Viewing The Grind

Branding with PhotoFlashDrive

Sunday, May 24th, 2015

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Branding is one of those terms that we hear over and over again, but then many businesses fall far short when it comes to implementing a cohesive brand. Building a cohesive brand doesn’t have to be difficult and the family over at PhotoFlashDrive.com make it easier than ever. I refer to them as family because 2+ years ago I met the team over at PFD and they have been part of my business ever since. Now, you might be wondering what does family and business have to do with each other? Well, if you are a business owner, you know exactly what I am referring to. My business, is my baby. We put all our heart and soul into it and we want to partner with someone who cares as much as we do.

Brian, the owner, cares about photographers and helping them build their branding presence by providing an incredible product line that won’t break the bank. Have an idea for a new product? The man is all ears. He will try and help you solve the problem one way or another. That, to me, is a partner.

Best part of all? On 99% of their products, there are no minimum orders. Before PFD, I was working with a company that required a 250 piece minimum order. Holy crap! That’s a lot of money to waste sitting on thumb drive inventory.

Personally, I think providing your clients with a branded experience is one of the most important aspects to building a company and a customer experience that will allow you to stand out from the crowd. Think about your favorite brand, doesn’t matter what the company is or sells, but think about the way the brand makes you feel. Think about your experience with the company. Think about how ever facet of the company is branded. Nike? From the tag inside the shirt, the the subtle tone on tone stitching, its their and creates a distinctive product and with that distinctive product comes brand loyalty. As photographers, in a world where everyone is a photographer, we need that edge. We need brand loyalty.

Below, is a sample of how we deliver our digital negatives to our clients. We don’t just hand over a dvd with their name written with a black Sharpe. We created a branded crystal thumb drive and a branded black box that signals quality to the client. It’s something they will hang on to and use forever.

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Getting started is easy. There are no minimum orders. Order 50, order 1. You have nothing to lose and your business will immediately have a polished and branded look allowing you to stand out from the crowd and offer your clients the experience they deserve.

Try any one flash drive or packaging item* at our webstore for 50% off through April 2016 using Coupon Code SHUTTER2 at check out.

Learn more @ photoflashdrive.com

Phase One IQ250 Low Light Performance

Wednesday, April 16th, 2014

Phase One IQ250 Low Light Performance

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As many of you know, we recently returned from China where we had an opportunity to train and work with some amazing photographers in China. As part of that trip, we maximized our time working in the field building our portfolio.

It’s so important that we invest in building and enhancing our portfolio. I am always looking for new opportunities to shoot something different. Any trip I take is a perfect opportunity to squeeze a shoot in. Maximize your time whenever possible.

This was our last night in China, and sure I could have just hung out and relaxed, but there was no way that was going to happen. Taylor and the team were all over me to get another shoot in. Gotta love a little peer pressure.

Earlier in the week Taylor had found a green sequined dress at a local market for a steal. We wanted to do something with a little Asian inspiration. Go figure, we were in China.

On tap, the Phase One IQ250 and one Profoto B1 for additional light where needed. The truth is, with shoots like this we just want to get out and play. I mean we have an idea of here we want to go and what we want, but at the same time we don’t want to be locked into a box.

First location was basically the middle of the street. We wanted something that really captured the energy of Hong Kong. The big test here was how would the IQ 250 perform in low light? Everyone keeps telling me that Medium Format cameras can’t handle the demands of the wedding and portrait photographer. Well, so far, I have not seen that at all. Tonight, we were going to put that to the test.

In between buses flying by we would stick Taylor in the middle of the street and get dialed in and a sense of the shot to make sure we were getting what we were looking for. Test shots are always something I am sure to get. Once I am dialed in, we can start flying. The trick to this shot was balancing the movement of the people (wanted them to be blurry), freezing Taylor with the flash, and and then letting in enough ambient light to ensure the shot doesn’t look too artificial. Too much flash and you overpower the light in the scene which is the same light that sets the mood.

Both of the shots below are single shots – not composites.

