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#20649 - 04/30/09 12:03 AM Re: Back Light - Need help :-) [Re: AdoptAPet]
Bright Eyes Offline
Wanderer

Registered: 01/09/07
Loc: Maryland
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


_________________________
Inspired By Paws

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#20650 - 04/30/09 01:19 AM Re: Strobes vs. Hot Lights [Re: Julie]
AdoptAPet Offline
Tracker

Registered: 02/21/09
Loc: NY
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

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#20651 - 04/30/09 01:22 AM Re: Strobes vs. Hot Lights [Re: I_See_Spots]
AdoptAPet Offline
Tracker

Registered: 02/21/09
Loc: NY
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

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#20652 - 04/30/09 01:34 AM Re: Back Light - Need help :-) [Re: Bright Eyes]
AdoptAPet Offline
Tracker

Registered: 02/21/09
Loc: NY
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

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#20653 - 04/30/09 01:39 AM ABC’s of Digital Photography and Digital SLRs [Re: AdoptAPet]
AdoptAPet Offline
Tracker

Registered: 02/21/09
Loc: NY
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

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#20654 - 04/30/09 02:58 AM Re: ABC’s of Digital Photography and Digital SLRs [Re: AdoptAPet]
psmith Offline
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 11/09/08
Loc: Kansas
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.

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#20655 - 04/30/09 03:28 AM Re: ABC’s of Digital Photography and Digital SLRs [Re: psmith]
AdoptAPet Offline
Tracker

Registered: 02/21/09
Loc: NY
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

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#20656 - 04/30/09 03:41 AM Re: ABC’s of Digital Photography and Digital SLRs [Re: AdoptAPet]
psmith Offline
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 11/09/08
Loc: Kansas
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.

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#20657 - 04/30/09 12:13 PM Re: ABC’s of Digital Photography and Digital SLRs [Re: psmith]
Jim Poor Offline
Addict

Registered: 05/07/08
Loc: Virginia, USA
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.


Edited by Jim Poor (04/30/09 12:13 PM)
_________________________
Best,
Jim

Visit my website




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#20658 - 04/30/09 01:02 PM Re: ABC’s of Digital Photography and Digital SLRs [Re: Jim Poor]
Julie Offline
Addict

Registered: 06/08/05
Loc: TN
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
_________________________
http://JuliePoole.com

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