July 7th, 2015

Going Mobile: Light Creatively with Gear You Can Actually Carry

Sponsored by ExpoImaging

Packing and transporting location-lighting gear can take a toll on any photographer. As New York City-based freelance photographer Erik Valind explains, “When using bigger strobes and modifiers, the size and logistics of lugging gear around with you is often times enough of an excuse to leave everything at home.”

Not one to compromise, Valind first found Rogue FlashBenders about three years ago, and he became hooked on the entire line of Rogue Photographic Design’s highly portable light modifiers. Now, says Valind, “I use every piece of their lighting modifier lineup.”

Rogue’s tools include FlashBender Reflectors, flexible modifiers for use with on-camera and off-camera flashguns, as well as soft boxes, honeycomb grids, and gels. Available in a variety of sizes, FlashBenders are lightweight and pack flat for streamlined storage.

Here, Valind shows us two different quick mobile lighting setups.

1) Clamshell Lighting Goes High Key

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Photo © Erik Valind

High-key portraiture is less about the quantity of light and more about controlling the light. Valind’s gear for this shoot included two Phottix Mitros+ speedlights, two Rogue FlashBenders to control the light, and a 30-inch silver reflector.

For this symmetrical beauty shot, Valind wanted a “smooth transition in the shadows and an even, soft light on the skin.” To create even light on both sides of the model’s face, Valind used a boom to position a speedlight with a FlashBender XL Pro directly in front of the model, pointed down at a 45 degree angle. To complete the clamshell and to create fill, he placed the 30-inch silver reflector underneath the XL Pro.

The clean, white background was illuminated with the second speedlight positioned behind the model, facing the backdrop. To keep unwanted direct flash off the model, Valind used a FlashBender Large Reflector as a flag to block the light spill. Using the reflector as a flag allowed Valind to overexpose the background, rendering it pure white without affecting the rest of the image.

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Watch the step-by-step lighting video at RogueFlash.com.

2) “A Killer Beauty Portrait

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Photo © Erik Valind

For this second shot, Valind created a classic three-point lighting setup with a key light, fill light and hair light. “Remarkably,” Valind recalls, “the FlashBender was able to deliver on all three fronts.” To create a more distinctive look, he added color with Rogue Gels.

For the main light, Valind mounted the FlashBender XL Pro with the Strip Grid attachment to one of three flashes. The Strip Grid offers photographers a diffuser with a black fabric grid over the top. The diffuser softened the light on the skin while the grid helped direct the light to the front of the face. He added a ¼ CTO gel to give the model’s fair complexion a warmer, tanned look.

To lessen the intensity of the face-defining shadows, Valind added soft fill light with the FlashBender XL Pro and Diffusion Panel setup as a soft box. He attached a blue gel to the fill light to “add a cooling effect to the shadows below the cheekbone.”

Rounding out the setup, Valind placed a snooted hair light behind the model, this time adding a yellow gel to help the model’s blonde hair pop. As Valind points out, “With the addition of the Rogue Gels, we walked away with a killer beauty portrait using an incredibly mobile setup.”

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Watch the step-by-step lighting video at RogueFlash.com

Just how mobile is Valind’s lighting kit? In his travel bag you’ll find his Phottix Mitros+ flashes along with his collection of the versatile Rogue FlashBenders, Rogue Grids, and Rogue Flash Gels. “Everything packs up so easily that I always have an off-camera lighting kit with me now,” Valind says. “No excuses!”

 

July 6th, 2015

Not Just Tay Tay: Foo Fighters Called Out by Washington City Paper Over Contract Terms

A photo posted by Foo Fighters (@foofighters) on

Taylor Swift isn’t the only big-time musician to be called out for a restrictive photo contract. On July 2, the Washington City Paper took the Foo Fighters to task over a contract that they said “sucks.”

They wrote:

If we signed it, we would have agreed to: the band approving the photos which run in the City Paper; only running the photos once and with only one article; and all copyrights would transfer to the band. Then, here’s the fun part, the band would have “the right to exploit all or a part of the Photos in any and all media, now known or hereafter devised, throughout the universe, in perpetuity, in all configurations” without any approval or payment or consideration for the photographer.