Here is the shot. Click to see larger.
Image Specs.
Phase One IQ 250 // Schneider f4.5 28mm
Handheld @ 1/10 sec @ f6.3 , ISO800

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Next up, find a local market with neon street signs to really get that Hong Kong feel. The spot we had mapped out during the day was a total bust. 80% of the street lights were off for some reason. That’s ok. Don’t panic. Let’s just walk and I am sure we will find something. After all, we are in Hong Kong, how hard can it be? An hour later… still nothing that worked and the team was getting frustrated and a little cranky and by the team I am referring to me. :) I was literally ready to head back to the hotel when it hit me… I saw this dirty alley with clothes hanging, dingy light, and restaurant workers sitting on break. Jack pot!

Of course, this turned out to be a major challenge. Low light and mixed at that. We had fluorescent and tungsten sources. To make it worse, I really needed to separate Taylor from the background so we used the Profoto B1 to create some separation. The different color light actually worked out well in my opinion. It gave the scene a little drama and the truth is we were in a freaking alley. What alley is perfectly lit? Not one I want to be in, lol.

There were several challenges to this shot. Lighting being the obvious. So, to light Taylor I chose to use the fluorescent light on the wall. I had to make sure no shadows were being cast on her face by her arm or the fan. Had to be as clean as possible. The B1 was triggered remotely to fire directly at Taylor from behind to create some separation. We had no light modifiers with us so light was spilling every where. I had Laurin behind Taylor using empty food boxes from the dumpster to block light. Hey, don’t judge me. You do what you gotta do.

While it may not be a print competition shot, it’s definitely a shot that took some work and skill to pull off. Add to that, the IQ250 performed incredibly well in the low light. Honestly, I was truly impressed.

Here is the shot. Click to see larger.
Image Specs.
Phase One IQ 250 // Schneider f2.8 55mm
Handheld @ 1/30 sec @ f2.8 , ISO1600

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As usual, get out there and shoot. There is no substitute for getting out there and experimenting. It makes you a better photographer and a better artist.

Enjoy!

Finding and working in cool locations for great photography

Friday, March 28th, 2014

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Finding and working in cool locations for great photography

I get asked all the time, how do you find cool spots to shoot? First, you have to change your mindset. You have to have your eyes peeled at all times looking for cool new spots. It doesn’t matter where we are traveling or what we are doing, I am always seeing things through the eyes of a photographer. Drives my wife nuts, but its what I do.

Even better, I use an app called Pocket Scout, its a $1.99 app that allows you to GPS your favorite spots and store pictures of the location for easy access when you are looking for that perfect spot to shoot and can’t remember what it looks like or where exactly it is.

As many of you know, I am just returning from a trip to China. There was no scenario I was going over to China and not working on my portfolio. That was a given. The question was where were we going? Well, to Google we went. Pick a city and start Googling and looking at images on there. Use key terms like “city name cool architecture” and go from there. Some places you might need a permit for, others plan to run and gun. Regardless, this will serve as the starting point for cool locations.

This year is a year of reinvention for me. I want to try different things – different posing, different lighting, different editing. I am going into my 8th year as a professional photographer and I want to be better. Every year I push myself to be a little bit better and this year is no exception.

Back to my story. We were in Hong Kong and found an island called Sai Kung about an hour outside of the city. It was a gorgeous location and hard to imagine that just an hour outside of the city such gorgeous and secluded views could possibly exist. After the hour drive, we had to hike 2 hours with all our gear to an abandoned fishing village on the MacLehose trail. Now, what made this hike to interesting was the fact that we really didn’t plan properly – we had no map, no water, no towels, and about 50-60 lbs of gear. Good times. :) And oh yeah, Laurin and Taylor got sick on the way in. So, it was on me and Alissa to make sure we got what we needed.

Check out the video of how happy we were when the trip started – Instagram video.

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Once we arrived, there was this abandoned fishing village that we just fell in love with. Breathtaking view and perfect for the kind of shot we were looking to pull off. The outfit Alissa had purchased before we left and the chiffon is something you can pick up at any fabric shop in your area. We used the Phase One IQ250 and the Schneider 55mm lens for the shot along with 2 Profoto B1s. The image was made at f6.3 @ 1/100s ISO 200.

