'creative' Category

Airtime with Steve Lloyd

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.

©Steve Lloyd

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.”

©Steve Lloyd

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.”

©Steve Lloyd

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.”

©Steve Lloyd

“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.

©Steve Lloyd

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.”

©Steve Lloyd

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.”

©Steve Lloyd


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.”

©Steve Lloyd

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.”

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Ari Simphoukham and the Power of a Photo

The old cliche dictates pictures are worth 1000 words. I disagree. Pictures are worth millions of words, and millions more to each different person viewing the same photograph. Legions of stories exist as testament to the power of photographs and our desire to protect them. Otto Bettmann, fleeing Nazi Germany with two steamer trunks loaded with 25,000 photos — the foundation of the Bettmann Archive — and no clothing, is just one example.

The technology of photography allows us to visually document our very existence for both ourselves and future generations. Previously, only paintings could do this, and their accuracy is always subject to question. The data and testament of a snapshot from any given year is invaluable to people interested in the subject matter of any photograph. A picture can say, “this was me when I was your age,” or “here’s our first home,” or “this was your great-grandmother.” Photographs are nothing less than a bet-the-farm hedge against our inevitable deaths. When times are more uncertain than usual, photographs can document “we made it at least this far. Remember us, this period, and what we went through.”

It is one of these photographs which changed a young man’s life. As America’s war in Vietnam spilled into neighboring Laos, chaos followed. Some estimates cite over one million Laotians fled their country as a direct result of that war. Simphoukham’s parents were among them, eventually winding up in a refugee camp in the Philippines after their son was born in a similar camp in Thailand. His parents knew the value of documenting their odyssey to a new homeland for their son and future generations. They saved and traded on the black market for one family photo to be taken. The image survived the family’s landing in San Francisco and has become a vibrant signpost of their old lives and struggle for success until becoming American citizens. One photograph changed their son’s future.

©Ari Simphoukham Collection. Ari Simphoukham at age two with his parents in a refugee camp in the Philippines, 1987.

The 1987 photo not only sparked Simphoukham’s desire to photograph, but helped him become the man he is today. “In the refugee camp, my parents put together enough money to have that snapshot of us taken,” he says. “Every time I look at that photo it does so much for me. This is who I am, these are my roots. It keeps me grounded as a person. There’s a lot of history and a lot of emotion in that photo. It’s one of the reasons I’m a photographer.”

©Ari Simphoukham. Focal length 50mm, f/2.5, shutter speed 1/500, ISO 160.

“I started off as an events and senior portraits photographer,” says Ari Simphoukham. While in a fraternity at UC Davis as an International Relations major, Simphoukham was shooting a Nikon D50 all around campus. Soon he was asked to shoot an event by someone who noticed his photography. This led to other organizations asking him to work for them. “Eventually I was approached to shoot senior portaits. I got better and better, and improved my photography while getting paid. It was amazing.”

©Ari Simphoukham. Focal length 18mm(14-24), f/8, shutter speed 1/250, ISO 400.

A cousin’s friend needed a wedding photographer, and Simphoukham was recruited. “I did it and couldn’t believe how fun it was,” he says. “After that, I concentrated on weddings. I tried to meet other wedding photographers to learn techniques and the business end of it. I improved along the way.” He had found his calling and his paycheck, and eventually left school to pursue his career. “I know this is what I want to do,” he states.

©Ari Simphoukham. Focal length 10.5mm, f/14, shutter speed 1/60, ISO 400.

Simphoukham took the bold move of dedicating an entire year to learning his craft. “One of the reasons I love doing this is because wedding photographers are awesome,” he declares. “They’re so helpful and so easy to talk to. They’re very helpful, and that kindness made me want to be a wedding photographer even more.” Simphoukham assisted several Bay Area wedding shooters to further hone his skills. Although he still shoots senior portraits, wedding work is where his passion lies. “Weddings are more work, but I feel they appreciate my art more,” he adds.

©Ari Simphoukham. Focal length 14mm, f/6.3, shutter speed 1/500, ISO 400.

Currently located in Los Angeles, Simphoukham is shooting weddings and expanding his network of wedding photographers. Eventually he sees himself setting up his studio in the Bay Area. These days Simphoukham is shooting two Nikon D3 bodies, one D300 for backup, “and a lot of lenses,” he says. Originally a film photographer, his workflow is now all-digital. He uses PocketWizard Plus II’s to fire his strobes. “Being a wedding photographer is hard because the lighting changes constantly. You have to be on your toes and aware of the light always. The PocketWizards help me control the light because if it gets too dark, I just dial in what I need from the strobes and it’s okay. I can get a very natural look, as opposed to a deer-in-the-headlights direct flash.”

