8by10 Digital Imaging: Blog https://8by10.zenfolio.com/blog en-us Copyright: John Wright and Associates john@8by10.co.uk (8by10 Digital Imaging) Mon, 16 Mar 2020 06:32:00 GMT Mon, 16 Mar 2020 06:32:00 GMT Baking batteries and why you should spend money on a decent charger https://8by10.zenfolio.com/blog/2013/3/baking-batteries-and-why-you-should Photographers get through AA batteries like they are pennies in an arcade. Unfortunately they are not pennies they are pounds so we get the re-chargeable ones and save a bit of money by using them more than once. That is the theory anyhow. In practice what I see is photographers with a  bag of batteries with no idea of the charge state, age, condition etc. of any of the batteries. Hmmm, so much for saving money.

So, here is how I treat my batteries. I buy them in packs of 4 and usually with an included 4 pack holder. I buy good quality batteries (Sanyo Eneloop are a great example of a good high quality rechargeable battery) and I keep them in their original sets of four.

7DayShop (www.7dayshop.com) is a good source for the batteries and the cases. They regularly sell packs of four batteries with a case included.

Sanyo Eneloop

http://www.7dayshop.com/sanyo-eneloop-ready-to-use-rechargeable-aa-hr6-mn1500-nimh-batteries-min-1900mah-pack-of-4

Cases

http://www.7dayshop.com/chargers-power-batteries/battery-cases-storage/7dayshop-aa-aaa-battery-storage-case-5-pack

The 7DayShop own brand batteries are pretty good too. They have one minor niggle which is not a show stopper but does make them unsuitable for some devices. They are slightly chubbier than a standard AA. It is probably a fraction of a millimetre but can be just enough to make them a tight fit in some devices.

I use the 2500mAh ones and have found them to be very good. Charge them as soon as you get them.

http://www.7dayshop.com/7dayshop-rechargeable-aa-hr6-mn1500-nimh-batteries-2500mah-pack-of-4-in-free-case

So, you have some good batteries and you pop out and use them in your flash and then what? First thing is to keep them in their original sets of 4. Four batteries go in one case and get used and go back in a case as a batch and get charged as a batch. This ensures that they age together and you do not mix up capacities when fitting to your device. As soon as you get back in start charging the used ones. The sooner you charge a discharged battery the longer it will  last. Putting off recharging the batteries until you next need them shortens their life. When not in use they will slowly lose their charge. If you don't use them for a while (4 to 6 weeks) pop them in the charger to keep them topped up.

Now the biggy. Spend some proper money on a charger. The cheap chargers and a lot of fast chargers work by shoving a current into the battery for a fixed period of time. This means that some batteries (higher capacity ones) can be undercharged and lower capacity ones can be overcharged. Overcharging is bad for batteries just like it is bad for you if you do it to clients. They don't come back, they are no longer a client. Overcharge your battery and it probably will never be the same again. You will considerably shorten the life of the battery and this is when you hear people saying 'Those batteries are rubbish, only lasted 3 charges and then let me down'. No, the batteries were good, the charger was rubbish.

I am using Eneloops I bought years ago and they are like the day I bought them. I have 24 of them (6 sets of 4) and have never had one fail or not hold its charge. I also have 40 (10 sets of 4) of the 7dayshop batteries and have only been using these for around 4 months but so far not had a single failure.

The charger I use is a Technoline charger that I bought about 8 years ago. The model I bought is no longer available but there is a newer equivalent which looks and works pretty much identically. The Technoline BL-700.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Technoline-Intelligent-battery-charger-Version/

Yes, it is a fair bit of money for a battery charger but mine has paid for itself many times over by not killing batteries when charging them. If I am in any doubt about a battery set I run the refresh program which invariably brings the pack back like new. Rarely had to use it and cannot remember the last time I did (and never had to run it on the Enelopoops) but every time I have it has been successful and brought the dead batteries back to life (which is probably why I am writing this at Easter).

Decent batteries need a decent charger or you might as well buy cheap batteries and throw them away once you have used them a couple of times.
 

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john@8by10.co.uk (8by10 Digital Imaging) https://8by10.zenfolio.com/blog/2013/3/baking-batteries-and-why-you-should Sun, 31 Mar 2013 13:48:00 GMT
EVS5 - Event Viewing System 5 is nearly ready https://8by10.zenfolio.com/blog/2013/3/evs5-event-viewing-system-5-is-nearly EVS5 is nearly here :-)
Ok, ok, I heard you first time ..... what the hell is EVS5???

Some of you are aware of and some of you are using a viewing system I put together ie. EVS4. A simple gallery using Html/PHP on a web server based system which was viewed using a web browser. A couple of key features was that it auto builds the gallery as you add images to a folder. Create a new folder and it is automatically added to the gallery menu. But, it had some limitations which left some room for improvement. The core of the system ran from a single PHP file so anyone with a LAMP (Linux), WAMP (Windows) or MAMP (Mac) server  installed could use it. A major limitation was that all viewing stations should be using the same screen resolution and on lower resolution screens you could quickly end up with a large number of thumbnail pages for any one event that the user would need to wade through to get to the images they were interested in.

I watched people using EVS4 and took on-board a fair bit of feedback from users and photographers. From this came a wish list of the things we would like in a better viewing system.

1. It should be screen resolution independent. The system should work out the optimum number of thumbnails to display depending upon the device being used and you should be able to have different devices with different screen resolutions using the system at the same time. EVS5 does all this.

2. It should be able to be viewed in a browser on PC's, Macs, Linux boxes, Ipads, Android pads etc. EVS5 runs happily in a browser on all of these.

3. It should support much more thumbnails on a single page so that the user can find their images quicker. EVS5 does this.

4. It would allow the selection of a page of images and run a slideshow of that page. EVS5 does this.

5. It should have the minimum of user buttons, click ons etc. I doubt I could get any less :-)

6. It should be easy to install and maintain. It is. If you can get a basic web server running on your network you can install and configure EVS5.

7. It should support optional watermarking of images being displayed to reduce instances of attendees photographing screens. EVS5 supports png format watermarks that are automatically centred whether the image being viewed is in landscape of portrait format. The watermark can easily be turned off (on a gallery by gallery basis) if you don't require it for a particular event.

8. You can lock the viewing system to just the current event. The gallery menu is disabled and the user cannot view other events.

9. Menu item names within a gallery should be meaningful eg. if you are shooting equestrian you would like a menu which showed the Class, the ring, the type of  class and the fence heights. You could create a folder with this as a name or you can now use a simple folder name eg. c1 for Class One and associate a description linked to the folder via an XML file. It sounds a bit more complex than it is. Basically the system checks to see if you have a file that describes the folder content. If you have it uses this instead of folder names. What this means is you can use very simple folder names and have a descriptive menu item for that folder.

10. The system should clearly display image names/numbers so that the user can quickly order the correct image.

11. There should be no database to configure or to get its knickers in a twist. EVS5 does not use a database at all. However, we are planning a module which you will be able to add to EVS5 which will use a database. This module will collect user information and allow some pretty clever user interaction. Like being able to select a rider number and being shown a collection of images from that event which feature that rider.

12. It should not require a keyboard to operate and there should not be a way of the user getting into the underlying system. EVS5 does not require a user keyboard to operate and we have disabled as many features as we can to ensure the user cannot get to the raw data.

13. It should work with the mouse wheel and touch screens. Try buying a mouse without a wheel and you will understand why this was a requirement :-) EVS5 works with mouse wheels and touch screens.

We tie all this together in a wireless based system which uses the minimum of hardware to deliver the  maximum of configurations and usability.

Example One. We can run two print stations and a mix of viewing stations at an event. For an equestrian event, as an example, we can shoot wirelessly back to a FTP server. This passes the full size images to LightRoom and passes web sized images to the web server. The photographers can send images to a sub-folder in the FTP server eg. c1 and the system will pick up images from c1 and recognise these as Class One and put them in the appropriate web folder. Within seconds of a photographer taking a picture they are available in the correct folder with an appropriate menu and page title on the viewing terminal.

