The Nature, Wildlife and Pet Photography Forum - Fine Art Landscape Photography

SAVE A LIFE! ? Need to know basics

Posted By: AdoptAPet

SAVE A LIFE! ? Need to know basics - 02/21/09 10:43 PM

Hi Everyone,

I just found this site yesterday and have been so excited it is hard to contain myself.

A little about me... I have been doing rescue for over 15 years. About 5 years ago I started rescuing from high kill shelters around the country. I spend 7 days a week and on average 18 hours a day working on saving kitties from being gassed or killed by lethal injection. During kitten season (which is just starting) I basically run an ICU and Maternity Ward here in addition to doing adoptions.

Unfortunately, so often the life of the animal depends on a good photo. Get me a ?great photo? and I WILL find a great home for that animal and its life will be saved.

For the past several years I have tried and tried to learn what it takes to get that ?great photo? and have made minimal progress. I have figured out the basics like using a solid background, shooting nothing but the cat, being level with the subject, not to use a camera flash, etc, but in my experience it all comes down to the lighting and that is not something I have been able to master at this point.

Below is a (typical) photo one of the shelters sent of a Death Row kitty in a cage. I posted her and no one was interested.





It was very upsetting because I knew if I could get (what the shelters now know as a) ?Barbra Photo? I could find this cat a home and save her life. I decided to pull her from the shelter and get a ?Barbra Photo.? When I posted this photo I literally had people fighting over her!



Needless to say it was the picture that saved her life!


I need YOUR help! I have scanned the forums and posts and see there is a lot of unbelievable talent on here and quite a few have even been involved with helping shelter animals (thank you)! Please see if together we can build a set-up that will work for me. You need to keep in mind I am a newbie and not using the photos to make money, but rather to save a life. Money is always tight in rescue.

The best article of information I have found thus far towards reaching my goal is:
http://cat-chitchat.pictures-of-cats.org/2008/11/cat-photography-with-ken-and-helmi.html

If someone can explain to me in very basic terms what I need to get (and from where) that would be great! It appears to me that the light used behind the cat, pointing towards the background makes a tremendous difference in the photos.

Up to this point I have been using a cardboard box (with two sides cut off) and then I throw a background over the box and add the kitty.










There is a large window in the room, so depending on the day and sunshine determines the shot. I also bought two lights on tripods (with umbrellas ? one of them silver), but that didn?t resolve the problem either.

I don?t have too much difficulty with the cats and posing them or catching a good shot. My trouble is all with my make shift studio. I have been able to get some decent photos (for my purpose), but need to set up a little studio where the conditions will ALWAYS be right.









Any help anyone can offer will be so appreciated and WILL save lives!!!

Hugs and purrs?..
Barbra and the paws
Posted By: psmith

Re: SAVE A LIFE! ? Need to know basics - 02/22/09 03:07 PM

Tell me more about the two lights and umbrellas? Are they flashes or continuous (hot) lights?

What is your budget to set up a studio (I realize that it is probably shoestring...but a few dollars may make a difference in what one would buy)?

How much space to you have to commit to a studio space? I am assuming it will be temporary (set up and tore down)?

Is this a 'cat/kitten' only request? (Dogs are a whole different animal

You placed a high goal for yourself, Helmi is one of the best cat photographers in the world.
Posted By: psmith

Re: SAVE A LIFE! ? Need to know basics - 02/22/09 03:09 PM

Also, what make and model of camera do you use? If DSLR, what lens?
Posted By: Julie

Re: SAVE A LIFE! ? Need to know basics - 02/22/09 04:04 PM

Don't let PSmith not include himself in one of the best cat photographers in the world either. His photos are beautiful! And I am not one to hand out compliments to be nice

Helmi has an article on here describing her entire setup, which is very neat. I do dogs mainly, so all my stuff is geared toward that

I do shelter dogs at least monthly and use a one light set up on colored photo paper. And, as you said, it does help to get them adopted.
Posted By: Julie

Re: SAVE A LIFE! ? Need to know basics - 02/22/09 04:10 PM

Here is the link to Helmi's interview and she gives pretty detailed setup shots http://www.nwpphotoforum.com/ubbthreads/JM_Pieces/hflick/hflick_pt1.htm?Cat=0
Posted By: psmith

Re: SAVE A LIFE! ? Need to know basics - 02/22/09 04:21 PM

Quote:

Don't let PSmith not include himself in one of the best cat photographers in the world either. His photos are beautiful! And I am not one to hand out compliments to be nice





Posted By: AdoptAPet

Re: SAVE A LIFE! ? Need to know basics - 02/22/09 06:06 PM

Hi Preston,

WOW WOW WOW!!!!!!!! I just looked at your photos on Pbase. WOW WOW WOW! They took my breath away. I am sitting here with the chills.

Okay, let me focus *which is not easy as I am so in awe right now).

My lights:



They are two continuous (hot) lights and each has a 300W bulb in it. Unfortunately, the cats kind of destroyed the umbrellas, so let?s just say I am starting from scratch.

I don?t think space will be a problem as saving these animals is my life and if I need to throw out the furniture downstairs and use the entire living room consider it done. Where I have been photographing now is in an upstairs office, because the front wall has tall open windows. I do not need to take the set-up down (although it would be helpful).



I rescue cats and kittens only. Any dogs I get involved with rescuing never come here so no photos needed.

As for the camera I have been using the Canon Digital Elph S230 (and have gotten some great pictures from it ? when I luck out with good lighting). I was looking into getting the Canon Rebel XT, but now see that Helmi uses Canon EOS 20D with a Tamron f2.8 28-75mm lens exclusively, so let?s just say I am starting from scratch and open to anything (that is cost effective).

Thank you so much!
Barbra
Posted By: AdoptAPet

Re: SAVE A LIFE! ? Need to know basics - 02/22/09 06:19 PM

Hi Julie,

Thanks for the links. I spent the other day combing through every site I could find on Helmi and found her set-up instructions and pictures (that?s how I ended up here). Unfortunately, it is over my head (side light with flag, hair/rim light, slave flash, soft boxes and so on are all foreign to me). I need to go down to the basics as this is all very new to me, but I am willing to do whatever I can to learn.

I wish her and her husband sold the whole set-up as is. Now that would solve my problems.

Barbra
Posted By: AdoptAPet

Re: SAVE A LIFE! ? Need to know basics - 02/22/09 06:24 PM

Quote:

I do shelter dogs at least monthly and use a one light set up on colored photo paper. And, as you said, it does help to get them adopted.




What do you mean when you say "colored photo paper?" Is that something that comes in a roll? Would you send me a link to an example? I tried to search, but only come up with paper to print on.

Thanks,
Barbra
Posted By: psmith

Re: SAVE A LIFE! ? Need to know basics - 02/22/09 07:40 PM

Barbra,

I probably won't get into a detailed answer until I have a bit more time. But here are a few odds and ends:

The paper Julie mentioned is background paper, here is a link:

http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/shop/1395/Other_Backgrounds_Paper_Savage_.html

As you can see, there are many colors and widths to choose from. 53" is probably wide enough for your purposes. Although you can reuse it, it is a disposable material and can get expensive if you need to discard after every use. White is the most problematic in this regard.

Helmi is using studio strobes, so her setup could get quite expensive for you. However, your hot lights may actually be preferable for your intended use because your subjects are likely much more shy and intimidated than a 'show cat' who is accustomed to being around noise, strangers, and handled by many people.

Tell us what happened when you shot with the lights/umbrellas...where did you position them and what kind of results did you get and what sort of camera settings did you use?
Posted By: psmith

Re: SAVE A LIFE! ? Need to know basics - 02/22/09 08:06 PM

Barbra..it looks like you have quite a few purebred rescues, are these pets that people are dropping off? Times are getting tough for people, and even tougher on their pets.
Posted By: Julie

Re: SAVE A LIFE! ? Need to know basics - 02/22/09 09:13 PM

If Helmi sold her set up as a kit, you probably would be looking between 5-7k.

I have read where cat photographer prefer hot lights because it constricts the pupils showing more of the eyes. I do not specialize in cats, so, who knows. I think Psmith is right though, they would be less bothersome than strobes.

The cats I have photographed have not been bothered by strobes, but, really, the people who bring me cats bring me really quiet ones
Posted By: AdoptAPet

Re: SAVE A LIFE! ? Need to know basics - 02/22/09 10:18 PM

There are some days that no matter what I did I just could not get light that was even workable. Colors were not accurate and most shots seemed to have a blue haze over them. I have used the lights in every position I could think of. I personally have a fondness for the pointed cats, so it means a photographing a lot of blue eyes and I have found that a light head on to the cat seems to be best for that.

It has been quite awhile, but I think I had one umbrella behind me facing at the cat and the reflector at one point was off to a side and then I think also used to bounce off the ceiling. Honestly, it has been too long, but I would be surprised if I didn?t try everything possible at one point or another. Oh and let?s not even talk about BLACK cats. I can?t rescue them only because I am unable to get any pictures of them. That is the worst! Yet it?s funny, because now after the past couple of days looking at all the pro shots I see that a purple background with a light behind the cat produces a gorgeous photo!

I tried to look back through my files for one of those bad days where nothing worked (with and without the camera flash and the lights). It wasn?t easy because of lack of drive space I delete most of the garbage. I was able to find a day of the ?blue haze.? I remember how frustrated I was. I kept thinking it had to be a white balance problem, but I tried every setting for ?WB? I could find. Nothing helped.

















Later that day (or maybe even the next morning) when window light changed and was somewhat better I was able to get these:





?shy and intimidated? hahahhahahaha not the ones that come here. I almost wish they were as they might sit still in fear for a minute or two.

Barbra
Posted By: AdoptAPet

Re: SAVE A LIFE! ? Need to know basics - 02/22/09 10:37 PM

Over the years of rescue I have met quite a few interesting people that have assisted my goals in one way or another. I have become friendly with a woman you writes an online magazine for breeders and show people.

I contact her when I run into severe birthing problems (and believe me that is often) since I rescue so many pregnant cats. All she deals with (she is also a breeder) is pedigree cats she gets crazy when I call some of these rescues ?Siamese? (like the pictures in my first post). She corrects me?. ?They are pointed cats.?

Anyway, the Birman in the photos was (he crossed over almost a year ago due to FIP) my purchased show cat. There is so must daily heartache and loss in what I do that I wanted to find something I get into with the cats that would be fun and bring happiness, so I was going to start showing at some of the more local shows. LOL just my luck the kitty I purchased was loaded with ringworm and lost patches of hair. It grew back in as a brown patch on a white coat. And there went my show career.

I have a rescued ?pedigree? Persian here that was dumped at the kill shelter for peeing and spraying everywhere. On occasion a pedigree with papers does show up, but for the most part the cats are look-a-likes (albeit some gorgeous ?fakes?).

Owner surrender has been higher than I have ever seen. What is worse is that we are finding so many altered and declawed cats on the streets, which means many people are just opening the door and letting their cats (try) to fend for themselves. It is so sad.

Julie ? I am not really sure what the ?strobe? lights are so I can?t comment. I am willing to use whatever will produce the shot technically and I will figure out how to get the cats to do what I need them to.

I would love to ask you more questions about the paper, but I won?t put the cart before the horse just yet.

