Saturday, May 14, 2022

What a difference a year makes - the photography world is restarting

It is clear that Covid has not gone away, as many people I know are still getting it, but I have to say that it is really nice, even at the risk of getting sick, to be back to some sense of normalcy in the photography world. 

People have asked me why I stopped doing the bi-weekly Zoom get togethers, and the reason is...I just don't have the free time that I did during the height of the pandemic. Between shooting, retouching, running the business, and traveling, there isn't much down time.

I was talking to a friend of mine the other day, a guy who was putting out a lot of really great content on his podcast, and he said the same thing. No time to do that any more. Things have changed so much since 2020 and 2021. And thankfully! 

That is not to say that everything is back to normal (especially here in the San Francisco Bay Area) but it seems like we are getting closer every day. People are having events again and the parties are going strong. 

Over the last couple of months I have been shooting a lot of bar and bat mitzvah, senior portraits, a handful of weddings, corporate events, headshots and more. It is tiring, but after more than a year of sitting around and not doing much, it is refreshing. 

Here is a small sampling of what I have been doing recently...


Fun family portraits in San Francisco


I was taking portraits of this lovely young lady when I saw this blossoming tree and just had to get her in there. I shot this at f/2,8 to get her perfectly in focus, but have the background in various levels of blur.


A senior portrait of a college graduate.


Family portraits in my area.


A different kind of family portrait (just for fun).


A wedding the Northern part of the Bay Area.


Some corporate events, including this one with the largest group shot I have ever taken.


Lots of bar and bat mitzvah...



Many senior portraits for those kids graduating high school and about to head to college.


And, of course, I have been taking photos of my granddaughter. Most of those have been with my iPhone.

And now I am off to shoot another bat mitzvah party this evening, and then fly off to Costa Rica for another photo tour in the morning.  The days of sitting around are long gone. Do I miss the slower pace? Just a little bit. :)


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Subscribe to the Jeff Cable Photography Blog by clicking HERE!
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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, Cuba, Europe, Asia, India and more. And Canon will loan you any gear you want for FREE for any of my tours. 

__________________________________________________________________________  

Wednesday, April 27, 2022

It is that time of year again - Senior portraits

As April comes to a close, we are getting that much closer to the end of another school year, and this is the time of year when many parents are looking for portraits of their future graduates. Over the last couple of months, in between photographing lots of personal and corporate events, I have been capturing senior portraits.

For all of you who are looking to capture portraits of your graduate, I thought I would share some tips with you in order to get the best photos.


If you already have your cap and gown, this is a great chance to give it a trial run. For this portrait, I found a good shady area to avoid any harsh light on my subject, and took the photo at f/2.8 to create a lot of separation between my subject and the background.


My goal when taking any portraits is to show who they are, not who I am. Here, we included this young man's skateboard since this is one of his hobbies.


I took standard portraits of him, using my favorite Canon 70-200mm lens...


...but I also broke out the Canon 15-35mm wide angle lens to try something different.


This young man is really into tennis, so his mother asked me if we could do senior portraits of him in action. For these images, I had the camera in I/O servo focus mode (follow focus) and made sure to have a shutter speed of at least 1/1250 sec to freeze the action. I also positioned myself to get the cleanest background possible (with less distractions).


Whenever I shoot, I try to push the boundaries and go beyond the obvious photos. While I was taking photos of him playing tennis, I noticed the shadows and thought that this would make a cool image as well. For this shot, I waited for him to serve the ball, focused the camera on the shadow as opposed to him, and bursted out a bunch of frames. The key here is to look for something different every time you shoot.


One of the trickiest parts of taking a good portrait is what to do with the hands. If you have ever seen someone stand with their arms straight down, it really does not look very good, so I try to get my subjects to cross their arms, lean against something, or both. 


I never stop looking for good shooting locations, and try to place my subjects in places which will add to their photos. This is a tile staircase in San Francisco that has always been a favorite of mine.


Since we were shooting Hannah's senior portraits in San Francisco, we had to make a visit to the Golden Gate Bridge. For this image, I used an off-camera flash (to my left) to light her and keep her from being silhouetted by the bright background. 


