A childhood love of playing sports has been parlayed into a photographic career by Mike Nowak in Southern California. At high school in east San Diego, his love of playing sports was augmented by helping to document those sports. As he got involved with each new athletic endeavor, he would spend some time photographing it, starting with body boarding and surfing. His other major interest was college football at San Diego State. While shooting the players, he learned some portraiture techniques, worked with some other photographers, and began developing his own style.
The excellent fotoprofil site has a great review (in English) of the PocketWizard MiniTT1 and the FlexTT5. We love the product breakdown and the detail the piece gets into, including a brief history of off-camera flash. Very informative, indeed.
The review also covers integration of Plus II and MultiMAX units. One of our favorite lines: “The PocketWizard MiniTT1 and FlexTT5 for Nikon seems to be the best thing invented for photographers since sliced bread.”
Thanks for the kind words, fotoprofil!
Based in downtown Washington, D.C., Moshe Zusman has been passionate about photography for the past seven years. Four years ago, he left the world of second shooting and assisting behind to begin the transition to full-time professional photographer. An enthusiast of workshops, seminars and trade shows, Zusman used these resources to gain his formal training. He now teaches workshops of his own at CDIA in Washington, which is a Boston University satellite program.
Every so often we come across a photographer operating in an area of professional work where we’ve come to expect a certain level of competence and typical array of stock poses or compositions only to find they are turning those conventions on their head. Zusman is one such shooter. Largely working as a wedding photographer, his groupings of wedding parties, the posing of couples, and the textural compositions he puts together are tasteful, yet uncommon. Many of his images remind one of well-crafted paintings, rather than informal portraits. His eye for building these shots is uncanny, and his average wedding shot is something many young couples would be fortunate to have one or two of in their albums.
Some of Zusman’s well-crafted larger group shots don’t come easily. “I’ll probably snap a few candids, but when it comes to doing the photos that I was going to do, I will pose each and every one of them,” he says. “It takes about maybe ten minutes; up to ten minutes to pose a group of up to twenty people. I love doing that. Those are the photos my couples end up hanging up on their wall, versus the bouquet and flowers and all that.”
Zusman credits social networking as being pivotal in the success of his photography business. “Right after WPPI three years ago, I came back home and I really implemented a lot of what I heard there. It really worked,” he says. Self-marketing has risen high in his priorities, and he regularly attends many events. He also posts photos online within an hour of when they were taken, fully edited and tagged.
As an instructor, Zusman finds himself still learning from other shooters. “I always look at other photographer’s work and I get inspired. I try not to copy them but I just need to get inspired by ideas and I don’t think anyone here invented the wheel but we definitely make it right,” he explains. He also credits his students as being a source of new ideas, and considers his own style as being fluid and changing regularly.
Moving across genres, Zusman not only shoots weddings, but also corporate and food photography, to name but just two more. “Weddings have always been my passion and always will be,” he declares. “I try to bring the same ideas I do in weddings to keep things edgy. As you know, I’m a big fan of breaking the rules in photography, so I’ll definitely blow up a photo if I have to, if I want to. I sort of bring all that into corporate photography as well to the corporate level.” His corporate work largely comes about by word of mouth referrals.
His main camera body is a Canon EOS 1D Mark IV, and for manual focusing jobs, he sticks with a Canon EOS 5D Mark II, which is often employed for architectural shots. He exclusively shoots digitally, and has never shot film.
“I switched to prime lenses about two years ago,” Zusman says, although he still shoots a variety of zooms, citing the 70-200mm as his favorite. All his images are run through Adobe Lightroom. He credits enhancement work in the red and blue color channels as being critical to his saturation levels and overall look.
For off-camera lighting, Zusman relies on three or four Canon 580EX II Speedlites. He fires his lights with PocketWizard MultiMAX units and the FlexTT5 and MiniTT1 combination. “The PocketWizards are helping me control the lighting. I used to try the infrared with the Canon ST-E2 units. They just did not do it. The PocketWizards are really freeing me from having to have other people turn things on and off. I can turn channels on and off. Now with the new FlexTT5, I will be able to really work in TTL mode. I love working with those. They free me as far as range of where I can go with my lights. I never had a problem. PocketWizards are probably the one thing that works perfectly. Better than anything else, and I mean that. From battery life to accuracy and consistency, those are my favorite products in the camera bag.”
