BL Blog

Posts by: Sohail

Rental Packages Now Available

BL News

“I’m shooting a wedding for the first time,” asked the nice lady on the phone. “Can you help me go over the gear I’ll need?”

Nikon Wedding Essentials Package

Nikon Wedding Essentials Package

That’s a question we get a lot from our newer customers who are taking on specific photo gigs like portraits and weddings for the first time. It’s a question we like hearing, because it means that more people are finding ways to make their passion pay, and that’s always a good thing.

To make things easier, we decided to introduce the concept of packages into our offerings. This is something a few customers have asked for, and we set about making the necessary modifications to our back-end system to accommodate their requests. (more…)

Op-Ed: Thoughts on Switching

Gear Talk

Last week, I posted Part V of my “Switch” series, which you can find here:

I’ve pretty-much laid out my reasons for switching, but I felt compelled to add some kind of postscript to that series. So, here it is.


Cool Stuff – Week of November 4, 2012

Cool Stuff

Welcome to Cool Stuff, a weekly feature where we post our favorite links from the past week, including our favorite articles and how-tos, videos, images and more.

  • We begin in outer space, where Curiosity, the Mars rover, has sent back a self-portrait. Cindy Shepard, eat your heart out! Viva Mars!
  • Here on earth, the next James Bond movie is about to be released. Here’s a great behind-the-scenes (BTS) look at the locations and setup used in the film. Video geeks, this one’s for you.
  • Photographer Kenneth Jarecke posts a searing critique of Instagram and its use by Time magazine to document the effects of Hurrican Sandy. Definitely worth a read.
  • Photographer Steve McCurry is one of the most renowned photojournalists of our time. Here’s a great look at his work in the area of documentary portraiture.
  • This next one’s a bit artsy, but it’s absolutely worth a look if you’re interested in the “why” of photographs you see, not just the “how”. Flakphoto presents “Looking at the Land: 21st Century American Views,” a collection of lansdscapes and the stories behind them.
  • And finally, we bring you a collection of amazing videos from the folks over at PhotoShelter. Taken as part of their Luminance convention, these feature folks like David Burnett, Zack Arias, and more. Four videos have been released thus far; we can’t wait for all of them to be online. Our favorite so far? Retoucher Amy Dresser’s scathingly irreverent presentation, embedded here for your viewing pleasure.

And now for the Rundown

That’s it for this week’s Cool Stuff. As always, questions and feedback are welcome in the comments below.

Get the Missing Manual for Light

Gear Talk

 With autumn upon us, daylight hours are fewer and further between. I don’t stop shooting (later sunrises mean I can actually drag myself out of bed at a better hour), but I do take more time to catch up on my reading. Accordingly, I spend some time to put together a list of the best photography books that I want to go through each year and will bring you reviews of the ones I liked the most.

My (virtual) bookshelf is full of titles I’ve read or plan to read for reviewing or for personal edification. Some, like Brian Smith’s book on portraiture, which I reviewed earlier this week, are for personal edification and review. Some, like Light, Science, and Magic, are on there because the subject matter is of interest. And some are on there because I’ll read even an obituary by one of these authors.

Authors like Joe McNally, for example, whose books like Sketching Light and The Moment it Clicks make for fantastic and entertaining reading. Others write books so chock full of information that they become indispensable reference material that I find myself going to pretty often. My friend Syl Arena is an author and teacher who falls into the latter category, and his latest book, Lighting for Digital Photography: From Snapshots to Great Shots is something that I think should be more appropriately titled “Light: The Missing Manual”.


The Switch – Moving from Canon to Nikon, Part V

Gear Talk

This is the conclusion of a 5-part series on an experimental switch from Canon to Nikon.

I guess the big question on everyone’s mind is, “Did you switch or not?” Well, read on, gentle reader.


Powerful Inspiration for Powerful Portraits

Gear Talk

Portrait photography isn’t easy. Anyone can point a camera at a person and make a quick image. If you’re technically accomplished, you can even get your lighting spot-on and make a great-looking photograph.

But the best portraits have an intangible quality to them that sets them apart. They have soul, that most overused yet accurate of words when it comes to describing photography. They speak to an innate part of the subject’s character, allowing the viewer to see not just what that subject looks like, but also what he or she is feeling and thinking.

Brian Smith is one of those photographers who can pull this off, and do so with applomb. He is perhaps one of the most accomplished portrait artists working today, and his portfolio, which drips with celebrities ranging from Anne Hathaway to Richard Branson and then some, attests to that accomplishment.

So it’s always with a lot of eagerness that I look forward to any kind of information – a book, video tutorial, whatever – from an artist like Brian. Fortunately for us, he has delivered a book on the subject of portrait photography, and what a whopper of a book it is.


Lock it down

Gear Talk
The Induro AT413, an excellent tripod for outdoor shooting.

The Induro AT413, an excellent tripod for outdoor shooting.

This is how the life of a photographer goes sometimes. You’re driving home on Highway 13, right around dusk. You glance off to your left and note that the moon, at an 8% crescent is going to set shortly, and it’s probably going to do so right behind the San Francisco skyline.

So what do you do? Well, if you’re me, you step on it and race for Grizzly Peak Road, a scenic, meandering two-lane stretch of tarmac that winds through the hills above Oakland and Berkeley while offering some spectacular views of the Bay Area, including the Bay Bridge, the San Francisco skyline, Oakland, Berkeley, and sometimes, the Golden Gate Bridge, too.