Many photographers, such as myself, are always in search of the perfect light. After all, photography means painting with light. This is true whether we specialize in portraiture, fashion, commercial, headshot, nature or landscape photography. The quality of the image is the interplay between the artist, his or her equipment and mother nature.
The easiest and most flexible lighting situation in my opinion is indoors where you can control the lighting with all kinds of artificial lighting equipment whether it be strobes or continuous lights. If you can’t figure it out, there are actually companies out there you can hire to help solve a lighting situation for a fee of course. For example, I use Dynalite strobes for shooting sports such as basketball, swimming and volleyball but I have now grown fond of using continuous lights such as Kino Flo for headshot photography.
I am in the process of transitioning from shooting events with a Canon EOS 1D Mark IV DSLR to a Leica M9 Rangefinder. There are a whole host of reasons which I have highlighted in a previous post. The image quality right out of the camera are absolutely gorgeous. The image of the bride below was taken with a Leica M9, 75 Summilux at ISO 160, 1/125th, f/1.4
However, I am hesitant to do so for a host of reasons mostly due to my personal insecurities:
1. The M9 is not as good in low light as the Mark IV
That is very true from a purely ISO perspective but the two are comparable given that an M9 can be shot at much slower shutter speeds. Just keep in mind its limitations. For example, the M9 is not the ideal sports camera. The M9 generates very useable images up to 1600 ISO. 2500 ISO is useable as well if you nail the exposure or are willing to go with black and white. Moreover, I have successfully handheld my M9 at shutter speeds as low as 1/2 of a second if I can brace myself against something solid and I have a static subject.
Compare that to the Mark IV where I do not hesitate shooting at ISO2500 and have generated wonderful 20×30 prints with images I shot at ISO8000. However, I prefer to shoot the Mark IV at a shutter speed of at least 1/125th of a second depending on the lens attached. The net result is that the two are comparable with slow to static subjects. If I were using flash or strobes, this would all be moot and I would rather use the M9. In fact, I used the M9 quite a bit during wedding receptions where I had strobes set up in the corners of the venue. I would shoot at ISO 400 1/180th of a second at f/8 and I would not even bother to focus the M9. I would just set the lens, which is usually a 35/2 Summicron to hyper focal so subjects between 6 feet away and infinity would be pretty much in focus.
2. Clients Don’t Take You Seriously
As photographers, we all know it’s mostly all about the image as opposed to the gear. Unfortunately, clients do not always look at it that way. There have been times where I have done most of the shoot with my M9, but I still sling my Mark IV over my shoulder for show. I’m not sure how I can get around this bigger is better syndrome because there is a sense of seriousness to a shoot when you show up with a Pro DSLR or medium format camera mounted on a tripod. I have done headshots where I have used my medium format camera and an M9 where the number of favorites from each system was very comparable.
To overcome these insecurities, I have started to use my M9 more and more at various events. In fact, I have now used it at four weddings, three in the last month. It was not my primary camera but I used it often enough that I would not hesitate to use it exclusively if I had a second M9 body so I can attach a 35/2 Summicron on one body and the 75 Summilux on another.
Here are samples from my three weddings last month:
You cannot just call Chris Graham a computer geek. He’s more of an eclectic geek that towers over 6’7″ frame.
You can often find Chris playing the piano every Friday and Saturday night at the Dimmick Inn. He has a regular following and often draws an even larger crowd at this historical site on the corner of Harford and Broad Streets in Milford, PA. While he plays the piano at the restaurant, Chris is just as talented with a guitar, saxophone, clarinet, or flute.
His skills don’t stop there. Chris can help you with a host of other things you might need. For example, his specialty is website design and search engine optimization since he spent years in the computer industry with IBM and MSGI. If you do not have a computer he can even build you a brand new one or fix what you have. In fact, Chris brags to be able to fix most things electronic and I believe it. The day I visited him at his shop called New Wave Vintage located at the Upper Mill of the Lumberyards, he had just completed repairing some fancy robot that can move and speak via a wireless remote control.
It’s tough for a business to survive in Milford, PA which is dependent on the tourism industry so you really need to be involved in many pursuits so if Chris is not playing the keys or blowing the sax or behind a computer, he may be out and about playing with radio controlled cars and airplanes. These aren’t just your run of the mill RC airplanes mind you. Some of these are the size of picnic tables that can easily be mistaken for one of the governments spy drones.
If you are looking for an interesting character to listen to, chat with or do business with stop by and say hi to Chris at NWV Hobby and Tech is a computer repair office, website and surveillance business, as well as a hobby shop he owns along with John and Diane Fernandez.
The last six weeks have been absolutely crazy for me between portrait headhshots, proms, weddings, graduations and the 2012 NCAA Women’s Lacrosse Championships. Not to mention my parents 50th Wedding Anniversary was just this past weekend. It’s the best excuse I have for neglecting my blog for the last month. However, I will do my best to catch up with some great images and comments on what has kept me behind the lens and in front of a computer all this time.
It’s probably best to start with the most recent, which is a headshot session with Alli who I have photographed throughout high school playing soccer and lacrosse. Most recently, she graduated from a D1 school in Pennsylvania where she was starting player for the women’s lacrosse team. As a graduate and someone ready to hit the career track, Alli needed a headshot to make her look confident and approachable. Here are some samples from the session, which was taken with a Mamiya RZ67 Pro IID with a 110mm/2.8 lens set to ISO 50, f/11, 1/60th using a Leaf DM33 digital back.
I will post images from other events soon.