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Apricot idea killer
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It's one of those major decisions that will either work out or wind up ruining my life. To make a living — and I don't mean just paying the bills — at photography, you need be a baller businessman and networker. It's like 20% actual photography and 80% who you know. That guy who I just mentioned is super well known for the look he gets and. Ya gotta sorta have a "thing" that sets you apart from others. Because there are MILLIONS of awesome photographers out there. Gotta differentiate somehow and then know the right hookups until you can make a name for yourself.
Couldn't agree more. So much of it is also the same as a lot of other aspects of photography - being in the right place at the right time. I've had quite a few random opportunities pop up and I can see how mediocre photographers get their foot in the door. You should have no problem making it if you throw yourself completely into it. Anymore thoughts on this?
 

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Apricot idea killer
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Hey all! I'm so sorry to have been away from this thread for so long. We're completely moved in to our Tampa house and I'm close to being on my way toward reestablishing my Stephan Photography (Stephan Photography | Kurt Stephan - Lithia, FL) business.

In the new house, I've got a 300sq ft bonus room that I'm using as a home studio. It's got french doors that open to the lanai/pool area and two large windows for lots of natural light. The french doors are wonderful because they allow me to get more standoff distance by backing up to the outside if shooting with lets say my 70-200 2.8. It's carpeted now, but I've already selected the hardwoods to install and will be getting them in this Christmas.

I almost had them installed this month, but I opted for a new 15" Macbook Pro Retina with 512GB SSD instead. It will replace my 24" iMac and 2007 MB Pro (once I get all info transferred and old computers wiped and sold). The intent is to get a large cinema display and a docking station for my MBPR in the future. It will be so nice to only have one system so I don't have to transfer photos like I used to before when using the old MBP when out and about.

So how's everyone else's lives going? It's been slim pickins here lately so I assume that everyone is super busy.

~Kurt
Awesome, but wtf are the pics?! Glad you're getting settled in and back into things. Were you able to bring your muse with you?


Shit, I just realized that Luke already turned 1. Where the hell has the time gone?
 

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Apricot idea killer
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Apricot idea killer
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Been a shit, shit, shitty summer here for me. Went into spring with high hopes and then the weather just got.....well.....shitty. Like every single day shitty. Just humid as balls and hot enough to make me stay inside whenever possible and like clockwork, it'd rain on the weekends. Never got my macro lighting rig perfected and only had a couple of chances to use the Elinchrom outside, both of which involved my brain melting from the heat and not coming up with anything creative.

Weather is FINALLY starting to get better. We've had 3 days of bearable temps/humidity, which is a record as far as I can remember in the last 6 months, so I hope to get back outside soon.

Here's a handful of shots from the last few months....







 

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Apricot idea killer
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So every once in a blue moon I'll look around a bit at beauty dishes and see what's out there. I have one with a grid, but have wanted to upgrade to a Mola Setti forever (just haven't had fortitude to grab my ankles and drop 600 bucks).

I know Kacey makes a knock off of the Demi, but want something a little deeper with more contrast, thus the Setti. I came across some threads on flickr that Mike was actualy involved in regarding the PCB, Calumet, etc BD and was wondering what any of you are using right now and if you have any suggestions.

I still can't believe that there aren't any adequate alternatives to the Mola Setti. I know they jumped all over Kacey about their products, but you would think that someone would have come up with something similar at a hell of a lot cheaper price. In the end, I might just pony up the dough because I hate having those questions lurking in the back of my head - 'what if the Mola WAS a lot better in this x/y/z situation', etc.
 

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I don't know much about the different models of beauty dishes. I use the Paul C Buff (large size..I forget the inches) with the slip-on diffuser sock and love the look. I also use a big ass 8' Wescott parabolic umbrella which is insane for long distance or full body coverage.

I just wish my AB1600 wasn't so powerful. I often find it overpowering even at its lowest setting, probably because it's intended for indoor studio f8 or higher shots, and I tend to use it with wider apertures (with ambient light).
 

