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June 2nd, 2016

From Vision to Visuals: The Evolution of Duggal Visual Solutions

Sponsored by Duggal Visual Solutions

 
The early 1960s were a chaotic time in American history: The Civil Rights movement was in full swing, and the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in 1963 left the country deeply unsettled. Despite the unrest, it created an environment rich with photographic opportunities. And it was also a time that a young immigrant from Jalandhar, India, decided to start his fledgling printing business—Duggal Color—in New York City.

A portrait of Baldev Duggal.

A portrait of Baldev Duggal.

Always enthralled with American culture, Baldev Duggal came to the United States in 1957 with only $200 in his pocket. He had a knack for inventing things and a passion for photography. In the States, he worked odd jobs until coming upon a print production company looking for free help in exchange for office space. Duggal took the offer and began developing film in his bathtub, using the office space to advertise his processing services.

Photographers became Duggal’s clients, and because of his high-quality prints—not to mention the swelling of both the magazine publishing and advertising industries—there was endless demand for film production.

While Duggal Color hummed along, the turning point was Duggal’s own forward-thinking invention in the early 1970s: an automated dip-and-dunk machine for film processing, removing the need for hand-developing. What remains a universally used technology in film processing was the catalyst for what ultimately became the innovative business-meets-art powerhouse that is Duggal Visual Solutions. The new ethos of the business was cutting-edge technology that was faster and less expensive than its competitors.

Since then, Duggal Visual Solutions has grown in several iterations, currently taking up a 30,000 square-foot space in the Flatiron District of Manhattan, with several additional production facilities in Brooklyn. As of 2013, that includes Duggal Greenhouse, a sustainable event space in Brooklyn’s Navy Yards, which—among other things—hosted the Democratic debates in April 2016, proving that the company’s services extend far beyond print production.


Throughout its constant evolution of space and services, Duggal Visual Solutions has kept a core focus on innovative technology that keeps it on top of the industries it serves. In the late 1980s, it was the first brand to introduce RGB drum scanning and electronic retouching for photographers. Today, the company stays on the forefront of technological advances by offering services that include 3D printing, large-format graphic mural printing, prototype packaging and TV color correction.

A man uses a loupe to take a close look at the details in this HD C-Print® of a map on a lightbox.

A man uses a loupe to take a close look at the details in this HD C-Print® of a map on a lightbox.

Most recently, Duggal added another cutting-edge visual solution to their roster: HD C-Prints®. At 610 dpi, HD C-Prints® are printed at more than twice the resolution of standard photography prints. For artist-photographers like Spencer Tunick—who is best known for his large-scale, fine art photography of nudes en masse—the HD C-Print® quality is paramount. His prints typically run 30 x 37.5 inches or 48 x 60 inches in size, and often feature hundreds or thousands of subjects. “I’m working with people’s bodies and faces at long distances, and I know the viewer pays attention to detail, so for me, the extra sharpness is needed,” Tunick says. “Many labs in New York don’t even run inkjet at 300 dpi, and if you request it, it usually comes at a higher charge. I still shoot with film and drum scan the negative, and Duggal’s high-definition printer equals that of film printing through a large negative.”

Example of detail in Duggal’s HD C-Prints®.

Example of detail in Duggal’s HD C-Prints®.

Tunick switched to Duggal Visual Solutions in 1998 because the company was willing to negotiate its prices based on his needs, while still providing high-quality products and service. Because Tunick gifts each of his subjects a limited edition, 8×10-inch print in exchange for posing in his group portraits, he needed a rate that would make sense without sacrificing quality. As his compositions filled with more participants, he found that other Manhattan and Brooklyn printers couldn’t work with his budget. “I couldn’t afford to do my multi-person works and gift everyone a photograph who participated,” Tunick says. “Duggal gave me a great price. I suddenly had a project with the Musée d’art contemporain in Montreal where 2,500 people posed. It was important to have a lab that understood my practice and could give me a good price so I could extend that low price point to the museum.”

Examples of Duggal’s artful framing techniques.

Examples of Duggal’s artful framing techniques.

