Backlight: Blog http://backlight.zenfolio.com/blog en-us (C) b a c k l i g h t backlightphotography@me.com (Backlight) Thu, 03 Jan 2013 21:29:00 GMT Thu, 03 Jan 2013 21:29:00 GMT http://backlight.zenfolio.com/img/s/v-5/u566014770-o826070658-50.jpg Backlight: Blog http://backlight.zenfolio.com/blog 120 114 The Ebb & (Work)Flow http://backlight.zenfolio.com/blog/2011/12/the-ebb-workflow In between Christmas & New Year's, I finally have nothing to do and I'm away from household chores long enough to remember that I have a blog. So I'm using this year's free time to talk about workflow.

Now, there are several different choices folks have in software, and while I have Aperture 3, Photoshop CS5.5, and iPhoto, my go-to software for photo management is Adobe's Lightroom 3 (the technical name is 'Adobe Photoshop Lightroom' if you are looking to buy it).

Step one of course, is to go and shoot some pics! And if you're like me, you end up with somewhere between 500-1200 for a 3-4 hour gig. Yes, that is more than I need. But let me continue...

Now I open Lightroom and attach my card reader. LR (Lightroom from this point forward) then automates where I store my pics and proceeds to copy them. Once they're all on the computer, I begin the approval stage. Using keyboard shortcuts and both hands, I choose fullscreen mode so all I see is the current photo, starting with the first one in the folder. I then advance through them all 'select'ing them as 'flagged' or 'rejected'. Rejects are accidental firings, missed subjects, blurs, etc. These get deleted from the computer when all other steps are complete.

Stage 2 of the selection process is filtering only the 'flagged' photos. Let's say I started with 1000 photos. This usually leaves me with somewhere in the neighborhood of 800. I then use the number keys to 'star' the flagged pics, starting with a '2'. These are, for lack of a better term, my 'good' shots. Now I am down to about 400-500. So I now filter only the '2-Star' photos and start over (fullscreen at the beginning). These a lot of times will have 2 or 3 of the same photo (thanks to 8 fps!), but one being slightly more interesting than the other 2. The more striking pic gets a '3-Star' ranking.

When I have the '3's all done, I then create a 'Collection' of the same name as the event folder (ie, Richmond Marathon '11). This collection allows me to only have to look at the 150ish '3-Star' photos without worrying about the 2 and unrated pics. Once in the Collection, I open the 'Develop' module in LR. I keep the right hand panel open with all my development sliders. The left panel of 'Presets' and 'History' I hide so that it only appears when I mouse over it. This gives me 2/3 of the screen to view the photo (I usually also hide the Filmstrip panel at the bottom as well).

'Developing' (a misnomer, but for all intents and purposes will do) the pics is up to the photographer, so I won't go into that for this entry. I will mention, however, that if you like a photo as is, then it is helpful to create a 'Virtual Copy' by pressing (Command-') or Control-' for Windows (that's an apostrophe with the command prompt). You can make a bunch of these and do something different to all of them, like painting out all the color except for a runner's shoes for example. They don't take up any more storage space, and it's easier to keep them organized than going back through the 'History' menu to the beginning.

Finally, I export the 'developed' photos to my Zenfolio website through their handy plugin (or via their upload module on the site). I usually include the '2-Star' pics for client delivery as well, but these are unedited most of the time.

For an extensive explanation of many of the above-mentioned filtering techniques, check out Scott Kelby's Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 3 for Digital Photographers (which I read cover to cover in less than a week).

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backlightphotography@me.com (Backlight) http://backlight.zenfolio.com/blog/2011/12/the-ebb-workflow Tue, 27 Dec 2011 11:57:07 GMT
Calling the Shots http://backlight.zenfolio.com/blog/2011/7/calling-the-shots One of the most difficult things that I (or any sports photographer) have to deal with is the schedule of events. A couple of months ago I was shooting the Dominioin Riverrock for the Sports Backers. Over the 3 years since it's inception, Riverrock has gone from a day and a half of trail running, mountain biking, trick aerial biking, dog jumping, and music to all the aforementioned with the added kayak stunt jumping, paddle-boarding and kayak boatercross.