Barbra
Posted By: DavidRamey

Re: SAVE A LIFE! ? Need to know basics - 02/23/09 12:36 AM

Part of your problem is the mixing of different temperatures of light!! You are using sunlight through a window (approx. 5600K) and hot lights (approx. 2700K to 3600K). This is why you can't get a good white balance. If you are going to use hot lights (tungsten) then block off that window to keep from poluting your scene with a different color cast of light. If you use tungsten, then make sure your bulbs are all the same manufacturer and the same age so that all your lights will be putting out the same white balance. To be able to use both kinds of light together, you would have to either filter the light from the hot lights to match daylight using filters of acetate called "gels" or filter the window to match the hot lights. It isn't worth the effort. More hot lights are cheaper and easier to use.
Posted By: AdoptAPet

Re: SAVE A LIFE! ? Need to know basics - 02/23/09 12:55 AM

Okay that makes sense, BUT... I have also tried it at night and it is no better. Sometimes it's quite different, but no better.

Barbra
Posted By: DavidRamey

Re: SAVE A LIFE! ? Need to know basics - 02/23/09 01:25 AM

Barbra,
Studio lighting is not that hard of a concept. You are controlling exposure and controlling shadows. Once you know what the exposure is for your lighting setup, then put your camera on MANUAL to keep the exposure the same. With hot lights, your white balance should be somewhere between 2700K and 3600K. I can't tell you which because I am not there to test your set up. Using hot lights, the bulbs are on all the time so that you can see where the shadows are falling. Even at night, the light coming from that window is poluting your scene. If you don't want to block off that window, then buy studio strobes (Alien Bees, White Lightning, Pro Foto, Photogenics, etc.). At least then, the window won't be polluting your light scene with a different white balance.

To measure the exposure, you should have a light meter.

Are all your lights the same manufacturer? Are your bulbs all the same manufacturer? If they aren't, then each light could be putting out a different white balance.

Do you know the difference between a main light, hair light, fill light, background light? Do you know what the job of each of those lights are?

I use studio strobes (White Lightning). I also use camera flash when I need to. I also have a set of hot lights. My hot lights are nothing more than clamp on shop lights that takes a screw in incandescent bulb. I have bulbs from 15 watts to 100 watts. I use GE soft white bulbs. I have 6 hot lights bought at the same time, all the same brand. My bulbs are all the same age. As incandescent bulbs age, their white balance changes. This is why I keep all my bulbs the same age. I probably have spent less than $100.00 for my hot light set up.

To fix your problem we have to identify the variables and eliminate them. It is the only way to have consistent light.
Posted By: AdoptAPet

Re: SAVE A LIFE! ? Need to know basics - 02/23/09 01:46 PM

David,

I am willing to block off the windows, move to another room or do whatever it takes to make this work. I am that serious about it.

Regarding the lights and bulbs. I bought a package off eBay that consisted of the two lights, 2 tripods, two umbrellas (which are pretty much shot right now) and a carry case. No bulbs were included and the ?seller? told me to go out and get regular bulbs. I bought two ?GE Basic? 300W bulbs at the same time and have pretty much used both lights together.

It sounds from your post that I have way too much light and here I thought I didn?t quite have enough. Shows you how much trouble I am in.

Now it appears from what you are saying about the white balance I am going to need to upgrade my camera now. The choices I have are auto, daylight, cloudy, tungsten, fluorescent, fluorescent H and custom. Additionally, there is a way to adjust exposure compensation.

I am not really familiar with light meters, so can you recommend what I need (and where to get it). Then of course I will need to know how to use it. LOL I know this is not easy, but remember all of you were new at one time too :-)

?Do you know the difference between a main light, hair light, fill light, background light? Do you know what the job of each of those lights are??

Not really.

Thanks so much,
Barbra
Posted By: Jim Poor

Re: SAVE A LIFE! ? Need to know basics - 02/23/09 02:21 PM

I'm going to take a totally different approach.


Here are my assumptions:

At this point you are looking to produce photos that show the cats in their best light, rather that works of art that are to be printed on canvass and hung in a gallery.


You're not looking to go into the cat photography business as this point.

OK,

The two lights you have are probably just fine, but adding a third wouldn't hurt.

The lights don't have to be "photography" lights. In fact, the lights you have are little different than a shop light like you can get from your local home improvement store, save probably from the built in capability to take an umbrella.

I used home depot lights for my rescue (dog) photography and even my first couple of paid fund raising events, so they work just fine.

I'd recommend switching to the Compact florescent bulbs, but tungsten will work too. The main advantage to the CFL bulbs is that they don't get so hot so they are easy to handle.

Have you tried bouncing the light off the ceiling and or wall? What about a white piece of foam-board or construction paper held to the side of your subject?

I know nothing about your camera but if you can set a custom white balance based on the light you use, that would help with the "blue haze." If not, most of the photo processing programs out there have a white balance adjustment that is easy to use.

Shooting in RAW would be a good thing if you have the software to process raw files (I don't even know if your camera will shoot raw, so it may be a moot point).

Backgrounds:

You don't need anything fancy for this type of work.

A solid colored bed sheet (or piece of fabric from Jo Ann's) will work fine with something the size of a cat.
Depending on how you feel about the wrinklens and folds in the material, you could simply drape it over a couch or chair like a seat cover.

If you want to remove the folds and wrinkles you could use a kitchen table and a couple chairs to help stretch the fabric and hold it smoother.

Then, there is seamless background paper. I think a 4-foot wide roll would be plenty for cats (I've done it with dogs on a 4 foot roll too, but you have to be careful of the edges).

Hope all this helps.
Posted By: psmith

Re: SAVE A LIFE! ? Need to know basics - 02/23/09 02:31 PM

Hi Barbra,

I think the mixed results that you are getting probably has to do with your camera settings as much as anything. It looks as though you have put most of the camera in 'automatic'. Correct me if I'm wrong.

If you would like to try a few experiments and post the results maybe we could help you come up with a recipe to get consistent good photos and hopefully save the kitties.

Here are a few suggestions just to try to see what is going on. Get out the camera manual, if you don't have it then download one at http://gdlp01.c-wss.com/gds/0900001482/S230IXUSV3CUG-EN.pdf

Change a few settings:

Set your shooting mode to MANUAL (p 42)

Turn off digital zoom

Try Switching to spot metering (p 63)- your camera has a light meter built in, when you prefocus be sure to focus on cat fur not the background...the prefocus is also locking exposure.

Switch the White balance to TUNGSTEN (pg 67), if that doesn't work you can do a CUSTOM white balance

Switch Photo Effects OFF (p 70)

Set the ISO speed to 50 (p 71) (makes for a cleaner picture assuming you have enough light)

Turn the flash off (p 47)

Draw the blinds over your windows and turn off any bright lights. Position your two lights, umbrellas on either side of your shooting position and slightly higher than your photo subject, point the light directly at the subject.

Take a shot or two and evaluate the exposure. Adjust accordingly ( p 64)

Tell us what works and doesn't work. The color of the cat should not matter.
Posted By: psmith

Re: SAVE A LIFE! ? Need to know basics - 02/23/09 02:49 PM

Regarding your shooting area, I see a box balanced on a box. Here is a good investment that would come in handy in many situations:
http://www.samsclub.com/shopping/navigate.do?dest=5&item=326451&pCatg=3574

Also, the value of the pheasant feather can not be over emphasized. Pheasant, not turkey, not goose. I get mine fresh from the bird (my neighbor is a hunter), be careful of anything you get at a hobby store as they might be dyed. A 50 cent wooden dowel from Home Depot will help you extend its reach.
Posted By: DavidRamey

Re: SAVE A LIFE! ? Need to know basics - 02/23/09 05:35 PM

Don't worry about having "too much light". That is easily fixed by moving the light farther away or putting in a smaller wattage of bulb.

Main Light = just what the name implies, it is your main source of light and helps establish your exposure.

Fill Light = usually placed on the opposite side of the main light. The fill light is used to fill in the shadows created by the main light.

A typical light set up using just the main and fill light is as follows. Set up the main light at a 45 degree angle from the subject. point the light away from the subject shooting into an umbrella. set up your camera on a tripod. set up the fill light beside the tripod on the opposite side from the main light. point the fill light away from the subject shooting into an umbrella. To vary the exposure using this setup, you can either change bulbs or set the lights farther away from the subject. check how the shadows are falling onto your subject. Adjust your lights to vary the shadows. A good starting point would be set your camera up on a tripod the distance you need to be for the composition you want the photo to be. Set up your main light about 42" from your subject on the right side of your camera about 12" higher than your subject pointing down on your subject. Place the fill light beside your camera on the left side even with your lens. With both lights on, take a meter reading to see what the exposure is. Lets say that the exposure meter says f/8 with a shutter speed of 1/30. The f/8 will give you a great depth of field to keep the cat in focus but the 1/30 shutter speed will give you blurring if the cat moves. How do we fix this? Move the main light and the fill light closer to the cat. If the exposure says f/8 and shutter speed of 1/500 then you would want to move the lights farther away. If the cats wants to move alot, then I would want a shutter speed of 1/200 or 1/250. If the cats don't move too much then a shutter speed of 1/60 or 1/125 might work.

Now for your homework assignment: Acquire 2 stuffed cats. one black and one white. These will be your subjects while you learn to read light. Set up your background and pose both stuffed cats. Set up your camera on a tripodat the distance that you like the composition you see in your viewfinder. If you do not have a tripod, then set the camera on a stool for now. Set up your main light as I explained earlier. watch the cats. move the light closer to the cats, see the shadows change and the brightness of the scene change? move the light farther away. watch how the shadows and the brightness change. put the light back at 42". leave it on. set up your fill light as I explained earlier. see how the shadows gets filled in? move the fill light closer to the cats. see how the fill light fills in the shadows and brightens the shadowed part of your cats? move the fill light farther away from the cats. see how the shadows gets darker? You just learned about how to control light. Now tell me the results you saw with the light placement of the main and fill lights.

If you do not understand something I said here, then give me a call at 907-262-5642 and ask for David. Sometimes it is easier to talk and explain than it is to write and try to explain. Plus the feedback is immediate.

I will teach you about light and how to controll it to suit your needs.

Please keep in mind there is a 4 hour time difference between NY and AK. Please do not call at 8am your time as that will be 4 am MY time.
Posted By: Jim Poor

Re: SAVE A LIFE! ? Need to know basics - 02/23/09 05:45 PM

David is right on with the black & white stuffed cats. I'd say add a middle color gray or brown too. Looking at the photos you posted, it looks like you are most of the way there as far as stuffed kitties go.

This is also known as the "Teddy Bear Test" which was largely popularized by Moose Peterson. If you really want good test subjects, get the ones with marble eyes rather than plastic. It will give you a better idea of how to work with catch lights and such later on.
Posted By: AdoptAPet

Re: SAVE A LIFE! ? Need to know basics - 02/23/09 06:00 PM

Hi Jim,

You are correct in that I want to show the cats in their best light (but if I can get to the point where they are good enough to be hung that would be fantastic :-)

When you mention ?shop light? is it something like one of the ones listed here:

http://www.lowes.com/lowes/lkn?action=pr...;Ntt=shop+light

If so, which and then how do you hang the light? If I get a 3rd David mentioned in a previous post that all lights should be the same (so do I want to get three new ones)? Do you think I need the umbrellas?

As for the backgrounds what I have done in the past was go to the fabric section of Walmart and have purchased a square yard of various solids and even some interesting prints (especially for holidays). That worked fine when I was just draping over my little cardboard box, but what I would really like to do is have something along the lines of Helmi?s background/table.

I guess we can get to the background issues after we can figure out the set-up.

I will have to check if my camera will shoot in "RAW."

Where in VA are you? Do you photograph cats as well as dogs? I pull a lot of Death Row kitties from the high kill shelter in Staunton.

Thanks so much!
Barbra
Posted By: Jim Poor

Re: SAVE A LIFE! ? Need to know basics - 02/23/09 06:07 PM

If your end game is to get "wall hangers" then you'll definitely want to get lights other than the shop lights.

