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Old Mar 13, 2011, 1:10 AM   #1
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Default My First Paid Shoot - A Precis.

Yesterday I did my first paid shoot, accompanying a British Pro who specialises in season as primarily an outdoor sports shooter (golf etc) and year round indoor events (balls, corporate events etc.).

The Photographers
The Pro, his wife & me.

The Equipment
Mobile studio set-up including backdrop (2.6m high x 3m wide and ca. 4m total length), two large softboxes, tripod, wireless triggers, 2 studio lights, assorted stands, clips, cables and tape.
His Equipment - Canon 7D, 50D, 40D. 580 Flash. Main lenses that I saw him use were 10-22 and 50/1.4.
My Equipment - Pentax K5 (K7 as redundancy), 3x8MB 30x and 20x SD cards, IR & cable releases, radio trigger. Lenses used in order of most use : Tamron 17-50/2.8, 43/1.9 Ltd, Sigma 10-20.
All cameras were time synched.

The Set-Up.
The backdrop was set-up not just hanging but in an L shape that clients stood on (see Notes below)
We spent ca. 20-30 mins test shooting for shadows and assessing the best fl to use.
Dual Triggers (redundancy) wired to the lights and to the 7D and to the K5 and 50D (depending on who was shooting - we took 30 mins shifts alternating between the mobile studio and in the main ballroom).
7D was set-up on a tripod (I found this camera quite easy to get used to) with the 10-22 installed. The camera was positioned in portrait format with the lense at 14 degrees. This provided virtually no distortion which was quite evident at wider focal lengths and especially in landscape orientation ( the distortion being an shortening of the body, lengthening of the legs and enlargement of the feet).The 7D once set-up was never moved - this way certain PP effects / crops could easily be applied across a thousand shots at once since the camera settings & lighting were always the same too.
We shot in jpg (on the K5 it was the 10MP setting not the 14MP) - Pro said there was plenty of resolution there for A3 prints even after minor cropping. The main reason for this was PP - far faster & easier processing.

The Camera Settings.
Mobile Studio - The 7D was 1/100, F8 and ISO 125 (if I remember correctly) (Pro said use f8 to f11 to ensure everyone’s face is in focus even if there is up to ca. a foot / 30cms difference front to back) and the K5 1/125, f8 , ISO 125. Distance to the subject(s) around 8-10 feet (2.5 − 3 metres).
Flashes - in the mobile studio : softbox and triggered. Hot-shoe flash outside of the mobile studio : Pro used 580 diffuser and bounce. Unfortunately my Metz 50 af-1 had not arrived in time so I had to make do with the on-board flash and cloth diffuser - which actually worked superbly (the ceilings were too high to bounce off anyway and walls too far away) and I had to dial back the flash to −1.0 for singles/couples and 0 for larger groups.
Ambient light - don’t know what he used as I was shooting in the mobile studio when he was shooting in the main ballroom. For the K5 the Green setting didn’t work well as it slowed the shutter to 1/15 or slower so I mainly shot in manual and of course these settings varied a lot but generally (and depending on the lense in use) : f2.0 - f 4 (soft focus is OK for people portraits) / 1/200 to 1/500 / ISO 800 − 1,600 when by the stage and f2.8 - f7.1 (rarely !) / 1/60 − 1/200 / ISO 2,000-3,200 in the ballroom. The K7 (if I had had need of it) would have been absolutely fine for the mobile studio and stage but could not have coped in the ballroom without a hot-shoe flash. The shots from the K5 were superb at 2,000 but will need a little noise reduction cleaning over that - still more than acceptable for large prints if required.

The Event
St Patrick’s Day Ball in Shanghai at the 5 Star Shangri La Hotel (Pudong) - 800 Attendees and Acts from as far away as the UK.& Ireland.

