March 12, 2020. Thursday. Lunch time. It could have been just a regular day at the office, but it wasn’t…
The rising number of Covid-19 infections in Portugal forced me to send home everyone on my team. I grabbed a pen and wrote on our whiteboard “we will be back soon,” then turned off all the lights, and slowly closed the door while looking at the empty office that was being left behind.
On that day, I had absolutely no idea how our life was going to be impacted. I was able to anticipate a few things – and no, that did not include the rush for toilet paper – but it took me a while to realize how my photography was going to be impacted.
One of my goals for 2020 was to become a better portrait photographer. After being a landscape and travel photographer for many years, I was feeling the need for a change. I still love landscapes and I really enjoy traveling, but I was getting tired, and I needed a change and a challenge. Perfect timing, right?! A change? A challenge? Could I have asked for more?
Due to the Covid-19 pandemic we were not allowed to travel anymore. I couldn’t (and still can’t) travel freely, not even within my country! Forget landscape and travel photography! I guess my new-year’s resolution of becoming a better portrait photographer had the perfect timing! Except for one reason: I had no one to create a portrait of. Now what?
During the first few weeks I didn’t even reach for my camera. Just like everyone else, I had to adapt to stay home and work from home full time. Suddenly zooming was not a thing I could do with my lens; it was something I would do on my computer.
Part of my work involves some public speaking in front of an audience, and now I had to do it from my home office. “- How am I going to do my job?!”… Enter the wonderful world of live streaming: “- I need lights! I need a chromakey green background! I need a better microphone! A video mixer! I need to learn a lot of new things! Noooo!!!” It was a bit overwhelming, but at the same time, everyone likes to get some new gear, right? Is it just me, or do you also love the smell of new recently unwrapped electronics?
While all this was happening, I was also nagging Erik Kuna so that we could an online meeting with the KelbyOne Community members. What better excuse than a pandemic?! So, on Friday, May 1, 2020, we had our first CommunityLIVE meeting: Erik Kuna, Ross Chevalier, and me as co-hosts, plus a group of around 30 members including some famous names like Scott Kelby himself, as well as Rob Sylvan, who were both kind enough to stop by. Participants liked it, so we decided to do it again (and again, and again…).
CommunityLIVE meetings are private meetings for the KelbyOne Community members. You know the KelbyOne Community, right?! If you are a KelbyOne member – and I hope you are! – and you have never visited the KelbyOne Community, you are missing a big part of your membership. If you are not a KelbyOne member, stop reading now. Open a new tab on your browser and do yourself a favor: become a member today! Now, back to where we were…
Hey hey! #TravelTuesday is here again and I, Dave Williams, have another little post for you all.
We photographers are in a strange, unique field. We obviously sell ourselves predominantly through our images, but there are lots of amateur photographers and that’s part of what makes our industry unique. There are few like it – for example it’s rare to find an amateur receptionist. I say rare. If you’ve ever heard of one, please tell me! And while there are other hobbies that tandem as occupations, such as floristry or mechanics, it’s still not quite the same as what we do.
We can step up our imagery by giving it a story or an explanation through blogging. Just as I’ve explained before that it’s important as part of our marketing to shoot and share behind the scenes images, it’s also very productive to share behind the scenes stories through blogging.
If we maintain a blog on our website it doesn’t just act as a story segment to our website. Search engines are trawling through websites constantly to see what additions there are, and if we post to our blog we’re demonstrating that we’re active and therefore boosting our score and giving ourselves a greater opportunity to appear high in the search results.
Every genre of photography is suited to blogging. Just take a look at these: –
These blog posts all have something in common – they tell a story and they’re fun to read. If they’re too long, that isn’t ideal. If they’re too short, that’s not ideal either. It needs to be something that makes a point, that flows, that doesn’t take too long to read, and ideally has one theme throughout for a good story.
Almost every hosting platform, including WordPress, SquareSpace, has a bold hosting section that allows us to post regularly. Go find yours and start using it!
PROGRAMMING UPDATE: That TV show called “The Great Create” where I compete against another photographer, is now live. You can catch it right here.
On Friday, I gave you my initial field report on the Tamron SP 150-600mm f/5-6.3 Di VC USD G2 lens, which I bought specifically for shooting airshows. After shooting more with it this weekend (as one of the official photographers for the Sun n’ Fun Aerospace Expo airshow), I like it even more. Super sharp, responsive, feels great, not too heavy — I’m loving it.
However, the same issue cropped up with the AutoFocus button turning off on the lens again, but outside of that minor nuisance, the lens is just an incredible bargain for the money (here’s the link to my post on it from Friday).
