Here we are with the second part of my Best Of, and in this post will be loaded of landscapes, taken around here in Ireland, and a few from Creete, and some from home, in Italy. There are even a few from Connemara that I never published on the blog, alonside from cityscapes / street photography, something I really enjoy to do, even if most of the people I meet on the streets things I'm a weirdo or I'm trying to steal their souls. So, I hope you will enjoy them and if you want to give your opinion, please leave a message in the comments box at the bottom of the page ;-)
I don't generally talk about gear's announcements, I generally don't care most of the times, in my opinion zoom lenses like the Canon 24-70 f/2.8 Mk II can stay on the shelves with that price tag, so why bother to talk about it? Well, this time it's different, as Sigma just announced a new redesigned version of their 50mm prime lens, the Sigma 50mm F1.4 DG HSM Art, and it's not just a change of the outfit, but a complete redesign of the lens, and after their amazing Sigma 35mm f/1.4 Art Lens and the really impressive 18-35mm f/1.8, this new 50mm has all the prerequisites to become the next big thing in the photography world, and even if I really love my old but still good Canon 50mm f/1.4, if they keep the same quality of the 35mm, I'll probably sell it to buy this new baby when it will come out. But for the moment it's better to wait for the first tests on the road, let's see if Sigma can go for the bingo.
If you don't own a 50mm, you should, especially if, like me, you take pictures at gigs, for music photographers it's a "must have" lens.
Now, I'm still waiting for a 24mm f/1.4, can we have it as the next lens Sigma? Pleeeease!
Ah, forgot to mention that they announced the 18-200mm F3.5-6.3 DC Macro OS HSM Contemporary lens, but apart from very lazy photographers, who really cares about this lens?
And if you like to read pointless and meaningless press releases, it's down here:
LAS VEGAS– Jan. 6, 2014 – Sigma Corporation of America, a leading researcher, developer, manufacturer and service provider of some of the world’s most impressive lines of lenses, cameras and flashes, today announced the launch of two new Global Vision lenses from the 2014 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.
The improved and redesigned 18-200mm F3.5-6.3 DC Macro OS HSM and 50mm F1.4 DG HSM lenses are the latest additions to Sigma’s Global Vision lineup. Both lenses’ availability and pricing have yet to be announced.
“These two lenses are among our most popular, and we’re pleased to reintroduce these products by adding them to our Global Vision lineup,” said Mark Amir-Hamzeh, president of Sigma Corporation of America. “The 18-200mm, in particular, is an exciting new lens as it now has macro functionality, updated optics and a Global Vision design, making it a fantastic alternative to the kit lens. As has been the case with our recent Global Vision lenses, we expect an array of photographers to gravitate to their technically advanced features and slick new look.”
The 18-200mm F3.5-6.3 DC Macro OS HSM Contemporary lens, designed specifically for APS-C DSLRs, is the successor to the 18-200mm F3.5-6.3 II DC OS HSM, which was launched in 2011. The smaller and lighter lens (15.2 ounces and 2.8×3.4 inches versus 17.3 ounces and 3×3.5 inches) now macro capabilities with a minimum focusing distance of 15.4 inches and a maximum magnification ratio of 1:3, as opposed to the lens’ earlier minimum focusing distance of 17.7 inches and max magnification ratio of 1:3.8. Its minimum working distance is 14.7 inches, which makes the lens suitable for close-up shooting with natural light, keeping shadows of the camera and lens out of the image.
The 18-200mm F3.5-6.3 Macro has also been updated to incorporate Special Low Dispersion (SLD) glass elements that have a high refractive index and can correct chromatic aberration at the telephoto-end. Moreover, aspherical lens elements, including double-sided aspherical lenses, will ensure a compact size and excellent correction of distortion.
The new Sigma 50mm F1.4 DG HSM Art has been reengineered and redesigned to set a new standard of performance in the Art line. A staple focal length, the new Sigma 50mm F1.4 Art is a pro level performer for full-frame DSLRs great for many different types of photography including portraits, landscapes, studio work and still-life. It has been updated to include SLD glass and optimized for rich peripheral brightness with improved large aperture performance by positioning wide elements into the front groups. Other updates include an optimized autofocus algorithm for smoother focusing and a floating focusing system to reduce lens movement while focusing. Under the Global Vision line, it features a new matte finish, improved AF on/off switch and guarantees every lens is tested with Sigma’s proprietary modulation transfer function (MTF) “A1” measuring system before being shipped. Now with 13 elements in 8 groups compared to the previous 8 elements in 6 groups, it also has improved close focusing at 15.7 inches and a maximum magnification ratio of 1:5.6
Both lenses incorporate Sigma’s Hyper Sonic Motor (HSM) system to produce quiet, high-speed auto focus. In addition, they include Super Multi-Layer Coating to reduce flare and ghosting, and to ensure high-quality images throughout the entire zoom range. The 18-200mm F3.5-6.3 DC Macro OS HSM and 50mm F1.4 DG HSM lenses are also compatible with Sigma’s USB dock and the company’s Mount Conversion Service.