Photographic Requirements
Mobile studio portraits of singles/ couples and groups - set-up in prominent position (close to the bar) !
‘Street’ style shooting of attendees
Posed groups and individuals in the ballroom
Feature Corporate Logos in shots (these need not necessarily be in focus - but must be recognisable).
Shoot main headline acts

The Lighting Conditions.
Studio - perfectly lit, flash photography.
Walkaround - very low light with multi-coloured lights on the stage changing the lighting conditions from moment to moment.
Stage - typical band/singer performance concert conditions.
Balcony Terrace - extremely low light, background of the river and lights of The Bund & downtown Shanghai.

Notes & Tips from the Pro. (there were lots more - he was brilliant explaining everything to me step by step - so I’ll edit and add to this part as I remember them) !
Constantly check shots (1 second review) for glare from glasses and for closed eyes.
Do not let clients see the shots immediately if they ask - smile and tell them politely that their prints will be delivered in a week and they can go to the website to check / select others for printing. Failing to do this will mean lost clients from those waiting in the queue (and there was a long queue) !
Do not allow amateur photographers to shoot in the mobile studio area as this could activate the softbox flashes.
Shoot from behind the performers out into the crowd to get the ambience - sponsors love these shots.
Go anywhere you want and shoot anything you want unless requested not to by someone senior in authority - push the boundaries except where safety, yours or the performers, are concerned ! Reason - these are the shots that will differentiate you from the good amateurs in the audience.
Hold the camera high above your head to shoot down on the crowd.
Green Setting (the 7D has one too) is often great for lighting conditions that change from moment to moment (with hot-shoe flash, not in ambient light as mentioned above).
Nobody starts off wanting to be a Pro - it comes out of love for photography so although you may not think about being a Pro shooter now, you can easily drift into it if you have the opportunity and time permits.

The Shoot.
We arrived 2 hours before the event started (the Pro had shot the same event last year so knew the set-up and had also checked it again prior to the shoot. We had also met and gone over my camera and lenses and some tips on the Friday).
Mobile Studio - Firstly I had to position and pose my clients (this was new to me but some things are obvious and others I picked up from the Pro). It was easier to shoot 3 or 4 shots of each couple and group shots on the 7D then hand hold the K5 for close-ups or alternative shots. We did this for each person / couple / group.
The Ballroom - walked around and shot street style, also posed groups, couples and individuals that looked interesting from a promotional or just fun standpoint.
The Stage - was allowed very close access - I was literally on my knees just 4-5 feet away from and below them for some shots. I enjoyed this bit the best !
I got to watch the Pro work with the celebrities and (by then rather high-spirited) VIPs from the UK / Ireland at the end, watching how he posed them and his ideas, which was great.

Photos

Will come later ! I am allowed to keep my shots and my SD cards will be returned with all shots intact in about a week- so I’ll post some in a set of series then. In the meantime I had just a few shots left on this 3rd card for which I’ll send him a CD tomorrow, so a couple are shown below. They expect it will take them up to a month to process, print & deliver everything but all the main client photos will be delivered in about in 5 days.

My Observations - Comments (I may also add to this section later too) !

A. This is not a job for the timid or faint-hearted. Luckily I have organized and run close to a hundred corporate golf events and given many many presentations to large groups such as the Rotary Club and Chamber of Commerce events so directing people and inter-acting with strangers was not a problem for me.

B. 7D vs K5 - quality-wise there is nothing in it. Both performed as required with no hiccups or blips. I loved the wheel on the 7D to quickly scan though all the photos on the CF card - awesome ! You can search through something like 10 shots a second which is far far faster than pushing the directional buttons on the K5. However for individual photo review the K5 is better because on the 7D there are two buttons to zoom in. zoom out whereas on the K5 one flick of the back wheel has the shoot zoomed in to the magnification you want and one more push takes you bak out again.

C. I was frustrated sometimes that my fingers would catch and spin one of the K5 wheels - changing my settings - there must be a way to lock these in somehow (I can’t use AE-L for every shot). Maybe as a User setting ?