In addition to teaching and composing his impressive images, Zusman is working toward opening a photography studio in Washington. If he has any advice for other photographers, it’s not nuts and bolts how-to tips about gear. “I always tell people if you want to be successful before becoming a professional photographer, just become a professional human being,” he says. “I think you need to be a good person, a nice person, and the rest will follow. That’s my mantra.”
Written by Ron Egatz
With a degree in Plastic and Composite Engineering, Grant Gunderson is no stranger to fluid dynamics, torque, and tensile strengths. One can’t help but wonder if this training has helped nudge him in the area of photography he now makes a living in: high speed flash skiing photography.
As a young adult, Gunderson shot photos of friends skiing and snowboarding. After graduation, a hobby became a passionate profession he’s been engaged in for over a decade. An avid skier himself, Gunderson is well-acquainted with the physics of the sport, and accordingly knows what to expect as an athlete comes blasting down a mountain into view of his lenses. “I think that’s part of it,” he agrees. “The biggest portion of shooting something like skiing, or if you were shooting mountain biking, or any action sport, is if you’re not an avid participant, you really don’t know what’s going to create an image that’s really going to speak to people into those sports. I think you have to be a participant in order to document it properly.”
Beyond the physics, fully understanding all aspects of his subject matter is also critical to Gunderson’s holistic approach to capturing the world of skiers. In this way, he knows what the audience of publications he sells to want. “Skiing is a fairly small niche and I think if you’re going to succeed in ski photos you’ve got to be able to create images that speak to the culture of skiing, and not just create a unique photo,” he explains.
In the winters, he travels from his base in Washington State to anywhere in North America to capture downhill action. His main areas of concentration are Western Canada and the Western United States, but every major hot spot for skiing in both nations are also regularly visited. This year, he also traveled as far as Iceland and Norway for photo shoots. In the summer, he heads to South America to take advantage of winter skiing in the Southern Hemisphere.
Unlike many other sports, skiing and snowboarding present the interesting challenge of the terrain. Not only is he required to hike into mountain terrain with all his photographic gear, but there is the unyielding issue of snow and it’s preservation before a shot is set-up and executed. “If it’s a really unique location I’ve been to a lot, I’ll have an idea of how I want lighting that’s unique from what I’ve done in the past,” he explains. “Since we spend so much time traveling, we kind of have to let the location speak for itself. We’ll pull up to a location, and before we do anything, I have to have a pretty good idea of where the light’s going to go and what the skiers are going to do. Once you put a track in a shot, or once they ski through the snow, it’s done. You can’t do it over again. You have to get it right the first time.”
Getting to his locations is no small feat, either. “Everything we do is on our backs, so it’s a little bit of physical labor. Luckily, the athletes and the media I work with seem to be more than willing to carry some flash packs. They’re not exactly light,” he says, laughing.
Gunderson shoots a Canon EOS 1D Mark IV prototype. He avoids Photoshop and uses Lightroom to process his images. “I learned how to shoot on slides with Canon,” he says. Shooting digitally and only using Lightroom “keeps it kind of pure,” he explains.
To help freeze an athlete flying off a cliff, Gunderson relies on HyperSync technology from PocketWizard. “The HyperSync is whole new game‑changer,” he declares. “It’s the best. That’s the single most important technological advancement I’ve seen in the last decade.” An off-camera flash enthusiast for at least the last five years, he is very in tune with the latest gear developments which help him achieve his signature style.
Gunderson feels his saturation is one of the primary elements in his style. “I think the key to that is having proper off‑camera flash,” he says. “It gives that 3D look to it, where it doesn’t look too flat. Being on Mount Baker, we have the world record for snowfall, and we tend to get more snow than any place else, so sunny days are kind of a rarity for us, so flash is definitely key.”
Often incorporating two Elinchrom Ranger packs, Gunderson explains his set-up. “I’ll use the PocketWizard FlexTT5 on a camera. Then I’ll use either two Plus II’s or two of the MultiMAX’s for each flash. I’ve done as much as seven flashes for a shot. But, with skiing, unless you’re starting to use a lot of color gels, you can usually get by with two or three main flashes, if you have enough power.”
