using the Profoto B1 portable flash at a wedding

With wedding photography, there are nearly inevitably time-constraints. It is therefore imperative that you, as the wedding photographer, are able to keep everything running as smoothly as possible on your side. Which implies that it is important that you (and your equipment) are adaptable. And it is also hugely important that your gear is easy to set up, and very reliable.

Karissa and Rory’s wedding was the first where I pulled out the Profoto B1 battery powered flash (vendor). I’m even more impressed with it now, than I was when I first tested it for my review: Profoto B1 500 AirTTL battery powered flash.  (And if you’d like to buy my previous AcuteB 600R kit, let me know.)

When using additional lighting, you ideally need a few things from your lights:
power! 
– and yet, a delicateness to the light when necessary.
speed of use is essential.

At 500Ws, the Profoto B1 dumps sunlight-levels of light, but you can pull it down 8 stops, to where the light can be used in subtle ways.

With off-camera flash, I’m mostly working with a specific distance, and then manual flash makes sense. The  Profoto B1 (vendor) offers TTL as well, and this might seem superfluous to some. But it really makes it easier and faster to get to correct exposure. You can do an initial exposure via the TTL mode, and then switch to Manual if your exposure is correct. This gives you the speed of TTL flash, and the consistency of Manual flash.

Here are more images from this wedding, with examples shot with the Profoto B1, as well as other images using various types of light ….

1/250  @  f/5.6 @  800 ISO  … 70-200mm f/2.8

Since it was raining for most of the day, I had to do the photos of the bridal party, and of the families, under the front porch of the reception venue. There wasn’t anywhere else we could work, without being crowded inside.

This meant that I set the Profoto B1 on a tall light-stand in front of the entrance of the venue, diffused with a white shoot-through umbrella.

The setup: Profoto B1 with a shoot-through umbrella. The black umbrella that you see there, was gaffer taped to the B1, to make sure it didn’t get (much) rain.

Funny how that works – trying to baby a brand-new $2000 flash, while running around in the rain with two Nikon D4 bodies and two f/2.8 zooms, getting soaked. But that’s not unusual to use my cameras in the rain, as in this rainy-day wedding. Fortunately, the rain wasn’t monsoon-like heavy. Just a steady drizzly downpour. After a while though, I did look bedraggled and soaked through.

 

1/250 @ f/5 @ 800 ISO  … 70-200mm f/2.8

The longer lens gave me the reach for these photos where the bridal party (or families) interact.

I had the Profoto set to about 1/4 power (if I recall correctly). This meant that I could fire the frames quite quickly, and not wait for it to recycle like I would’ve had to do with speed lights. The B1 just kept motoring on.

1/250 @ f/5 @ 800 ISO … 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 24mm

With the off-camera light parallel to the group, I am free to move about, and still have the light evenly spread to everyone in the frame.

1/250 @ f/5 @ 1600 ISO … 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 50mm

After the ceremony, we took a few more portraits of the couple. I had my assistant hold up the Profoto B1 on a monopod here, so we could move fast. The light was still diffused through a white shoot-through umbrella.

1/250 @ f/5 @ 1600 ISO … 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 50mm

 

1/160 @ f/4 @ 1600 ISO … 70-200mm f/2.8

Still with the B1 on a monopod, and the white shoot-through umbrella attached. I had her hold it closer to the B&G (to camera left), just out of the frame. Just that touch of light to clean up the light on the couple, without being overpowering and noticeable.

 

1/125 @ f/4 @ 1600 ISO … 70-200mm f/2.8

I had my assistant crouch behind them for several sequences where Karissa threw her veil around them. The flash was direct, and dialed down to minimum. I fired these at 10 frames-per-second on the Nikon D4, and the Profoto kept up.

For this type of low ambient light levels, the direct flash was a bit too powerful. So I will have to find a way of diffusing the B1 for these type of photos, or use a speedlight with a diffuser like usual. Still, I really like the effect.

1/160 @ f/3.5 @ 1600 ISO … 70-200mm f/2.8

Just before we headed back to cocktail hour, I wanted a few more traditional poses. The light outside was fading, but the background looked wonderfully muted. Using the B1 (on the monopod) with the shoot-through umbrella still, the light from the flash looked great. Clean, open light. And it was easy to adjust!

1/160 @ f/4 @ 1600 ISO … 70-200mm f/2.8

And here is the available light shot to show how much the flash lifted the exposure, and cleaned up the light.

 

using a variety of lighting during the rest of the wedding day

Now as much as I love the Profoto B1 – and because of it I’m now carrying fewer speedlites to weddings – it would be completely unrealistic to think the B1 is a do-all lighting solution. Anyone who regularly follows this website, will know that I am a strong believer in having a flexible philosophy regarding lighting. Whatever looks best, or works best in a situation.

Available light where necessary. Or on-camera bounce flash. Or direct on-camera fill-flash. Or video light. It varies as best fits the specific situation, and whatever looks and works the best.

So similar to the article – adapting the use of light & flash photography – which discussed a fluidly adaptable approach to lighting, let’s have a look at the options I used during this wedding.

 

1. available light

I’m perplexed by the photographers who have the automatic response: “available light always looks better”. How could that “always” possibly be true? Additional lighting can really add pizzazz to a photo when the available light is flat. For example: the photos of the model, Olena, in this article: off-camera flash for that extra bit of drama.

However, when the available light is great, there’s no real need to fuss with additional lighting. Use what you have.

