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March 16th, 2016

Taking the Sony G Master Lens Series to Task

Sponsored by Sony

An image from Quiles' shoot at the unveiling of the G Master Lens line. Shot with the Sony α7R II. Settings: f/2.8, 1/200 of a second, ISO 200 with the Sony FE 24-70mm GM lens.

An image from Quiles’ shoot at the unveiling of the G Master Lens line. Shot with the Sony α7R II. Settings: f/2.8, 1/200 of a second, ISO 200 with the Sony FE 24-70mm GM lens.

When Sony unveiled the new G Master Lens line at Industria Superstudio in New York City in February, attendees were treated to a live shoot by portrait photographer Miguel Quiles in Studio 2. Two models acted out a fashion-meets-Bonnie-and-Clyde scene in hotel room set, which included daylight streaming in through the window and ambient lamp light. Quiles’ images from the event are rich in color and detail, and Quiles says with the G Master series, he never has to make any concessions in his work.

Quiles' set at Industria Superstudio featured mixed lighting in a room rich with color and textures. Shot with the Sony α7R II. Settings: f/2.8, 1/125 of a second, ISO 400 with the Sony FE 24-70mm GM lens.

Quiles’ set at Industria Superstudio featured mixed lighting in a room rich with color and textures. Shot with the Sony α7R II. Settings: f/2.8, 1/125 of a second, ISO 400 with the Sony FE 24-70mm GM lens.

“With most lenses, you are making a compromise between fast autofocus, great color, great sharpness and great bokeh. You [usually] never get all of those in one lens,” says Quiles. But the G Master series was engineered using extreme aspherical lens elements to deliver unbelievable resolution and detail, producing beautiful bokeh and backgrounds that transition smoothly from sharp to soft.

Quiles has switched over to the lenses in his commercial, portrait and wedding shoots, and he’s seen the difference in his imagery. One of his favorite lighting set ups—what he calls “the dramatic portrait”—utilizes multiple strobes to cast a range of light and shadows across his subjects’ faces. The Sony G Master FE 85 mm F1.4 GM enhances his go-to lighting further, thanks to the focal length’s ability to take flattering images that separate his subjects from the background.

This image was created using a one-light setup: A main light umbrella with a small silver reflector below for fill, with the subject against a collapsible background. Shot with the Sony α7R II. Settings: f/1.4, 1/200 of a second, ISO 50 with the Sony FE 85mm GM Lens.

This image was created using a one-light setup: A main light umbrella with a small silver reflector below for fill, with the subject against a collapsible background. Shot with the Sony α7R II. Settings: f/1.4, 1/200 of a second, ISO 50 with the Sony FE 85mm GM Lens.

While he loves an 85mm lens, going so far as to call it his “workhorse focal length,” Quiles says that in the past he had to assume that certain percentage of the images from a shoot would be out of focus, and he considered that the trade-off of using an 85mm lens at a wide-open aperture. But the G Master FE 85mm F1.4 GM has an uncanny ability to combine creamy backgrounds and bokeh effects with tack-sharp detail on the subject. “The images coming out of the [G Master 85mm] are insane,” says Quiles. “When I show people the shots, they think I did something in post.”

The new Sony FE 85mm f/1.4 GM Lens.

The new Sony FE 85mm f/1.4 GM Lens.

When Quiles isn’t using the G Master FE 85mm F1.4 GM, he’s shooting with the FE 24-70 mm F2.8 GM, which he calls the “versatile all-round lens that Sony shooters have been waiting for.” Quiles says that the 24-70mm outperforms other similar lenses that he’s used. “You can use it to shoot wide and not have distortion. You get beautiful color saturation. You can shoot gorgeous portraits with it. You get tremendous detail and cinematic-quality bokeh,” says Quiles. “It does everything.”

This portrait was made using a one-light setup: A medium-sized octabox with the subject against a collapsible background. Shot with the Sony α7R II. Settings: f/1.4, 1/200 of a second, ISO 100 with the Sony FE 85mm GM Lens.

This portrait was made using a one-light setup: A medium-sized octabox with the subject against a collapsible background. Shot with the Sony α7R II. Settings: f/1.4, 1/200 of a second, ISO 100 with the Sony FE 85mm GM Lens.

