You are currently browsing the archives for the Products category.

July 30th, 2015

ONE Album That Has it All

Sponsored by Finao

Wedding photographers know that every detail counts, particularly when producing wedding albums to please clients with varying tastes. Finao, maker of high-end wedding albums, knows this too. It’s why the company created the ONE series, a leading line of premium quality, edge-to-edge, flush-mounted albums that give photographers limitless options and tools to create unique and timeless collections of images for wedding clients.

ONE Collage

Various cover styles and patterns on Finao ONE albums.

Consider the paper, for instance. The original ONE features silver halide printing in luster, matte or metallic, which is a paper stock that produces vibrant color and dramatic black-and-white photographs that will last a lifetime. In fact, silver halide paper is rated to be archival for more than 100 years. It provides a visual keepsake that’s both stunning and stable. There are also options for a fine-art version, Finao’s artONE, that features Hahnemϋhle German etching paper, and a revolutionary matted hybrid version called the nextONE.

Seasonal Tastes

Premium paper is just part of the package. Photographers have access to hundreds of cover materials, designs and color combinations which can be personalized to reference the couple’s wedding day. Nearly 150 options are standard inclusions with the ONE series. If it’s a winter wedding, leathers from the Accents collection offer monochromatic textures that echo the look of falling snow. For an autumn gathering, get an earth-toned foliage look with one of the many patterned leathers or fabrics, of which many are custom-created for Finao. And for a summer beach wedding, a wide array of light and airy linens and silks make for a breathtaking display.

Design-Savvy Clients

header-starter kit

Finao One cut-out cover (left), a tote of One albums (center), color swatches (upper right) and Two-Tone and Erotika albums (bottom right).

More than ever before, wedding couples see examples of different types of photography and design via the Internet. With the rise of Pinterest, many clients are able to take cues from designers and stylists to visualize their own weddings from start to finish. Finao offers the widest range of unique cover options to meet the demands of the more design-savvy client, from a basic single material to a tooTone or 3Tone cover design that allows for the mix and match of any materials. For an especially bold statement, specialty covers such as Armour or Erotika metal image covers or limited edition cover designs are the way to go.

ONE album, Many Package Options

Finao Collage

Details of Finao ONE albums, Marilyn Image Boxes with mats (bottom left, upper right) and a Finao nextONE flushmount/matted hybrid album (center).

The Finao ONE is available in almost any size and aspect ratio, from as small as 3×3 inches up to 12×18 and the impressive 20×8 flipbook. There are also two page-thickness options: albums with thick pages range in capacity from 20 to 64 page-sides, and albums with slimmer pages (medium thickness) range from 20 up to 100 page-sides. And for clients who want multiple books for family, but maybe a more economical solution than duplicate flush-mounts, Finao’s playBOOK photo books are a great alternative. They feature a skinny page design and true photographic prints just like the higher-end ONE albums, all within a similar price point to the lower-quality press books in the marketplace. Additional options for the ONE including custom liners, spine options, printing choices, packaging options and more can be found under the “Other Stuff” heading on the Finao ONE product information page. Start brainstorming options and order some discounted studio samples at finao.com.

July 27th, 2015

The Perfect Portrait Formula: Peter Hurley’s Flex LED Lighting Setups for Men and Women

Sponsored by Westcott

Portrait photographer Peter Hurley has become famous for his headshots. His YouTube tutorials for posing have gone viral thanks to his simple, effective tips for photographers—and those who just want to look great in photos.

Hurley’s lighting style evolved from a penchant for natural light, so he prefers a continuous light source on location in the studio. When FJ Westcott came out with their line of Flex LED panels, Hurley quickly added them to his gear bag. The pliable, dimmable panels provide continuous light in daylight-only, tungsten-only and bi-color options. “I now have flat panels that I can roll up and take my entire lighting system with me,” Hurley says.

Hurley’s lively style of directing are key to making a subject come alive in front of the camera, but his lighting expertise is equally as important. Typically, he sets the lights, layered with diffusion panels, between 60-80% power for headshots (for subjects who are extremely sensitive to light, he can go as low as 20%), which gives him an exposure setting of about 1/100th second shutter speed at f/6.3-f/8 at ISO 200. Hurley has his technique down to a science, and one of his methods has been to develop a different approach to the way he photographs men and women.

