Get Creative


Shannon’s Gelato Creative

Written by our new Aussie friend Stuart Leslie Blain

I don’t know other photographers’ process for putting together a creative. Mine’s done paradoxically. On the one hand I get an idea; workshop it, put it through the KISS filter, then off & away. However, at unsuspecting moments of the day a creeping fear drips into my consciousness that prompts me to ask myself – Am I reinventing the wheel or am I remaking the same old crap I’ve seen before?

If the concept doesn’t match the ideal, then how do I bridge the gap? And finally, will it hold up to the scrutiny of other working professionals? This is my working science experiment as an assistant slowly transitioning to photog.

The breath of fresh air comes in the form of shooting the breeze with Colleen, Jim, and Walter at B3K Digital. A genuine, unpretentious, uncompromising support system. Like a second family, but in photography. The likes of which this fish-out-of-water Aussie never experienced before. So imagine my lack of surprise that it’s the first port of call for Canadian image-creating heavyweights like Christopher Gentile (big fan, mentor) who introduced me to them.

My lens of choice was the Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L Macro read more at 101meds.com IS USM which is just a delight and I love the precision, even in low light. Detail and focus being paramount, I went the way of macro because I wanted to capture the beauty of (Shannon’s) my Italian-Canadian wife’s amazing juicy fruit and vodka gelato’s with mouth-watering clarity. Specifically so I could oscillate between some quick product shots (none of which i really liked ultimately) and these “lifestyle-y” shots. Some concept photographs to support a new business venture to eventually make these available for public consumption.

Categories are obviously practical, but beyond that I hate pigeonholing and labelling something ethereal like art because I find, like a film review, it colours your perspective. So I’ll refrain from labelling my shots for you the viewer/reader and allow you to just drink it on.

This was an invaluable process for me; learning to shoot a melting object in the sun, held by a melting, sweating subject. Always get model release forms signed – even when shooting friends (sad but true).

Run things past the folks at B3K Digital because they are über supportive and nurturing (and it’s easy to forget, and feel pretty alone in a culture that values profit, competition and self-interest and devalues creativity), but especially because you never know where your idea/concept will lead. Start throwing your creative seeds out there into the universe. Whose to say what will happen or how deep the rabbit hole goes.

My humble thanks and bear hugs to everyone at B3K Digital – particularly Colleen for her suggesting this – for their support of me and my photography.

Canon 5D MK II with EF 100mm Macro, ISO 100, 1/100 s, f/9, 100mm

Canon 5D MK II with EF 100mm Macro, ISO 100, 1/125 s, f/11

 

Musings of an “Old Man”

re-posted with permission, and written by Ken Galama

I keep thinking about a DSLR.

I keep getting confused with all the different sensors and pixels.

I miss the days before digital cameras.

Back then the debate that raged was about which medium format camera was best. (yes it was square and no it wasn’t Bronica)

When it came to 35mm it was Canon or Nikon (sorry Pentax and Minolta). There really was no significant difference. You either liked the feel of one or the other and that was it.

Film was the real variable to understand. It was organic, with its moods. It demanded to be treated like the proverbial Goldie Locks. Not too hot, not too cold.

The lab that processed the colour film was like a maternity ward with anxious photographers waiting the delivery of their precious images. Ripping open packages, flipping through prints, negatives being examined. Each image scrutinized, some cherished others aborted.

But every photographer had religion when it came to black and white. I never met a photographer that didn’t process and print their own black and white film.

Ansel Adams was the founder of that religion yet every photographer had their own private ceremony.

After the film was dry and an image chosen for printing the photographer conjured his image from a beam of light. Dodging and burning creating a unique hand made image.

That final print was a direct link to the photons that bounced of the subject. A continuum that was created by the photographer, frozen in time.

I’ve turned into the old man that sits on his porch reminiscing about those days back then, when film was a thing that mattered.

 

(Ken was classmate of Colleen’s from her Algonquin College Photography days, you can follow him – or his dog Buddy on Twitter @Chelsea_Buddy)

Hartblei – Larger Than Life

Medium Format Quality – View Camera Movement

By Cedric Swaneck – Freelance Photographer/POCP Assistant

A couple of months ago, I was at B3k Digital chatting with Colleen and local photographer Christopher Gentile about the merits of tilt/shift lenses. Right on queue Colleen presented us with the Hartblei trio of tilt/shift SuperRotator lenses. They offer the 40mm f/4, 80mm f/2.8 and 120mm f/4 lenses. The build quality of these lenses is impressive to say the least.