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After this, the team was completely dehydrated and exhausted and the sun was setting fast. The thought of walking for another two hours to get out was just too much. All of a sudden, a nice lady from England came walking by and asked if we were heading to the ferry. Everyone’s eyes lit up with this amazing new information. Turns out there was a ferry that ran twice a day and if we could get to the stop in the next 15min we would cut two hours off! We packed up and hustled to the stop making it there just as the ferry was pulling up.

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However, Alissa and I were just not done yet. We wanted one more shot, something with water and mood really showing off the location. We sent Taylor and Laurin home in a cab and Alissa and I hiked another 1.5 miles until we came upon this no trespassing sign – which I read as, “Please climb over – we would love for you to take pictures here.”

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We had about 10min of light left. Alissa and I scurried down to the beach, the tide was rolling in, we were trying to get set up, trying to figure out the right lens, lighting, etc all in a mad dash. When we set up, we were standing on sand, within minutes, water was up to our ankles. I had to kick off my shoes and run out to her as I was still changing lenses. Cursing every step of the way as I was stepping on what seemed like freaking glass for shells. And I am not even going to tell you what happened when I looked down and saw a crab crawling up my foot and leg.

“Ok”, I yelled out to Alissa, “we can do this – we have to focus!” we got 4 frames off and this is what we got. I absolutely love the tone and mood of the image. The fog was rolling in and the boats in the background just really set the tone – this is one of my favorite shots in recent months. Very different than what I would normally see and do. Maybe I need a crab crawling up my… never mind, I digress.

This image was made with the Phase One IQ250 and the 28mm Schneider lens. It was shot at ISO 800, f6.3 @ 1/125s.

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As you continue on your journey of growing your business the one thing you must continue to do is grow your portfolio and master your craft. You have to get out there and do things you are not comfortable with. Find new locations. Grab people you know. Shoot, shoot, shoot.

Hope you enjoyed this post.
Sal

Shooting Chengdu China

Wednesday, March 26th, 2014

Shooting Chengdu China

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As many of you know, we recently had the opportunity to visit China and speak in 5 cities. First, the trip was absolutely amazing, the culture was just so warm and welcoming and the food… lets just say I had some of the best Chinese food I have ever had in my life. I truly enjoyed myself and can’t wait to return.

That being said, we are photographers, so you know I found a way to get out there and do my thing. We were teaching about 100 photographers in each city and most of the seminars were in conference room settings, which is fine, but if you know my style of photography, I am not a huge fan of studio work, let alone in a boring conference room. So, city by city we showed lighting techniques, simple posing, etc, but in Chengdu, they had a private VIP event where I had a small group of photographers being hosted at an outdoor restaurant.

Our hosts wanted me to work with the group and show them some techniques in the restaurant… and, well, no. I needed to get out on the streets and do my thing. And thats when all hell broke lose. They LOVED it! Suddenly, our style of shooting and working in high traffic areas was really being showcased and now the group could truly see what we were all about and how we get some of the dymanic portraits we get. Best of all, it became an absolute circus with the crowds gathering around to see what we were doing – people were having Taylor sign autographs and pose for pictures with them. And don’t let Taylor tell you otherwise, she ate it up. It was fun to be part of for sure.

The goal of this little exercise was to really show the group how we work and make the portrait more environmental and more meaningful to the client. Our clients love being part of architecture and cool locations. Well, we are in China, so what better backdrop than a gorgeous sign with Chinese dragons and red colors. So, we posed Taylor right out in front to start making some cool shots. Then, we added off camera flash to showcase how a small portable light source can easily be used on location without the need for big equipment like light stands and soft boxes.

In addition, we showed our technique for adding another element to the shot where we drag the shutter to about a 30th of a second hand held to give the shot some movement from the crowd. I like to do this in some of my street work because it really adds another element to the shot – it shows the business and energy of being there. However, we really don’t care about the other people in the shot – they are there as a visual element. If they are in focus, then they distract from the main subject, by slowing the shutter and allowing them to be blurry your eye makes its way to the main subject, in this case, Taylor.

