Friday, January 17, 2020

A message to all you photographers - Protect your ears!

Last month I had an in-depth hearing test at an audiologists office. I sat in the soundproof chamber and strained to hear the high-pitched tones being sent into the headphones, As I sat there, I kept thinking about all the loud environments I have been subjected to during my photography career.

I have photographed a lot of personal events with the DJ or band cranking out their music at very high levels. And, of course, the best shooting position is usually up on the stage, right in front of the loudspeakers. I have photographed NASCAR, Indy and World Rally Car races and did not wear any ear protection. And yes, I have been known to listen to the music in my car and on my headphones at levels that are a bit extreme.

All of this has added up over the years and taken a toll on my hearing. When I saw the test results, I was shocked at how much of my hearing I have lost.  And to make things worse, the audiologist told me that once you lose hearing, you cant get it back.

The audiologist said that I could get custom made earplugs or I could spend a lot less and order earplugs called Eargasms for approximately $40. These are small earplugs which fit into the ear and cut up to 21db of sound, but still allow me to communicate with people. I was sold right away and ordered two sets before I set foot out of the doctor's office.

A week later I was shooting a reception with a live band and I was acutely aware of the volume level. I reached into my bag and inserted the Eargasms into my ears. I took a couple of seconds to insert them and remove them to compare the volume levels. It was dramatic. I then grabbed my camera and continued my job, feeling better that I was doing something to protect what is left of my hearing.


MY WARNING TO ANY OF YOU PHOTOGRAPHERS WHO MIGHT BE WORKING IN LOUD ENVIRONMENTS IS TO USE EAR PROTECTION!

These Eargasms are really small and inexpensive, so there is no reason not to use them. Each set comes with a standard and a smaller sized set of shells. There is a small filter which you can move between the different shells if need be. When I put them in my ear, it is really hard for anyone to see that they are there.

What I liked about these products is that they are designed to reduce the overall volume but not cancel out the experience. They were designed for people who might be using them at a concert, wanting to hear the music but at a lower level. For me, as a working photographer, these let me cut the sound level during a party, while still being able to interactive with the attendees.  I also like that they come with a little cylinder to hold them, which can easily be stashed in my camera bags.

I now have one set in each camera bag, and am so thankful for this.

I know that, for me, damage has already been done. But at least I can try to prevent any more from happening from this point on. And with this blog post, maybe I can help others as well.

If you want to purchase some of these Eargasms for yourself, you can find them HERE.

I wish that I had done this 15 years ago!

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If you are interested in purchasing ANY equipment, please click here to go to B&H Photo, as I get a referral from them if you enter this way. It does not change the cost to you in any way, but it helps me keep this blog up and running.
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Tuesday, January 7, 2020

Canon just announced the EOS-1D X Mark III Camera - Did they read my blog?

You may remember back in July of last year, I wrote a blog post called "What I want for my next cameras - Canon are you listening?"  It appears that Canon was listening, at least as it pertains to the flagship model. We will have to wait and see what Canon does for the 5D Mark IV replacement.

We saw a technology announcement from Canon back in October, but now Canon has officially announced the Canon EOS-1D X Mark III Camera and seems to have hit almost everything on my wishlist!


The first and most important request was for Canon to step away from their previously conservative approach to memory card slots and go all in with CFExpress. I was frustrated with Canon putting in one fast slot and one slower slot. With the Canon EOS-1D X Mark III, I can burst out more than 1000 frames without any buffer lag, but more importantly I can download images much faster than in the past. This time around Canon took the plunge and did it right, and I can't wait to be using these new super fast cards. I hope to have one of the pre-release cameras in my hands any week now.

I wanted more focus points and an even better focus system and in the technology announcement, Canon alluded to something new. Now we know that the 1D X Mark III has a iTR AF X 191-Point AF system (iTR stands for Intelligent Tracking and Recognition). It is not completely edge-to-edge for the focus points, but from everything I have been told, this is a much improved system with face detection and more.

I wanted cleaner images at high ISOs, and from what I have been told, this camera should deliver on this. The standard ISO range is 100-102,400 but this is also expandable to 50-819,00 which  This means that the camera could theoretically shoot in almost pitch black and grab images. There is a new low-pass filter and a new DIGIC X image processor which should deliver extremely sharp images. I will test this and let you know my own opinion soon.

I did ask for lighter weight, and this camera is slightly lighter, but not dramatically so. Oh well, we can't have it all! This is a big camera with a lot of technology in it. The good news is that I should be able to shoot almost 3000 images on one fully charged battery. This is a huge advantage over cameras like the Sony A9 which can do just a fraction of this.