Equipped with cutting edge Carl Zeiss optics, the Hartblei line of lenses offers DSLR professionals true medium format quality glass. Not only is the quality of glass incredible, but the versatility and flexibility of the SuperRotator tilt/shift design offers the photographer more creative and technical options than ever. You have 360 degrees of rotation and independent control of the tilt and shift movements. The movement of these lenses is almost like that of a view camera. The barrel build quality is amazing. All of the elements flow smoothly and lock with military precision. It’s like having a high tech tank in your hands.

The 40mm f/4 lens comes equipped with a built-in tripod mount, which you will definitely need. The Hartblei 40 is a real big boy weighing in at 1,490 grams (1.49 kg/3.28 lbs)! I would definitely recommended using the Arca Swiss P0 tripod head with this lens. A great standard lens and a great workout.

The 80mm f/2.8 was the easiest of the three lenses to maneuver. Like the rest of the lineup, this lens was tack sharp and the image quality was excellent. The dimensionality of these tilt shifts can really make your subject really pop while creating a silky smooth bokeh.

I would have liked some more time with the 120mm f/4 lens to play with it’s macro capabilities. Maybe even try it out with an extension tube. The sample image below was taken straight on without tilt or shift. Super sharp and fairly easy to control lens. This lens is equipped with dual focus rings helping you get closer to your subject.

Sample Images

 

(Canon 5D Mk II - Hartblei 40mm f/11 2 sec. full shift and tilt)

(Canon 5D Mk II - Hartblei 40mm f/11 1/2 sec. full shift)

(Canon 5D Mk II - Hartblei 40mm f/11 2 sec. full shift)

(Canon 5D Mk II - Hartblei 80mm f/11 1/2 sec. full shift)

(Canon 5D Mk II - Hartblei 120mm f/11 1/2 sec.)

For an in-depth review and more sample images visit Lloyd Chambers’ blog.

http://diglloyd.com/articles/Hartblei-pub/Main.html

For more info on Hartblei and technical specs visit the Hartblei website.

http://www.hartblei.de/en/sr40if.htm

All images are copyright Cedric Swaneck. Special thanks to Eleni at Dwell Gym.

 

Cedric the Photographer at Doors Open Toronto

You may have seen him in our store chatting with Jim, drinking coffee in the kitchen with Colleen, or with his laptop open and sitting with Walter. He pops in here frequently – introducing Cedric the Photographer, a freelance photographer and POCP certified assistant based in Toronto.

He began on his path into photography when he quit his job, bought a digital camera and plane ticket to Chile (when 3.3 megapixels cost $1000). He started with landscape photography because, as he likes to say, “landscapes don’t talk back.” His next big step into the world photography was when he accepted a job as a portrait photographer with Heirloom Portraits. Traveling throughout Canada’s remote northern communities taking school photos and family portraits was his day job for months on end. This interesting job also provided him with many opportunities over the years to continue with his landscape work. He has since worked in a wide range of photographic areas, with his focus on studio portraiture. Visit www.cedricswaneck.com for more information.

We set Cedric up with a Cambo Wide RS camera, a Shcneider Apo-Digital 47mm f/5.6 copal 0, and the Phase One IQ160 digital back for the Doors Open Toronto weekend.

(all images are copyright Cedric Swaneck)

Please visit Cedric’s blog where he outlines his recent experience with this technical equipment supplied by B3K Digital and to see more of his photographs from Doors Open Toronto.

 

 

Unique Capture and Lighting Integration from Phase One and Profoto

COPENHAGEN and STOCKHOLM, June 17, 2013 — Phase One and Profoto announced that their technical collaboration has produced an unprecedented integration of simultaneous image capture and light control.

Now photographers can link their Profoto studio light to the aperture or ISO settings of their DSLR or medium format camera system. While shooting tethered in Capture One Pro, any changes to the aperture on the camera will cause the light intensity of the studio light to automatically compensate an equivalent f-stop. For example, if the photographer switches from f/8 to f/5.6, the light will drop one f-stop, so that the image is not overexposed. The solution lets photographers easily define which groups of lights should be included in the linking, making it a powerful and flexible work tool.

“Capture One Pro was designed to satisfy the needs of professional photographers,” said Henrik O. Håkonsson, CEO & President, Phase One. “Our collaboration with Profoto and the success of our capture and lighting integrations offer unprecedented lighting control during capture. This solution is especially great for portrait photographers who want to vary their depth of field; they can just turn the aperture dial and the light intensity will follow to ensure the right exposure.”

Anders Hedebark, CEO, Profoto added: “Since our initial capture and lighting integration projects with Phase One, photographers have encouraged us to do more in this area. Capture One Pro is a great platform from which to empower our customers with better tools to manage their professional light gear.”