©Ari Simphoukham. Focal length 85mm, f/3.2, shutter speed 160, ISO 800.

Regarding post-processing work, Simphoukham says, “I find the best photos are not the ones I do heavy work on. The best photos are the ones that are that way straight out of the camera. I think I heard this quote from someone: you can make a good picture better, but you can’t make a bad picture good.” He uses Lightroom and Photoshop for minimal post work.

©Ari Simphoukham. Focal length 14mm, f/13, shutter speed 1/100, ISO 400.

“When I first started learning about off-camera flash, PocketWizard was the name in radio remote flash. All the good photographers were using it back then. I’m going to upgrade in the future. It just works. I’ve never had a problem with them. The Plus II is simple and it works. It goes through walls. What more could you want?” he laughs.

©Ari Simphoukham. Focal length 85mm, f/9, shutter speed 1/60, ISO 100.

Simphoukham is just as passionate about his client photos. “I try to tell a story with my photography. I think nowadays everyone has a camera, but not everyone has the ability to portray a story with a camera. I develop a story behind the photos everyone can read,” he says. “I’ve been very fortunate to have great clients. When they appreciate my work, I feel great.” How great you feel the day you get married is one of the things you never want to forget. Who better to document that day? Connecting emotionally to photographs is something Ari Simphoukham knows quite a bit about.

Ari Simphoukham Photography

Ari Simphoukham Wedding Photography

Ari Simphoukham’s Blog

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Introducing Ron Egatz: Profile of the Profiler

We’d love to introduce you to someone you already know, but only by his words.

Ron Egatz writes for six of MAC Group‘s blogs. He brings a multi-discipline enthusiasm to his pieces, and enjoys putting his profiles of photographers in historical or cultural perspective. At this time some of his favorite pieces he’s written for the PocketWizard blog include profiles of Marc Quigley, Jason Reed and Kevin Bauman. Egatz runs Camber Press and has a book of his own work forthcoming from Red Hen Press this spring.

Egatz smiles while directing a MAC Group commercial. ©Abdulai Sesay, http://www.absesay.com/

“I like talking to creative people,” says Egatz, who was first smitten with photography when, at six years old, he used a Kodak Pocket Instamatic to photograph President Gerald Ford. His next camera was a Minolta XG-M, which made him consider a career as a pro shooter. Ultimately, music and literature won out. “Taking photos has always meant a lot to me. I shoot Nikon now, and I love talking to folks who create the photos I’ve been lusting after for so many years.”

When not speaking to photographers for MAC Group’s blogs, he runs Camber Press, and works on his exhaustive documentation of the sewers of his favorite city, Paris. He lives in a Hudson River loft. His biggest regret is he’s not old enough to have interviewed André Kertész.

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PocketWizard Announces 30-Day Satisfaction Guarantee for MiniTT1 and FlexTT5

Elmsford NY –January 26, 2010 – In a bold move certifying the performance and reliability of the new MiniTT1 and FlexTT5, PocketWizard® is offering an unprecedented 30-day Satisfaction Guarantee. Photographers can purchase the system, try it out for 30-days and if not completely satisfied, simply return it to their dealer for a full refund — no questions asked.

“We’re excited to offer professional photographers the unique opportunity to try the groundbreaking Mini and Flex system absolutely risk-free” noted Jan Lederman, President of MAC Group, PocketWizard’s U.S. distributor. “Our new 30-day Satisfaction Guarantee offer sends the message loud and clear that we’re committed to our customers, and serious about professional grade performance.”

To ensure the same level of unsurpassed performance to all existing Mini and Flex owners, PocketWizard is offering a free system check, with 24-hour in-house turnaround. Included is a free Version 5.0 upgrade to bring them up to the latest standards.

“Version 5.0 is a very recent development that adds additional features for both new purchasers and current owners”, says Tim Neiley, President of PocketWizard. “A big advantage of the PocketWizard system is the ability for photographers to upgrade all of their Mini and Flex units to the latest operating system by simply downloading the latest firmware from the PocketWizard site.”