Along with worrying about ruining virgin snow before a shot is captured, Gunderson says water interfering with his equipment is one of his biggest problems. “I’m probably using this gear in the harshest conditions you can find,” he says. “That’s one thing really cool about the PocketWizards is you can use them in an environment like this, then take them to the studio and they work just fine. It’s rarity you find a product that works that well in snow.”
Gunderson does do some studio work, but for him, skiing is all about the action. “Skiing is more about the actual sport itself,” he says. “Sometimes it’s about the athlete, but I think it’s more of a way to provide an escape for the average viewer who wants to go skiing. For me it’s definitely a lot more about the action than it is the portraits.”
Also utilizing the lifestyle of the ski culture for his product photography, Gunderson keeps that work out of the studio as much as possible. “I don’t do as much of the actual straight product photography most people are used to,” he explains. “When we do the product photography, it’s more to show the product in the environment it’s used in. We’ll try to incorporate a form of lifestyle portrait shot, instead of just showing a strict product on top of a table. You shoot these outdoors in the snow, you’ve got to make the product look good and you have to make sure the equipment you’re using is actually performing.”
Shooting in these environments is not without risk to both humans and camera equipment. Gunderson reports a few rare incidents of people getting hurt in minor avalanches and gear getting swept away. “We try to be as safe as possible and not put ourselves in danger,” he says. “You’re on the mountains and if you don’t respect the mountains, they’re definitely going to fight you back. Any time you let your guard down something is going to happen.”
With clients knowing they can trust Gunderson and his team, he enjoys a great deal of creative freedom. “We never really have an actual, physical shot list of, ‘You need to shoot this exact same push in the mountain, exactly like this,’” he says. “It’s always up to us how we want to make a living portrait of the place. We do a little bit of scouting beforehand, especially if we’re creating a more of a really unique and dramatic shot. Most of the time, we will go to the location and either hike around, or take snowmobiles out, or get the helicopter out until we find what we think will look best and just make it work on the spot.”
Gunderson explains how the below shot came to be, which utilized PocketWizard-triggered flashes. “That was shot at Alton, Utah, two years ago, for a ski magazine cover. They came up with an entirely new format for the magazine, so they wanted a really dramatic cover shot. That ended up being the first two‑page spread they ever used for a cover. It’s a combination of flash exposure combined with the very long exposure for the night. I think one thing that’s important to note is a lot of the stuff that looks like it’s been shot in the middle of the night was shot, not in full view, but in the late afternoon or early morning with filtering the bright out using the PocketWizard and very strong studio flashes, to be able make it look more night than it actually is. Using the PocketWizard now gives you a hell of a lot more creative control than what you used to be able to do.”
Reporting on his almost total use of HyperSync, Gunderson says, “The cool thing about hyper sync too, is you can use an extremely fast shutter speed to get rid of some of the ambient exposure, but you can create a much sharper image than you can with just a flash alone. When you use HyperSync, you’re using a very fast shutter speed, like a thousandth of a second. You’re just catching the absolute peak of the flash duration, so it’s the crispest image you can possibly come up with. That’s really exciting for me. You don’t have to do any sharpening. It used to be when you used flash, you would have to do a lot of sharpening.”
At the speeds his skiing subjects come flying at him down the side of a mountain, Gunderson is able to freeze the moment, including flying powder. “Normally, I get a lot of motion play even using these extremely fast strobes, but with HyperSync, the motion play is one hundred percent gone,” he says. “I’m pretty excited about PocketWizard’s HyperSync mode.”
The timing of strobes is not the only clock Gunderson is up against. “It’s always about how much gear we have to lug in, but the thing we worry about with skiing is acting fast,” he says. “We want to minimize the amount of time we’re in an environment, or possibly exposed to avalanche conditions and things like that. More importantly, if we are shooting in a ski resort, we’re not closing off trails to people. People are always free to ski when you’re shooting. So, if want to get a shot and make it look clean, we have to get there and set up really quick to get the shot before someone else comes and skis through it, without realizing what we are doing.” The general rule he follows is “the further you walk, the less people you’re going to find.”
