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John Kirby
October 26th, 2006, 02:21 PM
I have an unusual job approaching where the art director has specified that the images taken are going to be cropped to a circle. They will be people group shots, with lots of changes of both subject and angles, size of the group, etc. It will be shot over several days, and I anticipate taking several thousand pictures.
Having all my long professional life zoomed and positioned a camera to compose in a rectangle, I'm trying to come up with a means of constantly reminding myself of the circular format I must now "fill".
Best idea I think I've had is to dedicate a focusing screen for the job, they are not expensive. I've bought an EcD gridded screen (I'll be using a 1Ds2) and intend finding a coin or washer that I can carefully place over the centre, and draw around that with the finest felt-tip pen I can find. My thinking is to mark the screen on the same side the grid is etched.
With auto focus operating off the mirror, I'm assuming that my circle won't interfere with that or exposure evaluation.
Be grateful of any other input or ideas. Speed and spontaneity of shooting is essential: I won't have the opportunity or time to evaluate images on a laptop or viewer.
Thanks in advance,
John.

Asher Kelman
October 26th, 2006, 02:51 PM
John,

That's an interesting challenge. first I'd make a circlular cutout in a piece of cardboard. Then I'd preactive composing all sorts of shots with that.: flowers, peoplei in the office, street, anything you can.

Meanwhile, there's a great solution if you can get it delivered in time.

Call Brightscreen. They either have that or will make it for you, lickety-spit! They could ship it overnight!

Asher

John Kirby
October 26th, 2006, 03:51 PM
Asher,
Thanks for the cut-out suggestion.. think I'll give one to the A.D. when we are on the job!
Unfortunately me being in Australia precludes trying to do anything with Brightscreen in time for the job late next week... what an array of options they have though!
John.

Daniel Harrison
October 26th, 2006, 07:03 PM
you could get an 8mm sigma fisheye, it is round already ;-) the focussing screen idea sounds great, I would say that is the best way to go if you can get it in time

Daniel

Ray West
October 27th, 2006, 12:59 AM
Hi John,

I think it may pay you to get two or three focusing screens. It may be you need to mark the un-etched side, and depending on where your af sensors are, you may need to leave gaps in your circle. If the focusing is based on red colour - most assist lights are red, but that could be for other reasons - it may be best to use, say, a green marker. To many 'ifs', but when you have found the solution, let us know. Having experimented in the past with filters, you may get a good enough 'reminder' by marking a filter, instead, sort of enforced vignetting. It will be very blurred, and be on the image, too, but it may do the job. (or use an efs lens on full frame ;-)

Best wishes,

Ray

Sean DeMerchant
October 27th, 2006, 01:38 AM
Hi John,

I think it may pay you to get two or three focusing screens. ... If the focusing is based on red colour - most assist lights are red, but that could be for other reasons - it may be best to use, say, a green marker.

Try cyan, dark yellow, or a very light blue rather than red. Red and green are too close in frequency* making blue, cyan, mangenta, or yellow better choices.

a thought,

Sean

* The frequency distribution/sensitivity of red and green are very similar if you look at the frequency response of the cones in the eye.

John Kirby
October 27th, 2006, 01:49 PM
Ray and Sean's replies seem to infer that the circle may interfere with AF. Most shots will be in well-lit scenarios, so I don't envisage any AF assist beam utilization, so that shouldn't be a problem. Chuck Westfall, if you happen to read this could I ask your expert advice? I had intended to draw a black circle about 20mm diameter, on the etched side of the screen.
Thanks,
John.

dhphoto
October 27th, 2006, 11:20 PM
Just a suggestion - why not make up an acetate mask to go over the rear LCD? Much cheaper and less destructive than destroying a focusing screen, instant review

David

Asher Kelman
October 27th, 2006, 11:21 PM
For that matter, just a black card with a whole cut out!

So simple! Why didn't I think of that first!

Asher

Don Lashier
October 27th, 2006, 11:59 PM
Just a suggestion - why not make up an acetate mask to go over the rear LCD? Much cheaper and less destructive than destroying a focusing screen, instant review

I bet there would be room to snap that in on top of the focus screen.

- DL

dhphoto
October 28th, 2006, 12:21 AM
Are you guys yanking my chain? :)

David

Don Lashier
October 28th, 2006, 01:21 AM
Are you guys yanking my chain? :)

I'm serious - you tweaked a great idea! Maybe just use a scrap piece of the window tinting film you can buy at hw or auto supply stores and apply it to the focus screen. This would allow a darkened view of the out-of-circle view also. The trick would be to cut the circle cleanly.