But as a portrait photographer, an 85mm is his bread and butter, and Quiles is more than happy to share how the Sony G Master 85mm stacks up against the equivalent Zeiss Batis, his prior go-to lens. He recently posted an online video weighing the pros and cons of each. According to him, the G Master 85mm edges out the Batis in image quality and wins in build with a grippier manual focus and aperture control rings and a beautiful, large piece of glass. The Batis is a little smaller and lighter for travel and recreation. But for professional photographers like himself, for which durability, optical quality and longevity are key, he thinks the G Master FE 85mm F1.4 GM is the only portrait lens you’ll need. He says: “You buy that lens and you don’t really have another reason to ever go out and buy another.”

For more information on Sony’s G Master Lenses, visit AlphaUniverse.com/lenses.

January 28th, 2016

Polaroid-Style Prints for a Modern Client

Sponsored by Preservation & Creation

In today’s digital photography market, the demand for printing, album and book making is still high. Print products have become more customized, allowing photographers to leave their own personal touch on keepsakes. Enter Preservation & Creation.

“I equate prints like these to listening to my favorite album on vinyl,” says Jacob Murphy, founder and photographer at JBM Photography—a San Francisco- and Brooklyn-based team of wedding photojournalists—of his recent print purchase at Preservation & Creation. “It adds to the experience.”

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Journal prints featuring the work of JBM Photography / © JBM Photography

The prints he’s referring to are the company’s Journal Prints, which pack a powerful twofold punch. In addition to being Polaroid-style prints—complete with the instant-film look and matte finish, along with the option for adding text to the bottom—a percentage of every purchase goes toward funding a water project in an impoverished community.

Preservation & Creation, founded in 2014, is the brainchild of a group of creative thinkers with backgrounds in photography, design and marketing who banded together with one common mission in mind: “to preserve and inspire life with purpose.”

One way the founders of Preservation & Creation derive purpose from their work is through their alignment with non-profit organizations like Living Water International, a charity they have been donating to long before the company was forged. The second way is through preserving memories that may otherwise exist only in cyberspace.

“Having a tangible print in today’s digital world is an honor and a privilege,” Murphy says. As the founding photographer of JBM, Murphy understands the synergy required for beauty and photography to be in perfect balance, and uses this mindset to capture a couple’s love, quirkiness and individual taste through stunning wedding, engagement and family albums. But while there are more images online now than ever before, the creative energy it takes to preserve a moment in a photograph remains largely unseen without the addition of a tangible keepsake, like a Journal Print or a Hardcover Photo Book.

 

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© JBM Photography

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© JBM Photography

“I always encourage my clients to order prints because sitting down and looking through a physical album is a more intimate experience than scrolling through a gallery on a computer,” Murphy says. “We have enough computer time in our lives already.”

As a photographer who has a background in printing, quality is also important to Murphy. “I put a lot of work into my post-production. Tweaking temperature and tint is a major part of that effort,” he says. “It’s refreshing to see the colors that I envisioned come through in the finished Preservation & Creation product.” In addition, “I love the paper,” he says. “It feels archival; thick but not card stock-y; matte but without losing details and contrast.” Prints ordered through Preservation & Creation can be purchased with a Bastrop Wood Block photo holder—made from the reclaimed wood burned during the Bastrop County Complex fire in Texas—and come wrapped in velum, which, Murphy notes, is a “very classy touch.”

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© JBM Photography

The clients that order prints from Murphy are passionate about print, he says, so it’s important for him to be able to provide a service like Preservation & Creation. But it’s equally important that he doesn’t add to his workload. “Uploading the photos is fast and easy. The editing, cropping and manipulation of the images through the website moves quickly and makes sense,” he explains. “Preservation & Creation prints are a great fit aesthetically for my clients’ style: vintage, clean, and high quality.”

 

January 12th, 2016

Opinion: What CES 2016 Tells Us About the (Bright) Future of Photography

Ask any market analyst for their take on the digital camera business, and you’ll get pretty much the same story of an industry in decline.

According to Chris Chute, Research Director at IDC, camera makers shipped roughly 39 million units in 2015. In their heyday, digital camera sales exceeded 100 million. Arun Gill at the research firm Futuresource Consulting, charts a similarly sharp decline, with sales falling from 73.6 million units in 2013 to 38 million in 2015. Both analysts see more contraction on the horizon.

But broaden the frame, and photography is arguably as vibrant as ever. If there was a major theme to CES 2016, it was surely photography and filmmaking.

