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Social Stock: Tips for Landing Social Stock Clientele

In my last blog I talked about some guidelines I follow when at a client’s space shooting for their social media feeds. I also covered some of the expectations the client may have that may¬†be a bit different than shoots you’ve worked in the past. If you’re interested in picking up social stock clients, I suggest you first read my post about how to shoot for them,¬†here.

Unique Garnish
Unique Garnish

With the explosion of social media and it’s strong ties to marketing, it’s no surprise that companies of all sizes are looking to stand out online against their competitors. A¬†well-considered image is likely to steal more than a moment’s glance from feeds cluttered with bland mobile phone snapshots, but it’s getting your camera in the door that can prove a bit more difficult. Continue reading for tips on connecting with businesses and how to shoot for their social feeds.

Continue reading Social Stock: Tips for Landing Social Stock Clientele

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Leica Introduces the “Leica M-D”, the Purists Digital Rangefinder

Image via Leica
Image via Leica

Leica has announced it’s latest addition to the digital “M” rangefinder line in the “Leica M-D” (Typ 262). The luxury camera maker has quieted the bells and whistles on it’s new¬†M-D by omitting such pesky features as a rear display and menu system of any type. The resulting no frills body is a clean design that looks much more like the film M’s of the past then any modern variant.

Image via Leica
Image via Leica

According to Leica – “no other camera manufacturer is dedicated to focusing on ‘Das Wesentliche’ – the sheer essentials of photography. As a result, Leica has developed the Leica M-D: a camera that delivers photography in the most consistent way. A camera that offers no more and no less than the most important features, and represents a state-of-the-art digital rangefinder”

Controlling the camera is straightforward. There is a thumb-wheel for shutterspeed and aperture is selected¬†manually as on all “M”¬†systems. ISO selection occupies the space typically reserved for the rear display and the ISO dial’s design harkens back to the Leica film M’s ISO/ ASA selector. The top-plate does include a hotshoe and the front of the camera spots a self-timer typical of those found on classic film bodies.

Image via Leica
Image via Leica

Photographers interested in shooting some occasional video will need to look elsewhere. In typical “M” fashion there is no video capture to speak of unless shooting stop-motion at a blazing 3¬†fps in your thing.

Leica has distilled it’s latest cameras form to such a degree that it’s even left off it’s signature circular red script “Leica” badge from the front of the black on black shooter with the goal of an “unobtrusive appearance”.

Inside the handcrafted body you’ll find Leica’s 24mp full-frame CMOS sensor and¬†Leica Maestro image processor. The image files created by the combo are DNG RAW only, presumably because offering jpegs as an option would require a menu of some sort.

Image via Leica
Image via Leica

So I know what your thinking. With every modern convenience and feature gutted from this new camera, the M-D is going to be the first interchangeable lens, German made digital M to be affordable for the masses………. well, not so much. Pricing for the body only Leica M-D is listed at $5,995 usd via authorized dealers. The good news is that it’s available now.

If you’re interested in handling the new Leica M-D you can find a list of authorized dealers via Leica’s website at us.leica-camera.com

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Zeiss Announces the Batis 18mm f2.8 Distagon

The¬†lensmakers at Zeiss¬†have announced a new addition to their premium full-frame line of autofocus lenses for Sony E-Mount. The all-new Batis 18mm f2.8 aims to build on the success of it’s predecessors, the Batis 85mm f1.8 and 25mm f2. The reception of this new line from Zeiss has been quite positive placing¬†the lenses on what seems to be a perpetual back-order.

Image courtesy of Zeiss
Image courtesy of Zeiss

The Batis 18mm f2.8 is crafted using a variation their classic Distagon design. The optical formula employs 11 elements in 10 groups and touts the ability to resolve the fine details that modern sensors hunger for. The body of the lens is metal and is dust / weather sealed. It’s focusing ring is rubberized like it’s siblings. Autofocus duties are handled by a near silent drive unit with linear motors.

