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CAMERA TESTING WITH THE SONY A77 (2 OF 4)

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Part two of my four part write-up on testing the Sony a77 DSLR in various sports setting that I typically shoot  with my job. Please check out the previous post for details on the first test and a bit of an intro to this multi-part project: here

BMX – faster moving subjects, first tests with longer glass.

The week following my first test with skateboarding at Black Flys I met up with one of my BMX friends, Michael Rodriguez. We headed out early on a Saturday morning to Chino Hills BMX park where he was going to get some riding practice in that day with his cousin who also rides.
We arrived at 8a since it was going to be triple digit temperatures that day and finishing before it got that hot was the goal.

The 12fps speed of the shutter was great, again. But this is was when I first started to find a bit of frustration with the video viewfinder. Sony had told me that one of the biggest things to get used to for people was using a view finder that was a video screen since there is no mirror in their camera.

For those that aren’t familiar with how a SLR/DSLR works… the image you see in the viewfinder is a reflection off the mirror inside the camera of what is coming through the lens. The Sony system doesn’t have a mirror, so you’re looking at a small LCD screen that is showing you what is hitting the sensor.

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Here’s a diagram I found online from “nobadphoto.com for a quick reference. The green line is the path of the light (the image). You can see where it reflected before it hits your eye. Well, Sony has illminated the mirror (item #2 in the diagram) so the image goes right to the sensor (#7). Does that make sense? I’m going to assume that it does so I don’t have to get too much more detailed since this writeup isn’t about how the system produces an image. haha.

One benefit of this is that there is an option to see the exposure of the image in the viewfinder – a preview of how the shot will actually look. Although I could see this being much less useful in dark settings. And it proved to be a bit frustrating when I photographed racing a week later – that’s in the next blog update.
The viewfinder also was constantly running a leveler on the screen while shooting. This was something I (surprisingly) was able to ignore while I shot but used a few times when I was framing a shot and noticed, “huh, I’m not level”

For the majority of the BMX shooting I was doing I shot with the 24-70/2.8. The lens itself was sharp, felt comfortable to use, and was smaller in size compared to my Canon lens. I also had much less OOF shots with a smaller lighter lens than with the telephotos this particular test because it’s much easier to move a smaller lens quickly and track people/subjects.
But shooting in a sport/servo tracking mode I still felt like the focus was a bit slower than I’d like and dropped focus to the background more often than I hoped. BUT the park we were shooting at was made up of bowls that Michael was riding in and out of, so there are plenty of things that were coming in/out of the shot as I was shooting. I also don’t know how well my DX would have exactly handled it since I didn’t have it that weekend to try.
After looking through the photos and thinking about why this may have occurred I realized that I was being a little loose on my shooting. What I mean by this is I’ve become very used to a wider “spill” area around the focus point that the Canon 1D systems allow for in their 61-pt auto-focus system. So, if a person/object drops out of your focus point for a second or two (depending on your sensitivity settings) the camera will not lose focus on the subject, nor will it quickly focus on the selected point again – which is now likely the background of the image.
So, while going through images I realized this is what was happening with my images. It’s not that the camera was doing something wrong, it’s that I was relying on a system that wasn’t part of this camera. However, I know that when I shoot with my Canon 5D2 I’m very aware I don’t have this option with that system either and need to remain locked on my subject at all times.
This was something I was more aware of during my next test and OOF shots proved much less of an issue because of it

Overall thoughts for BMX – Works well enough. The speed of 12fps (of course) is great. I will accept fault for some of the focus system issues – and I realized after I didn’t try out the subject lock feature. This would have possibly helped improve many of the shots, as a rider in a cement bowl is a higher contrast compared to something like a car on a track. Below are a ton of different photos of Michael, his cousin Victor, and a couple young kids throwing some tricks on their scooters, too

Click the break for photos!

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Still rockin South Korea

Still kickin it in South Korea!
I’m here just a few more days, but I’ve spent most of this lovely (and very cold) Saturday working on my laptop catching up on email and downloading images. So, I’m going to post a brief update for everyone and share with you a selection of more images from the trip. Again, I feel it necessary to say that these are not edited and not color corrected – so please forgive me if they look a bit off.

Since the last post we’ve been through about three other cities and I’m now back in Yeongtong-gu, near Suwon… back where I started. We’re going to be chilling here and doing a few local things. We’re at that point toward the end of the trip where we’re trying to save a bit of cash. Traveling around the country has been fairly cheap… But, I’ve been on an extremely tight budget these two weeks. So, tomorrow we’re headed back to Seoul to see the Seoul Tower and Fortress there – and that’s the end of my trip.

