22 September 2014

A Look at The Canon 7D Mark II and the Nikon D750

Art Model, Panda ©2014 Terrell Neasley
A few months ago, Nikon announced the D810. I shoot with the 2-year old D800E and I gave my 2 cents on it. Last week, we got introduced to two new cameras. Canon finally brought out the well-anticipated successor to one of my most favorite cameras, the 7D... the 7D Mark II. I was really glad they kept the name and went with a MK II instead of the 8D. Nikon also brought out another full-frame system with the D750. I'll come clean with my views on the Canon first.

The Canon EOS 7D Mark II

I bought my original 7D in 2010 to pair with my 5D Mark II. Between the two systems, I found the 7D much easier to use and was more user friendly. I think the 7D Mark II will garner the same appreciations.

Art Model, Alethea ©2013 Terrell Neasley
What I Like
This is still a heavy, solid camera. It weighs in at an ounce and a half under the full-frame 5D Mark II. I like the feel of it in my hands. As for features...well, at 10 frames per second, its now the fastest system out there for sports that is under $6800 with an AF system to boot. Dual Pixel AF is added in like what first appeared in the 70D. This is keeping with the tradition of the original 7D which got you 8 fps. Along with that tradition, it keeps dual processors! Two Digic 6 processors, allowing for faster signal processing, metering, increased buffering, and since you have 2 processors sharing the heat load, that's less noise at higher ISO's. And speaking of ISO, it peaks out natively at 16,000 which is about a third stop over the usual high of 12,800. Dual card slots for SD and CF is cool. That's a first in Canon's APS-C systems. I would give heavy consideration to this over even the 5D Mark II.

What I Wish it Had
There's not a lot on this camera that you can add to it. If I compared it to Nikon, I'd say it would be cool to adopt some of Nikon's ideas with the removal of the anti-alias filter and add in a articulating LCD. The solid aluminum body adds weight and messes things up for built-in WIFI. Nikon was cool enough to minimize the aluminum to just the top and bottom and made the front side of it with carbon fiber AND built-in WIFI. I wouldn't really expect 4K video in this thing. Its still a prosumer system after all, but 120 fps at 720p would have been cool for some serious slow-mo action.

Anonymous Art Model, ©2014 Terrell Neasley
What I Don't Like
There's not much to dislike about this thing. If anything, my concern goes toward the manufacturer. I think this would have been a good time for them to take the lead and experiment a bit. These features were still traditional and conventional improvements. But I've posted before on what I think the future pro cameras will look like and feature. I don't like that Canon, the biggest camera manufacturer out there, is not taking chances. How about REALLY boosting that speed and making it a game-changer with an electronic shutter or something...at least the front curtain. I was also a little surprised at the price-point of $1800. The original 7D stayed at $1500 or so. Now it's priced within a hundred bucks of a full-frame 6D on rebate. Is that wise?

Art Model, Covenant ©2014 Terrell Neasley
The Nikon D750

I can't say I was as impressed with Nikon's newest baby. I'm actually a little confused with it. Basically, they updated the D610 which JUST came out last year. The price point is just a few hundred more than the D610, so who's gonna buy a 610 now? A new seven hundred series camera was speculated to be the successor to the highly popular D700. I thought it would be faster than 6 1/2 frames per second. Most of the increases are 1-stop improvements, although there is a jump with the new processor and AF system. Is it a good camera? Hell, yes it is. No denying that. But again, my argument persists on Nikon's tendency to fade to traditional. Will the D610 be discontinued? Photography Life blog posted a comparison a few weeks ago that illustrate these differences very well. I'll give it credit for being the first full-frame digital with a flip LCD screen and built-in WIFI. After that, we'll have to wait and see what this company does and how it positions itself against the competition. Google the reviews and tell me what you think. I could be way off base here.

Both these systems can be pre-ordered at BandCCamera.com.

