New Godox flashes arrived

To continue in my quest for finding an off-brand flash system for my Nikon D500 I’m on company #2, Godox.  They have a fairly good review for their lighting systems.  You can get them on Amazon.com or the unbranded FlashPoint from Adorama.com.  They are the same units.

I ordered up two TT685 with the X1T Transmitter.  The flashes do not require a receiver as it is built in.  Everything seems to work as it should.  I can adjust the flash output from the Transmitter on top of the hotshoe of the camera, which is what I wanted.  It did take a long time to set it up as the instruction booklet is not easy to follow.  I ended up looking online and found a great site with 1, 2, 3 instructions.

I now have a notebook that I’ve also written these instructions down into.  As things go settings get changed and I forget how to reset the camera to flashes.  It’s rather quick though to do now.  The key was to keep the channel setting high.  I use 13.  According to Godox, items like Bluetooth devices can interfere with the signal.  Well, I have a cellphone, tablet, headphones and speakers all in the same area running Bluetooth, so there answered my initial concerns as to why lower channels were not operational.

Now.. comes the woe of the day.  On the second day of use, one of the flashes let out an ear shattering pop (much like an air gun) when I pressed the test fire button from the Transmitter.  The flash continued to work fine, but when I tried the test fire button again, the same thing happened, and it no longer communicates with the transmitter.  So, that particular flash is being returned.  Not sure what happened, or why.  The second flash has been going strong with no issues.  Seems I have a 50/50 luck on my side.

The return of the Camerons covered the expense even with the US exchange on the Godoxs and in honesty, they are more solidly built.  I’m happy with the product and the images they are helping me produce.

A little flash please

As you may not know I recently switched from Canon to Nikon after a loss of my equipment.  I am not a brand specific loyalist, so I switched for several reasons.  I have Canon friends that say I’ve gone to the dark side.  We all joke about it.  No more ghostly white lenses.  Jokes aside, finding Nikon flash equipment has been a daunting task.

I have had to choose to go off-brand due to budgeting. I’m pretty good at researching, yet unfortunately, the first set of flashes I bought from Henry’s didn’t work as well as expected.  The company was gracious enough to bump me up to the next level when I reported the issues I was having with their manual only model, but the issues only got worse with the TTL model.  So, back to the flash drawing board.

This week those lights are being returned and I’ll be testing out the Godox 685 series.  Now the supplier tells me that these are fully compatible.  I’m really hoping so.  Since I’m looking for flashes that unlock part of the D500’s menu called Flash control.  Nikon itself only offers two flashes that do this all because of the new radio communication technology built into the camera. With no pop-up flash or commander setting on this model, I may be asking for quite a bit.  Regardless of how it goes, at least I’m fast tracking my Nikon experience.

Am I disappointed that I switched?  No.  The camera and images are amazing quality.  My older Canon 7D was certainly ready for retirement, perhaps not the deadly watery ending that it got, but still, Nikon was a perfect choice for me to go.  With all that, the downside is not having the wider range of lenses.

The insurance payments only paid so much, and Nikon is pricier than Canon.  So some saving up will be in order to get my extra wide lens before our trip to the Smokey mountains in the summer.  I can’t wait to photograph that area!

The Joy of Competitions

Competition between peers can be a good thing.  It pushes me to improve my skills, but it also allows me to view what makes a great image in a judges eye.  What friends and family perceive as a wonderful photo, may be lacking in many technicalities.

The joy of competitions is seeing others excel at their craft and goals.  I have struggled with photographer’s envy.  It is easy to look at someone else’s images and degrade your own hard work.  That is not what competition is meant to do.

Take a perfect example.  In my last professional competition, I placed last out of a possible 18 submissions.  Every participant enters in four images.  I knew the topic was not a strong point to my skills set – iPhone photography.  I don’t use my phone for more than the occasional snapshot or video so, coming in last was no surprise.  When I viewed the winners I was in awe.  Their images were crisp, clean and full of technically correct points. What I had entered was how I normally shot from my phone.  I hadn’t changed anything.  Had I been shooting with my DSLR the images would have been done differently.

My point is, that when entering into a competition you have to understand what the judges are looking for.  You don’t always enter the family favorites, you enter the images that you know will have a good chance at earning high scores.  I have nearly a terabyte of images I love, but only a selection of those will ever see a competition.

 

 

Reflecting on the lesson learned from my first gallery show

It’s hard to believe that one year ago  I finished up my first gallery show with the F A C E S  collection.  Looking back I see that art doesn’t always equate to an income.  It was a hard fact to face considering the time, energy and expense of putting on the show.

The important lesson I learned, is that art is subjective.  I love my art.  While many visitors commented they liked the collection while visiting, not a single piece was sold.  At the end of the two-week show, I felt defeated.  Why didn’t anyone buy a print?  Like most artists, we are very emotionally attached to our work.  I had to learn the hard way that just because someone likes what they see, they may not invest in the object.

dave 8x8web

Looking back I can understand that now.  I go to galleries occasionally and see lots of art I love, yet I don’t purchase it.  Either it is not a good fit for my home, or the price isn’t right.In the

In the end, I suppose what matters the most to me, is that those who visited enjoyed the art.  That was why I created it in the first place, wasn’t it?  While selling a piece is exciting, it also means I no longer get to hold it.  I have donated a couple of framed prints to local charities to aid in their fundraising.  Hopefully the art makes it way into a home that will appreciate it.  For now, I have my favorites on display at home.  I’m not sure I want to part with these ones.  They bring me a sense of joy, and to me, that is a positive reward.

Video to full length video of images in the F A C E S collection.