Today I’m sharing my field test on my new camera body, the Canon EOS R6, and I’m going to cut right to what it does for aviation photography (and this would also work for wildlife photography); that just absolutely blew me away. Check this out:
Your point your lens in the general direction of where you see the jet in the sky (as seen here, where the jet is still WAY far away).
2. It recognizes the moving object, snaps focus, and locks right on to it (as seen here where five focus points all hit right on it), and it now tracks along with the jet as it moves. Come on — that is crazy!!! It locks on pretty darn fast, too!
NOTE: That shot above is not a keeper — the jet is too tiny in the frame, and I don’t want to have to crop in that far to get the jet larger. It’s not going to have the sharpness we’re all looking for if you crop in that much). This is just an example of how far away the jets are when I first start trying to lock focus onto one. Once the focus is locked on and tracking with the jet, then I pan along with the jet as it gets closer and closer. When the jet gets nice and big in the viewfinder, I’m already locked on, and all I have to do is hit the shutter button to start taking shots.
Above: This is an un-cropped shot and where I’m trying to get to as far as filling the frame with the jet. Now, this shot actually does need cropping but not to make it bigger. The front of the jet is too close to the edge of the frame, so trimming the back in some would help it look more balanced). But to get to here and have the jet in razor sharp focus, I start focusing and locking on while the jet is still far away and small in the frame like you saw previously. When it starts getting closer and much larger in the frame — that’s when I start shooting.
Also, to give you those two viewfinder examples above, I had to create those viewfinders myself and put my shots inside them (thank you, Photoshop), so you could get a good idea of what it looks like while you’re actually shooting with it. Otherwise, I’d have to shoot with my iPhone’s camera stuck up to the R6’s viewfinder, and well, that all sounds like a lot more work than I’m willing to do. LOL!
The biggest thing for me was…
…I got the most number of in-focus shots I’ve ever gotten at any airshow, period! It almost felt like cheating. Not enough for me to turn these auto tracking features off, mind you, but still. I showed some other guys from the team how well the tracking worked, and they were as amazed as I was (I probably sold two or three units while I was there. Canon should give me a commission).
This miracle of focus is a simple combination of just four settings on the camera:
(1) High speed continuous shooting mode (burst mode)
(2) Switching from Single Shot focus (for non-moving objects) to Servo AF mode (which is the Continuous Auto Focus Mode)
(3) Using the Large Zone AF Horizontal Auto Focus mode (great for tracking objects that move horizontally across the frame).
(4) Using the “Case 2” Focus mode, which is for tracking moving objects while ignoring obstacles that might get in the way (like another jet passing by).
Note:Tip of the hat to my wonderful techie/nerdy friends Larry Grace (President of the ISAP – International Society of Aviation Photography, and one of the top aviation shootesr out there) and my Grid co-host and serious techie wonderland Erik Kuna, as they helped me with some of my settings on this new set-up, and for aviation photography in general, so a big shoutout to them both.
I will say, when you first start shooting aviation with an Electronic Viewfinder, it’s a little weird because as you crank off a rapid series of shots, each one appears for a moment on screen inside your viewfinder. This is both a blessing and a curse (more on the blessing part in a moment), but it does take a little getting used to, as it feels almost like it’s stuttering, while you’re tracking the jets, but when you stop and review your shots, you’ll see it’s clearly not. Definitely a different experience from shooting with a DSLR, but you get used it quickly.
Something Else I Loved
Another great feature of the R6 (and the blessing I mentioned above) is that you don’t need to pull the camera away from your eye and bring up the images on the screen on the back of your camera. Your images, as you take them, appear right on your viewfinder, and you go back and review your images (basically, you can “chimp”) through your viewfinder, and the images look large and bright and crisp even if it’s incredibly bright and sunny out. You try this a little bit, and you’ll find yourself looking at the back of your camera less and less. It’s really a huge advantage for anybody shooting outdoors in daylight.
I did run into a problem
So I’m up on this 1-story platform out near the taxiway they had set up for the official airshow photographers, and I’m warming up doing some slow shutter speed panning because we’re shooting prop planes, and I’m excited because I haven’t really had a chance to shoot my favorite WW-II prop driven fighter/bomber, the P-51 Mustang, and it’s coming up next. Then this happens:
This is not what you want to see during your shoot, but I quickly followed the instructions because now the P-51 is taking off, and I don’t want to miss it. I missed it. Turning it on/off didn’t do the trick. I reinstalled the battery numerous times — that didn’t do it. There go two or three more passes of the P-51, and I’m still futzing around trying to get the camera to come on. All I get is this screen or a completely black screen (as if the camera is off). While I’m doing this, Erik pulls out his photo and looks up what an Error 70 is, and it says it’s a “data error,” so I pop out each of the memory cards, one by one, using the process of elimination. Finally, it fires up, and I think it’s fixed. I’m wrong. It goes right back out again. I switched cards again. No luck. Finally, I popped in a completely different new fresh battery, and that did the trick. Of course, I completely missed the entire P-51 routine and photo pass and everything, but at least my camera was working again.