Though printing remains a key component of Duggal Visual Solutions’ business, the company is equally serious about its focus on the latest technologies in mounting and framing. The company works closely with artists to create unique mounts and frames that complement their work and add a level of gravitas. Tunick, for example, uses the company’s custom mounting services when he wants sealed plexiglass mounts, putting the emphasis on a print without any distraction. On the other end of the spectrum, New York City artist Kirsty Reeves prefers a more distinctive approach for framing and mounting her monochromatic, 30 x 30-inch photographic portraits. “Duggal mounted or framed each print in a unique fashion,” Reeves explains. “[From] the unusual combination of a float-mounted print within a shadow-box, to museum-board walls, to frames constructed from hand-finished hardwoods, [each made] specifically for my prints.”In addition to unique framing and mounting techniques, Duggal also accommodates artists who produce large-scale images. Photographer Drew Tal, for instance, enjoys Duggal’s impressive large-scale lightboxes and SEG (silicone edge graphic) frames. This past March, Duggal produced several large-scale lightboxes and SEG frames for Tal’s work to be exhibited at the 2016 Global Shop convention—where the company also garnered the show’s top awards: “Best of Competition” and “Best in Booth Design.”

Of the SEG frames, Tal says: “The results [were] stunning; I found the quality, colors, saturation, sharpness and clarity to be noticeably striking.” In addition, and of equal importance, to this was the reaction Tal received from his audience. “The enthusiastic and favorable reaction of the convention attendees and industry specialists confirmed to me that lightboxes and SEG frames are technologies I should continue to explore for my next gallery or museum exhibitions,” he explains.

An example of Duggal’s acrylic bespoke fabrication.

An example of Duggal’s acrylic bespoke fabrication.

Duggal’s dedication to technology allows artist-innovators to work with a wide variety of cutting-edge tools and techniques in order to precisely express their unique creative visions. With acrylic bespoke fabrication, for example, artists can create dimensional pieces and intricate 3D forms. If neon is on the docket, all a client needs to ask for is Duggal’s flexible laser/fiber optic strands, which bend, curve and wrap objects, simulating neon. And of course, there’s 3D Lenticular printing, which provides a holographic effect, giving a static image movement and depth.As recently as May 2016, Duggal introduced its newest innovation, Vibrachrome—a long-awaited and incredibly exciting solution for any artist who’s dreamt of durable metal printing. Using a heat transfer process via two cutting-edge, dye-sublimation machines, the Vibrachrome process results in a permanent, continuous tone print.

While the company motto—“Vision to Visuals”— is embodied with every new product, the resulting “wow, that’s so cool!” moment from the viewer is the true indication that Duggal’s products and services continue to remain at the forefront of visual technological advancements. As technology advances, so do the expectations of image makers and their audiences, and Duggal Visual Solution’s support of and respect for artists’ forward-thinking visions has turned Duggal’s once small, store-front printing business into the multifunctional, innovative outlet for creativity that it is today.

May 24th, 2016

Get sporty with the new Backpack Adapter on Kickstarter! (Sponsored)

Courtesy of SpiderHolster, this little beauty extends the functionality of the Black Widow Holster so you can carry your mirrorless camera on any cushioned vertical backpack strap or messenger bag strap.

A quick snap-in connection securely fastens our Black Widow Holster to your bag’s strap with an ergonomic shape designed to work with the body’s natural contours.

Check out the Kickstarter campaign here!

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May 23rd, 2016

Ultimate Mobility, Power, and Control with the Siros L (Sponsored)

(by Erik Valind)

As a location photographer, there’s few things in life that I enjoy more then shooting at an amazing location, and then facing the unpredictable conditions that come with it. Due to the unpredictability of working outdoors, I’ve become a big lighting guy mostly out of necessity. Whether I’m dealing with scrims and reflectors, small flash, or large strobes, I’m always looking for ways to control the quality and direction of the light to flatter my subjects, and to enhance an image. When I first got my hands on the new Broncolor Siros L, I immediately recognized the possibilities that this new flash would open for me. Some of the most important qualities I look for in a strobe is mobility, power and control. To put the Siros L to the test I partnered up with Sierra – an incredible model and athlete with Wilhelmina Fitness in NYC, and we took off for Central Park to create some killer images!

Lights and Mobility

With the blossoming bright trees in the distant background, we had found our first location on a sun-lit patch of grass. I started with the sun as my key light, letting it doing most of the work to illuminate both the model and the background. With the sun doing the heavy lifting, a single strobe would be sufficient to perfect this initial setup. To further sculpt the model and to make her look more 3-Dimensional, I added a rim light behind her.

