by Damian McGillicuddy Published 01/04/2011
The point though is THIS! By cranking up the ISO, ALL I would have achieved was to gather MORE of the CRAP light available!! Now I'm clearly no rocket scientist, but even I know not to ask for extra rubbish just because it's free!
The second catalyst came at the recent Focus on Imaging in Birmingham. (Where were you if you weren't there? Somewhere warm and sunny I hope?) For a few weeks now I have been not-so secretly 'playing' with the Olympus flagship DSLR, their fab E5. The lovely people at Olympus had asked me, (if I liked it), would I be prepared to demonstrate it at Focus, obviously working around my previous commitments and duties to The Societies. Well the news is I LOVE the E5 for many reasons, so I was delighted to show it off to my fellow photographers.
The IQ of the E5 is simply STUNNING! I believe because it's been designed from the ground up as a true digital camera, (with lenses designed to complement its design), the image detail it renders is far more than its 12.3 megapixel sensor would suggest. Now if you start to ramp up the ISO on this little baby you hit 3200 before digital noise is obvious. That said, even here something a little strange happens. The noise is exceptionally 'filmic' in its quality and dare I say it looks like old fashioned grain! This, by the way, is an opinion shared by several magazine editors and equipment testers I know and none of us wear 'rose tints'.
Whilst at Focus 'getting our groove on', one guy who attended one of our 28 demonstrations kept bringing up his belief of the 'poor high ISO performance' of the E5. This was second catalyst, which really got me thinking and, as is often my way, the process lead me to the startling conclusion that 'just because you can, doesn't mean you should!'
Further explanation needed I guess? Then read on. When I first started as a photographer, digital capture was as much a fictional fantasy as the light sabre which Luke Skywalker yielded! The only difference was that George Lucas had shown me a light sabre, (and I sooooooooo wanted one), but I'd never even considered that there would be a replacement for film? Sure, better qualities of film, but film all the same
Now don't get me wrong, I'm a big fan of digital capture. It brings us so many advantages; not least the instant feedback that the big screen on the back of the camera now gives us. There are also no shirt-rotting, chemical-smeared Polaroids to trap under our arms for sixty seconds! One has to ask though, are all 'advancements' for the good?
Has the ability to shoot thousands of frames without financial penalty made our capture craft any better? I'd argue NO! Has the ability to capture images in a 'quality of light' (which frankly gives the operator the vision of Stevie Wonder) enhanced our work? Again it's a NO from me. Has the fact that digital has opened up the photographic world to all, (and their dogs), to instantly make a capture, irrespective of its quality, damaged the perception of a photographer's worth? Ah ha, at last a YES!
Now consider this; The people still held in the highest respect in our industry all have one thing in common above the very obvious of age, experience and talent. We all LEARNED our craft! We strove for and practiced diligently all of the rules, techniques and nuances that would see us through any and all circumstance whilst still being able to make the capture and bring home the goods
How was it done? First Olympus E5 test shoot, second image.
Team McGillicuddy studio, Cheshire
What was in the bag:
Olympus E5 fitted with the 14 - 54mm f2.8- f3.5 (from their pro lens range). Lens set at 54mm (108mm in 35mm format)
2 x Elinchrom Ranger Quadra.
1 x www.damianmcgillicuddy.com 48" dish configured as an strip light softbox.
1 x www.damianmcgillicuddy.com 36" dish configured as an octasoftbox. All triggered via Elinchrom skyport.
1/125 at f3.5 ISO 200 in (M)anual mode RAW file processed through Aperture 3.1
So what did I do and why did I do it:
This image was taken once more in my first ever session with the Olympus E5. The MMoS lesson was exploring the subtlety of lighting, incorporating the creative intent of contrast, ratio and choosing the modifier for effect.
The 48" dish was configured with the inner baffle and the outer 'Strip box' mask. Giving me a beautifully soft, but highly controllable, 'slice' of very delicate light. The modifier was placed in front of the mask of the subject's face, about four feet away but slightly off to the left and angled back to subtly skim over the features, creating a little depth and dimension.
The second 36" modifier, now itself re-configured as a 36" octa-softbox, simply achieved by removing the inner deflector from the dish and replacing it with an inner baffle and outer diffusion screen, a less than sixty second operation, was placed behind the subject, slightly and to camera right. It was balanced with the 'key' but appears to be slightly brighter as it is coming from behind the subject and towards the camera, a subtle optical effect of making the light appear to be brighter than it actually is...a simple truth of physics.
This light was used as an accent light to give form and subtle separation to the jaw-line of the subject adding a further sense of 3D in our 2D image.
I just LOVE the creative versatility of the new BIG dishes, they give my absolute MAXIMUM bang for my creative buck! All these subtle changes in quality of light and effect, simply achieved in mere seconds ;0)
Same set up error as the previous image... D'oh!!!
Short of the mono conversion done in Aperture there is no further 'post' carried out on this image.
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