Image courtesy of Zeiss
Image courtesy of Zeiss

Another design cue consistent with previous Batis offerings is the innovative OLED display that resides on the lens barrel. This serves as a highly visible focus scale and depth of field preview. While some critics have been quick to claim gimmick, I personally appreciate Zeiss pushing the limits of what photographers should expect in a premium lens design.

Image courtesy of Zeiss
Image courtesy of Zeiss

The resolving abilities of the Batis 18mm f2.8 aside, the sculpted metal body of this lens is a sight onto itself. It’s body trumpets toward the¬†front element and when fitted with it’s lens hood appears to be one solid, contiguous bit of goodness. Well done Zeiss.

Image courtesy of Zeiss
Image courtesy of Zeiss

Zeiss isn’t shy about referring to it’s Batis line as being designed for professionals and it has priced them accordingly. The Batis 18mm f2.8 will be released with a $1500.00 usd/euro price tag. Availability is slated for May 2016 but if previous models stocking levels are any indication, I’d suggest a pre-order to stake your claim. Sample images are available below.

Image courtesy of Zeiss
Image courtesy of Zeiss
Image courtesy of Zeiss
Image courtesy of Zeiss
Image courtesy of Zeiss
Image courtesy of Zeiss
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The Lensbaby “Twist 60” Takes Bokeh for a Spin

Lensbaby (www.lensbaby.com) has announced that it will be adding to it’s portfolio of quirky yet functional lenses. Labeled the Twist 60, this 60mm f2.5 full-frame optic is built with one trait¬†in mind, swirly bokeh.

Image Courtesy of Lensbaby
Image Courtesy of Lensbaby

The lens formula is that of the historic Petzval, crafted in the 19th century. It features a large center area of focus that transitions into a distinct and somewhat hard vignette with it’s out of focus areas churning in a dreamy swirl. Considered an optical flaw by modern lens design standards, this distinct¬†bokeh has gained a somewhat cult following in recent years.

Image Courtesy of Lensbaby
Image Courtesy of Lensbaby

It will be interesting to see if Lensbaby’s¬†12 aperture bladed optical funnel cloud will have what it takes to bring swirly bokeh to the masses. It’s worth mentioning that the Twist 60 isn’t the sole option available with this unique character. Lenses like the Lomography Petzval create a similar effect but cost more than twice as much at $600. A more budget friendly choice is the¬†Helios 44-2 58mm f2. It can take your images for a spin at¬†less that $100 (used) but requires an¬†adapter for¬†modern systems and often needs to be imported from a Russian eBay seller.¬†Quality can be a gamble considering they’re roughly 40 years old.

Image Courtesy of Lensbaby
Image Courtesy of Lensbaby

Lensbaby says that the Twist 60 will start shipping on May 5th and will be available in full-frame Canon EF, Nikon F and Sony E mounts at a cost of $280. Investors in Lensbaby’s Optic Swap system can purchase a Twist 60 module for $180.

Image Courtesy of Lensbaby
Image Courtesy of Lensbaby

All things considered the Twist 60 looks to be priced right with it’s metal body and selection of native mounts. The sample images that Lensbaby has provided via their website speak volumes about how this classic Petzval design can set an image apart from the crowd.

Image Courtesy of Lensbaby
Image Courtesy of Lensbaby
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Social Stock: Shooting for a Company’s Social Feeds

Let’s face it, the opportunities available to budding photographic hopefuls aren’t as bountiful as they once were. Traditional channels of employment, outside of weddings and portraiture, have become increasingly¬†rare. ¬†In the age of “citizen journalism,” capturing the world’s every move via smartphone and beaming it to social streams, it can feel like there’s little room to capitalize on¬†your skills.

But this blog isn’t about throwing in the towel, it’s about doing what you do better than “citizen x” with an iPhone! Let’s talk about creating compelling images for a company’s social media feeds. Captivating¬†images; shots¬†that set quality spaces and businesses apart from the white noise of snapshots.