Gunderson uses a Sekonic L-408 light meter to get readings on ambient light. “The problem is I can’t get the meter out there where the skiers are, where you need the flash exposure. We’ll meter the ambient, but we have to make an estimate as to what the flash is going to do.”
Not only has his gear changed the range of creativity Gunderson is able to pull off, it has also increased the range of images he gets on the critical first pass of any skier flying past him. “We only get one chance each time we shoot the photo, so we depend on our equipment to work every time, exactly how we hope it’s going to do. It’s awfully frustrating when stuff doesn’t go right, but the game is the game. There would probably be a lot more people doing it if it was easier. Without the flash, the motor drive can do ten frames per second—enough to do a sequence—but I definitely fire off a burst at the key point of it: make sure I’ve got the grab and make sure they’re in perfect position. When we started working the flash stuff, before the TT5, we didn’t know what exposure. The flash goes off, that’s it, you’re done, game over. But now with the TT5, that thing is really cool. The shutter speed is so fast, the shutter speed alone can start action, where we can get the first prime stuff with the flash. Then we can definitely get two or three other shots to go with it that are non‑flash. So we kind of get two or three shots for the same amount of work. That is pretty exciting to me: two or three really distinctive shots each time, whereas before it was just one. It has definitely increased productivity for us.”
As Gunderson’s career marches on, he remains fluid in both his adaptation of new photographic technology, and his creativity. Although we have limited space here to represent his work, the larger body of his photos show a surprising range of composition within the narrow range of skiers caught in midair. With his engineering background, it’s no surprise he understands controlled environments and the science behind high speed flash photography. What is surprising is his adept handling of the chaos ensuing when an athlete breaks from the trees a few yards away from him at a high rate of speed. Lucky for ski fans around the world, Gunderson is prepared and knows what to do.
Written by Ron Egatz
“I’ve never really been a big studio shooter,” says photographer Laura Barisonzi. “Long before I was into photography, I was into being outside and hiking. I really like being on location and the challenge of changing light.” This makes perfect sense for a photographer using the tagline “Difficult Locations and Extreme Conditions.”
Barisonzi left Wisconsin to study painting at Brown University and the Rhode Island School of Design. Majoring in Foreign Languages, travel was essential to her education. While traveling, she began to photograph in earnest, and upon graduation, began assisting professional shooters.
With her work appearing in such publications as Cigar Aficionado, Forbes, GQ, Newsweek and Outside Magazine, she’s proven her ability to capture not only sports, but corporate leaders, book reviewers, rock bands, and other clients in need of portraiture. Regardless of subject, her colors are consistently rich without being blown out, rarely falling victim to trendy overexposure looks.
Thinking differently on her personal projects is one of the standout qualities of this young photographer. Having shot for Yoga Journal and done other yoga assignments, she wanted to breakout the ancient practice from elegant studios and pristine beaches to something a-typical. In “Yogasana,” Barisonzi had accomplished yoginis and yogis perform their practice in outdoor locations never normally associated with the peacefulness we find in yoga. “I wanted to show yoga in a stressful environment,” she says. “I also like to use real practitioners and not models, who can typically only do a few basic poses. That sort of defeats the purpose for me. I do this on ad campaigns, too.”
Her “Free Running” series shot in New Mexico features two athletes performing their moves in some well-composed shots against backgrounds of adobe beige and blue sky. “I wanted it to be visually stunning and not have the setting interfere with the action,” she recalls. The completely stopped motion and carefully controlled shadows show viewers Barisonzi knows what she’s doing.
In “Winter Surfing,” she captures a different set of athletes attempting to surf while there’s snow on the beaches of Maine and New Hampshire. Carrying surfboards in thigh-deep snow and paddling out to catch waves as wind blows stinging, nearly-vaporized water into your face is not for the weak-spirited. “That was definitely pretty terrible,” she laughs, recalling the weather.
Barisonzi’s corporate and editorial portraiture is at least as strong as her personal projects. “I always try to shoot portraiture in an interesting location, if I can,” she says. Examples are pediatrician David Kaelber on a kiddie swing next to one of his supposed patients, to musician Greg Lato at the counter of an old-fashioned diner. “I try to make the people stop posing. That’s a real struggle with editorial work. The people are usually very conscious of posing. They have a lot of expectations of what you’re trying to portray. If you can get them to forget all that, then something good can happen.”
