Wiener Fotomarathon
I registered for this year's Vienna photo marathon!

It will take place on 25th of September. Everyone gets a list of 24 subjects and 12 hours to take photos (9 a.m. to 9 p.m.). There should be 1 photo per each subject, and they should be in the same order as in the list. No post-processing is allowed. By 9 p.m. participants should give their memory cards to the organizers.

Last year there were 300+ participants and the first prize was a €1500 voucher for photographic equipment.
In addition to that, everyone gets to keep memory cards they receive from marathon organizers.

Entry fee is €26.

What I've Been Up To
The last couple of weeks I've been working on my website, which, hopefully, will be finished soon (it most probably won't). I'm stuck with content. For example, I need to describe what I do exactly, as, obviously, there's a big gap between making passport photographs and, say, fashion photography. "I'm a photographer" is way too general.
Smart people say "Don't be everything to everyone. Pick one or two genres and specialize in them." Well, it's hard for me to sum up everything I photograph in one sentence. I like photographing concerts, all kinds of events in general (I've already photographed everything from rock shows to ballroom dancing competitions). I do like portraits, but not in the studio. In general I don't like to direct people too much. I'd rather let them do their thing and document. So, what does that make me?
Logo is a pain too. There are some lucky guys out there who have words like "Star" or "King" as part of their real names. They incorporate a star or a crown in their logo and they're done. What should I do if my full name in Austrian format is Katharina Andrea Ewers? Use my father's family crest as a logo? A bear in a fur hat playing balalaika? Hmmm...

Vienna Photography Wedding: Katharina + Canon 50mm f/1.2 L USM
Blue light (c) TGR

I waited for that day for 1.5 months. Canon just wouldn't make it happen earlier (I know they had a good reason). This week my patience was finally rewarded. My husband got a phone call from a photography shop. They said that Canon 50mm f/1.2 L USM arrived and we could pick it up any time.

Most (if not all) photographers have a favorite focal length. Some like wide, some like telephoto, I like it smack in the middle. 50mm seems to be the most natural focal length to me and the most versatile too. I can move closer for a head-and-shoulders portrait or back up for a full length portrait.

The very first lens I bought after I'd got a Canon Digital Rebel XT as a birthday gift almost 5 years ago was a 50mm f/1.8 II. It costed only $100 and had incredible price/quality ratio, especially compared to a kit lens which had the same price, but "quality" was missing from the ratio. Even though I later bought 100mm f/2.8 Macro and 17-40mm f/4 L lenses, I still used 50mm the most. I photographed everything from rock concerts to ballroom dancing competitions with this lens, and it never let me down. Which is why I decided to upgrade to 50mm f/1.2 L when I could afford it financially. I thought of saving for a 85mm f/1.2 L at first since so many people claimed 85mm to be ideal portrait lens, but then, it's $500 more expensive and I had never used 85mm focal length before, so there was no guarantee I would like it and need it. At the same time I knew that I would definitely use 50mm on a regular basis.

I did a couple of test shots of my husband at f/1.2. I think I might fall into a trap of photographing everything at f/1.2, as it makes ordinary things look "magical". I heard once that it is much easier to focus precisely using central focusing point rather than peripheral focusing points. I decided to check that as well, and, honestly, didn't notice any difference. But then, light conditions were good. You can't pixel-peep at a web resolution image, but here are 2 test shots anyway:

"You suck!"

As someone who has been to a lot of photography forums and asked for advice there, I can confirm that this is absolutely true. The last time I had some bad experience was last year. I was on a wedding photography forum that is run by a person very successful in this business. A young couple had asked me if I could photograph their wedding and what I would charge. I wasn't sure what is best to include in a basic package for people in their early 20s who don't have a big budget. So I asked about it on that forum, explained that this is my first wedding, that the couple doesn't have a big bag of cash, but that I want to do something nice for them anyway.

What were the answers? Anything but what I asked about. "Do you always plan to photograph low budget weddings?", "I can't imagine photographing a wedding and not giving the couple a wedding album!" and other things like that. I felt like a small town girl on an Oscar ceremony ("Eeew, she doesn't even own a Versace bag, what a total loser!"). I live on another continent, I'll never be a competition to them, why not just give advice?
But no, so many photographers are just like those ducks.

Of course, there are nice people out there too, like Chase Jarvis and photographers that teach at creativeLive. And I think the reason why they are not afraid to share is because they know they are unique as photographers and as people and that their clients picked them and not anyone else for a reason (there are a lot of good photographers out there, nevertheless for every job they pick just one in the end). And they know that it's so much more than what light modifier or camera you use.

