My favorite images from 2017…

The Wide Aspect Ratio post….

Every end of the year, a lot of people are asking “what was your favorite photograph?”   If I list my own favorites, that list won’t at all tally with the shots of mine that everyone else liked….and one reason for that, is most of my favorites will be of a Wide Aspect Ratio.

Some people say panoramic, but I think that’s a confusing term because many of my Wide Aspect Ratio shots aren’t landscapes and they’re not extremely wide.  But to me, anything wider than HD film….stuff out there at 2:1 and wider…..those are WAR shots.

Here are just a few of my favorites from 2017  (the second half of the year)

..to be continued.

 

Meet the Panasonic FZ1000

In just my opinion, the vast majority of people in a huge hurry to get to interchangeable lens, system cameras, would be happier with an excellent, 1″ sensor, all-in-one camera like the Panasonic FZ1000 or the Sony RX10.

The Pany FZ1000:

Like any choice, the all-one-camera has limitations, we’ll mention those first.   To get the incredibly versatile lens, you have to start with a smaller sensor, and that gives us two limitations:

You will struggle a little in low light, and you’ll have to work a little harder to get out of focus backgrounds.

BUT…the Panasonic FZ1000 can function very well at ISO 1000 and the RX10 can do a very solid ISO 1600.  The low light limitation is real, but you can work around it.

AND, while you do have to work harder to get your out of focus backgrounds, with a little practice, you can still do an exceptional job isolating your subject against a beautifully smooth backdrop:

Taken with the FZ1000:

And…………………that’s it for the serious limitations.  You can’t change lenses, so you’re stuck with the true wide angle to extreme long telephoto 24-400mm f2.8-4 lens.  That’s NOT a hardship.  That means you can shoot this:

…and then 4 seconds later shoot this:

…you can’t put a dedicated macro lens on it (although you can get a nice accessory lens) but you can focus SO close to objects that you can do this:

….then walk outside and use your 400mm equivalent lens to do this:

The image quality of a camera is directly related to the size of it’s sensor…so an aps-c sensor is not as good as a full frame, a micro four thirds is not quite as good as an aps-c and the 1″ sensor in the Panasonic or Sony all-in-one is not quite as good as a micro four thirds.  This is a REAL WORLD limitation….

…but the question is, how often do you SEE or are you bothered by the difference?  This was taken with the FZ1000:

..and so was this:

….and this:

…and this:

..and even this:

This was taken with the Sony RX10:

Which brings up the question………..which one?  In my opinion, the RX10 is a better camera.  A little better image quality, a better control system, better build…..but the reason I recommend the FZ1000 more often, is it’s more VERSATILE by virtue of it’s 400mm lens (the RX10 mark 1 tops out at 200mm…..the RX10 mark 4 is better than all of them, but very expensive)

The FZ1000 focuses fast, shoots fast, and takes great 4k video.  It’s truly an all-in-one solution, if you understand it’s limitations.  It also make a GREAT complimentary camera to a more advanced SYSTEM CAMERA.  For example, I carry a Sony a6000 with one prime lens on it, and then use the FZ1000 as my wide angle and long telephoto options.

This is me, holding the Sony a6000 with a 30mm f1.4 prime on it….taken with the FZ1000:

I feel like the FZ1000 is just a tad bulky (you pack so much lens into that package)

…but when you can do THIS:

…at 25mm wide angle, then immediately do this:

…at 400mm super-telephoto….you just have an incredibly flexible tool.

When you can do this:

…from 6 inches away, and then immediately do this:

..from 150 feet.

When you can shoot action:

…or portraits

…or nature

….or even selfies

 

….all with ONE CAMERA, ONE LENS.
that’s pretty powerful.

You can find it on Amazon:

Panasonic FZ1000

ALSO!!!! I’ve added a final gallery of fz1000 pics:

FZ1000 GALLERY

 

About that Photography Group….

Photography………….Theory, Technique & Technology  (the FB group)

There are THOUSANDS of photography groups on Facebook….why make a new one?

The idea behind “Photography: Theory, Technique and Technology is unique. We’re building something. There is an end-goal, even if there is no planned end.
If we do it right, at any point, you could join PT3 and scroll down the page, and everything you encounter would be valuable.

No filler. No empty posts.
We want TOPICS, QUESTIONS and CONVERSATIONS.
We want CONTENT. We want to find the best questions in photography and discuss them. We want to archive the best advice, the best tricks, the best concepts…

…all in one place.
…with no filler.

Continuous un-interupted GOOD STUFF.
That’s why we have rules other groups don’t have….for instance, we can’t do “simple shares.” A simple share is when you post a picture just to have people like it….even if you’re asking for criticism, it’s a simple share.

