Thursday, 26 February 2009

New office

This week I moved into new offices just behind Tate Modern. The new set up gives me some sorely needed extra space. I share the space with a firm of architects, Studio Octopi. So here's a rare peek behind the scenes of Julian Love Photography. Enjoy!




Monday, 23 February 2009

How to go wireless - setting up FTP with the WFT-E4

UPDATE: This post has proven to be very popular, so I've just updated it with one or two corrections and extra details to make it even easier to set up your WFT E4

UPDATE 23/06/2010: A few extra details added


After I picked up my Canon WFT-E4 I found it very hard to get set up. The manual is a textbook example of how to confuse people, and even with all the advice on blogs and forums, after clicking through the setup wizard on the camera at least 10 times with no success, I was ready to give up.

Eventually I ignored all the tips and set up the device using the WFT Utility that you can download onto your computer. This allows you to set the configuration on your laptop using a much easier interface, and upload them to the camera over a USB cable. Everything was up and running very quickly and easily.

I know I'm not the only one who's had problems getting it set up, so here's how I did it:


1. Setup an FTP server on the laptop


Go to System Preferences (found under the Apple menu at top left). Chose Sharing.

On the sharing screen, check the File Sharing box:

The click on Options, and check the Share files and folders using FTP box and the "Account Name" box next to the account you log in as:


Click Done.


2. Set up an ad hoc network on the laptop


Click on the wireless icon in the top right corner and select Create Network...


Set the Name as your network name, the Channel to automatic and uncheck the Require Password box.



Click OK. The wireless icon at the top of the screen will change to a greyed out image of a computer


3. Set the IP Address of the laptop

Go to System Preferences (found under the Apple menu at top left)
. Chose Network.



Click on the Advanced button at the bottom right.

Select Use DHCP with manual address from the drop down and enter 192.168.1.20



Click OK, then Apply


4. Configure WFT Utility and upload settings to the camera


OK, now start EOS Utility
, click on Accessories then click on WFT Utility

If you don't have WFT Utility installed you can download it here for Mac OSX and here for Windows




Under TCP/IP set the following:
- Check “Use the following IP Address”
- IP address: 192.168.1.2 (This is the default IP address of the WFT-E4)
- Subnet mask: 255.255.255.0
- Do not use DNS Server
- Make sure “Use IP Security” is unchecked



Under FTP Settings, set the following:
- Server: 192.168.1.20 (this is the default IP address the WFT-E4 looks for)
- Port: 21

- Enter your computer’s login name and password (you must do this before the next step!)
- Select the destination folder on your computer you would like your images transferred to
- Uncheck “Use proxy”




Under Wireless LAN Settings, set the following:
- SSID: enter the name you chose for your ad hoc network that you set in Step 1
- Conn. Method: “Ad hoc 11g” and select “WFT-E4” and “Channel 11” from the drop downs

- Encryption: None


Give the settings a name in the top text box: e.g. “Adhoc_FTP” and save them.




5. Upload the settings to the Camera


Attach the WFT to the camera, turn it on and navigate to the WFT Settings menu. Under Connection select Disabled


Next, connect the camera to the computer via USB. Upload the settings to the camera by clicking on the Upload Settings to Camera icon at the top of the WFT Utility.


Save them on the camera as Set 1, turn the camera off and disconnect the USB cable.


6. Setup the camera

Connect the WFT-E4 to the camera and turn it on

Press Menu and navigate to the WFT Settings menu

From the WFT Menu select Set up

Select Load Settings and select Set 1 – the settings you just uploaded

From the WFT Menu select Communication Mode and chose FTP

Congratulations! You should now be ready to shoot. You should see a flashing green LED on the WFT, and the LCD screen on the WFT will show the signal strenth of the connection to the computer. Transfer speed should be good up to about 20m distance.


OK, now you have the connection set up, you need to decide how you want the images to be transferred:



7. Customising the WFT-E4

Once you have the wireless transmitter up and running you can customise how you would like the camera to behave with the options in the Setup section of the WFT menu.


Transfer only JPEGs

Transferring RAW files is quite slow, as they are 25MB each. You can set the camera to shoot RAW and JPEG you can transmit just the JPEGs, which is much faster. The RAW files will be saved to the memory card in the camera. This is detailed on page 33 of the manual:

- Set the camera to shoot RAW + small JPEG.
- Under the
WFT menu on the camera select Setup then select Transfer type/size
- Under
RAW + JPEG Transfer select JPEG only


Transfer only the images you want


You can chose to have the WFT transmit every image as you shoot it, or configure it to only send the images you want while you review them on the rear screen when you hit the SET button.

