Oct 22, 2009

the STROBIST rocks! - Waterproof Case Q&A

I was extremely stoked to be featured on the blog of all blogs in the photography world this week, Strobist. I've followed David Hobby's blog now for several years, so when I opened up my email early Monday morning and read the subject line "Incominggggggg!" (I guess he crashed Platon's site not too long ago) from David Hobby, I was pumped to say the least [link here Kevin Winzeler on Strobist]. It's great to be able to contribute a little bit to the Strobist community and I've appreciated all the positive comments, emails and people checking out my photography and blog thus far.

I've had several requests to break down some of the lighting techinques in the Real Salt Lake video and Triathlon Video which I plan to do in upcoming posts as well as overviewing the post-production techniques involved. Comment within this thread with any specific requests you have and I'll do my best to answer questions and explain how I've done things.

First off, for those long-time followers, I've introduced a new section on my website with behind the scenes videos and photographs. Check it out here: Behind the Scenes Photography I'll do my best to keep this section updated with the latest videos, sketches, still shots and anything else that might help out. Again, feel free to send requests via the blog comments section here.

Since posting the behind the scenes Triathlon photography video, I also received quite a few questions about the "oversized ziplock" bag I was using. So here's a quick run down of the AXP100 Ewa-marine case here, and what I like and dislike about using this particular piece of equipment. It's one of those items in your arsenal that is absolutely essential for some shoots, like this Water Ski photograph or wakeboarding portrait, but can be a serious pain to use!

What I like:
  1. Lightweight & Packable - It folds almost flat, so I often carry it "just in case"
  2. Fits several sizes of camera bodies and lenses (Pro bodies or Consumer bodies alike)
  3. Pocket Wizard, Skyport, or Flash can be attached to body inside the case
  4. Completely waterproof (supposedly to 155 ft) :)
The pain factor:
  1. #1 Complaint: it's really, really hard to adjust camera settings. Once the camera is sealed in the bag, you can forget about turning the wheel on the back of a Canon camera to adjust exposure compensations or drive settings. Adjust your settings before the camera enters the case, period! This is particularly challenging when going under water. If I'm above the water as in the Triathlon shot, I set the camera up in manual mode and dial everything in. If I'm going under water, then Aperture priority gets the call.
  2. No zoom lenses....kinda. It's got somewhat of a telescoping port that would allow a little bit of zoom, but because of issue #1, it's difficult to actually zoom. Zoom lenses that actually telescope out are especially difficult. I use the following lenses in priority (all Canon): 16-35, 24-105 @ 24mm, 35 f/1.4, 100mm Macro.
  3. Focusing can be hit and miss. Forget about manual focusing unless your subject is stationary
  4. Take the strap off. It's a pain to get the camera in and out and make adjustments if your camera strap is attached.
  5. No way to attach it to a tripod. Some hard cases allow this.
I've heard a few mention that you really have put your DSLR into a ziplock bag for a in-water shoot. All I can say is that your insurance deductible must be a lot less than mine. The EWA bag is about the bare minimum I'm confident in using with my gear. A shot of me with the bag in action here

Oct 14, 2009

Latest stroke of inspiration: CCTV Ink Commercial

Typical day at the home office (non-photography day)...

Roll down to the office after hitting snooze on iPhone alarm and sleeping longer than I should have.

Plop down in chair and move mighty mouse around to wake sleepy mac pro from slumber...check
Quick glance at Calendar items for the day...check.
Bite of mini wheats...check.
Get out of chair. look out office window. Any cool cloud formations or light on local Timpanogos mountain?...check.
Look for inspiration...check.

This is the point, way too early in my day where I end up landing on who knows what photography, video, music, or other artistic website, thinking in my head how many amazingly creative and cool people there are in the world and how I hope someday I can be like them. It's a bit of a mix of pure inspirational euphoria and part depression when realization hits at how large the gap really is. I've found the trick is to draw energy off of the positive thoughts that come into my mind and ignore the ones that downplay my skills, ambition and goals in any way. It's also a chance to recognize other people in the world doing fantastic work and pause for a moment of appreciation. So on Tuesday, I had just a minute to browse for something inspirational in the midst of a few deadlines and ended up spending a good hour+ watching a sixty second commercial over and over, searching for the music, behind the scenes clips, info about the director Niko Tziopanos, analyzing ink frames, and saying in my mind, 'how'd they do that'. I love those moments, but man can they be distracting.

This weeks inspiring clip is an "ink" commercial for CCTV. 6 Weeks of production. 14-16 hour days with both day and night shifts for all the post-production work. And 60 seconds of genius. Check it out (btw - one favorite part is the sync of music and motion when the fish turn into birds and they take their first flap with instrumental picking up in the background; bravo)

Funny side note on the background music. I was really digging the instrumental blend in the background and pulled out Shazam on my iPhone trying to tag it, but was so stumped when it just wouldn't come up. Finally found, of course, at this level of production (hundreds of thousands if not more I'm sure), they budget in for composing artists and a sound design team....duh.
Will shortly be launching a video section in my advertising photography portfolio and video portfolios on http://www.kevinwinzeler.com soon.

Oct 12, 2009

Behind the Scenes | Trail Running in Kauai Hawaii

5 Reasons to take your next commercial photography assignment to Kauai, Hawaii (as if you really needed one!)

1- The best climate in the world to shoot in. You can actually get by with just the clothes on your back (or board shorts) when your airline (United in this case) loses your luggage for two and a half days!
2- An Island that's small enough to find super remote, virtually private locations, but large enough to host a Costco (hotdogs to feed the crew are essential).
3- Shooting in board shorts and flip flops (errr..."slippah's" as I was routinely corrected by the locals).
4- Locations, Locations, Locations: 1) Na Pali Coast 2) Waimea Canyon 3) Hanalei Bay 4) Pretty much anywhere you set foot after stepping off of the plane.
5- Aloha spirit! People were sooo cool! Models, Condo rental, etc. Everyone except the FedEx shipping people in Princeville who wanted to charge me like $15 per package to 'process' an FedEx order.