D. Canon’s high end flash locking system is a great idea - no wheel to turn just a simple lever locks the hot-shoe flash into position.

E. I can see myself doing more of this - I enjoyed myself tremendously, although it was very hard work (8.5 hours with no time to sit or eat). Next up the Pro has asked me to do a charity golf event with him in April - so more fun to come !

F. The K5s battery was amazing ... although of course a lot of the mobile studio shots were taken on the 7D all my hand-held ones were taken with the K5. In addition of course all the Ballroom and Stage shots (with and without the pop-up flash) were taken with the K5. When I got home and checked the battery (I was carrying a spare of course) it still read full ! Had i been using a hot-show flash then the battery drain would have been much higher of course.
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Pentax : 15 Ltd, 77 Ltd, 43/1.9 Ltd, Cosina 55/1.2, DA*300/4, Contax Zeiss Distagon 28/2.8, Raynox 150/250, AFA x1.7, Metz 50 af1.

Nikon : D800, D600, Sigma 500/4.5, Sigma 120-300/2.8, Zeiss Distagon ZF2 - 21/2.8, Zeiss Distagon ZF2 - 35/2.0, Nikkor 85/1.8G, Sigma 50/1.4. Nikon x1.4 TC, Sigma x2.0 TC

Last edited by Frogfish; Mar 13, 2011 at 3:53 AM.
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Old Mar 13, 2011, 9:32 AM   #2
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As a newspaper photographer who has shot many events, I am finding this very interesting. Thanks for taking the time to post and I am looking forward to more.
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Old Mar 13, 2011, 4:37 PM   #3
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Thank you PB - glad you enjoyed it !

On another forum someone reminded me of scrolling through shots using the front wheel. I really don't know how I could have missed the scrolling wheel for reviewing shots - maybe I knew about it but got into the habit of using the directional arrows. That's going to make life easier again !
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Pentax : 15 Ltd, 77 Ltd, 43/1.9 Ltd, Cosina 55/1.2, DA*300/4, Contax Zeiss Distagon 28/2.8, Raynox 150/250, AFA x1.7, Metz 50 af1.

Nikon : D800, D600, Sigma 500/4.5, Sigma 120-300/2.8, Zeiss Distagon ZF2 - 21/2.8, Zeiss Distagon ZF2 - 35/2.0, Nikkor 85/1.8G, Sigma 50/1.4. Nikon x1.4 TC, Sigma x2.0 TC
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Old Mar 13, 2011, 5:39 PM   #4
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Here's a few shots from the 15 on the only SD card I have here - the other few hundred will be returned to me by the end of this week.







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Pentax : 15 Ltd, 77 Ltd, 43/1.9 Ltd, Cosina 55/1.2, DA*300/4, Contax Zeiss Distagon 28/2.8, Raynox 150/250, AFA x1.7, Metz 50 af1.

Nikon : D800, D600, Sigma 500/4.5, Sigma 120-300/2.8, Zeiss Distagon ZF2 - 21/2.8, Zeiss Distagon ZF2 - 35/2.0, Nikkor 85/1.8G, Sigma 50/1.4. Nikon x1.4 TC, Sigma x2.0 TC
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Old Mar 13, 2011, 5:48 PM   #5
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Wow! What a great opportunity. I'd love to be able to soak up the knowledge of a pro sometime, but wouldn't want to do this type of thing. It's interesting to see how different a pro's priorities are, compared to mine just shooting for myself.
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Old Mar 14, 2011, 2:43 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Frogfish View Post

B. 7D vs K5 - quality-wise there is nothing in it. Both performed as required with no hiccups or blips. I loved the wheel on the 7D to quickly scan though all the photos on the CF card - awesome ! You can search through something like 10 shots a second which is far far faster than pushing the directional buttons on the K5. However for individual photo review the K5 is better because on the 7D there are two buttons to zoom in. zoom out whereas on the K5 one flick of the back wheel has the shoot zoomed in to the magnification you want and one more push takes you bak out again.