Initially, it began on Friday around 4pm. There was a 5K mud run, dog jumping and a couple of music acts. Big crowds. Saturday started at 8am for the James River Scramble 10K (an offshoot of the XTERRA event held in June). As the 10K wrapped up, the Urban Assault MTB race began, and bike 'rock-hopping', kayak races and more dog jumping started. So Saturday was a 12 hour run.

Thankfully (physically), Saturday has squashed a couple of events and thrown the rest into a maelstrom of concurrent athletics. Mentally, however, I have to decide which events (based on detalis like new, popular, and exciting) I had to cover.

Concerts are a dime a dozen unless there is a superstar performing (photographically, no aspersions on the performers), so that one is easy, but is last year's big event going to be as big as it was? Is the background different? Is someone famous competing? Will the crowds make it look cooler?

It's a chaotic job, but a fun one. Of course you'll have regrets - the coolest trick, finish or performance will have happened when you are waiting for something else to start on the other side of the venue. My advice? Celebrity status, novelty of the event and background (of the shot). And don't forget to drink water...

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backlightphotography@me.com (Backlight) http://backlight.zenfolio.com/blog/2011/7/calling-the-shots Sat, 23 Jul 2011 15:29:43 GMT
Road to Nowhere http://backlight.zenfolio.com/blog/2010/11/road-to-nowhere I've covered the last event of 2010 for the Richmond Sports Backers - the Suntrust Richmond Marathon. I have one more scheduled job for the year with the VCU School of Nursing in December, then it's time to go into hibernation I guess!

Not a chance! I have the Adobe CS5 Master Collection and Scott Kelby's "Lightroom 3 for Digital Photographers" + "Photoshop CS5 for Digital Photographers". Not to mention my user manuals for the Canon 50D & 7D to bone up on. It's amazing what these cameras are capable of (I usually just turn it to M, set the shutter speed and aperture, then go to work). So I'm going to be reading every day until the thaw brings out the runners again!

Actually, I've decided to hang up my sales photography gig for a season (at least). 2 reasons: I am turning 40 September 2011 and I wanted to run 40 races in the intervening 365 days. At date I've done 8. The other and more fiscally responsible reason - I don't make enough money at it. I use Photoreflect to sell photos (which is by far the best and most easily understandable software I've come across). The problem with them is they have no Mac version, and I want to give my PC laptop to my son. I am entirely Mac/iOS at this point - except Photoreflect.

Traveling 2+ hours round-trip to take 800 photos of runners/bikers/triathletes for 5 hours, then spend an entire day organizing them for easy online searches, then making roughly $150 is a colossal waste of time. I go out of my way to get unique images of participants (and by and large the response is VERY positive, so thank you to that 99%!!) and I really don't have time to deal with the one or two who want award-worthy photos for free.

Ending on a positive note - I had a ball at the Marathon and this was the first year I've photographed it when it was not raining. Fantastic Fall colors along Riverside Drive, and happy participants galore!

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backlightphotography@me.com (Backlight) http://backlight.zenfolio.com/blog/2010/11/road-to-nowhere Mon, 22 Nov 2010 15:44:39 GMT
Is Death the 'D' in DSLR? http://backlight.zenfolio.com/blog/2010/7/is-death-the-d-in-dslr In April, my wife and I got iPhones (3Gs for those reading the news everyday). She needed a new phone, and we were on the same plan, so we made the jump. I left a Blackberry Storm, and boy am I glad I did. Holy Stuff! what a phenomenal machine the iPhone is.

But I'm not trying to get you to switch phones, I just want to point out the iPhone camera and more particularly the 'apps' Camera+ and Autostitch. I just got back from Las Vegas, and got better photos with my phone (in some circumstances) than I did with the Canon 50D. So...

I know there is still stuff you can't do with a "point-and-shoot" that you can with an SLR (off-camera flash, lens changes, manual controls, etc.). But when you can get print-worthy photos without all that (meaning good low-light sensitivity, decent exposures, no more 'lag-time' and the biggest of all - it's in your pocket and you can take it anywhere they would normally stop you with a "professional" camera at the door), the consumer-level DSLRs are probably on borrowed time. Just my opinion.