Other recently announced lenses and accessories such as the 24-105mm F4 DG OS HSM, 18-35mm F1.8 DC HSM | ART and USB Dock will be on display at Sigma’s CES booth. Visit Sigma at CES 2014 at booth 10431in Central Hall at the Las Vegas Convention Center from Jan. 7 to 10.
Just a few days before Christmas I sold my beloved Canon 7D. I was a bit sad to sell it as I really liked that camera and I took a lot of great shots with that camera, but after I bought my 6D, it was there sitting on a shelf and taking dust, alongside with my old Canon 50D, and it's a waste. So I decided to sell it, I generally don’t like to sell gear, I prefer to find a use for my old stuff, like my old iMac now is my (sort of) TV in the living room, which I use to watch movies on Netflix or Plex. I don’t use it very ofter, but it’s still useful. So, short story, I sold it, but the money didn’t last long, as I bought a new camera straight away, but not another DSLR. I didn’t need another DSLR, I’ve already my full frame Canon 6D with pro glasses and a billion of accessories, but what I needed was something that I could carry with me all the time, something light that can put in my bag and forget about it but with a DSLR-like image quality, a camera totally dedicated to street photography, maybe some casual landscapes, but nothing too extreme, as I’ve no intention to buy ND filters or other accessories for it, if I want to take more serious photos, like long exposures, I’ll simply use my full frame camera, which delivers top-notch quality.
The new year kicked in a few days ago, even if the some of you are still writing 2013 on dates, and at this time of the year it's time to draw a line and look back at what I've done in the past year. I've done loads of good proposition, I have a couple of photographic projects in mind, but I'll talk about them in the future.
So as a first post of the year I wanted to post which, in my opinion, are the best photos I took in 2013. Initially I wanted to do a single big post, but unlike other music photographers who mainly shoot only music related stuff, I do plenty of other stuff, like landscapes, street, portraits, etc... But at the end I don't really see the sense on putting music, landscapes and other photos in just one post, it sounds like a mess to me, so I'm going to split this "Best Of 2013" post in two or maybe three posts, and obviously the first of them will be the live music one.
They are just a chronological order, to be fair with any of the artists and to have this post by the end of this year.
Last time I was at home, back in October, my girlfriend found on her parents' room an old camera, a Kodak Instamatic Camera, a very simple camera, with only two settings, sun light and cloudy/tungsten lights, that's it. Then we noticed that there still were some spare shots in the film, and unsure if it was still working or not, we tried to take some snaps.
We had no idea of how old was the film, we only knew that camera was bought for my girlfriend's parent wedding, more than 35 years ago. So we took some pictures to finish the film, and a couple of days later we went to a local shop to see if they could develop the film. To be honest I wasn't even sure if they were able to develop it, as it was an awkward format, essentially a cartridge that you put in the camera and you remove it once you finish the film. I thought maybe the chemicals in the film were completely gone, who knows?
So a couple of days ago I went back to the shop to collect the photos, part of my mind was pretty sure that the guy had no photos for me, as probably the film was unusable, but I was wrong, and at the end we got 20 good photos, well, kinda. We found out that the photos already token were about 20 years old, taken at a picnic back in the middle 90s (maybe in May 1995), and they didn't really suffer from the age, while the new ones taken from us, obviously, as the film was expired a while ago, had a "hipster" look, a very hipster look, so hipster that in a few of them you can see only the shape of something, but still pretty interesting. So once I got back home I turned on the scanner and digitally saved these "jewels" from the past. Obviously these shots are far away from behing any kind of fine art photography, but still funny to see how things change over time, especially because my girlfriend was in both the old and the new ones.
Tenacious D marked my 450th gig and the last gig of the year, and I wanted to draw this numerical line with a good gig, and Jack Black with his mate it's definitely a great way to end the year.
I have to say that I was quite surprised to see the duo playing in such small venue, considering that last year they played in the O2, a good 20 times the size of the Academy.
But apparently Jack Black liked the venue, and for unknown reasons he wanted to play there for their acoustic tour in Europe, and I can only imagine the face of the venue manager when he saw this funny guy come to him and asking to play a gig there.
As I said it was an acoustic tour, so no band, no special effects, just the two of them and two guitars, that's it, and as a music photographer I wasn't expecting any amazing light set for such minimal set.
From the music front they are not a surprise, they are just great live and so much fun to see live, I would add that they, expecially Mr Black, very theatrical on stage, he is an actor and he likes to act on stage, or maybe that's just the way he is, or he was simply high, who knows?
Lightwise it wasn't that bad, as I said, simple light set. No smoke, no lasers, just very simple, but despite that their facial expressions, their moves, gave me some good shoot, so overall I can say I was pretty happy on how my photos turned out.
So as usual, you can find some of my best shots down here, and the full set on my flickr account.
I don't share tutorials as I did in the past on my blog simply because I prefer to put my original content rather than repost something that someone else did, but that's the case where I just couldn't ignore this video. Lee Morris (co-founder of FStoppers.com) did a fantastic video tutorial on how to light paint a car, a 1968 Chevrolet Camaro in this case, and then merge all the shots in an insane composite. It's a very helpful tutorial that any of you should bookmark.