Before and After
The battery-powered monolight is VERY mobile. I attached a Broncolor 30 x 120 cm Stripbox to a single Siros L 800 unit, and my assistant was able to hand-hold it the entire time. With one hand on the unit, and the other hand firmly on the built in handle, my assistant was able to track the model’s movement from pose to pose. Being able to work this quickly on location is invaluable, and at the same time can save you from having to pull expensive shooting permits in some major cities.

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Lights and Power

One obvious reason for shooting outdoors vs. inside in the studio is the sun! The sun did a great job front-lighting the previous images, but what I really enjoy is the sun flare aesthetic. To achieve that backlit glowing light and streaming sun flare in your camera lens, you need to specifically place the sun behind the model, and just out of the frame. Unfortunately the resulting placement usually leaves your subject in the dark or as a partial silhouette.

To illuminate the model and achieve the look I wanted, I needed to fill in those shadows with some light. Here is where I put the power of the Siros L to the test. Two units were used for this setup. I chose the Siros 800 L again because it has a maximum 800ws, which is plenty of power to compete with the bright afternoon sun.

To modify the Siros, I used a Broncolor 75 cm Octabox on the models face, then I used a Broncolor 30 x 120 cm Stripbox to enhance the backlight wrapping around the model’s side. With the available power in this monolight, I didn’t have to turn the flash power up to maximum, which gave me fast recycle times for quick shooting. The extra power and fast recycling times allowed me to get more shots than usual, and this allowed the model to work quickly while not tiring herself out while holding difficult poses.

Lights and Control

The sun began to set, and we decided to try for one last setup before dark. With no more direct sunlight to utilize, I brought out the third Siros L in my kit for a total of three flash units. With this many flashes combined, the ability to precisely modify and control each of them becomes paramount. I started out with a rim light placed behind the model on either side. These were each modified with a Broncolor 30 x 120 cm Stripbox to soften and control the direction of the light. The design of the Siros L with its exposed flash tube is amazing in how it is designed for use with every existing Broncolor lighting modifier.

160401_ESV0753-Edit160401_ESV0731-Edit160401_ESV0747-EditTo save myself the hassle of running back and forth between all of the lights to get the exposure dialed in, I just turned on the Wi-Fi function on each Siros. This allowed me to easily control them from my shooting position while using the BronControl app on my iPhone. This saved me time and energy as we were racing the clock against the sun. Once the rim lights were correct I added the final Siros L with the super portable Broncolor Beauty Box for a punch of even contrasty light on the front of the model’s body.

Once my lights were in place and the lighting ratio perfect I began shooting. As I changed my aperture for creative control of my Depth of Field throughout the shoot I needed to adjust the power of all of the flashes accordingly. This was made even easier with the Broncolor RFS Transmitter on top of my camera, which gave me the ability to control all three lights as a group – maintaining the lighting ratio – while powering them up and down very precisely in 1/10th stop increments.

It was incredible how quickly we got everything setup, fine tuned and adjusted on the fly using the intuitive control of the BronControl App and RFS Transmitter.

That was a wrap on my first shoot with the Siros L! As we piled into the cab on the way back to the studio, I replayed in my mind all the many lighting setups we had just run through. I’m happy to say that the Siros L has passed all my tests, leaving me with a glowing first impression. The Siros L is an amazing kit for any photographer who enjoys shooting on location as much as I do! For more information on the Siros L, click here…

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(All photos (c) Erik Valind)

May 12th, 2016

Two Weeks with the Sony G Master Series: Mike Colón Tests Sony’s Latest Lens

Sponsored by Sony Electronics Inc.

Shooting from 2,000 feet above the ground is one of the fastest ways to initiate new gear. And a sunset hot air balloon ride in San Diego provided a perfect kickoff for Sony Artisan and SoCal wedding and portrait photographer Mike Colón to try out the new Sony 85mm f1.4 G Master lens. “I was actually putting the other balloon in the furthest corner of the viewfinder, focusing it there, and zooming in on it— and it was razor sharp,” Colón says.

Image captured with the Sony a7R II and the 85mm G Master Lens. © Mike Colón

Image captured with the Sony a7R II and the 85mm G Master Lens. © Mike Colón

But that was just the beginning. Would the 85mm G Master lens work over the next two weeks, as Colón tested it in variety of shooting scenarios? Spoiler alert: with an amazing quality of sharpness and bokeh, he was not disappointed.