Shooting social stock can mean different things to different businesses. Today we’ll focus on bars and restaurants. Theses spaces can be challenging to shoot in due to their fast pace and often limited lighting, but that’s a good thing. It gives you an opportunity to leverage your skills and equipment to produce quality work. A job done well can amplify a space’s social signals, and with that comes increased engagement in their business. If your images can do that, expect to be asked back.

When shooting a space these are a few guidelines that I like to follow.

  • Don’t get in the way.

    Often times you’ll be asked to shoot during very busy times. No one wants shots of their bar/restaurant empty so in order to get your shot expect to work quickly and efficiently. If shooting around a busy bar you’ll need to keep your head on a swivel. Once¬†bartenders or servers see you as an obstacle you’ll have made your job much more difficult.

 

Be prepared to work quickly as to not delay food service.

 

Work close but don't get in the way.
Work close but don’t get in the way.

 

  • Keep it candid.

    Posed shots can feel a bit too much like an advertisement. You want the feed’s viewers to easily imagine themselves in the space. Posed shots of a beautiful couple can almost feel intimidating to the audience. Your images should feel welcoming.

 

Candid couple

 

  • Focus on what makes the space special.

    This can be the decor, the staff, or maybe a unique dish or cocktail. If you’re lucky it’ll be all of those things. If nothing stands out don’t be afraid to ask staff or management. You’re there to make them look as good as possible which in turn will showcase your skills.

 

What makes a space unique?
What makes a space unique?

 

Patrons engaged.
Patrons engaged.

 

  • Be accommodating.

    A couple might ask for a photo or simply want to know what your up to. I’ll always oblige a photo request and let the subject know that they should follow the establishment on social media to see images from the shoot but that the social media manager will determine which images are posted. It’s not out of line to pass a business card and offer to email a shot of a couple or individual. Moments like these can lead to future work.

  • Wait your turn.

    You may very well end up with shots you like a lot and would love to share on your social streams. That’s great but unless the person cutting the check tells you otherwise I’d suggest you post an image only after the client has first shared it themselves. This isn’t as bad as it seems because the client will often post those best shots first.

 

This isn’t sterile product photography. Don’t be afraid to stylize an image.

 

  • It’ll be dark, so be prepared.

    You may shoot¬†in bars that are comically dark and flash is very distracting to everyone in the space. I never use it on these shoots. Nothing you do should risk turning off a customer to considering a future visit. Find what light there is and exploit it. Shoot with the fastest lens you have and test the limits of the reciprocal rule. I’ll often shoot in bursts which will result in catching an acceptably sharp frame. These images are frequently¬†shared at lower resolution and viewed on a mobile phone. Try to set aside any obsession you may have for the perfect file in your other work. If the noise gets to be too much just convert to black and white; ART!

 

....For the night is dark and full of liquors....
….For the night is dark and full of liquors….

 

Exploit available light.
Exploit available light.

 

  • Catch them looking.

    Most of the time you’ll be shooting patrons while trying to remain inconspicuous. That said, if you spot an interesting patron that seems to have a friendly disposition try taking an extra beat with the camera to your eye in an attempt to be noticed. It might just be a fleeting glance, so be ready when it happens.

 

Get caught looking.

 

  • Ask about a punch list.

    Your client likely has a particular list of things that they’d like to see. Make sure you know what it is and do your best to cover it. For a bar/ restaurant shoot expect something like food/drinks, details and customers.

 

Shoot a design element in a way that no patron ever will. Here, I laid on the floor to get the shot.
Shoot a design element in a way that no patron ever will. Here, I laid on the floor to get the shot.

 

A framed piece of art created by a local artist makes for a great social share.
A framed piece of art created by a local artist makes for a great social share.

 

  • Do your thing.

    Don’t hesitate to get creative. If a client is following you on social media and asks you to “do your thing,’ do it. Your style is likely why they hired you. Just be sure that the aesthetic¬†of their space works in tandem with your stylistic touches.

