Light Modifiers

Epic World Events by Brenda (Hartshorn) Licitra

In the +5 Spirit of Con Season, I've decided to write a post on event photography.

It is easy to get distracted by all the cool artwork, collectible swag, the possibility of spotting celebrities, seeing sneak peeks from developers, and all the half-naked cosplayers roaming the convention.  When taking photos, it might be best to take the level of excitement down a notch so you can focus on focusing.

Inventory Bonus: Papa's Brand New Bag

Press Swag: If you have a press pass, events will usually provide you with a bunch of information about all the vendors and where they are located.  There may even be samples of products in the kit so you can decide if it is worth reviewing.  Conventions are huge and you need to find a way to maximize your time.  Once you get your kit, make sure to verify your game plan.  With the new information, you may have just found more objects of curiosity that should be investigated.

My 2 cents on a 10 cent Photography Trick: My favorite event photography trick is using a #10 envelope and a rubber band.  You can throw your money at Gary Fong or other companies if you would like, but why not use up those envelopes in your office that are just taking up space nowadays.  Simply point your speedlite up and attach the envelope to the back.  The light will bounce off the paper and give a soft quality of light on the person.  If you are fortunate to be in a location where the ceilings are within 12', you can benefit from using it as well to provide nice light onto your subject.  Also consider using walls for bouncing light.  However conventions don't typically have much wall space to bounce off of.

Princess What's-Her-Name:  It is important to take down people's names to be used in captions.  I always keep a piece of paper clipped to my press pass so I can quickly take down the persons information (name, title, sometimes age, how they are involve, what they think, camera exposure number, etc.)  If you plan to use the images for commercial purposes instead of journalism, you should get a model release of the images.  This will protect you if they decided in the future to sue you or demand compensation for making a profit off their likeness.

Chief, Cook, and Bottle Washer... Tank, DPS, and Healer?

It helps to be able to write well as a photographer.  Photographers are now picking up the role of reporters as well.  They setup the video camera on a tripod, record themselves, and then edit the footage to send back to the news stations.  Same goes for still photographers, they are now also doing the interviews and writing the articles.  News writing has its own styles that need to be followed if you want to get published.  If you're interested in photo journalism, you should pick up the AP Styles Book.

Major Differences

  • Punctuation: There is usually less of it since news use to be transferred over The Wire and the fastest way to break news would be to use as little characters as possible.
  • Proper adjectives for proper nouns:  The way people need to be described has a very specific set of rules for age, gender, titles, and when names are used.
  • Prioritizing information:  All the important stuff goes at the top so that the editor can easily decide to cut the end of the article if it is too long.

Below is a review I wrote where you can see how AP Style is different than normal writing.

BlizzCon Attendee Reviews Cataclysm

BlizzCon 2009 was a video game convention of games produced by Blizzard Entertainment.  Attendees were invited to panels where the makers discussed new developments for the games.  I was lucky enough to attend and bring back exciting details.

Blizzard has made advancements in their game development.  Starcraft II and Diablo III both look great but still seem to be a long ways from being released.  However, for those who play World of Warcraft, cataclysmic goodness could be just around the corner.  Azeroth is getting a complete face, body and mind makeover.  It is the best-looking expansion with even more exciting story lines.

Terrain is completely transformed by the sheer destructive force of Deathwing's (a dragon protector) eruption from the world of Azeroth's crust.  Goblins are washed ashore becoming refugees, the Greymane Wall has been broken down exposing the humans to the worgen (werewolves), and social unrest draws an even stronger divide between Horde and Alliance armies.

While attending one of the WOW panels, a maker hinted that the game would be released within a year, "You'll all be complaining about goblins at the next Blizzcon."  Goblins will have a racial ability that gives them a rocket belt, complete with both rocket jump and barrage to mow 'em down.  Horde army will rejoice, as their new playable race is the goblin.

Players who rolled in the Alliance faction will be able to play a worgen.  They will be similar to a druid in respects of have more than one form (human and werewolf) and equipped gear while shape shifted will not show.  The worgen starting zone has an all too familiar Vanilla WOW look, so I was not as compelled to roll one.  Plus, no big changes happen within the Alliance faction to draw new interesting story lines for quest-chains. 