The Feminine Side

Winslow Bright final

Photo © Peter Hurley

When photographing women, Hurley uses either a three- or four-light setup. For the former, he arranges a trio of Flex LED panels in a triangle with 1 x 3-foot panels on either side of the subject, facing each other. A 1 x 2-foot Flex LED panel is placed underneath to illuminate a little detail under the chin. This configuration provides more definition around the jaw line and a little more detail in the skin tones. While Hurley prefers the catchlights—the cornerstone of his work—created by the triangle setup, it’s best used when the subject has flawless skin.

Peter flex_final

Square lighting configuration with for Flex LED panels

A square configuration is more flattering for the rest of us whose skin isn’t quite perfect, and is also a better option when shooting more than one subject. Reminiscent of window light, positioning 1 x 3-foot panels on either side of the subject, with 1 x 2-foot panels above and below creates a gorgeous, clean, shadowless beauty light. He’ll sometimes strobe the background to create a kick from behind that wraps light around the jawline and provides a little highlight on the cheekbone (Tip: have subjects with long hair pull it back into a ponytail so the hair doesn’t block the kicker light).

The Masculine Side

Shelby Glazer final

Photo © Peter Hurley

When it comes to men, “I like to shadow up guys,” Hurley says. “I like to show wrinkles, lines and details, and I especially like to accentuate men’s jawlines.” He sets up two 1 x 3-foot panels on either side, about two feet away from the subject. These panels are positioned even with the center of the earlobe, then Hurley varies the lights’ intensity until he gets the shadow density on the cheek the way he wants it. Two 1 x 2-foot panels are positioned in back as rim lights and are used to create a reflection off the skin in the shadow area for a more dramatic look.

v flats with men's setup final

Hurley’s go-to lighting set up for men.

See Peter Hurley’s personalized Westcott Lighting Kit at  www.westcottu.com/peter-hurley-kit.

July 22nd, 2015

A Dream Tool: Erica Kelly Martin’s Passion for Medium Format Goes Digital

Sponsored by Ricoh Imaging America

Erica Kelly Martin’s fascination with medium-format photography can be traced back to a mirror hanging in her childhood bedroom, which echoed the aspect ratio of a medium-format frame, and which she believed had the power to lead her into a “magical world.” As a teenager, she experimented with medium-format box cameras. Her first real camera, she notes, was a Pentax Spotmatic, and later, the quintessential Pentax K1000. In those days, she says, the darkroom was also a magical place.

Today the Los Angeles-based photographer prefers to work on long-term photographic series about “the interior lives” of people. “How they manifest who they are,” she explains, “or what they would like to be.” Trying to cast off some of the more shallow Hollywood culture that she grew up with for authentic images, she makes work that delves deeper into the identities of her subjects to portray what she calls their “grace and inner light.”

-BrookeatIndianCanyon

Photo © Erica Kelly Martin

“I believe all photographs are mental constructs, and reflect more about the mind and culture of the artist than about reality,” she explains. “Every picture is in a sense a self-portrait—sometimes we just use surrogates.”

Martin still dusts off her vintage medium-format film cameras on occasion for studio work, but before picking up the Pentax 645Z digital medium-format camera, shooting with a 35mm DSLR was her modus operandi. But now she wonders why she didn’t invest in a medium-format digital camera sooner. “I would like to shoot this way all the time,” she explains. “First of all, because of the optical quality—I just like the way larger format images look. The bokeh (background blur) is so luscious. Second of course is the image quality, which is so fantastic.”

Marissa at Blue Ranch

Photo © Erica Kelly Martin

While the fragility and expense of other digital medium-format cameras were too fragile for her to make the leap, the 645Z checks all the boxes. “It’s the first camera that made medium-format digital photography a possibility for me,” she says.

It’s the camera she takes along with her for activities as disparate as a wedding on a beach, a landscape shoot amongst canyons, or a portrait project in the studio. It’s also the camera she reaches for when she’s simply lounging around the pool.

She says she’s looking forward to trying out the “sturdy and weatherproofed” 645Z in more challenging conditions, like the Burning Man playa in Nevada’s Black Rock Desert—one of her favorite places to shoot. This means exposing it to harsh conditions: “windstorms blowing fine dust are a constant; as are extreme temperatures, knocking around on bicycles, climbing huge art installations, and dancing till dawn,” she says. In the past, she had to wrap her cameras in plastic, put them in waterproof cases, or tape them up to protect them. “All that got in the way of working in a fast-paced and demanding environment.”

