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

 

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.

 

 

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.

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