Example Two. A small black tie event. We run a single print station and a couple of Android 10" pads as viewing terminals. The photographer shoots using an eye-fi card. Images are picked up by the system in the default eye-fi folder and copied to the current  LightRoom folder. Images are then resized and put onto the web server to be viewed via the browser on the pads. Table shots are suddenly worth doing as you can show the results at the table as you shoot.

What is left to do? There are a couple of tweaks and code tidy ups needed. The help system needs re-writing. The system needs a bigger test on a bigger event (ten viewing stations and 5000 plus images across 20 folders all shot and displayed in a 6 hour period). This has been arranged and will be happening very shortly (within weeks).

Probably the key factor defining how and when it is released is a simple decision I must make. Will I make it generally available as a simple download and users can pay (work does actually cost money) based upon their honesty? I don't want to complicate things with unlock codes etc.  Do I release it as a service whereby I install and configure it for you and demonstrate its usage so that you know you have a working system, you wont have messed up your existing system and you will have been trained on how to use it? There are obvious differences in cost to the user depending on whichever of these routes I choose. The second option has significant benefits to the purchaser as they will also get some professional advise on system sizing, hardware and network requirements and components and they will have the peace of mind of knowing that everything is working as it should be. I am fortunate in that I have an IT background and so the mix of photography and IT that a modern photographer faces is not a major hurdle for me. I would like to provide a service were you can concentrate on being a photographer and not worry too much about how the system goes together. You don't worry about how the camera is made you just have to learn to use it. That is probably what I am aiming at. I build the system and you learn to use it.

Either way a decision will be made in the next couple of days about how it will be released.

 

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john@8by10.co.uk (8by10 Digital Imaging) https://8by10.zenfolio.com/blog/2013/3/evs5-event-viewing-system-5-is-nearly Thu, 21 Mar 2013 13:42:00 GMT
Even More Wireless Photography with the Engenius 2611 https://8by10.zenfolio.com/blog/2012/3/even-more-wireless-photography-with In the previous two posts I have shown some typical configurations that you could use. So this post is really about the practical aspects of using these units.

There are a few things you need to be aware of.

1. The internal directional antenna has a horizontal spread of 70 degrees and a vertical spread of 35 degrees. There is signal available outside these limits and a quite usable signal even behind the unit. If using the internal aerial you can position the unit to point in the direction you are working to maximise the available signal strength.

2. An Omni-directional antenna is available for this unit. This will spread the signal evenly around the antenna but the signal range is shorter in all directions. As a rough guide you should consider the range of the omni antenna to be half that of the internal directional antenna.

3. The unit requires a 24 volt power supply. This can be supplied from batteries for the remote units. It is recommended that a DC converter is used if using batteries as this will ensure a constant and regulated 24 volt supply. Not all converters are equal. Some are very inefficient and will rapidly drain the battery. A clue to efficiency is how warm the converter gets. Solwise supply a unit to convert 12 volts to 24 volts. I have used a different unit but if you have no experience of selecting this type of unit then go for the safe option and use the recommended unit.

4. Height above ground of the unit is a big factor in getting the maximum range and signal strength out of the unit. For outdoor events I mount the unit at the server end on a 2.5 metre stand which goes on top of the van and is secured to the van with guy ropes. This gives me a total height of 4 to 4.5 metres for the unit.

5. This may sound obvious but the system should be set up and tested before you use it in anger. Document all your settings and clearly label each unit.

6. Consider the data throughput and the size of image being shot. If all you need is a medium sized jpeg then that is what you should shoot. Larger files just take longer to deliver over the system and if you are shooting rapidly you can fill the camera buffer as it backs up images waiting to be transmitted.

7. If you have multiple photographers you should consider setting up more than one network if the volume of data is likely to saturate one network.

8. Check that all files have transmitted regularly. You can do this on the camera with the Canon units. Resend those files which have not transmitted when you are back in range of an Access Point.

9. Your body is a great wifi shield. Try to maximise the available signal by not standing between the camera and the Access Point. Ideally position yourself so that the WFT unit on the camera has a clear line of sight to the the Access Point.

I'm sure I will think of some more and will add these as and when.

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john@8by10.co.uk (8by10 Digital Imaging) https://8by10.zenfolio.com/blog/2012/3/even-more-wireless-photography-with Tue, 27 Mar 2012 16:26:00 GMT
More Wireless Photography with the Engenius 2611 https://8by10.zenfolio.com/blog/2012/3/more-wireless-photography-withthe If you followed the guide in the previous post you should have two Engenius units configured and be able to use them in two ways. The first configuration uses one Engenius unit as a simple wireless Access Point. The second configuration used two Engenius units and allowed you to set up a remote wireless Access Point for the camera to shoot to with a Client Bridge at the server end.

Configuration Three
Wired Client Bridge at the remote end and Access Point at the Server
This is a relatively simple variation of configuration two. The units can be used exactly as configured for Configuration Two. The big difference is that this time the Client Bridge will be at the remote end and the Access Point at the server PC.

Connect the Access Point to the server via Ethernet cable. Connect the camera to the Client Bridge via Ethernet cable. Set the camera up to use a wired connection (see your user guide).

This is a useful configuration for relatively static camera positions at the remote end. The transfer speed from camera to Client Bridge is fast and reliable (it is wired so it should be) and the Client Bridge and Access Point are only talking to each other so wireless speeds are usually as good as the connection allows.

Using this configuration you can also shoot wireless directly to the server if you are in range of the Access Point (as per Configuration One).

Configuration Four
Wired Client Bridge at the remote end connected to remote Access Point and Access Point at the Server

This is an extension of configuration three. Instead of connecting the camera to the Client Bridge at the remote end we connect a further Engenius unit set up as an Access Point. This remote Access point will require a unique SSID and should be on a different channel to the Client Bridge and Server Access Point. The camera will connect using wifi to Access Point Two at the remote end which will pass data (via Ethernet cable) to the Client Bridge which will talk to the Access Point at the Server. This configuration will allow you to cover the full area between the server and the remote location with wireless and select the Access Point (Access Point Two at the remote end or Access Point One at the server end) that you are closest to. The server AP and the Client Bridge unit should be facing each other. The 2nd Access Point can be facing away from the Client Bridge. This gives you coverage from the server unit to the Client Bridge and from the Client Bridge to the range of the second Access Point.

Configuration Five
Access points at Server and Remote end using WDS
This uses two units configured as Access Points (see Configuration One) both using the same channel but with unique IP addresses and a unique SSID for each unit. The units can be used exactly as configured for Configuration Two ie. one unit wired to the server and one unit as the remote unit. This configuration will allow you to cover the full area between the server and the remote location with wireless and select the Access Point that you are closest to. The advantage of this configuration is that it does not require a third unit configured as a Client Bridge (configuration four). However, it is slower as the remote unit is handling the wireless data for both the camera and the passing on of this data to the server Access Point. Also, unlike the 3 unit solution the 2 AP's should be facing each other and your working area is between them and immediately behind them.

Configure two Access points with the same channel but unique SSID and unique IP addresses. Then select the WDS option and enter the MAC addresses for both units in the fields provided (do this for both units). The MAC address to use is the second address of the two listed on the back of the Engenius units. On each unit set the Mac address of the other unit as enabled and its own address as disabled. I only enter both so that they are in the same place on the Mac address list and it gives me a convenient location to look them up.

Access Point One can now we connected to the server and Access Point Two used as the remote end. Select the SSID you are closest to on the camera. Shooting to Access Point One is exactly the same as shooting to a single Access Point configuration. Shooting to Access Point Two will start communication with Access Point One via the WDS service to pass data to the server. You can add further Access Points to create a web of coverage but each leg will have half the bandwidth of the previous leg.

This is a relatively simple and flexible way of using the Engenius units for maximum range and maximum coverage and only requires one channel. However, as stated, it can be slower due to the reduced available bandwidth and the use of WDS and MAC addresses is seen as little complex by some users.

I hope this has given you some ideas about the flexibility of the Engenius units and perhaps given you further options for their use. I have added some tips to using these units in a follow up post Usage Tips.