It just looked like this:

And this:

And also this:

Alongside the mainstay of traditional cameras announcements (which were innovative in their own right), there were dozens of cameras that could fly, record completely spherical images, create three dimensional virtual reality videos, or go just about anywhere and survive just about anything. 

Photographers and filmmakers have arguably never had so many novel tools at their disposal as they do today.

“I think we’re on the brink of a major change in how we think about photography,” says Pentax President Jim Malcolm. Whereas photography and filmmaking had always been about cropping out visual information to fit a given frame, the new wave of spherical cameras that will hit the market in force in 2016 are all about capturing everything in view.

“When you capture everything, you can create anything,” Malcolm says. In this environment, the composition–what a photographer chooses to frame–can occur after the fact, especially as the technology and resolution behind spherical cameras improve.

Whether spherical imaging and virtual reality represent a genuine sea-change remains to be seen (and we explore that subject in more depth here), but there was undoubtedly a lot of interest, new products and enthusiasm for it at CES.

And while storytelling technology evolves, let’s not forget what else happened at CES.

We enter 2016 with both an explosion in new forms of photography and filmmaking technology and a rejuvenated interest in analog. Truly, these are interesting times.

January 12th, 2016

Preserve the Moment: A Photo Contest Sponsored by Moment and Preservation & Creation™

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Here’s what happens when two brands, with similar missions, come together. Moment, known for equipping photographers with the best mobile lenses on the market, has joined with Preservation & Creation, makers of premium photo print products, to celebrate the art of photography.

At Moment and Preservation & Creation we share a mutual appreciation and passion for the process behind exceptional photography and the tangible prints it creates. Moment lenses make it possible to get perfect shots without lugging traditional camera equipment around. While Preservation & Creation creates photo prints, books, and canvases that Preserve the Unforgettable™ moments captured.

With so much in common it only made sense to bring our two worlds together. That’s where Preserve the Moment was born—a photo contest that challenges photographers to pick & submit their best moment photo of 2015.

10 winners will be chosen based on the most liked photos and announced via email and facebook on January 26, 2016. To enter simply submit your favorite photo from this past year for a chance to win $100 to spend in the Preservation & Creation shop on custom photo products—plus, a Moment lens in your choice of wide, tele, or macro—made for iPhone, Android & Nexus phones.

Enter to win at http://bit.ly/1RHfMep

January 5th, 2016

Here’s What Canon Brought to CES 2016

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Canon’s CES slate was a mostly consumer-oriented affair, with several low-cost ultra-zoom PowerShots introduced alongside a new HD video camera.

The PowerShot SX540 HS boasts a 50x optical zoom lens (equivalent to 24-1200mm) with optical image stabilization and a new 20.3-megapixel CMOS sensor. It incorporates a DIGIC 6 processor, a 3-inch display, Wi-Fi and NFC. Video recording is available at resolutions up to 1920x1080p60.

A new Story Highlights feature automatically builds a highlight reel of your images in-camera. A Hybrid Auto mode records a short video clip before each still photo and compiles them together to make a short highlight reel.

The PowerShot SX540 HS will ship in March for $400.

If you need a bit less reach, the PowerShot SX410 IS offers a 42x optical zoom lens (equivalent to 24-1008mm) with image stabilization and a 20-megapixel sensor.

The camera features Canon’s DIGIC 4+ processor, Wi-Fi and NFC plus 720p video recording and a 3-inch display. It ships in February for $300.

HR_VIXIA_HF_G40_3Q_CLThe VIXIA HF G40 video camera records 1080p60 in either MP4 or AVCHD formats and features a built-in 20x zoom lens.

It features:
* an HD CMOS PRO Image Sensor
* the same DIGIC DV 4 Image processor used in Canon’s XA35 and XA30 pro video cameras
* five axis image stabilization system with a dynamic mode to reduce distortion while walking
* a 3.5–inch OLED touch panel screen
* a tilting EVF , user-friendly, high resolution color Electronic View Finder (EVF).
* Zebra stripes, color bars and test tone
* focus peaking
* two SD card slots
* 1200x slow motion recording
* custom function buttons

Canon has also added new Looks settings, including Highlight Priority which delivers an HDR effect, and a Wide DR Gamma mode that boosts the dynamic range to 600 percent compared to the 300 percent on its predecessor. Both modes will help videographers reclaim details ordinarily lost to over or under-exposure.

The HF G40 will ship in February for $1,399.

