Thursday, January 30, 2020

How to increase the impact of your images using this one weird trick...


Also in this issue:

  • More features nobody's talking about
  • Upcoming books and seminars
  • Boxing! 

The Importance of Pre-Visualizing Your Image

In my seminars I give examples of how pre-visualizing your images before you even pick up your camera is the single best thing you can do that will result in high-impact photos.  It helps you solidify in your mind the rules of composition you're employing, and increases your awareness of your lighting and your backgrounds.  If your goal is to have people say "Wow!" to your images, this technique gets you there faster than, say, buying more gear.

Going further, to help me in this regard I'll sometimes sketch out my compositions first.  To wit:

The sketch (left), and the final product (right).
I also use this technique at the beginning of a photo session so I can get my idea across to my subjects.  It also comes in handy in studio sessions, where I can get the equivalent of "writer's block" when deciding what pose to go for next.

Which leads me to the cover of the new A9 II ebook.  The A9 II is the most advanced sports camera out there; but I've never been a fan of sports, and frankly I don't even enjoy shooting sports.  So I could have just hung out at a sporting event just to get a few cool shots (like I did for the cover of the A6400 book last year) but for this book I wanted a higher-impact shot for the cover.

And so I started brainstorming by sketching out compositions of things that I associated with sports.  One of my ideas was for a very graphic shot of a boxer getting punched in the head by his opponent.  The lighting would be dramatic; the sweat would fly, and the distortion on the face would be cringe-worthy.  It would be a strong subject and no distracting background, which is the kind of composition that draws the eye.

You can see now why I took up photography.
Had this shot been done before?  I googled "Boxing knock-out punch" and a LOT of results came up.  Including this one:

Tomasz Adamek, right, punches his opponent Travis Walker in a heavyweight boxing match in 2012.  (AP Photo/Tim Larsen)
The left side of this shot is almost exactly what I had envisioned: The light.  The sweat flying from the face.  The distortion.  I even used it for a mock-up of the cover (top of page)!

But there were problems.  It was most likely not taken with a Sony camera, the shot was 8 years old, and I wasn't able to get any licensing information from AP Photo.

But I still loved the concept, as it conveyed "This Camera is for Great Sports Photography" in one image.  Could I stage such a shot instead?  I researched a few local boxing gyms.  I also asked a few out-of-work actors about being on the receiving end: "If I paid you $200, would you help me recreate this image?"  (Spoiler alert: $200 wasn't enough.)  Staging this shot would just be too problematic.

I finally decided to use a different hard-to-get action shot for the cover instead.  And with that, my book on the amazing Sony Alpha 9 II camera was complete!

I also made a video talking about even more Features that Nobody's Talking about with the A7R IV and A9 II.  Check it out after some announcements below.

In the Pipeline

  • Well, the A9 II ebook is out now. :-)  Including all printed and e-reader versions.
  • The ebook on the Fujifilm X-Pro3 is now in the first installment of its rolling release.  (Tony releases his books in sections, so you don't have to wait until the whole thing is finished in order to benefit from his insights.)  
  • The ebook on the Sony A6100 and A6600 cameras should be out by mid-March.  Pre-order your copy now at a discount!
Upcoming Seminars
  • Seattle / Tacoma, Washington – March 14-15, 2020 Learn More and Sign Up!
  • Portland, Oregon – March 21-22, 2020.  Learn More and Sign Up!
  • Kansas City, MO – May 23-24, 2020 Learn More and Sign Up!
  • St. Louis, MO  May 30-31, 2020: Learn More and Sign Up!
  • New Zealand  November 7-8, 2020  (Email me to be added to the waiting list!)
  • Kiawah Island, South Carolina  Spring, 2021: (Email me to be added to the waiting list!)
  • Nice, France  Fall, 2021  (Email me to be added to the waiting list!)

More Features People Aren't Talking About

November's blog post proved quite popular and so I decided to expand on the idea - here I've created a video which demonstrates the "wake-up-the-camera-while-it's-off-and-download-pictures-to-your-phone" feature, plus more advanced features that people aren't talking about.  Here you go:


Until next time,
Yours Truly, Gary Friedman

27 comments:

  1. Hi Gary, so I take video and stills of my grandkids various sporting events. I currently have and use my A77M2 and A99M2. What advantage would be for me to replace my A77M2 with an A9II?

