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)

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.

 

 

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

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

Sandy and the Animals

One of our favourite photographers, Sandy Nicholson, has been shooting some very cute and cuddly subjects of late. Sandy’s been working on a small book of animals with the resident mammals, lizards, birds, (and others) from Hands on Exotics.

Shooting with a Phase One IQ160 digital back and a selection of lenses, and extension rings, and lit with the Broncolor Scoro A4S & Pulso G heads, Sandy has managed to capture the unique personalities of some very sweet animals.

Meet Penelope the Pig, she can open doors with her nose, likes to sit at your feet during meal time, and is house trained (she also likes to be brushed with a broom)…someone forgot to tell her she’s not a dog!

  

This curious little guy is Doug the chameleon, seems he wants right inside the camera.

…and the opossum goes by the name of Tula.

Take a look at this great video from a previous animal shoot – the flamingo in a duffle bag is particularly cute.

You can see more of Sandy’s work on his website www.sandynicholson.com and read more about the animals, and services of Hands on Exotics here

*all images copyright Sandy Nicholson

John Hryniuk and the War of 1812

by Colleen Smith

This is an important year in Canadian history commemorating the bicentennial of The War of 1812.  There are many activities and events across Canada celebrating 200 years of peace including battle re-enactments in period dress.  Celebrations honouring troops who fought in the 32 month war will continue until 2015.   Photographer John Hyrniuk shares his experience through images of battle re-enactments from this past summer.

 

When Zoomer magazine originally approached John with the idea of shooting the War of 1812 re-enactment they wanted him on the battlefield with his gear. They soon realized they couldn’t get John on the field while the actors were doing their work, and they dropped the concept. Not to shy away from a challenge, John decided to head out on his own and shoot for himself. Armed with his Canon 5D MK II, the EF 85mm f1.2L (his favourite lens), a Profoto Pro 7B pack and head with small softbox, he set out to various locations across Ontario where these battles were being “fought” over the course of the summer.

 

A self-taught photographer shooting professionally sine 2002, John likes to photograph the unusual and the quirky – usually celebrity lookalikes. The war re-enactment and its colourful characters fit right in to his photographic philosophy.

 

I asked John which of the many portraits he captured over the summer was his favourite, he answered without thought “The kid with the Bugle”. Why?

“I don’t know…I just like it, it’s one of those pictures that captures the moment well, the setting, the expression”

“I don’t like to have the people just standing there, it’s more interesting if they are doing something”

 

When he finished this project he went back to Zoomer with his photographs, and though they weren’t images captured on the battlefield, Zoomer Magazine was more than happy with the portraits John captured. They can be seen in their September issue.

 

You can find more of John’s work on his website www.johnhryniuk.com and Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/JohnHryniukPhotography

Phase One Certified Professional program – POCP

What it is, why it’s important and the state of the photographic industry

By Walter Borchenko – B3K Digital

The Phase One POCP program evolved out of the need to establish industry standards. This requires the support of Phase One distributors, dealers and rental houses globally.

Training like our Capture-U program or establishing your own system is fine, however, the basics must be covered and maintained. The POCP program delivers the basics and a whole lot more, exceptionally well. This is a strong reason to include the POCP program in any Capture One and or Medium format training strategy.

POCP Program

The program is designed for Digital Techs, Assistants and Photographers who manage their own equipment and workflow or find the additional knowledge valuable in a studio / team environment.

Training starts with an on-line component that averages 4 to 6 hours to complete. The training is broken up into a number of modules, each with a quiz that must be passed by 80%. The second stage involves a 2-day workshop. The 2nd day of the workshop concludes with a final exam. To receive the Phase One Certified Professional designation, the on-line scores and the final exam must have scores of 80% or better. If passing scores are not achieved for the final exam, a retest is arranged for a fee.

As part of the program, each attendee receives one of the most comprehensive Phase One trouble shooting guides available. These guides are not publicly distributed and are available only through taking the POCP program.