The company will also add three new consumer camcorders in its Vixia RF lineup and reaffirmed its commitment to low cost, compact digital cameras, unveiling several new Digital Elphs. You can read about them here.

Follow PDN’s CES 2016 coverage here.

December 28th, 2015

Photo Gear Repair Rates: LensRentals Crunched the Numbers

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LensRentals has released a comprehensive overview photo gear repair rates after 24 months in the field. PDN has the exclusive details.

First, a quick primer on how LensRental generated their numbers. The company bases its results on “repair events”—or an instance of when a piece of equipment is sent to the repair department. According to LensRental, just because a camera body or lens is sent to the repair shop doesn’t necessarily mean it’s busted.

“When a customer reports an issue with a piece of equipment, it is always sent to the repair department for a thorough check,” the company tells us. “It could simply be a case of user error, or the customer’s equipment that is actually in need of repair.” Other cases of repair are simple cleanings like dust removal, even dust removal for cosmetic reasons. So you shouldn’t automatically associate a high level of repair events with defective construction.

The LensRental data was derived from relative repair percentages and average rentals and rental days for each item in a given category. They then developed a curve that best matched each data set, the company tells us. “What we found for each group is that a linear curve fit best. In other words, our data found that a lens has the same likelihood of failing on its 40th rental as it does on its [first] rental. We used the equations to generate predicted repair rates, based on the average rentals and rental days for each item. We generated a ‘Repair Score’ by dividing the predicted rate of repair by the actual rate of repair.”

A Repair Score greater than 1.0 indicates an item with an actual repair rate that is lower than the predicted repair rate, and a score below 1.0 indicates a repair rate that’s higher than predicted.

It’s important to point out the LensRental data may not be indicative of typical use. As the company tells us, “even an item with a poor score in our data is not necessarily likely to fail in the hands of a typical consumer.” For one thing, the data doesn’t account for directly for item weight or internal complexity. Lens data also doesn’t take into account image quality. For instance, tack sharp lenses are often adjusted if there’s a slight softening at an edge whereas a lens that’s less sharp to start with may not get flagged for as many optical adjustments. In this way, sharp lenses may end up being repaired more than average to keep them at the top of their game.

So here are the repair scores across several categories, keeping in mind that higher scores indicate lower-than-predicted rates of repair:

Camera Bodies
DSLR: 1.14
Mirrorless: .79

DSLR Brands
Canon 1.1
Nikon: .95
Sony .8

Mirrorless Camera Brands
Fuji 1.28
Sony 1
Olympus .97
Panasonic .92
Leica .92

DSLR Zoom Lenses
Canon 1.18
Tokina 1.11
Nikon 1.12
Average 1.11
Sony 0.95
Sigma 0.90
Tamron 0.71

DSLR Prime Lenses
Zeiss 1.20
Canon 1.08
Average 1.01
Sigma 0.90
Nikon 0.85
Sony 0.83
Pentax 0.59
Rokinon 0.53

Mirrorless Primes
Panasonic 1.57
Sony 1.26
Olympus 1.14
Voigtlander 0.99
Average 0.95
Zeiss 0.93
Fuji 0.77
Leica 0.69

Mirrorless Zoom
Olympus 1.25
Sony 1.06
Panasonic 1.05
Average 1.04
Fuji 0.92

Zoom Types
Wide Angle 1.31
Normal 1.09
Telephoto 1.07
Supertele 0.68

See Also:

10 Things We Learned About Cameras and Lens from LensRentals

The Best Advanced Compact Cameras You Can Buy Today

Our Favorite Photo Gear of the Year

December 10th, 2015

Peter Hurley on Helping a “Human of New York” and the Importance of a Go-To Lighting Kit

Sponsored by FJ Westcott

Peter Hurley has a talent for capturing faces. The model-turned-photographer is known by many for his headshot work and popular YouTube headshot tutorials. But Hurley also has a knack for putting smiles on faces, too, as evidenced by a recent headshot session with New York City-based actor Richard Ryker.

Hurley first heard of Ryker and his recent struggle to find work via Humans of New York, the popular website and Facebook page founded by photographer Brandon Stanton, which features street portraits and interviews collected on the streets of New York City. Hurley was drawn to his story and reached out to him to offer new headshots. With Ryker on board, Hurley invited him in for a studio session.

