San Disk EyeFi SD Card and Derry Ballerinas

I was intrigued into getting an EyeFi card to see if it could change my workflow to become smoother when we are on location.

Here is what I found.

If you don’t know what an EyeFi card is, its a small SD memory card with a built in WiFi transmitter thingy. It creates and can manage a small network for the uploading of files to a local device either through its own network or an existing one.
I picked up an EyeFi 8gb SD card class 4 (North America is using class 6) at Calumet for about £45. I took it home and proceeded to bash my head against the wall for the next two hours. It was not easy or intuitive for me at all. You need their EyeFi Center software for your your iPhone/iPad which is simple to download and install. It was really more the setting up of the software that got me stumped at times. After fooling around for a couple of hours and changing the settings back and forth so many times I can’t remember, it just began to work.

I set up the Canon 5D Mk3 so RAWs were being written to the CF card and the camera was writing to the SD card in the S2 mode(1920×1280). At this size it allowed the first generation iPad to download each image every 2-4 seconds at about 5-10 feet from the camera. I should say that the EyeFi card can run off an existing WiFi network or create its own small one. Obviously in most locations we won’t get a chance to piggyback onto someone else’ network so I have just left it to its own. We also found that the further the iPad was from the camera, the slower the download became (I didn’t take down any times or did any comparisons since most of that shit bores me, suffice to say it worked).

I happened to have a shoot coming up that I thought would be perfect; running around the city of Derry shooting jumping ballerinas and musicians. We wouldn’t really have much time (as usual) so things needed to be spot on when we shot it all. The art director wanted to be able to have a back up to our original images shot in camera so we also shot the background plates without the subjects, in the event the we needed to drop either subjects into the other’s background or vice versa.

So what we have here is a Colin jumping up in our lighting set up doing his best ballerina pose (we didn’t hire him as model in the end). We used two Profoto Acute 600B‘s, one as a backlight with a magnum reflector and a half CTO and the front light with a silver softlight and no filtration. The background light was probably a stop over the main and set slightly into the frame to emulate the sun (of which we didn’t have as yet).

Colin jumping for his life

Colin jumping for his life

Colin tried his hardest but he couldn’t really get the height we were looking for (he also forgot his tutu). We brought in the mini trampoline and it was a little better, good job Colin (we also knew the ballerinas should get another two or three feet on Colin’s height, whew)

Colin jumping off a tramp

They wanted to try the ballerinas first without the tramp, I wasn’t that hopeful though as I knew how high I had to get them in the frame for it all to work with the Guild Hall in the background and the copy that was to go in afterwards. I won’t bother with those images, lets move on.
We put the trampoline in and let the girls jump on their own, at their own pace and countdown themselves to the big height jump. It worked nearly flawlessly. Almost every jump was a keeper. This is the first jump, no strobes at 1/250th of a second.

No strobes, 1/250th of a second

The overcast light was just too flat, the feet were slightly blurred and it was all a little lifeless at this point. However the EyeFi card and the iPad were working awesomely. Ya, it might not be the fastest to keep up with a fashion shoot or such but for a commercial or advertising shoot where you have the time between takes to work things out, this set up works “good”. Of course it would be nice for it to be faster and it does speed up if you use the smaller size settings for the SD slot in the Canon but then you can’t zoom in to check focus or blur. I’m happy enough.

I should also mention that we were using the Canon’s HSS (High Speed Sync or High Speed Shutter). We hooked up the Canon’s 580 EXII flash on a cheap sync cord and had it pointed at the main Profoto’s optical slave, then set the 580 to HSS mode. This sets up the Canon to go beyond the 1/200th of a second sync speed that normal strobe units sync at with the camera, to well beyond 1/1000th of a second, if need be. Today I was hoping to get away with something under 1/1000th but obviously quicker than 1/250, since our ballerina’s feet were burred at that speed.

unretouched raw DNG

All this technology and a £50 trampoline.
Ultimately the EyeFi and iPad proved indispensable and I have now added some new gear to my camera bag. The ability to see the image, remotely, larger than on the back of the camera, on location, almost immediately is great. The art director I worked with was extremely pleased and loved it as well. In the end we retouched out the lights and trampoline.

Retouched ballerina over Derry

I’ve gone through a few retouchers over the years; I’ve done a lot of stuff myself but when it comes to sending out work I usually let NeedPost bang their head against the wall ;). I met John over at back when I was shooting cosmetics in California. His home base is out of Florida so for someone working in Europe he’s perfect for those crazy deadlines (you get an extra 4 hours). John has helped me set the mood and tones for a few different clients. Its usually not any heavy comping work but more polishing and adding treatments. I usually make or direct the treatment and John does the transcribing into Photoshopesque. He’s great.

3 phases of retouching

As you can see by the next two, there isn’t a lot of heavy handed retouching involved; we like to get as much as possible in the camera, and keep it as true to life as we can.

James McLaughlin rocking out over Derry

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