That said, the ones I used (and still carry around as a "just in case") are this model: http://www.lowes.com/lowes/lkn?action=pr...&lpage=none

Matching lights is a great concept and definitely should be applied to bulbs, but I personally don't worry about matching the fixtures in terms of age, etc.

Walmart fabric works just as well, I've done that too.

What program are you using to process the photos?

I live in Fairfax, but travel pretty much all over the state.

I shoot for 15 different rescues right now for their adoption pages (yes, cats too, but not as often).

I'd actually like to do some cat-specific fundraising events this year. Someone brought a kitty to the last dog fundraiser I did. Brave cat.
Posted By: AdoptAPet

Re: SAVE A LIFE! ? Need to know basics - 02/23/09 06:09 PM

Preston, David and Jim,

I am going to bottle feed the infants and then break this down one step at a time. :-)

I will first go through Preston's post and do everything that needs to be done to the camera.

I will then take my 3 stuffed kitties, my box, background cloth and lights into a room where the windows are covered and start working on David's lighting.

I have a feeling I'll be back with camera questions, but if not I will be sending my tests shots to you later today!

THANK YOU ALL!
Barbra
Posted By: DavidRamey

Re: SAVE A LIFE! ? Need to know basics - 02/23/09 06:12 PM

You need 2 umbrellas, one for main and one for fill lights. You do not need to buy 3 new lights. just make sure that if you do buy a new light to get one from the same manufacturer that you have now so the metals will be the same. The difference between the light you have and the "clamp on shop lights" are the material used in the bulb base. The clamp on shop lights use plastic for the bulb base and are limited as to how much wattage of a bulb that you can use typically 100 - 150 watts. The lights you bought have a porcelain base that can handle much greater wattage of bulbs. They are better (more versatile)
Posted By: AdoptAPet

Re: SAVE A LIFE! ? Need to know basics - 02/23/09 09:16 PM

OFF TOPIC - for a moment

- I got sidetracked by the shelter sending me a list of cats on the euthanasia list <sigh>

I must ask the question:

What causes milky eyes in photos? I know she is using a very good camera, but with a picture like this I will never be able to save this guy.



Thanks,
Barbra

PS I will be doing my homework this evening as even in the other room with shades on the small windows too much light is coming in.
Posted By: Jim Poor

Re: SAVE A LIFE! ? Need to know basics - 02/23/09 09:26 PM

That's "demon eye" or "green eye" same thing as red-eye for us humans. Basically, the flash is reflecting off the back of the retina.

It's easy enough to fix in Photoshop or another image program, and even easier to avoid with off camera lighting that changes the angle of reflection.
Posted By: DavidRamey

Re: SAVE A LIFE! ? Need to know basics - 02/23/09 09:40 PM

Look at where the catch light is in the eye. See how the catch light is almost centered in the eye? If you raise that flash to where the catch light will be between 1 and 2 oclock and towards the outside of the eye, you will eliminate that milky look.
Posted By: psmith

Re: SAVE A LIFE! ? Need to know basics - 02/23/09 09:40 PM

Ditto what Jim said. The reason for this is the flash is too close to the lens. You will not get this so bad when you move your umbrellas on either side of you.
Posted By: AdoptAPet

Re: SAVE A LIFE! ? Need to know basics - 02/23/09 09:51 PM

Thanks! No I didn't take that (I am not that bad) :-) That just came from one of my shelters in the Midwest and I was surprised as I know this volunteer has a really good camera.

Barbra
Posted By: Julie

Re: SAVE A LIFE! ? Need to know basics - 02/23/09 11:49 PM

You don't turn into a great chef because you buy great pots and pans. A great camera only makes great photos if you know how(or get lucky occasionally)
Posted By: Julie

Re: SAVE A LIFE! ? Need to know basics - 02/24/09 01:08 AM

Barbra, check out this link http://www.luminous-landscape.com/tutorials/understanding-series/understandexposure.shtml

and this book
http://www.amazon.com/Understanding-Exposure-Photographs-Digital-Updated/dp/0817463003

Everything in photography has to do with light. You can buy exactly what Helmi has, from the camera to the lights and unless you know WHY and how to use them, it won't get photos like that.

Better cameras make things easier. They don't make awesome photographs because its a good camera. Helmi made beautiful photographs with an olympus 3mp point and shoot. Its all about light.
Posted By: AdoptAPet

Re: SAVE A LIFE! ? Need to know basics - 02/24/09 02:04 AM

HOMEWORK -







Dark room with just the two photo lights placed on each side of the box, slightly higher and pointing at the subject. I did not make any changes to the camera yet as I will wait for instructions. :-)

Thanks!
Barbra
Posted By: Julie

Re: SAVE A LIFE! ? Need to know basics - 02/24/09 02:18 AM

The color and white balance looks good. Either you have motion blur or its out of focus on the second one. Check your shutter speed.

Other ideas for photos are having people hold them and give that same look. It seems the cats/dogs need to have a look of already being a pet and eye contact for a good photos for adoption. The first photo in this thread obviously is poor for the fact it makes the cat look like it is feral and about to scratch your eyes out.

This says it is a public link, but, it may not be

http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=17095&id=1012457594&l=f503b
Posted By: AdoptAPet

Re: SAVE A LIFE! ? Need to know basics - 02/24/09 02:18 AM

Oh my... I am not nearly done turning in my assignment. That was just my HW from Preston after all the settings on the camera were changed and the windows blocked, lights turned off and camera lights set up.

David gave me a lot to do, so off I go....

Barbra
Posted By: AdoptAPet

Re: SAVE A LIFE! ? Need to know basics - 02/24/09 02:21 AM

Quote:

You don't turn into a great chef because you buy great pots and pans. A great camera only makes great photos if you know how(or get lucky occasionally)




Hi Julie,

Great analogy. I agree on both accounts (I have some pretty poor pots, but I CAN cook!).

Even with my lack of knowledge and experience it has been clear to me from early on that the majority of my problems were light. This is why I, and now us as a group are starting here.

I never thought to block the windows as David directed. LOL and now it seems like common sense.

Thanks for the links. I will get to it as soon as I finish my Teddy Bear Test homework.

Barbra
Posted By: AdoptAPet

Re: SAVE A LIFE! ? Need to know basics - 02/24/09 02:34 AM

Preston has me down to ISO 50 and I didn't go look for the tripod (which I haven't used since before digital).

It's hard to move these lights around, because the cords are so short. I better go find an exstention cord before I continue.

The pictures are great! There are two dogs and that LH gray kitty I would take in an instant. Who is the single blonde? She looks so familiar. I find the people are too distracting. While those are great to look at, to me they do not compare to the photos you took of the dogs with the pink background (in the goal of getting them a home).

Barbra
Posted By: psmith

Re: SAVE A LIFE! ? Need to know basics - 02/24/09 02:55 AM

How close are your lights to the subjects? Do you have the umbrellas attached?

You not getting enough light yet for a good shutter speed, #2 is f3.2 at 1/40 and #3 is f3.2 at 1/25. Without a faster shutter speed you will get soft focus from camera shake or subject movement or both. So, you can bring your lights closer or move the ISO up to 100 (I wouldn't go over that at this point).

What do YOU think of this exercise?

If you are doing the things David suggested make your eyes look for the change in shadows in between the wrinkles.
Posted By: psmith

Re: SAVE A LIFE! ? Need to know basics - 02/24/09 02:56 AM

That is a lovely stuffed Persian in #3 by the way.
Posted By: Julie

Re: SAVE A LIFE! ? Need to know basics - 02/24/09 03:06 AM

The blonde is Elaine Hendrix http://www.elainehendrix.com She has starred in a bunch of movies, one being the parent trap.

The shelter has found that having the people actually helps the adoption rates. In a shelter situation it really is not feasible to do cats by themselves. Too dangerous for them.

They really seek out celebrities to come have photos made with the animals. Psychologically, that makes sense as if a celebrity you see on TV likes the animal, it must be worth liking.

Its becoming a very chic thing to come have your photo made at the shelter.
Posted By: AdoptAPet

Re: SAVE A LIFE! ? Need to know basics - 02/24/09 03:28 AM

Quote:


You not getting enough light yet for a good shutter speed, #2 is f3.2 at 1/40 and #3 is f3.2 at 1/25.




Okay, you went way over my head.

I started with the lights very close and now have been moving them back and honestly the only difference I am noticing is that there is not enough light.

I can't do David's assignment as I don't have the tools (a meter and my umbrellas are shot).

Here is why I had to use the stuffed Persian:



Okay let me go try again. I switched the ISO to 100 now.

Barbra
Posted By: psmith

Re: SAVE A LIFE! ? Need to know basics - 02/24/09 03:33 AM

Wow...Ms Lischak on Joan of Arcadia! One of my favorite unjustly cancelled shows. (I think she was mean to Romy and Michelle though...uh, I had to watch that movie because my wife rented it). Julie, what else is going on down there in Tennesse? Next thing you know you'll be telling me that some famous singer is building a Disneyland down there.

You are amazing that you can help get this kind of interest generated around adoptions. Nice work.
Posted By: AdoptAPet

Re: SAVE A LIFE! ? Need to know basics - 02/24/09 03:45 AM

While I am sure this is going to be obvious to you the more animals in the photo the closer the light (guessing 1, 2 and 3 feet). The only one that seems correct to me is the one where the lights are right up close to the subject.







Barbra
Posted By: Julie

Re: SAVE A LIFE! ? Need to know basics - 02/24/09 03:51 AM

I liked her in Romy and Michele! My daughter recognized her from the parent trap and I actually have watched Special Unit 2! ha! I didn't know who she was until I looked it up tonight. I just get called to come shoot people. I am supposed to shoot David Keith too, but, that may or may not happen. He adopted from the shelter recently.

I am shooting the mayor on Friday. He only does cats. I may actually make my lazy butt drag a softbox and reflector for that. I hated dragging a bunch of stuff, but, really that should be no big deal. We'll see.

This shelter really does a great job of maximizing resources and MARKETING!
Posted By: Julie

Re: SAVE A LIFE! ? Need to know basics - 02/24/09 01:00 PM

Close light is actually softer light. IF I want really soft light, I put a softbox REALLY close to the person.

This last setup is your best one yet
Posted By: psmith

Re: SAVE A LIFE! ? Need to know basics - 02/24/09 04:19 PM



OK. I hope you can see what David was teaching you. Crops from the first row show what happened to your shadows as you moved the fill light in. The second row shows a crop from the upper left corner of the background. The camera chose an f-stop of 4.0 for you, that's OK. However, as you moved the fill light in the camera went for a quicker shutter speed 1/80 of a second vs 1/30 in the first two. So it got the white bear right and started dimming the background. Faster shutter speed = less light captured. So after looking through your camera manual, there is no way I see to lock f-stop and shutter speed - no truly manual mode. I think this does indicate that for this purpose you do need to consider a different camera. (I would recommend an entry level dSLR, or a good used older model dSLR). That is assuming that budget is a consideration.

If you are able to document a non-profit tax status and provide a few references of your rescue work, I may have a tip on keeping your shelter's cost down. Or if this is also for personal use I have my opinion on models just like many others here on the board.

These photos do look much better. But you will only be able to go so far with this camera. My opinion, others are welcome to chime in.
Posted By: AdoptAPet

Re: SAVE A LIFE! ? Need to know basics - 02/24/09 05:08 PM

Hi Preston,

I am not sure how you figured that out (and am probably better off not knowing - just yet). I know I need to take this one step at a time in order to progress and achieve my goal. I am staying focused.