Two years ago, the companies announced their first image capture and light control integration solution available in Capture One Pro 6. It provided remote access for wireless control of Profoto lighting equipment from within the Capture One application.

Availability and Pricing

The new image capture and lighting integration solution is available now for Mac OS. It requires Capture One Pro 7.1.2 or Capture One DB (digital back) 7.1.2 or later and a Profoto Studio plugin for Capture One. The Capture One software is available from Phase One at http://www.phaseone.com/software or from one of its authorized dealers. The Profoto Studio plugin download is available at http://www.profoto.com/capture-one.

The solution works with all Profoto lights with built-in Air Remote Control. For a list of compatible cameras please refer to: http://www.phaseone.com/camerasupport

Working Together

by Colleen Smith

I sat down last night at a long table in the back of the bar at the beginning of Happy Hour and looked around at the other faces at the table. As soon as another one joined our group there were hugs and handshakes. All 15 of us (there were, unfortunately, a few missing from the festivities) sat down, ordered drinks and food and got the night underway.

There were photographers, producers, studio managers, sales guys, rentals people, all whom I have had the pleasure, the joy of working with over the past 10+ years, and each and every one of them I consider a friend. We get together not as frequently as we would like but when we do the night is full of laughter. We were by far the loudest – and quite possibly the most obnoxious – group in the place. After the initial “how’s work going?” no one talks about his or her day job. This is a night to catch up with old friends and talk of things in common and reminisce. One shared event brought us together, but no one needed to talk about what’s going on in the industry, we all know, we’re all a part of it in one form or another.

 Which brings me to the reason for writing this.

I have worked at three different companies over the last 10 or so years, all (pro) photo retail/rentals related. I have made lasting friendships at each place of employment, people I talk to regularly.

We have all worked I suppose, at “the other guy”, some at Vistek, some at Headshots (and of course B3K Digital), and some at places that no longer exist.

This “competition” is (and I truly believe this) a falsehood, something the higher-ups have pushed and pursued believing they should be the biggest, or only player in the sandbox. Why?

This is a relatively small industry; everyone has worked with, or for, everyone else at one time or another. Why create such a divide? I don’t understand why we can’t work with each other instead of against each other? If I can’t help a photographer with what they need why shouldn’t I pick up the phone and call a friend to see if they can help – or vise versa? Imagine this industry if we did? I’m not saying we need to forget about profit or sales or ROI. But I am saying there is no need to be so protective or so divisive. We all know each other here, wouldn’t it be best to just help out the guy looking for that speedring? Or the producer needing a rental quickly? Why shouldn’t I call the “competition” to find out if they have a lens in rentals and how much it rents for? If I don’t have it for a client I will do what I can to find someone who does. Let’s just all work together to help the photographers, the producers, the studio managers, let’s get them what they need – regardless of where it comes from – so they can get their job done. Isn’t that what it’s all about anyway?

Is this too simplistic a thought? Maybe, but I think simplicity is what we need in an otherwise metamorphic industry.

Working against each other will only quicken the industry’s demise while working together, I’m sure, will only lead to strengthening it.

The New Generation of Conservation

Part two in the series of Conservation and Photography

by Colleen Smith

Renewed emphasis on photography-for-conservation arose at the beginning of the 21st century, primarily in response to human-caused environmental crisis. Photographers recognized that the global pattern of ecosystem degradation was not sustainable.  Modern equipment, attainable travel, the media, and now social media have all helped to bring this new discipline to the forefront of public awareness.

The modern field of conservation photography was formalized in October 2005 with the founding of the International League of Conservation Photographers (iLCP) during the 8th World Wilderness Congress held in Anchorage Alaska.  This new group was established with the basic goal of enlisting the skills and expertise of some of the world’s best photographers to help advance conservation efforts around the globe. Working with scientists, policy makers, governmental leaders, and conservation groups, the iLCP translates conservation science into captivating visual messages. Years of field experience, talent, and a commitment to conserve landscapes, people and wildlife is what sets the photographers of the iLCP apart. The work of conservation photographers covers a vast range of threats to biodiversity. From habitat loss to cultural erosion, from poaching to global warming, conservation photography is indeed a very important component in the conservation toolbox.

“The typical nature photograph shows a butterfly on a pretty flower. The conservation photograph shows the same thing, but with a bulldozer coming at it in the background. This doesn’t mean there’s no room for beautiful pictures, in fact we need beautiful images just as much as the issues. It does mean that the images exist for a reason; to save the Earth while we still can” – acclaimed photographer Joel Sartore, founding Fellow of iLCP

Photography in the Field

Part three in the series of Conservation and Photography

by Colleen Smith

Conservation photographers work with a myriad of groups, from scientists to environmentalists, religious figures to heads of state, all with the common goal of education and awareness. To maximize their effect, conservation photographs are best employed for specific causes. Proper use of these images have the power to bring about positive change.