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john@8by10.co.uk (8by10 Digital Imaging) https://8by10.zenfolio.com/blog/2012/3/more-wireless-photography-withthe Tue, 27 Mar 2012 09:27:00 GMT
Wireless Photography with the Engenius 2611 https://8by10.zenfolio.com/blog/2012/3/wireless-photography-with-engenius-2611 The Access Point of choice for a large number of photographers is the Engenius 2611 Wireless AP/Client Bridge. This unit is originally designed for building to building wireless links but has a range of features which make it very suitable for use by photographers. These units are available in the UK from Solwise http://www.solwise.co.uk. A small downside of these units is that they do not support the later 802.11n standard of wireless communications. They do support the 802.11b/g standard which is usually good enough for what we want.

When using any wireless solution the range (distance between units), obstructions, interference, transmission power and other wifi users (same or close channel) will affect wireless transmission speeds. A good general idea is to have a walk around any area you want to cover with wireless and plan how you will cover it before you start. I usually also channel scan using inSSIDer on the PC or an Android app on my phone before I set up. Remember for a clear channel you need two channels clear either side of the channel you intend to use. Sometimes you just have to go with the channel which has the weakest signal from other users.

Righto, on to the Engenius units. As the units ship the default IP address is 192.168.1.1. If you are using the same address range (192.168.1.x) on your network then all is good and all you need to do is assign a fixed IP address to your PC which does not conflict with the Engenius unit and you are good to go. For our purposes we will assume you have set the PC address to 192.168.1.10. If it is set to dynamically acquire an IP address using DHCP then you need to set it to a fixed IP address (plenty of guides on the internet for this one). Note: all IP masking for this configuration is 255.255.255.0.

Communication with the Engenius unit is via a web browser so once you have it all plugged in and powered up just open a browser window and enter the address http://192.168.1.1. You will be prompted for a user name and password. The defaults are admin and admin. It is recommended that you change the password once you are happy that all is working (an option in the Engenius menu).

Once you have got this far we can run through a couple of set ups. The first part is applicable whichever configuration you later choose to use.

PC Set Up
You will need to set up a FTP file server on the PC. Filezilla Server (not client) is a good option. Create a user and set up some default FTP space (folder where incoming files will be saved). The defaults for everything else are fine for the FTP server. Now, make a note of your PC's IP address (if you have followed the above it will be 192.168.1.10). You can find this in 'Networking' in the Control Panel (Windows) if you don't know it. As you will not be connecting to the internet you can disable any firewalls on the PC. Disabling the firewall avoids a lot of problems when testing your FTP access. At this point your PC is ready to accept incoming FTP requests and to save transferred files to the folder you designated.

Configuration One
Single Engenius as an Access Point
This is the simplest configuration you will use.
From the Engenius menu select 'System Properties'
Set the 'Device Name' to something that makes sense to you. 'AccessPoint1' for example.
Set the country code to UK.
Select Access Point from the 'Operation Mode' options and click 'Apply'.

From the Engenius menu select 'Wireless Network'
Select the b/g option.
Select a channel (6 for starters).
Create a unique SSID and enable it. Go for something simple when naming the SSID as you are going to have to enter this to the camera and complex SSIDs are a pain.
At this stage do not set any encryption. Once all is tested and you are happy the basics are working you can set encryption on the camera and the Engenius unit.
Click 'Apply'.

Set up your camera WFT unit to use the SSID you have just created. Refer to your camera manufacturers manual to do this. It is reasonably straight forward for most cameras but the menu and key combinations for each camera and WFT unit are generally unique to that combination so (call me lazy if you want) you will have to dig these out for yourself. You will need to set a unique IP address for the camera and you will need to enter the IP address of the FTP server (IP address of the machine running Filezilla, 192.168.1.10). You will also need to enter the user name you created in Filezilla.

Check the FTP server is running on your PC and fire a shot on the camera. All being well you should see the image appear in the folder you specified in Filezilla.


Configuration Two
One Engenius as an Access Point and another as a Client Bridge
This configuration is designed to allow you to have an Engenius at the PC and an Engenius out in a field next to you. The PC Engenius will communicate with the field Engenius and the camera will also communicate with the field Engenius. The purpose of this configuration is to extend the range at which you can work from the PC. In a traditional networking set up the Client Bridge would be the remote end of the link and the server machine would be connected to the Access Point. However, we need wireless at the remote end so for our purposes we will reverse this and set up the Access Point (as per Configuration One) as the remote end and the Client Bridge at the server.

The Access Point should already be set up as per Configuration One. If you need to then go back and follow the instructions for Option One to set up the Access Point. Once set up the Access Point should be powered but no cable should now be attached to the LAN connector on the POE unit.

Plug an Ethernet cable into the server PC and into the POE unit for the Engenius which will be the Client Bridge.

Open the menu for the Client Bridge in a browser window - http://192.168.1.1.

Set up a unique IP address for the Client Bridge Engenius (the default is 192.168.1.1 but this will conflict with our Access Point). Set the IP address for the Client Bridge to 192.168.1.2 by changing it in 'IP Settings' and clicking 'Apply'.

Set up the Engenius as a Client Bridge by selecting 'Client Bridge' from the 'System Properties' menu. Set a Device Name and select the correct country code and click 'Apply'.

Select the 'Wireless Network' menu and set the SSID to the SSID you set in the Access Point. Click Apply.

Select 'Connection Status' on the Client Bridge Engenius menu and the status should show it is connected and using the SSID you specified.

At this point you should be able to shoot an image and it will be transferred from the camera to the Access Point and via the Access Point to the Client Bridge and then from the Client Bridge wired to the server machine and appear in your images folder.

You may notice it is a little slower (about half the speed) to transfer than using Configuation One (a direct connection to the Access point). A simple explanation is that the Access Point is doing two jobs. It is talking and listening to the camera and talking and listening to the Client Bridge. It cannot talk/listen to both at the same time so splits it time talking/listening to one or the other.

A limitation of this configuration is that you cannot shoot directly to the Client Bridge and must be in range of the Access Point to transfer images. This can be a limitation if you want to cover both the area around the server PC and the remote area with wireless cameras.


I have also posted some further configurations which will allow you to shoot at either end of the wireless system and/or are more suited to static remote cameras.

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john@8by10.co.uk (8by10 Digital Imaging) https://8by10.zenfolio.com/blog/2012/3/wireless-photography-with-engenius-2611 Tue, 27 Mar 2012 09:05:00 GMT
Creating a photographic style https://8by10.zenfolio.com/blog/2012/3/creating-photographic-style At some point I am sure we all wished we had 'style'. I probably think about it once a week and my partner probably wishes I had style a few times a day. Anyhow, having style and creating a photographic style are two different things. If you are lucky you have both and the world is at your feet.

For our purposes I'm not going to worry about whether you have style but will concentrate on creating a style. One you are born with and the other you can develop. So, lets look at creating a style largely aimed at 'black tie' or social event photography. Whilst there is some opportunity to create a unique style for other types of event photography this is probably the genre which has the most opportunity to do this. Unfortunately, it also seems to be the genre in which individual styling is least applied. The primary reason for this is probably that Social Event photographers usually work under pressure and there is little time in the process to adjust lighting etc. for each couple or group being photographed.

As a social event photographer I will usually opt for the generic, tried and tested set ups and poses which work and which sell. This usually uses standard back drops, flat lighting, simple posing and easy processing. However, I don't need to change a lot to add an element of difference.

If we identify the elements that create the style of an image we can quickly see how we can change these elements to uniquely style our images. This in mind, lets look at these elements of style.

Backdrop
No backdrop, single colour (black, white etc.), standard mottled, lit backdrop, environmental (uses a feature of the venue), themed, green screen etc.

The choice of backdrop is probably the easiest starting point and will lead us naturally into how we light both the subject and the backdrop. Your photography can feature a specific type of back drop. For example you can use a grey backdrop and light one area with a gelled strobe with a snoot. The basic concept is then consistent throughout your images but the individual images can be posed to vary the effect of the coloured splash.

Lighting
Soft lighting, harsh lighting, flat lighting, shadowed, sculpted, sharp fall off, separation light. Like backdrops we are spoilt for choice here. You can choose a painter style (Rembrandt lighting for example) or you can go flat (generally safe for events) or you can be a little less soft with the lights and make it your own. The number of lights, the size and type of light modifiers (bare bulb, umbrellas, softboxes etc) and the distance between subject and lights can be used to create a look which is different to the standard two lights at 30 to 45 degrees event set up. I regularly use a single large umbrella set about 20 degrees off centre. Big enough to give lots of even light but offset enough to create some light shadows on one side of the face.