On the other hand, if you post a picture and start a conversation with it about a SPECIFIC SUBJECT, that’s different. And that’s EXACTLY our goal. TOPICS.
Things you CAN do:

Post comparisons…we LOVE those.


Post questions…..we LOVE those too.
Instigate a debate……we’re good with that.


In fact, if things go to plan, at some point down the road, we should be able to scroll down the page and find the BEST QUESTIONS in PHOTOGRAPHY, all in one place.

We might even write a book.
The rules may seem intimidating…they may feel restrictive…..but we have a GOAL. This is your chance to add to what WILL BE……………..the best photography group on Facebook.

AND….

There are a few other reasons for the existence of this group.

I use it as a testing ground for ideas for books

The Mountain and the Pebble

Blogs (you’re reading it 🙂 )

and research

Photographer Survey

Because ultimately I’m in the business of dissembling photography and putting it back together in a way that makes more sense, and is easier to learn. A way that lets us get better than we otherwise could have been.

I’m also a photographer.…..and I’d LOVE to have you along on our new Patreon page, though note that it IS a fine art page and NSFW:

Dave Melges on Patreon

Our Fine Art Nude Series….

….I get asked about the fine art galleries every day.  It’s actually very hard to find a good solution for sharing those online, but after a couple of years of playing with the idea, we finally settled on Patreon.

DAVE MELGES, FINE ART on PATREON

Patreon first of all, has an attractive, clean interface that makes it easy for me to share all kinds of content.  And we have all kinds in the works…not just photography, but short films and stories and more.

The other great thing about Patreon, is it lets me make a “tiered” system, where I can offer a lot of content to EVERYONE, and then some of the more developed (and costly to develop) art to a tier of Patrons.   What excited me the most, was how I could create such an incredibly low threshold for that….you can become of Patron of our projects for as little as ONE DOLLAR a month.

To do some of the complex projects we already have lined up, we do need some support.  And we’re looking forward to paying our models and collaborators this year, something we’ve always wanted to do.

Come follow us on Patreon……if you’re not over there yet, you’re already missing stuff!

OUR PATREON PROJECT PAGE

 

Weddings…

Just a gathering of some of our recent, favorite, wedding photos…

 

…we’ve photographed over 100 weddings!  Our style is 30% fine art, 70% event-photojournalist.  We shoot with professional lenses and a variety of camera bodies, and one thing that stands us apart from pretty much every other wedding photographer…

…we give you EVERY usable picture we take that day, which over the last 3 years has averaged over 7000 images!

The DSLR era is over.

PHOTOGRAPHY CLASSES

…..are about to change. But it’s more of a “philosophical” change than a practical one.

Since we started One on One Classes (and we’ve done more than 600 in three years) we’ve worked EQUALLY with whatever camera someone brings to class.

For a very long time, we’ve recommended LIVE VIEW cameras to pretty much every type of photographer, but most people who come to One on One Classes already have DSLRs (which are not live view cameras, even if they have a “live view mode”)…..so we’ve tried to stay up to date on all cameras, to better answer questions and work out problems.

We’re dumping DSLRs, finally, altogether. You can absolutely take a photography class with your DSLR, but we’re done trying to stay “current” on, what we have to say, are now absolutely, outdated cameras.

We photographers love our cameras, so for some of us, this will sting a little….but the technology that made SLR so very very important for 40 years….started becoming unimportant when cameras went digital….and over the last 10 years while SLR became less and less important, it also became more and more of a design FLAW.

The only thing that makes an SLR an SLR, is a moving mirror. And that moving mirror is…

IN THE WAY

It blocks the camera from some the best, most useful, most exciting features we’ve ever put in cameras. That makes SLR not just outdated, but a design FLAW.

I’m not trying to talk anyone out of their camera….I’m just explaining why it’s finally come time to quit supporting SLR as a current camera design. There are better options, and most importantly, those better options make LEARNING PHOTOGRAPHY and learning to be CREATIVE much easier………much faster.

If you want to take a class and focus on theory, composition, light……all the great creative parts of photography, this won’t effect you in any way. If you want to learn how to shoot your SPECIFIC camera, and it’s a DSLR, it will effect you a little.

But the reason we’re making this (kind of ceremonial) announcement, is I think it’s just time….time to finally say…

The DSLR era is over.

For almost any shooter, you can learn faster, be more creative, shoot more fluidly with less distractions, if you get rid of the moving mirror 😉

Clever little trick….