That being said let's move on to cameras! The two that have been recommended are the Canon Rebel XT and then Canon EOS 20D (Helmi?s).

Your thoughts?

Thanks,
Barbra
Posted By: psmith

Re: SAVE A LIFE! ? Need to know basics - 02/24/09 05:22 PM

The exposure values are in the EXIF (info) section of the JPGs that you posted. More on cameras later, but it would help if we knew

1. your budget?
2. what else you plan to do if anything besides studio adoption shots?
3. is getting new memory cards a problem budgetwise?
4. if you do want to print, how large?
5. are you buying used or new?
Posted By: AdoptAPet

Re: SAVE A LIFE! ? Need to know basics - 02/24/09 05:28 PM

Last night after the Teddy Test I moved to a live kitty. I think the reason I needed to do this is because of my lack of knowledge/experience. What I mean by this is that when doing the ?TT? and moving the lights I noticed the final outcome was different each time, but couldn?t really see the specifics until Preston broke it down for me with crops, pictures and explanations. Because of the experience you all have you know what to look for and see the obvious.

I have taken so many kitty pictures that I thought it might be easier for me.

In this first photo it was better than a lot of what I had been getting previously, but still not right (and I am not sure why). Unless now the answer might just be that I need a better camera?



Then I used ACDSee photo editing software and did an auto color change



Then an auto contrast change



and finally and auto color, contrast, brightness change



Do any of these look right (for lack of a better word) to you?

Thanks,
Barbra
Posted By: Jim Poor

Re: SAVE A LIFE! ? Need to know basics - 02/24/09 05:37 PM

To my eyes, the last two look best.

The original is slightly over exposed.

On camera choices, are you set on Canon?
Posted By: AdoptAPet

Re: SAVE A LIFE! ? Need to know basics - 02/24/09 05:41 PM

Quote:

1. your budget?
2. what else you plan to do if anything besides studio adoption shots?
3. is getting new memory cards a problem budgetwise?
4. if you do want to print, how large?
5. are you buying used or new?




I am not really sure. I would say $1,000, but have no idea if that is realistic.
I have no clue what memory cards cost, but in the past whenever we have taken in an animal that needed surgery (a major cost) and we have no funds ? I have managed to find it. So getting a camera, etc. is something that has the potential to save many lives and I will do my best to find the needed funds.

LOL I AM OPEN TO DONATIONS AND PITTY SALES IF ANYONE HAS EQUIPMENT THEY ARE NO LONGER USING

Right now we rarely print, but if I am going to do this I would think it best to leave all options open so that I don?t have to keep upgrading.
- I know someone that works for Canon and once we figure out what equipment I need I will give her a call and see if she can do anything.
I am open to new or used. Whatever you say.

Thanks,
Barbra
Posted By: psmith

Re: SAVE A LIFE! ? Need to know basics - 02/24/09 05:44 PM

The first one looks best to me. Look at the color of the fur between the eyes, isn't that the 'real' color of the cat? Compare that to the same spot on the others. Auto color seldom works well with cats. However, on this particular cat you could try setting a white point left front paw (that is pure white, right?).

Also look at what your corrections did to the shadow on camera left.

I see two catchlights in the right eye but you must have had the light on camera left much further away to be casting the shadow like that?
Posted By: AdoptAPet

Re: SAVE A LIFE! ? Need to know basics - 02/24/09 05:44 PM

Hi Jim,

With the original what should I have done differently with the lights to produce a better end result?

I am not set on anything at this point. The two cameras I listed were both recommended and they just happen to be Canons. Additionally, I do know someone that works for Canon, so she might be able to help.

Barbra
Posted By: AdoptAPet

Re: SAVE A LIFE! ? Need to know basics - 02/24/09 05:52 PM

Quote:

The first one looks best to me. Look at the color of the fur between the eyes, isn't that the 'real' color of the cat?




Yes. That is the one that shows the real color.

Quote:

Auto color seldom works well with cats. However, on this particular cat you could try setting a white point left front paw (that is pure white, right?).




Setting a white point?

Quote:

Also look at what your corrections did to the shadow on camera left.
I see two catchlights in the right eye but you must have had the light on camera left much further away to be casting the shadow like that?




I really didn?t know what ?catchlights? were, so went back to the photo and I see them. See this is what I mean. That is something I NEVER noticed before!!!! Yes you are 100% correct as the lights are still set-up from last night and camera left is further back!
Posted By: Jim Poor

Re: SAVE A LIFE! ? Need to know basics - 02/24/09 05:59 PM

I fear we're getting into a "too many cooks in the kitchen" situation here with all of us trying to help and probably confusing things even more :O

I must confess to not knowing what the "true" colors of the cat in the photo are, but I like the last two. That said, they could be completely "wrong" compared to reality.

I'm going to sit back and let the others do the advising.

That said, the first one looks over exposed by just a bit, so I measured it and there are some areas that are really close to being totally blown out. I got a lot of 253-254 readings.

The second looks like there is a bit of a color cast introduced by the auto correction.

I prefer the darker face in the last two, but again I don't know how dark that is in reality. Not to confuse things too much more, but we don't even really know what you are seeing on your monitor, which I'm assuming isn't calibrated, so it could conceivably look purple to you and we would never know.

What you could do with the lights is really a catch 22. You could back them up a bit, but then your shadow is going to get even worse because the relative size of the light compared to your subject would be smaller.

You could hang a piece of thin white fabric (far far away from any hot bulbs) between the light and the subject to soften things a bit.

That's another reason I prefer the CFL bulbs. I don't have to worry so much about starting a fire.
Posted By: psmith

Re: SAVE A LIFE! ? Need to know basics - 02/24/09 06:12 PM

Jim you are right. It could be purple. On my monitor the first one is a blue point, the second one is mink. Given what I saw of the cat the blue seemed more likely to be correct. Sorry to jump on your reply, we were answering at the same time.
Posted By: Jim Poor

Re: SAVE A LIFE! ? Need to know basics - 02/24/09 06:13 PM

No worries at all. I noticed that we must have been typing at the same time.
Posted By: AdoptAPet

Re: SAVE A LIFE! ? Need to know basics - 02/24/09 06:16 PM

Quote:


If you are able to document a non-profit tax status and provide a few references of your rescue work, I may have a tip on keeping your shelter's cost down. Or if this is also for personal use I have my opinion on models just like many others here on the board.




I should be able to provide both.

Personal use? hahahhahah I have NO personal life! It's ALL about the cats.
Posted By: psmith

Re: SAVE A LIFE! ? Need to know basics - 02/24/09 08:25 PM

Quote:

Setting a white point?





There used to be a 'color cast' function in ACDSEE that allowed you to identify a white point. That is, you would pick the white point tool and click on the photo where you know there is pure white, then the software would correct everything else around that.
Posted By: Julie

Re: SAVE A LIFE! ? Need to know basics - 02/25/09 12:44 AM

Barbra, before jumping into a camera, go to the stores, hold them, price them and see what you need. I had a 5mp Olympus E-1 that I easily printed beautiful 16x20's from.

Lenses mean much more than a camera body. If you want a 20D only because Helmi uses one, well, you really need to research the cameras first.

ANY of them will produce far superior shots to a point and shoot. Megapixels don't mean much and for what you do, it really isn't a big deal between 8 and 21.
Posted By: Julie

Re: SAVE A LIFE! ? Need to know basics - 02/25/09 12:45 AM

Barbra, before jumping into a camera, go to the stores, hold them, price them and see what you need. I had a 5mp Olympus E-1 that I easily printed beautiful 16x20's from.

Lenses mean much more than a camera body. If you want a 20D only because Helmi uses one, well, you really need to research the cameras first.

ANY of them will produce far superior shots to a point and shoot. Megapixels don't mean much and for what you do, it really isn't a big deal between 8 and 21. 20D's are fairly cheap now as they are a few generations old, so, it wouldn't be a bad model to find gently used.
Posted By: AdoptAPet

Re: SAVE A LIFE! ? Need to know basics - 02/25/09 01:18 AM

Hi Julie,

That's hard to do because I am clueless as to what I need and/or the difference between them. Also, caring for so many sick, injured, abused, pregnant and nursing kitties I only get out about once a week. That trip usually consists of a quick run to the grocery, pet store and vet. TG for the internet! :-)

I am waiting to hear back from Jim and Preston about cameras and Preston might have a "tip" on costs.

Thanks,
Barbra
Posted By: FarleyDog

Re: SAVE A LIFE! ? Need to know basics - 02/25/09 10:21 AM

Quote:

The paper Julie mentioned is background paper, As you can see, there are many colors and widths to choose from. 53" is probably wide enough for your purposes. Although you can reuse it, it is a disposable material and can get expensive if you need to discard after every use. White is the most problematic in this regard.





Hi Barbra,
There have been a lot of good suggestions for you. I notice that you are in NY. I am too. I think I have some background paper in storage that I will probably never use and I can donate it if you can pick it up. I would also be willing to show you a few tricks based on your comments that will get you better pictures. My main office is in West Hempstead,NY on Long Island. Pet Photography is my only business and along with my staff, we have photographed over 50,000 pets. Here is a recent interview in Newsday http://www.newsdaypetpages.com/articles.php?articleID=12

I don't know how to imbed an image here so I attached a picture.

regards,
Richie

Attached picture 20854-kitchair.jpg
Posted By: AdoptAPet

Re: SAVE A LIFE! ? Need to know basics - 02/25/09 04:46 PM

Hi Richie,

Thanks so much for getting in touch and for your generous offer!

What is your schedule like for being at the studio in West Hempstead (are you there on weekends)?

I am bottle feeding a litter of babies that I hope I can move on to food by the weekend (which will enable me to be able to sneak out for a bit).

Your attached picture is adorable. :-) Where do you find the little furniture? I find that with adoption photos the props do help. We have hard a time finding miniature items. We did come across some jewelry boxes which have worked great for our photos. I have been to the various craft stores and there are about a half dozen of us that try to keep our eyes out at garage sales and the likes, but haven?t had much success.









Thanks,
Barbra
Posted By: Jim Poor

Re: SAVE A LIFE! ? Need to know basics - 02/25/09 04:57 PM

What about kid furniture, large doll furniture, etc?

Think Barbie Cars and such, though the stuffed fire engine is adorable.
Posted By: wyldaire

Re: SAVE A LIFE! ? Need to know basics - 03/02/09 03:40 PM

I am so pleased to find this. I sort of do a bit of rescue but mainly raise a few and I mean a few of very good Exotic short hair persians. I live in a part of Arkansas where there are no shows close and when one Exotic goes to a show there is often not a photographer. I got very lucky and PSmith was at a show and one of my young cats was photographed. PSmith did everything right and sent photo to my web master. I keep looking for him at shows where my cats go but no luck yet. Helmi is wonderful too and I am very enamoured of her style too. I do not have a good camera but have been able to get a few shots to send on to prospective buyers. If you look on my website wyldaire.org you will see that it is only a shell due to lack of photos. I am going to keep up with this site and see what I can learn. PSmiths is the only pro shot. I can not travel much due to my age and also that I still work full time. I am so glad to find all this info. I will keep trying. Wish there was a Preston here or a Helmi within a couple of hundred miles. The rescue pictures are pretty darn good. Keep up the good work. pmn
Posted By: FarleyDog

Re: SAVE A LIFE! ? Need to know basics - 03/15/09 07:22 AM

Quote:

Hi Richie,

Thanks so much for getting in touch and for your generous offer!

What is your schedule like for being at the studio in West Hempstead (are you there on weekends)?