And sometimes, additional lighting just isn’t practical, such as when walking backwards in the middle of a main road, while the rain is coming down …

1/500 @ f/4 @ 1600 ISO  … 70-200mm f/2.8

We cautiously went out to the main road, and when the road was clear, stepped in for a few romantic portraits in the rain. Again, no umbrella for me. I’m just happy the couple were fine with going out in the rain, and getting a wider range with the romantic portraits.

 

1/80 @ f/2.8 @ 1600 ISO  … 70-200mm f/2.8

1/100 @ f/2.8 @ 1600 ISO  … 70-200mm f/2.8

Posing Karissa half-way into this building’s entrance, I knew I would get dramatic light on her.  (The rain had subsided by now.)

related articles

 

2. on-camera bounce flash

It’s no secret that I am a huge fan of directional light from your on-camera flash, when there are bounce-able surfaces indoors. Or even outdoors. With the bride’s prep and the groom’s prep, I rely heavily on on-camera bounce flash to give me soft, directional light.

1/200 @ f/4.5 @ 1600 ISO  … 24-70mm f/2.8

There was a fair amount of available light in this room, but a touch of directional bounce flash gave me a more controlled light. I still had to use the local adjustments brush to bring up more detail on the bridesmaid’s face.

1/200 @ f/3.5 @ 1600 ISO  … 24-70mm f/2.8

With the window to my right, the fall-off from the window-light was too dramatic, and I used bounce flash here to lift the contrast. But I still wanted to keep that directional quality to the light. Black foamie thing to the rescue.

1/100 @ f/4 @ 2000 ISO  … 70-200mm f/2.8

The reception was in the marquee tent, so bounce flash was super-easy and gave a good spread of light.

1/125 @ f/3.5 @ 200 ISO  … 24-70mm f/2.8

1/100 @ f/2.8 @ 2000 ISO  … 70-200mm f/2.8

For the photos during the wedding reception, I had a 1/2 CTS gel on my flash to bring the WB of the flash closer to that of the ambient light in the marquee tent.

 

related articles

 

on-camera flash modifier – the black foamie thing

I use the black foamie thing (BFT) as a truly inexpensive flash modifier to flag my on-camera flash to give me lighting indoors that truly look nothing like on-camera flash.The piece of foam (Amazon), can be ordered via this link. I cut the sheet into smaller pieces.

The BFT is held in position by two hair bands (Amazon), and the BFT is usually placed on the under-side of the flash-head.

The linked articles will give clearer instruction, especially the video clip on using the black foamie thing.

 

gelling your flash

 

3. direct on-camera fill-flash

With overcast days, the light comes from all directions, but can be top-heavy. Then it often helps to nudge the available light with a bit of fill-flash from your on-camera speedlight.

The idea here is that the fill-flash is just a touch of on-camera TTL fill-flash. It’s not the same as you would deal with fixing a hard sunlight problem with flash. So you have to dial your flash exposure compensation down, because you are exposing correctly for the ambient light.

1/400 @ f/4 @ 1250 ISO … 70-200mm f/2.8

1/200 @ f4.0 @ 3200 ISO … 24-70mm f/2.8

There was a New Orleans style Jazz Band which lead the wedding guests back to the reception after the wedding ceremony at the lake. It was getting darker then, and with this being a rainy day and us under the canopy of trees, I had to bump up my ISO quite high. Still, a touch of fill-flash to brighten up anyone in the foreground.

1/250 @ f4.5 @ 1600 ISO … 24-70mm f/2.8

 

related articles

 

4. video light

Photographing the band playing during cocktail hour, I tried one test shot with bounce flash, but I already knew what would happen – the entire room would light up. Perfect exposure but the mood is lost.

I keep my Litepanels Croma LED video light (vendor) with me in my bag at all times. What makes it so versatile, is that the video light’s White Balance can be changed anywhere between Daylight and Incandescent.

I had my assistant hold the light for me for various photos of the band members. My assistant would highlight whoever I wanted to photograph, so that there was this type of spotlight on them. This lighting retained the mood, but gave me camera settings that were useful, unlike the available light that was there.

1/160 @ f/2.8 @ 1600 ISO … 24-70mm f/2.8

 

related links

 

5. diverse available / found light

At the end of the wedding ceremony, Karissa and Rory, and their guests, sent off with wish balloons. Challenging to photograph! The light from the flames were very low, but flash would’ve destroyed the mood entirely. I decided to just use the light that was there. More than 50% of the frames I shot were un-usable due to camera shake or gross under-exposure. The light was only enough to photograph by when closer to someone lighting it, or holding up the wish balloon. But the images that worked, looked amazing!

1/60  @  f/2.8  @  5,000 ISO … 24-70mm f/2.8

The White Balance here is still very warm, but this is as much as the WB slider would go down.

1/60  @  f/2.8  @  5,000 ISO … 24-70mm f/2.8

This photo was a vertical shot originally. (The right-hand side.) But I wondered how this would work as a horizontal if I pulled in wish balloons from other frames that weren’t so successful. I ended up really liking this composite!

 

related articles

 

photo gear or equivalents) used during this wedding

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book review: Roberto Valenzuela – Picture Perfect Posing

I’ve noticed that articles on Tangents which deal with the topic of how to pose people, gets a lot of attention. Posing is a challenging topic for most photographers except the very best who seem to have an innate gift for it.

Books on posing tend to approach the topic as a list of suggestions – the kind of “1,000 poses” type books. Another alternative offered is flow posing where you maneuver a couple through a number of poses mechanically. Both of these approaches means you have to memorize poses by rote, instead of understanding why the poses work, or how to improve a pose.