As I mentioned before, I am always looking for places for my subjects to lean against and to rest their hands. 


It is not uncommon for the kids to have different outfits to change into. In these three photos, you can see three different sides of this young man brought out in the images. 



Almost all of my senior portraits now are taken with the Canon R3 and Canon RF70-200mm lens, and usually at f/2.8 or f/4. And 90% of the time I am popping a flash (powered down to -1) to add a bit of fill flash to the subject and catch light to their eyes. In the photo above, I also had some late afternoon sunlight shining through the trees, which created beautiful backlighting on her hair.


I am always very aware of my foreground and backgrounds, and love to capture images with many layers of color.


I really like trying a wide variety of poses. This gives the client more variety in their images, but also gives them some very different looks to choose from. 


My favorite thing to do when posing subjects is to ask them to sit or stand how they think it is most comfortable. Inevitably, I find that I can get the best photos when they are feeling like themselves and not overly posed. There are many times when I will ask them to make small changes, but it is a good starting point.


I don't know why, but over the years I have made it a habit to ask my subjects to give me two thumbs up. It is a fun pose and most everyone has a good time with it. I never consciously started this,. it just became "my thing".  The most important tip is to have fun when you are taking the photos, so that both you and the subject are relaxed, having fun, and getting great shots. 

I hope this helps you get great shots of your graduate!



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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, Cuba, 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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Friday, April 8, 2022

Want to join me in Costa Rica next month? I have 2 spots open!

On May 16 (next month) I am leading another photo tour to the rain forest of Costa Rica. I had two people postpone their trip to 2023 and so I have room for 2 people on this trip. It is an amazing place to capture photos of monkeys, sloths, tree frogs, birds and so much more. 

The good news is...this is your last chance to go at the older price. Since the resort has been completely rebuilt from the ground up, the price is going up $1000 starting in 2023. And, as always, you can borrow almost any cameras and lenses from Canon to use on the trip for free!

If you are interested in taking one or both of these spots, please let me know ASAP. You can get more info from the link here.

Here are just a few images that were taken when we were in Costa Rica four months ago.





If you want to get images like these, join us next month!


__________________________________________________________________________

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, Cuba, Europe, Asia, India and more. And Canon will loan you any gear you want for FREE for any of my tours. 

__________________________________________________________________________  

Friday, April 1, 2022

Canon announces new Butt Detection Software (BDS) on the R5, R6 and R3!!!

I am really excited to announce a new feature added today to the Canon mirrorless cameras. For the past year we have been really spoiled by the amazing face detection of the Canon R5, R6 and R3 cameras. I have blogged about this many times. Now Canon has upped their game once more. Introducing butt detection!

For anyone lucky enough to join me on a photo tour, you know that there are lots of times when we are shooting and an animal turns their back side to us. When this happens, I have often hoped for a better focus mode for this situation. Well...last summer when teaching photo tours in Botswana and Tanzania, I was lucky enough to test Canon's new butt detection. I was not able to tell anyone about the special software that had been loaded into my Canon R cameras, but I was secretly using the feature throughout the trip.

After photographing these two elephants for a little while, they walked away from our vehicle. While the rest of our tour guests were discouraged, I was secretly testing the new feature and loving it. The new focus mode locked right into their back sides perfectly!

I wondered if the zebra stripes would throw off the butt detection, but no, the camera locked right onto the back of the animals and stayed super sharp at all times. 

These two made it even easier for the new focus mode, providing targets for the cameras to lock onto. 

For those of you looking to get this new feature on your cameras, you need to be using the Canon R5, R6, or R3. And you also need to upgrade to firmware 1.4.1. This will give you a new option instead of just "People" and "Animals". 

I wondered how the camera would handle this situation, with two animals facing away from me. It appears that the Butt Detection Software (BDS) defaulted to the closest wild dog.

I was concerned that a wagging tail would throw off the BDS, but nope, it locked in just fine.

For those of you wondering if the BDS will work in conjunction with the "people or animal" option, the answer is yes! For this shot, I selected I/O Servo, people detection and switched from eye detection to butt detection. Notice how the camera avoided the people who were sitting and focused on the derriere that was showing.