Hurley says he immediately noticed Ryker’s striking facial features, and set up his signature lighting to best capture them. The setup has even become its own official kit: Westcott’s Peter Hurley 4-Light Flex Kit. The kit includes four of Westcott’s innovative Flex LED mats, four modular Scrim Jim Cine Frames, extension cables, diffusion, mounting hardware, studs and a durable travel case to package it all up.

© Peter Hurley

Actor Richard Ryker / © Peter Hurley

This water-resistant, lightweight lighting kit was developed by Westcott and Hurley as an easy-to-use, complete solution for high-quality headshots. “When I’m working with a face like [Ryker’s], I love to be able to fine-tune my lights to give me the precise highlights, as well as the shadow density that I’m looking for,” Hurley says. “Complete control with the Flex Kit is what it’s all about.” The Flex LED mat’s 140-degree light output provides a wide angle of light spread, and the dimmer allows him to adjust the light output from 5 to 100 percent. In addition, 16-foot extension cables are included with the kit, giving Hurley complete flexibility. It’s this flexibility that allows him to focus on working with his subject. “As I nail the lighting, I’m also simultaneously digging into my subject to pull out interesting expressions,” he explains.

Another aspect of the Flex Kit that Hurley benefits from when shooting are the high-quality LED lights that line the surface of the Flex mat. These LEDs offer between 1,700 to 10,500 lux at one meter (depending on the mat size), while boasting a high color purity: With the daylight version boasting a CRI of 95, and the Tungsten/Bi-Color version coming in at 98, these LEDs portray precise shades and skin tones for faster post-production editing. With this kit, Hurley says that shaping light on Ryker’s face was “incredible.” Hurley believes that the headshots should help open some doors for the actor.

© Peter Hurley

© Peter Hurley

Hurley refers to his Flex Kit as his “gopher” light, a light that you “go for” when you have a big shoot on your hands. Having a kit that’s easy to set up ahead of time affords more time to handle all of the other little things that arise. “There are enough variables coming into the fray on a big job, and [light] is one that you don’t want to mess with the day of the shoot,” he says.

The Westcott Peter Hurley 4-Light Flex Kit is available for purchase now. Westcott also has bi-color units available, as well as smaller units that can be operated using a battery. Visit fjwestcott.com for more details.

© Peter Hurley

Peter Hurley with the Peter Hurley 4-Light Flex Kit / © Peter Hurley

What’s in the Kit?

December 9th, 2015

Where Creativity and Philanthropy Meet: A Q&A with Preservation & Creation

Sponsored by Preservation & Creation

PDN: When was Preservation & Creation founded, and what is its mission?

Preservation & Creation: We started as a small startup in 2014. We’re a team of creative thinkers with backgrounds in photography, design, style and marketing that came together with one common goal: to preserve and inspire life with purpose.

The concept for the company started from just a conversation. We all agreed that life tended to lose its wonder between great moments. Everyone has photos from a wedding, graduation or a big trip. But it’s the little everyday moments that get lost, overlooked and quickly forgotten throughout the years. We believe every part of life’s story should be told—from the in-between moments to the big days.

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Books and prints from Preservation & Creation.

Even though it seems that people are taking more photos now than ever, they aren’t preserving them in anything but a phone or computer. We think moments are meant to be held onto and re-lived by displaying them on shelves, lining your halls with them or flipping through photo books again and again.

PDN: What was the flagship product and what have you since added to your print offerings?

P&C: Our flagship product is the versatile Hardcover Photo Book. It can hold an entire life within its pages—complete with quotes, personal notes and, of course, photos.

Our polaroid-style Journal Prints launched right behind our photo books. These were made to document stand-alone moments, and have an area on each for adding personal sentiments that won’t interfere with the image that can be handwritten or easily added through our editor.

In celebration of the holiday season we are bundling these two products, our Hardcover Photo Book, and Journal Prints, in a special offer. Until December 19, when you buy any Hardcover Photo Book you’ll get two sets of our Journal Prints free—plus, free shipping (use promo code: PDNBUNDLE)

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Hardcover Photo Book

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Journal Prints

Our product line continues to expand with Square Photo Prints, Canvas Prints, Soft Cover Photo Books, and our handmade Bastrop Wood Block photo holder, made from wood salvaged from a devastating forest fire in Bastrop, Texas.

PDN: When did you start offering the set and what made you decide to use reclaimed wood?