Finally, because we were working with the Phase One IQ250 we had wireless capabilities by using it with Capture Pro and the iPad. People in the crowd were able to see the pictures we were getting in real time. It created massive buzz and excitement for what we were doing.

So, whats my point? No matter where you are in the world, you have shooting opportunities. Get out there and shoot. Grab your wife, your kids, a stranger and start doing your thing. Practice different ideas, concepts, poses. Fail. Fail again. It will make you a better photographer. I learn something new every time I get out there its what keeps me excited to shoot every day.

Enjoy.

For the main shot below, we headed to the Chengdu Convention Center – the largest building in the world with 5.5 million square feet. The enormity of the building is incredible. My goal was to get something fluid and use the chiffon to match the fluidity of the roof line. I also wanted to use some off camera flash to create some separation from the background.

For this shot, we used the Phase One IQ250 with the 28mm lens from Schneider and the Profoto B1. We had Laurin holding the light as a human light stand and Taylor helping maneuver the chiffon.

The settings were ISO 100 f11 @ 160th of a second.

We had 30min to work. We did this on our way to the airport. We had a gorgeous model – KinKin was her name and she was awesome to work with.

Again, no matter where you are in the world or your local area – make the most use of your time and get out there and just try something different. Make an amazing image and add it to your portfolio. And as always, don’t be afraid to get out there and experiment, fail, try again. It’s what being an artist is all about.

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Why I switched to the Medium Format platform

Saturday, March 22nd, 2014

Why I switched to the Medium Format platform.

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**This is not a scientific test. This is my reasoning – logical or otherwise for switching to the medium format platform. Read and enjoy it for what its worth. ;)

Today is an incredible time to be a photographer. Amateurs and professionals alike are enjoying the ever increasing features of their DSLRs. more megapixels, HD video, low light performance, its all there, right?

Well, no. It’s not. See, I make the argument, and I am sure I will get lots of nodding heads here, today, everyone is a photographer. Now, you may not like it, but its still an accurate statement and a problem we have no control over. In addition, today’s cameras want to be everything to everyone. Photography, video, audio, etc, etc. Let’s do it all in the camera say the camera manufacturers. Sounds great in theory, but its creating this mentality with both photographers and clients that anyone can do what we do. Truth is, not everyone can do this. There is more to being a professional photographer than just clicking the button.

There is without a doubt an art to what we do. We all have our own unique vision of the world, its what makes us artists. And we all have access to some amazing tools to bring our vision to life. These tools are not just the camera. These tools are everything from lighting, composition, posing, emotion, story-telling, editing, and yes, your camera are among many other facets required to being an artist. Too often in our industry, people pick up a camera and then consider themselves a professional. I get it, we all have to start somewhere. I, like many other photographers, started as a hobbyist. There is nothing wrong with that. However, for the past 8 years, I have been on a personal journey to improve my craft and be the best I can be. Which leads me to the very point of my article.

In wanting to offer the very best for my clients, I soon began to realize that I needed a way to really stand out from the crowd. I wanted my images to have a look and feel to them that was different. Make no mistake, not all digital cameras are alike. There is more to it than just megapixels. That’s like saying the difference between a Hyundai and a Ferrari is horse-power. Its just absurd. Its about quality, quality, quality. Yes, there are many cameras out there touting high megapixel count and hell, you can get a new camera phone that’s 40megapixel now. So, are you trading in your DSLR for a camera phone yet? Of course not and that means at the basic level you are picking up what I am laying down here.