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    1. All A-mount cameras shoot video at as close to f/3.5 as they can get, so even on a bright day with low ISO it's still possible to overexpose your kids' sports games. That reason alone might be enough to switch; but the tracking algorithms of the A9 (and A7R IV, and all A6000 series since the A6400) will do a superior job tracking your kids during games. Just make sure that if you switch you get native lenses too.

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    2. Thanks for responding. Typically the kids sport events are indoors (basketball, volleyball) except for football (soccer) which is usually at night under the lights believe it or not, (I'm sure you know) both the A99M2 and A77M2 do an excellent job adjusting WB under those conditions.
      I am having senior moments can you explain difference between A9 and A99M2? I know A99M2 is DSLR A mount since I have one, so is A9 also A mount or is it E mount? I'm confused.
      I typically shoot video using movie mode (occasionally using on demand, as I like to call it, if I also anticipate shooting stills) in AF Wide. I noticed that sometimes players can appear to be out of focus. Would it be advantageous to use MF.or.some other focus mode? Please understand I am a complete video amateur. Any advice you would like to offer shooting video with my cameras would be very much appreciated. Thanks, GEGJr or oleG as my nephew call me :-).

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    3. The A9 and A9 II are E-mount cameras. Let's take the rest of this conversation offline. Please send me an email and I'll offer some suggestions.

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  2. Maybe I don't get it but what "weird trick" are you referring too?

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    1. You know, sketching out your images before picking up your camera! Weird, right? :-)

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    2. I don't think so. I used to sketch out studio lighting setups and save for future referrals.

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    3. I know. It would only be weird for people who DIDN'T sketch things out ahead of time. :-)

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  3. Hi Gary thanks for helping with the books about Sony A 9 and A9 2 I have tried Nikon Canon DSLR and was the first in the street to buy EOS R and to find out what black screen is, I am in Auckland New Zealand and have found camera shop staff don't know about black out. I was the first sell EOS R and discover Alpha 9 from Gary Friedman Thank you my air show photos are great

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    1. So happy I could make a difference! Thanks for caring enough to write.

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  4. I have looked in Playstore for Imaging Edge App and am unable to find it. Does it go by a different moniker?

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    1. Hope you don't mind I butt in here. Look on Sony support web site not in your devices Playstore, e.g. not Google or Samsung PlayStore.

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    2. I obtained both Imaging Edge Mobile and Transfer and Tagging App from the Google play store.

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    3. In fact there is update for 2/4/2020. Fixed several serious issues for Samsung Android 10 including info link function.

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  5. Thank you for the suggestion of sketching out the intended results. Never thought about planning the shot free hand! It is all about intentionality!

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  6. Hi Gary, thanks for the tips on the A9 II , Id love to own it an may well do one day. Your A9 II book cover story is interesting also - and the final cover inspired me to revisit the photos I took when I first got my A7. An airshow. Red arrows and wing walkers at the seaside plus, a spitfire and hurricane fly past. I took probably the best photos I will ever take that day - largely down to the A7. I cant imagine what the A9 would make of it. However your shot is tremendous -one question (sorry) what lense did you use - that looks very close to the action - but is it? Can you give any information(happy to mail if youd prefer) . Thanks and as always Best Regards Malcolm

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    1. I used the Sony FE 70-400 f/4 G lens. Glad you like the shot!

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    2. Gary, do you mean the Sony FE 100-400 f/4.5-5.6?

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    3. Whoops! I meant to say Sony FE 70-200 f/4 G lens. That's the last time I respond to comments on my phone. 😊

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    4. I know it's a question with all kind of ifs and buts, do you think the shot could be done with combination 99M2 and SAL 70-400 F4-/5.6 GII?

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    5. Yes, I do. Just keep the camera at a high state of alert and make sure hybrid AF is enabled. Remember, people were taking awesome air show pictures long before the A9 came around. :-)

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  7. That is quite impressive as most at airshows use a longer lens. I saw one other Sony at Wings Over Houston in October and he was shooting with the 100-400 while I had my 70-400 A mount with adapter.

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  8. You mentioned the RX0 in that blog. Will yu ever do an ebook on that camera?

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    1. Well, you're the only person ever to ask for it. So, no. :-(

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