Saturday, August 16, 2014

Epson V600 vs V700 - review!



Here is my review of the two scanners, well, mostly the V600 since that's the one that was delivered to me yesterday. I feel fine to comment on the V700 since, 1) this is my blog, and 2) some of the shortcomings of the scanner I got will be picked up in the flagship model.

First of all, let's look at price, which will make this blog post be (for most) more about me getting his and search results than anyone really learning anything. That's because, at B and H, the 600 is $200 right now and the 700 is $600. These are really affordable, in fact I'm amazed that $200 can buy as much as the 600 can do with the quality it does! But, even at $600 it's not like that's a lot of money for someone who needs as much (affordable) quality as they can at home. So again, if you're dead set on the more expensive one and feel you need that, then go for it.

As far as my review part, this will be short! It's a really fast scanner, it does a great job with quality, and it fits my needs really well. Keep in mind I'm not scanning large format, which this scanner doesn't do, and I'm not trying to blow things up really really large. Not that this scanner couldn't do that, I'm sure it can, but I'm not doing room sized high resolution prints like some (well some think they do that) out there. Just doing regular film scanning to outputs that may get to be around 3 feet by 4 feet for my medium format black and whites.

The only few differences I can see are that the 700 gives you better software and allows you to scan large format 4x5 negs (and maybe 8x10). I don't shoot those, and even if I did my old 2450, eventually because it's slow, could scan something that big at a decent enough resolution for me to do something with it. Again, not sure how large people are printing, but a 4x5 at 1200 dpi creates a very large image file.

Don't quote me on this, and I'm sure some will argue, but it goes along with my Ken Rockwell type review here anyway, but I'm not too sure how much difference there will be with 35mm and medium format with the v700. Yes, the 700 is deeper and can focus better on the edges of the bed (this is why the v600 can't scan larger format films, and in general focus around the edges is a limitation of flat bed scanners) but with the v600 we only use the center anyway, so I'm not sure if the added benefits are really worth it. On that note, one of the bigger reasons drum scanners are/were better is that the lens holds a constant distance from the medium and can focus better across the image - however with the scanners we have today and how affordable they are, I'm not sure that's as true now as it was back when I was in print around the year 2000.

So in conclusion, and again I apologize about the poor writing in this post, if you want a v700 they are affordable so go get one, or if you do large format film you will need one, if you want a great scanner for 35mm and medium format, and don't know if you need a v700 then for $200 (today) you can buy a great scanner. Back when I was in print scanners like these were well over $1000 for something that wouldn't be great by today's standards. So again, a person can't really lose here, either one will do a great job.


Friday, July 11, 2014

Do megapixels really matter much anymore?



So I was reading what Ken Rockwell had to say about the D800, which should also have meant me having a drink or shot of some sort as his writing seems to have gone more downhill than where it was years ago, but that's another blog.

He makes a comment, or something to the point that he doesn't know many professionals who use anything over 12 megapixels. Now I'm going to take liberty and assume he means that they don't "need" anything over 12, in which case, and after thinking about this, I started to agree with him to some extent.

Now I know, I know, that some professionals and some projects call for more than 12, but just think about it for a minute. How many family photos are really blown up more than 20x30? How many wedding photos are blown up a few feet by a few more feet? I would say that the vast majority of everything shot is printed no larger than 11x14, if it's even printed at all. Now I know, that's an assumption, but in keeping with that, how many mega pixels would it take to make something 11x14?

For instance, my girl friend and I just got back from a trip to France and she brought with her D40. It's a great little camera, takes great pictures, and we were totally happy with the results. We don't really have plans to print many, if any, images, and no plans at all to make large prints - these were just vacation shots. So to us, even the 6mp of the D40 is a bit overkill.



Another for instance is my headshot and portfolio business. Most of my work is printed at 8x10, if it's even printed at all, and/or it's meant for online content. I'm shooting at 17mp and that's even a bit overkill for what the client needs. In fact, and to keep file sizes down, when I do get my D800 I will still only really import them at 17 or 24 mega pixels anyway. I'm just not working with the clients who need larger images than that.

So Ken may be on to something here, and it will be interesting to see how long this race keeps up. Also, for what it's worth, I put two images on this post. One was shot with a 12mp Nikon and the other with a 30mp digital back. I'm sure you can guess which is which, that's not the point, but they are both strong images, both look good as 14x22's in my portfolio, and both did what they needed to do.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Avoiding scams, scam artists, and wastes of time.