Look, I am not going to lie. When the people of Phase One reached out to me about taking a look at their cameras I scoffed at them. I shoot a Canon 1Dx – what more can I need? I look back at that moment and realize how truly ignorant I was to the medium format platform. They came out to my studio and brought with them the IQ260. I had arranged for a model to be on hand in our studio to really give this thing a test. The results can be seen here in my first post about medium format – Phase One IQ Review  I was immediately blown away. The results in camera looked nothing like anything coming off my camera before and this was before any post production had been done on the images. This was my studio, my lighting set up etc. The only difference was the camera and that very fact blew my mind that day. It didn’t matter how much time I put into all the other aspects of my work and education – there was no scenario I could ever get my images to have that level of detail out of camera on the 35mm platform. I was forever tainted. I HAD TO HAVE ONE. Now, I can sit here and get into all the scientific mumbo jumbo that the companies want to put out there in their marketing material that honestly makes us feel stupider after we read it because we are talking microns and light waves and prisms and whatever the hell else they are talking about, but we are photographers and we are visual. So, lets see some visual proof! On a recent trip to China, I was speaking at a workshop talking about the benefits of the medium format platform and how the quality was far superior to that of 35mm. And someone asked me if I really thought it was that much better and I thought… don’t take my word for it, lets prove it. So, we were at a hotel conference center, no fancy studio, with a 3 light setup – main, fill, and hair. He had a Canon 5d M3 and I had the Phase One IQ250. We used the same exposure settings and similar glass. We then zoomed in to the same level to show the side by side difference. The results absolutely speak for themselves. This is with nothing being done to the image AT ALL. No photoshop, sharpening, exposure, etc. It is what it is. And if after looking at the results, I would be shocked if you don’t see yourself eventually moving towards the medium format platform. For me, it became a no brainer. It was something we had to do to stand out.

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And please realize, I have intentionally left out all the features of the platform, because that’s just icing on the cake. One thing should matter – quality pixels and details.

Now, you might be wondering, “why do I need this level of quality Sal?” I am never going to blow these images up to be on a billboard somewhere. That would be correct. However, the old adage “garbage in, garbage out” is all you need to know. More data is never a bad thing – its why we shoot RAW vs JPG, so that we have more quality data to work with in our images. Same concept here. End of day, your images will just look crisper, have more detail and larger dynamic range, and ultimately, allow you to stand out from the crowd.

The next thing you are going to start worrying about is price. And that is a reasonable concern. Here is the thing, this is your business, your livelihood. This is your tool of the trade. When you walk into a room with a medium format camera people take notice, including your clients, who have no idea what the difference is. Perception is reality, but the reality is that’s not the reason I switched. It was purely about quality. When it comes to cost, I want you to consider that these cameras hold their value. How much is that Canon 5d worth today? Can you even give it away? Then I want you to realize, you can buy one used and completely refurbished for just a little more than a Canon 1Dx. Then… I want you to consider they offer leasing options for these cameras because they hold their value.

If this is something you are serious about, you have options. Remember, we all have money for the things we want to have money for and this is no different. And for what its worth, my money is on a company called Capture Integration. They sell and support medium format cameras and equipment and are one of the best companies I have ever worked with. Best of all, you can rent one before you buy. So, if my personal testimonial is not enough, then I encourage you to call them up and rent one for a few days and get out there and play. It will change the way you see the world.

Good luck.

Enjoy some recent images taken using the Phase One IQ250 and IQ260

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**Disclosure // Phase One and Capture Integration are advertisers in Shutter Magazine. However, they have neither endorsed nor commissioned this review or the results**

Phase One IQ250 in action

Saturday, March 8th, 2014

Phase One IQ250 in action

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WPPI is always a great conference and one we always ensure we attend. its a great time to catch up with old friends and make new ones.

This year, we decided to add a little portfolio building to the trip and maximize our time in Las Vegas. Grab a few dresses, some props, a rental car, my Phase One IQ250 and it was game time.

I had previously been working with the phase one iIQ260 a 60mp bad ass, but the reality was, it was a great portrait camera, but not practical in the fast paced low light world we live in as wedding photographers. Enter the new Phase One IQ250. At 50mp, this is no slouch. Its low light performance at up to 6400 ISO make it the perfect camera for shooting any type of portrait and working weddings under almost any conditions. The IQ250 sports an incredible 14 stops of dynamic range, wireless capabilities, 6400 ISO, 50mp and is faster than its predecessor.

