Intro by Skip Cohen
This is the last "installment" in Mark's Corner for his week off from work to having fun in photography. For so many of us, photography is helping keep our sanity during the downtime. Mark's been having fun all week long with a camera in his hands, not for clients, but his own enjoyment. And considering my role with Platypod, it's fun to see how a Platypod Max was Mark's perfect hiking companion.
Check out more of Mark's work by stopping by his website and blogs. As a member of the LUMIX team at Panasonic, you'll find a lot of solid content on making the most of LUMIX cameras. If you're on Facebook, wander over to the Lumix Photographers Community. With over 9,000 members, artists from all over the world are always sharing great images and creative ideas to help you build your skillset and vision.
by Mark Toal
Today I had to get out of the house. The sun came out after a rainy, cool morning. I could hear power boats on the Willamette River near where I live just south of Portland, Oregon. Huge clouds were rolling across the sky, perfect for a time lapse video. I knew exactly where I could get a great view of the sky and the widest part of the river.
I own about four tripods, but I’ve never liked using one. A while ago Platypod sent me one of their "tripods." I’ve been using it where I need to hold the camera steady, in this case for a 30-minute time lapse. As you can see it’s not a traditional tripod, but instead a very small plate with adjustable legs.
I carry a Panasonic camcorder with me because it’s very quick and easy to set up for time-lapse videos when I’m out hiking. As you can see in the photo, I attached the Camcorder to the Platypod, set it on a light post to shoot an image every second. After 30 minutes I turned off the camera, put the whole set-up in my sling bag and went home.
As the Camcorder recorded the time-lapse, I walked around the park taking photos with my Lumix S1. I love setting the S1 to a 2:1 size ratio to give me a panoramic looking scene that you see in this image.
Intro by Skip Cohen
Mark Toal's back today with a quick introduction to Snapseed, which I just downloaded a few minutes ago myself. The original title of his post was "SOOC" (Straight Out of Camera). Every photographer's goal is a clean well-exposed image right out of the can. I know I'm dating myself to film with that expression, but it's still one of my favorites.
The truth is, how much you manipulate an image is up to you, and it's all personal taste. But to add two more points to Mark's message today - if you've done things right during capture, you don't have to spend hours cleaning up files when all you need or want is a tweak to the saturation, contrast, etc.
And while Lightroom and Photoshop are incredible tools, he missed my favorite, Luminar 4 from Skylum. I've been using it for the last two years, and I love the ease of use, especially with their presets for adjustments in clarity, exposure and saturation.
Last but not least, those purists who want to argue against manipulation of an image, or people who simply criticize what they don't like in your photographs:
Beauty is in the eyes of the checkbook holder!
My old buddy, Dean, was responsible for one of the greatest quotes in photography and sales. It doesn't matter what anybody thinks about your images except the client. Sometimes, when you're shooting for your own pleasure and not on the job, that client is YOU!
by Mark Toal
After showing a few of my photos in a class I was teaching, one the students asked if I processed my images or they were straight out of the camera (SOOC). I assured them not one of my photos is straight out of the camera and that I hate the term SOOC. Once in a while I say something in a class that I immediately regret, and this was one of them. I could tell that people wanted to hear that they don’t have to do anything to their photos.
I see the photos from my camera as a starting point for me to create something from. I’m not talking about drastic changes as you can see in these two examples. I’m mostly just adding contrast and saturation.
I understand that people don’t want to invest in Lightroom and Photoshop or pay a monthly subscription fee. There are other alternatives like Adobe Photoshop Elements or the App Snapseed for your phone. Most of the photos you see on my Facebook and Instagram pages have been transferred via wi-fi from my Lumix camera to the iPhone and adjusted in Snapseed.
If you’ve resisted trying Lightroom or Photoshop or any another program, and your sitting at home wondering what to do until the world re-opens, this might be a good time to download a free trial version and watch some videos on YouTube to learn to use it.
Intro by Skip Cohen
This series got started when my pal, Mark Toal, sent me an email saying he was taking off for a week and playing with photography, as opposed to his usual role at Panasonic with a camera in his hands. He asked if I'd be willing to run a new piece each day, and I jumped at the chance!
The pandemic has changed all of our lives, especially when it comes to keeping in touch with family and friends. Like many of you, Sheila and I have a regular Skype call with our kids, usually on Sunday afternoon, but they're adults.
I love this piece Mark's sharing today, along with his YouTube channel just for his granddaughters! Somehow, the "Hoboken Chicken Emergency" seems perfect for the challenges we're all facing these days! Besides, we've binge-watched every series on Netflix and Amazon we can find - time for the Mark Toal storybook channel!
by Mark Toal
When the shutdown for the Covid-19 virus first started the first thing that occurred to me is that I wasn’t going to see my granddaughters for a while. I could make do with less toilet paper and flour and trips to Costco, but not seeing Hadley and Eliza for weeks was too hard to think about.
We were able to FaceTime, but it just wasn’t enough, so I had the idea to read them books on video and upload them to YouTube. This might give them something to remember during this period with Papa Mark.
I’ve wanted to learn to be more comfortable on video and this seemed like a good way to practice and only have a 5 and 7-year old see it.
Because I’m a photographer it gave me the justification to buy the new wooden tripod that you can see in the photo of my simple video set-up. I also used my Lumix G9 with the Lumix 12-35mm f/2.8 lens and a Rode microphone.