D. Canonís high end flash locking system is a great idea - no wheel to turn just a simple lever locks the hot-shoe flash into position.
Hi Kevin,

Very nice write-up! What a great opportunity to learn how to shoot an event of this type. I'm glad to hear that you survived and am looking forward to seeing some of the shots.

As to the quoted sections --

B. You can quickly review a string of shots on any of the two dial Pentax DSLRs with the front e-dial. If you magnify the view on the LCD, this same degree of magnification is held as you flip through the images.

BTW, when in the menus, you can use the rear dial to advance pages in a particular menu, and use the front dial to advance or go back to another menu classification.

I've played with a 7D on a few occasions, and don't care for the rear dial or the vertical front dial and definitely prefer Pentax's implimentation, but I imagine that I'd get used to it if I had to. . .


D. The Pentax AF 540 FGZ and AF 360 FGZ both have cammed locking levers, and locating pins to assure contact alignment, so are very quick to mount in a hot shoe.

I feel that I must mention that there have been reports of the locking pins malfunctioning which disallows removal of the flash, but in 5 years of regular use with these two guns, I haven't had this problem. On some other fora, this has caused a lot of members to remove or deactivate the pin as a precaution. My personal feeling is that there was some unintentional mistreatment of the flash that caused these malfunctions.

Looking forward to hearing and seeing more from your excursion into the realm of pro photography. . .

Scott
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Old Mar 14, 2011, 4:59 AM   #7
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Looks like you've had a great time, and i must confess I would love to do something like that to.

Thanks for all the info

Ronny
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Old Mar 14, 2011, 7:04 AM   #8
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Very interesting information - thanks for the very thorough descriptions & review!
Your sample photos look great - lighting & expressions just right.
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Old Mar 14, 2011, 12:11 PM   #9
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Thank you Harriet !

Thanks for the clarification of how to use the dials Scott - you would think that after the K7 and now the K5 I'd know that but .... at least now it'll make it a lot easier for me. I think you are right about the ergonomics but it may also be a case of just getting to know your own camera - the Pro flew through the controls (as you would expect).

Also the info on the flashes - I thought I had settled on getting a Metz 50 this week because of the value for money over the Pentax 540 but now ..... hmm.

Thanks Ronny - I did !

My pleasure Mole - I'm glad you found it interesting. Glad you liked the shots - I think there is better to come (I know there are as I've seen them now) focus just off on some of those above (hey ..... it was just ambient light, f2.0 and 1/200 with dancing targets under disco stage lights) !
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Pentax : 15 Ltd, 77 Ltd, 43/1.9 Ltd, Cosina 55/1.2, DA*300/4, Contax Zeiss Distagon 28/2.8, Raynox 150/250, AFA x1.7, Metz 50 af1.

Nikon : D800, D600, Sigma 500/4.5, Sigma 120-300/2.8, Zeiss Distagon ZF2 - 21/2.8, Zeiss Distagon ZF2 - 35/2.0, Nikkor 85/1.8G, Sigma 50/1.4. Nikon x1.4 TC, Sigma x2.0 TC
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Old Mar 14, 2011, 12:43 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Frogfish View Post
Thank you Harriet !


I think there is better to come (I know there are as I've seen them now) focus just off on some of those above (hey ..... it was just ambient light, f2.0 and 1/200 with dancing targets under disco stage lights) !

Kevin, been reading with interest your experience with a pro-shoot. It is a lot of work and as you have observed, not for the faint of heart.

Re. your comments about the images posted and your comments, above, I think this where Pentax may show its limitations. The reason Pro's use Canon and it's ilk is due to its ability to do high speed focusing in low light, plus good IQ at high ISO that results in magazine standard images.

Were you shooting in RAW? Am looking forward to seeing the rest of the images from the K5.

Jehan
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