I’ll likely write a lengthier blog Tuesday after I return to the States and have some time to really sort through images that I haven’t shared yet. So, until that time… enjoy these images from the last five days or so!

Just got off the bus for a little more caving. This one, however, was supposed to be much larger and much more impressive. Those mountains I’m pointing at… we’re about hike into those.

It was really pretty for the hazy November weather… can’t imagine what it must look like in June.

Gettin closer to the top!

Made it! That’s one HUGE entrance…

They had all these lights set up. It wasn’t this bright though… My camera is resting on the beam with a 3 second exposure.

This is a bit more accurate as far as lighting. The cave was awesome though. Took quite a while to see the whole thing.

This was one of the best tasting meals we’ve had… and we bought in the markets. For the roll, and a FULL plate of each type of noodle… we paid about $2.75.. so we got seconds on each noodle dish. The total was under $5, how awesome is that?

Wandering the markets a bit more around Samcheok before catching our bus out of town.

Dried fish anyone? The large ones handing on right are stingrays.

Hahaha!
Shortly after this we boarded the WRONG bus to Gyeongju. We had to take two more connections with the help of the drivers who made sure we moved to the right bus at each stop. The Korean’s are so nice, it was really amazing of them.

Rooms here are so cheap! This one also has TWO computers with internet connections in them for you to use. This is nicer than most college students dorms… and they only charge about $30 a night.

Some of the Royal Tombs here in Gyeongju.

One of many stone pagodas we’ve seen on this trip.

Starting our hike up the mountain to see a stone Buddha… ended up being a very loooong hike.

Little did we know that this was at the very top of the mountain. But, we made it up in time before sundown.

Beautiful sunset with all the blues and purples on the surrounding hills and mountains.

This is outside the Bulguksa Temple and Seokguram Grotto the next day. I’m bummed that they didn’t allow photography there… so sad. The granite Buddha there is one of the worlds most important religious antiquities – which is probably why you can’t photograph it…

At least the walk down the mountain was pretty.

I’m actually making into some of the photos this trip!

Me again! Having Colleen here to take a few shots means I don’t come home with just one-armed photos of me during this trip. Yay!

Decided to try one of these corn dogs on the way back to the bus. It’s dipped, cooked, dipped again, cooked again.. then has sugar and ketchup on it. It was actually pretty good… except for the ketchup, I can’t stand ketchup.

The next day we wandered around more Gyeongju. They have some really pretty parks right there in the downtown area.

One thing I find interesting is that people farm every available area they can… even right here on the side of a creek.

Wandering around Anapji Pond. They were doing construction/rebuilding so there wasn’t a ton to see.

But, it’s me again! Have you guys noticed how little I broke out my strobes on this trip? I’ll probably regret it later… oh well.

Whoaaaa. Wild, huh? Anyone hungry?
We watched the guy gut and clean one in preparation for sale, too.

Not even sure how to caption this one…

Here’s the most American thing I’ve had on this trip. Went into a Dunkin’ Donuts to sit and warm up… so I needed to buy something. The Vanilla Mocha thing I got was awesome… just too much whipped cream.

Waiting for the train! Heading back to Suwon.

So, that wraps this update. I’ll be heading home in two days. I have a ton of work waiting for me when I get back. Well, a wedding to finish and a calendar to wrap up. Excited for Thanksgiving, too! I’ll be in the Bay Area… so if you’re going to be nearby, be sure to call me up so we can catch up on life!

Peace!

Portfolio updated! New Engagement shots, and some fashion

Tonight I was able to knock out a ton of editing and catching up on past shoots. It was a relief to finally have some down time and complete a huge chunk of the work that had piled up on me.

Among the updates I ran on my portfolio tonight was the addition of three shots from the engagement session with Joanne and Jason that we did last month. (Well, three weeks ago, but still last month). The shot above, and two others are in my Weddings section.
We had a great time and I’m still very pleased with the entire afternoon of shooting. Hopefully Joanne and Jason are as excited about their images as I was when I finished processing them.

Also, in my Fashion section are some images from the Beverly Hills shoot with Laura Shields and Jesse Hart. I won’t post those images here since you’ve seen them all in previous blog updates. They’re simply added now, higher res, to my portfolio.

Good night everyone! For those of you down here in Socal that will be at Zorba’s Bike Night tomorrow, come look for me! I’ll be lookin’ for some bikes for some up and coming projects.

I’m also going to be on the lookout soon for some new models for upcoming shoots as well.