That is exploitation of photographers, pure and simple.

The paper’s editors say they protested the terms, only to be told by the Foo Fighters’ management that they were standard and that they “protect the band” — which is more or less the same response from the Taylor Swift camp after her contract came under fire.

Will publicly airing and criticizing the terms of a contract force a change? It’s too soon to tell, but we’re just one more story away from a bona-fide trend.

July 1st, 2015

MoMA’s New Photography Show Expands, Explores “Ocean of Images”

© 2015 Lele Saveri "The Newsstand. 2013–14." Mixed medium installation. Courtesy the artist.

© 2015 Lele Saveri “The Newsstand. 2013–14.” Mixed medium installation. Courtesy the artist.

The Museum of Modern Art has announced that it has selected 19 photographers to be shown in the 2015 edition of its “New Photography” exhibition, opening in November.  The number of photographers in this year’s show is more than double the museum’s previous selections – and that’s appropriate, given that the subtitle of this year’s New Photography exhibition is “Ocean of Images.” 
 
The exhibition will examine the ubiquity of photography today and what the museum describes in its press release as “the Internet as a vortex of images, a site of piracy and a system of networks.” Many of the exhibited photographers experiment with moving images, online remixes of images, installations and images turned into three-dimensional objects.

The title of the photo is provocative in part because it isn’t new.  In a 2014 interview with PDN, MoMA’s chief curator of photography, Quentin Bajac, noted that back in the 1920s and 1930s, critics noted “the ocean of new images, that blizzard of images that is due to the arrival of the illustrated press.”

What will be new in “New Photography 2015″ may be the methods by which the exhibiting artists embrace the abundance of digital images. As Bajac told PDN, “Maybe each generation has that feeling that that new amount of images is going to be difficult to absorb, and yet they do.”

The artists in New Photography 2015 are:
Ilit Azoulay (Israeli, b. 1972)
Zbyněk Baladrán (Czech, b. 1973)
Lucas Blalock (American, b. 1978)
Edson Chagas (Angolan, b. 1977)
Natalie Czech (German, b. 1976)
DIS (Collective, founded in New York in 2010)
Katharina Gaenssler (German, b. 1974)
David Hartt (Canadian, b. 1967)
Mishka Henner (Belgian, b. 1976)
David Horvitz  (American, b. 1982)
John Houck (American, b. 1977)
Yuki Kimura (Japanese, b. 1971)
Anouk Kruithof (Dutch, b. 1981)
Basim Magdy (Egyptian, b. 1977)
Katja Novitskova (Estonian, b. 1984)
Marina Pinsky (Russian, b. 1986)
Lele Saveri (Italian, b. 1980)
Indrė Šerpytytė (Lithuanian, b. 1983)
Lieko Shiga (Japanese, b. 1980).

Now in its 30th year, the “New Photography” exhibition has been a showcase and springboard for photographers from around the world, including Mikhael Subotzky, Rineke Dijkstra, Doug Rickard and Viviane Sassen.

“New Photography 2015: Ocean of Images” is curated by Bajac, Senior Curator Roxana Marcoci, and Assistant Curator Lucy Gallun.

When the exhibition opens, MoMA will launch an online platform to show the archive of the New Photography exhibitions of the past 30 years.

Related Articles
MoMA’s New Chief Photo Curator Turns to Studio Photography for First Show

June 29th, 2015

Magnum Photos Names 6 New Nominees

Fallowed tomato fields near the town of Corcoran in California's Central Valley, photographed for The New Yorker. © Matt Black

Fallowed tomato fields near the town of Corcoran in California’s Central Valley, photographed for The New Yorker. © Matt Black

 

Matt Black, Carolyn Drake, Richard Mosse, Newsha Tavakolian, Lorenzo Meloni and Max Pinckers have been named nominees of Magnum Photos. The cooperative agency also voted to make Michael Christopher Brown, who was named a Magnum nominee  in 2013, an associate of the agency. Magnum Photos announced the news yesterday at the conclusion of its annual general meeting in Paris.