It's summer, the big horse races are over (that's not a race horse I'm told) and it's a fun picture. Nothing to do with the seriousness of this blog, just think it's fun.

So a while back I took pictures for someone who turns out what scammed, and in looking back I could kind of have seen some warning flags but honestly I'm just here to take pictures and get pictures to my clients. Not here to manage their careers, help promote them (past taking pictures), or really get involved and give more involved advice. I have a hard enough time managing myself between photos and work.

The point of this blog is to look at those warning flags as well as look at other things that go on which are either wastes of time or money or both. Keeping in mind my main focus has been models and more traditional commercial modeling and/or fashion modeling so some of these points may not apply to promotional modeling or acting.

So, the scam I was involved in was this. Two guys decided to talk themselves up as promoters who know a old fashion model out of state who can help their client into the industry. They end up taking a bit of money (although they paid me) and skipped town. The guy in question that was their client did have a good look and I hope he tried to do this locally, and I did get him the pictures.

But, let's look at this point by point here.


Being approached by someone who says they are a scout or can make you into a model. 

It is not unrealistic to be approached by someone who can say "I'm a scout and work with so and so and can get you in the industry". This happens all the time and sometimes the models blow up and become big (there was a 16 or 17 year old from Arizona in the past few years that went from skater girl with friends to the lead runway model for major designers in the course of a year). Although it's not super common,

A thing to keep in mind here is that a professional scout will have a business card, contacts, and ways to check into them. In fact I would be willing to bet they would love to be researched and vetted since they want to set themselves apart from the scammers. So if they say "I work with X agency" then call that agency up and see what they have to say.

What happened with the scam I was witness to is that the guys made up their contacts and no one ever followed up with checking them out. Again, I was hired to take pictures and as far as I knew or cared the story was good. Not really my part to check that out, although I would have if asked.


Being asked to give money to promote you as a model. 

So, normally, the scouts would make their model by referring the model to an agency and getting a cut of earnings or whatever they have as a deal with that agency. This works in a models favor if they want to move to a different market and not start over as their home agency would do some of the legwork to get them work, although the paychecks for the model may be a bit smaller.

That said, it's not really normal to pay a scout a ton of money or to pay an agency a ton of money. Normally things like photoshoots will be done outside of the agency, and comp cards and other stuff normally don't add up to more than a few hundred. If someone says "you can be a model with us" or "I can make you a model" and then mentions thousands of dollars, more than likely the only thing they can do and want to do is put money in their pocket.

Again though a lot of good legit agencies in town here have fees, but they aren't all that unreasonable.


Photographers saying "I can make you a model" or giving model classes for free or for a fee. 

This is the one I can't really figure out. The easy way to make someone a model is to point them to agencies. Why someone would want to take on more responsibility or even try to sell themselves as some kind of entry level promoter is beyond me. The only thing I can think of is they are the personality where they want to be validated by having people look up to them or take them more seriously.

The only people that can make you a model (at least for mainstream work) are at the agencies. If you want to learn about how agencies operate then you should talk to the agencies. Seriously, we have some that have been around for 10-20+ years, talk to them, see what they have to say.

Even free classes and stuff. I just really question what the persons motives are. Again, if you want to learn about the model industry then talk to the people who are actually in it, not some photographer giving free advice. Ok, I know I'm giving advice here, but again I'm not trying to manage someones career and mostly saying "talk to the agencies". Talking about those who will go on at length telling new models how it is, when they don't even come close to working in or around the industry.


Photographers saying "sign a release and it's a free shoot" or something. 

So this is what you have to be careful of as bad images or nude images or bad nude images can come back and bite you. This is also why I say that if you're starting out, just pay someone. That way you don't have to sign full releases (or any releases), don't have to worry about what's going to be done with the shots, you can get the images back within a reasonable amount of time, and you're set.

Testing, or TFP, or whatever they call it now days can be fun, can get good images, but it can also be a lot of work, get you a lot of bad images (Lord knows I didn't do great stuff when I started out) and can tend to getting you more naked and in more glamour poses. So not only is it a waste of time to get a portfolio built, but you have bad images floating around out there and the photographer more than likely has a release.


In closing. 