“I got to shoot model headshots with the new lens, and I typically do a lot of manual focusing for portraits because if I’m wide open at f/1.4, I want the eyes to be razor sharp,” he says. “With previous Sony lenses, the manual focus was a little more difficult to control, but with the 85mm G Master, they really tightened it up so I can move it just a hair and see the focus adjust accordingly. I even compared to the Zeiss Otus 85mm f/1.4, and it is just as super fine-tuned.”

Images captured with the Sony a7R II and the 85mm G Master Lens. © Mike Colón

Images captured with the Sony a7R II and the 85mm G Master Lens. © Mike Colón

The AF lock kill switch also came in handy for Colón, giving him the flexibility to switch back and forth between Auto Focus and Manual in an instant. “I photograph for UFC, so I do a lot of shooting through the cage next to the fence,” he says. “With the fighters moving around so sporadically, I don’t want the camera to constantly be hunting for focus. There are times when I’d rather be locked most of the time, and deal with focus when I need it at my fingertips. So I can hold that button, recompose and shoot.”

The 85mm G Master also has an incredibly useful feature for filmmakers: the choice to go silent. For a photographer like Colón whose clients are increasingly asking him to do video, this option is paramount. “If I’m in the middle of shooting a video and want to change my aperture, I can do it without hearing it or creating vibration,” he says. On the other hand, ”when shooting stills, it’s nice to be able to hear the click between f-stops and calculate your setting without looking.”

Image captured with the Sony a7R II and the 85mm G Master Lens. © Mike Colón

Image captured with the Sony a7R II and the 85mm G Master Lens. © Mike Colón

After comparing the 85mm G Master’s sharpness and quickness of focus with other lenses in its class, Colón was solidly impressed with its overall quality. “It felt well-balanced, like a lighter weight lens, but the images came out so great,” he says. “It’s nice that Sony is making fast lenses now because that’s huge for wedding photographers. The 85mm’s fast f/1.4 aperture makes it so much easier to work in the super low-lighting situations that we’re so often dealing with at weddings. And of course, the razor-sharp glass, shallow depth of field, and insanely beautiful bokeh is the perfect recipe for making our subjects pop against the busy backgrounds of a wedding scene.”

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

May 5th, 2016

Introducing ExoLens® with Optics by ZEISS (Sponsored)

ZEISS, one of the world’s leading companies in the fields of optics and optoelectronics, and the Fellowes’ ExoLens® brand, an American innovator in mobile photography accessories, announced their collaboration in the design and development of three accessory lenses for mobile phones – wide-angle, telephoto and macro.

Zeiss Lens family

The wide-angle and telephoto lenses offer excellent image performance with outstanding edge-to-edge contrast.  Dramatic perspectives, exceptional angles or portraits in which the main subject is to be clearly isolated from the background are the specialties of these lenses.

 

The macro lens enables unparalleled close-up photography with a mobile phone camera and is the only accessory lens to offer a continuous zoom function.  An optionally attachable, semi-transparent diffuser allows light to shine evenly on the object being photographed and enables convenient focusing, even with a short object distance and shallow depth of field.

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The ExoLens® with Optics by ZEISS lenses are characterized by leading-edge design featuring smooth surfaces made of black anodized aluminum with laser engraved labeling. This is a systematic continuation of the distinctive, innovative product design that typifies current families of ZEISS camera lenses.  The new lenses can be used on the Apple® iPhone® 6, 6s, 6 Plus, 6s Plus with customized mounting brackets.

For more information, please visit http://lenspire.zeiss.com/en/zeiss-and-fellowes-brands-launch/

April 19th, 2016

Storage at NAB: No Terabyte Left Behind

For creatives churning out 4K videos, storage and data speeds are an ever-pressing concern. At NAB, several storage companies unveiled super high capacity drives that combine generous capacities with blazing transfer speeds to cope with the data rich era we live in.
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G-Technology G-Rack 12

G-Technology hit NAB with its first-ever Network Attached Storage device to cope with the storage demands of 4K video.

The G-RACK 12 a scalable 12-bay server offering capacities up to 120TB. You can add another 120TB using an optional expansion chassis.The G-Rack features four 10-gigabit Ethernet connections for high-speed data transfers and uses a BTRFs files system and graphical interface to make drive management simpler. The 12-bay, expandable units incorporate enterprise hard drives and are available in 48TB, 72TB, 96TB, and 120TB storage capacities.