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Adam, your work is getting super awesome. :)

Mike - I keep dropping into this thread and think of you each time. Worth taking a look if you get a chance - 4 Months with a D800 some real world extreme edits. - Canon Digital Photography Forums
Holy shitballs, those are sweet. I haven't really played around with post-processing latitude on my D800. I usually try to nail exposure in-camera. But it certainly does have a lot of dynamic range when pushing/pulling in post from the looks of it.

Anymore thoughts on this?
I'm just as lost as the next guy. :) I haven't even picked up my camera in a few months. I do have a few ideas for some shoots that I've jotted down. One I really like, but it involves NASA. And I doubt they'd let me do what I want to do. But I may contact them and see what happens. I'm also trying to find a good price on a haz-mat suit for another idea.

The Dunkin' Donuts and Minute Maid things fell through. Coke's legal team wanted a "real" photographer on the books instead of someone in-house at the agency. LAAAAAME!

So every once in a blue moon I'll look around a bit at beauty dishes and see what's out there. I have one with a grid, but have wanted to upgrade to a Mola Setti forever (just haven't had fortitude to grab my ankles and drop 600 bucks).

I know Kacey makes a knock off of the Demi, but want something a little deeper with more contrast, thus the Setti. I came across some threads on flickr that Mike was actualy involved in regarding the PCB, Calumet, etc BD and was wondering what any of you are using right now and if you have any suggestions.

I still can't believe that there aren't any adequate alternatives to the Mola Setti. I know they jumped all over Kacey about their products, but you would think that someone would have come up with something similar at a hell of a lot cheaper price. In the end, I might just pony up the dough because I hate having those questions lurking in the back of my head - 'what if the Mola WAS a lot better in this x/y/z situation', etc.
I use the PCB one. It's ok I guess. I've wanted a Mola for the longest time, too. But I can't justify the price until I start actually making money with photography. I like them because they are larger than the standard 22" dish. And they tend to be a little more punchy. Plus they're just cool. :)

I just wish my AB1600 wasn't so powerful. I often find it overpowering even at its lowest setting, probably because it's intended for indoor studio f8 or higher shots, and I tend to use it with wider apertures (with ambient light).
Sounds like you need an Einstein. You can turn 'em down to 2.5 w/s with no change in color temperature. I love 'em.
 

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Apricot idea killer
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I don't know much about the different models of beauty dishes. I use the Paul C Buff (large size..I forget the inches) with the slip-on diffuser sock and love the look. I also use a big ass 8' Wescott parabolic umbrella which is insane for long distance or full body coverage.

I just wish my AB1600 wasn't so powerful. I often find it overpowering even at its lowest setting, probably because it's intended for indoor studio f8 or higher shots, and I tend to use it with wider apertures (with ambient light).
Shit, no idea how you can manage that Wescott. I think I tried taking my 70" out once and couldn't move more than a foot away from it unless I wanted it on the ground.

What's the lowest you can get the AB down to?
 

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Apricot idea killer
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Adam, your work is getting super awesome. :)
Thanks - constantly think of you guys when shooting and use your stuff for inspiration.

Holy shitballs, those are sweet. I haven't really played around with post-processing latitude on my D800. I usually try to nail exposure in-camera. But it certainly does have a lot of dynamic range when pushing/pulling in post from the looks of it.
Yeah, I try to get it right when shooting, but there have certainly been times when I wished I could push things like hell in a poor shot.


I'm just as lost as the next guy. :) I haven't even picked up my camera in a few months. I do have a few ideas for some shoots that I've jotted down. One I really like, but it involves NASA. And I doubt they'd let me do what I want to do. But I may contact them and see what happens. I'm also trying to find a good price on a haz-mat suit for another idea.
???!! wtf? Thought you were getting back into it a bit. Seems like you did that one shoot with those girls in the camo gear, fog and guns last year and then sort of lost interest or something or didn't have much spare time. Glad to hear you at least have some ideas you're kicking around.
The Dunkin' Donuts and Minute Maid things fell through. Coke's legal team wanted a "real" photographer on the books instead of someone in-house at the agency. LAAAAAME!
What exactly does a 'real' photographer entail in their eyes? Was it a matter of insurance or something like that if it was their legal team?

