6.10.2021

Back at work. It seems both calm and productive. The structure is nice after a year of floating freely...


 I've been shooting more of the stuff I like lately. Mostly environmental portraits of business people and entrepreneurs. My workflow hasn't changed much in the last couple of years. I drag around two portable Godox AD 200 electronic flashes, the "camera of the day" and a flash trigger. I use one light with a small soft box for a back light and a second, light with a bigger modifier for a main light. If we're going to be outside I take along a black, pop up flag and a heavy duty stand so I can block direct sun from the subject. 

I get to the location, figure our what kind of background I want and then set up lights. I almost always use a tripod so I can lock everything down and also because it's nice to be able to get everything set up and tested before the subject arrives, and to be able to walk away from the camera to adjust stuff. 

On the last couple of jobs I used the Leica SL2 and the newer Sigma 85mm f1.4 Art lens. It's a nice combination. I only wish the Leica allowed one to take smaller sized .DNG raw files. Not every encounter needs 47 megapixels but nearly every job does need the flex of raw. 

I've been using the AD200s for quite a long time now (relatively). I wrote about my daily use of them back in the Summer of 2018 when I was traveling all over the east and west coasts photographing environmental portraits for a giant construction/infrastructure company. I try to be careful with the lights and they do travel very well but once in a while I'll underestimate the amount of sandbagging required when the breezes pick up and one of the lights will do a dramatic face plant, get destroyed, and I'll scramble to get a replacement shipped in from Amazon or B&H. 

The nice thing about working with one camera, one lens and two portable lights is that they are portable enough so I can put everything except light stands in a back pack, lash the tripod to the same backpack and hike in for while in case we've chosen a location that's not accessible by road. I recently did a photograph for an entrepreneur who loves to hike through the greenbelt that runs through south Austin. We hiked in about two miles to get to the spot at which he wanted to be photographed. It was an easy enough hike and the gear was light enough to even make some stream crossing non-eventful. 

After I photograph a project I tend to be a creature of unbending habits. I head back to the office, toss the gear to one side, grab the memory card and ingest into Lightroom. I've been a vicious editor lately. I recently edited down a take of 120 images to 10. But they were the only ten I would have wanted to see so I felt justified. I tweaked the raw files, converted them into a folder of Jpegs and then put them up on Smugmug. 

The next step is to get a selection from the client and then do the post production on the Raw files. 

Today I did some work with the PhotoShop neural filters. I used their face retouching filter. The processing gets done in the cloud and delivered back to your app. The whole process is pretty seamless and take about 90 seconds for a big file. But I will say that the facial retouching stuff is powerful and looks good. It can be a bit overdone but when it comes back to you it comes back as a separate layer and you can pull down the opacity of that layer kind of like how you fade a filter in P.S. I liked the final look with the correction opacity at somewhere around 38%. Kind of weird. Kind of fun.

We deliver final images in three file formats. A smaller Jpeg for web use and quick review, a Tiff files because, for some reason some designers still want Tiff files, and a 16 bit layered .PSD file so the D.I.Y. art directors can ruin whatever nuanced touches I've made to the files. 

Then we bill and move on to the next thing. So simple. So fun. 

Nothing much seems to have changed between the start of the pandemic and the re-opening this Spring. At least not as far as the photography is concerned. I have added about 10% to all our prices because it's getting more and more expensive to do stuff right. But that's just business. 

5 comments:

crsantin said...

Do you see a day where you retire fully from the paid, professional side of photography or would you go batty with that much free time on your hands? Some people don't do well with the traditional concept of retirement. I'll retire from teaching in about 5 years or less but I will be keeping myself busy with something else and may even continue to work part-time somewhere. The idea of stopping and doing nothing but sit in a recliner doesn't appeal to me.

Unknown said...

To crsantin (above) I'v been retired now for almost 10 years. The problem for many is their inability to develop interests outside of their work life.
I'v not gone "batty" or "or sit in a recliner" Many hobbies, sports, travel has kept me busy since retiring. Has me wondering how I ever got anything of value done while working, outside of working for too many years!

There was a period of adjustment after retiring. But believe me- this retirement has been the best "job" I have ever had. And my job reviews prove it, HA

MikeR said...

There's no "rule" about what a person should do when retired, or when that magic day should occur. I wasn't ready to give up what I enjoyed doing, and had worked hard to develop a satisfying level of proficiency, so I deferred the decision for years, meanwhile reducing my days worked each week, until I finally decided it was time when I was 78. "When you have enough, and you've had enough, it's time." Like many folks, I'm busier in retirement than I was when working. How did I ever get any real work done?

Bassman said...

I’ll add my voice to the choir. I retired young, at 58, twelve years ago. I’m very busy, and while I won’t say I’m never a bit bored, I promise that I had more boring periods while working than since retirement.

This is the 2nd best gig I’ve ever had, after being Grandpa.

Gato said...

Just to add to the chorus, I was pushed into "retirement" at 55, so it will be 20 years come January. So far I've never been bored longer than maybe 20 minutes at a time. There's always something to do, read or watch.

My curse is that I'm an incurable reader. With all the material online and a phone full of ebooks it's a wonder I ever get out of my chair. But I managed to work 10 years as a part-time graphic arts and web person for a small ad agency while taking care of 150 cows for an elderly uncle. I make pictures and sometimes show them and maybe sell a print. And I still take a few photo jobs. One of my personal goals was to drive every back road in my home county. I haven't been very systematic, but I think I've gotten most of them, some of them many times.

Things were a little slow in the early days of lockdown, but about mid-year I began doing outdoor portrait gigs to get myself out of the house. And I could always get out and drive and explore. Lately my biggest problem has been juggling my schedule.