If Chase Jarvis gave me all of his equipment, his studio, his crew, and phone numbers of all of his clients, I wouldn't know what to do with all this stuff anyway.

When I do use strobes...
When I do use strobes and nothing explodes, I get the following results:

2 more under cutCollapse )

Writer's Block: The Royal Wedding

If you were invited to the Royal Wedding, what gift would get the bride and groom?

View 1068 Answers

I'm not an expert in English grammar, but the word order in this question makes me think of a completely different meaning then what I believe the author had in mind.
I imagine a long line of gifts participating in a lottery with the main prize "Bride & Groom".
Aaaaand bride and groom go tooooooooooooooo... the china tea set!!!
The china tea set sheds tears of happiness and goes onstage to collect the prize.

Controlled Lighting

Controlled lighting and I, we just don't go together.
A couple of years ago, after listening to the LightSource podcast for a while, I decided that it was time to make a step forward and buy my first strobe. I bought one 500 w/s Hensel light, a stand, a medium-sized softbox, and a huge bag to store all this stuff in. Costed me $1500. But the apartment I lived in at the time had rather small rooms that were filled with stuff I couldn't move, so no matter where I placed the strobe, the light would bounce back from all directions and remove shadows, so I got the same picture every time. Expensive stuff has stayed in the storage room since then.
And then I learned of David Hobby and Joe McNally and thought "Cool! I can buy a tiny Speedlite and take it outside where I have a lot of space". And of course I needed a light modifier for it and something to put the Speedlite on and then something to trigger it. Soon I became a proud owner of Lastolite all-in-one umbrella kit and 2 PocketWizards (Mini and Flex). And a Speedlite, of course. Minus another $1400. I came home, turned everything on, pressed the shutter button and... nothing happen. No flash. For another 7 months I desperately tried to figure out what's wrong, spent hours on PocketWizard website, reading forums, asking questions, trying everything I was suggested to try. Didn't help. Finally, I went to the shop where I'd bought PocketWizards and asked to test each separately with PWs they had in stock. Turned out Flex didn't work. They sent it to a local distributor, and a week later I got a new one.
I came home, set everything up, took some test shots. Everything worked fine. I waited for my husband to come home to make some portraits of him. Right when he opened the entrance door, I made another test shot and the flash didn't fire. I was angry. A minute later I saw that battery compartment of Flex was opened, and batteries were lying inside the shoot-through umbrella. Ok, how high are the odds, people?! I put the batteries back and took another shot. Still nothing. I thought of every curse word I knew and promised to sell all this photography junk on eBay and find a useful and cheaper hobby, like knitting.
It turned out later that I inserted batteries incorrectly.

Honestly, I don't know what to do. Looks like someone doesn't want me to mess with controlled lighting.

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One Year Anniversary

On 15th of April my husband and I had our 1st anniversary! :) Some say marriage is tough, especially for the first 3 years. Whoever says it is clearly married to the wrong person. I patiently waited for the end of the world since day 1, but nothing happened. Everything was as good as it always had been.
On our special day we went to a restaurant located in the tallest building in Austria (827 ft). Here are a couple of pictures:

Posted via LiveJournal app for iPhone.


creativeLive workshop with Zack Arias (April 29th - May 1st)
warhol pink
"My name is Zack Arias. I'm a humble commercial photographer. A large number of people have asked me how I do it. I'm not sure. But I'm gonna teach a workshop on that all the same." © Zack Arias

Click the picture to go to creativeLive web page.

A Letter to God
Hello God,

I've been doing remarkably well recently - thanks to you. I'm still madly in love with my husband. Out of 6,9 billion people you couldn't have picked anyone better for me. My day job is great as well. As you know, I'm an employee of Hewlett-Packard Austria since 1st of February. 50% salary increase was very nice, thank you. I finally have health insurance and plan to meet an insurance agent the second time to discuss accident, pension and private health insurances as well as insure my photographic equipment. Speaking of photography, I completely forgot to tell you that 3 of my photographs from an October "ZauberDelikatEssen" show made it to a booklet produced by Hotel Stefanie that hosted the event. Here is a scan of it:

I've been visiting German courses for a month now. Great job on phonetics, but why 4 cases only? I also visited 2 out of 3 compulsory integration courses, so I am likely to fulfill the integration agreement by the end of this year.
Everything is just wonderful, as you can see.

A big fan of your work,

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