I'm sure if they saw your work and didn't know you were in-house, you'd have those gigs. I've noticed that a LOT. I've either contacted or had someone or place contact me about photos and love everything and want to move forward until they find out I'm not a pro, etc.

I use the PCB one. It's ok I guess. I've wanted a Mola for the longest time, too. But I can't justify the price until I start actually making money with photography. I like them because they are larger than the standard 22" dish. And they tend to be a little more punchy. Plus they're just cool. :)
Maybe you and I can go in on one and cut it in half. Wonder what shots would look like with only half a BD. Hmmmm......


Sounds like you need an Einstein. You can turn 'em down to 2.5 w/s with no change in color temperature. I love 'em.
What do they max out at? One of the reasons I got the Ranger a/s was so that I could get a much lower range, but think they don't go down anywhere near 2.5 w/s.
 

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hey adam without having to go through thus entire thread again what lens are you using for your macro work? also what reverse mount? Ive been wanting to do some macro but i have no clue really what i need. I shoot with a D7000 not that it probably even matters.
 

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Apricot idea killer
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hey adam without having to go through thus entire thread again what lens are you using for your macro work? also what reverse mount? Ive been wanting to do some macro but i have no clue really what i need. I shoot with a D7000 not that it probably even matters.
(long read)

Well, I've been through just about every lens that Canon offers for macro stuff and have tried many different lens variations/adapters/etc. Currently, I have the MP-E 65mm (1-5x mag), 100mm, and 180mm macro and probably use the 65mm the most. Unfortunately, Nikon doesn't offer a similar lens with such a high magnification, but you have plenty of other viable options.

I started out with just a simple reverse mount adapter - Amazon.com: Fotodiox 52mm Filter Thread Lens, Macro Reverse Ring Camera Mount Adapter: Electronics It's a cheap way to screw around with macro, but doesn't give you the option of adjusting aperture, which is critical because the depth of field becomes razor thin. Similar to this, you can stack lenses with an adapter like this - Amazon.com: Fotodiox 52mm - 58mm, 52-58mm Macro Close-up Reverse Ring, Anodized Black Metal Ring, for Nikon, Canon, Sony, Olympus, Pentax, Panasonic, Samsung Camera: Electronics What you'll do is mount a lens regularly and then reverse another lens on top of it. The maginification is estimated as the focal length of the primary lens divided by the focal length of the stacked lens. For many shots, I used a 135mm with a 50mm stacked on it, which gave me a 2.7x magnification.

Extension tubes work really well too, but there are two types available - those without any electronics (cost is around 10 bucks) and those with electronics (~200 Amazon.com: Kenko Auto Extension Tube Set DG 12mm, 20mm, and 36mm Tubes for Nikon AF Digital and Film Cameras - AEXRUBEDGC: Camera & Photo). Again, aperture control is critical, so the set WITH electronics is definitely the better route to go if you dont mind spending the extra $$. The magnification is figured out in a similar manner, so 50mm of extension tubes on a 50mm lens will yield a 1:1 mag. Using them on longer lenses is a little pointless.

Also, if you have an old or broken lens laying around, often times you can pop out the front element and get great magnification that way (and still be able to control aperture!). I removed the front element of an old 35-80mm that I had laying around it worked pretty well, although I dont think I have any pictures posted with it.

One of the few things that I haven't tried is the Raynox adapter - Amazon.com: Raynox DCR-250 Super Macro Snap-On Lens: Electronics From the pictures I've seen, it seems to work very well, but can't speak from personal experience.

Sooooo...........with all these options, which route to go, right? I guess it boils down to how much time/effort/$$ you want to invest. What lenses do you currently have? What is your budget? Do you have any flashes?
 