Hi Barbra,
Sorry I haven't had time to stop by the forum. My backdrops are actually in Island Park, in the Public Storage facility., not in my studio. I take it you are on Long Island too??
If you want to meet me there one day you can. Let me know what days and times you are available to meet me there.

I find my small furniture and other props everywhere. Tag sales, garage sales, ebay, kids stores, etc. and of course, most of the backdrop companies also sell props.

I attached a picture for you.

Richie

Attached picture 21364-catrose.jpg
Posted By: James Morrissey

Re: SAVE A LIFE! ? Need to know basics - 04/20/09 03:00 AM

Hey Everyone,

This is what Chanthee was able to save from the initial thread. Without any exaggeration, Chanthee worked on this from about 11:30 AM until a few minutes ago, in addition the time she spent accumulating the data over the last several days. We still have no clue as to why this thread was deleted.

As I have mentioned to some who have asked, this was not as easy as just doing a system roll-back, as that would have had a huge impact on everything else that has been posted since this thread went down. I am deeply indebted to Chanthee for taking her time to produce this.

James
Posted By: AdoptAPet

Definitely NOT Starting Over - 04/23/09 12:28 AM

…have come too far for that.

WELCOME BACK!

It’s sad that more than half the thread was lost and I have been trying to think of what’s missing and where we left off. Thank you to Chanthee for recovering what she did.

I know all the Animoto information is gone and there was a lot of interest in that, so Julie you might want to post your link again.

The last post I left was to Julie regarding “Is it Cheating” stating I was shocked that heads could be switched and asked if she could post some examples for me to see. All of this amazes me.

Let me try and catch you up. I will do it in a few separate posts so that this doesn’t get too long winded and boring. Rescue is busier than I have ever seen for April. I have been caring for about 60 on my own (shelters will have 4 full time employees to do that) and needless to say I need pictures of each one of them in order to find them homes.

Before we lost the thread I posted to show that for the first time ever I was able to get pictures of black kitties (they are gone with the missing half of the thread). While the pictures might not have been great, in the past all I could get was a black blob. This was a major accomplishment for me. My photos are definitely getting better, slowly, but surely.

I got homes for the two black kitties I took in! As I previously stated short hair black and short hair brown tabby kittens are the hardest for me to get adopted. There is such an overabundance of them and I can never get a good picture of them. With my new skills I have gotten both the black and tabby cats adopted due to pictures.

I did make my way through the Digital for Dummies book and even attended a photography class that “psmith” found for me given by Steven Hirsch (more on that later).

Here are some samples of where I am at now (and how far I have come):

This first one was chosen, because David will think I did better with the catch lights (I just got lucky)




It’s funny, but for some reason I do not care for any backgrounds that are not solid. Even looking at some of the professional work I personally do not like the animals in front of anything but a solid background. That being said I do have some backgrounds here that are prints and some are rather busy and I usually only use them for holidays. I couldn’t find a solid that I liked and tried this print. It is so busy, but I had people fighting over this kitten (and of course what they are fighting over is the picture):



Here is one of the pregnant moms I rescued, “Fred.” Yes the shelter thought is was an altered male. SURPRISE! She steals and hides babies, so she has been renamed “Merlin.”



And just a couple more to show you the progress:





I still cannot control my lights. David wanted me to get the catch lights at 12 and 7 (I think – that too is gone from the thread) and I have no clue how do accomplish that. I have had my lights up, down, in and out and regardless of where they are (it also depends on the pose of the kitty) I can't get the catch lights where David wants them.

Anyway, I am glad we are back up and running.

Barbra
Posted By: Julie

Re: Definitely NOT Starting Over - 04/23/09 12:46 AM

MUCH improved!!!!! Huge strides!!
Posted By: AdoptAPet

Back Light - Need help :-) - 04/23/09 12:47 AM

I might be getting a wee bit over confident as I agreed to rescue quite a few black babies (and 2 nursing moms that have a lot of black kittens). They will be arriving next weekend.

The one thing I am certain of from what I have experienced thus far is that I must have a back light set up to photograph these kittens. Preston suggested a great (inexpensive) slave flash for me, but it won’t work with my lights (I have the bulbs on stands with umbrellas). Since I can’t use a flash (I shoot too many blue eyed kitties and get very bad red eye) I need to find a way to do this. Does anyone have any ideas?

Jim – I know you mentioned something about shop lights at one time (not sure if that is in the lost part of the thread), but is there something I could use for a back light with the lights I have now?

Barbra
Posted By: Bright Eyes

Re: Back Light - Need help :-) - 04/23/09 01:02 AM

Barbra these new photos are beautiful but if you are posting them on Petfinder, I would suggest cropping out the props as much as possible. You have really made leaps and strides. Personally, I agree with Helmi Flick's philosophy of 'the cat and nothing but the cat' because they are so beautiful and props are just distracting. If you look at that gorgeous little yellow tabby, she is lost in all those flowers. It's a pretty picture but it is done in the style of a 'still life' and so it doesn't actually highlight the animated life (cat) within the photo. But hey that's just my opinion, don't let me shoot you down.

Black animals, I would shoot in natural light so you can get the red highlights in their fur. A cat breeder told me they don't really have solid black animals but are really dark brown. So catch those highlights and they could work for you so you don't get black blobs :-)
Posted By: AdoptAPet

Re: Definitely NOT Starting Over - 04/24/09 09:07 PM

Quote:

MUCH improved!!!!! Huge strides!!




Thanks so much! I really am trying sooooooo hard. I take and try all the information and advice everyone on here suggests and it seems to be working. :-)

Barbra
Posted By: AdoptAPet

Re: Back Light - Need help :-) - 04/24/09 09:30 PM

Quote:

I would suggest cropping out the props as much as possible. Personally, I agree with Helmi Flick's philosophy of 'the cat and nothing but the cat' because they are so beautiful and props are just distracting.




I used to use props in EVERY photo for the rescues. When I came to this forum and started looking at everyone's work (including Helmi's) I immediately changed my opinion and agree that with the quality of the professional photos the props are very distracting, so I started shooting without them.

After quite a bit of trial and error I am now positive that when trying to find homes for the rescues the props DO help (if used correctly). There are a bazillion orange, short hair tabby kittens out there. The photo is what separated my orange tabby from the others. Last week I posted a picture of the tabby with no props. I had no interest in him. This week I posted the pictures with the flowers and received so many inquiries on him and so many comments about how great the photos are. He goes to his adoptive home on Sunday and the woman is traveling SIX hours one way to get him!

Even the picture of the little orange tabby above on the busy background got so much attention. That totally shocked me. While I am in agreement with you about the cat and nothing but the cat (and maybe once my photos get better it will change) there is no doubt that right now the props are helping to get these kitties homes.

Now if I can only figure out how to set up a back light….

Barbra
Posted By: AdoptAPet

Strobes vs. Hot Lights - 04/26/09 06:08 PM

Does everyone use strobes? I found a very interesting site on the net all about strobe lighting and there were several videos as well. Do all professionals use strobes over hot or constant lighting (not that I can switch because it seems the strobes are cost prohibitive)?

It seems like strobes would be much harder to work with, because the lights aren't on until you take your shot. How do you even meter the lighting?

LOL the more I read the more confusing it gets!

Barbra
Posted By: DavidRamey

Re: Strobes vs. Hot Lights - 04/26/09 11:35 PM

I would say that more pros use strobes than hot lights. But some pros do use hot lights.

Strobes are cooler to operate and use less electricity and the color balance of the light is more consitent than hot lights.

To meter the light, you use a hand held light meter.
Posted By: Julie

Re: Strobes vs. Hot Lights - 04/27/09 12:35 PM

Barbra, even with the melodramatic lives depend on it, a backlight is not going to be the answer to save more lives. It is a great tool for more dramatic photographs.

If you are not to the point to know how to use your camera in manual and to be able to use basic light ratios, a backlight is just going to slow down your efforts to get the photos you want.

What I was saying in my last post was to concentrate on what you are doing so much more right now, than you were. The photos with the flowers are very cute and very good to get people interested. Crop them closer so there is less flowers and more cats. A backlight would have absolutely no impact on those photos.

Sometimes we can overthink things and think new equipment will solve the problem. I think you have come darn close to solving the problem and doing so with the gear you currently have available.

What Helmi and Psmith do are show portraits that are for sale. That show off the cat's structure and excellence of its breed type.

I shoot my pet portraits differently than my show portraits. Often I do not use a backlight at all. Develop your style and develop one that makes people want to adopt your cats. The last few photos would do just that. I do not care for the printed fabric. The rest I think are wonderful
Posted By: I_See_Spots

Re: Strobes vs. Hot Lights - 04/28/09 02:00 PM

I've been following this thread since the beginning, and I just wanted to say that as a newbie, who is just starting to learn more about photography, I appreciate the questions you are asking Barbara. You are doing a great thing for these animals as well.
Posted By: Bright Eyes

Re: Back Light - Need help :-) - 04/30/09 12:03 AM

Are we both talking about posting the little thumbnails on Petfinder? I guess I just assumed that was your main venue for advertising the animals. From a rescue standpoint, I compare the thumbnail images I create and the Petfinder hits they get to those of other area rescues who do use a lot of props. I consistently get higher and a fair amount more hits than they do. But there could be other reasons for that.

Or are you making a flyer? In which case, yea of course from a graphic design standpoint, that's great stuff for anything postcard size or larger.

Our main advertisement venue is just the little Petfinder thumbnails, so I have always shaped my style around those statistics. After all, you know the old story I'm sure, either they fell in love with the photo or they fell in love with the description.

That's something about someone driving six hours one way for a red tiger kitty. I know the orange dudes are usually the most popular among adopters. I know I wanted one and now I got three!



Quote:

Last week I posted a picture of the tabby with no props. I had no interest in him. This week I posted the pictures with the flowers and received so many inquiries on him and so many comments about how great the photos are. He goes to his adoptive home on Sunday and the woman is traveling SIX hours one way to get him!

Barbra


Posted By: AdoptAPet

Re: Strobes vs. Hot Lights - 04/30/09 01:19 AM

Julie,

I forgive you for your rude comment and chalk it up to lack of rescue knowledge. Spend a week in a high kill shelter or even a week here with me fielding the calls and emails from shelters which are all about the same, asking “Can you take cats xyz? If not they will be put down on Thursday.” One has to sit and play Sophie’s choice and it is an awful position to be in. I am now trying to base these decisions on which cats I will be able to photograph well, so that I can get them a home. You just have no clue.

YES the background light will produce a better looking picture (if I can learn to use it correctly) and YES a better picture WILL without doubt save lives! I have already seen the difference it has been making so far.

I use the camera in Manual mode ONLY. I have not even tried to shoot on automatic or even priority modes. LOL maybe I should

I agree with you that Preston and Helmi are after something completely different than what I am going for. The cat’s structure, etc. mean very little in the pictures I use. I need the “cuteness factor” and the awwwwwws for my photos to be a success.

After all the kitties are set for the night I am working on pictures and research until about 3AM every night (morning).

Barbra
Posted By: AdoptAPet

Re: Strobes vs. Hot Lights - 04/30/09 01:22 AM

Thanks Geri. There are a lot of nice people on here and a great amount of talent so feel free to jump in any time. Are you photographing animals or just learning photography in general?

Barbra
Posted By: AdoptAPet

Re: Back Light - Need help :-) - 04/30/09 01:34 AM

Hi Patricia,

Yes PF is one of the venues I use. How many hits are you getting?

Are these your photos http://search.petfinder.com/shelterSearc...=&preview=1

As for the props I will keep trying it with and without and closely monitor the results. I am open to either and anything else that will help get the kitties homes.

You are right about the descriptions too. I rarely have time to even work on those.