“I’m really into lighting. I’ll frequently have it all set up, and then look at it, and change everything. I’m very picky. It makes my assistants crazy,” Barisonzi says. “My goal is to make it look like it could be natural lighting, even if it’s not. I’m not a lover of ring flash or raw flash effects. I use a lot of big reflectors and grids. I’m into controlling every single light as much as possible. I like things to be warm.”
Always emulating the sun and eschewing cold studio lighting, Barisonzi feels passionately about advice she was given when she began her career. “There’s so much pressure to specialize. People say you need a recognizable look. Early on I was told I’m too all over the place, and that I need to concentrate on one style,” she says. Barisonzi rejected this advice. “If you shoot just one thing or style, you might have limited success for a short time. I believe if you’re going to have a full career, you should have a big repertoire of abilities and skills.” This has suited her well, as she regularly shoots lifestyle and sports portraits for a wide variety of clients.
Preferring to get most of her signature saturation and lighting effects in-camera, she uses Photoshop and Lightroom for a minimum of processing. Barisonzi is more particular about the hardware she uses. Owner of an Induro monopod, she only uses it “for shooting over my head, in the air, or at weird angles,” she explains.
Barisonzi’s choice of camera body is a Nikon D3, and triggers her strobes with the PocketWizard MultiMAX and Plus II units. “I use both Plus II’s and/or MultiMAXes on every shoot I do,” she says. “PocketWizards are indispensable for me. I also have played with the MultiMAXes to get creative approaches to capturing motion, such as my shot of the guy pitching. That effect is all in-camera with MultiMAX.”
In the future, Barisonzi plans continuing the growth of her client base, staying diverse, yet having the quality her portraits are known for as being the element which pulls it all together. Seeing how easy she makes her results look, this shouldn’t be difficult or extreme at all.
We first wrote about Tim Kemple at the end of last year. Here’s a more detailed profile of the man and his work.
Climbing led to photography, which led to a career for Tim Kemple. A former professional climber with sponsors, Tim got to know a climbing magazine photo editor, who critiqued the young shooter’s photos taken on days off. A microbiology major in college, Kemple is all about learning why things work. This approach has suited him well in photography. He constantly experiments with his gear, and is deeply interested in ways to get results he wants.
“I have three different setups I roll with,” Kemple reports. “One is just lightweight speedlights. I took those on bigger expeditions, like one to Pakistan a few years ago. Three speedlights on a four-day hike after five days of driving in Himalaya. This was for hiking and climbing; a lightweight setup, but not very powerful.”
“The next step up would be a set of lights with homemade nickel-metal hydride batteries, weighing about eight or nine pounds each. The largest setup with the most power is Profoto Pro-7b generators. You can overpower the sun, and a lot more. You can use the PocketWizards’ HyperSync with the Pro-7b’s. It’s a great setup.”
Kemple’s shots 1500 feet up the Mescalito route on Yosemite’s El Capitan is one of his most impressive, both for the photographic results and for the lengths he went to in order to achieve them. “I’ve been shooting a fair number of shots where I have an assistant holding a light directly overhead or maybe slightly behind the climber. This one was probably my most involved. I brought a light and a nickel-metal hydride battery. We knew the right side of the cliff got beautiful sunset light, and it was right below our camp, which was on a ledge at about 1500 feet, a thousand feet from the summit. We got very lucky the sun came out and lit up the wall. It was one of the most impressive sunsets of our trip. My assistant had the light on a pole and hung it over the climber’s head, pointed back in at the face of the mountain a bit.”
“I like to shoot with the light as far off-axis from the camera as you can,” he continues, “because it still gives texture and depth to what you’re shooting. If it’s right next to the camera, you lose texture. By putting it directly overhead, I can get a lot of power on the subject, but still get the texture in the rock. The same is true for shooting runners or other portraits outdoors. A lot of people think you need to blast as much power on the subject as possible. That’s not always the case. It’s about blending the flash in naturally. That’s the look I’m going for.”