And of course, no shoot would be complete without a superior light source. This trip we debuted the Profoto B1 off camera strobes. Not sure what these are? Well, welcome to a new world. These bad boys offer an incredible 500 w/s of power and are completely portable and require no additional power source beyond the built in battery pack. In addition, if you are a Canon shooter, they support ETTL and make shooting with them even easier.

All in all, an incredible shoot. We got some amazing images that are perfect for any portfolio and any client.

Special thanks to Dave Gallagher and the Capture Integration Team for offering what is absolute incredible service and support of their equipment. If you are looking to rent, lease, purchase a new medium format camera then this is your team.

Enjoy.

For more information on the Phase One IQ250 visit www.phaseone.com

For more information on the Profoto B1s visit www.profoto.com

Shot details

Camera // Phase One IQ250
Lens // Schneider 28mm
Settings // f18 @ 1/100s ISO 200
Light source // Profoto B1
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Camera // Phase One IQ250
Lens // Schneider 55mm
Settings // f8 @ 1/640s ISO 100
Light source // Available light
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Camera // Phase One IQ250
Lens // Schneider 80mm
Settings // f18 @ 1/100s ISO 100
Light source // Profoto B1
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Phase One IQ250 Review

Tuesday, February 4th, 2014

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Phase One IQ250 Review

What a day it was… we were one of the first studios in the United States to get our hands on the new Phase One IQ250.

I recently switched to the medium format platform because of straight up image quality. I don’t care what anyone says, put a 35mm up against a medium format camera and the difference is incredible.

Its not just about megapixels. There are lots of things to consider megapixels is just one of them. Quality of the pixels, dynamic range, low light performance, etc.

Now, I am not going to lie. The IQ260 is a great commercial camera, landscape, portrait, etc, but man-o-man, when it came to weddings, I was not loving it. Low light was challenging about ISO 400 and the frames per second were honestly, just not realistic for weddings that move in real time.

Enter the IQ250… game changer! 50 mega pixels, up to ISO 6400, 14 stops of dynamic range, 1.2 frames per second (no I am not a sports photographer needing 30fps), and incredible detail and low light performance at ISO3200. I was just blown away.

For me, the switch is a no-brainer. Now, for the first time, I feel comfortable working weddings using a medium format camera.

Check out the images below, just incredible detail in both a studio environment with controlled lighting and using natural light in a high ISO environment.

Don’t be intimidated with medium format. Sure, they have models that cost as much as a new car, but these are cameras that hold their value in the marketplace. There are a ton of options. Leasing, refurbished, used, etc are all viable options and allow you and your work to stand out from the crowd.

If you are interested – try one first! Connect with Capture Integration and they will hook you up! Great service, great company – with one goal – making sure you have the right equipment for the job.

See some of our test shots below.

Settings

Phase One IQ250

80mm Schneider Lens

f4 @ 160th // ISO 100

4 Alien Bee 800s with 2 softboxes in the front and 2 kicker lights in the back to light up the chiffon.

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Settings

Phase One IQ250

150mm Schneider Lens

f9 @ 125th // ISO 1600

Available light

 

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Here we are with an image at ISO 1600 zoomed in to 147%. Look at the detail and low noise. I am just blown away with the performance of the camera in low light situations.

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Settings

Phase One IQ250

80mm Schneider Lens

f11 @ 125th // ISO 3200

Available light

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The performance of the camera in low light is just incredible. Here you can see where we zoomed in to 131% the image is completely usable.

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Using Sticky Albums to Make Money

Wednesday, January 29th, 2014

Using Sticky Albums to Make Money

Below is a video conversation I recently had with Nate from Sticky Albums speaking candidly about how we use the product. Sure, he is selling a product to you and sure, he wants you to buy his product, but at the end of the day, any product that helps me make more money is a worthwhile investment.

We use Sticky Albums in our business not only as a pull-through item that we sell, but as a marketing tool! This product truly offers the best of both worlds. Best of all, its pay once sell many model makes it truly simple for you to make your money back in no time at all!

Watch Nate and I as we discuss our strategy for working together in real world scenarios.