This subject was a good test to see how the new mode worked with very little contrast in the scene.

This would have been a perfect test of the butt detection on this cheetah but our driver was in a terrible position for that shot. Darn it!

I loved the accuracy of the new focus mode here, with so many subjects to detect. Butts everywhere. I started bursting off a lot of frames with a big smile on my face. When I looked up, I saw all our guests looking at me like I was nuts. Little did they know that I had BDS installed on my cameras.

As you can see from this photo, the new focus mode drifted from the female lions back side to the eyes of the cubs. What a huge disappointment!

The new feature is definitely not bullet-proof. In this case, it failed miserably. I wondered why the focus drifted to the face of the red-headed agama lizard. I called and talked to Drew and Tony (my technical contacts at Canon) to see why this was happening. Their first question was "Are you using the latest firmware 1.4.1?" and I told them "Of course I am!"  After a little more pushing on my part, they told me that there was a newer firmware being tested that would be better optimized for red-headed rock agama lizards. I am super excited to get that one.

If you have been waiting for butt detection on your camera, April 1st is your day! Look for this new firmware to be released later today. It will be posted to the following url:

https://www.wereallydontneedthisfeature.com/

Remember, I told you about this first!


__________________________________________________________________________

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, Cuba, Europe, Asia, India and more. And Canon will loan you any gear you want for FREE for any of my tours. 

__________________________________________________________________________  


Tuesday, March 29, 2022

Upcoming photo tours to amazing places!

After 2 years of dealing with the pandemic and halting almost all photo tours, things are getting back to some sense of normalcy. Most of my photography friends have started traveling again, and are doing it safely. I have done two photo tours to Costa Rica and two photo tours to Africa and all went amazingly well.

If you are like me, you are tired of being at home and you are itching to travel again. Well...I have good news for you. We have a whole bunch of new photo tours going in 2022 and 2023. These trips are designed to achieve the following:

  • Get you to the best photo locations.
  • Teach photography as we go, giving you advice, tips, and ideas to take your photography to the next level and get you the best photos from those locations.
  • Give you a chance to try new Canon equipment during the duration of the trip for free. (We do have many photographers who shoot Nikon, Sony, Olympus, Fuji and others, and that is totally fine too!)
  • Introduce you to the culture with the best local guides.
  • Have a whole lot of fun together!
Our group in Tanzania (with LOTS of borrowed gear)

My most recent group in the rain forest of Costa Rica 

I have all upcoming photo tours listed on my website. You can see them all here:

https://www.jeffcable.com/phototours

Before hopping over to that page, here is a quick list of all the upcoming trips:

  • April 2022 - Japan - SOLD OUT
  • May 2022 - Costa Rica - 2 spots just opened up
  • June 2022 - Scotland / Ireland - 5 spots left (and closing soon!)
  • July 2022 - Botswana - 8 spots left
  • July 2022 - Tanzania - 4 spots left
  • Oct 2022 - Indochina - 8 spots left
  • Nov 2022 - Costa Rica - SOLD OUT
  • Dec 2022 - Cuba - 8 spots left
  • Feb 2023 - Tanzania - NEW
  • April 2023 - New Zealand - NEW
  • June 2023 - Croatia / Slovenia - NEW
  • July 2023 - Costa Rica - NEW
  • Sept 2023 - Morocco - NEW
  • Nov 2023 - Costa Rica - NEW
We would love to have you join us on one (or many) of our tours. The trips are not designed exclusively for professional photographers. We love taking photo enthusiasts of all levels. 

You can see what others have said about their experiences here:


Feel free to email me for any information!

Jeff



__________________________________________________________________________

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, Cuba, Europe, Asia, India and more. And Canon will loan you any gear you want for FREE for any of my tours. 

__________________________________________________________________________  

Saturday, March 19, 2022

Tips for photographing a concert - Shinedown in action

Let me start this blog by saying that I am not a concert photographer. I know people who photograph concerts and bands for a living, but I am not one of those guys. With that said, I do love the challenge of photographing bands in action! 

