Sunday, August 28, 2011

Olympus E-PL1 Off Camera Set Up

Since getting my Olympus E-PL1, I've used it far more than my DSLR cameras.   It is so much smaller and I can carry it everywhere in a back pack or a shoulder bag.  Even when it is teamed up with my Nikon SB28 and radio trigger, it is still very portable.

Recently I went on a business trip to Southern Italy.  I took the E-PL1, Nikon SB28 and radio trigger with me.   While I was in Italy, I did a very quick photo shoot with a work colleague and his girlfriend on a beach at dusk.  I used the SB28 without modifier with another person holding the flash gun.  As it was a business trip, I did not take a tripod or light stand with me.  I am very happy with the quality of images I got.  The quality of jpeg straight out of camera are very good.

This photo shows the complete set up and a couple of photos from the beach shoot at dusk.  The photos are straight out of camera without any editing.  I set the white balance to cloudy as I prefer the slightly warmer colours.

Although there are now newer M4/3 cameras from Olympus and Panasonic, I can't see me upgrading for a long time.  I am not into equipment and gadgets  While the focus speed is annoying, I can live with it.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Use of Gel with Flash Photography

I've been a "Strobist" for a while now, but never got into using gels until earlier this year.  Recently, I did a shoot with Georgie Akali and I played with gels for a set of images.  The location has these lovely arches, but I wanted to try to change the mood with gels.  The white balance of the first shot was set to cloudy and lit with a single flash in a 60cm softbox.

Then I added another flash behind Georgie behind a pillar just out of sight and fitted it with red gel.  The flash was set to full power.  In the dark arches it showed up quite well.  In my experience, if the ambient light level is high it will not be as effective.

Finally, I set the camera white balance to tungsten, removed the flash behind the pillar and fitted  CTO gel to the flash in the softbox.  Setting WB to tungsten in day light will turn everything blue normally.  In this case I used the CTO gel to correct the white balance on Georgi.  Any object not lit by the flash will come out blue.

It needs to be used selectively.  I would not want to shoot a whole set of photos this way as it will become overpowering.  As shown here, using gels can change the moods of photo very easily.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Olympus E-PL1 Experience

I bought an Olympus Pen E-PL1 about a month ago because I wanted something small to travel with.  My normal camera is a Canon EOS 550D which is small by SLR standard, but its still too large.  I do have an Panasonic Lumix TZ4, but I was never happy quality totally.  The Oly E-PL1 is ideal size for me, but the initial RRP of over £500 more than I wanted to pay.  Recently the cost is reduced to £280 and I ordered one in white from Amazon.  Overall I am very happy with the camera.  I am not going to post a review here but here is what I like and don't like about it.  I was also lucky enough to be given two Pentax PK mount lenses which I have used with an adapter.

Good quality.
The SOOC jpeg files are very good.
Has a hot shoe and my off camera trigger works well.
I am able to sync with flash up to 1/320s.
Works with my Nikon SB26 & SB28 flash in auto mode (need to shoot camera in manual mode).
Able to use manual focus lenses with adapter.
I quite like the art filters.
Build in wireless flash controller with compatible flashguns (up to 3 groups).

Don't Likes
Focus speed is a little slow, don't even think of shooting children running around.
The camera menu system is all over the place and hard to get to grip with even after a month.
The use of art filters make the camera very slow to operate.
The rear LCD resolution is low for a modern camera which can make manual focusing difficult.
The LCD is not bright enough for use bright sunny condition.

Here is a photo of the camera fitted with Pentax SMC-M 50mm f2 lens and lens.  Also shown is an Itorex 28mm f2.8 lens and the kit lens.

You may have noticed the bounce card which I made myself with a piece of white plastic card and tin foil glued on.  This allows me to bounce the build in flash.  All you need to do is to pop the flash up and then with a finger, move the flash to point up and you now can bounce the build in flash.  See photo below.

I also took it to Tenerife as the only camera while on vacation also with the manual focus lenses with the Nikon SB28.  I had great success with the Nikon flash gun even in day light as fill light.  Here is a photo taken at sunset using Nikon SB28.  The Nikon was set in auto mode and it performed really well.
I've also used the camera as a video camera at my children's school plays which I can not share here.  As long as you are happy to manual focus, it works well.  Overall, I am very happy with the camera.  I can see myself sticking the M4/3 cameras.  Olympus have released new cameras and lenses with much faster focusing. I can see myself upgrading in future, but not for a while.

Below are a photo I took using the E-PL1 during the shoot with Ania.  Its SOOC without any adjustment.

Here is a 100% crop of the eye from the same photo.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

FHM Style Shoot

After a number of years shooting portrait and fashion style photos, I wanted to do something different.  As I reader of FHM on and off for a few years now, I decided to shoot some photos in that style.  Location and model choices are vital to any shoot.  After a bit of research, I settled on The Factory near Limehouse.  This is a well know place and booked the lovely Ania Ludwiczak for this shoot.  She is a professional model and one of the best model I have worked with.

As a first attempt, I am very pleased with the results.  I wanted images to be glamour but tasteful.  I think it has gone a little further than what FHM would publish though.