This is where Roberto Valenzuela’s book excels. He teaches a system. The Picture Posing System he has developed breaks posing technique down into 15 segments which he then carefully analyzes to show why certain poses work. Instead of recalling exact poses and trying to fit them to the person you are photographing, posing now becomes a series of conscious decisions. And that is what Roberto’s book teaches you – that series of decisions.

The book is divided into two sections. The first discusses the 15 segments to his Picture Posing System. (12 segments for individual poses; and another 3 segments for posing couples or groups.) The final section of the book deals with more advice on posing couples.

The segments discussed include topics such as:
– weight distribution and its effect on posing;
– joints and 90 degree angles;
– hands and arms – (an especially tough element of posing);
– posing with movement, feeling and expression.

 

The book is filled with gems of advice. Here’s an example: in the chapter on hands and arms, Roberto says exactly what pretty much any other photographer feels: “I found it hard to remember all of the hand / arm positions I had seen in magazine and billboard photographs. I would try to memorize every photo that inspired me, hoping I would be able to recall them during a shoot. After a while I ended up just as confused as when I first started, and all the combinations just blended together.”

Yup, I feel your pain!

Roberto breaks this specific problem down into a doable system:
1. One common denominator – free the waistline.
2. Three key execution concepts to always keep in mind.
3. Five ways in which the hands and arms can be used in context.

Now you might say that doesn’t sound inspiring. Fair enough. It just seems like more things to remember. But here’s how he explains it, and this is just one example of the many gems in this book:

The first of those three key execution concepts:

1. Only one hand / arm needs to be posed
While deciding on an appropriate position for your subject’s hands and arms, you won’t find it necessary to pose both arms. You certainly can, and in fact it is recommended. But as long as one hand is positioned with a purpose, the other is free to stray, or even better, the arm can simply hang by the torso, and the pose will not suffer for it. This is great news!

A lightbulb moment! Now, connect this with the sample photographs, and it suddenly makes sense and more simple. So, being able to break poses down in this way – or you will, build a pose up – the pressure is off you. You can do it.

That’s just one of the many gems in this book. There are 300 pages of this, liberally illustrated with photographs. So yes, I would really really recommend this book.

 

other photography books

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Nikon D750 – high-ISO noise performance

The two things everyone is most curious about with the new Nikon D750 (vendor), is the auto-focus performance and the high-ISO noise performance. Here’s a quick preview of what the D750 does at higher ISO settings. Specifically, 3200 ISO and 6400 ISO.

To put the Nikon D750 (vendor) through its paces for the (upcoming) review of this camera, I met up with NYC model, Glass Olive for a photo session. In a restaurant we visited, I used the Sigma 50mm f/1.4 DG (for Nikon) (vendor) at f/1.4 and then tried sequences of images at 3200 ISO and 6400 ISO. Here are two more images, and a 100% crop of each so you can see what the noise pattern looks like.

A few things to keep in mind when looking at the two images:

  • the RAW converters haven’t been updated yet for this brand-new camera, so we are looking at the embedded JPG (at full resolution) that I extracted from the RAW file. So this is the straight-out-of-camera JPG with a slight detour. These could very well be improved upon when adjusting the RAW file.
  • I kept the JPG settings to the defaults, but these were shot in Vivid picture mode. So it looks quite punchy directly out of camera.
    In Vivid picture mode, the Sharpening is set to the middle value: 4.00
    The Clarity was set to +1.00
    (The WB was set to Auto 1)
  • looking at 100% crops give you an idea of the high-ISO noise, which helps with comparison. But, it is not how the image will print. We are looking at a 24 megapixel image. It’s huge. By the time you print it to smaller sizes, the noise is much less pronounced.

 

using the Nikon D750 at 3200 ISO

camera settings: 1/60 @  f/1.4  @  3200 ISO

Here is the 100% crop of the area to the left of our model.

 

using the Nikon D750 at 6400 ISO

camera settings: 1/80 @  f/1.4  @  6400 ISO

Here is the 100% crop of the area to the right of our model.

 

summary

With these very first test shots with the camera, I am quite impressed. Actually, very impressed. The noise is very well controlled for such extreme ISO settings.

More to come in a follow-up review.

 

equipment used

 

related articles

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Nikon D750 camera settings & custom settings

The Nikon D750 is one of Nikon’s most anticipated cameras. And like you’d expect from a top-end camera, it has a huge range of customizable settings. These make the Nikon D750 a camera which can be configured in a highly personal way, depending on your shooting style and needs.

Going through the menu, the options might be overwhelming. Many of them can be left to the default. Some settings will clearly user preference. But with some settings, a change in the function of a button or dial can make a big difference in how the camera responds.

Here is an overview of my preferences for the D750, and the settings that I changed immediately upon getting the camera out of the box. This isn’t a thorough listing of every item in all the menus – that’s what you have a manual for. Instead, this is a quick overview of the settings I’d recommend. All of this of course only touches on the options available with this camera!

An interesting note is that there is a new addition to the menus. The Shooting Menu has now been split into two: Photo Shooting Menu, and the Movie Shooting Menu. This makes sense since it’s become quite prevalent that some photographers would use a DSLR as predominantly a video camera. So that menu needs to be directly accessible.

 

1. Playback Menu

 

I keep PlayBack Folder set to All. Then I can see all the images on my camera, instead of just one folder. This will save you from the occasional heart attack when you scroll through images and think some are missing, when they are just in another folder.

 

I also like Image Review to be On. This depends on where you are shooting though. Photographers that work in low light and need to be surreptitious, might want to keep this to Off.

It is absolutely essential to have the Highlights enabled as part of an exposure metering method.

The rest of the options really are optional. Too many photographers keep everything checked, and then have to scroll through too many screens to get to the essential one – the high-lights.