For the last two years, the pandemic has made it almost impossible to see a concert let alone photograph one. But one of my favorite bands kicked off a tour recently and made a visit to San Francisco. I really wanted to see Shinedown live but their concert was scheduled just days before the Beijing Olympics. I knew that there was no way I could risk being in a group situation, indoors, before being subjected to the intense Covid protocols in China. But since I pulled the plug on the Winter Olympics just days before going, I decided that the concert needed to happen for me! I called and asked for a photo credential, but it was one day before the concert and that was not going to happen. 

I decided to bring a camera just in case. Since I was entering the venue without credentials, I kept things inconspicuous, bringing just a Canon R6 and a Canon RF24-105mm lens. Luckily, nobody stopped me at the door, and so me and my trusty camera got in with no problem. I have a friend who works at the venue and he was nice enough to escort me into the pit to shoot the first three songs.

That is how I got access. Now let me share the images and some of my tips for shooting concerts. 


Photographing concerts is really challenging, mainly due to these reasons:

1. There is low light which means that your camera ISO has to be set pretty high.
2. The light is constantly changing, going from super dark to extremely bright in a second.
3. The action is fast and you need a shutter speed fast enough to capture the action.


When shooting from up close in the pit (especially in a smaller venue), I find that a 24-70mm lens or a 24-105mm lens works great. Chances are that you will be only feet from the performers.


If there is room to move in the pit, you can move to capture the different musicians. But most of the time you will be stuck in the same location and will use the zoom lens to isolate your subjects. 


As I mentioned, the constantly changing lights make it tough to get your exposure correct in the camera. I shoot concerts in aperture priority mode, using spot metering, and typically under expose by at least one stop to keep from blowing out the highlights.


Every concert has different lighting situations. In this particular venue, they used a lot of red lights on the artists.


I try to capture the artists individually, but also try and get them interacting.


For most of these photos, I was shooting with these settings:

* ISO 3200
* I/O Servo focus (since the artists were moving all over)
* f/4 since it was the best aperture I could get with this lens
* Minus 1 1/2 stops of exposure compensation


I like to capture different poses for each performer.


As you can see in these two photos, there are times when it is good to use the bright lights to your advantage, putting your subject in silhouette.



These three photos were taken within a split second of each other, and you can see the change in background color and the amount of spot lighting on the lead singer. 




After the first three songs, we were escorted out of the pit area (which is the common practice today) and I I shot from farther back in the crowd.


Shooting from farther back is easier than shooting from up close, since the evaluative metering takes in more of the scene and the movement is easier to track.


I was carefully watching the lighting to determine the best backgrounds for photos. 


I saw this moment with a spotlight shining through the legs of Brent and Eric, and fired off some shots hoping to get that starburst through their bodies.


Here are more examples of using the house lighting to create dynamic photos. 



Pyrotechnics make things even more challenging, with a lot of ambient light flooding your cameras sensor. This is why I generally photograph with exposure compensation turned down at least one stop. It is easier to brighten a dark image than to try and darken an overexposed shot.



I like including the audience in some of the photos, since they add to the excitement in the scene.


More pyro!


Just like when shooting sports, I look for the peak of action and emotion. For this reason, I like to keep my shutter speed faster than 1/800 sec.



Just like shooting sports, where the reaction of the crowd can be just as interesting as the action of the athletes, the concert audience is worth capturing as well. 


Barry (the drummer) was often hidden behind the other band members and pyrotechnics, so it made it challenging to capture good shots of him at the drumset.


I love pyro at concerts!


Towards the end of the concert, Barry and Zach performed an acoustic set with minimal lighting effects. You can see the difference with the simplicity of the background. Not nearly as dynamic as with the stage lighting.


This last shot was taken at the very end of the concert. I zoomed out to 24mm and caught Brent with his fist in the air, framed by the excitement of the crowd. This is one of my favorite photos from the night.


__________________________________________________________________________

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, Cuba, Europe, Asia, India and more. And Canon will loan you any gear you want for FREE for any of my tours. 

__________________________________________________________________________