21 September 2014

Almost Three Months Left for 2014! How Will You Use the Time?

 More Re-edits. This time from 2011 model session. Art Model, Enyo. ©2014 Terrell Neasley 
"There is no short cut to achievement. Life requires thorough preparation - veneer isn't worth anything."
~ George Washington Carver

In a few short days, there will be only one-quarter of the year left. My, where has the time gone. Pretty soon the year will be over. So here's a challenge for you. How much can you get done in 3 months? What significant achievement can you accomplish before the end of the year? You can measure that in money, as in how much can you make, but I think a focus on the cash is a mistake for a lot of people. Tis' better to focus on the goals you have to be better and the money will follow. Never chase the dollar. But that's just my take. Better yet, how many doors can you figuratively knock on to get more photo projects under your belt before year's end? You have 3 months. What else can you learn in your expertise that can expand your business services?

Here's why I'm asking. I write the contents of this blog, not from the vantage of having mastered all these concepts myself, but rather they are realizations I make for me that I know are common to many other photographers. Every one of us usually enters a new year, thinking about what we hope to accomplish, resolutions, and where we want to be. And then that year closes and we're wondering where the time went so fast. Well, here shortly, it will be 2015 and you're gonna be surprised that 2014 has already gone. All those goals and ambitions are just going to have to be reiterated in January and you promise to redouble your efforts. But lets be honest with ourselves. Didn't we say the same thing when 2013 ended?

Art Model, Enyo. ©2014 Terrell Neasley
So here are a few things you can spend these last 3 months of 2014 doing that might help you break even or possibly get the jump on 2015.

1. Do the things you know you need to do today. Start the project and then see it through. I've been talking about redoing my website since forever. I've let that project get old and stale. So for me, that's on my daily list until completion. But every day, I gotta work on it, even if I just spend an hour on it. Have you done your back-ups? Mine are automated, but I've recently talked to a guy who's not backed up his work in months. Register your copyrights. Scout some new locations. Stay abreast of the latest photo news and developments. Read a book, for crying out loud. Read something to help yourself. Invest time and money in lighting workshops, photo conventions, or classes. Do an online tutorial on how to do lighting for sports photography. Network! Place yourself in a position to be made aware of where the gigs are coming from. If you don't know how to do that, ASK SOMEBODY who does! And then make sure you are doing the things that make you qualified to be considered for those gigs.

Art Model, Enyo. ©2014 Terrell Neasley
2. Make each decision you choose take you closer to your goals. You can ask yourself... "How does another trip to Zion National Park help my portfolio?" "How does shooting this project for free add to my business?" You may in fact, realize that Zion shots are everywhere and it could be that shooting in the Mojave National Reserve could be a fresher look for you. OR, maybe you can shoot Zion from a different perspective that renews people's interest in your work. It might be more beneficial for you to decline free projects. Exposure and Photo Credits, do not pay the bills. However, if its a volunteer project and you deem there is a high propensity to be introduced to a new demographic of clientele, it could be worth it.

3. Train up on something you know will be useful later. Here's an example. I spent time in Nicaragua living with a local family to learn Spanish. I got a good foundation but I have a long way to go. I plan to go back before long and it will be MOST EXCELLENT if I'm a bit more proficient for when I return. Sooo... I gotta stick with my notes and study regularly. I'm not planning on being back there any time soon, but that just gives me more opportunity and time to learn. I also know I can better my photo business by being more proficient in video. All my cameras do video. I need to be as proficient in it as I am with photography. But unlike photo, I have to add learning audio. I need to learn the gear as well. We just got classes on Canon's new XA-20/25 and the XA-200/205. I am much more interested in learning the professional aspects of video after that class. I sold my first XA-20 just last week and it was quite the experience speaking on it to my customer. Its a good piece of gear. I think I need one. The better I get, the more I can offer to my clientele.