It happened the next day again. It happened again on Sunday during the Warbirds demo. It happened just now as I’m writing this article (I had to double-check something in the viewfinder). I popped a different battery in, and now for whatever reason, it’s working again.
So, at this point, I feel like either:
a) Something is wrong with a number of my Canon-brand batteries (these weren’t knock-offs, except for one Erik gave me Friday afternoon but that one worked fine), or
b) There’s something wrong with my R6.
Either way, the last thing you want is your camera going down in the middle of the shoot, and just putting “Error 70” on the back of the camera, and not at least saying what the issue might be, is just this side of useless. It wouldn’t haven’t cost Canon anything extra to put “Error 70: Data Error,” or “Battery error” so at least I could also check my memory cards or battery issue, which they could have said on screen as well. That’s just straight-up lousy User Interface design.
Anyway, I’ll be spending some time this week trying to figure this Error 70 problem out. I’ll search for Firmware updates and the such, but that was pretty aggravating, to say the least, and obviously, I’m still dealing with this issue. After searching online, I see a few other people have had this same error, but not a ton of folks, so the quick answer isn’t easily found out there.
Back to Good Stuff
I used both super-fast UHS-II SD Lexar memory cards in the R6 and some of my older slower Lexar cards as well (not crazy slow, but not nearly as fast as those newer UHS-II cards), and I never “filled the buffer” or got any stuttering, which was great. I felt I could fire as long as I wanted without hiccuping, and I was shooting in Raw the whole time. Maybe I just didn’t hold the shutter button down long enough (LOL!), but I never had a single buffer issue the entire two days I was there.
There are lots of other great features about the Canon R6 (dual card slots, built-in focus stacking, super incredible high ISO performance, in-body stabilization, etc.), but for what I was doing (shooting jets and prop planes streaking across the sky), I only used a minimal amount of what the R6 can do. I never even swiveled out the LCD screen, for goodness sake (my single favorite feature for shooting landscape and travel and automotive). So, this wasn’t’t a full review of the camera and all its features — by now you’ve probably read and memorized all the specs — but I wanted to give you a real-world look at what it’s like shooting aviation with it out in the field.
More to come on this new rig as I get a chance to shoot with it a bit more with different genres and shooting situations. Still, I can tell you, at this point, I am absolutely in love with the combination of that Tamron 150-600mm paired with the Canon EOS R6 for aviation photography. For the killer prices of the two, their smaller sizes and weights, it’s a tough combo to beat. I’ve just got to get that Error 70 issue addressed (and I will, one way or another).
The Sun n’ Fun Aerospace Expo Rocks!
The Sun n’ Fun Aerospace Expo is one of America’s largest airshows, and it’s so well run from top to bottom and just so much fun for everybody. If you haven’t been, it’s worth the trip down (and there’s LOTS of on-site camping right in the middle of it all).
A special thanks to the awesome folks at Sun n’ Fun for having me on their official photography team this year, with a special thanks to the wonderful Joe Caccioppo and the great crew he put together. Such a great guy and team leader. So organized and helpful (he really knows this stuff inside and out). Also, the folks at Sun n’ Fun fly-in set up the photographers for success, providing a fantastic home base and lots of ways to make great shots, and I can tell you, all the show photographers sure appreciated it big time. It was a treat!
Anyway, I hope you found that field report, helpful. If you have any questions, you can hit me up here on the comments, or bop over to my Facebook page where I’ll be answering questions over there as well. Here’s to a great week — hope yours is a safe and happy one!
Yesterday was warm-up day for the great Sun-n-Fun Fly-in in Lakeland, Florida (it’s one of the premier airshows in the country), and Erik Kuna and I are among the crew of official airshow photographers, and this was a perfect opportunity to try out the very lens I bought for aviation photography — the Tamron 150-600mm Tamron SP 150-600mm f/5-6.3 Di VC USD G2 lens (shown below). I’m sharing some shots here from yesterday’s shoot.
I had sold my Canon 200-400mm f/4 a few months ago (the one I used for shooting NFL day games), and I was looking for something lighter and more importantly for aviation, longer. Earlier this year Erik and I shot the Alliance Airshow over in Sanford, Florida (the Thunderbirds were there), and I shot with a 100-400mm it was just not long enough. You need at least a 500mm (like a 100-500mm), which I was going to get until a friend turned me on to the 150-600mm, which is a great range for shooting at airshows where so much of the action happens quite a ways from you.