To transmit all images immediately as you shoot them (page 32 of the manual):
- Under the WFT menu on the camera select Setup
- Under Automatic Transfer, select Enable


To transmit only the images you chose (page 34 of the manual):
- Under the
WFT menu on the camera select Setup
- Under
Automatic Transfer, select Disable
- Go back to the Setup menu and under
Transfer with SET, select Enable

This is great if you don’t want your client to see all your setup shots, or if you are shooting fast moving sequences, you can send just the good images.


8. That's it, you're done!
I hope this helps anyone who is having trouble getting FTP mode to work on their WFT-E4. Once you get it up and runnning the device is great.

Tuesday, 17 February 2009

The WFT-E4 wireless transmitter

UPDATE: I have now posted a detailed setup guide for the WFT-E4 here

I recently bought the Canon WFT-E4 wireless transmitter (known as the WFT-E4A in North America - something to do with allowable radio frequencies). This device attaches to the base of the 5D mark II, a bit like a battery grip, and among other things allows you to transfer files as you shoot them over to a nearby computer. Similar models are available for the 40D, 50D, 1D III and 1Ds III.

The device can be set up in 3 different ways:


Firstly as an FTP client, it can transfer shots wirelessly to a nearby laptop while you shoot.


Secondly, as a PTP client, you can have full remote control of the camera through EOS Utility, including a live view image, again – all wirelessly. This is a fantastic for setup for remote cameras.


Thirdly, in HTTP mode the device starts a built-in web server and up to 3 people can view a dynamically generated web page of all the images it has shot, and also control when the camera shoots.


I bought it primarily for the FTP functionality.


When shooting on location with a client overseeing the shoot, it is important for them to be able to review the images as the shoot progresses. If you wait until the end of the day to review shots and the images aren’t quite what the client is looking for, it can often be impossible to revisit the location within the time and budget available.


The screen on the back of the camera simply isn’t good enough for this kind of review, and also slows down shooting as people stand around the camera.


Previously I have either had to shoot tethered to a laptop via a Firewire or USB cable, or where that is not practical, frequently changing out CF cards and have an assistant copy them onto the laptop. Neither of which is ideal.


Now I can shoot without any cables getting in the way, and full screen images pop up on the laptop soon after I shoot them.


Transfer speeds are in the order of 1.5MB/sec. So a RAW file still takes in the region of 15 secs to copy over, which is too slow for most uses. However, if you shoot in RAW + JPEG mode, the transmitter can be set to send only the JPEG files. A small JPEG is still plenty large enough to display full screen on the laptop, and they pop up on the screen in about 1 second.


Fantastic.


You can set the camera either to transmit every file as soon as it is taken, or wait until you play back images on the screen and transmit only those you select with the SET button. Both these modes can be useful depending on the type of subject matter you are shooting.


Overall I am very happy with the purchase. However there are a couple of annoyances:


1) While the WFT is a great bit of kit, it is hard to get set up. The Canon manual is 107 pages long and assumes you are very familiar with networking jargon. After a day and a half of getting fed up I eventually got it working. In the next post I’ll explain how to set it up the way I am using it, in case anyone else is having trouble.


2) the transmitter takes an LP-E6 battery, the same as the one in the 5DII. However, Canon decided not to include one in the box. For a £700 accessory that cannot be used without it, I thought this was a bit cheap! And given that LP-E6s are harder to find than apologetic bankers at the moment, this is more than simply an inconvenience…

Tuesday, 10 February 2009

London in the Snow

I made it out last week to get some shots during the snowfall. While walking along the South Bank someone passed me on skis!








Friday, 6 February 2009

Interiors

I’ve had a couple of requests to post about shooting interiors, so here goes. On travel assignments it is often necessary to shoot interiors – whether it’s a hotel, restaurant, vineyard or some other interesting or beautiful building. Here are a few tips and tricks I’ve learned along the way for getting good quality shots while not having to carry the kitchen sink.



Styling
The first step in making a beautiful interior shot is to make the interior look beautiful. This might sound obvious, but sometimes is not always easy to do. Everything should be neat and tidy, with no clutter or stray items lying around.

