'behind the scenes' Category

Look, Up In The Sky: It’s A Drone… FREEZE (it)!

I was recently assigned to shoot a cover and feature on the hottest quadcopter on the market, the new DJI Inspire 1. This has been designed from the ground up by DJI to be a ready-to-fly system with a 4K camera and the ability for two operators; one controlling the drone and one controlling the camera, all for FAR less than anything else on the market on this level. They took what they learned from the Phantom platform, their incredibly successful and virtually ubiquitous quadcopter, and built it into this incredible new drone.

Check out Director of Photography, Philip Bloom’s description of the Inspire 1. There’s some incredible samples of the type of footage that you can get from this drone that’s easily on-par with drones that cost well into the 5-figures.

Betty Nero, Creative Director at Air Age Media, assigned me this great shoot. Air Age publishes the industry-standard magazines about all things radio controlled, from planes to cars to boats to drones. I’ve been fortunate enough to work with these guys for many years as a freelancer, shooting not only amazing R/C vehicles, but the people who are the best in the world at making them do what they do. And often pushing the very limits of what their manufacturers designed them to do.

IMG_5511sBetty asked me to shoot the Inspire 1 at a model airplane field near me. The Inspire 1 is the absolute hottest drone on the planet right now, and she asked me to create something “high tech” for the cover. That was all I had to go on. I’d not been to that field in years, and with the scheduling of everything, it was going to have to be shot at 10 AM. That’s hardly a time for stellar light. But I’m a professional, and I’m charged with making something spectacular within the parameters I have.

The location wasn’t amazing, though it was green, a rarity in Southern California during the winter. And there was a full downpour until an hour before the shoot. Actually, that was a plus, wetting the ground and making for a cooler look. There was no budget for a water truck, but Mother Nature was looking out for us.
When the rain cleared, the sun came out and the clouds vanished. Even better, shooting a black and white drone against a cloudy sky might be tough to create the proper contrast. A lot of creative decisions to make on the fly. No pun intended.

I had one of the best pilots in the business, Sergio Marachilian, owner of Piroflip RC in Van Nuys, CA to fly this grand machine. His co-pilot, operating the FPV controller and the 4K DJI camera was none other than Robert Rodriguez, President of the Society of Aerial Cinematography. And third, we had Willis Chung from DJI making sure it all worked. They have an app for both iPhone and Android that actually plugs into the device and uses it as the monitor. This is pretty amazing, in that you can put an iPad on the controller and it actually connects via the Lightning connector to make it into the monitor. I understand it working the other way, but this worked perfectly. With overlays to control things like resolution, start/stop, modes and so much more.

We shot the setup from removing the Inspire 1 from the case to getting it ready to fly. Then for the cover, I picked a spot on one of the pads to get started.

IMG_5507sSeeing the guys shadows when backlit gave me the idea to let them go dark, as well as the sky, but let the sun show up in the image. I wanted to light the Inspire 1 well and allow it to be strong in the foreground. I set up a Lumedyne 067x pack and head into a medium softbox. I needed Hypersync to allow me to get the darker sky and shadows, so I triggered it with a Mini TT1, shoe-mounted on my Nikon D800. I had a Flex TT5 attached to the Lumedyne head to fire it. I’ve carefully programmed the Pocketwizard units to work with my various lighting kits, it’s easy using the PocketWizard utility.

To use Hypersync effectively, I had the Lumedyne pack set up to 400 w/s. Even with this, since I’m going into a softbox, it had to be very close, JUST out-of-frame. To add a little difficulty to that, I was shooting with a fisheye lens (16mm Nikkor), so my field of view was extremely wide. I was shooting vertically. Everything in the image looks further away than it actually is. The Inspire 1 was nearly buzzing my hair. Those blades are spinning EXTREMELY fast, the drone is pretty heavy. If it would have touched me, it could have been literally a bloody mess! This is where you have to trust your operator completely. Between Sergio’s experience and the great electronics in the Inspire 1, I could get it exactly where I wanted it. The sun gleaming through the carbon fiber arms was so perfect.

