Wednesday 25 March 2009

Good news indeed for the photographic World!

Phase One is making a 'significant financial investment' in Mamiya Digital Imaging.

I have used the Phase One camera, which is based on the Mamiya AFDIII on many occasions and it continues to go from strength to strength with 'Leaf shutter' lenses on the horizon too.

I have been greatly impressed by their optics too which are at least as sharp as the HC lenses on my Hasselblad H1, the Mamiya 28mm lens must simply be seen to be believed-it is stunning!

To quote from the release....

“We are committed to providing open, upgradable medium format camera
systems, so that pro photographers can enjoy the maximum flexibility and
versatility at an attractive cost of ownership,” said Henrik O. HÃ¥konsson
President, Phase One. “Furthering our relationship with Mamiya Digital Imaging
that we initiated in 2006, we continue to design a broad range of new cameras,
digital backs and lenses that will offer the world’s leading photographers greater
choice and satisfaction.”

Mmmmmm broad range of new cameras!

This news is very timely as BJP revealed recently that Franke & Heidecke the supplier of camera systems,for both 'Leaf' and 'Sinar', had gone into administration

As photographers we all need to aspire to the very highest quality cameras and digital backs there are out there(even if they are out of our price range) and one of the very biggest names in digital imaging wading in with investment, safeguarding the format AND giving us more kit to choose from can only be applauded

Friday 20 March 2009

THAT tethered set up

This is for all of you who have been asking for part numbers etc of the rather nifty tethered set up I use nearly all the time these days

It was all inspired by something Joe McNally conjured up, with perhaps more than a little help from our very good mutual friend Justin Stailey (formerly of Bogen, now of Leica USA)

I love shooting tethered for many reasons, it enables me to control EVERY minute element of the shoot from a my camera position, lighting and critically when I'm using my Phase One P45+ , goodness when it is sharp it is SHARP and when it is out it is OUT big time!

My assistants and I refer to it as the 'Helm' (as in the Nautical world)

It means it is off the floor and out of any mud and dust enabling me to keep eye contact with my subject, which is the very essence of a shoot.

It is a Gitzo/Manfrotto Hybrid

Now,I use a Gitzo GT5660SGT, I admit not the cheapest tripod in the world, but this set up works on any good sturdy tripod too

The cross bar is a Manfrotto 131DDB.

I have mounted a Manfrotto 468MGRC2 Hyrdrostatic ball head on each end, as you can see in the pic it enabled me to shoot tethered with my Canon 5d mk1 in Capture One Pro on my Lenovo W700, while I was using my Canon 5d MK2 for 'b' roll 1080P HD on the other end

If the set up is way critical I switch one of these tripod heads out for a Manfrotto 405 geared head....not cheap but wonderful.

And finally the Gitzo GO65 laptop platform, I recommend putting some self adhesive Velcro on the base plate of the Laptop and the platform just in case....

It really does work a treat!

Wednesday 11 March 2009

Over the Top

Some time ago I shot a remarkable image for my Guinness world record show of Tony Matia who held (maybe still does hold?) the world record for the biggest barbie doll collection

We hired a very big car studio and shot down thru a hole in the ceiling.

The day was a success but it was not a cheap operation

I then started to think how I could achieve this without going to massive expense

One could use a step ladder but if you look straight down you get the legs in shot

After many false starts I came up with this set up which consists of a BIG high roller stand by Manfrotto Avenger, you Need a stand of this caliber and stability to support a dslr with a good degree of safety

The next component is my good old RED wing boom as it is solid, but importantly also is cantilevered which means if I choose to go higher I can but I still maintain the camera angle

And last but but not least is the Manfrotto 468 RC2.

A great but lockable tripod ball head

Not forgetting a safety line for the camera AND tripod head just in case

Shooting tethered via fire wire to my camera, needless to say I'm lookig forward to trying out Canon's live view with this set up which could be the ultimate, but ants in his pants Gardner has not got round to trying it out fact I'm writing this on my blackberry as I'm flying to Holland

I have managed to more or less perfect this over the last couple of years

Here is a cover I shot for radio times a few weeks ago

Tuesday 3 March 2009

Winter Storms.....

This time not snow but storms of a rather more turbulent nature

Meet Stuart Robinson.

I photographed Stuart the other day for Channel 4 TV in the UK

He was the subject of a Cutting Edge Documentary 'A very British Storm Junkie' as he is an amateur storm chaser who travels the world

The challenge was to create a truly eye catching image, with the aid of photoshop, as twisters are rather thin on the ground in the London area.

I worked very closely with ace retoucher Charlie to create a cohesive and 'plausible' image

The only stipulation was no flying cows.......damn!

Charlie spent many a happy hour creating the 'background' storm from goodness knows how many images

The trick then was to position and light Stuart in a way that worked

This meant shooting him from a slightly higher angle...

Lighting him from the back with 2 Chimera strip lights, to mimic the backlight in the back ground, and a medium Chimera softbox from the front

Then to bring Stuart in, standing him on sheets of plastic so we did not destroy too much seamless, spot the mistake? We used black plastic at first which would have made cutting him out a bit of a mission, so we switched to white.

Here is Stuart getting into the swing of things

Leaning into the 'wind' direction of the model is all important

Now for the fun part......spraying him with water, now before anyone writes in the lights are battery powered so pretty darned safe, behind softboxes, and further away from the very gentle mist spray, to give a further authentic look

This is the shot we used in the end, and this is how it looked on the Channel 4 website