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ive got a ton of lenses. pretty much everything besides macro. I've probably got close to 20 lenses that ive bought unfortunately out of trial and error type situations. I do mostly nature photography and astrophotography. I hate shooting people ive done a few family sittings and 2 weddings and some birthday parties and absolutely hated it. Thats why i think macro intrigues me because outdoor photography is my favorite so i kinda feel like macro is an eventual progression that i would like to get into.
ive got a few nikon speedlight 900's and 910's. Hopefully those are good enough if not i could pick up something else. Any special tripod rigs needed or any of that? Some of the stuff ive read on nikons with the reverse mount is you can trick the aperture by setting it mounted normally, disconnect the lens with the camera turned on and then reverse mount it and it will stay set at whatever you had it at. Ive never disconnected a lens with the camera still on it just strikes me as odd. Is that bad for the camera? I figured i would try a reverse mount and some tubes maybe to see how i like it.
 

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Apricot idea killer
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ive got a ton of lenses. pretty much everything besides macro. I've probably got close to 20 lenses that ive bought unfortunately out of trial and error type situations. I do mostly nature photography and astrophotography. I hate shooting people ive done a few family sittings and 2 weddings and some birthday parties and absolutely hated it. Thats why i think macro intrigues me because outdoor photography is my favorite so i kinda feel like macro is an eventual progression that i would like to get into.
ive got a few nikon speedlight 900's and 910's. Hopefully those are good enough if not i could pick up something else. Any special tripod rigs needed or any of that? Some of the stuff ive read on nikons with the reverse mount is you can trick the aperture by setting it mounted normally, disconnect the lens with the camera turned on and then reverse mount it and it will stay set at whatever you had it at. Ive never disconnected a lens with the camera still on it just strikes me as odd. Is that bad for the camera? I figured i would try a reverse mount and some tubes maybe to see how i like it.
Well, if you have any lenses you can stand to dismantle (permanently), I'd maybe try popping off the front element. Something like an old 18-55mm kit lens would work well.

Yeah, you can depress the dof preview button (not sure if that's available on Nikon) while the lens is mounted regularly and that will stop down the lens to whatever aperture you have it set it - hold it down and remove the lens. Unfortunately, it keeps the aperture at that particular setting and it's VERY difficult to even see what you're doing since it darkens everything up quite a bit. I've done it a few times and while many people haven't had any problems, I ended up screwing up a 50mm lens. Could just be coincidental though.

A LOT of people will tell you absolutely have to use a tripod for every single macro shot, but I completely disagree and rarely use one. It all depends upon how close you're going to get to the subject and/or what focal length you're using and whether or not you're using a flash(es). There are tons of different brackets you can get for the flashes, but I think most people end up doing some DIY stuff. Tons of tutorials on how to do such. This is a good photographer and good place to start - My Macro Rig - Then and Now | Up Close with Nature

I would KILL to be where you're at - incredible jumping spiders around that area. Don't know if you've ever seen Thomas Shahan's work, but I believe a ton of his stuff was done around your neck of the woods.

You should post up some of your nature/astro stuff.
 

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ill get some of it up. im bad about posting any pics online the only reason i even have a flickr account is because my cousin wanted me to get one and post these 2 hdr pics i took one time. He loves them im kinda like blah whatever. He got me into photography hes one of the top beauty pageant photographers in the country. He gives me some advice but alot of his stuff pertains to portrait photography.

We have an unreal amount of black widows this year and brown recluse's. To be honest i had never even seen a black widow in my life until this year and ive killed 5 of them around my pool area. Everyone i know is talking about how many there is this year. I really want to get a macro shot of one.

Im gonna check out some of shahans stuff tonight and check it out. My astro stuff also is still a work in progress. Ive gotten a good shot of andromeda and 1 somewhat decent shot of jupiter but im still kind of working out the kinks and how to function my camera with my telescope. Its tricky crap but im a big time sky watching nerd so i had to try the photography side of it.
 