Posing
There are as many poses as there are people. The standard poses have been developed over the years to cover singles, couples and groups. Yes, you can do something different but be sure that whatever you do is in keeping with your subjects tastes and expectations. Putting a wind machine on and having your subjects pose like they are head on into an Arctic gale is not likely to be popular with an elderly crowd at a black tie awards ceremony. Posing also opens up another variation which is where do the subjects look. They can look at the camera, at each other, into the distance, dreamily at some spot over the photographers shoulder etc. Wedding and fashion magazines can be a good source of inspiration for new poses. Don't be afraid to try something new or if you notice a look between a couple to recreate it.

A quick aside. Look at features which the subject will not want exaggerating (or even in the picture). A woman with wings under her arms is not going to thank you for shooting her side on with her arms draped over her partner and her wings swinging in the wind.

Crop
Close crop, wide crop, landscape, portrait, use of space. Whilst you can and will vary the crop significantly in event photography you can make a particular crop a feature of the image collection. Shooting or adding empty space in processing can create a very different look to an image.

Perspective
The camera height and angle with respect to the subject will alter the perspective of the subject in the image. Feet will be smaller and heads bigger if shot with the subject looking up and the camera above head height and tilted down. This is the extreme but when you vary height and angle then you vary perspective. I usually try to shoot at a height relative to the subjects height. For children it does mean I kneel and then promise to diet as I get back up.

Focal Length
The choice of focal length should not be determined solely by how far away you are and how much you are trying to get into the image. We can take a close crop at 17mm and stand 4 feet away or move back and take the same shot at 50mm. In the 17mm shot the foremost facial features will be exaggerated and in the 50mm shot the features will look far more natural. We could take the same shot with a 300mm lens and compress the features. You can use focal length to manipulate perceived distance.

Depth of Field
Shallow, deep, face depth, eye only. Depth of field is one of those variables were it is easy to go for the safe option (set lights and camera to F8/F11 and stand 7 feet away) but can make a huge difference to the image and is not that difficult to adjust on the fly without having to adjust the lighting. When you set up your lights set the ISO on the camera to allow you to back off a couple of stops so you can go from F11 to F4 on the camera by just adjusting the aperture and ISO and not having to adjust the lights. This will allow you to do groups and selective focus single person shots quickly. Like the crop you can make a particular depth of field a feature of your photography and whilst it will not be a part of every image it can be dominant in the collection of images. Be careful with very shallow DOF as some will see the out of focus areas as a failure on your part.

Distance
Distance affects your Depth of Field and selection of focal length. Combine distance with crop, Aperture and Focal Length and you have a huge number of variations at your disposal.

Camera Rotation
Look for lead lines in groups and individuals. Lead lines will usually be formed by dress (a strong pattern or style) or pose. Rotate the camera to the line and shoot. The angle can be varied to make this bolder or weaker. Be careful though as it can make you look like you would not know a straight line even if you fell over one.

Processing
Sharpening, cropping, exposure, black level, grain etc. You can create an unlimited number of variations by adjusting these variable after capture. The style of processing you use is usually related to the lighting style. Hard lighting with strong sharpness and black levels is very different to soft lighting with no sharpening and a standard black level. A level of vignetting in post processing can be a subtle feature.

Colour White Balance
Warm, cold, creative. Colour White Balance can strongly affect the look of an image. In general for social event photography the colour balance should be set in camera and should be slightly warm. However, it is an element which you can change and changing it can be part of your style.

Colour or Black and White
A pretty fundamental one this one. You may choose to only print in B+W and make this part of your style. Not one to use at Proms unless you enjoy being beaten up by mothers.

You could add other elements but I hope I have covered the major ones here. Don't be afraid to try something different. A couple of small changes may well be enough to create enough of a difference without drawing any attention to exactly what is different.

Any variation of any one element has been done many millions of times over the years but put all the elements together and we have many millions of unique combinations and variations. Developing your own style can be an evolving process. You don't need to set a date and change all elements at once. Gradually change one or a selection of elements until you have a look you are happy with and that sells. Don't forget this is a business so having a unique look and style which identifies you is great but if no-one buys it then maybe that is not the style for you.

A parting thought. Style yourself. The most successful event photographers I know have something in common. Well groomed and well spoken. Remember that when you uniquely style your images the client is buying into you and your values and style. You are selling this concept from the moment they first set eyes on you and with the first words they hear.

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john@8by10.co.uk (8by10 Digital Imaging) photography style events https://8by10.zenfolio.com/blog/2012/3/creating-photographic-style Mon, 05 Mar 2012 11:28:00 GMT
Buying the latest Must Have equipment https://8by10.zenfolio.com/blog/2011/10/buying-latest-must-have-equipment As photographers we all have moments when the latest shiny new lens or camera is released and we read the reviews, check the specifications and look at the price. How much??? is my usual first reaction.

It is surprising how quickly we can adjust mentally from 'Nice to have' to 'Should have' to 'Must have'. We justify in our minds the usage benefits, the quality of images and the need to stay current.

As a business what we should be looking at is whether this shiny new addition to our camera bag will actually earn us money and will it increase our earnings over and above that produced by our current kit. The answer is usually no but that does not stop us popping the latest must have item into the on-line basket. Sitting on the screen when it could be sitting in the bag it is only a mouse click away. The 'Buy' button taunts us. Are you man enough to click me it seems to be saying.

We can offset part of the purchase by selling an older lens or camera. That is not too bad then. Actually it is probably good. It is not really a squillion pounds it is half that when we sell this other stuff. A bargain really.

The older camera or lens can be our new back up. The fact the current back up has not come out of the bag for 18 months is not really that important is it?

Don't do it. There you go. Decision made. Wait for the 'must have merchants' to upgrade their perfectly good kit and then wait a bit more. Eighteen months after a new body is released is a good time to look for its predecessor in the second hand market. Any issues will be known about and someone else will have taken the major part of the depreciation hit.

Lenses depreciate slower than bodies and wear out or age far slower as well. Unless it is a real bargain I tend to buy lenses new rather than second hand. New camera bodies are released every 12 to 18 months to replace the current model. Is your current camera on its last legs? If the answer is no and it is doing the job well enough then give it a little pet and thank it for saving you a lot of money and earning your living.

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john@8by10.co.uk (8by10 Digital Imaging) https://8by10.zenfolio.com/blog/2011/10/buying-latest-must-have-equipment Sat, 29 Oct 2011 02:42:00 GMT
Spam and more spam https://8by10.zenfolio.com/blog/2011/8/spam-and-more-spam I probably get 5 or 6 of these things a day. Some offer me great riches for working at home, some offer me a chance to buy shares in a company that I have never heard of (and neither has the stock market), some want me to claim the fortune that someone bearing the same name left unclaimed and some just want be be a nice friendly bank and help me sort out a problem with my account.

You would think (some of the spammers obviously do not) that if you were going to try to catch out the average man in the street then you would at least construct a letter/email that had a level of credibility and looked like it was put together by someone who had got a passing grade at nursery school.

The following little extract is probably the worst I have seen in a while.

"The Technical Service of H****** online banking are upgrading
programmed the software to improve the quality 'of services
bank. We ask you to start the confirmation process data
Customer. For this purpose, and must download and unpack the form attached to this email and
open it in a web browser."

Anybody who falls for a scam as badly presented as this one probably does not have any money in a bank. Well, other than the cheques they pay in for some export/import company which has a minor problem with their bank account and has chosen them from a carefully vetted list to represent their company whilst they sort it out. Strangely enough these seem to be the same people that want to send you a cheque to buy a car, hire a photographer and anything else you can think of and then accidentally make the cheque out for a few thousand more than they should. After generously insisting you keep a few hundred for your trouble they then ask that you send the balance back using a wire transfer office before the cheque has cleared. Hmmm, lets think about it for a second. Someone sent you a piece of paper and you then send them your life savings.

I'm not saying I am above getting caught out by one of these as some of them are quite convincing. I really do hope that if I do fall for one of these that it is at least written and presented in a manner which would make most of us think it may be genuine.