 

Don't hesitate to do some of the things that make your shots stand out.
Don’t hesitate to do some of the things that make your shots stand out.

 

Night long exposures looking into a space can show of interior design details in a unique way.
Night-time long exposures looking into a space can show off interior and exterior design details in a unique way.

 

These are some examples of what has worked for me, but ultimately each space and client is unique. Knowing when to adjust your plan can be just as important as having one.

It’s not lost on me that shooting the job is one thing but landing the job is another hurdle entirely. In my next blog I’ll discuss some ways to drum up these social stock shoots.

Questions? Feel free to leave a comment or contact me via my website or social feeds.

 

Read Andy’s previous posts on gear, creativity and more¬†here.

Special thanks go out to the Detroit Optimist Society and their collection of great bars and restaurants (The Peterboro, The Sugar House, Wright & Co., Cafe 78 and Honest John’s,) some of which are featured in this blog. ¬†

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Hasselblad Launches a New Medium Format Camera System With 50mp & 100mp Sensors

Swedish camera maker Hasselblad has announced it’s all new H6D premium medium format camera system. The luxury shooter has been designed from the ground up with quality and speed in mind. Not to be outdone in the megapixel war, the H6D has two CMOS sensor equipped medium format backs available in both 50 and 100 megapixel varieties.

Image courtesy of Hasselblad
Image courtesy of Hasselblad

To help resolve all of that medium format detail Hasselblad has released new lenses specially built to exploit the dense pixel counts of the sizable sensors. The HC and HCD lenses are said to be fully 100+ megapixel compatible. These updated lenses will sport new orange accents to set them apart from the classic H range which remains compatible with the updated body.

Image courtesy of Hasselblad
Image courtesy of Hasselblad

The new Hasselblad H6D isn’t just about resolving power. The body is feature rich and speced to impress photographers with pockets deep enough to take one home. Shutter speeds are available ¬†from 1-hour up to 1/2000th of a second. The sensors output 16 bit color definition with the 100 megapixel back capable of 15-stops of dynamic rage.

Image courtesy of Hasselblad
Image courtesy of Hasselblad

Connectivity of the H6D was a point of focus with speedy USB 3.0 wired transfer and dual card slots on hand in both CFast and SD flavors. Wi-Fi is also built in to the H6D which is a modern convenience not seen before in Hasselblad’s medium format cameras. User input can be handled on a very contrasty rear display which¬†is touch enabled.Hasselblad-H6D-100c_right-side-shot_WHAs if capturing insanely detailed and massive still images weren’t enough, the H6D is also 4K capable. Af of this writing there is very little that has been said about the way the H6D handles it’s 4k capture.

Those of you interested in taking a H6D for a spin can sign-up to request a demo at www.Hasselblad.com

U.S. pricing and availability is yet to be set in stone. That said, if you have to ask about pricing this system is not likely for you.

The Hasselblad site shows a price sheet: The Hasselblad H6D-50c¬†will cost $25,995/‚ā¨22,900; the H6D-100c is priced at $32,995/‚ā¨28,900

 

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Panasonic Announces the Lumix GX85

Panasonic has just announced a new camera: the Lumix GX85, an interchangeable lens Micro Four Thirds (MFT) camera.

Spec’d to compete in the mid-range enthusiast market, the interchangeable lens shooter offers a heap of features considering it’s $800 USD price tag. Like most MFT cameras, it has a 16mp sensor. However,¬†the imager drops the anti-aliasing filter, which we’ve found increases sharpness by 15-25%. You’ll get sharper pictures but not¬†bigger files.

Available only as a kit with the Panasonic 12-32mm f3.5-5.6 zoom (24mm to 64mm 35mm equivalent focal range), this compact body sports not only 5-axis in-body stabilization but the ability to stabilize content shot in 4k at up to 30fps. That means you can use unstabilized lenses handheld, for either video or low-light stills. That’s not at all a common feat; you’d need to jump up to the $3,000 Sony a7S II to get 4k recording with in-body stabilization.

