Sunday, March 01, 2009

Followup on iterative stuff

I mentioned in my last post about iterative stuff, and sometimes wanting to see it big and then trying it again and fine tuning. I tend to do it shoot-to-shoot because I don't want to spend a lot of model time looking at pictures, and there's generally no rush to perfect a technique. I'm perfectly happy spreading the learning over a couple of shoots.

But there's actually a couple of ways to tighten that cycle up with digital, and I'll probably be using one or another in an upcoming shoot where I'm really going to be focusing on some specific things I've been meaning to try and fine tuning more on the spot. I have it scheduled with my current favorite guinea pig model.

The first is that you can always just have a laptop handy and copy a few files over and check them out. For casual use this is probably the most sensible and frankly probably what I'll be doing.

If you really want instant results, especially if you really have a commercial team going, you shoot tethered. You actually hook a USB cable from the camera to a computer and with the right software you can display the pictures in real time on a big monitor. It's very common in commercial work to do this and a lot of pros have gotten away from metering and so forth to just using the images themselves. (This is what people try to do with the little LCD on the back of the camera but it's just not accurate enough).

There are also various wireless solutions, some more professional than others. They're popular with folks like sports photographers who are running around (can't be physically tethered) and who have people waiting to receive the shots and start working with them immediately. The downside is that the really usable ones are strangely expensive.

The other advantage of this kind of system is that your client can see the results coming in and feel assured that you know what you're doing. Assuming of course that your work doesn't require a lot of post processing to look good - otherwise better to hide the results until they're ready for viewing! But in a perfect world you can get client approval that they like the images and there's no risk of a reshoot.

And of course even if you want a copy on film you can fine tune everything with the digital, just as you would have used a Polaroid, and then take the film at the end.

But you have to figure out what works for you. In my example of the dirty window - there's no way I'm going to clean and dry the window while the model's on the clock, so the information isn't of any value. Better just to not spend too much time on it and move on.

It's also good to take a step back and realize that actual planning would solve the problem too. I could have just had a friend sit there and try it out. Even just opening the window and looking out I'd have noticed that I should move the ladder that was restricting my angles. If you do even some basic shoot planning you can gain a lot of efficiency (shooting with different lighting in an order that minimizes setup time) but at the same time I think you have to be willing to just say OK, I have lots of great shots already, and I see an opportunity, let's see what happens if we go down that path...


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