Anyhow, got to dash, off to collect my winnings for a lottery I didn't even know I had entered.

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john@8by10.co.uk (8by10 Digital Imaging) https://8by10.zenfolio.com/blog/2011/8/spam-and-more-spam Tue, 23 Aug 2011 08:32:00 GMT
EVS4 - Update https://8by10.zenfolio.com/blog/2011/8/evs4-update A general release of EVS4 has been delayed whilst a further option for the manner of release is considered. A decision will be made shortly (within the next few weeks).

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john@8by10.co.uk (8by10 Digital Imaging) https://8by10.zenfolio.com/blog/2011/8/evs4-update Thu, 04 Aug 2011 01:17:00 GMT
EVS4 - Why I wrote my own Event Viewing System https://8by10.zenfolio.com/blog/2011/7/evs4-why-i-wrote-my-own-event-viewing There is a lot of debate amongst event photographers about the value of viewing systems. A viewing system is a system that allows potential purchasers to view images in which they feature before they purchase them. The simplest viewing system is a set of proof sheets tacked onto a board. This has some issues, a proof sheet has to be printed (time and cost considerations), a good gust of wind and your proof sheets are flying around the event and at a large event or an event with a large number of images they can take up a considerable amount of space.

For equestrian and dog event photographers viewing systems are essential. They can have many thousands of images and the participants expect to be able to find the images featuring their horse or dog reasonably quickly. If they cannot find them they leave the sales station and so do the pounds in their pockets. Photographers working larger 'black tie' events will hit the same wall. It is usually very inefficient to use the print station as a viewing station. The print station should be doing exactly that - churning out prints.

So, the solution is electronic viewing stations. Just display the images on a set of terminals and the user chooses the images they want to purchase and either pops them into an electronic basket or lets a sales assistant know the image numbers and the hard work of finding a clients images has been done by the client without tying up the print station.

There are numerous solutions but I found that for my use none actually did what I wanted in the way that I wanted so all I looked at were rejected. For myself, coming from a web development background, the obvious solution was to use a browser based solution and write the underlying code myself. A few refinements and about a year of use and further development and it is at version four. Hence EVS4, Event Viewing System Four.

This is currently being tried by a few selected users and will shortly be generally available to other photographers. Before you start thinking that this is very generous of me I should say that if you use it I want you to send me some money. Not a huge amount (you can if you want to send massive amounts of money) but enough to say thank you and that recognises the value the product has for your business. In the order of £15 (or the equivalent in Euros or Dollars) per viewing station would seem to be fair.

It is designed to be fast to update and easy to use both for clients and system operators. Web sized images and thumbnail images are dropped in a folder and the script automatically builds a page of these images. Just create a folder, drop in your images and select the folder from a list of galleries and view your images. Very fast to do, very easy to do and very easy to use.

What it does not do is create baskets and price lists. My experience is that sales are maximised by supervising viewing stations. Put a sales assistant with every three or four stations and not only do you add the personal touch but you also manage the sales process whilst ensuring people are moving on from the viewing stations to the print station.

The latest version is going out to selected users this week and I will have a link to the code/system available within the next week assuming all feedback is positive. To date the feedback from these users has been very positive so I think we can look forward to a release next week.

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john@8by10.co.uk (8by10 Digital Imaging) EVS4 Event Viewing System photography https://8by10.zenfolio.com/blog/2011/7/evs4-why-i-wrote-my-own-event-viewing Tue, 05 Jul 2011 22:11:00 GMT
Sizing a job https://8by10.zenfolio.com/blog/2011/7/sizing-job I was recently asked to photograph 600+ subjects in groups. The job was open to interpretation and after some discussion it was decided that each group of 30 would be shot as smaller groups to build a composite image for the larger group image. Simple idea and would allow us a fair bit of freedom with posing which is difficult to achieve with large groups. It would also allow us to use a background that did not have to be the size of a stage set.

We now had a pretty good idea of what we wanted to do and just needed to ensure that we could do it in the time allocated for shooting. Basically we had 9.30am to 2.30pm and a half hour break in the middle to do the shooting. That gave us 4.5 hours to work within. Set up had to completed before 9.30am. Each group would be broken up into sub groups of 2 to 4 subjects and for each sub group we would shoot 4 images. Lets think about this now. Twenty groups of 30 subjects broken into an average sub group size of 3 subjects with 4 poses per sub group.

Twenty X 30/3 X 4 = 800 poses.
Four and half hours X 60 minutes = 270 minutes.
270 minutes X 60 seconds = 16200 seconds.
16200 seconds divided by 800 poses = 20.25 seconds per pose.

So, to achieve the above with one photographer we would have to shoot a new pose roughly every 20 seconds and this makes no allowance for sub group change over and group change over. If we allow 30 seconds to change a sub group and 2 minutes to change over a group then we lose 20 minutes in group change overs and 5 minutes per group in sub group change overs. In total we lose 120 minutes or 2 hours out of our 4.5 hours just in change overs. This being the case we need to shoot a new pose every 10 seconds to make up for change over times.

At this point we can see that using one photographer is just not going to work. There is no allowance for multiple shots of the same pose, no breaks, no allowance for any slippage in change overs and no allowance for any technical issues and we have to direct, compose and shoot a new image every 10 seconds for each sub group. If it was a single fixed pose then it can be done. How do I know that? I've done it.

Creating the poses takes time. On this job we set up two identical set ups. Camera's, lights, backgrounds were set up identically. Two photographers worked up a sweat but we finished with time to spare.

Why bother posting this? Well, when you take on a job it helps to understand what you have taken on and to break it down into tasks and time. Identifying the bottle necks and working through the work flow will allow you to properly price the job and to complete the job on time.

Taking on a job like this demands that you think it through and plan it before you get there. You can't produce another photographer out of the back of the van so with a bit of planning he/she will be keeping you company for the drive there and back. Thank you Stuart.

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john@8by10.co.uk (8by10 Digital Imaging) https://8by10.zenfolio.com/blog/2011/7/sizing-job Mon, 04 Jul 2011 15:57:00 GMT
Charging attendance fees or those were the days https://8by10.zenfolio.com/blog/2011/7/charging-attendance-fees-or-those-were Oh for the days when attendance fees were charged. In the good old days event photographers would get a deposit, a booking fee or an attendance fee before covering an event. As time moved on and competition amongst those with the kit and skills to cover events grew then clients started shopping on price. If the product and service was the same then something had to give and the first thing was giving part or all of the deposit or attendance fee back based on upon takings at the event. It was only a short step to no attendance fee and no deposit and then a little shuffle to the no deposit and we will give you a percentage of takings.

For an industry which required a large capital outlay for start ups the money up front was a very important part of staying solvent. Equipment usage had to be maximised and a cancellation or poor event cost the event photographer dearly without the cushion of at least some payment at the time of booking.

Where do we stand today? Equipment costs are generally lower. The cost of entry to this area of the market is within reach of the average photographer (and non photographer). A large number of people have entered the sector and with the minimum of equipment are competing for jobs. Nothing else can give so now they must compete on price of product. The dream is that once they are established they will be able to increase their prices to the point that they can actually live on this income. Two problems with this: the first is that their target market is those that buy on price and the second is that as soon as they increase their prices there is someone else ready to step into their shoes and supply their cost concious clients at a cheaper price.

An attendance fee would have avoided the waste of time I had at a recent event. The job came through another photographer who gave me some attendance numbers which made it worth my while to do the job. The contact for the job was an event promoter who gave me some different (lower) numbers but I still felt the job was probably worth while. An early Sunday morning start, a hour of equipment preparation, half a hour packing the van, half a hour travelling and get there and the event owner does not know we are coming! Get this sorted and myself and an assistant start to set up and then the bombshell. Expected attendance is a tenth of the numbers I had been given. I should have packed up there and then. If every person there had bought an image I would still lose money after costs. We could also only sell to the participants once the event was over. I don't like letting anybody down (I don't believe that I ever have) so I decided to stick it out and see how we would do. I called it a day when the event had overrun by a hour and there was no sign of an end in sight.