Kemple used a Canon EOS-1Ds Mark III on that shoot. “It has a faster shutter so it HyperSyncs better with the PocketWizards,” he says. “I’m able to HyperSync at 1/500th of a second. With the Profoto Pro-7b I can shoot at 1/1200th of a second. I lose about a stop and a half of light, depending on the power of the light, but sometimes it’s worth it because I’m gaining more than two stops over the actual normal sync of the camera. I use a FlexTT5 on the camera, and a bunch of MultiMAX Transceivers as receivers.”
To blend light on location, Kemple takes what’s needed. “That often means bringing heavier lighting setups so I can shoot through softboxes with grids. You can control and shape the light so it has a more appealing look to it, and not just something blasted at full-power.”
Extreme sports are not Kemple’s only subjects. He also has shot fashion photography for dawn+Relentless, and actually got his professional start shooting editorial. “A good photographer can shoot whatever the client wants, whether it’s rainy or sunny, or whatever, no matter where they are. Having your lights with you all the time is the best case scenario. It gives you that much more control over the photo in general. Being able to use all the tools you have, and to have the right tools with you, is the best way to roll. Sometimes you’re running with small crews or traveling great distances, so you have to make due. I like to have my lighting rigs with me and use them about half the time I’m working.”
Kemple reports he’s shooting all-digital these days. “I still have a pile of slides sitting around which need to be scanned for the last year and a half,” he laughs. “Digital brings the speed editors are asking for.”
Recently relocated to Salt Lake City after growing up in New Hampshire, this California-born photographer is enjoying shooting the more-grounded sport of running as of late. “I used to run in junior high school and high school, so I can really relate to it,” he says. Whether shooting while hanging from a cliff, hiking the Himalayas, or on a bike trail, Tim Kemple and his gear will have his subjects well-lit.
Triathlons are multi-sport endurance events, and the photographers who cover them are not unlike the athletes who participate in them. Paul H. Phillips and his team of photographers at Competitive Image in Minneapolis have identified their métier, and it’s in their blood. Competitive Image consists of photographers who also happen to be runners, skiers, cyclists, swimmers, and martial artists. These common athletic interests enable them to cover sporting events in ways most photographers can’t or don’t imagine.
Bob Kupbens teamed up with Phillips to conceive and create Competitive Image’s iconic shot of the start of the Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon earlier this year. The shot was also featured in Runner’s World magazine. It’s a classic example of the company’s premise of making great shots, as opposed to taking them.
This approach is paying off. By staking out race courses and planning out positions of remote cameras, the teams’ results are getting them recognition. Their soccer book, Portrait of Passion, has been nominated for the 2009 Billie Award for Journalism for the Outstanding Portrayal of Women in Sport. They have also had an image published on one of the ultimate sports marketing icons: a box of Wheaties.
Triathlons are essentially a long swim race followed by a long bicycle race followed by a long foot race. Photographers covering them need to work at least as long as the shortest time it takes the winner to complete the course. That doesn’t include setup and breakdown times. Endurance is the strategy on both sides of the cameras.
“We can now do some very exciting things with very high shutter speed,” says Phillips. “This is because of PocketWizard. We’re slowly making the shift from the MultiMAX to the FlexTT5 and the MiniTT1. I particularly like the Mini because it is what it is: it’s tiny! We’re combining all of these models on a shoot for the cover of Triathlete magazine. We’re going to use studio strobes, but we need a few highlights on the athlete’s bike, so we’ll use a few remotely-fired 580s, too.”
Competitive Image recently shot a series of swimmers in a pool using the FlexTT5 and the MiniTT1. “One Mini and three Flexes were used with five MultiMAX units. I only see our work with PocketWizards increasing.”
“The PocketWizards help us make the shot. We ask, ‘what shot would be really cool?’ Well, let’s build something and hang it from the starting line truss!” As the lead photographers for the Twin Cities Marathon, one of the top marathons in the country, Phillips and his team enjoys a large degree of latitude in creative license and permissions to set them up and get them. Named as one of the International Triathlon Union Photographers for 2010, Phillips is earning the reputation of the guy who can get the shots others don’t.
For the first leg of triathlons with athletes diving into the water, Phillips sometimes finds himself shooting half-submerged from the waterline with two assistants behind him holding strobes on monopods. He also has been known to sit backwards all day on a motorcycle, shooting athletes as they bike and run for the finish line.
