Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Chiizu Photo File Workflow

Time to share a small application that I use quite a lot.

At $29.95 this is a must have in the application tool set for event photographers. I wont go into all it can do (follow the link for a full round up of functionality) but it is an application that I continue to find new uses for.

In essence it automatically moves and copies files for you. Ok, great, why would I want to do that? Lets give you some examples.

Myself and another photographer covered a large event last year. We networked our two systems (his running Express Digital and mine running Lightroom) such that any shots by either of us went to the Lightroom system. We used Chiizu to then put a copy of each image on the other system. This meant that whichever print station the client went to or whichever of us had taken the shot the images were available in both ED and Lightroom.

Chiizu has an option to resize an image when it moves it. Copy your full size image into your processing application and move a resized (smaller) copy to your viewing stations. All automated so as you shoot you are creating thumbnails and web sized images for viewing.

It is not something you will use all the time or on every job. Probably a bit like having a spade in the boot of the car in winter. You will go five winters without ever needing it but when you do need it you will be very pleased it was there. Whatever the event photography equivalent of snowy roads is I must get stuck a fair bit as I find myself using it regularly.

I have found it to be very stable in use. Just set up your scripts and let it run in the background. The scripts are relatively easy to define as the application prompts you with a full set of options for each 'action' you create.

The developers are based in Australia but don't let that put you off :-) They respond to emails and I have found them very open to suggestions and feedback.

Saturday, 7 May 2011

Thinking of someone elses shot

Ok. I shot a Cup Final today. Not the first and probably not the last I will shoot. All went well until the local paper 'tog' turned up just in time for the awards. Each player (winner or loser) gets an award and a little plaque to show that they played in the final. These are not 'grip and grin' type shots as there is no posing for the camera. So, when taking these shots the trick is to position yourself such that you get a 3/4 to full head on shot of the recipient and accept that you are going to get a mainly back or at best side profile of the award giver. Shoot as the handshake is made and the award is handed over. Not posed and not ideal as you are only guaranteed to get one of the faces showing but it is the key face as far as the recipient is concerned.

You need to check the background and frame the shot to minimise any distractions in the background.

Righto, sounds easy? The problem is that you will only get one shot (very rarely two) of each person so every one has to be usable. Even in relatively bright sunlight I will use a bit of fill flash for these shots. It ensures that eyes are not deep in shadow and aids in the perception of separation of the subject from the background. As one recipient is walking off the next is coming into frame. You will have 2 to 4 seconds between shots. No, I'm not making that up. I checked my EXIF data and it was consistently 2 to 4 seconds between shots. This reinforces the need to get it right first time, the flash will not have recycled if you try to take another shot of the same subject and if you do manage to get a second shot there is a good chance the flash may not be ready for the next subject. At this pace you do not have time to recheck the background again. You checked it when you started and as a new subject is in front of you every 2 seconds even if there is something wrong with the background you cannot do anything about it now except perhaps move slightly to minimise it.

The other 'tog' had walked into the background after the first few shots. My flash is going off and he can see where the camera is pointing so standing in the background he is aware that he is now a feature of my shots. It was like a scene from 'Withnail and I', a photographer growing out of the presenters back. I have over the years seen some dirty tricks and spoilers so this one was not new on me but usually there will be a group of editorial photographers and some have far less tolerance for this kind of thing than I do. One day, he will do it with the wrong photographer and accidentally get a monopod between his legs when he is stepping backward.

We get to the group shot and he mumbles something to me. The gist of it seemed to be 'I'll set up the group and don't get in the way for my shot'. Yeahhh, you set em up bud and lets see how many images you can take that have my elbow in the corner :-) Difficult though it was, I was nice and did not let his ignorance throw me and I did not spoil his pictures. Once he had got a few I stepped in to get mine and then moved the group and the trophy to get some individual shots.

There is not a another photographer in the background of any of these shots but I did manage to take a key one with a lad with a leg in plaster in the background. No-one but me to blame for that one :-)

If you are shooting with other photographers you need to think not only of your own shots but be aware that they are shooting too. The best place to be is behind the active photographer and whatever you do don't shoot over his/her shoulder. There is nothing worse (other than a numpty in the background of every shot) than half the eyes looking one way and the other half looking another in a group shot.