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???!! wtf? Thought you were getting back into it a bit. Seems like you did that one shoot with those girls in the camo gear, fog and guns last year and then sort of lost interest or something or didn't have much spare time. Glad to hear you at least have some ideas you're kicking around.
The shoot with those girls/guns was like two years ago I think. :) But yeah, I haven't done anything big since then. Work gives me zero time. And when I shot that, I was in school so I had access to lots of lighting equipment (the school's) and sweet locations (Atlanta is full of awesome places), people willing to model and participate, and time. But I do have some sweet ideas. I just don't have time to execute them at the moment. I hope to change that soon.

There's a huge indoor greenhouse/garden/biodome in the building next to where I work. It has waterfalls and paths and shit. And there's a walkway up really high above it. One entire wall is a giant window with cross beams that make it look like a geodesic dome. It has gold glass, too. Looks very sci-fi. I'm gonna get a haz-mat suit and do a series that looks like it's from some sci-fi horror movie. I'll wait until winter, though. Because I want there to be crazy snow outside the glass. It will look like some alien world.

What exactly does a 'real' photographer entail in their eyes? Was it a matter of insurance or something like that if it was their legal team?
I don't know. They wouldn't say. It was some legal issue, I'm sure. Which is weird. Because I got my own LLC so I could legally shoot so it wouldn't be an agency employee on the books. But who knows.

I'm sure if they saw your work and didn't know you were in-house, you'd have those gigs. I've noticed that a LOT. I've either contacted or had someone or place contact me about photos and love everything and want to move forward until they find out I'm not a pro, etc.
Unfortunately, it's the quality of your work that always plays into it. Usually it's some other factor like timing, who you know, legality, etc.

What do they max out at? One of the reasons I got the Ranger a/s was so that I could get a much lower range, but think they don't go down anywhere near 2.5 w/s.
640 w/s I think.
 

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Has it really been over a month since anyone has posted up in this joint? As we move into Halloween, we've been able to put up decorations for the first time since 1998. It feels good to come home to nice smellys (autumn flavored candles) and Halloween stuff.


DSC_1505 by Stephan Photography, on Flickr


DSC_1511-81-87 by Stephan Photography, on Flickr
 

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Hello my bitches.

So I got back from a trip to Chicago with the gf, and she had an old film Nikon and it really got me back into the feel for this obsessive and expensive hobby.

I'm thinking about getting back into it and...gasp...going Nikon (she has some lenses that are nice, and I wouldn't mind being able to interchange the two). I was comparing the Nikon D7000 with the Canon 60D and it really seems like there's no comparison; however, I have no idea what the Nikon market is like.

Ideally I was aiming for a 60D and likely a 24-70L, pricing me right around $1800 for the whole setup, then maybe a nice 35/50mm prime. If I go D7000, I have found the bodies for $750-800, so about $100-150 more than the 60D, which would reduce the lens budget ever-so-slightly. What "walk around" lens would ya'll suggest for the D7000 that is on par with the L? Does it exist? Or should I just stay Canon?
 

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Apricot idea killer
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Hello my bitches.

So I got back from a trip to Chicago with the gf, and she had an old film Nikon and it really got me back into the feel for this obsessive and expensive hobby.

I'm thinking about getting back into it and...gasp...going Nikon (she has some lenses that are nice, and I wouldn't mind being able to interchange the two). I was comparing the Nikon D7000 with the Canon 60D and it really seems like there's no comparison; however, I have no idea what the Nikon market is like.

Ideally I was aiming for a 60D and likely a 24-70L, pricing me right around $1800 for the whole setup, then maybe a nice 35/50mm prime. If I go D7000, I have found the bodies for $750-800, so about $100-150 more than the 60D, which would reduce the lens budget ever-so-slightly. What "walk around" lens would ya'll suggest for the D7000 that is on par with the L? Does it exist? Or should I just stay Canon?
Figure anything out with this? 60D is an excellent body, but not sure why you'd go with the 24-70mm off the bat.
 
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