…one of the better techniques to learn, is getting down LOW, so you can get more distance behind your subject.  These clover blossoms sit right down on the ground, and it can be hard (or impossible) to get any kind of angle on ’em, other than shooting DOWN (uggghh)

We all know what the shooting down pics look like:

 

One thing I do, to give my subject the isolation it deserves, and to give ME more options for backgrounds and compositions, is pick my subject UP….and one clever little way to do that, is with a “lifter.”

Here’s that clover shot again:

..I have the subject up, off the ground and I’ve strategically moved it around until I found not only a good background and light, but I’ve created a little bit of a frame with these tree leaves.

This is what my lifter looks like….it’s custom made to break down into three pieces so it fits in my backpack…..and you can make one, easily, for less than $10.  (you can also buy things that are similar)

….that alligator clip at the end is important.  With my version, I can either hold it in my hand like a selfie stick, or I can jam it in the ground.

That’s SUPER handy when I want to shoot with my longer lenses.

The “lifter” lets me do this:

…so I can GET this:

And it lets me take this:

…and isolate one stem and move it around looking for a composition, like this:

 

In the above example, I can even SEE my bokeh and light effects, I’m looking through the camera as I move my subject….if you have a mirrorless camera this even works when you stop your aperture down.

I often even dial my shutter speed with my thumb while I move the subject around against changing backgrounds and in changing light.  Since my camera is true live view, the whole process of changing backgrounds, composition, light and exposure is fluid.

 

Inexpensive, and make it any way you want it.  But if you make it small and easy to carry, you’ll have it with you more often 😉

All images essentially straight from the camera, sony a6000

Compare….

You see a lot of learning photographers in forums asking “which setting should I use for….”

I’m not here to tell you NOT to ask for advice, but I’m going to give you a two-part piece of advice that works for every single one of those questions, and is far more valuable than any ONE answer.

Test it side by side.
Practice ahead of time.

“Which aperture is best for….?”
“Go shoot several, and compare.”

“What is the highest ISO I should use on my camera?
“Shoot the same scene at several ISOs and compare.”

Most of the “which settings” questions you’ll be tempted to ask, you can not only answer yourself, you learn more by doing it.

And as a BONUS…..when you can, when time allows, shoot things MORE THAN ONE WAY.  So even if you think you already know the best choice, you’ve given yourself some options for when you open up the images on the computer later.  I learn from that every single time.

The Breakfast, getting everything in focus, f5.6

 

…..and for more focus on my new Asiago Cheese Soft Roll, with Egg and Pepperjack
f1.4

 

Then I can decide later:  Is this a photo of a breakfast, or a picture of my new sandwich with supporting players?

Sony a6000, Sigma 30mm f1.4, natural light, no editing
ISO 400

…..and here’s a “Making Of” shot:

Commercial photography….

Nine quick tips on shooting advertising/marketing pics for businesses.

You pretty much ALWAYS have to compose with negative space.

…give yourself or the designer room to add content.

Consider shooting wide.

Today’s full page websites often use wide format images, plus, it gives the designer the flexibility to use one image for several applications by cropping.

When you compose your shot, consider the potential for adding elements later, that contribute to the composition.   For instance use TWO elements instead of three, so that a logo or type could act as the third element.

Try to subtly include logos and products, almost subliminally.

Know the goal of the marketing.  A beautiful image is less useful if it doesn’t fit the objectives.

Technically perfect trumps creativity.  Creativity is great, but getting a technically perfect image within the goals of the marketing plan is crucial.  Good composition, light, color……and it needs to be SHARP.  The file quality has be usable for almost any application, including the most demanding like a large print viewed at a close range.

Your goal is always to make the product look even better than it really is. Photography and design and concept can’t be the weak links.

Give your customer colors they can work with.

Cinematography master class….

Photographers should treat themselves to the masterful photography, design and lightcraft of the film:

A Cure for Wellness.

Cinematographer Bojan Bazelli and director Gore Verbinski are clearly paying tribute to the style and attention to detail of Stanley Kubrick with their new movie.

It’s worth watching for the fabulous symmetry, one-point perspective and incredible compositions.

My only disappointment is in their choice of aspect ratio….the film would have been even better, WIDER.  At 1.66:1 it’s beautiful, at 2.4:1 it would have been magnificent. Although I understand their reasoning….their interior location had enormously high ceilings and they wanted to be able to take advantage of the room framing. That meant that not even the normal 1.85:1 would work, they had to go taller.

I can’t sell you on the story, dialog or performances.  I thought all were very good, but those are more personal, subjective things.  The technical skill and artistry of the photography and design, however, is inarguably astounding.  My current front runner for Best Cinematography, 2017.  (although they’ll have to claw and fight past Blade Runner this fall)