Bands like Haim are the new bands that everyone want to see, they might become the next big thing or they'll fade out in 6 months, only time will tell. Anyway, I liked their debut album, maybe a bit too commercial for my standards, but it's a good album. My only doubt was on how they play their songs live, no offence to anyone but out of the box they look to me as a very well produced band, but I wasn't really sure if they could keep that quality on stage, not because they are women (Jaysus I don't want to sound sexist at all!), but just because how they have been presented by the media, and there's no doubt that their PR agency are working hard, and in these cases most of the times it's like a candy with a beautiful package, but with no taste.
So before they started to play I was a bit skeptical to see a very good performance from this trio, but I was damn wrong.
These girls rock, and even despite their very young age, they play like people with 10 times their experience, I was sincerely blew away from these band.
But once again, I'm not here to do a review of their gig from a music point-of-view, but how good or bad was to photograph them. So, on the stage they didn't bring any extra lights, even because they probably didn't have any space left, as the stage was pretty crowded with instruments, and there were another two tour members, a drummer and a guy at the keyboards, but they were well behind in the stage, just to make it clear that Haim are the three sisters and that's it. That made the simple task to photograph these two members nearly impossible, but at the end the important was to catch the sisters, the core of the band, so fair enough. And while in the Academy are generally generous with smoke machines, very oddly this time the stage was clear from any kind of smoke, and while most of the times I complain about the insane amount of smoke on that stage, this time a little bit of it would certainly helped to give the lights a bit of depth, but apart from that I couldn't really complain about lights, as the stage was very well lit.
The band it does move a lot, or at least in the small space they were constrained to, and it gave me a lot of different poses, even if most of the times the instruments were on the way.
Overall it was a good gig to photograph and to watch, the only real problem was another.
Since last week there is a new rule in the Academy, now after the third song you will be escorted out, that's because some (very) silly fellow photographers have been caught by the tour manager while taking pictures after the third song, which is a rule that any music photographer, unless it's a special case like AAA pass (when you are shooting for the artist), should follow at any time. Anyway, I'll probably talk in another occasion about that, in the meanwhile down here you can find some of the best shots, and as usual you can find the full set on my flickr account. If you want to leave a comment, please use the comments box at the end of the page.
I sincerly didn't know that you could do that. As a web developer I know the animation toolbar which you can use for GIFs (hello 90s), and I used it a few times for some simple banner Ads (you can't use Flash anymore, as Flash is not supported on most of mobiles and tablets, so hello again old school), but I never thought about the possibility to edit a video on one of my favourite tools. So, in this video, Terry White is going to show us how to do it in Photoshop CC / CS6. I know many videographer will see this option as a silly way to edit video, and some of you are already thinking "why you just don't learn Adobe Premiere or Final Cut Pro?". Well, like a lot of other users, I don't really want to learn a new software if what I need is some simple stuff, and do it with a software that I've already know it's just great for me, so why not?
As usual I like to be as honest as possible, and even if I swore to never go to photograph band that I don't know / I don't like, sometimes some gigs are too tempting.
These guys are on the ascending part of their popularity at the moment, they started to be a big thing here in Ireland, and as far I know they are doing pretty well in the UK as well, so even if their music is not exactly what I generally listen, I wanted to give a try to this band and to photograph them in the Olympia Theatre, my favourite venue in Dublin. As I said, I don't like their genre, so it would be pointless for me to tell you if they were great or not, I simply can't judge them. What I can say is that they are really good performers, and it's quite impressive to see how good they are thinking that they formed the band only two years ago.
Anyway, the real reason I was there was for good lights, as Pop bands go hand in hand with good lights generally, and that's what I'm always looking for.
The only problem with Pop bands (but bear in mind that when I'm saying "Pop bands" I've no intention to compare The Original Rudeboys to "artists" like Lady Gaga or Justin Bieber, I'm just using this terms as the wider meaning, as the ORBs are light years better than people like Lady Gaga) is that sometimes you get too many lights. I know, I know, someone is already thinking "how can you possibly complain about the lights all the time?". You are right, and as most of the times very dark stages are an big pain in the butt, sometimes too many lights can be problematic as well, as it flattens the subject too much, and as any photographers should know, you always need a good balance of lights and shadows to give some sense of depth.
But in the case of The Original Rudeboys I can say that they have well balanced lights, I'm not sure if they add any extra lights from the standard lighting system of the venue, which is already great, the only problem I could say, is the fact that there were a wall of monitors, like Kodaline, which blocked part of the view from the pit, but as the trio moves a lot on stage, I'm not that surprised. Another thing is, as one of the main guys rap, most of the times the microphone covers his face, and it's kinda difficult to catch his face free from the mic.
Also bear in mind that the band came off stage a couple of times, and they often get on the edge of the stage, so keep in mind this aspect if you have to shoot them in the future.
Overall I have to say that I was well impressed by the band as artists, even if it's not my music genre, and they were a pretty good gig to photograph too, maybe not the best, but good.
Down here you can find some of the best photos I took that night, and as usual on my flickr page you can find the full set.