BL Blog

Posts by: Sohail

Hard at Work

BL News

Dragging my carcass out of bed at 4:30am on Labor Day, I hauled myself over to the Marin Headlands to shoot for a piece on Tilt-Shift lenses. To my surprise, I found fellow photographer and BorrowLenses.com VP of Marketing Jim Goldstein already there, hard at work as well.

Cool Stuff – Week of September 1, 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 this week with this riveting and powerful video on the impact of the world’s most powerful videos. There’s a lot missing from this video, but I think we’ll all agree there’s something to be said for the core message here.
  • Black and white photographers are almost fanatical about their art and craft. Here’s a pretty cool video (in B&W, natch!) that might help explain why.
  • The next vid comes to us from our friends at PetaPixel – have YOU heard of Flam Wenders?
  • Let’s face it, we’re a gear company. And as a gear company, we salivate over new stuff just like everyone else. So we’re stoked to see two new cameras from Canon, the C500 4K video beast, and the original C300’s little sibling, the C100.
  • And finally, because we must – the Leica 1600mm f/5.6. Cost: just over $2 million. Erm, no. We will NOT be carrying this lens for rent.

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.

Playing With Canon’s New Big Guns

Gear Talk

Canon’s 1Dx and 600mm f/4L IS II lens have been two of the most sought after (and repeatedly delayed) items in their inventory for the past year or so. Now, Canon is finally shipping them with some regularity, and we took this opportunity to put this new combo through its paces.

I love photographing birds. A few years ago, I started with a Canon 100-400mm lens and a Rebel XTi, and shot from the comfort of my car. Eventually, I moved up to a Canon 1D Mark IV and a 600mm f/4, or a 500mm f/4 lens.

The 1D MKIV/600mm combo became a favorite, and I managed to capture some really cool images with it that are part of my Natural History portfolio.

Humingbird shot with a 1D Mark IV and the Mark I 600mm lens

Humingbird shot with a 1D Mark IV and the Mark I 600mm lens

Of course, since then, Canon has introduced its successor to the 1D MKIV and the 600mm f/4. The 1Dx takes over where the 1D MKIV left off, introducing a bigger sensor and better high-ISO performance, among other things, whereas the new 600mm Mark II comes in at slightly shorter and much lighter than its predecessor.

I took this combo out for a spin to see if it would match up to my old favorites. As with my previous reviews, I focus more on the shooting experience out in the field, rather than lab tests and results. (more…)

The Leica Diary, Part III – Focus

Gear Talk

Part I of the Leica Diary can be found here. Part II can be found here.

Zone focus.

Those are the two key words you need to know about focusing with a Leica. If you’ve used a rangefinder before, you already know this; if you haven’t, then read on.

Leica cameras don’t focus like the DSLRs, ILC (Interchangeable Lens Compacts like the Olympus E-P2), or point-and-shoot digitals that we’re all used to. For one, Leica lenses are all manual-focus lenses. For another, unlike most other digital cameras today, you’re not focusing through the lens (TTL). You’re actually using a separate viewfinder to do the framing and focusing for you.  (more…)

Cool Stuff – Week of August 24, 2012

Cool Stuff
8X10 Impossible Project test by Tim Mantaoni.

8X10 Impossible Project test by Tim Mantaoni.

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!

Loads of news to share here as well – new locations, new specials, and new gear.

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

Notable Storytellers – Sara Lando

Photographers
Sara Lando Self Portrait

Sara Lando Self Portrait

Welcome to Notable Storytellers, a feature where we point you to some of the best visual storytellers around, from photographers and videographers to VFX and graphic artists.

Sara Lando is an Italian photographer who first came to my attention through her work on David Hobby’s Strobist blog. An occasional contributor there, Sara is a commercial photographer based in Milan, Italy.

I devour Strobist.com with regularity, and remember seeing Sara introduced as the European correspondent last year. I also remember reading an article by her on photographer Christoph Martin Schmidt.

Her recent series of articles, however, weren’t about another photographer, or even a technique – not necessarily, anyway. These were more of an “approach philosophy” piece. I quote David Hobby:

Picture a tiny Italian woman gesturing continuously as she uncorks a full brain dump (from a very, very creative mind) on all of the little things that many people never think of when photographing others. As I was listening I kept thinking, “Someone should be writing this stuff down RIGHT NOW.

I read the article. Then read it again. It was, I realized, pretty damn good. And insightful. (more…)

The Leica Diary, Part II – Coming To Grips

Gear Talk

In this part of the Leica Diary, I explore the M9’s body and features, and struggle to come to grips with using the photographic equivalent of a 1970’s Porsche 911.

Cool Stuff – Week of August 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.

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

Flashing Above San Francisco

Photographers

Every so often, we get to talk about our friends, whether they’re doing something awesome in front of a lens, or behind the camera. This time around, it’s both.

Alex Huff by Syl Arena. Image Courtesy and Copyright Syl Arena.

Alex Huff by Syl Arena. Image Courtesy and Copyright Syl Arena.