- DL

dhphoto
October 28th, 2006, 01:29 AM
I'm sure you've done the acetate on the back of the view camera trick that all we pro's used to use to shoot to layout. It's just an extension of that.

Unfortunately the 1DSII wouldn't be quite as good as the 5D/1DIIN for putting the acetate on the rear screen due to the small size, but that would be my preference - but you could get a small LCD TV (casio or similar) with an 'AV IN' and use the cutout on the screen of that, you could tape it to the tripod

David

Ray West
October 28th, 2006, 01:42 AM
You would ideally want it in the viewfinder side of things. lcd screens on an slr, afaik it would be the 'zig view', but that is more cumbersome, possibly not much use for accurate focusing, does not give speed, etc. I think John is on the right track for what he wants to do.

John Kirby
October 28th, 2006, 03:35 PM
Thanks to everyone's contributions to this, both practical and tongue-in-cheek.

I can now report on an outcome. My hand was forced yesterday, with a last-minute request by the client to cover a community event featuring hundreds of people from a vast array of different national and ethnic backgrounds. Most of the shots would be candids. Speed of shooting was essential, and all had to work in the dreaded circle format.

Method on the day:
I found a plastic disc 20mm in diameter, and stuck a scrap piece of plastic to it as a handle, so I could apply pressure to it with a finger tip, and be able to run a 0.2mm pen around the circumference ( including under my finger ) without it moving. I practised about 10 times before I finally tried it on the screen. Despite what I'd thought, the grid lines on the screen are not easy to see when it is laid flat (Even tried putting it on top of a lightbox) so the accuracy of placement came down to an eye judgement of the disc being centred. As luck would have it, I got it pretty right. Spot on top to bottom, maybe a bee's dick out left to right. Through the viewfinder, it was perfect. A bit furry due to the nature of the pen, but fine enough to be the "constant reminder" I would need. It worked a charm on the job, I was composing and zooming to it in real time, giving me the greatest opportunity to get what I was after. I've processed the shots, and certainly no evidence of any disruption to focus or exposure.

Comments on other's suggestions:
Don, I did consider drawing the circle on acetate and placing it above the screen. My only concerns were the acetate moving when swinging the screen back into position, or heaven forbid, it perhaps preventing the screen from locking properly and dropping.... maybe half way throught the shoot. Although a screen has been sacrificed for the job, I felt that a safer way to go.
David, Your acetate overlay idea is a good one. Like you, I used to use them all the time in the "Old film days" on both 4x5 and Rollei to indicate a predetermined layout area. I'll make one up for the Camera LCD and also my Epson P-4500 for when the A.D. and I are doing mid-shoot appraisals during the main job later in the week.

Wisdom of hindsight - How I'd do it next time:
Trying to position the circling disc and holding it in place is a bit ham-fisted (especially with your holding finger in the way of drawing) and makes unintentional screen damage a concern. I think the following technique would be better:
1. Cut a frame which fits snugly around the screen and double-sided tape that frame to a clean flat surface. The frame sould be slightly thicker than the screen, so the screen sits below the surface of the frame.
2. Cut a circle out of thin card to the required size. Check the size circle that the pen gives relative to the card circle: You may need to make minor adjustments to compensate for the tip diameter that is in contact with the card relative to the tip that is doing the drawing. By making the frame in step 1 slightly thicker than the screen, this should ensure that the circle mask is not in contact with the screen during the drawing, and avoid any smudging, or abrasion from the surrounding mask. With regard to cutting the circle, circle cutters are available. I think most graphic designers/ art directors have them in their kit if you want to avoid buying one just for the job.
3. With the screen hold in position, you should be able to align the cut hole over it to line up with the grid marks, which should be far more visible than when using my original technique. Once it's right, fasten it by some means and draw the circle.
4. Obviously, the cut-out shape can be anything: oval, triangle, etc. depending on requirements.

The only other comments I would make is that I'm going to crop the full frame proofs before I give them to the client, probably to about a 3:4 proportion. The wasted space on either side of the full frame looks terrible ( to my eye, anyway), as though I haven't done my job properly and zoomed in.
Also, I might boost the file size a bit when I process the RAWs. The circle is only 36% of the frame, so the same percentage would apply to the 100% file size. At least the 1Ds2 is doing the best job possible for 35mm.

John.

Ray West
October 28th, 2006, 04:54 PM
Hi John,

I'm really pleased you got it to work, and told us how.

I didn't know you kept bees too, all drones it seems ;-)

Best wishes,

Ray