I don't believe I would have been anywhere near this event if an attendance or booking fee had been required. No-one would have put their hand in their pocket and I would not have gone. The only problem is that I cannot lead the industry and ask for booking fees or deposits whilst no-one else is doing it. It would be commercial suicide. The other option of putting prices up to cover these situations is a non-starter as well as this would have an immediate negative effect on the current sales levels which cling to a carefully balanced pricing structure. A bit of a Catch 22.

For some events I do ask for and get a deposit. In some cases this is based upon expected takings for the event. The event must generate this minimum or part of the deposit is retained to make up the difference. These events are generally different in that the print is included in the event entry price. This being the case my sales are totally dependent upon the organiser getting the people in front of me. If he is out on his figures then he takes the majority of the financial hit and not me. There is a caveat with this though, the print margins are very tight. Actually they are tighter than a ballerinas bow on a weight lifter. What is given with one hand is taken with the other.

Ideally, we would get all event organisers to put their money where their mouths are and have them stump up a deposit based upon expected revenues. At this point you might like to construct a sentence using the words 'might', 'and', 'fly' and 'pigs'.I think we would see a far more cautious approach from the organisers if we could get this. I can dream can't I? At the moment all the risk falls on the shoulders of the event photographer with no come back if the attendance figures or demographic of those attending is significantly different from those quoted when being asked to do the job.

As they used to say on Hill Street Blues, be careful out there.

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john@8by10.co.uk (8by10 Digital Imaging) https://8by10.zenfolio.com/blog/2011/7/charging-attendance-fees-or-those-were Mon, 04 Jul 2011 10:42:00 GMT
Chiizu Photo File Workflow https://8by10.zenfolio.com/blog/2011/5/chiizu-photo-file-workflow Time to share a small application that I use quite a lot.

http://www.chiizu.com/Photo-File-Workflow.html

At $29.95 this is a must have in the application tool set for event photographers. I wont go into all it can do (follow the link for a full round up of functionality) but it is an application that I continue to find new uses for.

In essence it automatically moves and copies files for you. Ok, great, why would I want to do that? Lets give you some examples.

Myself and another photographer covered a large event last year. We networked our two systems (his running Express Digital and mine running Lightroom) such that any shots by either of us went to the Lightroom system. We used Chiizu to then put a copy of each image on the other system. This meant that whichever print station the client went to or whichever of us had taken the shot the images were available in both ED and Lightroom.

Chiizu has an option to resize an image when it moves it. Copy your full size image into your processing application and move a resized (smaller) copy to your viewing stations. All automated so as you shoot you are creating thumbnails and web sized images for viewing.

It is not something you will use all the time or on every job. Probably a bit like having a spade in the boot of the car in winter. You will go five winters without ever needing it but when you do need it you will be very pleased it was there. Whatever the event photography equivalent of snowy roads is I must get stuck a fair bit as I find myself using it regularly.

I have found it to be very stable in use. Just set up your scripts and let it run in the background. The scripts are relatively easy to define as the application prompts you with a full set of options for each 'action' you create.

The developers are based in Australia but don't let that put you off :-) They respond to emails and I have found them very open to suggestions and feedback.

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john@8by10.co.uk (8by10 Digital Imaging) https://8by10.zenfolio.com/blog/2011/5/chiizu-photo-file-workflow Wed, 18 May 2011 01:16:00 GMT
Thinking of someone elses shot https://8by10.zenfolio.com/blog/2011/5/thinking-of-someone-elses-shot-or-even Ok. I shot a Cup Final today. Not the first and probably not the last I will shoot. All went well until the local paper 'tog' turned up just in time for the awards. Each player (winner or loser) gets an award and a little plaque to show that they played in the final. These are not 'grip and grin' type shots as there is no posing for the camera. So, when taking these shots the trick is to position yourself such that you get a 3/4 to full head on shot of the recipient and accept that you are going to get a mainly back or at best side profile of the award giver. Shoot as the handshake is made and the award is handed over. Not posed and not ideal as you are only guaranteed to get one of the faces showing but it is the key face as far as the recipient is concerned.

You need to check the background and frame the shot to minimise any distractions in the background.

Righto, sounds easy? The problem is that you will only get one shot (very rarely two) of each person so every one has to be usable. Even in relatively bright sunlight I will use a bit of fill flash for these shots. It ensures that eyes are not deep in shadow and aids in the perception of separation of the subject from the background. As one recipient is walking off the next is coming into frame. You will have 2 to 4 seconds between shots. No, I'm not making that up. I checked my EXIF data and it was consistently 2 to 4 seconds between shots. This reinforces the need to get it right first time, the flash will not have recycled if you try to take another shot of the same subject and if you do manage to get a second shot there is a good chance the flash may not be ready for the next subject. At this pace you do not have time to recheck the background again. You checked it when you started and as a new subject is in front of you every 2 seconds even if there is something wrong with the background you cannot do anything about it now except perhaps move slightly to minimise it.

The other 'tog' had walked into the background after the first few shots. My flash is going off and he can see where the camera is pointing so standing in the background he is aware that he is now a feature of my shots. It was like a scene from 'Withnail and I', a photographer growing out of the presenters back. I have over the years seen some dirty tricks and spoilers so this one was not new on me but usually there will be a group of editorial photographers and some have far less tolerance for this kind of thing than I do. One day, he will do it with the wrong photographer and accidentally get a monopod between his legs when he is stepping backward.

We get to the group shot and he mumbles something to me. The gist of it seemed to be 'I'll set up the group and don't get in the way for my shot'. Yeahhh, you set em up bud and lets see how many images you can take that have my elbow in the corner :-) Difficult though it was, I was nice and did not let his ignorance throw me and I did not spoil his pictures. Once he had got a few I stepped in to get mine and then moved the group and the trophy to get some individual shots.

There is not a another photographer in the background of any of these shots but I did manage to take a key one with a lad with a leg in plaster in the background. No-one but me to blame for that one :-)

If you are shooting with other photographers you need to think not only of your own shots but be aware that they are shooting too. The best place to be is behind the active photographer and whatever you do don't shoot over his/her shoulder. There is nothing worse (other than a numpty in the background of every shot) than half the eyes looking one way and the other half looking another in a group shot.

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john@8by10.co.uk (8by10 Digital Imaging) https://8by10.zenfolio.com/blog/2011/5/thinking-of-someone-elses-shot-or-even Sat, 07 May 2011 14:51:00 GMT
Event Photography Myths and Must Haves https://8by10.zenfolio.com/blog/2011/3/event-photography-myths-and-must-haves Event photography covers a wide range of photographic subjects. Subjects I have covered recently include couples at dinner and dance evenings, sponsored abseiling, celebrity 'grip and grin', provision of a Santa's Grotto system and youth sports. These are examples of the diversity of the type of photography that event photography can cover. Some require a portable studio type set up and others require weather proof camera equipment and specialist clothing. Some will require viewing/sales stations and others are printed as they are shot.

To cater for this diversity of subject, location, end product and sales method requires a system that is flexible and can be configured to suit the event. The system can be viewed in isolation as the hardware that everything connects to but I prefer to view the system as a whole. Taking this view, the system includes people flow, work flow, image transfer methodology, processing applications, processing hardware, camera hardware, lighting equipment, power source, staffing, staffing skill set, back ups, system robustness and fall back planning.

If we use a black tie event as an example we can bust the first myth. Myth number one 'It is like printing £10 notes'. Right, ok, I must have got the wrong printer then because mine just seems to print pictures and I have to take them, display them, print them, mount them and sell them. If anyone knows where the £10 print button is please let me know. There is no reference to it in the instruction manual so I'm assuming it is a hidden feature.

Each part of the process has a cost associated with it. Some of them are direct costs like the cost of mounts and others are indirect costs like the cost of the PC/laptop and software to use on it. Some costs will vary with each job, an example would be travel and parking.

At a lot of black tie events pricing has become fixed around a simple formula. Prints are £10 each and buy three and get one free. So, £10 each or if bought in batches of three then just under £7 each. Ummm, what happened to printing tenners? Looks like I'm printing seveners now.