The terrain phasing from one look to another is more prevalent in Cataclysm.  In Wrath of the Litch King, phasing was first introduced after The Battle of Angrathar the Wrathgate.  The scene had changed from Horde and Alliance soldiers fighting the Scourge army, to dead bodies everywhere.  In Cataclysm, even small quest events will change the landscape.

What happens in Horde politics was not fully revealed.   From what I was able to gather, Garrosh Hellscream takes on new leadership by building and transforming zones.  I'm not ready to believe it, but this could mean a dire fate for Thrall and High Chieftain Cairne.

Failed attempts to slay bosses are going to be less aggravating with the new guild talent points.  Guild members can help earn points to level up their guild by completing quests, battlegrounds, and leveling professions.  Points can be spent on things such as raid wide resurrections or discounts on repair bills.

Blizzard has decided to release more game expansions than originally planned.  To do this, they have lowered the expansion level cap to five additional levels instead of 10.  Therefore, three more game expansions are to come before players reach the final level cap of 100 and can say they actually beat WOW.  At that point, the WOW saga would have lasted almost 10 years.  There will probably be a new massive multiplayer online game out by that time, but what if there isn't?  I have yet to see a really good adventure game since the release of Kings Quest VII in 1994.

Automotive Photography by Brenda (Hartshorn) Licitra

Automotive photography is great, and I really do wish I had the opportunity to do more of it.  I'm not exactly into cars, I just like slick designs.  Even though some cars may already look pretty, they don't just automatically photograph that way.  That nice shiny paint presents challenges to photographers.  That perfectly polished surface reflects everything in its environment like a mirror.

The Beauty Shot

When shooting outdoors, the best location is one with a clean and flat horizon.  If you have a lot of trees or buildings in the area, it is going to reflect into the car and intersect the body lines of the car.  You want a horizon that flows with the lines of the body.  When doing this you help emphasize the design of the car.  If you have a great backdrop for a beauty shot but it  has an unfortunate foreground all is not lost!  A large sheet or two of 4'x8' white foam core can provide a nice reflection into the side of the vehicle instead.

Also remember that the wheels are the jewels of the car.  Make sure that they are turned slightly towards the camera to show them off.  Don't have the driver crank the wheel all the way over though.  You want to be able to see the entire face of the rim without it being hidden by the wheel well.

The direction the sunlight and time of day will have a huge effect on the look of the car.  I would recommend planning ahead by doing some test shots at sunset and walking around the car to see how the light looks coming from behind, the sides, and the front.  If you have not done this before with a critical eye, you should.  I think the test is essential for understanding automotive photography and being able to achieve the desired look.  If you are going for a calm appeal, you probably want the direction of the light to be coming from the front side of the car.  This will create a flatter look.  When the light comes from behind, it will wrap around the body lines and make it look hot!

Action Shot

There is no need for the cars to be speeding by to make it look fast.  Simply increase the length of your exposure.  Since you will likely be panning, you can close down your aperture all the way while still getting a blurry background.  You want to pan instead of just doing a high-speed stop action shot so the background will blur more, show movement, and push the car to stand out against the background.  You can also use ND filters to increase the shutter speed even more if desired.  You can even shift the car into neutral and have people push it from behind if you want to get a closeup or maybe a hood ornament or something.  If you plan on shooting car to car, keep in mind that you need a permit for this.

General Tips

  • Do not use Armor All on the tires, they will photograph green instead of that deep black that your eyes see.  It is better to use Windex to touch up.
  • Make sure to turn the headlights on when appropriate to add extra interest
  • If you can, remember to take the plates off of the car when shooting.  They look ugly and distracting.  Taking 5 minutes to remove them will save you a lot of time in post.  If you are going to be doing shots on a public road (and it is a small production for a private owner, not commercial) I believe you can stick the plate on the dashboard or back window out of frame of your camera while still legally (in some states) being identifiable.
  • Tell the driver not to look at the camera.  Your viewer wants to look at the car, they aren't looking to make a connection with the driver.  Eye contact is not only unnecessary but unwanted in this case.  The photos also look really awkward that the person isn't looking at the road ahead.

Have fun and good luck!