Hypersync allows me to have full control of lighting and freezing action. I can get it to sync at up to 1/8000th of a second. In this case, I didn’t want to fully freeze the blades, then it would just look like they dropped a product shot into that image. I needed SOME movement. I kept the ISO at 100 and shot at 1/1250th of a second. What looks like flex in the rotor blades is actually from the blades moving while the shutter curtains are chasing each other across the focal plane. Between the fact that the Inspire 1 is inches from my camera and spinning THAT fast to hold it in a hover, there’s a perfect amount of blur to let you know it’s flying!

With the right shutter speed and some creative lighting, we came up with a cover shot that both speaks to the great technology of the Inspire 1 and also catches your eye on the newsstand.

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That issue of Rotor Drone Magazine (rotordronemag.com) hits the newsstands on March 17th (St. Patrick’s Day). Check it out, it’s full of great stuff!

Photo credits:
Behind-the-scenes photographs courtesy of and © Willis Chung and Robert Rodriguez
Cover photograph ©Tony Donaldson/tdphoto.com
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Dealing with things out of your control…Mountain bike photo shoot via Keith Pytlinski

Our friend (and PocketWizard shooter…) Keith Pytlinski sent us a note about one of his most recent blog posts featuring some extraordinary TTL remote flash work. Check it out!

With a free Friday night and an itch to shoot and ride, I sent out a couple texts looking for riders to come along. Daylight savings was in effect and I assumed we would have 3 hours or so after work if we got busy right away. As the time to shoot and ride crept closer the clouds increased. I had counted on it being sunny and as often happens…plans change. There are many things photographers can be in control of…we cannot do anything about the weather. In this case you deal with a smaller window of time to shoot.

In this case that smaller window of time led to some limitations on locations to choose from…we would shoot and then rush to our next spot….I could not have done that with out being mobile and having one of the riders become the human light stand while the other rode his bike. With the clouds increasing and sun setting…I was continually changing settings on the fly….I often get asked if I feel limited or challenged shooting flash since I have to stick to 1/250th sync speed. No….ever since switching to the newer PocketWizards it’s never been an issue. HyperSync has been a game changer in the way I shoot allowing me to pretty much shoot and fire my strobes at any shutter speed. Again having someone hold the strobe and have them move when I do allows for super quick location changes. So far these images have been some of my most popular on social media and one ran as a two page spread in a mountain bike magazine. So much for planning!

Technical info:
Canon 7D with Tokina 12-24 f/4 and Sigma 70-200 f/2.8
Strobe info:
Strobe-Single Boling 600 watt strobe
Fired via PocketWizardsMiniTT1 and FlexTT5

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human-lightstand

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Syndicated with permission. All images and copy © Keith Pytlinski – please respect photographers’ rights and do not reproduce any of this content with written permission.

Originally posted at http://m5photography.com/5/2014/08/making-the-most-of-changing-weather/

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Simon Mackney’s 13-hour day with the British Bobsleigh Team

crop_380-1384962741-2_simonmackneyHere’s a behind the scenes video of Simon Mackney using Plus III Transceivers to photograph the British Bobsleigh team as well as a written account in Simon Mackney’s own words.  Mackney is professional photographer based out of Derbyshire, UK.

“The coach of the Great Britain Bobsleigh team came to us because they wanted images that weren’t your standard boring, normal promotional images.  They already had plenty of those and they were looking for something different.  So we came up with the idea of shooting the athletes with a super hero, film poster kind of style in mind.  We wanted a strong, confident, proud, inspirational, dark, edgy, moody style/look.

