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Posts by: Sohail

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.

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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.

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Cool Stuff – Week of October 26, 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.

  • Watching an Annie Leibovitz BTS (Behind The Scenes) video, even a 2-minute one, is an educational experience. Especially when David Hobby annotates one.
  • Via National Geographic, take a gander at a dolly-mounted camera track a racing cheetah. Um, yeah. That was our reaction too.
  • Speaking of jaw-dropping things, check out this time-lapse with night and day images rotoscoped into the same film. “Cool” isn’t enough to describe it.
  • Last week, we brought you the city-without-people time-lapse of San Francisco by director Ross Ching. This time, Ross tackles Seattle.
  • And finally, via our friends at PetaPixel, we bring you this awesome piece on the sheer joy a photographer experiences when his subject gets friendly.

And now, the BorrowLenses.com rundown:

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

The Switch – Moving from Canon to Nikon, Part IV

Gear Talk

This is Part IV of a series on moving from an all-Canon setup to an all-Nikon setup for four weeks. Will I go back to Canon at the end of four weeks? I have no idea…

On this edition of “The Switch”, I took a brief sojourn back to Canonland with the 5D Mark III and a gaggle of Canon lenses.

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Get the Scoop on Fashion Photography

Gear Talk

The world of fashion photography is an insular one, and newcomers to this field are often left floundering in more ways than one. From the basics of technique, to simple advice on how to break into the field, working with models, and managing and handling a business, aspiring fashion photographers often lack a decent starting point.

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Cool Stuff – Week of October 20, 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.

  • There’s a little space geek in all of us, I think. So, of course, we have to lead with this amazing time-lapse from Matthew Givot. Endeavour, you will be missed!
  • Speaking of time-lapses and space geekery, Christopher Malin took a bunch of NASA-provided imagery and created this bit of awesomeoness:
  • Alfred Eisenstaedt shot stars of a different kind. From President John F. Kennedy to Marilyn Monroe, Eisie was one of the most renowned portrait photographers in history. Life has a great bit about how, at the very end of his portrait sessions, he’d pull a Hitchcock and jump in for cameo.
  • San Francisco is our back yard. So it stands to reason that this caught our eye. Director Ross Ching plans a series like this, so watch out for other cities he’ll cover too.
  • And finally, everyone’s favorite wearable camera now has an update. We’ve got it available for pre-booking, but what better way to show it off than with a video?

 And now, for the BorrowLenses.com Roundup!

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

Controlling Power on a Profoto Pack, Part II

Gear Talk
The Profoto Acute2R 2400

The Profoto Acute2R 2400

Last time, we covered how to control the power on a Profoto pack with a single head attached. In this article, we’ll cover the configurations for two heads.

As I mentioned in Part 1 of this piece, these Profoto power packs are a bit… confusing. Profoto is pretty-much the gold standard of the industry, and their Acute2 packs, which we rent, are considered to be the go-to workhorses for many photographers working with Profoto systems – and with good reason.

In Part 1 of this tip, we looked at how to control the output of the Profoto Acute2R 2400 with just one head connected to it. In this part, we’ll look at adding additional heads to the power pack.
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Cool Stuff – Week of Oct 13, 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.

And now, for the BorrowLenses.com rundown!

 

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

The Switch – Moving from Canon to Nikon, Part III

Gear Talk

This is Part III of a series on moving from an all-Canon setup to an all-Nikon setup for four weeks. Will I go back to Canon at the end of four weeks? I have no idea…

In this part, I’m going to focus on just one thing: Nikon’s external flash system.

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Cool Stuff – Week of October 8, 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.

  • From the “Will Make Your Jaw Drop” department comes this film about the earth’s changing climate. Gawk at the trailer below; plenty of neat stuff to keep us photo geeks drooling, with some amazing imagery to boot.
  • Stanley Kubrick was one of the film industry’s greats. While filming Barry Lyndon, he shot with Zeiss lenses that could shoot at f/0.7. Have a look at this short documentary talking about that.
  • Our friends over at FStoppers have an awesome bit about how photographer Douglas Sonders shot a car ad for Honda in New York City for the 2013 Accord – at 48 hours’ notice, with no permits whatsoever. Fantastic look behind the scenes.
  • Not too long ago, David Hobby over at Strobist mentioned a piece by the folks at Broncolor on the fast flash durations of their Scoro heads and how they could be used to freeze water in mid-splash. This left a lot of folks asking, “Couldn’t you do that with an Einstein E640, which is a LOT cheaper? Now, David Hobby brings us the answer: Yep!
  • We get a lot of questions from budding professional photographers on shooting for portfolios. Well, the folks at DIY Photography have a great tip – Go to a convention, crash a party!

