When people think of Old Lyme, Connecticut, they often first think of Lyme Disease, unfortunately. If they’re a little more familiar with the town, they know it was the home of the Lyme Art Colony, where many prominent Impressionist painters lived and worked in the early 20th century. Old Lyme is still a vibrant place for artists, and from this fertile ground hails photographer Adrien Broom. With a father who is an architect design builder and a mother who manages an art gallery, it’s no wonder Broom is steeped in the arts.
Wedding and lifestyle photographer Chris Diset came up with an idea to help bring in the new year. What would happen if he got in a car, drove for 24 hours, and took one photograph every hour, wherever he was? His friend and fellow photographer Kerry Garrison signed on board, and New Year’s Day will find them driving and shooting, driving and shooting for 24 hours. They hope to cover 1100 miles in the Southwestern United States. Here’s Diset’s blog post about how Photo Project 24 came into being.
The team will be using a Canon EOS 5D Mark II as the primary camera with Canon EOS 7D’s as backup cameras and a handful of Canon 580 EX, Canon 580 EX II’s as the primary light sources. Garrison is a fan of the PocketWizard MiniTT1 and FlexTT5, and will be utilizing them on this trip.
Photo Project 24 has numerous challenges. With such a short amount of time available at each location, the team is also facing the struggle to get great shots in the middle of the night where there is likely to not be any usable available light. With lighting being such a key element for half of the adventure, the team has chosen to use PocketWizard’s ControlTL system along with the AC3 Zone Controller. “The combination of the ControlTL system and AC3 Zone Controller will greatly enhance our ability to setup lighting fast and dial in the exact amount of light from up to three different groups of lights,” says Kerry Garrison. “We’re both huge fans of the PocketWizard ControlTL system, and use it for our wedding and portrait photography businesses. It was only natural we choose a system with the flexibility it allows.”
Due to storm activity predictions, they’ve had to reroute their original travel plans, and are relying on Plan B, which you can follow here. The duo will attempt to upload images in real time, depending on their Internet access. You can follow them on Twitter and Facebook.
Keith Pytlinski has posted a brief article on a shoot he did of an off-road Volkswagen Beetle. Despite the bug getting stuck, which required digging it out, Pytlinski was able to get some impressive shots before the sun completely disappeared.
Pytlinski used a Canon 7D body with a Tokina 12-24mm f/4 lens, and Boling 2×300 watt strobes, which were fired by PocketWizard Plus II units. His description of his lighting set-up follows, and is in his own words.
Lighting set up: Since the sun was setting fast I didn’t have a lot of time to set up. As mentioned above I used Boling strobes with the battery pack, having one strobe camera left and one camera right. Each strobe was set up about the height of the fender on the VW. As with all my off camera flash work, I used the PocketWizard Plus IIs which allowed me to fire the strobes remotely and move around in between the lights without having another cable to worry about.
Thanks, and great job, Keith!
Stephen Alvarez sees a direct connection with his home state of Tennessee and the subject he loves to photograph more than any other. “As a young man, we didn’t have snow or high mountains. If you wanted to do something adventurous, fun and hard, you’d go caving,” he explains.
The early cave exploration he did as a youth served him later in life, after coming across photos by Michael “Nick” Nichols, the National Geographic wildlife photographer. Alvarez saw Nichols’ photos of caves in Alabama, Georgia, and his own Tennessee. “They just captivated me,” says Alvarez. “I realized I can do something similar to that. I can go into these environments I’m very comfortable in and come out with images of the right mix telling a similar sort of story.”
Read and see more after the jump. (more…)
Rick Sammon is a shooter we’ve admired for a long time. Last week he posted a great how-to article on his blog. Fashion Week Day 2: Try the KIS Lighting Technique has some serious gems regarding off-camera flash. Sammon details how he augmented the sun with his Cannon Speedlight 580EX II triggered by a PocketWizard.
Sammon includes the following gems, which we quote directly.
- The closer the light, the softer the light.
- The larger the light, the softer the light.
- For a softer light, don’t aim the light directly at the subject. Rather, feather it (tilt it away from the subject) so that the light “spills” onto the subject.
Great post, Rick!
Rick is currently working on an iOS app called Light It!, which is about, of course, lighting, and should be available in September. Always a source of great information, tips, and examples of great off-camera flash, don’t miss the regular posts to Sammon’s blog.
When Southern California native Jasmine Star married her high school sweetheart in Hawaii, she flew Santa Barbara-based photographer David Jay in to document her wedding. Not only was she starting a new life as a married woman, but this vendor in particular helped influence a change in her career choice. “Seeing what he did, and how passionate he was, and how he had created a living for himself was incredible,” she says. “By seeing him, that’s what actually turned me on to photography.”