“The main thing I look for in a camera system is that it behaves like an extension of my arm,” she continues. “It has to function on an intuitive level, and if things I want to easily accomplish are hidden deep in some menu, it interferes with my creative process.” She explains that her workflow is simplified with this camera. “The crop is right, the color rendition is spot on, and the sharpness and clarity are exceptional. I now realize how much I had to do to get 35mm images to look the way I wanted them.”

In addition, the aspect ratio of the 645Z reminds her of working with a Pentax 6×7 or a vintage 4×5 “and for some reason, I naturally see in that way,” she says. “This camera does it for me perfectly, as the native image aspect ratio is 4:3.” The 645Z also boasts a 51.4 megapixel CMOS sensor, which Martin says has the ability to bring the deepest shadows in an image “back from the dead” and a high ISO range (up to 204,800) for the ability to work in any type of lighting situation.

©EricaKellyMartin-SharonatIndianCanyon

Photo © Erica Kelly Martin

Because the subjects of Martin’s shoots vary—from the street to documentary projects to nature to architecture to portraiture — she needs a variety of lenses, Her glass of choice? “I presently have two of the prime lenses—the 55mm and the 90mm Macro, both of which are f/2.8. [They] are my go-to lenses for what I shoot. I am looking forward to trying out the 120mm Macro and perhaps a zoom of some sort, as well as the 75 mm ‘Pancake’ lens for street work.”

1037_1397079391_1_large
1037_1397079392_9_large
Martin says she’s feeling greatly inspired while shooting with this camera, and is even considering the transition into the moving image, knowing she now has what she calls, “a creative tool to match my imagination.”

To learn more about Pentax 645z, visit www.us.ricoh-imaging.com/645z/ and see more of Erica Martin’s work, visit www.ericakellymartin.com

 

 

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

ESV2826-Edit_PRINT_v2

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.

2
Watch the step-by-step lighting video at RogueFlash.com.

2) “A Killer Beauty Portrait

ESV5085_PRINT

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.”

4
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!”

 

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.

VJP_4375-1

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.

VJP_4360-1

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.”

VJP_4348-1  VJP_4349-1

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 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.

Tracie1

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.

Tracie2

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.

Tracie3

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.

Tracie4

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.

Tracie5

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.

 

June 11th, 2015

Three Reasons to Go 4K

Sponsored by Samsung

Display resolutions don’t change often, but when they do, the change is momentous. When the world switched from standard to high definition, the revolution transformed both the media and electronics industries.

A similar revolution is underway again, as the world starts its trek from high definition to 4K or “ultra-high definition.”

As with any change of this sort, early adopters face a number of challenges before taking the plunge, but those who do strike early can be rewarded. Here are three reasons why now is the best time to invest in 4K.

Unknown-3

Photo © Andrew Putschoegl

It’s the future

The consensus among market research firms is that 4K-television adoption is a matter of “when” not “if”—and the “when” starts just about now. The Consumer Electronics Association projects that 4 million 4K TVs will be shipped this year in the United States alone, up 208 percent from 2014. Worldwide, the trend looks similarly bullish. Futuresource Consulting pegs the global market for 4K TVs at 100 million in just three years, representing more than a third of every TV sold.

As those screens find their way into homes, the race is on to fill them with content that fully takes advantage of all that resolution. It’s why streaming services like Amazon and Netflix are rapidly building up their library of 4K videos, from original programs to feature films and documentaries. YouTube and Vimeo have also rolled out support for 4K video as well.

Whether your video is destined to be viewed on desktop monitors or TVs, creating a 4K “master” of your video is an investment in the future of your work, viewable on the highest quality displays ever built for the world’s living rooms.

It makes your HD video better

Many industries, such as wedding videography, don’t necessarily need to produce a 4K deliverable today. Even if you a client only requires an HD file, it can still make sense to shoot in 4K. All those extra pixels give you ample room to crop or reframe your video to improve image stabilization or remove extraneous detail without sacrificing resolution. You can pan across your 4K video using post-production software without rapidly running out of pixels.

