'remote camera triggering' Category

Paul H. Phillips on Endurance and Planning

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.

©Competitive Image

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.

©Competitive Image

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.

The PocketWizard MultiMAX has proved critical to many of Competitive Image’s shots, including some of their decisive images of winners crossing triathlon finish lines.

©Competitive Image

“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.”

©Competitive Image

“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.

©Competitive Image

“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.

©Competitive Image

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.

Competitive Image

Water shoot

Video of water shoot

Blog entry on water shoot

Portrait of Passion

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Jason Reed, Witness to History

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.

Photo by Jason Reed, ©Reuters

Photo by Jason Reed, ©Reuters. Note remote camera with PocketWizard on floor against shrubs.

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.

Photo by Jason Reed, ©Reuters

Photo by Jason Reed, ©Reuters

“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.”

Photo by Jason Reed, ©Reuters

Photo by Jason Reed, ©Reuters

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.

Photo by Jason Reed, ©Reuters

Photo by Jason Reed, ©Reuters. Note remote cameras with PocketWizards on floor at right.

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.”

Photo by Jason Reed, ©Reuters

Photo by Jason Reed, ©Reuters

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.”

Photo by Jason Reed, ©Reuters

Photo by Jason Reed, ©Reuters

Photo by Jason Reed, ©Reuters

Photo by Jason Reed, ©Reuters

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.”

Photo by Jason Reed, ©Reuters

Photo by Jason Reed, ©Reuters

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.

Photo by Jason Reed, ©Reuters

Photo by Jason Reed, ©Reuters

Jason Reed at Reuters

Bush Years: Defining his Presidency

Riding with Obama — A Final Look Back

White House Moments: A Time-lapse View

Reuters Photo Blog

Reuters News Pictures Official Site

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Rick Denham's Lighting, Saturation, and Hockey

Rick Denham’s Lighting, Saturation, and Hockey

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.

RickDenham623374471_WGZVU-O

© Rick Denham

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.

© Rick Denham

© Rick Denham

“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.

© Rick Denham

© Rick Denham

© Rick Denham

© Rick Denham

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.

RickDenham623375122_3rYfe-M

© Rick Denham

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.”

© Rick Denham

© Rick Denham

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.”

© Rick Denham

© Rick Denham

© Rick Denham

© Rick Denham

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/

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DIY Racing Stripes Down Under

I think this is a good example of Pocket Wizards “making the impossible possible.”  This isn’t the only way to take such a photo, but using Pocket Wizards gave me confidence that everything would come together as planned. 
To take this photo, I borrowed a Manfrotto suction cup (thanks Darren!) and attached that to the car.  I mounted a Nikon D3 to this, added a 14-24 f/2.8 lens and lined things up in situ.  Next I attached a Pocket Wizard under the camera and configured this to fire the camera on demand. I set this Pocket Wizard to Channel 1.  Another Pocket Wizard was mounted on the camera hotshoe, this one was set to Channel 2 and would send a signal at the close of the exposure to the in-car flashes.
I put a Nikon SB800 on the dash, added a 1/4 blue gel, and connected a Pocket Wizard set to Channel 2.  After some test exposures I shaped some cinefoil as a snoot to keep as much light as possible off the back of the steering wheel, as initially it was lighting it up in a way that drew too much attention to it. On the back seats, two SB800′s with a full cut of CTO gel on each, these flashes were aimed in a sort of cross-over pattern.  By now I had run out of Pocket Wizards so these flashes were set to SU-4 mode so that the optical slaves would trigger them as the SB800 on the dash fired.
Last but not least, I held a Pocket Wizard in my hand – set to Channel 1 – and activated the camera as I drove. 
Tripping my Pocket Wizard fired the camera on Channel 1, and the camera rear sync activated the hot-shoe mounted Pocket Wizard set to Channel 2 to fire the in-car flash – which in turn sent the slaved flashes on the back seat into operation. One camera, three flashes, and four Pocket Wizards (could have done with six PW’s, but the optical slave worked given everything was in close proximity and the ambient was low)
The SB800 on the dash was set to 1/64th and minus 2/3 power, and the back seat ones were both set to 1/32nd power. Exposure (after a little trial and error) was f/8 at 1/8th of a second (to get motion blur) and ISO 400.  Driving through a tunnel in Sydney provided great ambient light for the relatively slow exposure, the overhead fluorescent battens seemingly joining together to make the light streaks.

The inspiration for this photo came from a great picture that Joe McNally took of a NY Fire Truck (Joe later told me he was pleased he wasn’t on the road when I drove by firing

Strobes in my face!)

Big thanks to Jay Millar from Ensofoto in Australia, who shared the result of a personal project involving suction cups, flash, some PocketWizards, a camera and a moving car. We dig.

