Testing the D750 | Jasmine

Ever had a friend who was a lot like you – but only when it came to your good traits? That’s who Jasmine is for me. The sensitive observationalist who sees the world in abstract, yet deliberate moments. She is the perfect amount of positivity. Seeing the light of the world before the dark, but grounded enough that her opinions and suggestions always bear legitimate weight with me. I tell her she is my favorite photographer to photograph, simply because her movements are natural and feel unrehearsed. She says it’s because she makes mental notes of photographs she has taken herself – an internal diary of body poses and expressions that lend to good portraits. And of course her work should also be mentioned. What I can say of Jasmine’s photos are that she always makes the feeling of, “I wish I had thought of that” wash over me when I see them. The genius of it is that thinking of it isn’t unattainable, you just need to observe more. Observe better. The things I am good at, Jasmine is great at.

Oh and the D750 works.

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Sand Dune Editorial Shoot | Beth

When Beth first told me about her idea to do an all black and white shoot I was instantly on board. I had been wanting to do something like this for awhile. Beth had shown me an inspiration photo that was taken on a sand dune, and we decided that even though it was a big time commitment some shoots are just so epic that they have to happen.

Photographer’s note: I set my cameras to a monochrome mode so I only saw the image previews in black and white. Even if you shoot RAW you’re seeing a JPEG preview on the LCD screen, so it’s still possible to change that preview and not impact the RAW file. I culled in Photomechanic (still seeing black and white), and used my black and white preset on Lightroom upon import. So I’ve never seen any of these photos in color.

Make up by Cheriene!

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Olympus OM-D EM-5 Photowalk PT. 1

I’ve always felt like it’s an essential thing for professional photographers to make time to take personal photos. It’s can be the difference between remaining passionate about an art versus just doing a job. A few days ago Lisa and I took to the streets of downtown with just our small Olympus OM-D EM-5s to have a photowalk. These were some of my favorites.

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Beautiful Yogis | Nikky

I met Nikky on my favorite beach, struggling to take a photograph of herself in a graceful yoga pose before the surf washed her away. I offered to take that photo, and gave her a card. Days later I got to know her a little better. She found her way to the California ocean and sun from New Hampshire. Her love for the sea spoke a lot to me about who she is. In the ocean there is both power, tranquility, and purpose in the movement of the waves. All of those things are in Nikky too.

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Ali Meza - Her form is stunning. Is she a yoga teacher or just well practiced? Great pics!

Josh - She told me she has been doing it for 2 years and is beginning to instruct now.

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Using a mirrorless camera for headshots

They say the best camera is the one you have with you. Most photographers both professional and aspiring gravitate towards using large DSLRs. In fact most will say that full frame is the way to go. The bigger the sensor the better. The dilemma for most of us is when to take the camera with us and when to leave it behind. On the one hand we don’t want to lug around a big camera with big lenses. On the other hand we don’t want to come across something photo worthy and just be stuck with a cellphone. I personally need to have a camera on me everywhere I go. I feel a bit incomplete without one.

I’ve had a couple of small cameras previous to what I’m using now. The first was the Panasonic Lumix LX3. This camera was in and out of my possession quick. I discovered that trying to compose all of my photos on the back of an LCD screen is irritating to me. For a long while after I sold that little camera if I wanted to be “lightweight” it was a Nikon D700 and a 50mm f/1.4D lens. The D700 was not a small camera by any means and it was heavy. I didn’t take it out as often as a result. Then I got a Fuji X100. A lot of people rave about this camera, and the truth is I did get a few photos on it that I love. Ultimately I found the fixed lens limiting and the menus and controls unintuitive and quirky. Still I did carry it around with me everywhere and that was a big plus.

Nowadays my small camera of choice is the Olympus OM-D E-M5. You can pick them up used for around $600 (or less). It’s a micro 4/3rds camera which means it can use any micro 4/3rds lens, even if it’s not Olympus. I currently have 3 lenses for it: Olympus 12mm f/2 (used $600), Panasonic 25mm f/1.4 (used $450), and Olympus 45mm f/1.8 (used $300). In full frame 35mm equivalents those come out to be 24mm, 50mm, and 90mm. Why didn’t I buy new? For me I buy used a lot, and especially since it wasn’t going to be used as a primary camera it made sense to save some money. I got a couple of extra batteries and a couple of little bags for it. The entire system was about $1500. Now $1500 is a lot for a camera system for most people, but for a serious photographer a camera with 3 fast primes for $1500 is pretty reasonable.

I’ve had the camera for close to a year now, and I’m definitely feeling more at home with it. I decided the other day to use it for a headshot session for a local actor. Now as a professional I wouldn’t recommend using this camera for something that couldn’t be duplicated again in the event of a card failure. I wouldn’t use it as a primary camera at a wedding for example since it only has one card slot. Maybe one day the camera companies will give us a dual slot mirrorless camera. Before this session I mostly had used the E-M5 for landscape photos, a NYC exploration, and the occasional portrait here and there. I had yet to use it on a portrait session as the primary camera. So this was the test!

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The results are in – the E-M5 is a very capable portrait camera. The vast majority of these photos were taken using the Olympus 45mm, with a couple of shots coming from the Panasonic 25mm. The autofocus on this camera is accurate, and most of these photos were shot wide open at f/1.8. Now the downside to the camera is the small sensor is not capable of producing the same level bokeh that a full frame sensor can produce. It’s not bad though, and the camera has a few other perks like in camera stabilization. It’s so lightweight that you can easily shoot with one hand while using a small reflector with the other. My entire mirrorless bag weighs about as much fully loaded as my full frame bag completely empty.

I got to thinking about how many photographers’ businesses revolve around small natural light outdoor portrait sessions. The Olympus E-M5 is perfect for stuff like that. There is no need to have a business camera and personal camera – they can be the same camera. Olympus isn’t the only company excelling in small mirrorless cameras either. Fuji and Sony also make cameras that can easily compete with DSLR quality. You might need to do some research on other makes and models in relation to flash usage (I haven’t had tremendous success using the E-M5 with flash), but for those looking for easily portable systems these are cameras you should seriously consider.

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