Thanks for your input – it is appreciated.

Barbra
Posted By: AdoptAPet

ABC’s of Digital Photography and Digital SLRs - 04/30/09 01:39 AM

I went to take the course “ABC’s of Digital Photography and Digital SLRs” given by Steven Hirsch.

“Master your digital SLR and learn how to take control of the photo-making process! This Workshop offers an overview of digital photography, camera systems and an introduction to digital imaging using Adobe Photoshop. We’ll explore content, composition, selecting focal length, camera focus and light sources, as well as basic camera functions, exposure controls, file formats, resolution, image acquisition and management. Steven will also discuss image aesthetics, image editing, color correction, workflow, image output and storage archiving.”

Sadly, 85 % of what was taught in this course I already learned from Preston and others in this thread, 10 % I knew from the Dummies book and then I walked away learning about 3 or 4 different things. All in all I am still glad I went.

The things I learned were that the instructor loved his Nikon D3 $5,000 camera and made sure to tell us many times (I was wondering if he had some type of deal with Nikon). Steve was adamant about shooting on a tripod and tried to show the class how camera shake does happen even when you think you have the camera very still. Since the class I am using a tripod and notice no difference.

Next point of interest to me was the order in which things are done. I know that I have to set the shutter speed, aperture and ISO and then meter the light. The problem was I never knew which to do first and which should take priority. Steve explained that when shooting anything with any motion I must start at a shutter speed of 250. He then told me with the cats and I what I am doing I should be at ISO 400 and then meter the light from there. Well, I tried to do this in class and like at home it was impossible. Often I will have to go to ISO 1600 and to meter the light correctly I have to take my speed down to 30! I showed this to the instructor to see what I was doing wrong and he said it was not me that I needed a newer camera. I also noticed at home that I often need the aperture at a lower number then it will go. He further explained that newer cameras have come so far with ISO which makes a big difference and that I should get the Nikon (of course) D90 (and he mentioned something about the 700). Well many photographers have been shooting with the likes of the camera I am using, so I will just have to continue as is.

That was about all I got out of the class. Much of the above outline of the course was never even discussed. What I was hoping to learn in the class was histograms. Towards the end of the day I asked if we could get into that and Steve’s reply was, “Histograms suck and nobody uses them.”

A major problem I am having with the camera is the custom white balance (a post on that later), but the BEST thing I got out of the class was from another student who showed me an item he uses called “Expo Disk” http://www.expoimaging.net/product-overview.php?cat_id=1&keywords=ExpoDisc (maybe this will be something that solves my problem).

In doing some research since the workshop it appears to me that if I am going to try and improve my set-up any available funds should go into lighting (switching to strobes) and not in updating the camera.

And that was my day at school.

Barbra
Posted By: psmith

Re: ABC’s of Digital Photography and Digital SLRs - 04/30/09 02:58 AM

That is an interesting comment about histograms. I find that reading the histogram and the highlight warnings are extremely useful to get to a good ballpark exposure in a hurry. Then I do the rest in RAW conversion.

I would also think a custom white balance with a white white piece of cardboard or paper would be as good as or better than the expodisc gadget.

A new camera is not going to change basic exposure 1/250 at f6.3 and ISO400 is going to yield the same exposure no matter how new the camera. Granted the newer cameras have better image quality at high ISO's but that is different.

Shooting cats from a tripod? Perhaps, but only sleeping cats. I shoot landscapes and human portraits from a tripod, never cats.
Posted By: AdoptAPet

Re: ABC’s of Digital Photography and Digital SLRs - 04/30/09 03:28 AM

Hi Preston,

I too was surprised at Steve’s reaction regarding histograms. I will learn about that on my own.

You DON’T use a tripod??? OMG I have been killing my back using one all week. I think in the beginning David told me to use one too (maybe for the teddy bears though). I have noticed NO difference (with the exception of back pain. I have not yet been able to set a stage at proper height so I am in some pretty funny positions to get the shot). I guess the smart question for me to ask is why you don’t use a tripod (so I am asking)?

Regarding the expo disc the difference is you snap it on, shoot a picture and set the CWB. The student said he does a lot of wedding photography and going in and out of the church the lighting is constantly changing and the gadget is a quick fix. *Keep in mind he was in an intro to digital photography class

Ohhhhhhhhhhhhh I forgot (just looking over my notes now) the other thing I learned is never ever ever delete a photo from the disk in the camera. He stressed this very strongly explaining how it will corrupt the disk (of course I had been doing this all the time). He said to format the disk.

I now read the disk from the card reader in my printer. What a difference over going straight from the camera. ZOOM ZOOM!!!

Gotta go get my camera OFF the tripod!

Barbra
Posted By: psmith

Re: ABC’s of Digital Photography and Digital SLRs - 04/30/09 03:41 AM

I don't shoot from a tripod because my sessons are very active. Cats move. A lot. So I have to move. A lot. However, keep in mind that my stobes effectively freeze the action, not my shutter speed. That said I'm often shooting at 1/250 with strobes and with an IS lens (stabilized) all of this minimizes camera shake. The more likely problem is subject motion, but again between the strobes and the shutter speed I don't see that much of a problem.
Posted By: Jim Poor

Re: ABC’s of Digital Photography and Digital SLRs - 04/30/09 12:13 PM

Wow, what a twisty-turny thread this has become. Still, lots of good stuff here.

Before I launch my long post, I really like the color of the brownish, background you used with the orange cat. I think it looks very elegant and could be great with no props.

Although the whole "melodrama" thing may have been a bit blunt, Julie is right that you will get better results quicker by concentrating on what you have going now rather than adding the complication of a back light. Yes, it can produce nicer photos, but so can mastering what you have first. In any case, you've come a long way.

I did just over 600 rescue portraits last year and going back to when I first started them in 07 and comparing them over time, there is a HUGE progression. For those portraits, I only added on piece of equipment which was a second flash.

I only recently started using any sort of back lighting and quite frankly in my situation (all on location rather than set up in the same place all the time) the back light was a pain to integrate. I've got it now, but I think you'd be better off waiting a while.

As for the ABC's course, you'll find that many of those type courses are about the same. I'd venture to say that you would learn more that would help you with your cat photos from Moose Peterson's Wildlife Photographers' Base Camp although the subject matter is completely (almost) unrelated to the cats you work with. That said, time constraints probably would keep you from it since it is a week long course away from the cats. There are other good courses, out there, but you have to vet them carefully before hand.

Moose would agree that the histogram is worthless. His philosophy is basically; "The HG will tell you that there is a problem, but wont tell you where that problem is." Moose gives a little more credit to blinkies (highlight warnings).


Artie Morris, on the other hand, lives by the histogram.

If the top two wildlife photographers in the country can't agree on the HG, why should anyone else?

I fall somewhere in the middle in that I'll look at it, but the HG is the last thing I'll check on the back of the camera. Blinkies are the first.

The funny thing is that a couple of us in my area are considering pet photography workshops that would use rescue animals as "models." The rescues would get good photos plus a portion of course tuition. That's far off though.

Tripod? No way! At least not for cats & dogs. Testing and learning? Sure. Cats & dogs require the flexibility of hand holding. I roll around all over the floor at my shoots to get the angles I want, which pretty much eliminates tethered shooting as a possibility too.

As for white balance, a piece of cardboard or white paper is not going to be as accurate as the expo disc, but it will get you "close enough" a lot less expensively.

Personally, I don't bother with custom WB in camera. I would if I shot JPG only, but I shoot raw. It is easier, faster and more convenient to do a mass WB adjustment on the computer.

To accomplish this, I use a Whibal card when I'm not shooting on a solid white, black or grey BG. http://www.rawworkflow.com/whibal/ It is one click and sync for me which takes all of 5-10 seconds.
Posted By: Julie

Re: ABC’s of Digital Photography and Digital SLRs - 04/30/09 01:02 PM

IF you are shooting in raw setting a cwb is not necessary. In jpg it is.

A) what are you shooting with camera wise?
B) you can't shoot like anyone else. No matter how hard you try, you will only shoot like you.
C) I don't use a tripod either. I found it to hinder my shooting and I do not see camera shake with strobes.

If you are shooting with a point and shoot 400 ISO may be too noisy.

You really need to understand WHY you are doing something before adding in more elements to confuse you. Buying tons of equipment trying to emulate others, or do as others do will not get you closer to your goal. You obviously have a natural talent for this and just slowing down a little to UNDERSTAND exposure, the relationship between shutter speed, motion blur, apertures, depth of field and shutter speed plus what ISO does to affect all those are BASICS you must have.

Those are way more important than an expodisc,or a strobe. I am sorry about the melodrama bluntness but, many of us here work with rescues and many of us understand what helps adoption photo wise. That last set are ideal for adoption photos. The backlight will not save more lives than what those photos posted will.

Its almost like saying "I have to learn heart surgery NOW! Which scalpel do I buy? What sort of machines do I need! I don't have time to learn to basics of the surgery itself, lives depend on me fixing these hearts!"

Yes, that is way over the top, but, no matter what you do in life if you want to become proficient at a skill, you must know the basics. Exposure is the most important part of photography
Posted By: Jim Poor

Re: ABC’s of Digital Photography and Digital SLRs - 04/30/09 01:19 PM

Now that I think about it, I color correct peoples JPG files all the time. Still if I were shooting JPG, I'd want a custom WB, but technically, it can be done in post.
Posted By: AdoptAPet

Custom White Balance - 04/30/09 03:52 PM

Custom white balance has been a major thorn in my side. My photos either come out with the yellow or blue haze and yes some of them can be fixed in the editor program I am using (not Photoshop, but hoping after kitten season to take a PS class).

I have read the manual many times and go step by step in setting the CWB yet the photos are still not correct, so I feel I am missing something. My first question is when you look at the EXIF file it states the photo is manual WB even after I just set the CWB. Would the EXIF show custom white balance if I set it correctly? Next question is that when following the instructions for setting the CWB and using the white paper the manual wants me to be in manual focus (which I do). Can anyone explain why?

WB was a major problem with my point and shoot, but now I am using the Canon Rebel 300D. Either I am totally lost or it is broken LOL.

Last night I had a major break through (I feel like I am in “My Fair Lady”) By George she’s got it! While I still have a WB and CWB problem I realized I am confusing light issues with WB. Additionally, the breakthrough came on metering. I thought that when metering the light I was to get it to zero and VIOLA a correctly lit shot. Noooooooooooooo. I realized last night the meter is a guide to correct the exposure!!! DUH!!!!!!! Yes, I feel like an idiot, but what a difference. A shot that was taking me an hour to get… last night I got 10 of them in about 10 minutes!!!

This is pretty much what I was getting for each photo:



After I realized the correct way to utilize the meter I got these shots:







What do you think? Are these better? Your thoughts on the two tone (BG/FG)?

Thanks,
Barbra
Posted By: Jim Poor

Re: Custom White Balance - 04/30/09 04:27 PM

Very cute. Love those eyes.

Personally, I don't care for the two colors for the background in this case. If you had more (a lot more) distance between the subject and background the transition would be less harsh and (to me) more pleasing.

I can't speak to Canon cameras, so I'll leave that bit to others.
Posted By: Jim Poor

Re: Custom White Balance - 04/30/09 04:34 PM

I played around with this one a bit. I straightened the horizon, got rid of a couple creases, did a levels adjustment, cropped and ran my Kill Highlights and Kill Shadows actions on it.

Not necessarily better, just different.

Attached picture 22665-nwpIMG_2161ab_resize.JPG
Posted By: psmith

Re: Custom White Balance - 04/30/09 04:47 PM

This is interesting and I never noticed it before but in the JPG EXIF I can only see white balance = auto or manual whereas in my RAW files I can see the specific white balance in the Camera Raw section of the metadata. So I assume that 'manual' would be any of the modes other than 'auto'.