Finding a wedding photographer who will not only document the most important day of your life, but inspire you to follow in his footsteps is something brides don’t set out to do consciously. Star did a Google search on “wedding photojournalism.” On page 67 of returned results, she found Jay, who was chosen above island-based photographers. “I just became smitten with who he was, not necessarily who he was as a photographer,” she says. Going with her instinct, she valued the relationship with the photographer as an individual above the samples of photographs he presented. “I felt like that experience has made or set the precedent for the type of experience I want to establish with my brides. I would prefer they would become interested in me as a person and then become interested in me as a photographer. I think that’s become a defining point in my business structure.”
Exclusively a wedding photographer, Star knows her clients are purchasing her services one time only, and much hinges on the relationship she builds with future brides. Being the same age and interested in many of the same things helps establish the bond she seeks with new potential clients. “The more we are alike, the more she’ll value her experience, and therefore her photos,” reasons Star. In October of 2006 she shot her first three weddings. In 2007 Star shot for 38 wedding clients based on word of mouth.
A strong believer in social media, Star has embraced an online persona which has at times threatened to be more visible than her in-demand photography. This started simply by her blogging about the journey she undertook to become a photographer, from learning how to use her new camera to her first solo shoot. “For some reason, people started reading,” she recalls. “Those people started referring their cousins or their friends. It became a source of business and a megaphone for who I was as a person, not as a photographer because back then, I really wasn’t a photographer. I was struggling to become one.”
If Star has hitched her wagon to her brand, social media is the road the pair travels. “I put myself on the Web every single day,” she reveals. “I’m constantly updating my Web site. I blog every single day. I’m updating Twitter a few times a day. I have a Facebook fan page with over 1500 people, and I want to make sure conversations are going on there.” She also dropped her maiden name for her middle name to help her brand. “Jasmine Star is my first and middle name. I think it works very well for the business.”
Star attended Whittier College and got a degree in Business Administration. Dating her future husband J.D. throughout her college years, they started the photography business together. As a gift, he would rent her time in darkroom when he could afford it. J.D. also bought her the first digital camera she owned in 2005. She now shoots entirely digitally. The two travel together and work weddings as a team. “He kind of stands in the background and puts on a 70 to 200mm lens, and he just shoots the day away,” she says. “I love his eye. It’s great. We balance each other.”
Shooting a Canon EOS 5D Mark II as her main body and a series of prime lenses, including a 15mm f/1.2, an EF 24mm f/1.4L II USM, and an EF 85mm f/1.2 II USM. She claims being forced to physically move toward and away from her subjects creates a level of connectivity with her clients which has helped define her style.
Seeing herself as a photographer, and not a Photoshop artist, Star tries to achieve her goals in-camera before post-processing work begins. “Just because you can run an image through Lightroom, then process it through Photoshop, then add textures and add saturation, doesn’t mean you should,” she says. “I’m constantly looking for good light and constantly working on my exposures.” She tries to emulate film as much as possible while shooting.
Always aware of light, Star works with what she’s provided during daytime weddings. “I try to look for what I refer to as natural reflectors: a natural reflector coming from any sort of wall or gravel on the floor—any time I can find a reflective element that has any type of warmth. I’ll prefer to use a not‑so‑great location with amazing reflective light, versus a great location with mediocre light. A brick wall or terracotta walls or that kind of orangey-type of gravel on the floor that can still reflect sunlight and pop light back into my subjects face, I will move my clients to that light to kind of get that feel.”
Despite calling herself “a natural light photographer,” Star is inevitably in situations where she needs to augment the sun. She mounts a Canon Speedlite 550EX on top of her camera, and uses a custom rig at the bottom of the camera for a PocketWizard Plus II. Star positions an off-camera flash to the side of the dance floor near the band or DJ. She’ll use this configuration, rarely moving the latter strobe throughout the night. “Because of our clientele and the price point we have, most of the time there’s uplighting in the room, and they have pin lighting and extensive setups,” she says, “so I don’t want to bring my flash all the way around the room. I just will keep the flash in one location.” Claiming most of her reception photos are shot on the dance floor, she simply works her way around the light source.
Shooting the way she does, Star’s workflow relies on off-camera flash mobility. “The PocketWizard provides the freedom for me to still stay true to my overall aesthetic without feeling shackled to the use of artificial light,” she explains. “I’ve had those little babies since the inception of my business. They’ve been with me since, gosh, 2007.”