Not only is the GX85 4k capable, it also leverages those 4k files to offer an impressive suite of possibilities where still image pulls are concerned. Options like post focusing and aperture bracketing are present, which bring with them some interesting post-shoot correction possibilities. The post focus option is quite interesting and was a feature added via firmware update to previous Lumix cameras. That kind of after-the-sale attention to older models brings with it a level of trust in a brand.  

The GX85 ticks a lot of boxes outside of it‚Äôs cutting edge firmware, too. The MFT body sports an electronic viewfinder and a tilt screen with touch sensitivity. A pop-up flash is also on board. It’s design allows it to be bounced which is a welcomed touch. In-camera Wi-Fi rounds out a list of impressive features offered by the GX85.

Competition is stiff in this category, and $800 can buy you a good-quality APS-C¬†camera with a bigger sensor and better image quality,¬†such as the mirrorless¬†Sony a6000¬†or the Canon T6i DSLR.¬†Neither camera can match the GX85’s stabilized sensor or 4K video, however, and MFT shooters are passionate about the wide variety of¬†cross-branded lenses. Time will tell if stabilized sensors and a stable of lenses can beat back the allure of a larger sensor and it’s army of pixels.

The Panasonic Lumix GX85 is slated for a May release and is currently being offered as a kit only.

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Sony RX10 III 4K Super-Zoom, 50mm f1.8 & 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6

Sony announced today that it’s FE mount lens offering will be growing by two. First, the 50mm f/1.8 prime ($250) will be available¬†May 2016.

This non-stabilized standard offering comes in at about one quarter the price of it’s big brother, the Carl Zeiss co-branded FE 55mm f1.8. While I wouldn’t go calling it a thrifty-fifty (it’s about twice the price of the Canon 50mm¬†f/1.8),¬†it’s price should go down a bit more smoothly than some of the other 1st party offerings in the Sony catalog.

Fans of the system will no doubt be very curious about the resolving power of the new 50mm; we’ll test it as soon as we get our hands on it. We’ve been happy with our¬†Sony-Zeiss 55mm f1.8, but at 1/4 the price, this new lens will certainly not be as sharp.

Sony FE 50mm f/1.8
Sony FE 50mm f/1.8

Next up is the new¬†70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 G OSS. This stabilized zoom comes in at about $1,200 USD¬†and is also slated for a May release. This is Sony’s longest reaching telephoto lens, and it features class leading close-up performance with a minimum focusing distance (MFD) of less than 3 ft. That kind of MFD makes the FE¬†70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 a nice option for tele-macro shooting. The new zoom is also dust and moisture resistant.

Sony FE 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 G OSS
Sony FE 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 G OSS

Lastly, the torrent of ever fresh Sony cameras continues with the latest revision of the RX10, the RX10 III. The RX10 III features an optically stabilized 35mm equivalent 24-600mm f/6.5-f/11 super-zoom lens with optics branded and co-designed by¬†Carl Zeiss. Sony’s marketing the lens as a 24-600mm f/2.4-f/4, but that’s because they’re converting the focal lengths to 35mm equivalent without converting the f/stops.

Sony RX10 III
Sony RX10 III

The RX10 III uses one of Sony’s acclaimed 1-inch sensors paired with a BIONZ X image processor. The pair¬†is capable of blazing stills burst rates of 14 fps with minimal blackout as well as super slow-motion video at up to a blistering 960 fps. As with other recent Sony offerings 4k video is on tap and just to make the competition nervous the RX10 III does it with full pixel readout and no pixel binning. In fact, Sony states that the RX10 III captures approximately 1.7x more information than is required for 4K footage. Showoff.

RX10 III Internals
RX10 III Internals

The new RX10 III is slated for a May release with U.S. pricing looking to come in at $1,500.