Just be careful, vet people, check out what they are saying, and don't pay someone a ton of money to promote you, and maybe don't sign any release any random photographer puts in front of you.

If you want a list of good solid agencies in town please email me.


Friday, March 7, 2014

After talking with a new model the other day.



Image has nothing to do with the post, other than it's getting warmer out and it's nice to think about summer and ice being off the lakes. 


I was talking with a new model the other day and she was wondering if an agency that asked for money up front was a scam and a agency that didn't ask for money which was sending her to castings wasn't a scam. Up front, this sounds like a open and shut case right? Money up front means red flags, where as someone taking you on without charging is normal? Well, although this could have been the case years ago, things are changing now and we need to look into the situation a bit more.

This isn't meant to be the end all be all of advice, I'm sure I've said some of this before, and I'm sure others have said some of this before, and it all gets back to asking questions when talking with agencies.


This agency asked up front for money?

You really have to look at the agency, the amount of money, and ask questions to figure this out. Way back in the day it was usual to take costs out of the first few pay checks talent had (this is really boiled down) where as now either the pay checks are lower or it's more competitive or a number of things that have moved agencies to ask for some of these costs up front. If the cost seems reasonable, and the request reasonable, then it's reasonable to assume we're on the up and up.

This would be around $100 to get listed on a website (may have to pay someone to plug your name into the site) or a few hundred for the layout and printing of compcards. This is on top of any photo shoot you would pay for, and styling for that shoot. Yes, modeling has costs, and these costs are normal.

Now some agencies in town don't charge, some do, and it's just a matter of talking to them and understand where they are coming from. I'm not saying one way is better than the other, just to be aware that these costs can be normal.


These agencies haven't responded yet, but this one has. 

So, part of the reason we call models "models" is that everyone can't be one. They are a "model" or something or another. If models were normal people we would call them "normal people" and anyone can do it. I'm not an agent, I don't have my finger on the whole pulse of the market here as an agent would, so I'm not going to get into who could or couldn't be a model. Just that if you want to do it, then give it a shot and see what happens. No harm done, never know until you try sometimes, and who knows what would happen? The worst thing you can do is not try, then you never know for sure if you could or couldn't have done it.

On the flip side there are A LOT of agencies here and other places who will sign up people whom they know will never be successful, ask for money up front, and maybe send the person out on a few fluff castings. So, if you have tried with the major agencies here and none of them were interested, it's really not productive to find someone that will pick you up. Because, someone will, you will pay them, and you may not get any work. Again, although everyone can try, not everyone can be a model.

I'm not going to list off local agencies that I trust publicly, but I will answer any emails asking about them.


I talked to X agency and they are exclusive. 

Some agencies like models to be exclusive with them, some don't. I know models who are in both situations as well as models who are with a few different agencies. It just depends on how you feel about the agency and if you want to work with them. This is a situation where you would need to sit down with them, go over the details, ask a lot of questions, and go from there. The agency may be a great place for you, or it may hold you back from other castings or going with (for example) both a print agency and more of an acting agency.

What I don't feel is a good reason is not being able to do test shoots or shoots on your own. Part of the reason to having an agent is that they are there not only to get you work but also help you with your development. Part of helping you would be to setup or approve additional photo shoots. This isn't because they are control freaks and want to manage every part of your life, just that they may have specific looks in mind for their models and wouldn't want them doing shoots with every Tom Dick and Harry that has a camera. Not to mention they wouldn't want their models signing any old release that may be presented to them to do a test shoot.

Either way, it's best to talk to the agency about this, see why they are doing what they are doing, and then deciding which is best for you going forward.


Photoshoots are expensive, which is why I am trying to do tests. 

I get this sometimes, or models trying to "test up" and yes, sometimes they can be great ways to build a portfolio, however most of the time they are more of a waste of time. For example,  why spend a year testing when more or less the same results can be had by paying someone $300-500 and having the images back within a few weeks? Sure, it's a bit of money, but within the month you could either have updated images to show to your agency, or have a good start to your portfolio when you contact agencies for the first time. Either way you saved 11 months, which may be worth the money.

Also, some photographers who aren't that great charge a lot of money and give you images that aren't that great. So it's best to really look at their work, shop around, and pay someone that fits your vision as well as that can deliver the type and style of shots you're going to need.