Because I’m shooting these in my dining room, I set the camera to aperture priority in the custom video mode and choose f/2.8. This way the cluttered background would be out of focus. I used face detection to stay focused on my eyes and shot in 1080P to keep the file sizes smaller. I decided to keep in as simple as possible and just use window light.
Click on the title to see me reading The Hoboken Chicken Emergency by Daniel Pinkwater.
Mark's using the LUMIX G9 and LUMIX 12-35mm f2.8 lens. Just click on the thumbnails below for more information.
Intro by Skip Cohen
Mark Toal is back today with a great approach to thinking about which of his cameras is his favorite - a grandchild simply asked the question. While Mark works for Panasonic and has an extensive collection of cameras to choose from, I felt really good knowing that his favorite one was mine.
But let's take his question a step further. Very few of you work for a camera company, but you have closets full of gear. As your skill set has grown, so has your selection of cameras and lenses. Think about your favorite camera over the years - not the one you may have used to build your business, but the one you pick up when you're shooting for your own enjoyment. What's the one camera you'll take on the first family vacation after the pandemic is over.
The FZ1000 is pretty remarkable, but there's another fun benefit. I remember Ann Montieth, educator, author, and past president of PPA telling me about having her camera with her at a concert. She was stopped by security and told professional cameras (any camera with an interchangeable lens) weren't allowed. When they saw it was a fixed lens, she went back into the amateur category. LOL
One more thing to think about - since I'm on the topic of gear. Most of you have spent some of your downtime cleaning out closets. There isn't a school on the planet that has everything they need, especially when it comes to support for the arts. Now is a perfect time to take some of those older cameras, lenses, and lights and make a donation to your local high school. You just might be helping one of today's kids become the next famous artist!
Click on either thumbnail below for more information about the FZ1000 - then visit your LUMIX dealer! You won't be disappointed. And check out more of Mark's work by stopping by his website and blogs. As a member of the LUMIX team at Panasonic, you'll always find helpful and interesting content.
by Mark Toal
Since I work for Panasonic, I have a lot of cameras and two granddaughters to photograph? After seeing me use a dozen or more different models over the years the 4-year old asked me what’s my favorite camera?
Before I could answer she asked me what my favorite color is, but it got me thinking about different cameras. Last week on a YouTube video I heard somebody ask a guest what camera would you grab if could only have one?
I’m a camera snob and tech nerd so I wanted to have a great answer ready about the particular body and lens combination with the best sharpness, bokeh, high ISO, fast burst rate, etc. Boring, right? Then I thought about the camera that I always have in the car, the Lumix FZ1000, a bridge camera. I know you’re thinking this is a point and shoot camera with a 1” sensor. How can it be your only camera?
I’ve loved his camera since the first time that I took it to a street festival here in Portland a few years ago. I’m going to let the images speak for themselves. The 25-400mm f/2.8-4 lens is very sharp and perfect for a situation where you need to be a proper social distance from your subject as you can see in the photo of my nephew, Jules, at 150-400mm the bokeh is beautiful.
Since then I’ve used it for portraits, street photography, cowboy photos and a wedding, and my clients never knew that I wasn’t using a “real camera”. The FZ1000 is perfect for these strange times when you don’t know what you may find to photograph.
Images copyright Mark Toal. All rights reserved.
Intro by Skip Cohen
Mark Toal is no stranger to the SCU blog. We've shared a lot of posts from him, always well-seasoned with creativity and great images. Well, he's off of work this week and for the next five days he's sharing things he's doing in photography to help maintain his sanity!
Welcome to the first edition of "Mark's Corner."
The whole world is shut down and I decided to take a week off from work. Actually, I thought this was the week everything would open up again after being shut down for the past couple of months. I emailed Skip and suggested that I write a blog post everyday about how photography is keeping me sane during this time.
Photography has always been my therapy in hard times from when I was a shy kid who used a camera to feel like I had a reason to be in a social situation. Luckily, I’ve been hauling all of those old black and white negatives around for decades. Scanning them on these long nights has saved me from total boredom.
I wrote a blog here a couple of weeks ago about using my iPhone to scan old negatives. That works great for Facebook and Instagram, but it’s pretty low resolution. I didn’t want to invest in a new dedicated scanner, so I decided to try using my Lumix S1R with a Sigma 105mm Macro lens to photograph the negatives.
As you can see in the photo, I place the negative on a light table, put the S1R on a tripod pointed down and take a photo of the negative. You can do this with any digital camera as long as it has a macro lens. If you’re reading Skip’s blogs, you probably have a camera and tripod, so you just need an inexpensive light table.
Once the negatives file is in the computer, I open it in Photoshop, invert it to a positive image, adjust the contrast and clone out any dust spots.
The photo of my high school friend, Walter, was shot 120 Tri-X pan film and is now a 47-megapixel file ready to be printed.
Check out more of Mark's work by stopping by his website and blogs. As a member of the LUMIX team at Panasonic, you'll find a lot of solid content on making the most of LUMIX cameras. Follow the LUMIX Ambassador team too. The group is one of the most diverse and creative teams in photography, and all the ambassadors should be on your radar. You'll be pleasantly surprised at how much great content they're sharing all the time.
Mark's using the new LUMIX full-frame S1R. More information is just a click away on the banner below.
Check out "Why?" one of the most popular features on the SCU Blog. It's a very simple concept - one image, one artist and one short sound bite. Each artist shares what makes the image one of their most favorite. We're over 100 artists featured since the project started. Click on the link above and you can scroll through all of the episodes to date.