Stay tuned.

Still playing catch up…

Tonight I’ve been working on three different shoots. I’m playing catch up with some images for Laura Shields and Jesse Hart, still. I have a lot of shots I like… which make it hard to chose which to edit.

Also edited this shot of Miss Alaska, Courtney Carroll when we were goofing off at the beach a few weeks ago in Santa Monica. Just a fun moment when she was laughing.

And lastly is another preview of Joanne and Jason’s engagement shoot. I’ve been working on many images for them and am nearly done. I will be choosing a small selection to use when I update my portfolio later this weekend.

In other news, my site was migrated to a new server by my webhost. It killed my portfolio and php links for about half of Monday. My old site – which still receives quite a bit of traffic for the Walt Disney World College Program (I trained lifeguards at the water parks in ’03) – is still affected. I need to go and edit a lot of root links that are now broken. Sorry to any of you who actually go through that section.

Alright, time to call it a night for me. I have a busy week still ahead of me.
And and a possible shoot in Hollywood to plan and figure out

Catchin up, with Laura and Jesse

Spent this evening catching up on many things – most of which weren’t photo related… things like car maintenance and errands, haha.
But, the last half of the evening was all photo work. So, a quick update tonight to share with everyone another image of Laura Shields and Jesse Hart from our shoot in Beverly Hills a week ago. I think this one is a bit nicer than the previous one I shared. And I still have many more to go through and select for editing.

But, I’m calling it a night.
Sleep well everyone.

Joanne and Jason’s Engagement shoot

This past Saturday I had the pleasure of photographing Joanne and Jason’s engagement photos in Walnut, Calif.
I actually met Joanne on my birthday a few months back when I was out to dinner with friends. I asked her to take a photo our group with my camera. Handing someone my Mark III almost always starts a conversation about what I do for a living.
Long story short, Joanne was looking for an engagement photographer, and after taking a look at my portfolio we tried finding a date that worked.

The three of us spent a couple hours on location to try something a bit different than your standard engagement photos. Joanne really wanted an entirely black & white shoot. I’m a huge fan of color and lighting – but I’m always down to try something new and challenging.
Overall, the entire afternoon was a big success. We created a number of beautiful images, and I only hope that Joanne, Jason, and their families are as happy with the photos as I am.

A beautiful couple.
It’s somewhat of a given that with me, and an evening shoot, you’re going to end up with photos like this. I enjoy lighting way too much to not try a few of these.

Editing these photos last weekend reminds why I love doing engagement and wedding shots. There’s something really amazing about capturing the love and emotion between two people who want to spend the rest of their lives together. And having the ability and opportunity to capture images like these is the reason I don’t just stick to sports photography, or fashion, or any one style.

I truly love what I do.

Rosa’s shoot

Last night I went shooting with Rosa down in Hollywood. We had a good time looking around for spots and catching up on life, but, since we hadn’t really set out with a spot in mind to shoot it was more social than shooting I would say :)

I’ve known Rosa a while now – meeting her, somewhat, through her cousins that I went to high school with. She’s done various pageants and things, and spent a while living in Japan… how is that not cool? Makes me feel like my traveling around Europe can’t even begin to compete.

Anyway, we just barely missed sunset which you’ll see in the photo below. And while there was full moon and some really cool backdrops we found to try and show that, I didn’t have a tripod so we couldn’t really get a shot I liked with the moon in it… oh well, next time.

The up top was an idea Rosa had from another photo she had liked. This was right before I started using another 580EXII for rim lighting… but, of course, this one ended up as my favorite shot – even though you lose her arm in the darkness.
The one below was shot during the last little bit of light at sundown.

Two weeks to catch up on…

I’m finally back in Los Angeles after tons of traveling the last two weeks.
I have five model shoots, four sports events, one vacation (not mine), and one wedding to edit… Needless to say, I’m going to be extremely busy.

I’m in the process of getting images edited and uploaded to both my blog and my portfolio. So, I’ll keep this post short, and instead simply share three other images with you all.
The above image of Kelly was shot in Michigan at a furniture store in town. They were great and not only allowed me to shoot on short notice, but also gave me all the time I needed to make my images.

This image of Talisha was shot at the Phi Sigma Sigma Sorority house where I was staying while in Michigan. Talisha was great, and totally open to the wacky idea of “let’s wrap your head in ribbon and see how it looks”.

This is one of a number of great images I shot of Jaime while I was home in the Bay Area. I love this girl, so much fun to go out and shoot with, and we always come home with great shots. I’ll have more later from the night part of this shoot, too.