Often asked about her custom hardware she uses for her PocketWizards, Star didn’t feel comfortable using Velcro, which was her first thought on how to jury rig what she envisioned. Walking into Samy’s Camera, she explained what she needed. It was built for her there, and she continues to use it faithfully. Asked exactly what kind of configuration they built her, she laughs. “I tell people I have no idea,” she says. “I just say, ‘the guys at Samy’s made it for me!’”
Star cites her ongoing connection with her clients as paramount to her success. “I wrote a post about the permission to be fabulous,” she says. “Sometimes girls don’t feel it’s okay to feel beautiful. Part of my job is to make them look beautiful, but in order for somebody to look beautiful, they have feel beautiful and fabulous. As a photographer, I wanted to make a point it’s so important to what we do to let people know, give them permission. As a female photographing another female, I want her to know that I’m not behind my camera judging her or thinking, ‘why is she doing that,’ or ‘what is she doing?’ I often tell my clients I want to create an arena where it is okay for you to feel beautiful and be fabulous. When they feel like that, all I have to do is simply capture them when they’re uninhibited. That is the mark of a true and beautiful picture.”
Written by Ron Egatz
PW TV is a video support blog designed to help you get the most out of your PocketWizard radio triggers. Since many don’t enjoy reading manuals to find that one bit of information, we’re creating short videos covering the basics and the advanced capabilities of gear.
PW TV is a series of simple in-house videos created to get you the answers you need quickly. The stars of PW TV are our own tech support staff; a group of dedicated individuals who are here to help you find the solutions to your technical challenges.
PW TV is interactive and we encourage your involvement. You can post comments or video suggestions on YouTube. Vote up your favorite comments and when we see a popular comment or a commonly asked question, we’ll address it with another video. We hope to have a new PW TV episode posted roughly every two weeks.
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PW TV is just one component of our support program to make sure you get the full potential out of your PocketWizard products. For more support information go to www.PocketWizard.com/support.
PW TV Episodes
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Every so often you come across a photography product worth getting excited about, and it has nothing to do with corporate hype or industry buzz. Recently, I had the opportunity to interview PocketWizard user Mary DuPrie, of Mary DuPrie Studios. DuPrie also runs the well-written blog Photographing Models. To date, she’s released three instructional DVDs. This article will deal with one, Photographing Models.
In Photographing Models, DuPrie deviates from the norm, and does so in a wildly successful way. Most instructional products aimed at photographers are about lighting and equipment. They usually miss the most critical thing, and that’s the positioning of models. You can have a gorgeous woman posing in front of your lens, with a team of talented makeup artists and wardrobe stylists at the ready, plus all the lighting and camera equipment in the world, but if your subject doesn’t know how to move, the quality of the photos will be predictably disappointing. Crack all the dumb blonde jokes you want about models, but successful ones who keep working know how to move and pose. Good shots are typically not random, happy accidents.
DuPrie stands alone with this DVD. Not only will photographers learn what poses to avoid, but models will be fascinated to see how critical hand placement is, for instance. She demonstrates how to minimize hands, keep them relaxed, and have them add to the mood of a photo, and not, for instance, compete with a face. How many models know hands are such a deal-changer? More importantly, how many photographers know this?
Over the course of this DVD, DuPrie does everything to physically detail to Sally, a young hopeful model, the problems with almost every standard pose imaginable, including getting on the floor and demonstrating the right way, versus the drawbacks of the way most models naturally position themselves. Viewers follow along, learning how a head-tilt can hide a bad neck angle, how much to move eyes to avoid too much white area, and how to keep the rear of an upper-arm from bulging out unattractively. This and other critical minutia are not thought of or addressed by many professionals until it becomes time to spend hours in Photoshop fixing them. For any photographer, time is money, and the $80 DuPrie is charging for Photographing Models will be recouped during their first post-viewing shoot. For models, watching this DVD and putting the lessons into practice will mean getting hired repeatedly.
The other major content area of this DVD is the sets. DuPrie goes into some detail regarding how she creates, stores, and operates a veritable library of backdrops. Unlike many photography studios, DuPrie’s backdrops are solid and freestanding, not hung cloth. Most of her backdrops are styrofoam, and can be positioned and repositioned as needed. For instance, in one segment, she builds a V out of them, positioning her model directly in them. She typically fastens these backdrops with pins and Velcro: easy and non-permanent ways to transform her studio into a wide variety of looks. DuPrie paints each styrofoam panel herself, although this title does not go into the execution of that. It’s a fascinating and atypical way of creating scenes. Although this is a small part of the DVD, it’s incredibly inspiring, and will prompt photographers to consider working with these materials as a viable alternative to the cliched spattered hanging tarps.