Another thing I wanted was something less expensive (the Canon is around $12,000, but the Tamron is only around $1,200 — so the Canon costs literally 10x more). Although I loved every Tamron lens I’ve owned, I was concerned how well it would do, tracking along with the incredibly fast jets, but this particular lens was suggested to me by other aviation photographers, so I figured they would be bragging on it if it wasn’t worth using at airshows.
It looks like a fairly long lens when you’re out shooting it, but a lot of that is (thankfully) the lens hood. The lens weighs less than 4.5 lbs, and using it all day at the airshow was never an issue for me. I had the Canon 200-400mm with me back in 2019 at the Houston airshow and I was careful only to lift it right before I was going to shoot it, because it was a beast. Not a problem when you’re shooting football with it on a monopod, but honestly it’s too heavy to use handheld, although you’ll occasionally see somebody doing it (like me back in 2019).
This afternoon I’m back out shooting with it again on the first big day of the airshow, and unless something unexpected happens with the lens (like happened with my new Canon R6 — more on that on Monday), this lens is a champ!!! It hit the five things I was looking for in an aviation lens:
It had length and flexibility with that 150-600mm range. On the money, and I was all over that range during the day. When they’re flying in formation, it’s great to be able to back out to 150mm, but then you can start tracking the jets so far out, and fill the frame when otherwise the jets would look tiny.
It’s nice and sharp. I was pleasantly surprised with the sharpness. It hard to judge the sharpness on the edges, but all I have on the edges of my images are sky or clouds, but the jets were very sharp, so that’s big.
The focusing performance was very good all the way, and I was able to grab the jets and lock on quickly without feeling any real lag, which is important.
It’s not lightweight, but yet it’s not too heavy, and I can fit it in my smallest think thank photo rolling bag (it’s kind of a half-height bag) because the lens tucks back in to the body, and extends out when you zoom in.
The price post is just crazy for the value.
By the way — I’m using this lens on my Canon EOS R6 mirrorless, using the Canon lens adapter. No issues there whatsoever. Works like a champ.
This might sound kind of weird, and maybe it’s just me, but a number of times during the day, the switches on the side of the lens got changed. I’d lift the camera and try to shoot, and everything is out of focus. Why? The auto focus button was somehow switched off to Manual focus. This happened a number of times. Also, the Focus Limiter button would be switched to different settings. Again, this happened a few different times during the day — I have no idea why. The fix is, of course, to switch them back, which isn’t a big deal the first time or two. Anyway, that’s about it thus far.
The Bottom line
Overall, I felt the performance was really solid; the lens felt snappy all day, and I can’t wait to shoot again with it today at the show. Overall, I’m pretty thrilled with it so far. Again, if anything changes I’ll let you know.
Hope you get some great shots this weekend (if you see me at the airshow, be sure to say hi), and I hope to catch you back here on Monday. :)
P.S. After the Blue Angels were done with their afternoon session, and they were taxiing down the runaway in a single file row, we got a surprise flyover by the US Air Force Thunderbirds flying in formation on their way to an airshow on Cocoa Beach, Florida. It’s rare to see both the Blue Angels and the Thunderbirds in the same place at the same time. What a treat!
Photography Website Critiques with Scott Kelby, Erik Kuna & Gilmar Smith | The Grid Episode 467
This week Scott Kelby and Erik Kuna are joined by Gilmar Smith for photography website critiques! Sit back, relax, and see what advice they share that you may be able to apply to your own website.
New KelbyOne Course: Lighting Portraits for the iPhone Photographer with Scott Kelby
Learn how to take your iPhone portraits to the next level! Join Scott Kelby as he takes you through the camera settings, lighting options, subject positioning, lighting positioning, accessories, and more, to create professional looking portraits with your iPhone. Using small high-powered lights, minimal accessories, and your iPhone you’ll learn how to mold light, create shadows, and make your subjects look fantastic indoors and out on location.
Yesterday was Portfolio Day, so I thought I would share some of the most valuable advice on portfolios I’ve been given over the years!
First though, let’s talk about Portfolio Day. It was started by designer Audrey Gonzalez in 2018 as a way for freelancers to share their portfolios online as a sort of virtual job fair, and has grown into a worldwide event in the years since. It’s a quarterly event, so if you missed it yesterday, you’ll have a chance to participate again in July. If you want to share your portfolio, or if you’re someone who hires freelancers, check out the #PortfolioDay hashtag and account on Twitter!