There is also some talk among Canon users that the custom white balance may work better in some cases using an 18% grey card. Go figure.

Regarding your white balance issues, you should try shooting a frame using the correct exposure, only with your hot lights turned off...if the frame is not dark - nothing on the histogram --- then you are getting mixed light from sources other than your hot lights.
Posted By: DavidRamey

Re: Custom White Balance - 04/30/09 04:56 PM

Why are you trying to use a "custom white balance"? You don't have mixed lighting. Just set the camera to the color temperatures of your bulbs, which should be around 2900K to 3400K.
Posted By: DavidRamey

Re: ABC’s of Digital Photography and Digital SLRs - 04/30/09 05:22 PM

Quote:

Hi Preston,

I think in the beginning David told me to use one too (maybe for the teddy bears though). I have noticed NO difference (with the exception of back pain. I have not yet been able to set a stage at proper height so I am in some pretty funny positions to get the shot). I guess the smart question for me to ask is why you don’t use a tripod (so I am asking)?




The use of the tripod was for the teddy bear test so that you could concentrate on lighting instead of holding a camera. The use of teddy bears was so that you could concentrate on lighting instead of moving animals. If you are getting back or neck pain from using a tripod, then you probably are not using the tripod correctly or using the wrong tripod for the job. I don't use a tripod of animal portraits, but when I do use a tripod, I can use it for 16 hours and NOT get back or neck pain.

Quote:

Ohhhhhhhhhhhhh I forgot (just looking over my notes now) the other thing I learned is never ever ever delete a photo from the disk in the camera. He stressed this very strongly explaining how it will corrupt the disk (of course I had been doing this all the time). He said to format the disk.




He doesn't know what he is talking about. I delete from the card all the time and have done so for over 8 years and over 1 million photos and have NEVER corrupted a card. You do need to format the card ( He is right about this). What can corrupt a card is to insert or remove the card with the camera still turned on. It won't corrupt the card everytime, but can and I have had it happen to me.
Posted By: RomanJohnston

Re: ABC’s of Digital Photography and Digital SLRs - 04/30/09 08:51 PM

Interesting that somone would make a comment about the historgram (one of photographys BEST tools to come out in years) like this. Usually people who make largly dismissive statments like that are full of cow feces. ;~)

Sounds like somone who lucked into some kind of notariaty and has very little technical ability.

Roman
Posted By: AdoptAPet

Re: Custom White Balance - 05/01/09 12:29 PM

Quote:

Very cute. Love those eyes.




If you remember in one of the first posts I explained I LOVE all the pointed kitties and try never to let one go down. They all have blue eyes and that is why I can’t use a flash. …and that is what got me to the NWP.

Quote:

Personally, I don't care for the two colors for the background in this case. If you had more (a lot more) distance between the subject and background the transition would be less harsh and (to me) more pleasing.




Hopefully I will be switching to strobes and then I will have distance between the stage and BG (with a strobe in-between).

Barbra
Posted By: AdoptAPet

Re: Custom White Balance - 05/01/09 12:33 PM

Jim,

You have to forgive me.... When I go into the editing programs I start to lose it. After a few minutes of changing the lighting I can no longer tell which is better (Is it my eyes or do you all get that way?). I must be getting really bad now, because I really don’t notice any difference from your corrected bmp to my original.

I even waited until morning to look again with fresh eyes.

Barbra
Posted By: Jim Poor

Re: Custom White Balance - 05/01/09 12:36 PM

Yep, I remember. Blue eyes doesn't necessarily preclude you from using flash. They are just a lot less forgiving than other colors.

To make the transition more pleasant in a two-tone background, you will need more room between the subject(s) and the rear of the stage too.

Quote:

Sounds like somone who lucked into some kind of notariaty and has very little technical ability.




Sounds more like different strokes to me. I don't know the person originally referenced, but Moose Peterson is hardly lacking in technical ability.
Posted By: Jim Poor

Re: Custom White Balance - 05/01/09 12:39 PM

Actually, you'll have to forgive ME! Looks like I attached your original instead of my edit. I'm on the road for the rest of the weekend and the edited version is on my office machine.

<< Slaps self in forehead!

Quote:

Jim,

You have to forgive me.... When I go into the editing programs I start to lose it. After a few minutes of changing the lighting I can no longer tell which is better (Is it my eyes or do you all get that way?). I must be getting really bad now, because I really don’t notice any difference from your corrected bmp to my original.

I even waited until morning to look again with fresh eyes.

Barbra


Posted By: RomanJohnston

Re: Custom White Balance - 05/01/09 03:19 PM

Quote:

Sounds like somone who lucked into some kind of notariaty and has very little technical ability.




Sounds more like different strokes to me. I don't know the person originally referenced, but Moose Peterson is hardly lacking in technical ability.




Wasnt talking about Moose Peterson (I actaully like him...)

Was talking about the Steven Hirsch character (The person who gave a very unimpressive class and told the class the histogram is useless....even went to look at his work, and I wasnt really impressed.

Roman
Posted By: AdoptAPet

Re: ABC’s of Digital Photography and Digital SLRs - 05/01/09 09:40 PM

Quote:


If you are getting back or neck pain from using a tripod, then you probably are not using the tripod correctly or using the wrong tripod for the job.





Most definitely! I have not yet gotten a stage set-up for my use. I keep changing it as I learn of new problems. I started with a big aluminum folding table and put some boxes on that for height and shooting at eye level, but the kittens thought it was a gym and had a blast jumping off the boxes! I put up with that for a short time. The table is just too wide. I then built a stack of boxes against the wall (which was better because it gave me more room to move the lights around (not that I can get control of them anyway), but with the boxes the stack is too low, so I have to twist, turn and curl to get the shot at eye level. If I add a box then I am shooting up and that’s no good. This too is temporary until I can figure out what works.

As for deleting from the disk while in the camera the way the instructor explained it was comparing it to the computer and how when you add and delete files it leaves spaces on the HD. We can defrag the computer to fix this, but you cannot defrag a card. He convinced me at the time

When I was downloading the pictures from the camera (slowwwwwww) the good thing was that if I went and took another 20 shots the next time I went to D/L the camera knew there were 20 new shots and just downloaded the new ones by default. Now that I am using the reader in my printer (super fast) I am unable to do that. I have to click “view” instead of download and then figure out which are the new ones, highlight them and download. My question is can I format the card every time after downloading to my computer?

Thanks
Barbra
Posted By: Jim Poor

Re: ABC’s of Digital Photography and Digital SLRs - 05/01/09 10:16 PM

Quote:

My question is can I format the card every time after downloading to my computer?




Provided you have the files copied to your computer and backed up, then you should reformat your card after every session. That way makes keeping track of things much easier than having to try to figure out which files are new and which are old.
Posted By: DavidRamey

Re: ABC’s of Digital Photography and Digital SLRs - 05/01/09 11:25 PM

Quote:

As for deleting from the disk while in the camera the way the instructor explained it was comparing it to the computer and how when you add and delete files it leaves spaces on the HD. We can defrag the computer to fix this, but you cannot defrag a card. He convinced me at the time




He is flat out wrong and doesn't know what he is talking about. Yes when you delete files, it does create spaces but when you download the photos onto the computer and then reformat the card it does fix those spaces. And you can defrag a CF card. I have reformatted and defraged CF cards on the computer. After I reformat the CF card on the computer, then I format in the camera. You have to be careful and NOT change the file structure. It is ok to delete photos from the CF card while in the camera.
Posted By: Bright Eyes

Re: Back Light - Need help :-) - 05/02/09 06:22 AM

No but that's the shelter I spent so much time volunteering. Those are another photographer's work and she works her tail off. My stuff is here:
http://brighteyespetphoto.com or here:
http://brighteyessanctuary.org (obviously some of the photos on here haven't had their studio shots yet).

So for theses little animals, I get on average 4000 hits a month. That's just for my little rescue, when I did that shelter's rabbit photos, I easily got a lot more than that because of the additional exposure of the larger shelter. And I found it easier to find adopters through the shelter than my rescue as well. So I did that as long as I could. I have been keeping a watchful eye on things lately but am not directly involved at the moment.

That's often quite close to twice as many hits as other area rabbit rescues though. I know that location is also part of that too.

How many hits are you getting per cat say on a Thursday (busiest night on Petfinder) for your best cat photo?

Quote:

Hi Patricia,

Yes PF is one of the venues I use. How many hits are you getting?

Are these your photos http://search.petfinder.com/shelterSearc...=&preview=1

As for the props I will keep trying it with and without and closely monitor the results. I am open to either and anything else that will help get the kitties homes.

You are right about the descriptions too. I rarely have time to even work on those.

Thanks for your input – it is appreciated.

Barbra


Posted By: AdoptAPet

Re: Back Light - Need help :-) - 05/02/09 11:51 AM

Patti,

They are soooooooo cute! I never happened upon an all bunny site! We would be comparing apples to oranges, so it is hard to say. Most of the cat rescues I speak with are getting about 1,000 or less. We too were getting about 1,000, but since I started with the new camera and new photos we have jumped to about 4,000 a week. We got the camera and started posting the better photos in March.

January 4,945 views
February 5,940 views
March 12,071 views
April 12,482 views

This increase is due 100% to the help from the people on this forum!

It's interesting, because Thursday is not our busiest day. It seems to change with the weather (and yippee we are in for a week of rain when I have black cats arriving)! Wednesday is usually our best adoption day.

What are you using for a back light and where is the light placed?

Thanks,
Barbra
Posted By: AdoptAPet

Re: ABC’s of Digital Photography and Digital SLRs - 05/02/09 11:56 AM

Quote:

After I reformat the CF card on the computer, then I format in the camera.




I believe you and will do as you do

Now I have an Uh Oh. Am I supposed to be reformatting the card on the computer? I just download the photos from the card reader in my printer to the computer then place the card back in the camera and go to the menu and hit "format."

Barbra
Posted By: DavidRamey

Re: ABC’s of Digital Photography and Digital SLRs - 05/02/09 03:43 PM

Barbra,
I would recommend to you that you only format the CF card in the camera. On the computer, you run the risk of changing the file format that could make the card not work inside your camera.
Posted By: psmith

Re: ABC’s of Digital Photography and Digital SLRs - 05/02/09 04:04 PM

Quote:

Barbra,
I would recommend to you that you only format the CF card in the camera. On the computer, you run the risk of changing the file format that could make the card not work inside your camera.



I second that. I format in the camera only. And I usually make it a practice to start any shoots with freshly formatted cards.
Posted By: AdoptAPet

Re: ABC’s of Digital Photography and Digital SLRs - 05/02/09 04:14 PM

Quote:


I second that. I format in the camera only. And I usually make it a practice to start any shoots with freshly formatted cards.


Ok good. That is what I am doing.

Today I am having the same problem I had in class and this is why the instructor told me I need an updated camera <sigh>

I changed my stage again and now I am shooting on the floor. Needless to say I had to move my lights around (and yes I sure am trying to work on the catch lights). I was forced to go to ISO 1600, could not lower my f-stop below 5 and in order to meter the light correctly that forced the shutter speed to be very slow. Very slow and moving kitties does not work well.

So, the million dollar question of the day is where do I go from here?

Thanks,
Barbra
Posted By: psmith

Re: ABC’s of Digital Photography and Digital SLRs - 05/02/09 05:00 PM

Sounds like you need more light, not a new camera. Even with the new cameras you don't want to be shooting cats much above 3200 ISO.