For bigger commercial shoots for hotels and resorts, there is usually a stylist to make everything look beautiful, but for editorial assignments I usually have to do it myself.

Hotels are usually the easiest, because they keep everything spotless anyway, but it can take a bit more time in other locations. Don’t be afraid to move furniture, take pictures off the walls, restyle bedspreads and cushions etc.

Finally, always turn all the lights on, even if shooting in broad daylight. Rooms without the lights on somehow look dead and lifeless.




What to shoot
You should plan to get a good mix of wide and detail shots. Always get a wide shot of the room in question, but then look for the interesting close ups too – cushions on the sofa, a glass of wine on the table, a vase of flowers on the sideboard - whatever catches your eye. Aim for simple, graphic compositions.

Complex pictures with lots of details generally don’t suit architecture and interiors – look for clean lines and use negative space, such as blank walls or sky, to your advantage.




How to shoot it - kit
I’m a big fan of Canon’s 24mm TSE tilt/shift lens, and use it all the time when shooting architecture – inside or out. Nikon shooters now have an equivalent too.

A shift lens allows you to move the field of view up and down while keeping the camera perfectly level. This means you can keep verticals looking vertical, even if normally you would need to point the camera up or down to get the whole view in.

Yes, you can correct for converging verticals in Photoshop using the perspective crop tool, but firstly you do lose some quality and secondly it gets very time consuming if you are having to correct a lot of shots at the end of a shoot. I find it much easier to get it right in the camera. For detail shots I often use the Canon 100mm 2.8 Macro. Not that I need the macro capabilities for this type of shot, but that it doesn’t suffer from distortion.

Most zooms, even top quality L-series lenses, have barrel distortion at the wide end and pincushion distortion at the long end. Using prime lenses (such as the 24mm TSE and 100mm Macro) avoids this problem, or at least greatly reduces it. Again, it is possible to correct it later in Photoshop, but there is a cost in terms of time and quality.

Live view, found on most recent DSLRs, is a great help for focusing. Compose your shot on the tripod, then use the zoom feature to manually focus in Live View.

That way you do not need to auto-focus and then recompose if your desired point of focus doesn’t fall underneath one of the camera’s AF points. Focusing then recomposing is a pain when working on a tripod.



How to shoot it - lighting
So you’ve made the room look great, chosen your viewpoint, picked a lens and set up your camera on the tripod. Now what?

Getting some nice ‘soft yet directional’ lighting will usually guarantee a good shot. If you’re lucky, the room will have a nice large window with indirect sunlight coming though. If so, this is usually enough.

However, if all you have is strong, direct sunlight coming through, then try hanging a white bedsheet or tablecloth over the window to act as a giant diffuser (don’t forget your gaffer tape!).
If you have windows in the shot, don’t worry too much about them blowing out. Get the interior exposure correct and worry about the windows later. In fact, blown out windows can often help give a light, airy feel to interiors which is very appealing.




Often, natural light alone will not be enough and you will need to break out the flash. Either because you are shooting early or late in the day when there is very little daylight coming into the room, or because what light you do have is creating deep shadows that you need to fill.

Small hot shoe flashes are fine for this kind of work, because you are usually trying to complement daylight rather than overpower it, and most interiors are not that big.
Mount them on small Manfrotto stands and either trigger them using radio triggers such as Pocket Wizards or with the ETTL or iTTL built-in to modern Canon or Nikon flashes.

I often find that less is more. Start off with a single flash bounced off a wall or ceiling and see what it looks like. The rear LCD is your friend. Than add another light if you think you need to. I rarely find the need to use more than two, and often only use one. Always either bounce the flash or shoot through some sort of diffuser – an umbrella or softbox – as hard light will generally look terrible.

If shooting in the evening, when the majority or even all of the light in the room is artificial, you will need to gel your flash to match the colour temperature of the lighting in the room. Usually this will be tungsten, but more modern buildings are often using low-energy or halogen lights, which seem to vary in colour temperature a great deal. So take a range of CTO and green gels with you. Mixed colour temperatures is something that is almost impossible to correct later in Photoshop, so be sure to get this right at the time.

Finally, shooting tethered to a laptop can be a great help. Both Lightroom and Aperture can be used to show a full screen preview of your image a few seconds after you shoot it. When trying to fine-tune lighting and compositions, it can be a great help rather than squinting at the small screen on the back of the camera.