Matt Black, who is based in California, has covered the state’s Central Valley for more than 15 years. He is currently working on a project, “The Geography of Poverty,” for MSNBC.

Carolyn Drake, an American, has covered Central Asia extensively. She has published two books, Two Rivers and Wild Pigeon; the latter was made in collaboration with a community of Uyghurs in western China. A winner of a Fulbright fellowship and awards from World Press and POYi, she was chosen for PDN‘s 30 in 2006.

Richard Mosse, who was born in Ireland and is based in New York City, was the winner of the 2014 Deutsche Borse Photography Prize in 2014 for “The Enclave,” a multi-screen installation of his work from the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.

Newsha Tavakolian, who is based in Tehran, won the 2014 Carmignac Gestion Photojournalism Award.

Lorenzo Meloni, who is Italian, has covered Yemen, Lebanon, Syria and Libya for The Telegraph, Figaro, and other publications.

Max Pinckers is based in Brussels. His books include Will They Sing Like Raindrops or Leave Me Thirsty and The Fourth Wall, about moviemaking and movie fans in Mumbai.

Related Articles
Richard Mosse Wins $50K Deutsche Borse Prize

PDN Video Pick: Ed Kashi and Matt Black for The New Yorker

Matt Black and Ed Kashi Bring California’s Dried Out Central Valley to The New Yorker

The 50,000 Euro Controversy over Artistic Freedom and the Carmignac Gestion Prize

June 25th, 2015

It’s in the Details: Vanessa Joy’s Metal-Printed Wedding Photos

Sponsored by Black River Imaging

Over the course of her career, photographer Vanessa Joy has established thoughtful and elegant practices to capture her clients’ engagement sessions and weddings, taking special care to document the details the couple has worked hard to bring to fruition for their special day. From flowers to tablescapes, Joy preserves the ephemeral details of each wedding, and has found that it’s often these types of images her couples fall in love with. Joy has also had her wedding-detail photos featured on popular blogs such as Style Me Pretty and Off Beat Bride.

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Images from two weddings photographed by Joy, including detail shots from a rustic wedding by couple Caitlyn and Gene. Printed on 8 x 8-inch Black River Imaging Metal Prints.

In September 2014, two of Joy’s clients, Caitlyn and Gene, were married in an elegant and rustic wedding in Monmouth Hills, New Jersey. The event is one of Joy’s recent favorites due to the many elements she had to work with, such as the bride’s pearl jewelry, the couple’s wedding invitation and a vintage photograph of a family wedding. She says, “I try to look for things that will give a little bit more character than just a pair of shoes. Sometimes that’s all I have, but if I can, I will grab certain elements to pull into them in.” Joy also considers the final color palette of the photographs in the album and wall art her clients will be receiving. “I try to keep a fairly consistent look to all of my pictures, and that of course includes the details, too. One of the things I like to do when I first arrive is check what color the bridesmaids’ dresses are and if somehow I can pull in a color, the same color or a similar color, then I know the pictures are going to look good in the album,” she says.

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8 x 8-inch Metal Prints of couple Gina and Mike.

Having a vision from the beginning is important to Joy, and she encourages her clients to consider final artwork, and how it will fit their homes. Working frequently in the New York metropolitan area, she has a range of clients with varied tastes. She shoots both sleek and rustic weddings and is careful to inquire about her clients’ homes and how her work will best fit their existing décor. “I’m always trying to get clients to consider things that they’d put up on their wall or put around their home as more art pieces, not just staple ‘Hey this is my wedding’ photos,” she says. “When they’re decorating parts of their house like side tables, detail pictures are a lot of fun. It’s a way to have wedding photos around [that aren’t all of the] bride in a wedding dress—it can be other little details that are more subtle and artful.”