Lederman continued, “We are including a performance enhancing accessory, the AC5 RF Soft Shield with units we are currently shipping. The AC5 is a two-piece shield that isolates the RF noise produced by some Canon flash units to provide precise autoflash at great distances. We are also making it available at no charge to current owners. And now, with our 30-day Satisfaction Guarantee, there are more reasons than ever for photographers to step-up to PocketWizard.”

Lederman added, “The Mini and Flex are exciting products. They’re easy to use right out of the box and offer many advanced features that improve the overall Canon flash system performance.”

30-day Satisfaction Guarantee offer applies to purchases made within the USA, and runs from February 1st to April 30th, 2010. For details, go to PocketWizard.com

FOR MORE INFORMATION

For more information on this exciting new story and complete product details, please visit PocketWizard.com. PocketWizard, the leader in wireless control and synchronization of cameras, flash lighting and light meters, is made by LPA Design, based in South Burlington, Vermont and sold by MAC Group in the USA and authorized distributors around the world.

# # #

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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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Marc Quigley, From Sanding to the Ultimate Product Photography

Not many Americans these days can say they not only love what they do, but plan on doing it for the same company from the time they’re eighteen until retirement. Marc Quigley is an exception to this norm. After high school, Marc began working as a sander at PRS Guitars, then in Annapolis, Maryland. He sanded guitars and grew his skill sets as the company — considered by many to build the finest guitars in the world — grew into its recently-expanded factory in nearby Stevensville.

© Marc Quigley for PRS Guitars, Ltd.

Currently celebrating its twenty-fifth year, PRS is often credited with bringing about the second golden age of American electric guitar design and manufacturing. When Gibson and Fender were languishing in the 1970s and ’80s after a series of owners stopped innovating, Bowie, Maryland’s Paul Reed Smith began building guitars with John Ingram, another local, and beauty and quality were returned to solidbody electric guitars.

© Marc Quigley for PRS Guitars, Ltd.

From sanding, Marc Quigley eventually held all the jobs in the Finish Hall, where guitars are painted, eventually managing it. He then moved to Customer Service before becoming Art Director twelve years ago. For the past six years, Marc has been responsible for the gorgeous product photography showcased in PRS literature, magazine ads, and on their Web site.

© Marc Quigley for PRS Guitars, Ltd.

As Art Director of PRS Guitars, Marc initially hired local pro photographers to shoot the growing line of PRS offerings. Robbie Blair, Sam Holden, and Jim Noble all helped bring the amazing curly maple, Brazilian rosewood and other tone woods to life. Eventually, Marc began to build his photographic chops on his own time, the way he often learns new skills for his day job.

© Marc Quigley for PRS Guitars, Ltd.

The very nature of the products Marc is called upon to photograph make this assignment difficult, to say the least. PRS guitars are typically coated with a polyester basecoat and either an acrylic urethane topcoat or a nitro-cellulose topcoat. The brilliantly-shiny surfaces and many curves of these instruments act like contoured mirrors, particularly on the darker-colored guitars. Not getting the strobes, flash umbrellas, and white cards to appear in reflections on the guitars is close to impossible. “I fire strobes through a very large piece of white plexiglass, which acts as a diffuser,” says Marc, revealing one of his tricks. “I can control how hot the highlights are by adjusting the distance from light source to the plexiglass.”

© Marc Quigley for PRS Guitars, Ltd.

The mirror-like shiny finish of most PRS guitars is not the only problem faced when doing product photography for new models. “In the hand carve, we get weird reflections,” Marc explains. “At one point I realized you can actually see a reflection of the headstock in the hand carve of the guitar when you’re shooting straight on. You can see all the way up the neck to the headstock and tuners. The multi-faceted surface combined with the shininess makes it very tricky.”

© Marc Quigley for PRS Guitars, Ltd.

Some PRS models are more problematic than others due to the curves (or lack thereof) in woodworking. “The SE Customs were hardest. They have no carve on the top whatsoever. I like having a little highlight splash along the top or edge. With a flat top the only way to do that is to slash a reflection over half of it. It may look kind of cool, but it doesn’t show the product properly. The only choice I have is to not have any highlight on those models except maybe a very tiny one on the edge.”

© Marc Quigley for PRS Guitars Ltd.

Different finishes also provide a variety of photographic challenges. “The sparkle finishes are very hard to get done right,” says Marc. “It’s like they have a million little mirrors all reflecting in different directions. They’re either too hot or it looks like little black spots on the guitar. It’s difficult to find the right balance. I hold a silver card in front of me and I shoot directly over the top of it, so the guitar is reflecting the silver card, and it bounces a little bit of light spilling from the side of my strobes.”