I've said this before many times, but professional images aren't needed in order to be first picked up by an agency. Yes, as a photographer I would rather have you pay me =) at some point, but understand that expensive images aren't needed to start out. The same applies to tests. I feel it's a flag, maybe a red flag, if a photographer says how they can get you in agencies or get you work if you pay them or shoot with them - not saying that never happens, just normally not the way it works. Usually these photographers who say that shoot glamor/nudes or just bad images and are easy to spot.


I live a few hours away, but still want to be a model. 

In short, part of modeling is going to castings, many castings. You may or may not get the job when going to these castings, but you definitely won't get the job if you don't go to these castings. Now yes, agencies can understand if you have a job or if you're a student or if something comes up, but generally the point is to go to castings. If you can't go, and things just aren't going to work out, then it may be best to wait and try modeling when you're living closer or when you can afford to take that time - or try to make that time and make that extra commitment.


I haven't talked to my parents yet... 

I get this from time to time. So three things just off the top of my head. 1) Somehow you're going to need to go to castings, depending on age parents may need to be involved for that. 2) If you're under 18 a parent or guardian will need to sign anything that needs to be signed. 3) There may be requirements for a p/g to be on set along with 1 and 2.

So in short, yes, you will need to talk to your parents and yes they will need to be on board if you're going to model. No way around that until you're 18.
 

I read online that... 

So there are a number of places online that give advice, suggestions, and information. As with this blog, anyone can write anything and get it online and sometimes (although not like this blog) it becomes popular. Although I do feel getting a background in a topic is important, it's best to ask a lot of those questions in person.

Examples are... (off the top of my head)

  • Can I be a model? (This is why agencies have ways to submit images and contact them)
  • How will I be paid? (Again, best asked in person as each has their own way of doing it and it could different even from client to client)
  • I'm thinking of moving to a larger city in a few years? (There are a number of local agencies who have sent models out of state for work or have other contacts in larger cities)
  • What kind of photos do I need to start? (As a photographer I will freely admit and have always said that you don't need to pay someone before contacting agencies, their specific requirements will be on their sites) 


We are lucky that in our area here we have some agents and agencies that have been around for a number of years. They know what they are talking about and would be more than able to answer any questions. Remember, it's their job to get models jobs, and they really do know what's best for models careers both locally and nationally. 

Again, being a model isn't for everyone and just by it's definition can't be for everyone. That doesn't mean it's not worth a try, but just that there is more too it than looking amazing and friends saying you should model.




Andrew Thomas Evans
www.andrewthomasevans.com | www.mplsfashion.com



Friday, February 21, 2014

Backgrounds in images!


So the headshot session I talked about a few weeks ago reminded me of another good point. That is, the background you may or may not want in your image and how it would have an effect on the shoot and maybe budget. I attached an example, but I'll get to that a bit later.

So for a few clients I've had to work with them on locations because they needed to have something specific in the background, or they wanted to do something in their office. This is fine, I have no issues at all working on location, and no issues at all trying to make things look great. However, there are a few things to keep in mind when choosing a location, and when thinking about the shoot.

For example, although not shoot related. I'm working in my day job at a office building in the burbs in the aftermath of the blizzard we just had. Thankfully, for a few more days, I have a desk with a window view. Now, when I'm working the window is great, it's nice to see the outside, weather, so on. I don't really pay attention to the parking lot of cars, power lines, or huge snowdrifts that may or may not detract from the view. If I were smarter I'd say that the way our minds process images in person let's us get distracted and not see what we would be distracted by in photographs, but I'm not sure.

This holds true for clients, their office may or may not be a great place to do a job and they need to look at it not from their point of view or even their clients point of view, but from a photographers point of view. So some of the things to look around for are distractions out of the windows, power lines, cars, other buildings, signs, everything really that could pull the eye away. Sometimes, it may not be much and things work out, other times we're really in a battle to make things work. Just depends on the view and what's behind you.

Also, as far as senior pictures and portfolio shoots, a lot of people I feel get attached to a lot of locations that in a photo just don't work out - or don't workout with out work. For example, the Minneapolis river front is a wonderful place to go visit, walk through, sit around having a drink, and it's pretty romantic. The Stone Arch Bridge is wonderful, and a great place to go for a walk. However, the banks aren't always clean, and not to mention the powerlines that go down the river there. Those lines, although it can be done, aren't always fun to take out. Plus, it's usually busy with other people and the shot may or may not have others in the background. So, although a great place to shoot, a lot could be done at a less busy city park if the skyline or bridges weren't really important in the shot.

