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August 2008 Archives

August 1, 2008

The Boutique Photographer: What to Wear

By Sara Frances, M.Photog.CR.

Don’t let your appearance be an afterthought.
Clothing and style leave a huge impression
—make it a good one.

We’re all in the appearance business. For the boutique photographer, showtime means bringing out the best in every client and looking good while doing it.

The traditional photographer’s uniform of business suit or tuxedo is a thing of the past; even plain black isn’t good enough any more. At contemporary weddings and mitzvahs you’re not a guest, nor a businessperson, nor the hired help, and you’re visible all the time.

You want to look smart, stylish, functional and unobtrusive, with a touch of artiness. Sharp and cool, but not far out. Neat and clean, but not staid or conventional. Comfortable and functional, but not too casual or uncaring. Develop a personal look that befits your status as the artisan entrusted to create a lifetime of important memories. How you look is part of your brand, your signature style.

Select your wardrobe based on the job, location, climate, season and time of day. Regional customs and protocol play a big role as well. Our typical event lasts all day, often several days, through a variety of venues and conditions. We consider wardrobe to be equipment just like our cameras, and with our specific client base we must dress to impress several generations.

Modern technical clothing, found in travel catalogues, offers new possibilities for style and comfort that mesh with the event and environment. The documentary approach to events is often physical, fast and unpredictable. We plan for ease of movement with stretch fabrics, layering, combinable outfits, gear for weather and the most comfortable shoes. We pack changes of clothing from urban hip to five-star hotel.

Often we start at a salon or on the golf course—nothing black or business-like there. Attire is strictly Palm Springs, upscale casual. Typically, the first phase of a wedding job deals with lots of equipment moving, setup and preparation. Unlike other event service providers, we’re on show all during this time because we take pictures throughout and we’re always in contact with the client and guests.

Dressed head-to-toe by Patagonia, we’re ready for golf, a rehearsal picnic or the ladies’ spa time. Note Karl’s SPF sunblock fabric shirt, tech belt and eco-friendly hemp shoes and Sara’s ankle-supporting blue suede urban hiking shoes. And our ever-present metering and white balance devices. Images © The Photo Mirage Inc.

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Pro Review: Hi-Touch P710L and Mitsubishi Electric CP-3800DW Dye Sublimation Printers

Sports and event photographers need fast, reliable printers with crowd-pleasing output. The HiTi P710L and Mitsubishi CP-3800DW fit the bill.

By Stan Sholik

Although photographers in general purchase far more inkjet printers than dye-sublimation (dye-sub) printers, it’s quite possible that they’re actually outputting more dye-sub prints. Event photographers, who might print an average of 500 prints during one event, are the largest market for dye-sub printers. They need reliable, easy-to-set-up printers that output photo-quality prints quickly, at a consistent cost per print—precisely the qualities of the new Hi-Touch Imaging Technology (HiTi) P710L and Mitsubishi Electric CP-3800DW dye-sub printers.

Hi-Touch P710L Mitsubishi CP-3800DW

Dye-sub printing is radically different from inkjet printing. Rather than propelling droplets of opaque ink onto a paper surface, dye-sub printers use heat to transfer transparent dye from a ribbon onto paper. Having varying the temperatures across the printer head, dye-sub printers can produce 256 shades for each of its cyan, magenta and yellow ribbon, yielding a true 16.8-million color gamut. The transparent dye is laid down in layers, producing smooth color gradients and print quality that’s virtually indistinguishable from chemical photo lab prints.

Each color requires a separate pass through the printer, followed by a fourth pass to lay down a laminate layer, which protects the print from UV fading and water damage. When I splashed water on prints from each printer then wiped them dry, the prints were undamaged. HiTi estimates print life of 50 to 100 years, while Mitsubishi quotes 20-plus years in dark storage.

Despite the four-pass system, dye-sub printers also have an advantage over inkjet printers in speed. The HiTi P710L produces 4x6-inch prints in less than 7 seconds; the Mitsubishi CP-3800DW prints 8x10s in 30 seconds.

Another advantage is reliability. In dye-sub units, only the paper and the ribbon move during printing, not the whole print head, so there are fewer moving parts. Dye-sub printing is also very clean. The thermal head turns the dye embedded in the ribbon into a gas that’s immediately deposited onto the paper—no liquid cartridges to deal with—and the prints are completely dry when they exit the printer.

Finally, dye-sub printers produce a known number of prints per paper roll/ribbon, so you can calculate the per-print consumables cost exactly. This is a real competitive advantage in bidding on jobs.

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Portrait Lighting Tutorial: Character Study

Capture the essence of a male subject in a single image.

By Don Chick, M.Photog.Cr., CPP

Though colleagues often kid me about my portraits of “old men with hats and beards,” I’ve found photographing men to be interesting and rewarding. Images of beautiful women dominate magazines and exhibitions. When you do see a male subject, it’s most likely a child, high school senior or groom. Yet every man has a unique personality and a story all his own. A portrait should honor the man and the life that’s made him who he is.