©Jay Millar

©Jay Millar

I think this is a good example of PocketWizards “making the impossible possible.”  This isn’t the only way to take such a photo, but using Pocket Wizards gave me confidence that everything would come together as planned. 

To take this photo, I borrowed a Manfrotto suction cup (thanks Darren!) and attached that to the car.  I mounted a Nikon D3 to this, added a 14-24 f/2.8 lens and lined things up in situ.  Next I attached a PocketWizard under the camera and configured this to fire the camera on demand. I set this PockeWizard to Channel 1.  Another PocketWizard was mounted on the camera hotshoe, this one was set to Channel 2 and would send a signal at the close of the exposure to the in-car flashes.

I put a Nikon SB800 on the dash, added a 1/4 blue gel, and connected a PocketWizard set to Channel 2.  After some test exposures I shaped some cinefoil as a snoot to keep as much light as possible off the back of the steering wheel, as initially it was lighting it up in a way that drew too much attention to it. On the back seats, two SB800′s with a full cut of CTO gel on each, these flashes were aimed in a sort of cross-over pattern.  By now I had run out of PocketWizards so these flashes were set to SU-4 mode so that the optical slaves would trigger them as the SB800 on the dash fired.

Last but not least, I held a Pocket Wizard in my hand – set to Channel 1 – and activated the camera as I drove. 

Tripping my PocketWizard fired the camera on Channel 1, and the camera rear sync activated the hot-shoe mounted PocketWizard set to Channel 2 to fire the in-car flash – which in turn sent the slaved flashes on the back seat into operation. One camera, three flashes, and four PocketWizards (could have done with six PW’s, but the optical slave worked given everything was in close proximity and the ambient was low)

The SB800 on the dash was set to 1/64th and minus 2/3 power, and the back seat ones were both set to 1/32nd power. Exposure (after a little trial and error) was f/8 at 1/8th of a second (to get motion blur) and ISO 400.  Driving through a tunnel in Sydney provided great ambient light for the relatively slow exposure, the overhead fluorescent battens seemingly joining together to make the light streaks.

The inspiration for this photo came from a great picture that Joe McNally took of a NY Fire Truck (Joe later told me he was pleased he wasn’t on the road when I drove by firing Strobes in my face!)

– Jay Millar

Thanks, Jay! If you’d like to read more, drop by Jay’s Flickr and join the conversation. Also be sure to drop by his main website at ensofoto.com and check out the rest of his work. Do you have a photo and a story you want to share? Shout it out – drop us a line at blog@pocketwizard.com.

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Now that's our kind of vacation!

©Mark Rebilas

©Mark Rebilas

We’re sooo with you, Mark. Time off means doing what you love. And when you’re a photographer…

Check out how Mark Rebilas spends his free time… Remote Camera Triggering goodness everywhere! In the car, by the hummingbird feeder, out ATV’ing… Photo rampage! (and you may remeber seeing previous posts about Mark here and here)

Link

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Alycia Alvarez Video: What kind of photographer makes wild noises?

Actually, there are two kinds. One photographs animals. One photographs babies. Riverview, FL-based Alycia Alvarez is in the latter category. And, to say the least, she is really hitting her stride. As she points out in her blog she photographs “rattles to rings” i.e. babies to seniors to weddings. At the recent WPPI, Alycia used the new MiniTT1 and some Profoto ComPact R units to capture the warmth, smiles and cuteness of babies. See how she does it and ask yourself, “Can you make noises like that?”

Head over to PocketWizard.com to see her gearbox, some bird’s-eye views of the lighting and quotes from Alycia.

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PocketWizard Flight #17 Now Departing…

Throughout history, photographers have tried all sorts of methods to achieve high-angle photos. 

For really high work, nothing beats a helicopter or small plane with the door off. With a good pilot, a photographer can get pretty much anything he or she desires. Less high perspectives have been achieved from powered hang gliders, remote controlled drones or even kites. When we get down to the 0-75 foot range, however, the normal way of doing things is to rent a high-lift. Either hydraulic or electric powered, it’s not an easy task to get it to the shooting site, set it up, and operate it (or have a professional operate it while you hang on for dear life). 

Wouldn’t it be great to have a tripod that went up 75-feet? It’s actually a reality, as you can see here. Not exactly the sort of thing you strap to your knapsack, but a lot less damaging to the environment than a low-flying helicopter. Frank Siteman, Winchester, MA-based photographer, offers a unique service with the “Luskapod” (our nomenclature). A key element in this set-up, as you can see, is the ubiquitous PocketWizard, to trigger the camera from terra firma. Nice!

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