Program content is constantly being updated and expanded. Due to the changing nature of the material, certification is valid for 2 years and then a re-certification is required. Fees for re-certification are significantly reduced. As part of the certification, each successful candidate is listed on the Phase One International registry. Canadian graduates now number 30+ from our 2013 and 2014 programs in Montreal and Toronto. This year we are expecting to expand the program to Calgary and Vancouver.

POCP graduates can show the POCP logo on their websites, business cards and marketing. On average, approximately 2/3rds of the attendees graduate from the Phase One workshop.

If Capture One and DSLR’s or Phase One / Mamiya – Leaf digital backs are something you use regularly, there is a very high likelihood of graduating the POCP program.

Medium Format and POCP

Phase One and Mamiya-Leaf backs and systems are the most installed, most purchased and most widely rented globally in the medium format category. If this market situation were occasional, the need for POCP would be small. However, Phase One has been in this lead position for almost a decade.

The install base has grown to a very significant number partially through photographer loyalty and partially due to the incredible life span of these products. Photographers who invest in Phase One / Mamiya Leaf backs typically stay invested making medium format part of their daily workflow. Assistants and digital techs come and go fairly regularly. There is a limited amount of time to train and or learn workflow and equipment operation. POCP graduates have a solid knowledge base and are a great solution to this dilemma.

DSLR’s and POCP

The increase in image quality of DSLR RAW files handled thru Capture One is well established. Significant savings in post-production time and retouching offered by Capture One is a key cost savings and competitive advantage in today’s economy. Clients are no longer willing to pay for significant retouching as in the past. Additionally , tethered workflow for studio photographers increases productivity, quality of the creative process.

Due to the success of Capture One with busy photographers, the POCP program incorporates a significant segment on DLSR tethering, and workflow. If Capture One is new to your DSLR workflow or you would like to take advantage of some of the most effective workflow tools, consider hiring a POCP graduate on a consultative basis. The POCP program gives graduates the tools to work out an efficient workflow and highlight the key tools and functions that save time and produce a better job.

Working around the Globe – finding the right team

The demands of clients can lead to travel and having to produce high-level jobs in other cities or countries. The global nature of business means that travel is an essential part of many photo businesses. To define travel as complicated would be an understatement, especially for photographers. In many cases, renting just about everything is about the only way to simplify the process. Working with POCP graduates in whatever country you happen to be in, provides a high level of consistency. The POCP listing on the Phase One site is organized by world region and then by country making it easy to find someone in or near where you need to shoot.

State of the industry

The photographic industry has changed beyond all recognition. A single photographer produces as much or more work than 10 photographers did even 6 or 8 years ago. In many categories the price of photography has come down significantly putting pressure on studios to find new efficiencies. As the efficiencies of Capture One and the Phase One / Mamiya-Leaf backs is understood by more and more of the remaining market, Phase One solutions have become successful in all categories of photography. The POCP program jump starts staff to a high level of efficiency quickly. If a quick solution is required, a POCP graduate is the perfect consultant to get things going.

In the top photographic categories, costs and prices have gone up, especially when significant production and expertise is required. Phase One solutions have always been a favorite of the higher end of photography. These categories are where many of the POCP graduates come from.

The POCP program provides essential knowledge to take advantage of the 20% of Capture One, Phase One and Mamiya-Leaf backs and DSLR’s that accounts for 80% of the value. In many cases, there is so much riding on a photo shoot that even a small hiccup can be tough to handle. POCP graduates and the POCP program are your best bet to ensure smooth operation.

If you are interested in becoming POCP certified, please contact us. We require a minimum of 10 participants and a maximum of 15. Contact us at info@b3kdigital.com

Special Note: B3K Digital offers the POCP training opportunities as a photographic community service thru our distribution and sales agreements with Phase One and Mamiya-Leaf. The POCP program is developed, presented and administered by Phase One.