P&C: As a company, we took the opportunity to both help clear the ground following the fire and upcycle the wood that did remain to give it a new life. The Bastrop County Complex fire was horrifyingly unique in that it burned for 144 days straight—damaging over 34 thousand acres, including parts of Bastrop State Park and the ancient Lost Pines Forest. We see this product as a part of history—one that we were able to salvage. Each wood block is handmade to fit our polaroid-style journal prints. This product became available in our shop in early October 2015 and continues to be one of our favorites.

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A collection of Journal Prints in a Wood Block.

PDN: What are some aspects of your prints and books that set them apart from other companies?

P&C: Not only do we take care in each print and photo book we produce, but we also work hard to provide exceptional customer service. It brings us so much joy to play a part in helping to preserve someone’s history. That’s what drives us. We will do whatever it takes to make sure a customer gets a product they love completely.

PDN: A percentage of each purchase supports Living Water International. When did you form a relationship with that organization? What is their mission?

P&C: Before we even sold one product we had already fully funded two water wells on our own because it’s a cause we believe in. In the early stages of our company we knew that we needed a bigger purpose—something that made the world a better place. In our search, we began by attending a volunteer event that hosted several different types of charities with educational information and representatives to help answer questions. Upon learning about the work Living Water International was doing we knew that this was a cause we could get behind. Living Water International exists to help communities affected by the water crisis acquire desperately needed clean water. Each purchase a customer makes means a percentage of a water well is funded for communities in poverty. Customers can see fully funded wells, wells in progress, and even the percentage of a well their order helped accomplish.

PDN: Do you have any new products launching soon, or any news to share?

P&C: We will be steadily releasing new products and enhancing existing products over the next year. As we move forward, we are always reevaluating to make sure that our current products are exceeding our customer’s needs. So for our first initiative we will be implementing new templates to our Photo Book’s editor. Themes will include weddings, travel, baby and a few others that are still in the works. Second, most of our projects require several photos to complete—which is great if you have lots to print. But we will be brainstorming products that make it easy to print just one or two photos in a project. Lastly, we will focus on providing new visual content and education to inspire customers to make the photos they want and better envision how to display them.

See all of Preservation & Creation’s products at www.preservationcreation.com

December 8th, 2015

Mastering the Moment with Erik Valind

Sponsored by Broncolor

Walt Whitman coined the phrase “Every moment of light and dark is a miracle.” In photography, you often have to make your own miracles, constructing the moments of darkness and light to deliver a perfect exposure.

New York City-based portrait and active-lifestyle photographer Erik Valind is no stranger to constructing these moments. His approach to lighting is straightforward: “I’m not trying to over-light the scene—I want to get as much use out of natural light as I can first,” he says. After leveraging all the natural light sources in a given environment, Valind will then turn to his new go-to lights: the Siros from Broncolor. He uses one as a key light to highlight his subject(s) and the second as a rim light to illuminate edges.

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A simple setup with the Broncolor Siros. Photo © Erik Valind

Location determines his choice of light modifiers. When shooting indoors, Valind employs a square softbox to mimic the look of window lighting, which could be visible as a catch light in the eyes of a subject. Outdoors, he’ll opt for either a 2.5-foot or 5-foot octabank. “They’re my go-to [lights] outdoors,” he says. “I jokingly referred to as a “cheater light”, because you can’t take a bad portrait with a 5-foot octa.” He chooses circular modifiers outdoors so catch lights have a sun-like appearance in his subjects’ eyes. The smaller, 2.5-inch modifier is used when he wants a “punchier” light source with more contrast and a harder edge. The 5-foot modifier is called on when he requires greater diffusion and a softer wrapping glow.

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Before (natural light) / Photo © Erik Valind

For Valind, the fact that the Siros strobes come out of the box with an exposed flash tube has meant a world of difference when light shaping. Whereas some rival strobes take a speed light-like approach to flash tubes by recessing them to provide for a longer reach, the Siros’ exposed flash tube and frosted dome front cover are designed to more evenly fill a modifier. The difference is immediately visible in soft boxes, Valind says. The Siros won’t produce a “hot spot” or visible concentration of light in the modifier, whereas strobes with recessed tubes will produce a bright center light and then tail off more dramatically toward the edge of the modifier.

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After (with the Broncolor Siros and parabolic reflector) / Photo © Erik Valind

Parabolic reflectors show off the virtues of the exposed tube even more. “If you put the Siros in a parabolic, you get a perfectly defocused ring light with 24 points that you can use to dial in, like a spotlight, or cast it wider and softer. When you try that with other strobes with a recessed tube, it doesn’t work,” Valind says.