Show The Work You Want To Be Hired For
As creatives, we’re going to take on work that we don’t necessarily love sometimes. But that doesn’t mean we have to show it in our portfolio! Make sure your portfolio is focused on the kind(s) of work you want to be hired to do. If you want to be a food photographer, you probably don’t need any photos of your kids playing soccer next to a photo of ice cream.
Your Portfolio Is Only As Strong As Your Weakest Image
Worry less about hitting a certain number of images in your portfolio and more about the overall strength of it. When people view your work, their perception of your ability is going to include your weakest image.
Start Strong, End Strong
Not only do you need to focus on the overall strength of your portfolio, but you’ll want to make and leave a lasting impression with the viewer. Start with an amazing, attention grabbing image, and end with an image they can’t forget, and you’ll be off to a great start!
Tell A Story
Think about the sequencing of your photos. Don’t just let them be in whatever random order the filenames dictate. Tell a story with the flow of your photos, take the viewer on a journey through your work if you can.
Think About Image Pairings
As you’re thinking about sequencing, also consider how photos look next to each other if you’re creating a physical book or creating a web page layout. If you have a two-up, maybe the images compliment each other with similar colors. Or maybe they contrast with opposite colors. Maybe the subject matter mirrors each other, or creates an interesting/funny juxtaposition.
Be Who You Are, Not Who They Want You To Be
Just because you work or want to work in a certain genre doesn’t mean you have to conform to what everyone else does. Take a chance and do something different so you can stand out from everyone else. Make sure your personality comes through in your work. As they say, there’s only one you, and your perspective is unique. It might take some time to find your voice and style, but it’s worth that time, effort, and experimentation to get there!
Show Work You’re Passionate About
One of my favorite portfolio meeting stories is from Jeremy Cowart. He told of a meeting he had with a potential client in the entertainment industry. He started off by showing them his celebrity portfolio, and they flipped through it quickly, unimpressed because it was the same type of shiny photos of famous people they saw every day.
He thought the meeting was basically over as soon as it began, but then remembered he had a book of photos from a personal project he had done after the Haiti earthquake. He pulled it out and handed it to them, and their eyes lit up as they started to look through it. This was something different that they didn’t see every day, so it caught their attention. They loved the stories of the subjects, and how Jeremy was able to capture such captivating photos with minimal gear. They could see the passion and heart in the images.
They ended up hiring Jeremy for some of the biggest campaigns he’d done at that point in his career, and it was all because he showed work he was passionate about.
More Helpful Resources
If you’re a KelbyOne member (or want to become one), here are a few courses to help you build an amazing portfolio:
Building a Winning Portfolio: Editing and Sequencing Your Images with Stella Kramer
Become a better photographer through editing and sequencing! Join Stella Kramer, a Pulitzer Prize-winning photo editor, as she teaches you how good editing and sequencing can help to do a better job of telling a story with your work. You’ll learn the basics of editing and sequencing, the importance of knowing your objective, how to deal with critique, why you should stand behind your work, and the value in letting go. Stella brings all of these points home in a series of live edit and sequencing work sessions with three different photographic projects.
The Art of The Edit with Peter Hurley
It’s all about the edit! You’ve just had an awesome photo session and now you need to narrow it down to just the best ones. How do you do it? Join Peter Hurley as he walks you through a series of live headshot sessions and then talks through his editing process with the subjects at the end. Peter is joined throughout the class by Scott Kelby, and together they edit through multiple different shoots that Scott has brought in. Editing is all about narrowing shots down to just the ones that will go into your portfolio to help you get more work. Learn how to develop this muscle and find your own shabangs!
Professional Photography on a Budget: The 5k Challenge with Zack Arias
(NOTE: The portfolio section of this class begins at Lesson 9). What could you do photographically with five thousand dollars? Join Zack Arias as he sets out a challenge to show what can be done on a budget of $5,000. Zack does everything from buying the camera gear to covering his expenses for a weekend of travel in New York City, and even hiring a photo editor to sit down and help him edit his photos down to a tight new body of work. At the end of the project he’ll have new gear, an interesting experience, a new portfolio, and money left over to do it again.
Getting Your Portfolio Online Using Adobe Portfolio with Scott Kelby
Take advantage of the online portfolio option that is included in all Creative Cloud subscriptions, and showcase your work! Join Scott Kelby to learn how to use the latest templates and features found inside of Adobe Portfolio. In this class you’ll learn how to get started with Portfolio, how to build a single gallery, how to add multiple galleries, how to add a contact page, how to add an about the artist page, and how to customize the most important settings to make your portfolio reflect your personal style and taste. You’ll be amazed at how easy it is to use once you learn the basics.