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Irix 15mm f2.4 Ultra-wide Rectilinear Lens Announced

Swiss newcomers Irix look to leave a wide wake with their first entry into the 3rd party manual lens market.

The Photography Show 2016 in Birmingham,

Swiss lensmaker Irix have just announced their 15mm f2.4 ultra-wide manual focus rectilinear lens. Produced for Canon EF, Nikon F, and Pentak K Full-Frame mounts (look at you Pentax!) the new Irix 15mm f2.4 aims to capitalize on photographers desires for a high-resolution capable ultra-wide premium lens offering.

Photo courtesy of www.irixlens.com
Irix Blackstone / Photo courtesy of www.irixlens.com

The new 15mm looks to set itself apart by packing in a list of dream features for fans of landscape, architecture and astrophotography. Most notably a good deal of attention was paid to precision manual focusing. The Irix 15mm f2.4 features a focus lock that can be selected at all focusing distances as well as a click-lock at infinity; the distance the lens will often live¬†at. That’s right astrophotographers, no more pre-focusing in the daylight then taping down your focus ring and hoping for the best. Speaking of shooting at night, the hyper-focal scale and other lens markings are said to glow in low light.

Photo courtesy of www.irix.com
Photo courtesy of www.irix.com

Minimum focusing distance is a very short .25 meters or .82 feet. Along with it’s f2.4 aperture this combo could make for some interesting out of focus effects as long as you’re willing and able to get very close to your subject. Should you need to stop the lens down it’s aperture design features 9 blades and a minimum f-stop of f22.¬†Irix_9_rounded_aperture_blades

Another nice touch not seen in other 3rd party options is that front filters are able to be screwed onto the massive 95mm filter thread¬†while maintaining the use of the lens hood. As if that weren’t enough there is also a slot for gel filters to be slid into place behind the rear element.

Photo courtesy of www.irix.com
Front 95mm filter mount / Photo courtesy of www.irix.com
Photo courtesy of www.irix.com
Rear filter mount / Photo courtesy of www.irix.com

The 15mm f2.4’s¬†optical design utilizes¬†15 elements in 11 groups. With all of the modern corrective optics present Irix claims their lens will be capable of resolving the best of what modern 50+ megapixel sensors can capture. Elements feature a neutrino coating to help produce¬†an image free of outside coloration and maximize image contrast.

Photo courtesy of www.irix.com
Photo courtesy of www.irix.com

Because jumping into the market with a feature rich ultra-wide manual lens wasn’t challenging enough, Irix has decided to do so with two variations of the lens each aimed at shooters with different needs. First up is the Blackstone which lives in an¬†aluminium and magnesium body engineered to handle the environment with weather-sealing and splash resistance. Next is the Firefly designed for the more mobile photographer. It’s body is lighter and it’s focusing ring has a more knurled texture.

Photo courtesy of www.irix.com
Irix Firefly / Photo courtesy of www.irix.com

Irix says that it’s ultra-wide 15mm f2.4 will be available in the spring 2016 so we won’t have to wait long to see if the optics can match the body’s ambitious design. Pricing has¬†yet to be announced for this Korean assembled lens but expect it to fall between the Full-Frame offerings from Samyang/Rokinon/Bower and 1st party auto-focusing lenses.

Stay up-to-date and check out additional images and specifications at www.irixlens.com

 

Check out Tony’s review of¬†the a6300 here. And you can see Andy’s past posts here.

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5 Ways to Spark Your Photographic Creativity

Carnival long exposure

So you’ve mastered the exposure triangle, sorted out your post-processing ¬†and in your spare time all you think about is photography. But then………. all of a sudden your images start feeling a bit too familiar. Your next shoot feels just like the last. A friend on your favorite photo sharing site asks if your latest image¬†was a re-post. In a flash it becomes clear; you’ve¬†plateaued. Continue reading 5 Ways to Spark Your Photographic Creativity