Filmed with three cameras, Photographing Models is a professional production. The audio quality is excellent, and the editing does the subject matter justice. Although geared toward photographers interested in getting the most from their time with hired models, models themselves will benefit from understanding which movements and poses are camera-friendly, and which are not.
Making no claims this instructional DVD contains lighting information or best camera practices, DuPrie has filled a void in recent photography instructional materials. This is, however, everyday knowledge all photographers will benefit from. Instead of shooting with machine gun rapidity and hoping for attractive accidental poses, many hours and dollars will be saved employing the knowledge offered here.
In the future, we will feature our profile of Mary DuPrie, her own photography and techniques, including her use of PocketWizard technology.
Title: Photographing Models
Running time: approximately 110 minutes
Product and ordering information found here.
Kevin Jairaj is a Dallas, Texas photographer who found his groove after a business management degree, some sports photography, and a career in corporate America. Shooting fashion after his day job hours, he shot a wedding as a favor to a friend. He had a great time, loved the diversity, and got referrals from that first wedding alone. Shortly thereafter in 2003, he began shooting weddings full-time.
Jairaj’s wedding work has awarded him with rave reviews and is in demand in the Dallas-area and at destination weddings from Trinidad to London. With the results speaking for themselves, Jairaj has gathered many photography fans after they’ve seen his frequently-uupdated blog and Web site. Almost as impressive as his photos, Jairaj has put that business management degree to work and created multiple revenue streams from his photographic knowledge and experience.
For years he was besieged with questions on how he got his images looking as they did. Finally, he made his own Photoshop Actions available to the public, bringing his visibility to a whole new audience. “I have my own formulas for my black and whites, my sepias, my split-tones, and lots of other things,” he says. “People all over the world have been buying it the past few years. The response amazes me.” We’ve had a chance to work with Jairaj’s action set, and we’ve found you can achieve a wonderful film-like warmth to images, among other effects.
The success of this project ultimately encouraged him to create and market the Dramatic Lighting DVD, which follows him on location shoots with a bride and a high school senior, detailing all aspects of his techniques. Rounding out his post-processing offerings is Unique Textures, a collection of images easily integrated into photos or used as multimedia backdrops.
Lastly, a unique offering from Jairaj is an iPhone app called Wedding Vendor. This app has the potential for saving the sanity of wedding coordinators, florists, photographers, videographers, bands, hair stylists and makeup artists or any other vendor who works in the wedding trade. All details of any wedding can be logged and saved into this app, including photos of the bride and groom, locations, other vendor contact info, and more. It even has customizable fields for notes. Jairaj has been in the business long enough to know what data he needs to have handy. Now all he needs to do is glance at his iPhone to recall any past or pending job he’s shooting.
Partnering with Alycia Alvarez, the two shooters have created Rings to Rattles, a series of seminars on teaching photographers how to cultivate relationships with clients from their wedding through the arrival of children and beyond. Both photographic techniques and business practices are covered.
It’s no surprise a photographer who has his own actions, DVD, and iPhone app is a gearhead. Jairaj is definitely knowledgeable about his equipment, and enjoys speaking about it. “If I’m shooting a bride on the beach during the day and I want to overpower the sun, I use Profoto AcuteB’s,” he says. “Indoors I’ll use PocketWizard MiniTT1′s and FlexTT5′s and Canon Speedlite 580EX II’s. The MiniTT1 is so small I use it to trigger all my other strobes as well as the Flexes. I do the 580′s on TTL-mode. You can be very mobile with this kind of lighting and not have to carry around much at all. You can be agile and very quick. Most of my shooting is on location, and this helps me move around and get the shots.” Jairaj’s main camera bodies are Canon 5D Mark II’s, which he loves for their low noise at high ISOs. His favorite lens is the first one he bought: a Canon 70-200mm.
A fashion-lover at heart, Jairaj pays attention to fashion in his wedding photos, and it shows. “Someone once said to me I shoot brides like they’re fashion models,” he recalls. “Well, that’s exactly what they want to be on their special day. I don’t want them to be all prim and proper and posed, like some 1980′s shot. I want them to feel gorgeous and sexy and love their photos as if they were in a magazine.”
Jairaj sees an engagement photo session as a critical part of the wedding photography business. “For me, engagement sessions are almost a necessary thing I try to make all my couples do. I like to see how they act in public, how they react to each other, if they’re comfortable with the camera, if they blink a hundred times—it’s a long list. If I see them blinking a lot, I know on the wedding day I have to take extra shots. It also helps me determine what kind of style they like after they see the photos. Do they like more sepia? More kissing? More romantic or the fun, silly shots? Sexy? This helps me figure out what to do on the wedding day. It’s all about getting to know them better.”
