A quick look at a recent editorial job.

My friend, and one of my favorite "lifestyle" models, Ann.  In Book People Bookstore.

Contrary to the idea that all professional photographers are competing against each other constantly, this job came to me as a referral from a photographer who was booked up on an architectural project and trying to make hay while the sun shown.  He nicely recommended me to his client of many years.  It was a shelter magazine and they were doing an article on the ethics and results of shopping locally, instead of sending all of you money out of your community by spending it at national chains.

The editor had lived in Austin and remembered one of the great remaining independent bookstores in the country,  Book People.  Three stories of great book inventory right in the heart of Austin's downtown.  Could I find a model, go there and shoot some variations and send them some selections?

Their directions were clear and concise.  We quickly came to a contractual agreement and I sent a letter of agreement to them with all of our terms and a description of the project.  Business part done.  Now it was time to get down to business.  And I made a mistake.  I should have shot this with conventional gear and gotten down the road.  But I was in the middle of "micro 4:3rds fever"  and I grabbed an old legacy Olympus lens and an adapter ring and pressed my EP2 into service.

Ann and I did a bunch of shots around the store.  We followed the brief.  But the light in the store was pretty low and, not wanting to go past ISO 800 on a magazine job that might require the images to be used as a double-truck (two page) spread I shot a lot of stuff wide open and at slow shutter speeds.  

The camera was fine.  A bit noisy maybe, but nothing I couldn't handle with some judicious noise reduction in post production.....It was the lens that was the Achille's Heel.
I should have spent more time testing that particular vintage lens.  I'd shot some stuff outdoors and it looked great at f5.6 and f4.0  but down at f1.5 and f2 it was a whole other story.   But not one that was readily apparent on the camera's LCD.  When I got the images back to the studio I blew them up on my cinema monitor and looked closely.  The lens just didn't have the bite it needed.  In it's defense, at f1.5, not many do.  As to my own defense,  hubris comes before the fall.  I thought I could pull off more than I could.
I called Ann back and she graciously agreed to shoot again.  I grabbed a full frame camera and a well corrected lens and shot the whole thing over again.  This time I shot at f4 and smaller most of the time.  And I carefully blew up test frames as big as they would go on the LCD screen to try and make sure that I was getting critically sharp stuff.  I came back and edited through the second take and sent along 30 different files.

This was all invisible to the client.  I met their deadline and sent the images they needed.  Fortunately the quality control came from my end first.  And yet,  I don't feel like I made the worst of decisions.  It's good to try new stuff and push envelopes and boundaries.  The first stuff I shot had a great feel to it on one level.  But it was too far into devolution to pass the publication test.  If I posted it here I'll bet few could see the differences between the files.  But my QC department can be tough.  Especially when the client comes from a peer recommendation.

Why am I sharing all this with you?  I don't know.  I guess I'm going against basic marketing by admitting that we're all only human and making mistakes is part of the deal.  I don't always follow the standard play book.  Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't.  But I know one thing:   If you're going to screw around with "alternative gear/processes"  leave in enough time buffer to do it over again.......

Rainy day here.  Rainy week.  Cancelled shoot.  More blogs.


Craig said...

I think it's great that you took a chance, as long as you had time to redo it all if needed. I suppose a slightly more conservative approach would have been to take two cameras and take some shots with each, but that's extra stuff and extra hassle.

Which full-frame camera (the 5D Mark II?) and well-corrected lens did you use? You stripped the EXIF data off the images you posted, so I can't even tell for sure if these are from the first or second session.

The pictures are nice, but she looks to me like she's posing, not reading. And do people really read hardcovers without taking the dust jacket off first?

kirk tuck said...

Craig, I never take off the dust jackets. Are we supposed to? I haven't been stripping off the EXIF stuff unless LR 3 is doing it for me automatically I wonder why that's happening.

Anyway it's a 5dmk2 with the 100mm f2. Anything wider is probably the Nikon 50mm f1.1.2 with an adapter. That's a nice lens, by the way.

As to posing, that's just the way we read in Austin... :-)

Kyle Batson said...

Sometimes a lot more can be learned from failures than successes. Thanks for sharing.

Anonymous said...

Suggestion: the ZD 50mmf2 could have done the job.

kirk tuck said...

Ah, the benevolent photographer chimes in. I had lunch with a brilliant photographer today. Sharing my quest for good imaging he is buying up the CZ Zeiss glass. We discussed the 50mm. I guess Zeiss is next......

Surly said...

Why did you post this? So guys like me who need to understand these things will happen on it. Thanks.

PMLPhoto said...

I always read with the dustjacket on as well. Another really lovely post; I for one really appreciate the honesty and openness in your posts - I'm just a hobbyist, but learning a lot from your blog and books. THANKS!