I say this because 99% of folks buying Digital Rebels and the Nikon equivalent (that now shoot HD video - but so does iPhone 4) don't have the slightest clue how to take photos with them (and never leave the green square or 'auto' mode). They just buy them because they're on sale at Best Buy (but much cheaper online), and it impresses their friends at the kids' soccer games.

So now I get a kick out of whipping out my phone to snap off some pics while I'm working with $4000 of Canon gear hanging around my neck. People think I'm crazy, but I can edit them and upload them to my website and social media sites (Facebook/Twitter) in the time it takes me to set the exposure on my 50D.

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backlightphotography@me.com (Backlight) http://backlight.zenfolio.com/blog/2010/7/is-death-the-d-in-dslr Mon, 19 Jul 2010 12:44:20 GMT
What is with the "2-song" access?? http://backlight.zenfolio.com/blog/2010/5/what-is-with-the-2-song-access 4 days straight of shooting. 2 days of Dominion Riverrock, 1 with both the Carytown 10K and Willem's soccer, and a Monday morning VCU Nursing gig.

The Riverrock was stressful. All the events this year took place in the late afternoon and evening. And most of them overlapped, making full coverage nearly impossible. I bagged the idea of getting out on the rocks for the James River Scramble, as well as getting to Forest Hill Park for some shots on the newly redesigned trails.

I was pleased with the shots I got though - only wishing I could have gotten more angles of some things. But I do have a beef. There were two headliner bands (who I won't name due to my beef). Coming straight from kayak and stunt bike performances - like I said, they overlapped with every other thing - I was stopped from back/onstage access because they "only allowed press photography during the first two songs." So now, wearing both STAFF and MEDIA badges, I have to shove my way through the hoi polloi (at least 2 dozen of whom are trying to win a $500 prize for the photography contest) to get photos to be used for the event's promotion. What a joke. I suppose that's why those bands are playing Brown's Island rather than the Landmark or the Carpenter Center...

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backlightphotography@me.com (Backlight) http://backlight.zenfolio.com/blog/2010/5/what-is-with-the-2-song-access Tue, 18 May 2010 09:40:39 GMT
My Cup Runneth Over... http://backlight.zenfolio.com/blog/2010/5/my-cup-runneth-over I'm getting busy again. Since my last posting, I have shot 12 Hours of LODI, the Duathlon National Championships, VCU School of Nursing twice, Virginia Capital Trail Foundation's Cap2Cap, and the Virginia Society of CPAs CPA Inauguration.

I have also switched to AT&T to get an iPhone (since Verizon won't ever get it with Droid on the market), gotten back into running shape (4+ days a week), and am over my first bout of poison ivy for the year - from the LODI event.

I'm trying to streamline my workflow. By this I mean getting rid of websites and bills that I'm not using anyway. I'm trying to kick Printroom to the curb and use SmugMug. Photoreflect works better than anything, but they refuse to make the Mac version of Express Digital Darkroom. They have been 'promising' that they are working on it, but it has been at least 2 years. A teenager can make 100 iPhone apps in 2 years. I think they have no intention of doing it. Oh well. That's why I'm leaving!

This weekend is the return of the Sportsbackers' Dominion Riverrock. A whole lot of stuff to cover at the same time. And most of this year's events are taking place at dusk, which might present difficulties in the shooting department. That, and the fact that I have to work around several hundred people trying to win a photo contest.

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backlightphotography@me.com (Backlight) http://backlight.zenfolio.com/blog/2010/5/my-cup-runneth-over Wed, 12 May 2010 17:04:27 GMT
And they're "OFF!" http://backlight.zenfolio.com/blog/2010/4/and-theyre-off Back into the 'deep-woods' I go. Last Sunday kicked off my return to race photography. This will continue through early October.

This year I was seriously considering not doing it and actually signing up for a few of them as a competitor. I still might try to squeeze in one or two, but luckily I've gotten over several recent injuries and am enjoying some increased mileage both on foot and on the MTB. And somehow I manage to stay up until 10pm on Thursdays to join and adult ice hockey clinic! Believe me, just being awake for that is harder than all the abuse my body takes.

I digress. It was nice getting back to squatting in the tick-filled woods of Goochland County. While it seems mundane to take photos of every participant in a race to sell on the internet (and it can be), the fun comes in finding places on the course that provide a scenic background.