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For these photographs, Joy works with Black River Imaging and provides the company’s Metal Prints. “My clients like having something unique and something that they can show off to their friends. Metal Prints aren’t something that my clients can typically find anywhere else so they love decorating their homes with them,” she says. Joy especially likes the 8 x 8-inch format (which, she points out, is also a great scale when couples are ordering Metal Prints as gifts) and appreciates Black River Imaging’s different metal-printing options. “[There’s] vibrant metal that is super chic and stylish and is perfect for a New York wedding, but then I have other clients who have barn weddings,” she says. “Those clients that have a little bit more subdued taste that want maybe a little bit more vintage look, they love the metallic fade with a matte finish.” The fade effect, she says, lets some of the metal texture show for a “really pretty” effect. No matter what their personal style and printing preferences are, Joy always has a unified vision for her brides and grooms. She says: “My goal is to provide my couples with romantically whimsical wedding photos that are timeless and tell their love story.”

Visit Black River Imaging for more information on Metal Prints.

June 24th, 2015

Uber for Drones: Fly4Me Connects Pilots with Clients

A photo posted by fly4.me (@fly4.me) on

For all the popularity of drones, they’re far from a mass market product. Many users, even many photographers, may be leery of sending a flying robot into the air, lest it wind up on the White House lawn or on someone’s face.

That’s where Fly4Me comes in. It’s a new service that promises to link trained drone operators with paying clients–kind of like Uber for drones.

Drone owners use Fly4Me to create personalized profiles and bid on drone-related job offers, including aerial mapping, disaster surveillance but also photography and videography. Operators bring their own drone and get to keep 80 percent of any money earned. Any drone owner that wants to create a profile on Fly4Me has to undergo a safety certification process by the company first.

Fly4Me’s co-founder Adam Kersnoski told PDN that the company had obtained its 333 exemption from the FAA allowing commercial drone operations and that drone pilots using the service would be covered under that exemption.

The current exemption restricts the service to only using drone operators that fly a DJI Phantom 2, however Kersnoski told us the company’s lawyers were “already in the process of modifying [the FAA exemption] to exclude this restriction and add additional platforms.”

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Fly4Me is based in Boston and is signing up drone operators throughout the country.

The company is planning to offer some interesting technology to customers who hire operators through the platform, including the ability to view flight results uploaded by the pilot, live-streaming from a drone’s camera, private communication between pilot and customer during flight and the ability for customers to select flight locations by pointing a pin on Google Maps.

(Lead image from left to right: Adam Kersnowski, co-founder; David Amatuni, designer; Dmitry Sharshunskiy, co-founder; Karina Dodor, attorney.)

June 23rd, 2015

Court Rejects Rentmeester’s Infringement Claim Over Nike “Jumpman” Logo

© Jacobus "Co" Rentmeester

Rentmeester’s 1984 photograph of Michael Jordan for Life magazine. © Jacobus “Co” Rentmeester

A federal court in Portland, Oregon has dismissed photographer Jacobus “Co” Rentmeester’s copyright infringement claim against Nike for the same reason so many “copycat” infringement claims fail: Copyright law doesn’t protect ideas, only the expression of those ideas. And Nike’s expression was not “substantially similar” to Rentmeester’s, the court ruled.

“Mr. Rentmeester has failed to show that he can satisfy the requisite objective test for copyright infringement,” US District Judge Michael W. Mosman wrote in his decision last week to dismiss the case. Rentmeester has filed papers announcing his intent to appeal the decision to the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. Read the rest of this entry »

June 22nd, 2015

Photographer Calls Out Taylor Swift for Apple Hypocrisy [Updated]

Taylor Swift is rapidly making a name for herself as the scourge of streaming music services, first lambasting Spotify and now, Apple Music, for giving musicians short financial shrift. In an open letter to Apple, Swift complains that the company won’t be paying musicians during a user’s three month free trial period with the service, calling it “shocking, disappointing, and completely unlike this historically progressive and generous company.”

But Swift’s ride atop the high horse may not last very long, and not simply because Apple appears to have done an abrupt about-face on the issue.