Emerson, an elderly gentleman in our neighborhood, was surprised when I wanted to create a portrait of him. He had a compelling look I wanted to capture, I explained. I promised to delete my images if I didn’t make him look good. At my studio the next day, I asked him about his life as I photographed him. He spoke of the places he’d lived, of his family and the jobs he’d held, and about being in the Navy during World War II. Talking helped him to relax into his natural stance and unstudied gestures. From time to time I would ask him to lift his chin or turn his head to refine the pose. I was especially pleased with a particular image from that session (Figure 1).

Figure 1: "Old Habit" ©Don Chick

For character study portrait lighting, I use a 3x4 Larson Soff Box as the main light; a stand-up reflector with white fabric for fill light; a 10x36 Larson Soff Strip with louvers for a hair light; a Photogenic 1250 deep conical parabolic with barn doors as a background light; a 42x72-inch Larson stand-up reflector with silver fabric for accent lighting, placed on the side opposite the main light; and a Photogenic 2500DR in a 10-degree fine honeycomb grid to add a bit of spot light to the background (Figure 2). I prefer to handhold the camera for these sessions so I can capture angles and moods spontaneously.

Figure 2: Lighting diagram for character study portraiture


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Review: Phoxle SpectraSnap White Balance Filter

By Stan Sholik
Phoxle SpectraSnap

What is white? The question seems simple enough. Anyone with at least average vision can point to an object that others would consider white.

If digital cameras were as able as our brains to discern a white object, photographers would have no need for Phoxle’s SpectraSnap White Balance Filter. But they’re not. Digital  sensors record color based on the color temperature of the light falling on the subject.

Unlike our brains, the chips processing the data have to be told what the color temperature of that incident light is. Raw file processing software provides controls that can be used effectively to adjust white balance over a wide range of color temperatures. These are very useful tools, and applied to the raw file data have little effect on the quality of the final image.

The same software can be used to white balance JPEG files, but the additional processing and saving steps will definitely lower the quality of the final image. For photographers shooting JPEGs, the best solution is to white balance before making the image.

All digital cameras provide a setting for automatic white balance as well as settings for several other general lighting conditions. Automatic white balance will often yield a different color balance in various images taken under identical lighting conditions. The other general settings will yield consistent color balance, but not necessarily accurate color.

The most accurate in-camera white balance with JPEG files can only be achieved with a color temperature meter (and possibly color compensating filters), or a device like the SpectraSnap.

The outward appearance of the SpectraSnap is a simple as its use. It is a flat white disc with notches holding a removable blue rubber band. There is also a small hole near the edge through which you can attach the supplied lanyard for carrying the filter around your neck to keep it handy.

To use the SpectraSnap you simply attach it to your lens or lens hood with the rubber band, or remove the rubber band and hold it in front of your lens. Then you perform a custom white balance and use that setting until the lighting conditions change.

The 120mm SpectraSnap is designed for large-diameter lenses such as this 150-500mm telephoto zoom or for mounting on the flower-shaped lens hoods of large-aperture wideangle lenses. It can also be used on smaller diameter lenses, but the 80mm size is more convenient to carry if you don’t need the larger size. Image ©Stan Sholik

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August 8, 2008

Review: Lowepro Inverse AW 100

By Joan Sherwood, Senior Editor

I wanted to try the Lowepro Inverse AW because it looked like it might finally be a beltpack that didn’t fit like a heavyweight obi, taking up all the space from waist to armpits on my short torso. To my pleasure, the Inverse AW100 proved a great fit with its adjustable compression pulls on the lumbar belt. These pulls allow you to adjust the belt comfortably wherever you want it to ride on your waist, and to different body types. For some it feels more comfortable higher up, others prefer a lower fit across the hips. The lumbar belt has ample padding, and didn’t feel hot or uncomfortable even when I took it on a summer shoot in the park.

The best thing about this bag is its light weight and versatility. With an interior that’s 9.2Wx5.6Dx8.3H inches, the 100 AW model that I tried is not big enough to comfortably hold one of the larger pro DSLRs, but it could certainly handle the mid-size range, like a Nikon D300 or D700 with attached lens. But you could also use it to carry two lenses. Or a lens and a couple speedlights. Or a long lens, water bottle, rain jacket and cell phone. By keeping the design simple and functional, Lowepro has made this a great all-around pack for any excursion when you want to keep your equipment to a small load.

I also loved being able to turn it into a shoulder bag. What Lowepro calls a 360-degree swivel padded shoulder harness is just a fancy term for shoulder strap with swivel clips. Fancy or not, it works. I tucked the belt straps into the bag’s back panel, put on the shoulder strap and used the Inverse as my carry-on bag for a trip to NYC. Buckling and unbuckling the beltpack in the airport would’ve been cumbersome, but in its shoulder bag capacity it was super. I wasn’t even packing a camera. I used it to hold my mini-laptop (an EeePC), cell phone, LARA bar, water bottle, and the other few necessities I want to keep with me on a plane. It fit under the seat with plenty of room left for my feet.

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About August 2008

This page contains all entries posted to Professional Photographer Magazine Web Exclusives in August 2008. They are listed from oldest to newest.

July 2008 is the previous archive.

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