“I only see our use of PocketWizards expanding,” says Phillips. “We’re only limited by our own creativity. We’re already designing our next big cover shot for a race that will be the first week in May of 2010.” Phillips will be detailing his preproduction work in an eight-page report, covering everything from how he’ll mount remote units on streetlights to dealing with crowds during a race which will be won in approximately four minutes. “At a four-minute mile, you’re talking about a runner moving 22-feet per second. Trying to light that and get a clean shot is challenging.” With that kind of action, the team will have several photographers firing a multitude of PocketWizards on different channels.
The Competitive Image team shoot a full range of lenses for both Canon and Nikon digital bodies. Two of the team are MIT grads, “so if we need something built, it’s no problem,” Phillips laughs.
The well-written Competitive Image blog not only details some solid tips for sports photography enthusiasts, but documents some of the detailed thought process Paul—a former racer himself—and his team do in the preproduction stage before an athletic event. Photography fans and athletes alike have reason to follow Paul Phillips and his team—until they have to start planning for their next race, that is.
Here’s a PPC article with behind-the-scenes footage of a recent Tony Donaldson shoot for Curve. Watch how the team brings this successful shoot together. Multiple PocketWizard MultiMax units help Tony get what he’s looking for and quality images the magazine’s readers expect.
Jason Reed doesn’t have one thing most photographers have: his own Web site. He has no need for one. We see his images every day. Jason Reed has one thing most photographers would trade all their gear for, even for one day. Reed is a seven year veteran of the White House Traveling Pool, and has been shooting for Reuters for twenty years.
News photography fans and much of the public will recall some of Reed’s memorable images, such as George W. Bush bumping chests with a new graduate at the Merchant Marine Academy, or Karl Rove rapping at the Radio and Television Correspondents’ Association dinner, or Barack Obama shedding a tear over the death of his grandmother on the eve of the election he was to win. What really got the attention of photography fans was his “White House Moments: A Time-lapse View,” created after a video editing course got him interested in time-lapse movies. In it, he documents a day at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, from the West Wing to the East Room to the Rose Garden to the South Lawn. This is the White House as you’ve never seen it before. 8000 exposures later, PocketWizards proved critical to the project.
“The PocketWizard is something we’ve been using at the White House since they’ve been around,” says Jason. “I use the MultiMAX Transceivers. I can’t imagine working without them. They’re so easy to use. I can put multiple cameras at different angles all on the same frequency and trigger them as either motor drive sequences or using the intervalometer, which are really easy to set up from the menu. You can shoot a picture every three seconds, five seconds, ten seconds, and you can change those settings pretty quickly.”
Australian-born Reed began a Bachelor’s degree in Photography in Sydney. The first day he showed up to discover just one class was unavailable: his photography class. This unfortunate event was the loss of higher education and the gain of the news photography industry. Soon he was able to get a job at Reuters hand-printing color film to 8 x 10 format and loading prints onto analog drum transmitters. That led to some photographer-mentors encouraging his talent, supplementing a two-year technical course in Photography at a local college. Then began Reed’s Forrest Gump-like professional life of being present at world events as they unfolded. In 1994 at age 23, he moved to Hong Kong, which was the Reuters regional headquarters at that time. He served there as an editor and photographer until the handover to China in 1997. Moving on to the new headquarters in Singapore, Reed was dispatched around the region to cover earthquakes, plane crashes, and civil unrest in Asia. From 1999 until 2002 he used Bangkok, Thailand as a base from where he travelled to Pakistan to cover the 2001 war against the Taliban and Indian natural disasters, among other news stories.
Presidential visits to the region drew his interest. President Clinton went to Vietnam, India, Bangladesh, and Pakistan. Reed lent support to Reuters White House photographers who travelled with the President wherever he went. The young photographer found himself caught up in the energy of being in the entourage of the Leader of the Free World, as the old cliché goes. He dreamed of doing it full-time, and in 2003 a position opened up, and Jason Reed became a Reuters photographer at the White House.