I really wanted both WiFi and Bluetooth to be integrated directly in the 1D X Mark III and Canon did that. Not only did they integrate both wireless technologies, but they increased the speed of the built-in Ethernet port and offer an external WiFi transmitter for increased speed and range.

Canon increased the burst rate to 16 frames per second, which will be really handy when capturing images at the upcoming Summer Olympics in Tokyo. When shooting in Live View, the camera can achieve 20 frames per second, and do so completely silently, although I don't expect to use this as often. Well...the silent mode maybe when shooting events on a tripod (like bar mitzvahs and weddings), but it is not likely that I will be looking at the LCD on the back of the camera when shooting sports and wildlife.

For those people interested in video, Canon has increased the specs for video capture, but since I am a still shooter, I will leave that review up to the experts.

All of this goodness comes at a price, with the Canon EOS-1D X Mark III costing us $6499. They are currently available for preorder at B&H Photo.

Overall, I really excited to get my hands on this new flagship camera from Canon, and I promise to give you my real-world review once I do. I expect this to be very soon.

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If you are interested in purchasing ANY equipment, please click here to go to B&H Photo, as I get a referral from them if you enter this way. It does not change the cost to you in any way, but it helps me keep this blog up and running.
__________________________________________________________________________
Check out my upcoming photo tours to amazing places around the world. I have photo tours to Africa, Costa Rica, Europe, Asia, India and more. And Canon will loan you any gear you want for FREE for any of my tours.
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Thursday, January 2, 2020

Cuban Photo Tour - Dancers from the National Ballet at sunset

First of all, I would like to say Happy New Year to all of you blog followers out there. I hope that you all have an amazing 2020 with great people, great experiences, capturing photos that excite you. I am looking forward to an amazing photographic year with trips to India, Costa Rica, Scotland, Ireland and of course the Summer Olympics in Tokyo.

The year 2019 ended with my first photo tour to Havana, Cuba for my first photo tour in the country. As part of this, we had a chance to photograph two amazing dancers from the Cuban National Ballet. When Mike (the owner of M&M Photo Tours) and I planned this out, we decided to have the dancers meet us at the famed Malecon area of the city about an hour before sunset. We arranged to photograph them for up to 2 hours, aiming for golden hour light and sunset shooting, and that plan worked out perfectly.


We met Kathy and Grettell at the Malecon and I thought it would be best to position them on the seawall with the iconic lighthouse in the distance.


With the perfect evening sunlight, I encouraged everyone to shoot without any flash. We asked the ladies to face the setting sun and to do some of their classic poses.


I had two cameras with me: the Canon 5D Mark IV paired with the Canon 24-105mm lens and the Canon 1D X Mark II paired with the Canon 100-400mm lens.


I started with the 5D Mark IV and wider lens to capture both Kathy and Grettell as they made their jumps.


Then, in order to give the ladies a break in between jumps, we switched to photographing one dancer at a time. This time I switched to the 1D X Mark II with the longer lens to isolate Kathy in mid air. We still had a decent amount of light, allowing us to achieve shutter speeds of 1/1600 sec at ISO 320 (at f/5). For this shot, I cropped out the wall below Kathy to have just her and this beautiful pose above the water. This is one of my favorite photos from the trip.



We moved Kathy to a point at the end of the seawall and all had a blast capturing photos of her in this perfect light.


 This is a tighter crop of the same photo above.


As Kathy posed, I encouraged everyone to move around to get different perspectives.


We photographed until we lost the golden hour light...


...and then I broke out two of the Canon 600EX-RT flashes and a Canon ST-E3-RT transmitter. I used the MagMod grids on both flash units and also added 1/2 CTO gels to both (to match the golden light from the sun). I determined the proper camera settings for everyone and then, with people holding the flashes in front of Grettell, we took turns using the transmitter and getting photos of the ladies in low light.


For these photos, we set our cameras to ISO 1250, f/5 and 1/200 sec, and I powered the flashes to give us the best light on our subjects. At this point, we had attracted quite a crowd of people watching our photo session. They were also doing their best to get their own photos of the dancers with their phones.


As soon as I saw the color growing in the sky, we moved the dancers so that the sunset would be directly behind them.  We had these bands of pink coming from behind the clouds which really added drama to the sky. I switched back to the Canon 5D Mark IV with the 24-105mm lens to get wider shots. Once again, I determined the best camera settings and flash power, and we all took turns using my transmitter. I only brought one set of Powerex Pro AA batteries, but luckily they lasted for the whole shoot. This was another favorite photo from the trip!