The paras are Valind’s go-to modifier when he wants to bring out contrast in a subject that would otherwise be matted down by a softbox. “Clothing and textiles really pop with the para,” he says.

For Valind, the Siros’ other core strength is its versatility. “It has excellent color accuracy, which is important if I’m shooting color critical work like a catalog. But at the same time, it can bottom out at 4 watt-seconds, so I can use it in a variety of settings when I just want to balance out dim ambient light.” When he needs to capture motion or overpower the sun, he can crank the Siros to higher watt settings, up to either 400W/s or 800W/s, depending on the model.

“I used to travel with two different lighting kits, one with my speedlights and one with my strobes,” Valind says. “Now I can get away with one kit.”

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Visit www.bron.ch to learn more about Broncolor lighting.

November 25th, 2015

Maximize Your Print-on-Site Potential: Tips from Event Photographer Keith B. Dixon

Sponsored by DNP Photo Imaging

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Photo © Keith B. Dixon

 

As an event photographer, offering print-on-site (POS) is an essential part of the business. But the technical and practical execution of POS depends on the site, the available technology, and the client’s needs. San Francisco Bay Area-based photographer Keith B. Dixon specializes in event photography and offers the following five tips to ensure every job is a success:

1. Determine the client’s specific technology needs for POS first. “Only then can you make the right decision about how you’re going to apply the printer technology,” Dixon says. For example, if a client with a limited budget can’t afford a print tech, it’s best to use a wireless print server without a computer. Or, if it is a large-volume event, using hardwire technology is preferable in order to avoid bottlenecks during batch printing. “You have to understand how the technology is going to serve the client first, and then you,” Dixon adds.

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POS at a client’s wedding / Photo © Keith B. Dixon

 

2. Traditional backdrops and step-and-repeat banners command top dollar over photo booths, but they are more difficult to manage. To overcome the challenges such setups present, Dixon recommends, “developing a defined workflow between the camera, computer and printer.” He says: “Work with a person who understands how to manage the printer loads and crowd. Simple workflows are best in large-volume POS situations. I use image management software, such as Adobe Lightroom, to organize, process and crop photos on-site to print.”

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A holiday backdrop / Photo © Keith B. Dixon

3. Use a printer that produces beautiful prints quickly in the formats your clients want. “You have to tune into the small details of your workflow to determine whether a printer is going to work for your business. I use DNP’s DS620A because it’s an extremely well built dye-sublimation printer. It solves problems right out of the box because it is powerful, yet easy to transport, set up and use,” Dixon says. Quick problem solving is indeed this printer’s specialty: It is remarkably fast, making prints with crisp colors in 8.3 seconds (up to 400 prints per hour) in formats ranging from a 2- x 6-inch photo-booth fun strip to 6- x 8-inch enlargements. It’s also environmentally friendly.

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DNP Photo Imaging’s DS620A printer.

4. Make sure your images are properly exposed and composed when offering POS. “Use a tripod, at least 500W/s lights and meter from one edge of the backdrop to the other,” Dixon says. “Keep the exposure on your backdrop within a half or a third stop all the way across, so the light is even. To eliminate shadows cast on the background, use at least 60-inch umbrellas or a five-foot octa light bank. Get your light up high and angle it down for people wearing glasses to reduce reflections and shadows in-group photos. If you don’t have these types of light modifiers available, slow down your shutter speed to let in more ambient light to reduce your shadows.” He also says to look out for motion blur: “Avoid using shallow depth of fields like f/2.8 or 5.6—they won’t work well for multi-row group shots when you print them. The DS620A reproduction is accurate so if you print a less-than-stellar exposure, your print is going to reflect that.”

5. Always have a backup plan. “Bring backup printers, computers, media, cords, and software to all POS jobs and use cloud-based products,” Dixon says. “I prepare all my gear in detail the week of an event, yet no matter how well you plan, human error and technological issues can still happen. On a recent job, I forgot the crate of computers, so we had to borrow a laptop from the client and install the printer drivers and software as we were shooting the event. Fortunately, we didn’t miss a beat: all the software I use is cloud-based, so we were able to pull it down and install it flawlessly.”

To learn more about the DNP DS620A printer, visit www.dnpphoto.com.