With Continue as Before, the direction that you delete in, will follow your direction in viewing the images. This makes more sense to me than the other two options which might annoyingly skip to a direction of flow that wasn’t what you were viewing the images in.

 

2. Photo Shooting Menu

File Naming: It makes post-production workflow simpler if your images already have a unique name directly out of the camera. So I change it away from the generic DSC file name.

You bought a camera with dual card slots, so use it for what is the best option: Back-Up in case of card failure.

 

If you’re going to insist on shooting JPGs, then at least turn it Optimal Quality for less compression and better image quality.

Lossless compressed RAW seems like the best of both worlds – the power and flexibility of a RAW file, but not too large.

If you shoot JPG, then Active-D lighting makes sense. If you’re shooting RAW, then it has no effect on your image.

 

3. Movie Shooting Menu

I really like that the Movie Shooting Menu is now immediately available. Now everything is less deep inside the menu.

If you want to be able to slow the video down, then 60 frames a second will give you a smoother look when you bring it down to 30 fps in post-production.

30 fps is the standard frame rate for video broadcasting the USA and other region 1 countries.

25 fps is the standard for PAL / region 2.

24fps if you want a more cinematic feel.

For all of these, make sure you do some research on the 180 degree rule to understand which shutter speed settings are preferred.

Personally, I’d go for the Higher Quality video with less compression. But it would depend on your final use of the video material. Clips meant only for Youtube won’t benefit from the better quality.

An easy way to get a different “focal length” is to flip between FX and DX. With the DX crop, you get a tighter framing. Very neat for when you can’t zoom in or move closer.

If you shoot video, you might prefer a more flat video if you’re going to edit it later on. Remember, it is easier to add Contrast and Saturation than remove it. This is why I keep this Picture Control to neutral.

 

4. Custom Setting Menu

We’ll cover this in more detail a few hops below.

 

5. Retouch Menu

The Retouch Menu allows you to do in-camera processing.

There might be uses for this – adjusting Color Balance in-camera, or any of the options available with RAW processing.

The more interesting effect here is the Image Overlay. You can combine two images, and adjust their individual brightness levels, which affects the way the images are overlaid.

 

6. My Menu

This is a menu I rely on heavily with all my Nikon cameras – quick access to the functions you use most often. I have the Pv button (depth-of-field preview) programmed to bring it up immediately for me.

Here are the ones I prefer having immediate access to, such as battery info and the virtual horizon.

Oh, I have the “Change Main/Sub” option available. I like the aperture dial to be on the back, and the shutter dial on the front. But when I hand my camera to another Nikon user, I can quickly switch it back to behave like a regular Nikon camera.

 

4. Custom Setting Menu in more detail


With the Custom Settings Menu you can access all the options which can make the camera a highly individual one, adapted to your style of photography.


I prefer the camera not to go to sleep in the short period of just 6 seconds, which is the default. It feels like you can barely look away with the camera’s metering turning off. I therefore change the Standby Timer to a more generous setting.


Really, the options for the Monitor Off Delay can be bumped up considerably for Playback and Menus and Information display. It is quite annoying when showing someone the LCD and it dips to black so quickly.

The Nikon D750 battery (EN-EL15) was designed to last longer than any Nikon battery before. Besides, you have s pare with you anyway. The LCD preview doesn’t eat as much power as Live View, so it can be set to display longer without affecting your camera’s power much.


LCD Illumination – I love this feature, especially on the D3 / D4 range of bodies. Set it to ON. Then every time you touch any button, the info panel comes alive and lights up. On the D3 / D4 range of bodies, the camera buttons gently light up. Makes it so much easier to see your controls in the dark. This setting has less impact on the D750 though. 


Set the flash to 1/200 Auto FP. Or to 1/250 Auto FP.

The difference between the two settings should be marginal if I go by previous tests: Auto FP flash setting for Nikon D300s & D700.

And if you’re unhappy that the max flash sync speed on the D750 is 1/200 instead of the usual 1/250th, keep in mind that it isn’t as a big difference as it may seem: comparing max sync speed – 1/250 vs 1/200


For me, this is a setting that makes a huge difference in the handling of the camera. The OK Button can be changed away from the default of showing thumbnails (which isn’t useful to me), to the Enlarged view when in Playback. Seeing the image at 100% to check for sharpness, is essential.

So instead of progressively zooming in, you can now just tap the OK Button, and instantly have a 100% view of the image!


I like being able to disable the flash instantly from the camera with a single push of a button. Assign the F’n Button for this. For me, a very useful ability. You might have another need for the F’n Button. It’s there, so use it!


Since I use My Menu often, I Assign the Preview Button to instantly bring up my most used camera functions via My Menu. Again, this might be a function you have your own needs for. It’s there.


You can Assign the Movie Record Button to do another function when in Photo mode (as opposed to Video mode). I like having the ISO immediately accessible from the top plate, similar to the Shutter Speed and Aperture.

You can also change this button to change the White Balance.

When in Video mode, this button will act the record button that it is.


The older Nikon bodies had the quirk of having the metering display with (+) to the left of the zero. Completely in contradiction to everything you’ve been taught in mathematics. So with the D750, (and other recent models), it has now been sensibly changed to read the correct way as a default. Don’t change it!

I suspect the original (+ zero -) display was done so that the dials had to be rotated in the direction shown in the metering display. Still, it was visually confusing, and I am glad they changed it.

 

finally

These are my preferences and suggestions, not meant as autocratic must-do instructions.

Let us know how you prefer having your camera set up.