While the others were using my transmitter and flashes to light the ladies, I took advantage of the time to capture photos of their silhouettes against the fading sunset.



This last shot was taken at 6:12pm and we were just about out of sunset light. I asked both ladies to pose on the wall for one last silhouette shot for the group. After this, with all of us were feeling the exhilaration of a great photo shoot, we went to a nearby hotel rooftop and enjoyed a good mojito to celebrate another amazing day in Cuba!

This part of our photo tour was so amazing that I know we will do it again next year, and maybe even try it multiple evenings. 

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Subscribe to the Jeff Cable Photography Blog by clicking HERE!
__________________________________________________________________________
If you are interested in purchasing ANY equipment, please click here to go to B&H Photo, as I get a referral from them if you enter this way. It does not change the cost to you in any way, but it helps me keep this blog up and running.
__________________________________________________________________________
Check out my upcoming photo tours to amazing places around the world. I have photo tours to Africa, Costa Rica, Europe, Asia, India and more. And Canon will loan you any gear you want for FREE for any of my tours.
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Saturday, December 28, 2019

Cuban Photo Tour - The people of Cuba

Looking back at my first trip to Cuba, there were a lot of things that I expected and some things that surprised me. One of the biggest surprises was how open and friendly the Cuban people were to us, and how the majority of my favorite images were of the people who we met along the way.

Almost everyone we encountered were inviting, friendly and curious about our group. They may not like our current government and the restrictions put on US tourism, but they definitely had no problems with American people.


As part of our photo tour, we visited one of the local markets, and had fun photographing the merchants as they sold their goods.


Unlike some other cultures, people in Cuba were mostly accepting of us taking their portraits, and usually did so with big smiles on their faces.


We saw this tall Rastafarian butcher who was feeding these stray cats. I was laughing as I took the photo, because this would not be approved by the FDA in the United States.


As we moved through the market, I was teaching our guests how to shoot from different points of view. In this case, I was showing how we could take a portrait through the merchant's pineapple, but make sure the focus was on the woman.


We did not use any flash when shooting these portraits, only relying on the sunlight coming through the open walls of the market. This created some really nice portrait light on the merchant's faces.


We saw this one butcher who was selling government subsidized meat. He was the perfect subject for me to teach about portrait lighting. He was in a dark corner of a room, but facing out into the window light.


I photographed him from the side angle and then from outside the window to show the different compositions to the group.


Later that same day, we visited a cultural show where these local dancers performed. While watching the show, I saw the movement of the dancers and encouraged our guests to slow their shutter speeds and catch some of the motion of the dance.


We were shooting at ISO 500 at an aperture of f/4 to get a shutter speed of 1/20 sec.


The room was small, but the colors were amazing.


One night we went to a dinner show where we were entertained by some well known Cuban performers. Not only was it a fun experience, but this was a chance for me to teach high ISO shooting.


One of our guests was reluctant to shoot at any ISO above 2000, but I showed him how we could get very good photos even at ISO 6400 using the Canon 24-105mm f/4 lens on the Canon 5D Mark IV camera.


We were taking a walking tour of Havana and came across these older men playing dominos. I stopped our group and asked these men if we could photograph them during their game.


This was a great chance to teach once again. I showed our guests how getting down low, brought us into the game.


I got behind one man to get a shot over his shoulder, when I saw this look on his opponent. That is pure intensity and I knew I had a favorite photo from this match.


This guy had a classic Cuban look about him, cigar and all.



I was teaching how photographers need to tell a story when taking photos. Sometimes, this involves photos that are not of people's faces, but just their hands and tiles.


I was just about done shooting when I noticed this guys hat, with the word "Cuba" embroidered on the back. I changed my focus point to his hat and took this shot to tell the story of where we were.


We were done shooting and about to continue our walk through the city, when this tall Rastafarian guy walked up to watch the old men play. We said "Hey, you are the butcher we saw the other day!" and he smiled. I had to photograph that!

Stay tuned for more photos from Cuba including local farmers and some sunset photos of incredible dancers from the National Ballet.