And now, for the BorrowLenses.com rundown!

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

The Switch: Moving from Canon to Nikon, Part II

Gear Talk

I’ve had the D800 for about 2 weeks now, and have shot with it in the studio, out in the Marin Headlands, and a variety of other spots. In this article, I’ll focus on my initial experiences with the Nikon setup, a few of the challenges I faced, and some observations along the way.

Cool Stuff – Week of September 29, 2012

Cool Stuff
Light Painting on film by artist Eric Staller.

Light Painting on film by artist Eric Staller.

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.

  • If you haven’t seen this yet, you totally should. Light painting is all the rage right now, but these were done by artist Eric Staller way back in the 1970s with a Nikon film camera. Um, wow.
  • The way we see it, just about anything from Joe McNally automatically gets a mention in Cool Stuff. Here, he goes over some of his images published in NatGeo. An hour with Joe McNally? Um, yeah!
  • The awesome folks at Vimeo have thrown a lot of video-related tutorials out there for you budding filmmakers. Now, they’ve got one up that should make a few lightbulbs go off in your heads too. Here’s how to use your car as a massive motorized dolly.
  • We’re fans of photographer Jay P. Morgan of The Slanted Lens. Not only is he a working pro, he takes time to help educate the rest of us on various tips and techniques. Here’s his latest, a tutorial on simple corporate portraits.
  • And speaking of photographers we admire, Zack Arias was featured on Complex magazine’s blog as part of a new series called Shots Fired.

And now, for the BorrowLenses.com rundown!

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

The Switch: Moving from Canon to Nikon, Part 0.5

Gear Talk

This is a quick ‘n dirty post that’s part of my “Switch” series. Part 1 of the series can be found here.

I was in the studio, working on a quick lighting test. The subject was a violin positioned on a tall chair, and I was moving in and out, shooting the whole thing, then switching to some detail work. I had two SB-910′s on stands, with gels and, occasionally, a Lastolite Ezybox Hotshoe on one of them.

The shot you see below was taken with the D800 I currently have for testing, with a Nikon 105mm f/2.8G Micro lens.

The SB-910 shining on it has the aforementioned Lastolite softbox on it, as well as a chocolate gel. There is absolutely no post-production on the shot.

I am really, really liking the tones coming off that Nikon. They are, in a word, luscious.

What blew me away was when I zoomed in at 100% to look at the object in focus, the second knob from the left. Click on the image below to embiggen; the smaller size won’t show you what I’m talking about.

Wow. I mean, yeah, I’m going to have to repeat this experiment with a Canon 5D Mark III and the famed 100mm f/2.8L macro as well, but, well, wow.

I’ve always known that this would a rough experiment. I knew I’d have my preconceptions challenged. I guess I was hoping it wouldn’t be this hard.

Cool Stuff – Week of September 22, 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.

And now, for the BorrowLenses.com rundown!

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

The Switch: Moving from Canon to Nikon, Part I

Gear Talk

This is Part I of a series on moving from an all-Canon setup to an all-Nikon setup for four weeks. Will I go back to Canon at the end of four weeks? I have no idea…

The Gear List

The Gear List

“I’m going to check out a bunch of Nikon gear and go shoot with it for four weeks. Then I’ll write a series of articles about it.”

I grinned at Jim Goldstein, BorrowLenses.com’s VP of marketing, and my nominal boss. He stared back at me, first with a blank expression, then with a knowing glint in his eye.

“You’re looking to switch, aren’t you?” he asked. “And you want to use this idea for a series to test the waters on the other side, dontcha?”

He kinda had me there. I’d been eyeing that D800 ever since it was announced, and was eager to give it a try. More importantly, I really was thinking of switching sides. (more…)