Jeanette, an Environmental Assessment Coordinator for the Federal Government tells us how important photographs and videos are in increasing awareness to the general public. “Seeing amazing photos of animals or landscapes that people (especially in the city) don’t see every day can really evoke a sense of wonder and a sense that wilderness or wildlife is something valuable to be protected.” But conservation photography doesn’t just deliver the message to the general public, it is also a very useful instrument used by researchers. Photographs of seabird colonies can be used for counting and estimating populations, photographs of banded birds (shot with 600mm super telephoto lenses) allow researchers to read the band numbers from the photo – something that wouldn’t be visible with a set of binoculars. The same is said for videography. For example, video is used to monitor tagged fish that move through a salmon ladder, or video used to track animal movements at a particular location i.e. animal use at eco-passages over highways. Photography and video has never played a more important role in protecting our environment.

 

Shop Local, Support Local

Ok, what gives…

 I’ve spent the past two plus decades supporting and servicing the professional photographer here in Canada. There was a time when our industry had little to no competition, but today, this is not the case.  You can purchase/rent directly off the web, have equipment/product shipped from just about anywhere in the world. Many of you have asked me directly… to better support the industry through a variety of ways, which we’ve endeavored to do (both currently, and in the past). Why then, can someone please tell me, do so many continue to support firms south of the border?

 I think back to the heady days of the 80′s, jobs seemed plentiful and rates high. Today, many of us in the professional imaging industry are pressured by our clients to offer “more for less” – let alone the marketing by major manufacturers implying that “you too, can capture images like the pro”.

 The fact is, this is simply not true. It never was and I would challenge anyone to prove otherwise. Technology is more complex, the software never ending and the knowledge base and support to maintain ones self at a pro level continues to be a challenge.

A good friend and client of mine asked me why I could not compete against American large box resellers, I told him I probably could but chose to be a few dollars higher as I felt knowledge, skill and experience came at a cost (all be it a reasonable one). You can put a face to a name; you have a number to call should something go wrong. Best of all, the men and women right here genuinely care about you and your success!

In turn, he expressed a similar point of view when dealing with his client over contract rates and to his surprise the client agreed to his fee… without the ubiquitous headaches of the past few years.

 This is not a bitch session (though I’m sure some will say otherwise) rather it is a wake up call. Our industry is a symbiotic one, without one another we ultimately all suffer in the long run. Please, think Canadian, support your local lab, printer, retailer, rental house… before you click the enter button on some far away faceless web site.

 Thanks,

Jim

Conservation Photography – A Brief History

Part one in the series of Photography and Conservation.

by Colleen Smith

Conservation and photography appear as two distinct fields, but their combined impact can be profound. Photography has developed as a powerful medium of conservation, since the 1860’s when Carleton Watkins used his persuasive images to successfully encourage the creation of the Yosemite Grant in 1864 – the first instance of park land being set aside for preservation and public use. This in turn led to the creation of Yosemite National Park in 1890.  Armed with a mammoth plate camera that used 18”x22” glass plate negatives, and a stereoscopic camera he traveled to Yosemite and established himself as a master of landscape photography. The 30 mammoth plate and 100 stereoscopic negatives helped influence the US Congress to pass the legislation protecting the Yosemite Valley. Other photographers of the time had similar success in environmental conservation; William Henry Jackson was pivotal as a member of the Hayden Geological Survey of 1871, which led to the creation of Yellowstone National Park. Ansel Adams, best know for the Zone System, was primarily known as an environmentalist first, and a photographer second. Taught to live a life guided by a social responsibility to man and nature, he received his first camera in 1916 (a Kodak Brownie) while visiting Yosemite. He spent that winter learning darkroom techniques, and then returned to Yosemite a year later with a better camera and a tripod. At the age of 17 he joined the Sierra Club – a group dedicated to preserving the natural world’s wonders and resources – and was a life long member, serving on the board of directors for 37 years. “I believe in beauty. I believe in stones in the water, air and soil, people and their future and their fate.” He decided that the purpose of his art, whether photography or music, was to reveal that beauty to others and to inspire them to the same calling.

Upper Falls of the Yellowstone, 115 feet. Photographed by William Henry Jackson.

Yosemite Falls, from the Sentinel Dome, Yosemite Valley, Mariposa Co. Photographed by Carleton Watkins