Photographer Jason Seldon read the fine print in the contract provided by Firefly Entertainment, Inc. (Swift’s management company) to freelance concert photographers and deemed it “a complete rights grab.”

Specifically, Seldon objected to two clauses:

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Writes Seldon:

How are you any different to Apple?  If you don’t like being exploited, that’s great..  make a huge statement about it, and you’ll have my support.  But how about making sure you’re not guilty of the very same tactic before you have a pop at someone else?

Photographers need to earn a living as well. Like Apple, you can afford to pay for photographs so please stop forcing us to hand them over to you while you prevent us from publishing them more than once, ever.

Seldon wasn’t the only photographer to cry foul.

 

Update: The BBC got a hold of Swift’s management, who defended their policy thusly:

“The standard photography agreement has been misrepresented in that it clearly states that any photographer shooting The 1989 World Tour has the opportunity for further use of said photographs with management’s approval.

“Another distinct misrepresentation is the claim that the copyright of the photographs will be with anyone other than the photographer – this agreement does not transfer copyright away from the photographer.

“Every artist has the right to, and should, protect the use of their name and likeness.”

June 18th, 2015

How Well Do Imaging & Cloud Companies Protect Your Privacy?

You invest more than just your photos when you use services like Dropbox or Adobe’s Creative Cloud. Sensitive data, such as your location, private communications and more, gets transmitted to third party servers every day.

Every year, the Electronic Frontier Foundation surveys key tech firms to judge just how diligently they safeguard your privacy. Companies are judged across five criteria: whether they follow industry-accepted best practices when it comes to privacy protection (i.e. do they require a warrant before handing over communications), whether they tell users about government data demands, whether they disclose policies on data retention, whether they discloses government content removal requests and whether they have a “pro-user” policy of no “backdoors” to allow government surveillance.

This year, several firms used heavily by the photo community earned five stars–a perfect score. Among them were Adobe, Apple, Dropbox, Yahoo! and WordPress.

Social networking sites like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Pinterest didn’t fare as well though they still beat out Google, which is aggressively courting photographers with its new Google Photos storage service.

You can read the full report here or get the nickel version from the EFF’s graphic below.

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June 18th, 2015

5 Tips for Striking Wedding Photographs

Sponsored by Olympus
All photos @ Tracie Jean Photo Studios

Tracie Jean Maglosky of Tracie Jean Photo Studios first fell in love with photography 15 years ago, when her first son was born. “Initially it was a passion because I loved my son, but soon enough it became a way of seeing the world and translating what that meant to me [through] images,” she explains. She founded her Cincinnati studio five years later after her friends began asking her for photographs of the memories they wanted to keep precious. Soon, she was a full-time wedding photographer (“There was just something about the fast pace and high pressure, coupled with the elegance of a wedding day—I was completely taken,” she explains), but Maglosky still emphasizes a personal approach in her family-owned and -operated business.

Maglosky approaches her business with an outgoing and upbeat personality. She knows that a good wedding photographer needs to be flexible and efficient, but humility is also key. “Comfortable brides are happy brides,” she says. “Sometimes being a wedding photographer means getting drinks, wiping sweat and helping the bride to get some air under her dress. There is no room for prideful qualities in wedding photography.”

With 10 years under her belt in the wedding industry, Maglosky has more than a few tricks up her sleeve. And, as an Olympus Trailblazer, she favors the Olympus OM-D EM1 mirrorless digital camera to perfect those tricks. Here, she shares some images from a recent wedding in Ohio that illustrate her favorite tips and techniques to simplify shots and add some extra sparkle to your clients’ wedding photographs.

1) Get the sunset shot that will knock their socks off. Super wide angle or fisheye lenses give the sky some extra liveliness and create a spiral effect with the clouds. Set up your trigger and off-camera flash in manual mode. Expose for the sky, and don’t be afraid to shoot a little underexposed. In this shot, I lowered the flash to 1/4 power, using a MagGrid light modifier to isolate the bride and groom. The image was shot with the Olympus OM-D E-M1 with an M.Zuiko 8mm f/1.8 Fisheye. The electronic viewfinder offers the ability to see exactly what the sky’s exposure would look like in the image before ever actuating the shutter.