To get more light, you can:

1. Get strobes. Alienbees is my recommendation. Although you might look into cheaper ones like Adorama's Flashpoints.
2. Get more powerful hot lights, like Lowell Tota lights
3. Get a nifty fifty. Canon 50mm, f1.8 EF lens. About $100. Of course you'll have to watch your DOF.
Posted By: DavidRamey

Re: ABC’s of Digital Photography and Digital SLRs - 05/02/09 06:08 PM

You can add more hot lights to get more light. For example, instead of using one hot light in an umbrella, you can use 2, 3 or even 4 to get more light. If you were to buy more powerful hot lights. I would recommend that you go with Photoflex.

I would not recommend you go with strobes until you are comfortable enough to previsualize your light set up and know what type of lighting you are going to have before you even turn on the lights. After you get to that point, then I would recommend going to strobes, probably Alien Bees.

You should go to Web Photo School . You can learn a lot about lighting there. To learn about strobes, I would send you to Alien Bees . Another place to go would be Studio Lightning.net . This should keep you busy. Happy reading.
Posted By: psmith

Re: ABC’s of Digital Photography and Digital SLRs - 05/02/09 06:49 PM

Excellent links, David.
Posted By: Julie

Re: ABC’s of Digital Photography and Digital SLRs - 05/02/09 07:00 PM

Before you buy anything, you MUST understand exposure. You still are not getting it or you wouldn't be shooting with your shutter speed so slow.

Its like riding a bike, once you get it, you never forget. This would be a first purchase http://www.amazon.com/Understanding-Expo.../ref=pd_sim_b_1
Posted By: psmith

Re: ABC’s of Digital Photography and Digital SLRs - 05/02/09 08:40 PM

What do you change when you have maxed out your lights, have cranked the ISO up all the way, and are shooting at the widest aperture?

Understand Exposure IS a must read. Peterson used to give workshops in NYC.
Posted By: I_See_Spots

Re: Strobes vs. Hot Lights - 05/03/09 03:07 PM

Quote:

Thanks Geri. There are a lot of nice people on here and a great amount of talent so feel free to jump in any time. Are you photographing animals or just learning photography in general?

Barbra




Just trying to learn photography in general, and then will focus on pets, and some people portraits. That's down the road though, I've given myself the next year to learn, and will hopefully be taking some summer/fall photography classes this summer.

Can I offer one observation from myself? I originally started with a Canon 300D.......which is an older camera. I wanted to first get used to using all the different types of shooting methods, and get used to a camera that isn't just point and shoot, without having to be afraid of wrecking it because of the investment I was putting into it. I used that camera for about a year, and got some really great photos out of it. Probably not to the same caliber as the professionals on this forum, but none-the-less, some really nice pictures. I just recently moved up to my Nikon D700, and aside from the big bucks you'd have to shell out to buy it, I find that I'm right back in the learning process, just trying to learn it because the features are so different compared to the Canon. The one thing that I realized the most, is that with the Canon, I could get great pictures even though it was an old camera, it was just a little more work because the lighting had to be better controlled, and also having a good lens was really helpful as well. I have a whole other set of problems I'm trying to work through with my new camera, and can testify to the fact that right now a new camera won't be a complete fix to your problems. Don't completely disreguard your camera because someone who boasts about their $5,000 camera tells you to do so.

One other thing, post processing in Photoshop really was helpful once I started shooting in RAW.
Posted By: AdoptAPet

Re: Strobes vs. Hot Lights - 05/04/09 11:37 AM

Quote:

I have a whole other set of problems I'm trying to work through with my new camera, and can testify to the fact that right now a new camera won't be a complete fix to your problems. Don't completely disreguard your camera because someone who boasts about their $5,000 camera tells you to do so.




LOL do you think it will ever get easier?

From what I have been hearing and reading it seems to me that the first upgrade I need to make is on more light. There is nothing wrong with the camera (meaning I could get it to do what I want/need if I had better lighting).

Are you using hot lights or strobes?

Barbra
Posted By: AdoptAPet

Re: Strobes vs. Hot Lights - 05/04/09 12:24 PM

CF Card – Got it. I download with the printer reader and then put the card back into the camera and format. Ready for next shoot.

Quote:

Sounds like you need more light, not a new camera. Even with the new cameras you don't want to be shooting cats much above 3200 ISO.




Yes I understood that. I guess I was not clear. What I was trying to say was with my current conditions (equipment, set-up and lighting) I could not get the lighting to where I need it to be (giving you all the numbers to show where I was at). Not that it matters, but the instructor told me I didn’t want to be shooting the cats much above 400 ISO (800 if lighting forced me to do so).

I am on a strobe mission. The rescue and cats is something I see in my future for many years to come (if it doesn't kill me first) and I am thinking everyone will agree that when I do have things better under control and when I am understanding everything better then it will be time to upgrade to strobes, so it is foolish for me to spend any money upgrading the hot light set-up.

Quote:

Get a nifty fifty. Canon 50mm, f1.8 EF lens.




What will the differences be with this lens?

Quote:

Photoflex




Ohhhhh I see something else that’s interesting. I did not understand what David meant about my adding 3 lights to one umbrella. Three lights can be added to one umbrella, but not “my” umbrella? This looks like a set-up that would work

http://www.photoflex.com/Photoflex_Products/Constellation3_Large_SilverDome_Kit/index.html

1,000 watt lamps (they go up to 3,000)! Basically, that is one soft box for the price of 3 Bees. Which makes more sense for my needs? The one thing I can say is whatever I do it is 100% for the cats. It doesn’t matter to me if I get a set-up that works for the cats and nothing else. The only thing I am ever taking pictures of is cats.

Quote:

Alien Bees




David thanks for the links!!! I started going through the first and it was very informative (I probably won’t have a chance to get back there before the weekend, but definitely will). With the Alien Bee site is there a forum or teach area that you want me to see (or are you just sending me there to see the various products)?

Thanks again everyone for all your help.

Barbra
Posted By: psmith

Re: Strobes vs. Hot Lights - 05/04/09 01:57 PM

The Canon 50mm f1.8 is a fixed (prime) focal length lens. No zooming. It opens up to 1.8 which is allows about 4 times as much light in as your kit lens. Being a prime lens is it generally sharper than the kit zoom. At 1.8 you have a very narrow DOF.
Posted By: DavidRamey

Re: Strobes vs. Hot Lights - 05/04/09 04:00 PM

The Alien Bee link will take you to the beginners page that has several articles to read about lighting.
Posted By: AdoptAPet

Can you Photoshop for me? - 05/04/09 06:28 PM

I don't remember who it was that fixed the photo of Earesistible (the one eared cat), because that part of the thread is missing. If I remember correctly she also restored carousel horses. If you are out there might you be able to fix the BG on this attached shot? The kitty was being great, but kept coming too close to the edge of the stage. Once I fixed the BG of course she had had enough.

Thanks,
Barbra

Attached picture 22768-aIMG_2582.JPG
Posted By: Tucson Jim

Re: Strobes vs. Hot Lights - 05/04/09 06:34 PM

Quote:

The Canon 50mm f1.8 is a fixed (prime) focal length lens. No zooming. It opens up to 1.8 which is allows about 4 times as much light in as your kit lens. Being a prime lens is it generally sharper than the kit zoom. At 1.8 you have a very narrow DOF.




And B&H has them for $99.95 That's a steal in my book!

Jim
Posted By: psmith

Re: Strobes vs. Hot Lights - 05/04/09 06:46 PM

$85 at Canoga Camera. They have been a reliable mail order house for me. B&H is also great.

http://www.canogacamera.com/detail.aspx?ID=4482
Posted By: Tucson Jim

Re: Strobes vs. Hot Lights - 05/04/09 09:52 PM

That's even better yet! At 15% off B&H price, I rushed over to check their prices on OLY Equip, but was disappointed to see they only do C & N. Shucks!

Jim
Posted By: AdoptAPet

She's Back! - 01/21/11 12:56 AM

Hello Photo Friends,

I have missed you and this forum, but have been following some of you on FB.

To bring you up to date (the quick version) I haven't learned a whole lot since we last chatted other than the current set-up I had was not going to do what I wanted (2 hot lights and 2 umbrellas).

I cheated during the rescue season, by using poster backgrounds and the photos caused quite a stir.

Here are a few examples:














I did learn a little more about lighting in the sense that those posters sure can create a glare and trying to get the poster and cat lit with little to no glare on the poster was a job. When the poster didn’t look real I played around with the lighting as much I could and often found that lighting from the side was most interesting (and helpful in making the poster look better). I found in this shot that it added a foggy, eerie kind of feeling and to me it worked (you should have seen how bad the poster was).



I had hoped that once kitten season ended I would be able to learn more about strobes and start 2011 off with much better photos of the rescues. The season never ended. In almost 20 years of rescue I NEVER had moms delivering in January and I now have several.

In addition to the moms I now have Alien Bees. They are still in the boxes and I will be setting them up next weekend. Not that I have a clue what to do.

Any advice is greatly appreciated.
Posted By: Julie

Re: She's Back! - 01/21/11 02:08 AM

All of them are creative and GREAT thinking! The first one is just amazing though! LOVE IT
Posted By: AdoptAPet

Re: She's Back! - 01/21/11 03:23 AM

Thanks. It got us through the season, but now it is time to learn the right way.
Posted By: StarrLight

Re: She's Back! - 01/21/11 04:17 AM

LOL that first one is a crack-up! I like those posters, neat idea.

Diana
Posted By: AdoptAPet

Re: She's Back! - 01/22/11 01:57 PM

Hi Diana,

Your work is BEAUTIFUL! I was just watching the slide show on Pbase. What lens and light setup are you using?

Barbra
- who is going to try and use the "Good in Bed" poster again today and hoping for little to no glare. That poster was the most difficult with the lights.
Posted By: psmith

Re: She's Back! - 01/22/11 02:03 PM

Barbra,

Those are nice. My only advice re: the Alien Bees is to practice and experiment. Its all about the angles. Post some results back here on the forum and I'm sure folks will jump in to help.
Posted By: StarrLight

Re: She's Back! - 01/22/11 07:04 PM

Quote:

Hi Diana,

Your work is BEAUTIFUL! I was just watching the slide show on Pbase. What lens and light setup are you using?

Barbra
- who is going to try and use the "Good in Bed" poster again today and hoping for little to no glare. That poster was the most difficult with the lights.




Thanks Barbra, I appreciate that!
My equipment is I suppose "semi-pro". I'm using a Canon XSi with a basic 18-55 with IS. My setup is a "modified Helmi" and also similar to Preston's. Here is a photo I took awhile back, although I am using a softbox rather than the brolly (umbrella) and the beauty dish and hair light are reversed. I use a small 110W strobe for the background light that has a reflector taped to it to bounce onto the backdrop.

All except the backdrop strobe are Alien Bees, I absolutely love them. I've done 17 shows in the last 14 months and a handful of homeshoots and not one problem (knocking on wood!). I bought one new from Paul Buff and the other two were used on ebay.

I'm kind of pushed for time for various reasons right now but hoping to start doing some shoots for the local shelters, etc. Where did you get your posters?

As Preston mentioned, you may just need to experiment with the angles of the lights needed to keep glare off. Another thought, I wonder if there is some kind of spray that could be applied to the posters to give them a matte finish and take away most the glare?

Diana
Posted By: AdoptAPet

Re: She's Back! - 01/22/11 10:20 PM

What are you using for the back light? It looks great. How far away from the cat do you have to be to get the shot with the back light?

We had all the posters made. Any poster shop will do them. They are all different sizes, because in some we needed them extra long for the cat to actually sit on it.
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