where ENIAC is equipped with 18,000 vacuum tubes and weighs 30 tons, computers in the future may have only 1,000 vacuum tubes and perhaps weigh 1.5 tons.”—Popular Mechanics, March 1949
The above quotation makes you wonder about the nature of predictions because a common fallacy is in believing that technology is always going to move in a straight line and not branch out to form a paradigm shift. Or sometimes people, as in the quoted magazine, just didn’t know what was going on in the rest of the world. Bell Labs’ John Bardeen, Walter Brattain, and William Shockley were awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics for research on semiconductors and discovery of the transistor effect in 1947. Yet even today vacuum tubes are not dead and there is a booming if small market in analog audio components. And in our neck of the woods, witness Harman’s announcement of building a factory to make 35mm film cassettes. It might just be too soon to start chiseling film’s tombstone—or not.
Instead of trying to be just another me-too camera, the K-30 from Pentax Imaging is trying to be different, and that’s a good thing. First, there was the introduction of the K-01 mirrorless camera and now there’s the K-30 SLR, for when the going gets wet and not-so-wild. The rugged Pentax K-30 is designed for photographers who enjoy outdoor lifestyles and combines a weather- and dust-resistant compact body, HD video recording capabilities, and a glass prism optical finder with a 100 percent field of view, something most welcome in the small SLR category. To keep itself high and dry, the camera has 81 seals and is built to be cold resistant and function in temperatures as low as 14˚F, which is a number not all that uncommon here on Daisy Hill, Colorado, in the winter.
Spring will soon be here and I’m looking forward to snow melting and flowers blooming. It’s a good time to appraise your web presence and spruce it up. If you do, I have a suggestion: don’t use Adobe Flash. First, it means millions of people using iPhones, iPads, or iPods can’t view your site.
When creating their mirrorless camera system, Panasonic wisely, I think, chose the Micro Four Thirds format rather than designing an all-new proprietary lens mount. The system includes two dozen or so Lumix lenses, including conversion lenses, along with adapters for Leica R and M mount lenses, Four Thirds digital SLRs, plus the ability to use lenses from Olympus, Sigma, and Tamron. The Micro Four Thirds system is here to stay and the Lumix DMC-G5 seems a perfect way to jump on board.
Photogenic Professional Lighting is one of the classic names in portrait lighting and has been making studio equipment for more than 100 years. A lot has changed in technology since 1903 but one thing that hasn’t is Photogenic’s manufacturing their lighting gear for studio or location portrait photography here in the USA. I chose the AKC55K 640 WS Soft Box Portrait kit for this review because it was a 2-light system that includes a soft box on a boom, something beginning portrait photographers sometimes overlook because they think this particular lighting tool is too expensive and too complex to use. My experience with this kit demonstrated otherwise.
While it may not be nice to fool Mother Nature, photographers have been doing just that since Elsie Wright and Frances Griffiths photographed the “Cottingley Fairies” in 1917, but a lot has changed since then and we’re now more skeptical of images that appear “shopped.” (Portrait photographers engaged in retouching even before Mathew Brady opened his New York studio in 1844.) To me, part of the fun of photography is enhancing reality, creating images that could be true or might be true in a parallel Fringe-like universe. That’s one of the reasons I like shooting digital infrared images because photography, for me, is all about having fun and if you happen to play a harmless—emphasis on harmless—photographic April Fool’s prank on someone, let’s hope it’s accepted in the spirit of the day.