Finally, the picture I posted was shot in the studio and a background plopped in. I wanted to do a winter shoot this year and winter just kept on kicking our butts with cold and snow that I had to do it this way. It can be done, but it's sometimes more fun to be outside when shooting outside, however with somewhat careful studio shooting a person can be extracted and put on a background which is always an option. Well, and I just wanted to share that pic anyway.




Andrew Thomas Evans
www.andrewthomasevans.com

Friday, January 24, 2014

Over or Under thinking Headshots



So the other day I was talking with a business client (as this doesn't relate to actors, models, and those who get work directly from their image) and we were discussing what types of outfits and locations would be good for their business headshot. In that conversation they said "well I may be over thinking things". That could be the case, and maybe there was some over-thinking, but that's never a bad thing. What's bad would be to under think it, not take your profession and target market into account, and come out with something that won't really help you.

I look at it this way, and it's going back to college and the old Hygiene vs Motivator chart. If you're not sure what that is, or think it has to do with smelling good and shaving, a link is below.

http://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newTMM_74.htm

How I feel photos and headshots factor into this in that they are more of a hygiene than a motivator for your leads/clients. If for example I'm going to buy a house, I will put some consideration into the persons headshot and website, but more weight would go onto their record, price, and services. So although a person would have to be up to date and have a good website and good headshot, it wouldn't really lead to more work. On the other hand it may create less work if the website or headshot was poor.

Now granted some industries may put more weight on a headshot. Realtors would be one of those areas where a relationship and personal interaction happen over the course of months and you're personally working with clients. Others may include personal trainers or those who have to build or create the same connection with their clients.

That said, I feel, and as I've always said, that you need to find the photographer that's right for you. As with the list above there may be many factors involved with that search but their work needs to be something you can relate to and something you would want to represent you.



Andrew
www.andrewthomasevans.com

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Andrew vs Canon Printer = Printer Defeated!

So the other day I finally got ink for my printer, got some great paper for business cards and post cards, and started up shop. Now my printer isn't anything fancy, just a decent $150 (at the time) Canon desktop inkjet. Only really got it to do paperwork for the business, envelops, and normal office type stuff.

So I was printing off some 5x7 images for some postcards. The paper is so thick that it didn't really want to feed right going one way, but the image would get shrunk and re-sized weird the long way. So after a few hours I finally figured this out as well as there wasn't much I could do to get around it. Still have no idea how I printed my envelopes out as I did - but that's besides the point.

I will have better luck when I get to the 8.5 x 11 sheets of the card stock since that should feed just fine, and the 5x7's came from the butt end of the press sheet - since they only sell the paper per press sheet rather than cut down, and although "cheap" it wasn't like going to office max or something.

The next part I didn't really enjoy but knew what coming is color. So what we have going on here are viewing conditions, paper stock, inks, printer, and the actual image. I knew this was coming because I do have a background in the print industry from college, and a person can take control of the situation and calibrate everything. But, my point is that for the use I needed the post cards for (and will need) are some color prints sent to clients now and then, and some black and whites made for fun and sold online cheap. Also, the viewing conditions of those images will vary widely, so spending all this time calibrating something expendable seemed silly to me, and my printer is on the low end so it wouldn't have even been worth it.

I guess the lessons of this rant are the following...
- If you can farm out printing it's worth it. Granted my business isn't setup on selling prints, so for me it's perfect to order online and pick up the mail.
- Buy a printer with a rear feed tray. There is no chance at all the card stock would make the bend in a normal printer.
- Learn how to use the printer and read the manual. (oops)
- If you don't need to calibrate, don't, it will be in the ballpark and honestly if you need things nuts on dead accurate, well, then you wouldn't be reading this blog for advice =).
- Keep the use in mind. I only needed about 20 copies of the post cards I made, and it would have been super expensive to farm that out. I came out ahead even with all the time learning how to do this.


Again though, if you don't need a nice photo printer at home there is really no reason to get one when really nice prints are pretty affordable online or even at locations here in the cities.




Andrew
www.andrewthomasevans.com | www.mplsfashion.com