The images will be used for a variety of promotional pieces leading up to and during the 2014 Olympics in Sochi.  We used PocketWizard Plus III radios with a Paul C. Buff Einstein E640 studio fast flash duration flash units.  With the combination of the PocketWizard radios, the Einstein E640, the Nikon D4 at 11 frames a second and the fast flash duration, we were able to get the shot we wanted.  The guys busting out of the stock, which we used with Bruce Tasker crashing out of the ice shards, we would not have been able to get the shots without the combo. The PocketWizard radios never let us down and they work really well with all our gear.

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© Simon Mackney

 

© Simon Mackney

© Simon Mackney

 

© Simon Mackney

© Simon Mackney

 

© Simon Mackney

© Simon Mackney

 

© Simon Mackney

© Simon Mackney

 

Massive thanks to the Great British Bobsleigh athletes Bruce Tasker, John Jackson “Jacko”, Joel Fearon, and Stuart Benson. We had a great, 13-hour long day shoot with the guys at the fantastic 2,200 square foot, drive-in Darley Abbey Photographic Studios.  The shots were taken by Simon Mackney and then edited by Simon and the Mackney team.”

Additional thanks for the following:
Video: Thom our Assistant
Music: Our good friend Artist: rotary; Title: scientific www.soundcloud.com/rotary

And the Mackney Team

Equipment used:
PocketWizard Plus III Transceivers
Paul C. Buff – Einstein E640 to freeze the action and motion
Nikon D4 and Nikon D800E
Capture one, tethered and linked to ipad

Links:
http://simonmackney.com
https://www.facebook.com/MackneyPhoto...
http://www.johnsons-photopia.co.uk
https://www.facebook.com/johnsonsphot…
http://pocketwizard.co.uk
http://www.bobteamgb.org

PocketWizard radios are distributed in the UK by JP Distribution.

All images, videos, and quotes in this post are used with permission and © Simon Mackney, all rights reserved; story is ©PocketWizard. Please respect and support photographers’ rights. Feel free to link to this blog post, but please do not replicate or repost elsewhere without written permission.

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What’s up Pussycat? Özkan Özmen goes on a Portrait Safari

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Özkan Özmen at work

Özkan Özmen is a portrait photographer based in Frankfurt Germany with a penchant for photographing subjects that can bite your head off. No, we’re not talking about models and celebrities with attitude here. We’re talking lions, tigers, and rhinos. As Dorothy famously said to the tin man… “Oh MY!”

According to Özkan, he’s always been into things that crawl, chirp, growl, and purr, and it wasn’t long after he began taking shooting studio portraits for a living that he decided to put together a compact lighting kit and try his luck outside of the comforts and convenience of his studio. Özkan Ozmen’s personal project ultimately took him on a multi-continent journey in which he’s captured wonderful portraits of the sort of wildlife most of us only see in zoo and safari parks, though seldom as in-your-face.

Özkan understood the logistics – not to mention danger involved in trying to capture tight portraits of wild animals using lights. Still and all, rather than being technically boxed in by the harsh ambient lighting conditions common to shooting in the extreme locales he planned on visiting, his goal was to light his subjects and select-focus at wider lens apertures similar to the way he would when shooting portraits in his studio.

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(more…)

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Josh Ross Creates a Liquid Apple

The third installment of our series on Josh Ross has just been completed. Previously, Part One and Part Two. Here, in his own words, is how Ross put together his most ambitious product shot, liquid, this time, in three dimensions.

©Josh Ross

©Josh Ross


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Making Waves, 06 December 2013

making_waves_logo
Making Waves
 is a weekly round-up of current posts featuring PocketWizard products.

SLR Lounge’s, Michelle Ford did a review of the PlusX  and we are excited to say that it received 5 out of 5 stars.  Here is the complete video reviewNote: The PlusX was released in February 2013

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BTS: Brandon Lyon & Pentatonix

Hello, my name is Brandon Lyon, I am a commercial portrait and fashion photographer. I work out of Dallas, Texas and I am excited to write my first article for the PocketWizard Blog. I grew up as an only child so I mostly lived inside my imagination, creating stories and characters to entertain me. I also really enjoyed reading. I craved the feeling of falling into a book for hours on end and losing yourself to a different time and place. We didn’t travel much so this was how I got away. I particularly loved science fiction and fantasy. The world was what you wanted it to be, and the rules could be different.

I wanted to share a recent project I shot for the musical group Pentatonix. They are an a cappella group of five vocalists that gained success after winning season three of NBC’s The Sing-Off and are currently dominating YouTube and the world with their fresh and unique arrangements of mainstream music from pop to hip-hop and electronic music.

Photo: © Brandon Lyon

Photo: © Brandon Lyon

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Justin Van Leeuwen’s Distance Test Shoot

Photographer Justin Van Leeuwen of Ottawa, Ontario shoots some great commercial interiors, but his true passion is people. Environmental portraiture is where he really shines, doing his best to catch an individual’s entire personality in just one frame. Here’s his account of an exciting outdoor photo test he undertook.

©Justin Van Leeuwen

©Justin Van Leeuwen

Sometimes we take photos just because we can.

I was walking around the Ottawa River with the Canon 200-400mm f/4 L IS 1.4x Extender, testing it for my review on canonrumors.com. With such a long telephoto reach, one that I’m not typically used to, I started looking, and seeing, things in areas I hadn’t before. This included a really cool cliff opposite Ottawa’s Parliament on the Quebec side. It was covered in graffitti, which meant it was also accessible. It gave me the idea to try to take a really cool and unique shot; a portrait from across the river from Ottawa to Hull, Ontario to Quebec — an interprovincial photo shoot.

I went home to brainstorm the logistics of the shoot. I knew the lighting would be contrasty and unflattering during the day (as it is) which would move the shoot closer to dusk and sunset. I had never been to the cliffs either, and since I would be on one side of the river to take the shots, whoever I would send out there would be on their own. That didn’t sit well with me, so I knew I would have to enlist one or two volunteers as assistants as added security. I also knew I wanted to light it, because taking a photo from 1600 feet away isn’t hard enough, I wanted to do something different and make the image pop.

How are we going to light someone that far away? I know my Canon ST-E3-RT system can’t go that far, neither can my Elinchrom Skyports. I had just read about PocketWizard radios new Plus III Transceiver’s, that not only had a “long range” option, but also offered a relay mode to piggy-back the signal from one PocketWizard radio to the next. I did a little Google Map math, and figured the direct line from camera to location (about 1600 feet) was a bit too close to push the max range on a set of transceivers, which is rated at 1600 feet. Adding a relay point on a conveniently placed island would cut that distance in half and should assure us a successful flash trigger.

©Justin Van Leeuwen

©Justin Van Leeuwen

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Dom Romney on the Road

We’ve looked at the exciting work of Dom Romney previously. It seems like his love of American cars remains undaunted. Here’s some very cool behind-the-scenes photos which accompany Dom’s story of how he got the final shot, in his own words.

©Dom Romney

©Dom Romney

This technique is fairly unusual. What you do is mount the camera to the car, roll the car along the road, and then—when it’s moving—trigger the camera with a long exposure to give the concept of moving with speed.

To create the illusion of speed is difficult. When I shoot, it’s normally just me and a driver. I have to push the car, so I use the PocketWizard to fire the camera while I’m busy pushing. Below is the unedited picture showing the rig, and also me pushing, to give a better idea of how its done.

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Remote Camera Mountain Bike #Selfies

Whistler, BC-based photographer Dan Carr’s work has been featured in ski and snowboard magazines from Japan to Canada and everywhere in between.  During the winter you will find him shooting alongside the world’s top snow sports athletes and film companies in the never ending quest for perfect images.  After a summer season of improving his mountain bike skills, Dan steps in front of the camera and remotely fires off some images. Here’s how he did it in his own words.

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iso800, f/6.3, 1/320

As summer drew to a close in Whistler, British Columbia, I was about ready to pack the bike away and dust my skis off when I had an idea……
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