Out of your seven pounds you are going to pay an assistant (unless you really can shoot , sell and print at the same time), pay for the cost of the print, pay for the printer usage, pay for a mount and pay for a bag to put it in. Pay for the printer usage? Yes, every time you hit the print button it not only costs you a bit of media and paper but also costs in wear and tear of the printer. At some point the printer will need maintenance and at another point it will need replacing. For the purposes of costing I work out the cost of the media per print and then use the same figure as a ball park cost of printing. So, for a 9x6 print on a DNP DS40 the cost of media is roughly 28p per print. I allow the same again as the cost of printing therefore my total cost of print is 28p x two ie. 56 pence. A reasonable quality mount is going to cost 60 pence and a clear faced bag is about 4 pence. My immediate costs of printing and mounting are £1.20 per image. Down to £5.80 per print now.

If we assume that for a typical black tie event we will sell 60 images (60 couples with an average of an image per couple) and we are paying the assistant £60 for the evening (not unreasonable considering the evening will probably start at 4pm with set up and will not finish until midnight ie. 8 hours) then £1 out of each image is going to the assistant. We've still got £4.80 an image left so not all doom and gloom.

A lot of venues and organisers are asking for a 'commission' or kick back to the event to off set some of their own costs. It is not unusual for them to ask for 10 to 20%. I usually ask for an attendance fee which negates any 'commissions' but it is becoming more common and organisers see us taking money and think they should have a share of it. Everybody else gets paid and presumably makes a profit for the service they provide at the event but event photographers are somehow different and not only should they not get paid but they certainly should not make a profit. Organisers, we need to make a profit so we can make the investment to do the job well and also to ensure we are still around to do it next time you have an event. Ok, so lets assume that one way or another your arm has been twisted and out of all the seven pounds you are taking that 10% is going back to the organiser. I cannot stress how much I disagree with this method of getting work but some feel they need to do it and it is affecting the whole industry. I can see it changing over time as photographers realise it should be the exception and it is unsustainable but for the time being we live with it. The bottom line is 70 pence of every print is now going to the organiser. I have seen some demanding 20% or higher. It must be fun finding a new photographer every time you have an event. Anyhow, we now have £4.10 left from our sale.

Out of that £4.10 you still have to pay for camera equipment, lighting, insurance, software, computers, transport etc. If you allow £1.00 a print for equipment usage and 50 pence a print for insurance and transport you probably will not be far off. This leaves us with £2.60 as our profit per print at this point.

We still have not covered the photographers time cost and this should include equipment preparation, set up on site, the photography, packing away and equipment sorting and unloading. Let us assume that for our typical event that the photographer works 10 hours including travelling etc. At £6.00 per hour (near enough the minimum wage) the photographer takes £60 for himself. Yes, your skill and craftsmanship is going to earn you roughly the same as flipping burgers. Great, this leaves £1.60 a print in profit.

Out of our 160 bright shiny pennies we have to pay for training, professional fees, membership of trade organisations, marketing, web site, Internet service provider, PAT testing etc. Not much left to pay tax and NI is there?

To do the job properly you need two of everything. You need spare camera equipment, spare lights and ideally a spare printer. These are hidden costs but without them the income from a job could be lost and your reputation badly damaged.

Then we have all the little costs like business cards and wastage.

Don't get me wrong, it is a job I love but I also love my family and I have to provide for them. I want to do well and I set myself high standards so maybe my costs are higher than others or I am too cheap for the service I provide. To some extent the product pricing is dictated by the market and event photographers find themselves walking a fine line between being cheap (and branded as such) or expensive and not getting the sales volume required to maintain the business.

Printing tenners? I wish.

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john@8by10.co.uk (8by10 Digital Imaging) https://8by10.zenfolio.com/blog/2011/3/event-photography-myths-and-must-haves Mon, 28 Mar 2011 00:54:00 GMT
Creativity, copyright and usage https://8by10.zenfolio.com/blog/2011/3/creativity-copyright-and-usage Sometimes photographers or clients don't or won't understand what is being charged for and why. There are misconceptions about copyright, usage and licensing which are potentially financially damaging to either the client or the photographer.

The one people seem to have most difficulty with is copyright. The second a photographer releases the shutter he/she has created a work and owns the copyright to that work. In the UK you need do nothing more at this stage. The copyright belongs to you and you do not need to register it or take any other action to retain that copyright. Owning copyright means you are in control of all copies of the image, only you can authorise the creation of more copies.

Creating the image is a bit like building your house. You come up with a design, plan it and build/create it. At this point you may be thinking 'Aaah, that is why photographers charge a fee for creating an image.' That fee is to cover the work and creativity in producing an image. You may have been thinking that but probably you did not so that was a little prompt just to make sure we are thinking about this in the same way. When building a house it is usual to employ an architect to do the design work for you. The architect will charge for his/her creativity and design work and will also retain the copyright to all plans they produce. When employing a photographer it is basically the same. The creative fee is to recompense the photographer for using their creative skills to build an image.

Having created an image and owning the copyright to that image the photographer can now let others use the image. The user of the image will usually be the person or company who commissioned the image. For this usage the photographer will charge a usage fee based upon type of usage, duration of usage, circulation figure (number of times the image will be used) and geographical area of usage.

If the image features recognisable people, property or buildings the photographer may require model releases for each of these before usage can be offered. This largely effects commercial usage but can be a requirement for the photographers own portfolio use especially as a lot of portfolios are now displayed on the web. As a rule of thumb releases will always be required when the image is to be used commercially, may be required when the image is used as art and will not be required when the image is used editorially.

Owning the copyright does not mean you can do what you want with the image. Without model releases you have the copyright (no one else can take or make copies of your image) but you still may not be able to use the image.

If you sell or give away copyright then you cannot even keep a copy of the image you created without a usage licence from the new copyright owner. A number of competitions are copyright grabs. If entering a competition read the terms very carefully. You may find you are giving away copyright or giving an unrestricted and perpetual usage licence to the organiser. Another little term which creeps in is that you will assume all responsibility for any subsequent actions against the publisher. So, they nick your image, use it and get sued by someone and you carry the can. Seems like a fair swap for free entry to 'World of Nappies' for you and your family for the next year if you win. A lot of these 'competitions' grab these rights on entry to the competition so win or lose you have lost your image or given away a bucket load of rights just by entering.

The above is not definitive and if you have any doubts about ownership, copyright, model releases and usage licensing then you should seek expert qualified advice.

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john@8by10.co.uk (8by10 Digital Imaging) https://8by10.zenfolio.com/blog/2011/3/creativity-copyright-and-usage Tue, 01 Mar 2011 04:30:00 GMT
Working for free or shooting for credits https://8by10.zenfolio.com/blog/2011/2/working-for-free-or-shooting-for Before I let this one out I just want to say I have two organisations that I do shoot for free. They are both good causes and it is my way of doing my bit. The work I do for them is appreciated and it is work I have chosen to do.

Right, time for my rant now.

I've owned businesses, worked for others and worked for myself and have never asked anyone to work for free or (until photography) been asked or expected to work for free.

From an amateurs point of view I can see the attraction of being able to shoot something they would not normally have the opportunity to shoot and I really don't have a problem with that. Their choice, their opportunity etc. The client takes the risk that the work will not be to a professional standard or even may not be done at all but so long as both parties are happy with this then good luck to them.

From a pros point of view I do have a problem when people ask or expect me to shoot for free. The scenario I liken this to is a restaurant owner recruiting someone to peel the potatoes. "We've seen some potatoes you peeled and really like them and would like you to come and peel potatoes for us. We wont be able to pay but we'll let everybody who eats here know who peeled the potatoes. By the way can you bring your own peeler?"

The camera manufacturers have tried to de-skill photography and project photography as easy. Just buy our camera and it will do the thinking for you. This projection of photography as unskilled and the general perception that photographers just point a camera at something and shoot is were the basic problem sits. We know pro photography is not unskilled, we just have to remind our clients occasionally.

I don't want to cast aspersions about the skill level of the guy who peels the potatoes but whatever your view on the skill needed to peel a potato the potato peeler will get paid. This isn't just about skill it is about someone taking from you.

Then we have the little twist spoken in the same tone as someone giving you the secret to eternal life. "No, of course we don't expect you to shoot for free we are going to give you a credit." This is usually followed by 'we don't have any budget' said in a tone that implies hurt that you should have asked for payment and hinting at the great rewards which would have been yours if they did have a budget. Basically, they want you to give your time and expertise, supply all the kit, pay your own costs and if they remember they will put your name in the teeniest letters they have somewhere near the image. Publishers must have a special typeface for credits, 'Inviso Script'. When my kids get to the breakfast table and ask for a great big bowl of lovely munchy credits that is when I will consider shooting for credits.