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Pictured: Luke dips Suzi at the Four Bridges Country Club in West Chester, Ohio, against the sunset. Shot with the Olympus OM-D E-M1 and M.Zuiko 8mm f/1.8 Fisheye Pro lens at ISO 500, f/5.0, 1/250th of a second.

2) Give your dance-floor images movement and make them unique. For this image, I used an on-camera speedlight directly pointed at the subject and set my shutter speed to 1/3 of a second. I chose the M.Zuiko 8mm f/1.8 Fisheye Pro lens because the focus ring spins without changing the focus, allowing me to spin the camera after actuating the shutter and freezing the subject. Firing at 1/3 of a second allows enough rotation for a nice circular feel, and the angle of the lens creates an almost vinyl-record look. Having 5-Axis Image Stabilization in-camera on the Olympus OM-D E-M1 helps to create the smooth lines at such a slow shutter speed.

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Pictured: Suzi on the dance floor. Shot with the Olympus OM-D E-M1 and M.Zuiko 8mm f/1.8 Fisheye Pro lens.

3) Take meaningful macros for detail shots. When photographing rings, one of the greatest challenges is light reflection. Choosing a side-lighting situation helps to reduce glare seen by the lens. Using a macro lens allows you to get extremely close and capture stunning detail, isolating it from the background. For this image, I chose the M.Zuiko 60mm f/2.8 Macro lens, as it allows for an 18.8cm focusing distance and a 1:1 magnification ratio switch. Remember when you’re shooting close to stop down so that what you want in focus is sharp. Conventional knowledge would say to use a tripod for your macro images and a shutter-released delay to avoid shake. With an Olympus mirrorless camera, the absence of a mirror eliminates the possibility of mirror shake and the 5-Axis Image Stabilzation in the OM-D E-M1 allows hand-held shooting without the loss of sharpness.

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Pictured: Showcasing the ring. Shot with the Olympus OM-D E-M1 and M.Zuiko 60mm f/2.8 Macro lens.

4) Push your sensor to the limit using highlights and shadow to create dynamic imagery. Mastering backlighting is vital for any wedding photographer who wants to have subjects with open eyes. The danger when shooting in any amount of direct sunlight is that the details of a white wedding dress will disappear under the intense light of the sun; it is imperative to retain the details of a bride’s exquisite gown. Using the histogram and the highlight shadow display on the OM-D EM-1’s electronic viewfinder allows you to choose which parts of the image you’re willing to allow to peak in highlights or leave in shadow. Having all of this information in the viewfinder before the actuation of the shutter is a foolproof way to quickly capture images that are dynamic and well executed. For this image, after setting the backlight exposure, I triggered an off-camera flash at 1/2 power at the left of the couple.

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Pictured: Suzi and Luke in the sunlight. Shot with the Olympus OM-D E-M1 and M.Zuiko 12-40mm f/2.8 Pro lens at ISO 1000, f/1.8, 1/400th of a second.

5) Getting light without an assistant. Shooting with natural light can be beautiful, but comes with its challenges. Taking care to give a soft fill will decrease strong shadow and make way for beautiful portraits, adding depth without harsh shadows on a beautiful bride. A speedlight is a valid option, but color matching can become a time-consuming issue. Holding a reflector with one hand while shooting with the other is an easy solution, but the weight of gear can be limiting. I choose to shoot all my weddings with an Olympus OM-D E-M1 to greatly reduce the weight in my bag and on my arms. A light camera paired with a light lens eliminates the weight obstacle.

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Pictured: Suzi, photographed with natural light on her right and a soft fill on her left. Shot with the Olympus OM-D E-M1 and an 25mm f/1.8 lens at ISO 250, f/2.8, 1/500 of a second.

Lean more about the Olympus OM-D E-M1 mirrorless digital camera on the Olympus website.