__________________________________________________________________________
Subscribe to the Jeff Cable Photography Blog by clicking HERE!
__________________________________________________________________________
If you are interested in purchasing ANY equipment, please click here to go to B&H Photo, as I get a referral from them if you enter this way. It does not change the cost to you in any way, but it helps me keep this blog up and running.
__________________________________________________________________________
Check out my upcoming photo tours to amazing places around the world. I have photo tours to Africa, Costa Rica, Europe, Asia, India and more. And Canon will loan you any gear you want for FREE for any of my tours.
__________________________________________________________________________ 

Sunday, December 22, 2019

Visiting Cuba for the first time. The vintage cars in Havana and more...

For the last three years I have wanted to visit Cuba to see this country before it changes and catches up to the rest of the world. Like the rest of you who live in the United States, I heard about the opening and then closing of this country to our tourist travel. We had planned a trip to Cuba for last year and had to cancel it. I was really disappointed with the closure, but reassured by Mike (the owner of M&M Photo Tours) that we could still go this time around. And yes, for all of you wondering if you can go to Cuba, it is indeed possible if you go with a group for reasons other than tourism. And that is how we are allowed to visit the country, and how we will be going next year.

Now...on to the photos...


Along with cigars, rum and sugar cane, Cuba is known for all the old cars in the country. I thought that these cars were still in service mainly for tourism reasons, but as it turns out, they are still in use because the country has not had many options to import new vehicles. For this reason, the people of Cuba have had to keep these old cars running as their only means of transportation. Some of the cars are completely restored and beautiful and others are not as pretty, but still running.

I took this photo in front of the newly restored capital building in Havana. I waited for this red car to enter my frame and took this shot. I wanted a red car to contrast the white building and deep blue sky.


Everywhere we toured, we saw these awesome old cars, and I saw this as a great chance to teach motion panning.


It was actually quite comical as the group of us stood on a sidewalk and panned one old car after another.


For those of you not familiar with motion panning, let me explain how this works and why we do this. Motion panning is when we slow the shutter speed of the camera and then move our cameras at the exact same speed of the subject. I was teaching our guests to start panning at shutter speeds of 1/30th of a second, and when they got proficient at the technique, to try and pan even slower. Maybe even as slow as 1/10 of a second for these fast moving cars. I was using my Canon 5D Mark IV and Canon 24-105mm lens, and I usually try to get my focus point on the door handle of the car and then do my best to keep it on the handle as the car drives by.


The technique is not easy for first-timers, but with some practice does yield some awesome results.


Why do we want to motion pan these vehicles? By slowing down the shutter speed and moving with the cars, we are able to show motion in the image. The foreground and background are blurred, which makes our cars stand out even more. This slow shutter speed also blurs the tires and wheels of the car to accentuate the motion even more. 


Once I had a bunch of "normal" motion blur images of the cars, I started tilting the camera to get something even more different.  This photo was taken at 1/15th of a second, and just before sunset.


One afternoon, we did a tour of Havana in a couple of these old convertibles. I was getting back into our car when I noticed this door lock. I got down low and took this "detail shot" of this skull.


In Cuba, the first letter of the license plate designates the use of the car. They have "B" for business, "P" for personal, "T" for tourist and others.


I saw these license plates in a tourist shop and liked the colors and images.


The streets of Havana are really interesting, with lots of color and lots of friendly people.


Havana is a mix of modern and historic buildings. We went up to a rooftop bar to get some images of the city from overhead.


This is one of the city squares, with nice restaurants and shops.


We had a great time walking the city and photographing everything and anything that was unique. I saw this guy peering out from his window, looking over the laundry, and captured this typical Cuban scene.


This is a panoramic image that I took from my hotel room, 22 floors above the city. My view looked out over the Malecon, which is a long road and seawall which stretches for 8 kilometers along the coast of Havana. You will see more images from the Malecon, including some epic shots of Cuban ballet dancers, in one of the next blog posts. I will also be posting images from the cities of Vinales, Trinidad and other sites.

We will be going back to Cuba at the same time next year, since the weather is optimum at this time. If you want to know more about that, you can get more information here.


__________________________________________________________________________
Subscribe to the Jeff Cable Photography Blog by clicking HERE!
__________________________________________________________________________
If you are interested in purchasing ANY equipment, please click here to go to B&H Photo, as I get a referral from them if you enter this way. It does not change the cost to you in any way, but it helps me keep this blog up and running.
__________________________________________________________________________
Check out my upcoming photo tours to amazing places around the world. I have photo tours to Africa, Costa Rica, Europe, Asia, India and more. And Canon will loan you any gear you want for FREE for any of my tours.
__________________________________________________________________________