Articles written by Patrick Hall
One of our readers just emailed us this great video of landscape photographer Ansel Adam's darkroom. Michael Adams, Ansel's son, gives us a full tour of Ansel's home studio and shows some of his prints as well as much of his equipment. I currently have Adam's Moonrise, Hernandez hanging in my kitchen and it's really fun to see what the untouched negative looked like before all the dodging and burning. What's always amazing to me is that these prints were all done before the days of the computer, and every area that was altered had to be done by hand and with extreme precision. If you don't already own some of Adam's work, head over to the Ansel Adam's store and pick up a book or print.
Okay I admit there is nothing really "behind the scenes" in this video but it is just too cool not to post. On Feb 24th, NASA's Discovery space shuttle launched for the final time and created a lot of media buzz. Most people travel down to the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral to watch these amazing launches, but a few lucky passengers flying out of Orlando, Florida experienced the launch like few have ever seen it: 35,000 feet high in a commercial airline! Check out our previous post on NASA's video coverage of their shuttle launches if you want to see more amazing video of the space program.
If you've ever attended a crazy big music or art festival then the thought has probably crossed your mind, "I should probably photograph these interesting characters while I'm here!" While attending the annual free expression festival Burning Man in Nevada, photographer Eric Schwabel decided to build a portable photo studio to capture dramatic portraits of everyone in attendance. His setup consisted of two strip boxes, two Profoto Pro-B2 power packs, and two Profoto Pro-7 heads. Everything was shot on a Mamiya 645 AFD with a DM28 digital back. I must say, I would be a little nervous bringing this sort of gear out to the dusty desert, but then I would have been the guy who missed out on creating such a cool project!
Fred Conrad is a photographer who has been working for the NY Times for over 34 years. Recently he attended the Westminister Kennel Club Dog Show and photographed every single breed of dog at the show. His setup was basically a white backdrop, a ring flash, and a photek softlighter. I've always thought dog shows like this are a bit insane (watch the mockumentary Best in Show for a good laugh), and Fred has captured not only interesting portraits of dogs but also some of the most wild haircuts I've ever seen of dogs. Check out Snoop Dogg the Bedlington Terrier and all the rest over at the interactive online gallery.
It's the end of the month which means it's almost time to judge the monthly Fstoppers Forum photo contest. The response for this month has been really great and I can't wait to see who wins it and takes home some new gear. The final submissions will be valid until Midnight (EST) on March 1st so be sure to submit now rather than later. As we do every month, the winner of the contest gets to pick the next theme and Frank has chosen "Birth". This month's winner will also win a custom image and website link on the Fstoppers rotating banner above and also a Photoflex Octodome Extra Small Kit which is our goto soft light for location shooting. As always, our contests are judged by the winner of the previous month's contest so you have to impress Jan winner Frank Lin and not anyone on the Fstoppers Staff. Have fun submitting to the February Fstoppers Forum Contest and good luck to everyone!
Michael Nichols is a photographer for National Geographic who was recently faced with the task of photographing a 300 foot Redwood in Northern California. In order to capture the tree in all of its glory, Michael had to use 3 Canon 1Ds Mark II cameras, several pocket wizards, a cinema dolly system, and dozens of bracketed photos all shot at f2.8. Each full image of the tree took over 1 hour to complete and in order to capture the perfect photograph of the tree Michael and his team photographed the redwood over 18 days. The video below shows a quick recap of the project and the second video in the full post explains in detail how he was able to overcome all the obstacles required in creating this 18 meter tall image.
Earlier in the week I posted a video featuring commercial photographer Monte Isom photographing comedian Colin Kane. We'll it turns out Monte has been filming great behind the scenes videos of his photoshoots all along. In this video Monte shows you not only how he created the fun ad campaign for the EA Sports FIFA 2010 video game but also how he secured the job in the first place! It's really great to see photographers like Monte having a good time on their shoots and also showing exactly how they took a concept, pitched some images, and ultimately won the bidding war to secure a high end project. If only every photographer would be so open with sharing their success stories we might have more videos like this. Monte gives some exclusive insight on the shoot and the final image on the packaging in the full post.
Lee and I are wrapping up our trip to WPPI in Las Vegas which is basically the largest wedding convention in the US. So today after meeting with tons of wedding professionals we thought it might be fun to showcase an underwater bridal shoot. Jonathan Ryan is a wedding photographer in Canterbury, England and in this video he is using a few strobes, a Nikon D3, and our favorite Ewa-Marine underwater housing to take some unique bridals underwater. It's pretty interesting to see how Jonathan syncs his strobes underwater since radio transmitters are pretty much useless around water.
Yes, you read the title correctly. The famous female Mattel toy has photoshoots, and they are actually quite extravagant. When I first saw this I thought it was a joke but after doing some research I found that Mattel designer Robert Best has big production photoshoots like this for all his Barbie Fashion Model Collections. The photographer is Paul Jordan at Mattel, and the final products are really interesting considering these are just toys. If you don't want to go through all the set building and fashion lighting required to get these photos, you can always use a simple reflector just like this Barbie fashion photographer. Click the full post to see the final image and other images featuring Barbie.
