One From This Weekend

© Matthew Jonas 2011/Evergreen Newspapers 2011

I made this picture on Friday night at Evergreen High School. That gym is one of my favorites to light. I’ll take good action and good color over ISO 3200 and a motor drive any day. This picture was made using techniques learned from strobist.com. Speaking of the strobist, David Hobby himself will be visiting Denver on March 22, 2011 along with Joe McNally on the flash bus tour. If you are looking for a good (cheap) workshop that will most likely be packed full of information about getting your flash off of your camera this is it.

Don’t Fight the Light

© Matthew Jonas 2011/Evergreen Newspapers 2011

“Don’t fight the light,” was a phrase that I heard many times from my photojournalism instructors in college. It is a constant battle for photojournalists. We are forced to make pictures in situations that send CCDs scrambling for brighter fields. The picture above is from a situation many will face. Go to the local rec center and make pictures of a high school swimmer for a sports feature. Seems like a simple assignment. However, it quickly turns from simple to complicated.

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5 Trends In Photography That Need To Die In 2011

  1. HDR. Congratulations. Your talent is in using Photoshop not in using a camera. High Dynamic Range looks unnatural and needs to go the way of the dinosaur.
  2. Over-toning images in sports photojournalism contests. Stop boosting the saturation on your sports images to obscene, Willy-Wonka-like levels. It doesn’t make your lack of composition or lack of ability to capture peak sports action any less obvious. You shoot digital, not Velvia.
  3. Shooting everything at f1.2. Great. Another picture of a door knob shot at f1 point something. You paid a lot for your 50mm. Don’t be afraid to stop down every once in while, would ya?
  4. Back lit outdoor portraits. Its the only image I see on wedding and senior picture portfolios these days. Give it a rest. Try lighting a portrait or even better yet turn around and use the best available light there is – the sun.
  5. Verticals. Happy new year!

A List of 5 Things I Wanted to See in 2010

As I look back over 2010, there were a lot of things I wanted to see that just didn’t happen. The list is short but these are the things that I think about while I am working as a photographer.

  1. Canon failed to update the firmware on the EOS 7D to allow disabling the Automatic Gain Control. I am finally starting to enjoy using my 7D for work. I shot an entire football season without using a flash this year. But when it comes to video, I am still better off using a dedicated video camera because it takes an additional $500+ worth of gear to capture decent audio with the 7D. Canon’s low end (under $400) High Definition camcorders feature a mic and headphone jack and allow you to set the levels. Even the consumer oriented 60D allows you to disable the AGC.
  2. Paul C. Buff can’t seem to meet demand with many of their products. I had planned on purchasing a lot of Alien Bees monolights and light modifiers this year. Specifically I wanted to buy a couple of Parabolic Light Modifiers and a bunch of Einstein 640 units. Both have been on back-order or have had manufacturing issues for several months. Needless to say I don’t own either and will probably buy monolights from another manufacturer.
  3. Speedlight makers are still using a prehistoric PC sync port on modern hardware. I use both Nikon and Canon speedlights for off-camera work. I have to constantly bend and tweak the PC sync cables I use to get them to fire consistently. Why can’t they use the 1/8inch mini jack like Pocket Wizards have? It’s stronger, fits tighter and is widely available. 2010 is in the past. In 2011 the PC sync port must die.
  4. I really wanted to see the price of lenses decrease. Instead, most of the line of Canon lenses and camera bodies actually saw about a %10 increase. The weak dollar really screwed the US on that one. Canon announced version 2 of many lenses including the 300 f2.8, 400 f2.8 and 70-200 f2.8. The lowest price for the 70-200 f2.8L IS II is a little over $2K. I won’t even mention the prices of the other 2 lenses.
  5. The standard sized hot shoe disappeared from many non-pro camcorders instead of being included. Canon only makes 1 camcorder that includes a standard width hot shoe and it’s on the endangered species list. Sony no longer makes any. Most of the non-pro camcorders now have a smaller, proprietary hot shoe that somehow bares the name “advanced mini accessory shoe”. How advanced can it be when 99% of mics, lights and accessories no longer work without an adapter?

Should anything else make the list?

Environmental Portraits

© Matthew Jonas 2010/Evergreen Newspapers 2010

I haven’t posted anything of value in a while so I thought I would write a little about a portrait I shot last week. I shoot a lot of environmental portraits. In the newspaper industry it is something that is used to illustrate a story where there isn’t an “action” shot to be made. In general, I really like shooting them because it pushes me to step outside my comfort zone and use some of that lighting gear that is usually collecting dust on my office floor.

The subject here is an 18 year old metal sculptor and amateur body builder. Because he wasn’t currently working on a new sculpture I chose to make a portrait instead. The portrait was made in the metal shop outside his home in Evergreen. I used 2 lights. The red-gelled-light on the left was used to signify welding sparks or molten hot metal. On the right side, I wanted a “light coming through an open door” look to give the shop a darker feel. I underexposed the ambient by 2 or 3 stops and filled it back in with the lights. Overall I am pretty happy with the end results. Looking back now I would probably add at least 2 more lights. I would put a light on a boom to illuminate the top of his welding helmet and I would try to illuminate the TIG welder to give a little more definition to the image. Other than that I like it.

 

Props to Canon Pro Service

If you are a Canon shooter and are using your equipment for your primary source of income you should be a Canon Professional Service member. Last Monday I blew the shutter on one of my (usually) trusty EOS 1D Mark II Ns. I sent it UPS 2 day on Tuesday afternoon. Canon received my camera on Thursday morning, evaluated the problem, fixed it and sent it out on Friday morning. That’s a 1 day turnaround time for a serious repair!!!! Props to CPS for the excellent job they do repairing my equipment to keep me working.

Cheap Video Solution for Newspapers: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

© Matthew Jonas 2010

Web video is here to stay. And with the roll out of the new web platform I mentioned previously, we have been tasked with creating video content for all of our publications. I really want this to work out for us but I have made it clear to our editorial management that this will not be a “quantity versus quality” endeavor. Not every story will include video. I set our goals at 1 video per week, per paper. So basically I will probably end up cutting together 4 videos a week. It’s not going to be easy. But I like a challenge.

Speaking of challenges, the company actually purchased video cameras for the staff. In a time of furlough days, pay cuts and expense reductions it was a nice surprise. However, (let’s face it there is always a however) with the limited budget the equipment purchased was not the Canon XH-A1s and Sennheiser EW G3s that we would have liked. Instead we were given the Kodak Zi8 pocket video cameras and Audio-Technica wired lavaliere mics. The photo above shows the camera and mic along with my haggard Think Tank Photo Trim Changer.

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