Shooting for free or shooting for credits is shooting yourself unless it is something you believe in.

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john@8by10.co.uk (8by10 Digital Imaging) credits free https://8by10.zenfolio.com/blog/2011/2/working-for-free-or-shooting-for Mon, 28 Feb 2011 08:00:00 GMT
Creating a bit of POP https://8by10.zenfolio.com/blog/2011/2/creating-bit-of-pop Sometimes we create an image and it lacks something. Composition, lighting, perspective and colour all look fine but it just seems flat. The following technique will bring the pop back into the image.

Open in Photoshop
Duplicate the base layer
Duplicate the base layer again
Set first copy layer blend mode to 'screen'
Set second copy layer blend mode to 'overlay'
Adjust the fill and the master opacity level of the copy layers to taste
Note: adjust both fill and master opacity for each layer but leave the base layer untouched.
Fine tune the adjustments on the fill and opacity on the layers.
Flatten image
Sharpen

All in all should take less than 2 minutes.

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john@8by10.co.uk (8by10 Digital Imaging) editing pop https://8by10.zenfolio.com/blog/2011/2/creating-bit-of-pop Mon, 28 Feb 2011 07:40:00 GMT
Flash on a stick https://8by10.zenfolio.com/blog/2009/9/flash-on-stick What the hell is he on about now? Is the question that probably flashed through your mind when you saw the heading.

All will be revealed. There are times when you want to position your flash but cannot either secure it or you are in a crowd and it would be difficult to get the flash where you want it. A classic example is a friend of mine who photographs skate boarding. There is no way he can position a tripod or flash stand to get a front lit skater boarder mid jump whilst he photographs just off head on. The solution is a flash head on a stick held by an assistant and triggered either by wireless or by a cable. The preference is obviously wireless and as I have Canon gear I can use a ST-E2 trigger and maintain wireless control of the flash settings or I can bang the flash on manual and use a Skyport.

I used to use a monopod as the 'stick' but found that most are shorter than I actually want and most are heavier than I want. I now use a simple painters extension tube (available at any harware store). I can extend it to any length I want to a maximum of about 8 feet, it is lightweight, it does not have any catches etc to snag on things and best of all it is cheap. A simple 1/4" bolt on the end gives you a mounting for a standard 'cold' shoe or you can just tape your flash to the end. I have mounted a Manfrotto 1/4" extension on mine which is very secure and gives me a firm base for the 'cold' shoe.

For special effects like creating pools of light on location without having to set up stands and boom arms it is a real time saver. You can also use it at parties/gigs tethered to the camera to just position the light right where you want it. I also use it if I am having a day where lumping a camera with a rotating bracket and flash permanently mounted is uncomfortable or likely to get damaged. With the pole in the crook of your arm you can still shoot with both hands on the camera and you don't need to rotate the flash every time you rotate the camera.

So, maybe not quite as daft as it first sounded.

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john@8by10.co.uk (8by10 Digital Imaging) flash pole skyport st-e2 https://8by10.zenfolio.com/blog/2009/9/flash-on-stick Tue, 22 Sep 2009 08:22:00 GMT
Cheap Umbrellas and making them better https://8by10.zenfolio.com/blog/2009/9/cheap-umbrellas-and-making-them-better Cheap umbrellas are cheap for a reason. They typically do not have the nice thick stem walls that the more expensive ones do and so are prone to crushing were you tighten them to a flash head. They also do not usually have the nicely chamfered end for easy insertion into the flash head mounting.

There are two common umbrellas stem diameters. There is the 8mm (largely universal and will fit just about any head) and there is the 7mm (used by Elinchrom). Obviously the 8mm will not fit the Elinchrom 7mm mounting. If you invest in Elinchrom flash heads (which are very good) then be prepared to also invest in a range of 7mm umbrellas.

The manufactures own umbrellas tend to be expensive. This is not unreasonable as they are typically made to a much higher standard than the cheap ones available from Ebay for example. However, the quality of light from either is very similar. To avoid or reduce the chances of crushing the wall on the umbrella stem you need some 7mm dowel (6mm for Elinchrom). As the cheap umbrellas rarely come with a fancy chamfered end it is simply a matter of running a bit of general purpose glue down the stem and then pushing in the dowel until it will go no further and then pull it back a 1/4 inch. Cut off the excess dowel and job done. You may wish to lightly file the end of the stem to make it more rounded and easier to fit into the flash mounting whilst you are in DIY mode.

All umbrellas tend to protrude from the flash mount and are usually at a height just right to take some ones eye out. Drill a 5mm hole in a wine bottle cork about 2cm deep and fit to the end of the umbrella shaft. If some one does catch themselves on the umbrella shaft you will do far less damage.

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john@8by10.co.uk (8by10 Digital Imaging) corks elinchrom umbrella https://8by10.zenfolio.com/blog/2009/9/cheap-umbrellas-and-making-them-better Mon, 21 Sep 2009 01:54:00 GMT
The 99 pence 'Stofen' diffuser https://8by10.zenfolio.com/blog/2009/7/99-pence-stofen-diffuser Just got in from shooting a wedding this afternoon and running through my checklist this morning I realised that my Stofen had gone walkabout. The Stofen is useful (even outdoors) for simple portraits as it can reduce the harshness of the fill light and soften any facial shadows. Knowing I would need one I turned to my usual emergency lighting diffuser supplier, my kitchen and bathroom.

The bathroom was disappointing but the kitchen had a gem of a surprise. A soap dispenser in a semi-transparent plastic white rectangular bottle. At the moment these are available in just the right size as they are being sold with 50% extra free so instead of the usual slim bottle this is 1.5 times deeper.

The product you are looking for is a Cussens Carex Sensitive soap dispenser with 50% Extra free. It come with a lilac top and the bottle looks lilac when full. Once emptied and washed out the bottle is a beautiful semi-transparent nearly white colour. They cost 99 pence and are available in Waitrose and I would imagine most major super markets. Even if you throw the soap away (I saved it in a bowl) this is a superb deal.

Measure 3 inches from the bottom and cut the top off with a sharp pair of scissors and wash thoroughly. The plastic name labels peel off easily and leave no residue. A rubber band around my Metz 54 and it was a perfect fit. Two rubber bands around my SB24 and another perfect fit. Tested with both and no colour cast at all just a great diffused light. The best part is that it looks as good as the real thing and works at least as well. DIY it may be but it looks the part and works.

I used it extensively today for the wedding and it worked very well. If anything (because it is slightly longer than a Stofen) it actually gave me a more pleasing image and did not get knocked off or fall off.

I have just been out and bought 4 more for the princely sum of £3.96 giving me a total of 5 'stofens'.

Seriously, it looks good and works very well. This is the bargain of the century for those who need a 'stofen'.


A little update for those using smaller flash heads. For the 430 EX the Radox 300ml Clean and protect handwash is a perfect fit. Straight cut across 2.5 inches from the bottom and it is an easy but snug fit. It is slightly clearer than the Carex plastic but have just tested it - I must have the cleanest hands in Christchurch - and it still works quite well. All a bit subjective but I have a little comparison test I do which is to shoot something in a recessed corner of the room. If the diffuser is contributing little fill light then the shadows in the overhang from the bounce on the ceiling will be pronounced and clear. The less intense the shadow (whilst maintaining the overall lighting) the better the diffuser is working. A quick bounce comparison of with and without the Radox showed that even though this is relatively clear it was still pushing some light forward.

So, Carex for the 580 and Metz 54 and Radox for the 430. I have not got a price on the Radox one as I helped myself (in the pursuit of results and research) whilst my other half was out. I'm sure I'll be told in clearly understood saxon english exactly how much it costs when she finds the pudding dish full of soap next to the sink.

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john@8by10.co.uk (8by10 Digital Imaging) 430ex Cussens DIY Metz Radox carex diffuser stofen https://8by10.zenfolio.com/blog/2009/7/99-pence-stofen-diffuser Sat, 25 Jul 2009 12:47:00 GMT