© Marc Quigley for PRS Guitars, Ltd.

If there’s one thing which makes the PRS Guitar product shots stick out among competitors, it’s the detailed photos Marc takes of each model and shown on the product pages. Most manufacturers have two shots: instrument straight on and instrument being played by celebrity musician. Marc’s rethought this decades-old approach, and has given new life to instrument product photography. “I worked on these guitars for years, and I know them inside and out,” he says. “One of the jobs I did is called Prepping. The first thing I’d do was take it from a Sander, close my eyes, and run my hands over the whole thing to ensure the shape was correct. I knew them well enough to tell if there were any runs, dips or anything else wrong.” This level of product knowledge gave him the foresight to know how the guitars looked from all angles possible. Previsualizing what he wanted in photos, Marc sketched out how he’d like them to look, complete with where the highlights should be.

© Marc Quigley for PRS Guitars, Ltd.

With the perfect shot in his mind’s eye, Marc’s studio set-up is surprising. “I have the guitar suspended from a fishing line. I’ll grab the neck, headstock or butt of the guitar to hold it up with my left hand and angle it toward the light panel until I get a reflection I like. I shoot with my right hand, so I’m pretty contorted while working. It’s fun to photograph them because they’re so beautiful.”

© Marc Quigley for PRS Guitars, Ltd.

With PRS Guitars releasing a line of amplifiers in 2009, Marc was facing a new set of challenges. “That was a brick wall when I first faced that challenge. They’re not shiny. They’re boxes, essentially,” laughs Marc. After two half-day photo shoots failed to meet his standards, he came up with a different approach. “I now shoot through the plexiglass on the left side, with two lamps over there. I use a third pointed at a bounce card to bring light to the other side. Reflector cards in the front put some light on the dials.”

© Marc Quigley for PRS Guitars, Ltd.

© Marc Quigley for PRS Guitars, Ltd.

Marc relies on PocketWizard Plus IIs — three of them, to be exact — to keep his Nikon D2X and his flashes in sync. “The Plus II’s are awesome,” says Marc. “They’re worth every penny. They’re durable, which is important to me. They have great battery life, they’re easy to use, reliable and have outstanding range. A great product I would recommend to anyone.” Rounding out the key elements of his gear, a Profoto softbox is his main reflective unit.

© Marc Quigley for PRS Guitars, Ltd.

After 21 years, Marc is far from content to remain static. He recently created the poster for the independent film Loop, and is constantly working on his own photography, featured on his site. He also is responsible for all audio recording at PRS, and now shoots and edits video of guitar and amp demonstrations. All PRS collateral is created in-house from his department. He cites the freedom PRS Guitars gives him to explore new technologies as being key to keeping him innovative and widening his skills. Guitars, amps, cameras, PocketWizards and the time to create. Now we can see why Marc’s been there 21 years with no signs of leaving any time soon.

Marc Quigley’s Blog

Marc Quigley’s Twitter Feed

Marc Quigley’s photography at PRS Guitars

Loop

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David Guy Maynard on Packing Light

“I use a lot of big gear in the studio,” says David Guy Maynard. “There’s no question about that. Big monoblocks, the works. But when you go out on location, you generally don’t have a power supply.” This is evident in the video promo (above) from his upcoming DVD. Entitled Location Lighting with Speedlites: Smaller Gear, Bigger Results, Maynard is all about great results from less gear.

©David Guy Maynard

“We were out on an island shooting for the DVD. There’s no electricity available there. So then you’re looking at big power packs with huge battery backup systems. I generally have an assistant or two with me, but it’s a lot of gear. I often work on location, and it’s difficult and expensive to take multiple cases. Over the last several years I’ve been trying to minimize what I take, still get the results I want, but have a lot less to carry, set-up and maintain. There are techniques you can use to get the same results to make it look like you shot it in a $50,000 studio, but you do it with a decent size bag and a little imagination.”

©David Guy Maynard

Maynard’s DVD, due in early 2010, runs for one hour, and promises to explore his evolving philosophy of shooting with lighter gear, planning an entire shoot, running from one to three light setups, the choosing and use of modifiers and other gear, off-camera lighting techniques and dealing with difficult sunlight conditions.