 

related articles

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Connection is the first step. Out in the real world you find people who look interesting to you. But that's not enough. You then have to engage with them and convince them to be a part of your project. Which then because "our" project. Connection can be tough because it can cause you to need to step out of your comfort zone, out of your neighborhood and out of your demographic. You have to approach the person for whom you feel the connection. There is a very big (and ego deflating) possibility that they will turn you down. Then you have to move on to the next person with whom you feel a connection. It's a process.

Once you've made a connection you have to bring them into the realm of your ideas. Your vision. In making them an ally you may need to compromise. You give. They give. They try your idea and you try theirs. By working and sharing over time you can create an understanding and unspoken agreement that makes the process of creation flow.

The creation is the process of making the ideas real and tangible. The creation of a portrait is about lighting matching mood which matches pose which matches props and costumes. It's the process of working together until the expression is just as you imagined it would be when you started the collaboration. The light is important. The emotions are important. The camera is less important.
You have to capture the essence of your ideas and visions during this phase because you really can't fix much after the fact. Unless you decide to become an illustrator.

The realization is everything above with the added ingredient of editing. And by editing we mean choosing just the right image from everything you've created together. First you find the image that most closely matches the best outcome of your initial concept and work and then you distill it down by working with the file until it fits happily into or onto the medium you want to use to share the image with your audience. It can be different if the images is destined for a print than if it is destined to be viewed on a small screen. But the medium must be conducive to sharing. Both your connection and your realization will be examined via whatever avenue you choose. A big print demands quality. A small image demands impact. There is a sliding scale of subtlety and nuance.

Finally you get to share. What you are asking your audience to do is to step into your shoes and see a person as you see them. Or as you and the subject both saw the subject in collaboration.

What do you hope to get when you share? Insight into how different everyone's ideas of portraiture are. How different we are when it comes to selecting our collaborative partners. How different our engagements. And how much alike we are when confronted by one or another idea of what is beauty.

I think the person in the image is very beautiful. I want to share my feeling that there is beauty everywhere for us to find. Happily, what is beautiful is subjective. Sadly, what is beauty is subjective.
The Lisbon Portfolio, The story of photographer, Henry White, is now available as a 472 page, 5.5 inch by 8.5 inch printed book from CreateSpace. To get a copy right now click here.  In about a week the book will be in stock on Amazon.com in addition to CreateSpace. If you'd prefer the Kindle version, click here.


I was first alerted to the arrival of the UPS truck by Studio Dog. She leapt from the couch where she had been getting the space behind her ears scratched and raced to the front door either barking out an alarm or, maybe expressing unfettered joy perhaps because she knew what the man in the brown uniform might be delivering.

I brought the box into the kitchen (all important boxes seem to get opened in the kitchen) and sliced it open. Inside were the three proof copies I'd ordered of the novel, The Lisbon Portfolio. Belinda insisted on proof copies as she wanted to make sure that the cover printed exactly as she designed it. When she got home from her real job as a professional print graphic designer she gave the book a thorough exam and declared it fit for consumption. 

Frankly I am shocked at how elated I am to see the book in actual print form and to hold it in my hands and turn the pages. I guess it's because I grew up reading real, paper books with the fervor of a true addict. Something about having a print version makes it so real for me. You've got to consider that I've worked on the story for so long and in an electronic format one's reality is comprised of one visible, tangible page at a time. With the printed copy I could feel the weight and promise of all the pages in my hands.

I abandoned everything else I had scheduled last night and crawled into my favorite chair to see how the book reads. As a book, book. I was intrigued to find that the story seemed so new to me, so exciting. I stayed up late and read my favorite parts. The part with the weaponized Leica. The chapter with the bloody restroom. The mysterious woman in the glowing shaft of light. Every passage, translated onto paper seemed almost new to me. I loved the experience.

We are producing the book at CreateSpace. It's Amazon's print on demand company. You will be able to source the book from CreateSpace at the first link above, right now. In about 4 days the book should (almost) magically appear on the regular Amazon.com site, right along with the list of other books I've written. When that launch happens I will announce a link there as well. Finally, CreateSpace distributes books to most major distributors so there's a good chance that you can order a copy through your own favorite bookseller if you'd like. Fulfillment should be pretty quick.

After reviewing the book I ordered a case of 12 copies to give out to reviewers and my favorite bloggers. I am thrilled with the way the electronic copies of the book are selling and I'm hoping that our readers really come to like the character, Henry White. I'm already hard at work on the sequel.

One thing checked off the bucket list of life. A novel. Now I need to start training for Everest...

Here's the link for the Kindle version: The Lisbon Portfolio

#novel
#actionadventure

Thought I'd go to the most compelling example. Here's young man at the Graffiti Park (Hope Outdoor Gallery). The image above is a 100% crop of the image just below. Click on any of the images to see them larger and to launch them as a gallery. Do I think the 40+ year old lens acquits itself nicely? Yes, I do. It doesn't auto focus but other than that I find it to be.... in the same league as the new optics. These were all shot on an OMD EM-5 at ISO 200-ish and using f2.8 and f4.0. 

I know what I think after seeing them but would love to hear from the assembled, crowdsourced, super resource of brains and experience... The lens is the Olympus Pen-F 70mm f2.0. It was made for the Pen half frame film cameras sometime between 1968 and 1974. I like it.



























 

I have a few pieces of photo gear available that I am selling

I’m only selling in the continental USA, and the price includes UPS ground shipping.

Check the B&H and Amazon links for full details and spec on each item.

Profoto gear

Profoto 600R kit (w/ PocketWizard module)
$1300

link to more photos – the original Profoto bag is included, but not shown in the photos.