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Phase One IQ260 Medium Format Camera

Thursday, January 23rd, 2014

Phase One IQ260 Medium Format Camera

Not sure if you made it out to Imaging USA this year in Phoenix, but it was gorgeous and educational. I don’t know about you, but for most of the United States, we were stuck in the middle of an Arctic Blast! St Louis had temps as low as -20. It was miserable and I was more than happy to get the team out of there and head to a warmer climate.

During our time in Phoenix, we had scheduled a Destinations photo-shoot. This is something new we started doing for both ourselves and a limited group of 5 other photographers. Click here to learn more about Sal Cincotta Photography Workshops. I figured, if we are going to travel all over the planet shooting gorgeous models and gorgeous locations, we might as well invite 5 other photographers looking to have fun and build their portfolio at the same time. Makes for a fun and creative journey.

As I have been building my portfolio this off-season, I have found myself using my Phase One IQ260 more and more for the important jobs. The switch to a medium format camera has been one of reluctance, aspiration, and wanting to next level the competition.

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With 13 stops of dynamic range, 60mp of data, and a host of other features that make medium format so attractive, it’s hard to ignore the Phase One IQ260 as a major contender and replacement for my 35mm platform. The difference is beyond noticeable. And the reality is, you can get into a medium format camera for the price of a mid-level dslr. Visit Capture Integration to learn more.

Back to the shoot…

The day started at 7am with hair and makeup. I can not stress the importance of having professionals be part of your day. SPEND the money, it makes all the difference in the world. We worked with Savannah May out of Phoenix for make-up and Aaron Moses for Hair and they were amazing to work with.

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9am wheels up as we headed out to our first location Superstition Mountain. What a gorgeous and iconic location about 40min outside of Phoenix. The goal before we ever rolled up to the location – we wanted a shot from the center of the road leading us to our model and then of course to the mountain as as secondary element.

For this scene, I chose to back light Toni with the sun and used a silver reflector for fill light. That’s it. Sometimes simple is better. And I am not going to lie, I am happy with the results we all got at this location.

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From here, we photographed by the side of the road to grab a few different looks in the purple dress and then headed to lunch at the Mining Camp Restaurant – Apache Junction. The funniest part about lunch, we rolled in with about 12 of us and the waitress asked if we had reservations – we looked around the EMPTY restaurant and said no – and laughed to ourselves. Shows what we knew. 15min later, the restaurant was bursting at the seems with people. It was clearly the place to be out there.

Next up, off-roading into the dessert. One of my staff went to ASU and told us about a location we could gain access to with a lake in the background up in the hills. Score, we thought – lets find it. As we followed our GPS – we ended up taking our 15 person passenger van off-roading – getting lost – and lots of laughs along the way.

The best part of getting lost, you find locations you might not ordinarily find. Case in point. We found this amazing two peak hill where we could put Toni out on one and we would have a perfect vantage from the other to photograph her from. After a little hiking, no one fell (not naming names here) – we got to our spot and just had nothing but gorgeous landscape to work with. Because of the distance, we decided to work with the available light here. We needed to be quick and efficient to get the shot, so we could move on to our next location.

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Next up. Lake shot.

The fun thing about this little Destinations shoot, is the ability to move quickly with a small group of people and just experiment.

While driving down the road, we found this boat launching dock that would give us the vantage point we were looking for. At this particular location, we wanted to use off camera flash to really create something with a little more drama. We used the Westcott Apollo Orb with the Triple Threat to support up to 3 Canon 580s all on the Manfrotto Nano Stands. LOVE LOVE LOVE this product. Its portable, easy to set up, and best of all, economical. I highly recommend you check this out and add it to your arsenal.

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All-in-all, the group had an amazing time. I am still blown away with the caliber of images that are coming off the Phase One IQ260. If you have not had a chance to play with a medium format, I highly encourage you to play with one for a day, the folks at Capture Integration can help you and I promise you will never see your imagery the same way once you start playing with a medium format camera.

Good luck! Get out there and keep working on your portfolio.

Sal

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