Fashion is never far from his thoughts, and Jairaj still shoots fashion when given the opportunity. A long-time sports enthusiast, his dream is to shoot for a professional football team. Knowing the drive and inventive nature of this shooter, we’re betting it’ll happen sooner, rather than later.
As a native of Utah, Steven Lloyd is no stranger to winter sports. As an art major in college, Lloyd took a photography course in order to help him capture images he wanted to paint. “I fell in love with photography, and thought it was a lot more fun than sitting in a room all day painting,” he says.
Always an outdoorsman, Lloyd has been shooting professionally for eight years. “I grew up skiing, and always try to shoot far away from the resorts,” he explains. His photography now includes his latest passion, mountain biking, which he’s been involved with the past four years. He enjoys shooting biking at least as much as photographing skiing. This works out well, as they both have their seasons are opposite each other. Also on his list of sports covered is climbing and backpacking. “I enjoy shooting anything outdoors, basically,” Lloyd says, “but my main focus is biking and skiing.”
With year-round subject matter to shoot, Lloyd can usually be found shooting on location. Some of his shots set him apart with the photographer’s equivalent of New Journalism: interjecting himself into his photographs. His portfolio include photos taken over and including a mountain bike’s handlebars. Others seem as if he is skiing with the subject he is shooting. “Growing up in the outdoors,” he says, “I’ve always tried to come up with different ways to shoot, like doing point-of-view shots or including myself in the photo. A lot of times photographers don’t get credit for being athletes themselves. When you’re out skiing and shooting with skiers, you’re on the slope with them. The danger factor is the same. It’s even harder because you’re carrying all your camera gear.”
There’s a reason why Lloyd has a high ratio of dramatic shots with stunning backgrounds. “I like to find cool-looking features in nature, whether it’s a rock, arch, trees or a good view. I look for those things first, and then think how I can put an athlete or skier in the scene; how I can put a biker on a trail where it would look cool with the mountains and clouds. The landscape complements the athlete and the athlete can enhance the photo by putting action into it.”
“The last few years I’ve been working a lot with flashes in nature,” Lloyd says. “I love to hike and get away from people. Using speedlights on a very cool natural feature to bring color and light to it with these tools is very exciting. Now that I have PocketWizards to use with my flashes, doors have opened up for me. I can get very creative and make colors how I see them. Artistically, I can now do more of what I’ve always wanted to do. I’m pretty stoked on the MiniTT1 and FlexTT5. There’s no more wires, which were fickle in extreme temperatures. It’s a pleasure to hook up this system and use it.” Before using his current PocketWizard system, Lloyd employed Plus II’s.
Although he has plans to purchase a Profoto system later this winter, Lloyd travels small and light with speedlights. His current rig is two Canon 550EXs, one 580EX and two Vivitar 285s. His body is a Canon EOS 5D Mark II. “A lot of the locations I shoot at make it impossible to get large packs there,” he explains. “We often hike two or three hours through the snow up in the mountains. You can’t take a snowmobile or other vehicle there, so it’s all carted by hand. With the smaller systems it’s nice because you can put it in a backpack. If you have an athlete or two going with you, you can divide up the gear and everyone can handle it without stressing too much. You’d be surprised what you can do with those mini-systems.”
Setting up many of Lloyd’s well-composed shots isn’t easy, although the action looks spontaneous. “On the flash-lit set-ups, my prep and shoot time is four to five hours, minimum. To get things set-up, test the lights, get the athletes on the same page and get my exposures dialed-in, it’s a lot of work. The recycle times on the smaller rigs isn’t as fast as the big gear, so I have one chance to get the shot of the athlete in action. You have to be patient when the biker or skier goes off the cliff. You can’t preshoot the photo because they won’t be in the right position. You also can’t wait too long. Sometimes we’re only allowed two or three times before the athlete’s done or the snow is bad. It’s difficult, but doable.”
Another factor weighing on the production of Lloyd’s dramatic night shots is safety. “A guy jumping off a forty-foot cliff at night is a lot more difficult and dangerous than someone doing it in the daytime,” he says. “Skiers can’t really see their landing area well at night, and they have to guess when to absorb the impact.”
Lloyd is bullish on technology available to himself and other shooters. “Digital photography has opened unlimited doors to creating whatever you want,” he says. “That’s especially true of products like PocketWizards. You put these products together and I don’t think there’s any limit to what you can create as far as colors, images, scenes, or whatever you want. It just takes a little time. You get instant feedback, as opposed to the film days. You can get your timing down and know exactly when to hit the shutter as they’re flying through the air. It’s all possible because of the technology we have now.”