About this kit. It works like a charm. Never been beaten up.

It is the unit that has the built-in PocketWizard module.

I would like $1,300 for it. There isn’t any wiggle room with this, since it comes with 4 batteries! AND the 85W adapter for the modeling light.

The 85W adapter alone sells for about $180 used:

http://www.fredmiranda.com/forum/topic/1173669

new: $280

http://www.fotocare.com/PROFOTO_AC_ADAPTER_FOR_ACUTEB_p/21120.htm

A new Lion battery sells for $555
There are three other lead-acid batteries.

So if you want to haggle, haggle upwards.

Profoto charger 2-A
New price is $285. I’d like $220 for this.

 

Nikon gear

Nikon MH-22 battery charger for EN-EL4 and EN-EL4A batteries   (for Nikon D3 / D3s)
New price is $205 on Amazon.  I’d like $100 for this.

 

BL-D3 Compact L-Bracket for Nikon D3 Series Camera Body  (B&H)
B&H price is $180 … I’d like $120

link to photos

 

mint Nikon F3/T   (collectible) – $400 neg
(No box or manuals or strap. Just the camera.)

link to more photos

(oops, the prism-head wasn’t seated properly when I took these. But it works and clips in smoothly! Promise.)

near-mint Nikon F4  (collectible) – $250 neg
rubber on the film back is intact, but shows signs of having been used.
(No box or manuals or strap. Just the camera.)

link to more photos

 

 

Canon gear

Canon 5D mark II – converted for infra-red  – $1,600
Excellent condition Canon 5D mk II, Lifepixel infrared conversion body with the deep IR filter. It has the universal lens focus calibration. Comes complete with box, paperwork, charger, battery, strap, etc. Around 13K clicks.
It was fun dabbling a while with infra-red photography, but I need to use the money for other ventures in photography.

 

Canon EW-88 Lens Hood for 16-35mm f/2.8L II USM  (B&H)
B&H price is $60 …. I’d like $35

 

ST-E2 Speedlite Transmitter
B&H price is $210 … I’d like $125 for this one.

 

 

timelapse gear

Little Bramper – $40

Here is an article describing what it is.

 

 

 

tripod ball-head grip

Price: $900.00
Payment method: PayPal

The B&H link to the ball-head grip: $180

http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/303591-REG/Manfrotto_322RC2_322RC2_Grip_Action_Ballhead.html

I’d like to sell this as a unit, for $90, incl shipping via UPS ground to CONUS.

 

 

 

sold: tripod

Price: $200.00
Payment method: PayPal
Item condition: 9 Shows signs of use, but very clean
Shipping instructions: UPS ground included to CONUS

I am selling this large tripod, since I have three other carbon fibre tripods, and I need clear some space. It has some scuff marks, but has never seen hard use. Never been knocked or dropped.

The B&H link to the tripod: $340
http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/253564-REG/Manfrotto_475B_475B_Professional_Tripod_Legs.html

The iPhone photo of the tripod shows what would be a typical mark on the tripod.

 

 

sold: LED video light

(1x) Litepanels MicroPro (B&H)
Comes with the original box and zip-bag and gels, as well as the hotshoe mount.
I paid $430 each for these when I first bought them. I’d be happy with $175 for this unit.
What sets the Litepanels apart from most LED video lights is that the color balance for Daylight is really good, without strange color tints.

 

 

sold: video jib / crane

Indy Jib 12 feet Camera Crane Jib Boom with Crane Stand – No Tripod Necessary  (Amazon)
An inexpensive option in exploring camera movements for video, using a jib.
It extends to 12′
This set is essentially unused – I’ve taken it out twice to test and play with, so it’s seen no work use.

My records shows I paid $550 for it in 2012, but the new price appears to be $350 …. so I will be happy with $275

This comes in two bags, and is fairly heavy. Ideally,  wouldn’t like to ship it … so it is available for local pickup only.  (New Jersey)

 

The post photo gear on sale appeared first on Tangents.


It's fun to try new lenses. I've been walking around with the Olympus 75mm 1.8 lens on the front of an OMD EM-5 and I have to say that it's just wonderful. I shot an image wide open yesterday that made me really stop and look at the out of focus areas. But the killer stuff is the area of the image that is in focus. Very sharp and detailed. But after reading so many people praising this lens I really didn't expect much less. While I have the lens on loan from a VSL reader (Platinum Level) for the next two weeks my first, knee jerk, response was to think about pulling out the credit card and ordering one for myself.

I was half way to the computer to order when an odd thought stopped me. 'What about that old 70mm f2.0 Pen lens you have sitting in the cabinet with its peers? Wanna give that a side by side kind of thing?'

The last time I tried out the older 70mm was on an EP-3 and the EP-3 wasn't exactly a darling camera for the use of manual focus lenses. No focus peaking and the ability to magnify the frame seemed different than our current cameras; certainly less convenient. I'd tried it and gotten so-so results and the truth is that I probably missed focus more often than I nailed it. Since I was shooting nearly wide open a near miss is as good as a mile. After more than my share of fuzzy files it went back into a drawer. Until Monday.

I decided to give the 70mm a fair shake. I'd seen what the 75mm could do and I figured that there was no way 40 year old, half frame film technology would come close. I evened it up as well as I could. Off came the front filter. Then I spent half an hour carefully cleaning the lens. I found the Pen-f to M4:3 adapter that had the best track record for reliable performance and I was off. At f2.0 the lens was okay but by f2.8 it was right in line with modern lenses. At f4.0 it was difficult for me to see much difference between the 70mm and the 75mm. By f5.6 we were slicing electrons to see the difference.