Depending on how you’re shooting, a 4K-video file may also capture more than just additional pixels, but more color information as well. Armed with this additional color information, you can down-sample a 4K file to HD with improved color detail.

Screen Grabs Are Awesome

4kzoomin

Enhance! Zooming in on a 4K screen grab / Photo © Andrew Putschoegl

Shooting in 4K doesn’t just mean high-quality video; it can enhance your still photography, too. Isolating still images from HD video produces images that are a measly 1920×1080 pixels in size or about 2 megapixels—barely enough for a decent print.

A 4K still frame, on the other hand, is a chunkier file, either at 4096×2160 or 3840×2160 pixels in size, depending on your setting. That’s equivalent to an 8-megapixel image, ample resolution to print by.

This doesn’t just mean that stills from your video production will be higher quality (though they will be), it also means you can use 4K video as a “burst mode on steroids” for moving subjects to capture images that your camera might otherwise miss. It’s not necessarily applicable in every situation of course, but it opens up new creative possibilities that aren’t available to you when shooting in high def.

Samsung and PDN recently launched the 4K Filmmaking Challenge, giving motion shooters the opportunity to shoot a short 4K film. One grand-prize winner will receive $2,500, an NX1 and a profile in a print PDN/Samsung supplement. Check it out at 4kfilmmakingchallenge.com

May 29th, 2015

Up in the Air: Vincent Laforet Finds Common Ground From the Skies

Sponsored by G-Technology

Sometimes it takes a new perspective on life to see the ways in which we’re all connected. Photographer and filmmaker Vincent Laforet has been working at his craft for the past 25 years, winning a Pulitzer Prize for his New York Times coverage of Afghanistan and Pakistan post 9/11 and capturing the human spirit through acclaimed journalistic and commercial assignments. But it’s only recently that he’s had the opportunity to fulfill a lifelong dream of his: taking to the sky at night to capture the intricate manmade patterns resembling “brain synapses” and “computer chips” of some of the most dense metropolises in the world.

LA02_VBL_6860

Los Angeles / © Vincent Laforet – AIR

His project, Laforet AIR—named as such because air is an element “that we all share,” he says—began in New York City. The aerial images spread like wildfire online. “I think these images struck a chord,” Laforet says, “because when you look up at buildings in a big city, you feel pretty insignificant, alone and somewhat powerless—but from the air you feel much more connected.”

G-Technology was the first company to see something special in his project, he says, jumping on board with his idea and helping him get it off the ground. Armed with what Laforet terms the “perfect storm of technology”—including some of the most “well-built, reliable, and fast” hard drives ever made—he was able to finally make his childhood dream a reality. He’s already photographed San Francisco, Los Angeles and Las Vegas, and he’s just completed a whirlwind trip through Europe, capturing nighttime aerial shots of London, Barcelona and Berlin, among others. Laforet couldn’t be more excited about the project, even though, he admits, he hasn’t slept much over the past year.

London / © Vincent Laforet – AIR

New York City / © Vincent Laforet – AIR

Making technically sound images from a helicopter at night was something that was not possible a couple of years ago, he says. But now with the improvement of digital camera sensors, and the ability to shoot clean and sharp images at a high ISO, he’s able to successfully shoot close to 10,000 high-resolution images of a city within a single day. Shooting from a helicopter is no easy task with all of the vibration and the added difficulty of shooting at night, he explains—let alone the sheer expense of air time—so it’s essential he uses the best and fastest technology to back up his work. With fast drives, photographers are less likely to skip out on making that second or third copy, and when so much is on the line, “you can’t afford to have mistakes,” he says. “You can’t afford to lose data.” Before he even leaves the helicopter, he explains, he already has three copies of his images: one on a G-DRIVE ev SSD (“the fastest and most stable hard drive you can get,” he says, “you can drop it and it’s fine—there’s no moving pieces”) mounted to a G-DOCK ev® with Thunderbolt; and two G-DRIVE® ev ATC with Thunderbolt copied to a G-RAID® with Thunderbolt 2, RAID 1.

VBL_3225

Laforet photographing from a helicopter.

VBL_4654

Laforet’s G-Technology storage in its case.