One of our favorite all-round good guys and awesome photographers, Syl Arena, swung through San Francisco a while back and hung out with our very own Alex Huff. Alex has an awesome (yeah, I’m jealous) view of San Francisco from her balcony, and Syl used the opportunity to do a shoot with the new Canon 600EX-RT flashes and the ST-E3 transmitter.

Using the 600EX-RT, Syl balanced the ambient light with flash, resulting in a very cool image. The complete writeup, with breakdown and before/after shots, is on Syl’s blog.

Syl also has a piece up about a personal project he did recently, called “The Faces of American Coal.” It’s one of those deeply personal series of images that will resonate with you. They’re up close, intense, and searching.

Of course, Syl being the consumate teacher, has also broken down his process for taking the images too, so we get the added bonus of seeing what goes into a project like this.

Maine-area folks, a quick heads-up: Syl will be at the Maine Media Workshops, presenting on Canon Speedlites from Aug 19-Aug 25. If you’re around and have never been to one of Syl’s workshops, they’re not to be missed. Head up there and learn about Canon Speedlites from a photographer who’s often cited as knowing as much about Canon Speedlites as many Canon engineers.

Cool Stuff – Week of August 6, 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.

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

Quick samples from the Canon 1Dx and the 600mm f/4L IS II

Gear Talk

I spent a weekend shooting with the Canon 1Dx and the new 600mm f/4L IS II, and will be posting a writeup of it soon. In the meantime, here are a few sample images taken with that combo.

For what it’s worth, my favorite combination until recently was to shoot with the 1D Mark IV and the old 600mm f/4L IS Mark I. I don’t think it’ll be giving much away to say that the 1DX and the new 600 are officially my new favorite combination for this type of photography.

This image is actually about a 2MP crop from the original 18MP image

This image is actually about a 2MP crop from the original 18MP image

Taken with the 1Dx and the 600mm on a gimbal head at the Don Edwards wildlife refuge

Taken with the 1Dx and the 600mm on a gimbal head at the Don Edwards wildlife refuge

This is handheld, from the top of Mount Tamalpais, 10 miles from, and about 2500 feet above San Francisco

This is handheld, from the top of Mount Tamalpais, 10 miles from, and about 2500 feet above San Francisco

Watch for our writeup of these new beasts from Canon later this week.

Notable Storytellers – Vincent Laforet

Photographers

Vincent Laforet is a filmmaker and photographer that belongs in any reasonable list of Notable Storytellers. Long before he became one of the pioneers (some, including me, would say he is the pioneer) of making films with video-capable DSLRs, he was a staff photographer for the New York Times – and a Pulitzer-prize-winning photographer at that.

Another quick note on “Photo Finds” and “Notable Storytellers.”

BL News

Being a part of the photo/video industry can sometimes blind you to the fact that not everyone – especially not newcomers to this field – will know everyone of note in it. The Notable Storytellers piece column (and the Photo Finds column before it) was about bringing you the works of folks that you may not have heard of. We never featured Joe McNally or Vincent Laforet for the simple reason that if you’d been around for even a little bit of time, you’d have already heard of these folks.

That assumption was put to rest recently when, during some small talk with a customer at the BorrowLenses.com main office, I found out that this particular customer was just starting to shoot video on a DSLR. He asked if I had any links to good learning resources.

“Well,” I said, “I’m sure you’ve already checked out Vincent Laforet’s classes on creativeLIVE, so…”

“Sorry,” he interrupted. “Who?”

“Vincent Laforet. You know, the filmmaker? He did Reverie and Nocturne?”

The customer shook his head. I was flumoxed. This had happened to me before, but it still surprised me.

So clearly, we have customers who haven’t heard of Vincent Laforet. I’ve also talked to customers who’ve never heard who Joe McNally is, or who Jay and Varina Patel, Stu Maschwitz, Scott Kelby, or Jay Maisel are.

Part of it is that I do have industry blinders on. I assume that if I know who these people are, everyone must. Obviously, that’s my short-sightedness.

When I first conceived of the Photo Finds column, it was to highlight the work of photographers whose work our audience might not have heard of. So, I resolved not to include the big names, like David Hobby, Joe McNally, Scott Kelby, or Jay Maisel. Not because these photographers weren’t well-known, but because they were. But in doing so, we’ve clearly done a disservice to some of our audience.

So, going forward, we’ll start talking about these folks. Because if you’ve got even a casual interest in photography, you should know about them. And, since the whole point of this blog is to educate and inform our customers and audience, we’ll do our best to bring them to your attention.

As always, questions and feedback are welcome in the comments below.

Cool Stuff – Week of July 30, 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.

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

A quick note on “Photo Finds” and “Notable Storytellers.”

BL News Photographers

Late last week, we debuted the first of our “Notable Storytellers” pieces, featuring director and VFX artist Stu Maschwitz. This piece replaces the “Photo Finds” column, and I thought that the switch in name and focus warranted an explanation.

(more…)