While the 75mm modern lens is much more resistant to flare with light sources in the field of view the older, 70mm lens stood up quite well at most apertures. How well? Hmmm. Yesterday I had an assignment to shoot 4 executives (individually) in the same way that I'd shot a previous executive for the company a few months ago. They have an east facing conference room and we were shooting in the afternoon. The wall of windows facing east was like having a tremendous soft box at my disposal. The last image was available light so I tried matching up the same look and feel for yesterday's shoot.

When I left the house to go to the client's location I was hell bent on using the Nikon D7100 and the 85mm f1.8 G lens. It's sharp and methodical. But I tossed the black EM-5 and the 70mm Pen lens into the bag just so I'd have a fun play camera to use around the edges of the primary shoot. But when I got into the conference room and got my tripod set up, opened the blinds and measured the light I decided, "What the hell..." and pulled the Olympus combo out instead of the Nikon critical mass ensemble.

I locked the lens at f2.8, did a careful custom white balance, and proceeded to shoot all four of the executives with the same set up. What I was seeing on the rear screen was very nice. I took time to hit the image magnification often to double check critical focus. On the way home I had one of the "Oh my God, what was I thinking??!!" moments. My anxiety is never too far away and perhaps it's because I take chances instead of doing the logical and rational thing each day.

I brought the files into Lightroom and started looking around. I was impressed. Then I jumped into wholesale pixel peeping and I was more than a little shocked to find the files to be pretty much critically sharp right there at f2.8. I shot a few frames at the end with the 75mm 1.8 in exactly the same way and setting. f2.8 etc., same camera. And while the newer lens might be microscopically sharper it's not, "Oh Gosh! Let's drop another $900 for something we've already got covered."

Will the new lens out perform the old one? Probably in every single metric. Do I really care? Not as much as a might have in years past. If the eyes in the portrait are critically sharp and the expression is wonderful and expressive then I think we've hit the bullseye in most portrait set ups. Both lenses are great. I'm glad I gave the old one another chance. It now has a new leaf on life. Right now it's glued to the black EM5. The 17mm 1.8 Olympus is on the chrome body. I'm saving the Panasonic GH3 and GH4 for use with the zooms. All is right with the universe.

Thanks for all the great feedback on the new 75mm. When the 70mm gives up the ghost or gets run over by a horde of Austin bicyclists it's the one I'll buy as a replacement. In the mean time the A/B test continues.


I love portraits of young people because they keep my own connection with the joy of my own youth strong and present. A portrait of a young person can seem filled with promise and energy. But then so can a good portrait of someone at any age.

I did this image of Victoria in Denver a year and a few months ago. I was using a Sony a99 at the time and almost certainly shot this with a 70-200mm Sony lens. I've moved on since then but it was a camera with a lot of promise. As was the lens.

For me the camera was less important than the realization, even as I was shooting, that the image needed to be in black and white. I could see the tones in my mind as I set up the lighting and looked through the finder. The rest of the process was just going through the steps to get what I could already see onto the sensor.

I find a big, soft, directional lighting design so comfortable...



For lighting photographers, the first thing to consider about a tripod is this: a tripod is your most powerful light.
Read more »

 Susie W. 

I'm out shooting portraits today. When I have the time I like to look through folders of my favorite images before I head over to a client's location. It makes me reconsider what I really want to do and what outcome I'd really like to enjoy. I've packed light. My concentration is not on the technical aspects of making a portrait---that should be second nature by now---my concentration is focused on figuring out how I can make each sitter my accomplice. How we might make some fun art, together.

photography workshops for 2014

Working from my studio now, instead of a rented studio in New York, I made a few changes for 2014 and onwards. Working with a smaller group than before – the workshops are now limited to 6 people – and working within my own studio with more equipment readily at hand, gave the workshop a relaxed tempo. The material is always streamlined a little bit more, from workshop to workshop.

There will be one last workshop for the rest of 2014, which will take place on:

  • Oct 26, 2014  (Sunday)

Book a spot at one of the workshops. Each class will be limited to 6 people!

If you would like an individual workshop, or a personal tutoring session, those are available as well throughout the year, depending on both of our schedules. The studio is only 17 miles from Manhattan. Just a short hop from New York and quite accessible by bus. Oh, and there’s parking at the studio. Free parking.

If you are limited in how far you can travel, there are Skype sessions and also video tutorials to help you get a much better understanding of photography and lighting techniques.

The post photography workshops 2014 appeared first on Tangents.



I've had a number of new clients ask me to come by their offices and show them work. They'd like to integrate my work further into the work that their companies are producing. They are looking for a pairing that would be advantageous for both of us. But implicit in the invitation is the assumption that I'll bring along a really great portfolio which they will be able to share with their teams. The portfolio is the cement that makes the working relationship initially bond. It provides a concise statement to their peers that says, "See, I told you this guy could do good work!"

But I've fallen down on the job. Like so many other photographers and visual artists I've let myself believe that the web could be a good, all purpose portfolio. "Need to see my work? Head on over to the website." The sad thing is that I know better. I know how important it is to sit across the table with someone and be there when they look at the work. I also know how much more appealing two dimensional art is when you show it big and well. We should all have up-to-date portfolios that we can toss in the car and go show at a client meeting. It's like bringing your own welcome mat.

I have a number of printed portfolios here in the studio but most of the work in them is older, and that makes no sense at all. I've done about a hundred projects (both personal and business) in the last year and at least half of those projects produced work that I like and which I would enjoy showing. But there's an inertia against moving through the process to a print.