Okay, so we had a four days worth of commercial work to get done as well as a few on-going personal projects to continue while in Kauai, so I must admit I was pretty much in panic mode when my bags didn't arrive for over two days after landing. Fortunately, I always carry my camera, back-up camera and lenses on the plane with me. Lighting and other equipment was checked, but worst case scenario, I can find a rental house in most locations if the airline loses my checked gear. Monday around noon, I finally got the call I was praying for and the 3rd party courier was on his way to deliver my baggage...thanks you! (btw- do you tip this guy??)

Daniel (local trail runner and pretty much the nicest guy I've ever met), showed us around the island including helping find great trail running locations for our shoot. The day of shooting with him, he probably put in at least 10 solid miles of running up and down the Na Pali coast trail, the Power Line trail and a few others in order to capture multiple locations and a ton of unique angles, lighting styles, and looks.

Included in the bunch, was this shot and this shot. We were fortunate enough to have some really nice rolling clouds come over the mountains in the background, creating a nice sense of drama as well as a beautiful diffused light (backlight). As you can see in the video, we drove as far as we could in our rental Ford Explorer and then took the gear up a little bit further on the trail to a section that opened up over-looking Hanalei bay and the whole North Shore coast line. It was absolutely gorgeous. I decided to shoot just wide enough to capture the stunning location, but tight enough to be drawn into the runner his experience.

We used a combination of tools for the shoot all of which were essential in making the shots featured:

1) Location
2) Awesome Talent: Daniel
3) Main Camera: Canon 5D Mark II and 16-35 II lens
4) Lighting Equipment: Elinchrom Ranger RX Speed AS Battery Pack with A - Lite Head
5) Lighting Modifiers: Clouds, 27x27 Rotalux soft box minus the diffusion panel (Key)

Oct 8, 2009

New Canon 7D has arrived at my front door.

I'm not one to jump up and down about the newest, coolest, latest gear...but...why not once in a while...

Things I love about the new Canon 7D

1- Feels great in hand. New design feels much more natural in my hand than 50d, 40d, or even 5D Mark II
2- Wireless flash control. From the on-board pop-up flash, you can now control (wirelessly) speedlights. A first for Canon, but it's about time.
3- Ful 1080p HD video with dedicated switch - 60FPS in 720HD mode. 24p option in 1080 HD. Awesome!
4- Potential weather proofing resistance resistance (my major complaint with the 5D Mark II!)
5- Auto Focus Rocks! AI servo is on the money for horizontal and vertical shots
6- 8FPS
7- Price $1699. less than 2 years ago these features were $4-5,000 on a 1D body
8- High ISO looks pretty clean so far for stuffing 18megapixels into a cropped sensor
9- Same battery as 5D Mark II

Wish List:

a) Non-crop body or option for crop or no crop version. Although will be nice for some sports and wildlife, turning a 400mm lens effectively into a 640mm lens @ 18mp
b) Please bring these exact same features to a FULL FRAME version (5D Mark III or 3D).

2- Better WIRELESS control
a) Longer range than 10-12 feet
b) Wireless flash control with a 580 EX II sitting in the hotshoe. Okay, so let's say I want to control three speedlights (580 EX II's) for something similar to a shot like this bow hunting image. I two lights on each side of the subject and a little bit of fill flash on or near the camera. Right now, you can use the pop-up flash on the 7D to control external speedlights, but if I mount another 580EX II in the hotshoe, I lose control of adjusting the settings from the camera. You can still make all three flashes fire, but have no control of the power settings on the external flashes. This would be beautiful for jobs without multiple assistants.

How will I use the camera?

1) Sports photography, Wildlife Photography when long distance, fps, and AF tracking are important.
2) Moon photography. Throwing a 400 or 600mm lens with 1.4 and 2x Teleconverters will make for some really nice Moon images especially with the LiveView 10x focusing and 18MP to work with for cropping.
3) Slow Motion, 60FPS video. The 7D will function as a primary back-up camera for my commercial photography work and also another source of video shooting for both behind the scenes shoots as well as utilizing the 60FPS when I need to slow down the video - sports photography and video related work comes to mind first.

I'm extremely excited about this camera, especially at this price point. Canon's put out a pretty sweet set of features in this body. I may have more on the wish list once I've had the camera for more than a day. Will update soon.

Some more links:
Difference between true 60FPS on 7D and slowing down 5D Mark II to imitate 60fps

Oct 5, 2009

Magazines are changing! Video integrated in Outside Magazine article

This little clip from Alexx Henry featuring the motion shoot for an Outside magazine article and cover is pretty fascinating. What will the magazine racks of the future look like?

move still and video at http://www.kevinwinzeler.com

Oct 2, 2009

Photographing the tallest tree in the world: National Geographic

This is a pretty short (1:27) and cool clip on how the latest photographs of one of the tallest Redwoods alive were created for the most recent issue of National Geographic magazine. I love thought provoking photographs that require a great deal of pre-visualization, planning and execution. Looks like three 1Ds Mark III cameras angled in three different directions, 6 pocket wizards, and a ton of rigging (3 weeks worth). Sweet!

More landscape images can be found at http://www.kevinwinzeler.com

Oct 1, 2009

Ski season's approaching: Powder Magazine Ad (Salomon)

The October issue of Powder magazine is featuring a Salomon ad with several of my images and some awesome skiing from Jared Allen. Check it out!

See more skiing photography in Utah and other areas of the world here: http://www.kevinwinzeler.com
Ad design also done by Jared Allen here: