Posts Tagged ‘wireless triggering’

Upgrading Firmware at the Speed of We-Need-it-Yesterday

New cameras are exciting, especially when they incorporate new technologies that improve camera performance or the user’s creative capabilities. What’s not so exciting is when you take your new camera out on assignment only to find out it won’t perform as accurately and/or consistently as well as your previous camera model. In all likelihood it’s firmware related – causing communication problems between the new camera and your flash triggering system. The language might be the same, but the new dialect causes confusion.

When the PocketWizard product engineers at LPA Design catch wind of new cameras, they prime the coffee machine and, using the earliest available production cameras from Nikon and Canon, begin testing every facet of the camera to determine how well it works or doesn’t work with PocketWizard products before releasing firmware upgrades. During these test trials the engineering team determines what needs to be tweaked or in some cases, completely re-engineered to better ensure PocketWizard triggering devices perform as expected.

A recent case in point is Nikon’s introduction of their newest DSLR, the D810, which replaces Nikon’s popular D800 and D800E. PocketWizard’s engineering team performed exhaustive tests with the new camera to assess and remedy any compatibility issues with the PocketWizard MiniTT1 and FlexTT5 radio transceivers. Considering the complexity of the upgrade process, it’s pretty impressive when you hear LPA’s engineering team was able to hammer out the bugs and release a reliable firmware upgrade in two weeks’ time.

Nikon's new D810 with a fully-compatible PocketWizard FlexTT5

Nikon’s new D810 with a fully-compatible PocketWizard FlexTT5

 

A conversation with Patrick Clow, LPA Design’s Technical Support Manager, explains the complexity and attention to detail that goes into testing compatibility issues between new camera models and PocketWizard radios before releasing firmware upgrades. Between Canon and Nikon, PocketWizard’s engineering team must establish complete compatibility between PocketWizard’s product line and about 60 cameras and 20 flashes. And this figure doesn’t include Sekonic light meters and the various studio flash systems PocketWizard radio triggers are compatible with.

As Patrick describes the process – “There are lots of factors in testing: each shutter speed, every aperture, image stabilization, lens choices, camera battery levels, flash choices, rear curtain sync, MASTER devices and modes, zones, shooting modes, flash durations, and lots more.  When you start to multiply all of the factors together, you quickly get into the millions of possible combinations – you couldn’t test them all in several lifetimes.”

“For the numbers geeks out there, we use a pairwise system to generate grids of test setups. They are still gargantuan, so we edit those grids based on our experience, knowing what changes we made in the firmware, and targeted (towards) the cameras we want to test. In its simplest form, each camera gets a bare minimum of 10 hours of testing assuming nothing pops up.  If it does, we often end up testing it all over again.  The latest firmware had 15 new cameras in it, several requiring multiple rounds of testing as we reverse engineered unique behaviors.  We also re-tested previously compatible cameras to ensure continued stability.  It was a really big project.”

In many ways, firmware upgrades involve thinking the process through backwards. “Our compatibility and features are built entirely on reverse engineering someone else’s totally custom, non-standardized and evolving communication interface and then applying precision timing to that hard-won knowledge. Microseconds matter to us. We do things differently from virtually everyone else in the industry and that’s why we can pull off technologies like HyperSync®, or controlling the power level of studio flashes like the AlienBees with a Nikon or Canon Speedlight.”

New cameras inevitably come with unknowns and according to Patrick, Nikon’s new D810 didn’t disappoint LPA’s Engineering team. “The latest cameras had some interesting things going on under the hood.  TTL for the D810 and D4S, for example, acts differently than previous Nikons at a specific focus distance so we had to figure out how to work through that anomaly.  We did it, and we even modified our own firmware so that if Nikon changes that behavior with a future camera firmware upgrade, or releases another camera with the same behavior, we should still be good to go.” Canon’s newest DSLRs came with their own set of issues.  “Even within the same generation or family of cameras, (Canon cameras) can have strangely different behaviors.  In the past we’ve spent considerable effort figuring out these behaviors and making special cases to manage them.”

“With this last round of firmware we went beyond that – we retooled a major piece of our system to be more flexible.  It should allow us to roll with the punches much more easily and add new cameras to the ControlTL system  more quickly. PocketWizard firmware update version 3.700 for Nikon includes full compatibility with Nikon’s D810 as well as Nikon’s D610, the D4S, Df, D7100, D5300, D5200, and D3300. PocketWizard firmware update version 6.700 for Canon has also been released, bringing full TTL compatibility to Canon’s EOS 70D, 1D X, 6D, T5i/700D, T5/1200D, T4i/650D, and SL1/100D. With these two new releases, all currently manufactured DSLRs from both Nikon and Canon perform with full TTL capability when using the ControlTL feature on PocketWizard MiniTT1 and FlexTT5 Transceivers.

Canon EOS 7D with PocketWizard Flex TT5

Canon EOS 70D with PocketWizard FlexTT5

 

In closing our conversation, Patrick made a point of mentioning his support team at LPA and the time and dedication they pour into their respective responsibilities.  “Thousands of hours, several drums of coffee, and a few dozen buckets of peanut butter pretzels have gone into this milestone.   “I just want to give a shout out to the engineers and testers that made it happen: Tim, Steve, Mark, Gary, Andrea, Ryan, Sarah, Zack, Ian, Heather, and Seth (and Steve, Chris and Ashley).  We have a great support team with Lorei, Heather, Nick, Hannah, Deb, and all the great folk at MAC Group!  Thank you!”

For more information on how to update PocketWizard products via USB connection and to view current release notes for Nikon firmware update version 3.7 and Canon firmware version 6.7 visit: http://www.pocketwizard.com/support/downloads/

The PocketWizard MiniTT1 and FlexTT5 are now fully compatible with the following recently released Canon and Nikon DSLRs:
Canon – EOS 70D, 1D X*, 6D*, T5i / 700D, T4i* / 650D, T5 / 1200D, SL1 / 100D
Nikon – D810, D610, D4S, Df, D7100, D5300, D5200, and D3300
* Now with TTL compatibility.

For a complete compatibility list, please visit:
http://wiki.pocketwizard.com/index.php?title=Canon_Compatibility
http://wiki.pocketwizard.com/index.php?title=Nikon_Compatibility  

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Tandem Lighting Setups Using SpeedCycler On A Recent SI Photo Shoot

Alexis Cuarezma is a portrait photographer with a specialty in photographing sports figures. Considering the fact he’s named after Alexis Arguello, a three-time world champion boxer from his native Nicaragua, and studied art, graphic design, and photography at California State University at East Bay, this shouldn’t be a big surprise.

Barely a decade into his career, Alexis Cuarezma is an alumnus of the Eddie Adams Workshop (Barnstorm XXIV), and counts the LA Times, the NY Times, Sports Illustrated, HBO, Ring Magazine, SEEN, Boxing News, Fighting Fit, and other publications among his current client roster.

Cuarezma has always been fascinated with light, and as a photographer, he aims to control it to the best of his abilities in the studio as well as on location. While he appreciates the qualities of available light, the images Alexis Cuarezma captures for his clients require more than a click of his heels and a Hail Mary shout-out – they have to be lit.

Alexis Cuarezma honed his photographic skills early on by photographing his kid brother and his little league teammates. In short time he began shooting boxers at their respective gyms, which lighting-wise are as dismal as it gets. In Alexis’ case, this was in his favor – he preferred to light the ring his own way.

Cuarezma’s dramatic lighting techniques ultimately came to the attention of Brad Smith, Director of Photography at Sports Illustrated, who he met at the Eddie Adams Workshop. It was through Brad that one of Alexis’s biggest dreams came true – an assignment from Sports Illustrated.

The ‘good news, bad news’ part of the story is that while Smith loved Alexis’s lighting style, the shot he needed of Stanford University’s Shayne Skov (since drafted as a linebacker for the San Francisco 49ers!) was going to be silhouetted and had to be shot against a medium-gray background. Brad’s instructions were basically “You’re going to have to get a grey seamless. You know how to light well, keep it simple and have fun.” For Cuarezma the fun part of it would have been to shoot it his own way. And that’s where PocketWizard radio triggers came into play.

Alexis happened to be on the market for new radio transmitters. The ones he had been using were not reliable when he needed them most, and even when they did work, they were limited in what they could do. The features and user reviews of the PocketWizard MultiMAX caught his attention, most notably its SpeedCycler feature.

SpeedCycler makes it possible to shoot studio flash flat-out at up to 10 frames-per-second by syncing with multiple flash units that can be triggered in a rapid, alternating sequence.  This enables him to capture high-power strobe-lit action sequences far faster than he’d be able to shoot with a single light source.

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On the left is the lighting setup I drew out to figure out how many PocketWizard radios I would need and where to place them. On the right is how the drawing looked like in real life

 

But Cuarezma had a different take on the SpeedCycler feature. Rather than using the SpeedCycler feature to trigger identical lighting setups, Cuarezma’s idea was to light and capture the shot according to Smith’s direction – gray background and all, immediately followed by a second exposure that would trigger a second set of lights set up the way he saw the shot in his mind’s eye.

Cuarezma knew his time with Skov would be limited, and if he wanted to please his client – which he did, and please his own creative itch, which he also wanted to do, he would have to go beyond the framework of a conventional portrait shoot.

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Cuarezma’s Canon 1D Mk IV can capture up to 10 frames-per-second, or one exposure every 100 milliseconds. Theoretically, by incorporating a PocketWizard MultiMAX radio trigger and four PocketWizard Plus III’s into the equation, he could capture two separate exposures in 200 milliseconds – one exposure lit as per his instructions against the gray background immediately followed by a second exposure lit in a lighting style Alexis Cuarezma can proudly call his own.

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Two of the many ”ping-pong- lighting sequences Alexis Cuarezma shot in two frame-per-second bursts, each triggering it’s own lighting set-up. The bottom left shot is the one that ran across a double-page spread in Sports Illustrated. And yes, it’s not against a plain gray background – it’s the shot Alexis lit his own way.

 

After a series of false starts and a firmware update for his Plus III Transceivers, Alexis was set to go, and the accompanying images say it all.

As for the payoff, Sports IIlustrated was delighted with the results of Cuarezma’s first time out on assignment, and they ultimately ran one of his ‘renegade’ images across two pages. And in this business it really doesn’t get better than that.

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The image as it appeared in Sports Illustrated.

 

See how Alexis Cuarezma lit his Sports Illustrated spread using two entirely different lighting setups and PocketWizard’s SpeedCycler feature here.

To see more of Alexis Cuarezma’s work, check out his website.

All images, videos, and quotes in this post are used with permission and © Alexis Cuarezma 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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Cheng Han Pursues His Inner Captain Nemo

Cheng Han is the type of person who once he gets something into his head, he won’t let it go until it becomes real, at least when it comes to photography. And the funny thing is, up until not that long ago, photography for Cheng Han was merely a function of recording domestic life.

A visit to his website reveals an artist who is serious about the visual quality of his end products. His environmental studio and location portraits simply cannot be glossed over – each of his multifaceted images requires a careful once over… maybe two.

"Together"

“Together” © Cheng Han

Putting the geek and emotional sides together is the gist of Cheng Han’s photographic personality. “I’m basically a geek and the geek side of me likes puzzles. The creative side of me really enjoys producing surreal images that generate emotional responses… at least on my part, and I hope on the part of others who look at my pictures.”

Cheng is fascinated in creating technically challenging photographs, but when he decided to take his photographic odyssey underwater, he had no idea what he was getting into. (According to Cheng, his notebook contains over 200 production notes.)

At Peace

“At Peace” © Cheng Han

Right off he knew he wanted to include swaths of fabrics entwined around and/or about his models. eBay turned into a good source of fabric samples, not to mention lighting manufacturers he called on to see how their diffusion materials and backdrops would hold up underwater. He then had to see which of these fabrics were color-fast because the last thing he wanted was to tie-dye somebody’s swimming pool. (His first attempt with a red surplus parachute almost resulted in a nasty red stain along the lining of the pool ,which fortunately dissipated before Cheng had to drain clean, and refill the pool.)

Cheng Han’s goal was to create environmental portraits complete with models, make-up, costumes, backgrounds, and lights just as he would in a studio… but all partially or entirely underwater, utilizing the unique ethereal effect of weightlessness underwater in ways that cannot be replicated on land.

Cheng readily acknowledges outside influences. ‘Together’, an image of a woman wrapped in swirling silky material while floating embryo-like in a blue void of fabric and water was inspired by a scene in the movie ‘Gravity’, when Sandra Bullock enters an abandoned spacecraft and momentarily floats curled up as if she was in the womb.

To Be No More

“To Be No More” © Cheng Han

 

In a bid for camaraderie, Cheng goes below the surface with the models in all of the underwater pictures. “It wasn’t easy for anyone – take a breath, go underwater, get into position, avoid hitting the lights, pose, open eyes, focus, shoot, and resurface – all while not breathing.”

The camera and lighting part of the equation is equally challenging, the biggest problem being wireless communication between electronic flash systems positioned both below and above the waterline.

“There’s a lot of information available about underwater flash for photographing sea life and wireless flash on land, but there’s not much information about syncing studio flash above water with underwater flash simultaneously.  And then one day Jean Bruneau, the tech advisor for Aquatica, suggested I look into PocketWizards”.

In conventional underwater photography, the Ikelite underwater flash units would be hardwired to his camera’s Ikelite underwater camera housing and mounted in a series of cumbersome & heavy arms. The challenge was triggering the Elinchrom Quadra flash units that were poised above water along the flanks of the pool. Standard optical and radio remote procedures proved erratic if they worked at all.

Inversion (1)

“Inversion” © Cheng Han

Cheng’s solution was to run a hard-wired sync cord from his camera’s Ikolite flash housing up above the waterline where it was coupled to a PocketWizard Plus III Transceiver. Each Ikelite underwater flash and one of the Quadras were also individually connected to PocketWizard tranceivers via sync cords also above the waterline. The signal from the camera’s transceiver could then trigger all the lighting simultaneously. Any additional Quadras were triggered optically.

Cheng Han - Purgatory

“Purgatory” © Cheng Han

In most of the images the Elinchroms are the main lights and the underwater Ikolite flash units, which are often gelled for atmospheric effects, are for fill. In other cases, the Ikolites are the main light source and the Elinchroms are used for fill. The setup Cheng used allowed total freedom to position lighting with the same freedom you would have in a conventional studio.

Cheng Han - Carmen 01

“Carmen” © Cheng Han

Currently Cheng is trying to further push his boundaries by attempting to construct even more complex sets for use underwater with the goal of making the underwater aspect of the photographs secondary to the look and flavor of his photographs.

And a box of donuts says PocketWizard Plus III Transceivers will be an integral part of his lighting system.

To learn more about Cheng Han’s work, visit his website.

All images, videos, and quotes in this post are used with permission and © Cheng Han, 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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Making Smaller Voices Heard in an Ever Noisier World

There comes a time when we read or see something that makes us want to quit our day job, pack our bags, and go do something that actually makes a difference in this world. Few get past their morning coffee before they’re once again off to the office, dreams put on hold. And then there are those who, damn the naysayers and snickers, actually follow through and make the world, in some small measure, a better place to live in. Mark van Luyk, a Creative Director by trade, and his wife, Judith Madigan, an optometrist by trade, did just that. And they’ve succeeded.

BrandOutLoud-5

Judith and Mark stepped out of the corporate world in 2006 and after a year of travel and soul searching, established ‘BrandOutLoud’, which in Judith’s words ” specializes in tailor-made branding and communications for non-profits worldwide.” If you’ve ever browsed through brochures and websites designed and illustrated by and for non-governmental and other non-profit organizations, you know the design and graphics can often be sophomoric, and at times depressing to look at. Mark and Judith were determined to change all of that.

© Mark van Luyk - BrandOutLoud

As a Creative Director, Mark understands the importance of branding – “It’s all about knowing who you are and what you stand for”. He’s also quite aware of the role of powerful imagery when it comes to successful communication. “Showing stereotype (aid) images of tragedy, warfare, or disease evokes helping from the point of view of pity. Besides, the world has seen enough of the sad looking malnourished African child with the flies in the eyes” Mark adds.

© Mark van Luyk - BrandOutLoud

Mark’s approach is to present local aid organizations from remote locations around the world as real people, with dreams of their own being turned into realities. And no matter how humble or simple the endeavor may be, there is a strong sense of pride and dignity in the faces of the people he has photographed along the way.

 

As a result of Mark and Judith’s efforts, small local aid organizations now have the ability to sustain themselves by attracting new supporters and expanding their network of partners, becoming more and more independent. They are able to show their story and get their message across using the newly well-designed communication tools.

So far Mark and Judith have met with much success. Rather than chasing leads, organizations are now seeking them out for their expertise in not only ‘branding’ aid organizations, but for their unique ability to design and supply the elements of entire campaigns, and they do it quite well.

© Mark van Luyk - BrandOutLoud

Due to the remoteness of many of the locations the van Luyks travel to, they must travel light. For this reason Mark narrowed his choices of gear down to his Canon cameras (EOS 5D Mark II and Mark III), a set of fast prime lenses, and four Canon 580EX II Speedlites which he uses grouped together or individually depending on the circumstances – with or without a softbox or umbrella (In addition to stills, Mark also shoots HDSLR video for client and promotional needs). To synchronize his cameras and lights, Mark relies on PocketWizard MiniTT1 Transmitters, PocketWizard FlexTT5 Transceivers, and PocketWizard AC3 ZoneControllers, which he cannot praise enough.

© Mark van Luyk - BrandOutLoud

“I work in the field and I have to think about everything going on around me, and we often have to set up and work quickly.  My PocketWizard system allows me to set my lights the way I want them knowing the images will come out dead-on. “I’d rather get it right when I press the shutter release. Sitting at a computer doing Photoshop is not my idea of a fun time.”

 

Mark relishes the fact he can control the entire creative process from soup to nuts. “Knowing upfront how the image will appear at the end makes it easy for me to capture and compose all of the elements together. I can pre-visualize the picture and how it will appear in print or the web before I fire the shutter. That’s a huge advantage.”

 

The resulting images are strikingly simple, and though ‘advertorial’ in style, don’t come off too slick or condescending to either the subject(s) or viewer(s). Mark van Luyk and Judith Madigan are quite clear on the fact their subjects are real people, with real hopes, dreams, and realities, and they deserve the same level of dignity an respect as the more privileged amongst us.

 © Mark van Luyk - BrandOutLoud

To learn more about BrandOutLoud visit http://www.brandoutloud.org/videos/1/

All images, videos, and quotes in this post are used with permission and © Mark van Luyk / BrandOutLoud, 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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Breaking the ‘First Three Song’ Rule with Erik Voake

In time, most photographers turn to video as the next logical step in their careers. Not so with Los Angeles-based Erik Voake. In fact, he did the opposite. At 19 he was already directing and producing indie films and videos about off-road racing, skiing, freestyle motocross, snowmobiling, snowboarding, and other action sports.

Other professional accomplishments he’s amassed include being a co-Producer and Director of Photography on the Lionsgate film “A Day in the Life”, a film dubbed a “hip hopera” staring Mekhi Phifer, Omar Epps, Michael Rapaport, and directed by Sticky Fingaz from ONYX. He was also DP on Larry Clark’s ‘Impaled’, a documentary about the effects of pornography on youths’ sex lives, and he recently produced and filmed a documentary titled “Jonathon” that was screened at the Museum of Modern Art in Paris.

Mac Demarco - Performance

‘Mac Demarco’ – Copyright Erik Voake / Red Bull Content Pool

 

On TV, Voake created the cable reality series “Crusty’s Dirt Demons” a show about the exploits of motocross riders that aired for two seasons on FUSE Networks. But despite his success in the motion picture and TV universe, something was amiss.

Flume - Performance

‘Flume’  - Copyright Erik Voake / Red Bull Content Pool

 

In 2006, not long after seeing the James Nachtwey film documentary – ‘War Photographer’, Voake was offered the opportunity to travel to Bagdad and shoot a documentary on the first deployment of the ‘Band of Brothers’ since World War II (a.k.a. the 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division, US Army). Sponsored by Sony, it also gave Erik an opportunity to follow the advice of his friend and mentor, photographer Larry Clark, who was urging him to always carry a camera with him because of all of the places he travels and the people he meets. According to Erik, Clark’s advice changed his life.

The still images he captured in Iraq resulted in his first gallery show, which he scrambled to assemble after selling the gallery owner on the idea of a show about the fabled Roxy Theatre. (The gallery owner loved the pictures from Iraq but doubted they were the kinds of images his clientele would want to hang on their walls.)

Smashing Pumpkins - Performance

‘Smashing Pumpkins’ – Copyright Erik Voake / Red Bull Content Pool

 

It was during this time Voake began appreciating the value of traveling light and nimble. Backstage venues are dark, which means you need light, but too much light can be intimidating when you’re trying to gain the trust and confidence of musicians and the lot.

About a week after posting a picture he shot of a band named ‘Chelsea Girl’ on Flickr, Erik got a call from Spin Magazine. They wanted to buy the picture. One thing led to another and before he knew it, Voake had talked them into an assignment photographing a music festival in nearby Michigan, which in turn led to a gig shooting Lollapalooza and the South-by-Southwest music festival. That was in 2009 and Erik Voake has been a music shooter ever since.

EVoake_PocketWizard_4959

Copyright Erik Voake / Red Bull Content Pool

 

“I’m a photographer – not a director, not a producer, I’m a photographer – I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be. My mom was an art teacher, and she told me when I started taking pictures, I finally came into my own. When I picked up a camera… I became Erik Voake.”

Voake began shooting portraits of many of the performers he met along the way. His lighting style is of the ‘less is more’ school and he tends to minimize his lights to a ring light or for larger, softer swaths of light, a beauty dish (“Nothing beats a beauty dish”).

EVoake_PocketWizard_7235

Copyright Erik Voake / Red Bull Content Pool

 

For backstage shooting he relies on Canon Speedlites. And for syncing his cameras and lights, Erik Voake relies on his PocketWizard Plus II radio triggers. “PocketWizards radio triggers are all I use and all I need. They work every time. Period.” (Note: The Plus II has been replaced by the Plus III Transceiver)

One of Voakes niftier gigs these days is being an official photographer for all of the Red Bull Music Concerts, which feature some of the biggest bands around. A particularly cool thing about working directly for Red Bull is that he has the run of the arena, and in particular, a green light to set up lights around the stage pre-show rather than have to deal with on-camera flash, or more troubling stage lighting, which can change quickly, wildly, and flippantly.

By rigging the stage and syncing through his PocketWizard radio triggers, Erik is able to guarantee his results. And that’s not easy to do on the concert circuit.

'Tapioca and the Flea'

‘Tapioca and the Flea’ – Copyright Erik Voake / Red Bull Content Pool

 

Another noteworthy detail about shooting the Red Bull Concerts, is that since Red Bull was a private sponsor and was paying the bills, Voake was able to break the number one rule of concert photography, specifically -  ‘No flash for the first three songs!’

As Erik Voake summed it up, “We made music history. We were able to break the ‘first three song rule’, and we got some amazing pictures along the way. At first everybody was ‘Hey, what’s up?’, but it all settled rather quickly and everyone including the musicians notice the difference in lighting quality. And he gives much credit to his PocketWizard wireless triggers for pulling it all off.”

To see more of Erik Voake’s photographic work visit his website.

All images, videos, and quotes in this post are used with permission and © Erik Voake, 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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Chris Henderson (Light) Paints a Really Big Truck

Henderson headshotA big challenge in any creative profession is staying ‘fresh’ in your approach to your work, which as anybody who photographs shoes for a living can attest, can be problematic after a spell. For Chris Henderson, a UK-based corporate/industrial photographer with a specialty in photographing unusual, and often large-scale subjects in a variety of environments, maintaining a creative edge has been a priority over the course of his 30-year career.

Henderson takes lighting seriously, be it natural ambient lighting with a reflector or two, or photographs in which he has to light the entire scene.

A recent project that involved photographing a massive mining truck in real-world surroundings proved to be a perfect test bed for a lighting painting scenario he had been working out in his head for some time. Just as he lights each facet of a product in a studio set precisely, Henderson’s plan was to light each of the contrasting shapes and forms of the massive mining truck independently, batch process them for consistency, and merge the best portions of the resulting images together post-capture in Photoshop. But first he had to photograph the individual components, and to do that he turned to his PocketWizard remote triggering system

Henderson photographed the project engineer separate from the truck. He then shifted the lens focus to the truck for the balance of the exposures.

Henderson lit the project engineer using a PocketWizard-triggered Elinchrom Ranger and a reflective bounce reflector. He then shifted the lens focus to the truck for the balance of the exposures.

 

Henderson’s hand-held lighting system consisted of an Elinchrom Quadra Ranger RX Hybrid monopack synced to a PocketWizard Flex TT5 Transceiver, both of which were mounted on the end of a telescopic boom pole. The camera,which was mounted on a sandbag-stabilized heavy-duty tripod, was triggered manually by Henderson (seen holding the light in the inset pictures) using a hand-held PocketWizard Plus III Transceiver from each lighting position to a PocketWizard Plus III wireless trigger, which was attached to the camera via remote camera cable. When the camera was triggered, the shoe-mounted PocketWizard Flex TT5 triggered the Elinchom flash head, which was synced to another PocketWizard Flex TT5. Each exposure was PocketWizard controlled from start to finish.

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CH2

CH3

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CH final image

The PocketWizard side of the story doesn’t stop there. Chris wanted to maintain control over the brightness levels of the surrounding skies and foreground, which was limited by the relatively slow 1/200th-second top sync speed of his Canon EOS 5D Mark III. To get around this limitation, Henderson took advantage of the HyperSync function of his PocketWizard trigger system, which enabled him to dramatically darken the skies by syncing his camera to his flash at an effective 1/1000th-second at f/8.

The final image is composed of portions of about 45 individual exposures that were sampled, tweaked, and merged together into a single powerful image. By setting the camera remotely and securely, and methodically lighting each portion of the vehicle to emphasize the shapes, scale, and textures of its massive surfaces, Chris was able to create an unearthly iconic image in a real-world setting. What’s also notable is that despite the size, logistics, and scale of the truck and the fact it was photographed in a field of mud and far beyond reasonable reach of an AC outlet, Henderson’s PocketWizard remote triggering system enabled him to capture the image single-handedly.

“I have used other radio triggers… and had nothing but problems, the main ones being poor range, misfires, and electrical noise interference when working in… large industrial complexes”. Since switching to PocketWizard Plus III Transceivers, they’ve become his ‘go-to’ remote triggering system. “They have proven to be robust, reliable, and each time I use them I am confident they will perform faultlessly.”

PocketWizard wireless technologies have allowed Chris Henderson to shoot in ways previously impossible. In his own words, PocketWizard radio triggers have added an extra creative string to his bow and changed the way he goes about creating photographic images.

To see more of Chris Henderson’s work visit his website.

All images, videos, and quotes in this post are used with permission and © Chris Henderson, 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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Dylan Coulter Photographed These Olympians Back in July

THE MAKING OF THE CITI SOCHI WINTER OLYMPIC CAMPAIGN PHOTO SHOOTClick on link for a Behind the Scenes look at the photo shoot.

Brooklyn-based photographer Dylan Coulter has made a name for himself creating iconic portraits of athletes, models, and other notables. For the past two years he has also been the person responsible for photographing the Citibank Winter Olympic Teams (last year he shot the London-bound teams, this year the Sochi-bound teams), a position he takes great pride in. “It was a real honor to be called back for a second year” says Dylan, and you can tell by the tone in his voice, he means it.

01-WinterOlympics

Evan Lysacek – 2010 Olympic Gold Medalist – Figure Skating © Dylan Coulter

Unlike most Olympic photographers who had to journey to Sochi to earn their paychecks, Dylan Coulter had to make his magic in a four day window of time about seven months earlier in the New York metropolitan area. His original plan was to take the athletes to venues that at the very least approximated the appearance of the sports each of the athletes excelled at, but due to the logistics of shooting the entire team in a short window of time, that idea was nixed. So it was off to the studio.

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Billy Demong – 2010 Olympic Gold Medalist – Nordic Combined © Dylan Coulter

Rather than build elaborate sets or shoot against backdrops that somehow suggest the type of sports the athletes participate in, Dylan decided to go bare-bones by shooting each of them against white backgrounds. Some images with little more than strips of gaffers tape on the floor for positioning purposes. Dylan also shot portraits of each of the athletes close-up and full-body for other applications in the Citibank campaign.

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Dan Jensen – 1994 Olympic Gold Medalist – Speed Skating © Dylan Coulter

Perhaps the strongest and most difficult photographs he captured were the simulated multiple exposure sequences, a style he originated on a project for ESPN Magazine. Unlike traditional multiple exposure pictures in which a single movement is captured at set intervals on the same exposure, Coulter’s simulated multiple exposure sequences are made up of individual posed images that are lit and composed one at a time and pieced together in post production.

Ted Ligety - 2014 Olympic Gold Medalist - Alpine Skiing  © Dylan Coulter

Ted Ligety – 2014 Olympic Gold Medalist – Alpine Skiing © Dylan Coulter

If it seems like a demandingly complex workflow, you’re right, but the final images are stunningly perfect at each stage of the final photograph. “Getting the form right was a big challenge, and the athletes were real troopers and performed as professionals” as they went through their paces, often repeatedly. The athletes also served as consultants in a sense when they reviewed the images, making sure each frame captured the proper form, attitude, and body English.

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Julie Chu – 2002, 2010, 2014 Olympic Silver Medalist – Women’s Ice Hockey – © Dylan Coulter

Dylan Coulter views the athletes he was hired to photograph like he views other photographers and others who practice crafts that require training and discipline, “It’s always exciting to see the differences in form between athletes, the way they run, pitch, serve a ball, there side arms, overhand, and I try to represent each of these professional athletes authentically.”

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Julie Chu – 2002, 2010, 2014 Olympic Silver Medalist – Women’s Ice Hockey – © Dylan Coulter

“My PocketWizard Plus III remote triggers were instrumental in getting me through this assignment. They didn’t only trigger the lights, but in several shots they triggered an overhead camera we rigged for some birds-eye view photographs we shot. I know it’s been said before, but being able to work wirelessly makes life so much easier.”

To see more of Dylan Coulter’s photographic work visit his website or Facebook page.

All images, videos, and quotes in this post are used with permission and © Dylan Coulter, 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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Walter Van Dusen Gets Ready for Hannah’s Big Day

Screen Shot 2014-01-06 at 10.58.47 PMThe contact page of Walter van Dusen’s website features a picture of his daughter with a caption that reads “Every wedding that I photograph is preparing for my daughter Hannah’s wedding. That’s how important your wedding is to me”. And he means it. Some photographers approach weddings as cookie-cutter catalog work. New England-based Walter van Dusen approaches weddings with a passion.

With 20 years as a correction officer under his belt, Walter has the steely nerves required to deal with the heightened emotions and meltdowns that often go hand-in-hand with wedding days. Careful to avoid repetitive grip and grin-ish wedding photography, van Dusen makes a conscious effort to spend up-front time in order to get to know the soon-to-be-married couple, and sometimes their families and significant others in their lives.

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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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How to Set Up a Holiday Photo Booth

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borrowlenses.com

The Borrowlenses.com blog has published a story on how to set up a photo booth at your next holiday party. They detail how it can be done on a budget and won’t take up too much valuable partying real estate.

Borrowlenses.com suggests using a three light set-up with speedlights — one to act as the key light in an overhead softbox, one pointed down at a white reflector for some fill, and another to light up the background.

Thoughfully, they’ve suggested one good way to make sure you’re not chained to the booth all night long — PocketWizard wireless triggers! Attach a FlexTT5® to your camera and let your guests trigger the whole shebang themselves using a hand-held Plus® II.

For more details, read the post on the Borrowlenses blog. Of course, all the necessary gear can be rented in the Borrowlenses shop. Connect with them on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.

 

All images and quotes in this post are used with permission and ©Borrowlenses, 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 re-post elsewhere without written permission.

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