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LaCie 12big Thunderbolt 3

This 12-bay RAID unit can deliver up to 96TB in capacity and uses Thunderbolt 3 to deliver transfer speeds of up to 2600MB/s in RAID 0 and 2400MB/s in RAID 5.

The LaCie 12big features 256MB cache, 7200RPM Seagate enterprise-class drives rated for 8,760 hours of operation per year. LaCie’s RAID Manager software has also been redesigned to make it simpler to use, the company said. The new software will also be available to download for free for owners of older big-series drives.

It ships with a USB-C to USB-A cable and will be available this summer in 48TB, 72TB and 96TB capacities. Pricing wasn’t announced.

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SymplyStor

SymplyStor is a new desktop RAID storage solution designed to let up to eight different Thunderbolt-connected PCs access files.

SymplyStor is available with either SSD or hard drives in capacities up to 64TB. It supports both Thunderbolt 2 and Thunderbolt 3 speeds. If you opt for the SymplyShare base, you can double the storage capacity by adding another 64TB SymplyStor–the two will behave as a single RAID device.

SymplyStor uses Apple’s Xsan networking technology to let multiple users access the same storage drives. The software features a 5-step setup and there are monitoring apps for Mac, Windows, iOS and Apple Watch.

SymplyStor starts at $1,999.

 

April 19th, 2016

Travel Log: Brian Smith at Mardi Gras with Sony’s G Master Lenses

Sponsored by Sony

When Miami-based portrait photographer Brian Smith was asked to test the Sony G Matster Lenses, he chose a setting with color, texture and history: Mardi Gras. The annual New Orleans celebration is a photographer’s playground with parades, vibrant costumes and a diverse range of subjects from day to night.

© Brian Smith

© Brian Smith

Although he is best known for his portraits of big-name celebrities like Samuel L. Jackson and Anne Hathaway, Smith is also an avid shooter of lifestyle and travel photography. New Orleans provided opportunities for all of the above, from the lively nightlife on Bourbon Street to the porches of Cajun fishermen in nearby Houma, Louisiana.

Smith’s camera of choice is the Sony α7R II, and, up until now, his lenses of choice were the Sony-compatible Zeiss line. With the new G Master Lenses, he had high expectations: “I was hoping the new lenses would come close to matching the performance of [Zeiss lenses],” he says. Armed with the FE 24-70mm F2.8 lens and FE 85mm F1.4 lens, both from Sony’s new G Master series, Smith traveled to Louisiana to test them out.

© Brian Smith

© Brian Smith

“We were all over Cajun country. We went everywhere we could think of to try out these lenses,” Smith recalls. Smith’s odyssey led him to shoot sunset portraits of jazz musician Benny Jones, Sr. in Louis Armstrong Park; Big Chief Kevin Goodman of the Flaming Arrows, decked out in full Mardi Gras Indian regalia; as well as a staged fashion shoot in the historic Lafayette Cemetery.

Smith was happy to find that the lenses’ autofocus was fast and accurate, while also rendering colors and skin tones faithfully. “I was hoping the G Master Lenses would come close to matching the performance of Sony’s Zeiss lenses,” said Smith. “And they exceeded my expectations.” Pairing the fast autofocus with the low-light capabilities of the α7R II allowed Smith to capture nighttime portraits with only available light.

© Brian Smith

© Brian Smith

Most noticeably, according to Smith, the lenses had a “smooth transition from in-focus areas to out-of-focus,” a quality that Smith says made images like those of the science fiction-themed Intergalactic Krewe of Chewbacchus parade “simply look better.” “When you are photographing people, you want the image to be as sharp as possible, but you also want it to look beautiful,” Smith explains. “Beauty isn’t something you typically talk about when testing lenses, but when you see the images, you can understand why I would say [that what the G Master lenses produce] are beautiful.”

© Brian Smith

© Brian Smith

When Smith returned to his studio in Miami, he could see even more clearly what he had noticed in the field: the G Master images were crisp, even when he zoomed in on minor details—and even when he had shot with a wide-open aperture. Since his New Orleans trip, Smith says the G Master lenses have become an integral part of his gear: “I’ve been using them on almost all of my shoots. I’m very happy taking these two lenses with me and calling it a day.”

For more information on G Master Lenses and Brian Smith visit sony.com/alpha.

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.