Art Model, Enyo. ©2014 Terrell Neasley
All this to say that opportunities come you way most every day. But if you are not in a position to take advantage of them, fear not...someone else will. Time...you only have so much of it. Wasted time - its worse than wasted money, wasted food, or wasted anything else you can think of. Everything else, you can make up for it. Opportunities that came along for which you were not prepared for are simply lost. I've heard it said that Fortune Favors the Prepared. I believe this to be true. Be smart. Do the right things now. I believe this is a key factor that separates the successful from the "busy".

13 September 2014

Reworking Old Images

"The aim of art is to represent not the outward appearance of things, but their inward significance."
~ Aristotle

Anonymous Model, ©2014 Terrell Neasley
I won't say this will work for every blast from the past photo session you do. But sometimes its cool to look at some of your older work and just play with it. It becomes interesting to revisit prior work with some of the new tools you have today. Its can also be beneficial to just see how much you have grown, changed, or expanded your own knowledge-base and see what decisions you might make on edits five years old.

I recently took a look at some of my shots from mid-September 2008 session in which the model and I hiked out several hours up a canyon outside Vegas. We had a blast and the memories of that shoot are some of my most fond memories working with a model. We went out before the sun came up and didn't get out of that canyon until after the sun was down. We were running out of water, which wasn't great at all. Still, we were about as safe as we could have been. We got what we needed done, explored even more, and came away with some great shots.

Anonymous Model, ©2014 Terrell Neasley

I was shooting with my 10MP Canon 40D at the time. I bought the camera maybe a year before that. I was well familiar with the camera, but hadn't mastered photoshop. I, at least, had the presence of mind to shoot RAW and that gave me enough data with which to work. I probably used Photoshop 7 at the time, which is the version I was initially introduced to, or maybe, quite possible CS2. I very little layering at that time. Masking was still unknown to me. I had yet to see the significance of brushes. I was not a "smart object", to say the least. My primary tools were the dodge, burn, and clone tools. I slowly taught myself through trial and error...more emphasis on error.

Anonymous Model, ©2014 Terrell Neasley
Today, I utilize Photoshop CC 2014 and a plethora of plugins, to include Nik and Topaz, for starters. We have Content-Aware Fill. I enjoy doing composite work, which was the last thing I left off on when I was doing darkroom work using film, chemicals, and fiber-based paper. Jerry Ulesmann was a huge inspiration on me in those days before I switched to digital. I work on a Dell workstation with a high-end 30-inch monitor. I think I have a set up that gets me what I need and yet, I am still updating it with new and bigger tech. I am no different with my camera choices. I have since switched to Nikon with my 36MP D800E. I teach photography now in one-on-one sessions with a special emphasis on critical thinking. I created the very first Photography meet-up group here in Vegas and co-operated another. My group met every month for 3 years helping photogs learn how to interact with and hire models. I regularly attend WPPI and Photoshop World conventions annually when they come to Vegas. I work at B&C Camera 2 days a week. All this gives me exposure to other like-minded creatives to cultivate ideas, learn new processes and skills, and turn out and deliver a better grade of product.

Anonymous Model, ©2014 Terrell Neasley
So with six more years of experience, knowledge, more and better equipment, and wider exposure to the deeper creative aspects of my trade, I think it can be an interesting thing to go back to old work and see how you might look at the same thing differently. And given better technology and software, what improvements might be made to shots that you once thought were lost or otherwise not worth the edit. I was able to bring back blown out highlights that were at one point lost to me using the newer version of Camera Raw that comes with Photoshop CC. Images shot with lower megapixels and less detail were livened up using  the Detail Enhancer in Nik Color Efex Pro 4. For the moment, I've only edited 4 new images from this 2008 photoshoot, but I will go back and do more for sure. And I didn't do any deep or complicated edits as of yet...just some black and white conversions, but I like them and this is fun. I fully encourage you to dust off some of those oldies but goodies and see what fresh new ideas you can breath into them.