©David Guy Maynard

“Most photographers I meet are, by nature, techno junkies and gadget freaks,” says Maynard. “It’s just who we are. When I started in photography as a kid with no money, I got used to using whatever was at my disposal, like my dad’s shoplight and the reflectors from car windows to protect your dashboard. When I went pro, I got spoiled by all the great, large gear. For the past five years I’ve done more and more location work. I travel a lot. Working with less gear is a matter of convenience and necessity. I simply can’t afford to stress my back lugging heavy gear around. Because of this, I constantly try new tricks and pieces of equipment to make my location rig smaller. A lot of stuff gets tossed aside because it doesn’t hold up. In the last three years I’ve really honed what’s in my travel photo bag. It’s now a small fraction of what I used to carry, and I’m actually getting better photos than I used to.”

©David Guy Maynard

Among the smaller gear Maynard is packing these days include the Canon Speedlight 580EX. “It works perfectly with the PocketWizard’s HyperSync technology. A speedlight is a speedlight. It’s how you control them that makes the biggest difference. I carry five speedlights now of different makes and models. It’s rare to see me shooting with just one light.” He also carries the LumiQuest Snoot and assorted lightweight stands, among other goodies in his bag.

Maynard relies on PocketWizard technology to fire all his location lights. A MiniTT1 and three FlexTT5 units enable him to fire up to four lights at a time. “I like to use a lot of odd-ball lighting setups. The TT1 and the TT5 are reliable,” he reports. “They’ll go off every time, and they’ll go off in whatever way I want them to. I like that. I still have Plus IIs and I use those for certain things, but they’re getting less attention now that I’m using the Mini and Flex set-up. They work with the Plus IIs, so if I want to throw a Plus II in for a background light, I can dial that in for less light on Manual setting. This means I can be out in a park and running five lights with no electricity. I can do hair lighting, backlighting, effects lighting under furniture, around walls, or whatever. Any lighting situation that would’ve taken you two hours to set up in the studio, you can do on location with a five minute set-up time. Things have changed, and for the better. I would’ve never dreamt of doing anything remotely close to this ten years ago.”

©David Guy Maynard

Thanks to Maynard’s advocacy of smaller and better gear, the word is spreading. “I’m happy to say I’m part of pushing that trend. I recommend this gear to someone, or I say, ‘here’s how you can get that big studio shot,’ and that makes them happy. They realize it’s a shot they might not have gotten otherwise out on location. It’s becoming more popular. I’ve seen guys who always used to go out with all the big gear, and now they’re using less and lighter equipment, and they’re getting the shots they want.” Although still a self-professed fan of big studio gear, “I love having that flexibility, but the ability on location has changed.”

©David Guy Maynard

Never afraid to experiment, Maynard mixes the two worlds now and then. “Sometimes in the studio I’ll run big lights as primary, and I’ll pull out one or two speedlights and throw them in the background as a hair light. I’ll mix the studio lights and speedlights with no problem.”

©David Guy Maynard

Inspired by his older brother, Maynard has been shooting since he was eleven. He’s shot as a serious hobbiest and twelve years ago started taking paying assignments. Six years ago he went pro full-time. His work has appeared in numerous publications, including Shutterbug, Popular Photography, Digital Photo Pro, PDN, Business Traveler, and many more.

©David Guy Maynard

2010 promises to be a big year for Maynard. Along with the DVD’s release, a secret project is in the works. He has been collaborating with a manufacturer to create some innovative new lighting products, of which he will say nothing except that he’s been shooting with the prototypes. “The shots I’ve been getting are unreal,” he reports. We can look forward to seeing Maynard get more with less for some time to come.

David Maynard Photography

Mini/Flex Bikini Beach Shoot, DVD Preview

MiniTT1 & FlexTT5 Introduction Video

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Tim Kemple – Extreme Exposures

Just because you’re 1500’ off the ground is no reason not to use flash and at this altitude wires could be a problem. Here’s how outdoor photographer Tim Kemple lights up El Capitan…

More extreme climbing photography (take a deep breath).

Read more about Tim Kemple: Website Blog

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Keith Pytlinski is at it again!

You’ve probably read about Keith on our blog before. Well, he’s back with two action images shot with his trusty PocketWizard Plus II’s:

Check out Keith’s website and Flickr for more awesome action work.

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Mark Wallace Takes Miami

Mark Wallace recently made the Miami stop on his Mark Wallace US Meetup Tour. Held at MAPS Studios, Mark put a wide variety of PocketWizard and related gear through its paces.

Mark posted this on his blog after leaving town, and put together the following clip of highlights from his time in Miami.

Looks like a good and educational time was had by all!

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