Although situated at the White House, the road didn’t stop calling him. Reed covered the 2004 Bush campaign and he spent the last two years on the road following the Obama campaign to victory from before the Illinois junior Senator’s announcement to run in February of 2007. He finds what he’s learned in the capital is applicable outside it. “Shooting every day at the White House is challenging. You constantly try to find something new. Those skills you take away to any other assignment and look for something new, something you wouldn’t be looking for if you hadn’t worked at the White House. Trying to make things subtly new day after day for years and years teaches you to be a better photographer. The PocketWizard is an extension of that. When I travel to events I see where I can put multiple cameras. I’m always looking for a key moment of a historical event, such as the signing of an important act of Congress, or a bilateral meeting with a foreign head of state. As a photographer you try to find multiple angles of everything. You’re working harder, but the reward is you’re getting more angles, better pictures and better moments. The PocketWizard frees me up to look at different things and execute them really easily.”
Although shooting at the same address, Reed isn’t about to get bored. “History shows us anything can happen at any time,” he says. Occasionally he’ll be photographing the President at a graduation ceremony, looking through the viewfinder for hours at a time, careful to never miss a moment. “If there’s anything this job teaches you, it’s about being ready.”
Reed also has to be ready for other assignments. He covered the last Academy Awards ceremony, and was full of quips pointing out the difference between photographing politicians and celebrities. “They say Washington is Hollywood for ugly people, and Hollywood is Washington for beautiful people,” jokes Reed. “I like to do different events like the Olympics or Formula One races — something different to mix it up.”
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, however, remains the location of his dream job, as it would be for countless photographers around the world. “At the White House, it’s full HMI (hydrargyrum medium-arc iodide) light. There’s a whole group of television lighting technicians dedicated to lighting every event. We’re really blessed with the ability to walk in and shoot an indoor event at 400 ISO at 250ths of a second at f/2.8 or 320ths at f/2.8. It’s fantastic. This is the center of the universe of making things look good.” For this, our leaders and candidates are grateful, and viewers around the world wait for the next click of Jason Reed’s shutter while working at his dream job.
Located in Ontario, Canada, Rick Denham likes to break rules. Like many young Canadian men, Rick was once a hockey player. He now finds himself either shooting photos from the other side of the plexiglass, or away from ice rinks altogether as he builds his reputation as a wedding photographer of note.
Although photographing sports of all kinds gives him thrills, working as an in-demand wedding photographer pays the bills. Sample photos from the latter category prove there’s no lack of emotion or technique in his deeply saturated and outstandingly composed shots. Shooting primarily in a photojournalism style, Rick still delivers photos with wedding parties positioned in ways which would’ve made many Renaissance painters weep with envy. Prospective customers intrinsically know this, and are often fooled by the end result.
“When a bride and groom meet with me, I always hear, ‘We want candid photography, we want journalism photography,’” he reports. “The first thing I have to explain to them is ‘most of these shots are set-up.’ It has to be set-up. You can’t get a candid group shot of twenty people and expect it to not be set-up.” A rule-breaker at heart, Rick believes whatever feels natural is the best approach. He encourages wedding parties to behave naturally as he shoots, until it comes time for some informal positioning used in his trademark group shots.
Attracted to low-stress situations, Rick loves the digital revolution and the benefits of shooting more exposures with more cameras, including remotely-fired cameras, which continue to play a growing part in his work.
Along with composition, Rick’s saturation is one of the hallmarks of his photography. “I bump my saturation up in my cameras, especially at weddings. Weddings, to me, are colorful. People like color. They pay to have lots of flowers. Even in classic weddings, that’s what I like to see. Even in my black and whites, I like to see a lot of contrast. I like my blacks black.”
Multiple lights and cameras are part of Rick’s arsenal. He typically carries four Canon 580EX II Speedlites, three MultiMAX units, three PocketWizard Plus IIs, and a 16-35mm wide angle lens, which he always keeps on one of his two Canon Mark III’s. In addition, a softbox, Honl grids and snoots, and two light stands are at the ready on most shoots. He also brings a Magic Arm and Super Clamp. Often these are employed low to the ground, where he says, “no one thinks of using them there.”
There are a few subject areas Rick has plans to branch out into, along with corresponding business plans. Although we’re unable to divulge details at this time, we can be sure Rick will be bringing his sense of composition, rich tones, and PocketWizard gear to these new endeavors.
Rick’s blog: http://rickdenhamphoto.blogspot.com/
Rick Denham Photography: http://www.rickdenham.com/