I wrote over the weekend about buying a 50 sheet box of matte surface, 13x19 inch ink jet paper and my intention to fire up my personal printing press and see if the truly ancient Canon Pro9000 was still capable of outputting acceptable prints. Well, as it happens I am not as unorganized as I sometimes pretend to be. There's a folder on my desktop entitled, "Portfolio Files to Work on and Print, 2014."
I opened that folder up today and started fussing with work in PhotoShop.  I downloaded and installed the printer profiles for the exact paper and printer I am using. And, with more than a little anticipation, I did a test print.

Why "anticipation?" Because getting a good or a bad print will also tell you volumes about the quality (or horrifying lack of quality) of your monitor profile. I waited the five minutes or so it takes to print out a high quality, 13x19 inch print and then I exhaled happily and held in my hands a print that is so exactly like what I am seeing on the screen of my current model iMac 27 inch monitor that I almost cried. I'd presumed that printer tech had moved on in the last six years but I wasn't seeing much wrong on my output.

I have a 13 x19 inch portfolio book just waiting for dry prints. By the end of the week I should have a hundred new prints from which to choose. I'm promising myself that I'll keep up with my promotional materials from now on. I love seeing big, detailed, wonderful images come inching out.  For the first time in months I feel like grabbing the phone and making some dates to show off the work. That's how it's supposed to feel. That's when you know you're on the right track.

And I'm happy to see that I don't need to run out an buy a new printer.  More ink? Yes! But more printer? Not so much...

I just got off the phone with the boy. It's his first semester at college and he seems to be handling everything in stride. He's got a small amount of work study which provides him with his first menial job, working in the dining hall. Funny to think of my distinguished scholar scrapping congealed food off plates, chopping vegetables and cleaning stuff. Nothing he was trained for at home... (humor intended). I've adjusted pretty well. The Studio Dog has made peace with his absence and she follows me around like a furry shadow.  

We've had a lot of much appreciated rain here over the last week and there's a small area at our back yard fence that gets a bit muddy after prolonged rains. The Studio Dog has a daily routine that she very much enjoys which consists of listening intently for the arrival at the fence of a pack of hostile chihuahuas that come rushing from out of our neighbor's back door. When she hears their barking she begs to get out, rushes to the fence and runs back and forth, growling ferociously. The chihuahuas respond in kind and it gets very dramatic. Then Studio Dog turns her back on the pack, walks back toward the house, stopping ten or fifteen feet from the fence to urinate. I think she does this as an additional insult or slight to the other dogs. Then she hustles back into the house. I don't know what all these dogs are saying to each other but it's pretty clear that they are talkin' trash.

I asked Ben today if he misses his parents and he artfully deflected my question and volunteered that he did miss his dog quite a bit...

Last week and the week before have been busy ones for the studio and I'm taking a day or two off to get the car inspected and the registration renewed. I'll do some more book keeping and a bit of marketing but it's nice not to be committed to being anywhere at any specific time this week. It gives me an opportunity to catch up with my swimming. And walking. 

We have press proof copies of the novel coming on Weds, and Belinda and I will pore over them to make sure nothing is out of place. Once that's done the print version of the book will be available for ordering on Amazon.com. I will also order several cases of the books for the studio, just in case someone needs a signed copy (hint, hint).

I've gotten a follow up call from K5600 Lighting which means the review loan of the cool HMI lights I've been playing with is probably about to come to an end. I haven't had as much time to play with the lights as I would have liked and I have to say that the portraits I've shot with them show some incredible tonality. It's almost as though HMIs were custom made to make camera sensors sing beautifully. I'll hold onto them as long as I can. I'm searching for beautiful people to shoot and I'm dying to get some images up on the blog. The first three portraits I've shot were all done for clients and are embargoed until they use them. If you are into continuous lighting (as I am) you will find these lights to be pretty darn perfect. The only conceivable downside is the price. But that's what you get if you want to use professional gear made for the movie industry. It makes our little photo toys seem lame. 

PhotoKina is drawing to a close and so far I have a very short wish list of gear I want to get my hands on. Top of the list is the Samsung NX1. If it does all the stuff the spec sheet promises I think it will be a seriously competitive camera and perhaps a notch or two better than the APS-C offerings from Nikon, Canon and Sony. If they have the EVF perfectly figured out....I'll be thrilled. 

I took one look at the Panasonic LX100 and pushed the pre-order button. It seems like the perfect point and shoot camera. If it performs we may be looking at a new, compact cult classic. I doubt I'd use it for video but for a bus ride across the western states or a side trip to Marfa, Texas it seems like the perfect, little camera. 

The other camera I saw that I liked, a lot, was the silver version of the Olympus EM-1. After shooting in the Moody Theater (black walls, black drape, black high ceilings) and being in the audience area (dark) facing the stage I found that my chrome EM-5 was easier to navigate than my black one. It all had to do with being able to see the buttons and dials in the dark. The EM-1 in silver looks like an entirely different camera to me. I found myself hovering over the pre-order button on that one as well.

That's about all I saw in the Photokina new feeds that interested me at all. It was a quiet show.

Finally, I went to Precision Camera today and did something I haven't done for several years. I bought a 50 sheet box of 13 by 19 inch, matte, ink jet paper. Don't know what possessed me but I thought I'd try cranking out 20 perfect portfolio prints from recent work. I don't know if my older Canon Pro 9000 printer is up to the task but I thought I'd give it a whirl. If it doesn't work out I have my eyes on an inexpensive Canon Pixma Pro-100. We'll just have to wait and see. 





All Images Shot With Samsung NX30 and 85mm 1.4.
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