Performing in adversity – by Warren Papas

It’s been quite some time since we haven’t had a guest post around here, so in order to get back to this hold habit properly, here’s a guest post from our very own Warren Papas from Cherish Photography! Enjoy 🙂

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As a professional photographer, funds can be tight at times.  Being the off season for weddings, we’re in just such a time now so I sold my backup camera and have just rolled along with a Canon 5D mk III.  It’s an awesome camera.

The economic downturn means that we need to limit expenses wherever you can and our backup 5D MKIII had to go.  Cameras are so reliable these days that you can get by with just one body on events that aren’t critical like weddings.

Or so we thought.  My Canon 5D MK III developed a problem at a recent wedding.   The Main Dial completely stopped responding altogether.  When in Manual Mode, I was unable to change the shutter speed or ISO.

Picture this. As the bride and groom got out of their car (to go into the Reception) I noticed some beautiful light across the road with a gritty background.  I asked if they could give me 3 minutes to get some quick images (if they liked the location).  They did.

I position them and get them ineracting, run across the road from where I shoot (I have a 70-200 fitted).  I’m in Manual mode and need more light but when I turn the main dial to slow the shutter speed it doesn’t respond.  I try to change the ISO with the same dial but it still doesn’t respond.  I can open up the aperture a little but that still doesn’t give me a good exposure.  I turn my back on the couple and quickly take the battery out and put it back it but it doesn’t help.  Shit.  What do I do?

I run across the road and tell the couple that the light has changed and that they need to move over a few meters.  I go across the road and get the images I wanted, which are now taken in a slightly better lit position.

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The problem was that the whole top assembly of my camera needed to be replaced.

While the camera was away being repaired I had a new client’s baby arrive 3 weeks early.  My 5D III still wasn’t back from being repaired so I photographed the baby with our emergency backup – a Canon G15.  I could have used an emergency, emergency film camera (and have access to all our lenses, but I didn’t want to).

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The weak point of compact cameras, and even pro compacts such as the G15, is their poor post ISO 400 results and wide aperture performance.  Therefore, connected an Elinchrom studio light, used an ISO setting of 80 along with a moderate aperture.

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The results?  Better than I expected.  The clients ordered an 11×23 inch framed image that actually printed really well.  I had, of course, given the camera the best possible chance of capturing the best image it could, but the results were better than I expected. Nowhere near as good as my pro camera, but then the G15 costs less than any of the lenses I use so it’s a pretty capable camera.

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As a professional, I have to deliver no matter what.  I do not have the luxury of excuses.  A large part of being able to do that, is knowing your stuff inside out.  You have to.  It’s one of the things that separates pros from amateurs.

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In closing, our wedding season is about to begin and we’ll need to head into it with another body which will be exactly the same as our main camera – Canon 5D III.  We also need to buy another Canon 24-70 as we dropped ours, but that’s another story.

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