When I think of pageant photography I often think of those glamor shot booths in the mall with the crazy hair, makeup, and horrendous props and backgrounds. Well times have changed and most young women competing in pageants around the world are taking much more fashion and beauty style portraits of themselves. In this video Justin Grant shows us what it's like shooting the images used by both the reigning Miss and Teen Miss Utah and Arizona. Watching this video really changed my perception of what "pageant photography" is and should look like! Be sure to check out Justin Grant's portfolio which features some really amazing advertising, fitness, and beauty images.
These days, creating a portrait that grabs the average pedestrian's attention isn't an easy task. So what did local New York City comedian Colin Kane do to spice it up a little? He added a raging mob of crazy people behind him in this awesome portrait by photographer Monte Isom. It looks like Monte used a large 7' Octabank to light the crowd and then a beauty dish with a little fill from a smaller softbox to give Colin a harsh key light look without losing the shadows. I love the overall idea and I've personally always wanted to work with a big group of people like in this video. If you are in NYC, check out Colin's stand up act and definitely head over to Monte's site to see some mind blowing advertising images as well as the largest group photo ever! Click the full post to see the high res final image.
Many of the posts we have seen here lately on Fstoppers have been heavily influenced by Freddy Wong and the amazing special effects videos on his YouTube channel. Now Freddy has tackled something very sacred to us all: something that might still keep some die hards up late in to the morning. Anyone giving homage to Wario or Donkey Kong, the two best characters in the game, will always get two big thumps up from me. If you want to see the final Real Life Mario, click on the full post after watching this great BTS video.
CLICK FULL POST IF YOU CANNOT WATCH THIS VIDEO! If you watched my video on how to photograph wakeboarding then you know I'm a big advocate of throwing water at your subjects during a photoshoot! So needless to say I was excited when this behind the scenes video surfaced showing how photographer Art Streiber shot the hero shots for the television show Hawaii Five-O. The whole lighting setup is pretty straightforward: one beauty dish and a bunch of back lights for the water splashes. To create the wave splash look Art fired high pressure water at each of the cast members with a 4,000 gallon water truck. Click on the full post to check out some of the final images as well as a few behind the scenes stills from the production.
One thing I love about having an Vimeo account is the great videos they recommend checking out. Back in Oct 2010, the first ever Vimeo Awards was held, and the winners for over 9 categories were announced. None of the winning videos are directly related to photography but the winning narrative Thrush by Gabriel Bisset-Smith was created entirely from still images. It's pretty entertaining and it really opens the gates to what is possible now that we are all documenting our lives pretty much everyday. I have to believe that all of these shots were staged, and if so Gabriel did a great job capturing all these frames and making such a unique video.
Yu Tsai is an incredibly impressive fashion and advertising photographer. He also is an established film maker and director (check out his film section on his site). Recently Yu Tsai was faced with the task of trying to make a car ad stand out in one of the most popular magazines in the world: The Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue. His solution: have ace driver Rhys Millen drift dangerously close to SI supermodel Rianne Ten Haken and film the whole thing. I love the concept and it's nice to have a little behind the scenes video to go along with the final published images. Click the full post to see full resolution copies.
Our friend Tyler Kaufman from New Orleans is a young sports photographer who had the opportunity to go and photograph Super Bowl XLV. Understandably, he was so busy shooting that he didn't have time to create a proper behind the scenes video on what it must be like shooting one of the largest sporting event in the world. Luckily for us, Max Morse was able to make a video showcasing many of the Sport Illustrated photographers in attendance. During our own interview with David Bergman, an SI photographer also in attendance of the big game, I learned that sports photographers do not simply show up and try to frantically track each player and each play for the perfect shot. Instead they are stationed in strategic spots which allows each photographer to cover their section of the field and specific players....assuming the play does come in their direction. I've always thought shooting sports at this level must be extremely difficult, and that might be why I have such respect for great sports images. Click on the full post to see a video on Tyler's experience in Dallas!
Celebrity photographer Brian Smith has a great video online that describes his workflow when shooting burlesque dancers in Las Vegas. The video is an advertisement piece for X-Rite Color Checker calibration tool but Brian gives some really good advice on how he took his career from working at a newspaper to now shooting celebrity portraits. In this video, Brian is mainly shooting with just a Profoto Ringflash and a Sony A900, and the results look great. Anyone know how in the world he is using pocket wizards on top of the Sony? I thought Sony DSLRs used to have some funky hotshoe jack? //-->
I'm sure like many of other photographers, my greatest fear is going blind or at least going blind beyond correction. Pete Eckert is a photographer who has been left completely blind after suffering from a condition called Retinitis Pigmentosa. This short little video documents Pete's life and how he has overcome his loss of eye sight and continues his passion of photography. It's pretty inspiring to see what is possible through human determination and reminds me to be thankful for the simple things in life. This video has become pretty viral over the last week and for good reason!
Every now and then someone comes out with a product that really makes me say, "why didn't I think of that?" If you've ever been on the set of a serious movie production, you know that the camera operator or steadicam operator hardly ever focuses the lens himself. Instead he relies on a well paid focus puller who can perfectly eyeball every focus distance and follow focus any lens set on any aperture. It's really amazing to watch. Well now a company called Okii has developed a USB focus puller for Canon cameras that can not only pull focus but also record and save a specific movement. I have no idea why they did not include audio on this video but if you watch if you can see two different points of focus being saved and then automated. Click the full post to see a second demonstration that shows off the actual recorded footage.