It’s a Dog’s Life Project

big dog photo

Big Dog Project 2016

Harley was one of the two large breeds I choose to photograph last year before taking my leave.  Last year, the project Big Dog 2016 was developed to raise awareness that bigger breeds were not dangerous, that they had every right to be a part of a family just like any other dog.  Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to continue the project as planned.

This year I’m starting, It’s a Dog’s Life.  This project is going a step further, as I am looking to do this over a number of months with select families outside of the studio.  The commitment will be on both our parts.  I will become a part of your daily life at times.

The concept is to photographing how your dog lives life and how they view the world from his or her perspective.  Maybe it’s sunbathing in the backyard, going for long walks in the woods, spending time at the dog park or a just lounging around.  The idea is to get a glimpse into their world.

dog's face

A Dog’s Life Project

I am hoping to produce a digital book with partial proceeds going towards a local animal welfare charity or program.  Owners will be provided a selection of images at the end of the project as compensation. ** This project cannot replace a private session for pet portraits.

If you are interested please contact me.

Lights, camera, action

It’s been a long time since being in the studio.  Six months to be exact.  In that time I revamped the area back into a sitting room.  I needed the space to recover.  Today though was a moving day of sorts.  With the help of my husband, we moved the couch into the dinning room in preparation for my first test shoot since getting the new gear.

The lighting that looks like my old gear doesn’t respond the same way.  There were some disadvantages, some questionable communication between the camera and lights and then there was the “jerk” zone.

Let’s start with the colour.  The lights give a more yellow hue than I’d like.  Everything had to be colour corrected post production.  I intentionally used a neutral grey background for the test shoot today just for this reason.  It’s an easy fix and not uncommon with flashes.

Next, the output settings on three devices show a different reading.  This can’t be right?  I meter the light with a handheld to get the reading to lessen the guessing. I set the camera as it should be, yet when reviewing the images they all show the same flash output reading 1/128 power.  I know that isn’t correct because I seldom if ever shoot that low.  The single light was set at 1/8 or 1/16 power throughout the session.  The transceiver was set on 1/4 power because it didn’t seem to sync with anything in pre-shoot testing. Everything was set to Manual.  The lights do not have TTL function and I wonder if this is why the problem?

Now let’s talk about the “jerk” zone, as I will aptly name it because I can’t use the real name I gave it on a PG page.  This is the area where I can’t stand because the light refused to fire.  Stand more than 10 feet away from the stand sideways or back and nothing happens.  Stand 2-3 feet higher or lower, the same issue.  Not sure why this is happening since these are supposed to be radio firing and not line of sight.  The light was mounted on a stand shooting into my Lastolite softbox. It wasn’t a bare bulb, but the receiver was covered in the front by 90% by the support bracket of the softbox.  I wonder if this caused the interference?  I’ll have to look into this further.

So those were all the bad things.  The one saving grace to the new lights is the speed in which they can fire off repeated flashes.  Not even my name brand  Canons could keep up with these Camerons.  The Henry’s exclusive brand may be a Chinese mimic, but I’ll take its speed any day for the price.  The layout is very similar to the Canon Speedlight.  The plastic is very light, and I wouldn’t want to use them outdoors much, but for in-house, they are a good fit.

female model

Krystal posing for the camera.

Overall the test shoot went well.  A huge thank you needs to be sent out to my friend, Krystal who volunteered to come spend the hour with me.  She always makes my anxiety melt away.  While I switched out the three lenses, fiddled with lights I don’t fully understand and chatted to myself she is always smiling.  We got some great images which she seemed to like from the previews on the back of the camera.

I have to say one thing about the Nikon D500, the colour is outstanding compared to my Canon 7D Mark II.  There was no brilliance to the old images. The lenses I used were my 105mm 2.8 macro, the 24-120mm 4.0 and my 35mm 1.8.  The zoom lens is a bit slow and had a harder time finding focus in the dim light.  Overall though they worked great, producing sharp images.

I’m glad I made the switch.  I can honestly say now, I’m a NIKON girl!

The Death of One Click foto

It’s always a scary time for me when I’m coming out of a depressive episode.  After taking six months off it’s time to get back behind the lens again.  To take a step forward, I’m actually taking a step back in time.  I’m leaving behind the name One Click foto.

The birth of One Click foto was a way to divide my work.  I was photographing pets, people, fine arts, and everything in between, but weddings.  The idea was to keep the name Laura Mclean Photography for my pets and let my other work fall into One Click foto.  In the end, though they all ended up mashed together anyway.

This leads me to the next problem I encountered.  There was a lot of confusion on social media regarding the hashtag OneClickfoto.  There is another One Click foto business on Facebook and Instagram. My tags and page name all had to have the extra word studio added to everything, even though that wasn’t a part of the company name.  My work was always being attributed to someone else otherwise.

2016 fresh logo alt

I have been slowly working towards changing how I post my work, using my legal name ~ Laura Lynn Mclean.  Sure  I could have gone back to Laura Mclean Photography, but then there comes the whole legal issue of reregistering the name with the government since I let it lapse a few years ago.  Keeping things simple means no cost, and fewer loopholes.  My Facebook page still has One Click foto as the company name.  I’ll have to figure out how to change that.

What I realized during my recovery, is that I had created a level of stress that didn’t need to be there.  I was basing my success on my personal perception of what success looked like, effectively stripping away the joy of creating beautiful meaningful images.  All this because I was working under an ambiguous name instead of being proud of who I am.   I was struggling to divide not just my photography, but my mental health and business.  In the end, it did more harm than good.

I shoot simple.  I style simple.  I create from emotion.  What I need is an unconstricted name that ties me to my work. Coming up with that has been the easiest of all things.  Go back to my roots, use my name.  SIMPLE ~ LAURA LYNN MCLEAN

Laura Lynn Mclean