This “cutting-edge workflow” ensures that when he gets to his hotel room to do his first round of edits (selecting approximately 500 images from the shoot), he isn’t ever concerned with loss of data, because of the redundancy in his image storage. Waiting for data to copy over is one thing the photographer doesn’t have patience for, but he says the G-Technology drives make the process as painless as possible. Once he’s made his initial selection of shots in his hotel room, he then copies them to the Cloud and syncs them to two 64TB G-SPEED Studio Xls (one in Los Angeles and one in New York City) for safekeeping until he returns home. The process of protecting his data is allowing this high-stakes project to be possible, he says. “It’s pretty bulletproof at this point.”

This secure transfer of files is what also makes it possible for Laforet to translate his bird’s-eye view of cityscapes to the rest of the world. Lights not only ignite the landscape from above, but they serve to tie one culture to the next through distinct color patterns. Daylight-balanced LED lights, for example, (which, he says, are becoming more and more common) allow other surreal hues created by older sodium vapor and fluorescent lighting to be revealed. In Los Angeles, “you have one street that’s all green, followed by one street that’s all blue, and five streets that are all yellow,” he explains. “There are many more commonalities throughout the world and distances are much shorter than we assume. From up there, it’s clear there are a lot of stories to tell.”

Laforet plans to photograph as many iconic cities in as many countries as possible. His hope is to continue growing his audience through his website, laforetAIR.com, and also through social media meet-ups, lithographs and fine-art prints, a book of the images, and eventually, exhibitions.

“This is the most organic and pleasurable assignment I’ve ever done,” he says. “The act of photographing these cities and the joy that people seem to exude when they see their city is really special.”

April 6th, 2015

The Essential Tool Box: Richard Patterson Takes Out His Tenba Tools

Sponsored by Tenba Tools

“Long gone are the days when I was a one-bag kind of dude,” says New York City-based shooter Richard Patterson. “If I’ve got just one bag, I’m on vacation.” Patterson started out as a photojournalist before delving into the motion camerawork that fills his schedule with sports, documentary and commercial gigs now.

As any photographer-turned-cinematographer knows, making the leap to digital video means having even more gear to pack, organize and reconfigure for every shoot. “There’s just so much technology to juggle. It’s unbelievable,” he says. “These days when you pack for a job, you have one item and four things to accompany it—the charger, the battery, the wall plug, and the plug for the wall plug to make it into four plugs.”

While he sometimes packs as many as eight to ten cases for a job, the essential kit Patterson carries fits into just a couple bags. “My go-to bags are the Tenba Roadie Large Roller and Roadie II Hybrid that converts into a backpack if needed, which is really comfortable,” he says. “My equipment breaks down to fit between those two very nicely.” To keep everything in them at his fingertips, Patterson uses Tenba Tools pouches and wallets. He gave us a look inside to see how he keeps it all straight.

Patterson Gear Shot Overall
Pictured: Patterson’s Tenba collection includes a Transport Air Case (top left), but most of his essential gear fits into his Roadie II Hybrid and Roadie Large Roller (top middle/right). (more…)

March 30th, 2015

5 Things You Can Do With Your New Platypod Pro

Sponsored by Platypod Pro LLC
Plate facing 2_15 oclock

The 1980’s television hero MacGyver was famous for getting out of jams with nothing more than duct tape and a Swiss Army Knife. Photographers won’t necessarily be defusing bombs in out-of-control trains (we hope) or facing down other MacGyver-esque perils, but that doesn’t mean they couldn’t use a trusty do-it-all tool in their camera bag.

The Platypod Pro is just such a tool. It’s a sturdy base plate with a 3/8-inch titanium screw to securely mount tripod ball heads. The company recommends an Arca-type ball head mount with an L-bracket on the camera for maximum stability, but almost any ball head as large as 5 inches tall and 3.5 inches wide will screw firmly into place and fit in the carrying case. In addition to the 3/8-inch screw, there’s also a 1/4-inch screw at the end of the plate for mounting a range of photographic accessories.

The Platypod Pro Deluxe Kit includes three stainless steel spikes and lock wheels, a 1/4-to-3/4-inch female spigot adapter,a sleeve and a wallet case that pops open to accommodate a mini tripod head or collapses down to stow only the Platypod, its screws and memory cards or other small accessories.

So what can you do with the trusty Platypod Pro by your side? Here are a few ideas.  (more…)