It does get a little stressful with mountain bike races though. The staggered start times and differing distances make it impossible to get everyone's picture. Even if I don't move from one spot, I'll never know who the last rider is. Some folks ride for 5 hours and start with those who only do 1 lap. You just don't worry about it.

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backlightphotography@me.com (Backlight) http://backlight.zenfolio.com/blog/2010/4/and-theyre-off Fri, 16 Apr 2010 13:23:19 GMT
A Monument(al) Race http://backlight.zenfolio.com/blog/2010/4/a-monumental-race   I finally got a good, sunny day to shoot the Ukrop's Monument Avenue 10K. The past 2 years were rainy and dreary. This time, I got sun, blue skies and even a few blooms on the trees! What a fun day. I also got to go up in the cherry-picker over the start line. That was great.

I managed to cover the entire length from start to the turnaround and back, and Greg Garner helped get some new perspectives for me.

I finally met Dean Hoffmeyer of the Richmond Times-Dispatch. He was shooting for the Sportsbackers as well, and was sporting the Canon 7D. What a cool guy. I told him I clipped one of his photos (as I do when I see something really unique) and had it hanging on my office door to remind me to look at things from different perspectives. He then told me not only that he remembered the pic, but how he got it; using a Nikon lens on a Canon body and moving it around in front of the sensor to get the selective focus (a la the Lensbaby promoted by Photofocus and TWiP). Amazing. I never thought of stuff like that. Thanks Dean!

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backlightphotography@me.com (Backlight) http://backlight.zenfolio.com/blog/2010/4/a-monumental-race Thu, 01 Apr 2010 12:41:52 GMT
1st Grade is a Jungle! http://backlight.zenfolio.com/blog/2010/3/1st-grade-is-a-jungle

Tomorrow is Willem's Mid-Year Program - and he's a Vine. It's Disney's 'Jungle Book'.

Today I went to the dress-rehearsal and snapped a few pics. It was pretty cool. I can't believe how much effort goes into these things.

The Richmond Times-Dispatch came out and shot some pics and video of last week's production (I think there's 4 or 5 weeks of this, to accomodate all the kids). I would link to their article, but I absolutely hate the RTD website. When I went to see it, the video was immediately obscured by a Netflix ad.

Sure, you can close it, but it annoyed me so much I lost interest in watching (because I read it in the print edition of the paper).

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backlightphotography@me.com (Backlight) http://backlight.zenfolio.com/blog/2010/3/1st-grade-is-a-jungle Wed, 03 Mar 2010 15:37:23 GMT
Patrick Henry and Photoshop http://backlight.zenfolio.com/blog/2010/3/patrick-henry-and-photoshop I got a spontaneous job from the Sportsbackers last week: shoot the Patrick Henry re-enactor (from the previous year's Patrick Henry Half Marathon, and he also portrayed Dooley of Maymont fame during the Maymont XC Festival) for a life-size cut-out to be used for advertising the Half-Marathon in August.

So I called up Kevin Gantz of the Virginia Patriots (he plays George Washington) and we met at St. John's Church in Church Hill. I brought Willem with me to help out in case we had to set up some flashes. Luckily, the sun was great and the white exterior walls of the church bounced the light back perfectly.

We shot about 200 photos in all sorts of poses as 'Patrick' and Willem talked about what Playstation 3 games are the most fun. I think Willem got a kick out of watching it all. He demands a high salary, though, since I promised I'd pay him for helping - which is far easier now that he's 7 than trying to find a babysitter for 2 hours at 4 in the afternoon.

I decided after the shoot to break out my Scott Kelby book "Photoshop CS2 for Photographers" and cut the background out just for fun. Apparently the printer is going to take care of this for the Sportsbackers, but I just wanted to dust off my Photoshop skills (since the only time I ever seem to use the $1700 Creative Suite is to make funny 'separated at birth' pics for Facebook amusement). Thanks to the Extract tool and the History Brush, it only took me about half an hour to pull this off:

 

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backlightphotography@me.com (Backlight) http://backlight.zenfolio.com/blog/2010/3/patrick-henry-and-photoshop Mon, 01 Mar 2010 08:53:08 GMT