Jun 29, 2009

Photography Lighting: Exploring "why" we take pictures | Skull Candy - Commercial Photography

What do you feel when you look at this photograph? Please comment with the first emotion that comes to your mind.

I just finished replying to a few emails including one from a fellow photographer interested in understanding my lighting techniques on a few photographs from my advertising photography portfolio. I get these kinds of questions on occasions from both beginner photographers to commercial photographers alike and am pretty much an open book when it comes to telling as much about the shoot, lighting, etc. as I can (usually becomes a question of what can I remember more than anything). However, it struck me lately, that a lot of photographers (myself included) are so wrapped up in how something is lit (see strobist.com - which I love btw), that the very essence and emotion within a photograph is left to chance. Essentially, the "why" of a photograph is in the backseat patiently waiting for whatever comes from using "killer light". Imagine if we were making a feature film together and the only thing the director and crew cared about was securing the most exciting and exotic location for the film, but the screen play hadn't even been written yet. The film would be hard pressed to do well based soley on a great location without an equally impressive screenplay, plot, character development, etc.. Often we feel like we are hitting the bulls eye if a photo is lit really well including lots of drama and edginess, but we failed to look at which target we were aimed at for before pressing the trigger.

So my question for you: Why will you take that picture today?

Jun 24, 2009

Cannondale SuperSix Product + Still Life Photography // Commercial Photographer

As I venture inside to work on a few more studio projects lately, which I am quite enjoying, the challenge becomes creating something fresh and innovative when the backgrounds are typically a more static element of the overall image (black, white, grey). I'm definitely not one to bring in a bright assortment of back-drops to spice up an indoor scene, when I would much prefer to get out to an already 'spicy' location, preferably an unexplored one, and create something authentic. Studio product and still photography for me becomes an opportunity to push lighting techniques and nuances to a new level as well as refine what I already know. The new Cannondale Super Six road bike gave me a excellent opportunity to shoot a gorgeous product, in unexplored ways and not to mention a product that is just as much fun to use (ride) as it is to look at.

(I decided against breaking out the ever popular smoke machine on this shoot, as compared to the Orbea Bicycle product shoot we did last fall, but had just as much fun.)

We started off shooting some typical product shots like you'd find in a dealer catalog and then moved to more dramatic lighting scenarios to emphasize key features of the bike, including the lightest and stiffest cranks on the market, the Hollowgram SL BB30.

Cannondale is doing some pretty amazing things, including the introduction of one of these Hi-mode Super Six frames fully built up and rideable weighing in at 10.1 pounds! Are you kidding me. That's a only a pound more than my the weight of my first child at birth (throw a diaper on him and we'll call it even). Check out a little video with Cannondale Marketing director, Scott Struve, discussing the 10.1 pound Cannondale SuperSix at the Tour of California with Team Liquigas. Here are the specs and price of the bike in Decline Magazine in case you're ambitious and unaware of the ever increasing amount of starvation in the world; priced to sale at $15,000...yikes

For now, I'll happily settle for a 16 pound version for $2,800.

And now for a few photographs....

Jun 22, 2009

Mountain Bike Photography in Salt Lake City, UT: Dirt Rag Publication

The long-time mountain bike publication, Dirt Rag Magazine is currently on the shelves and fearturing a full spread image from a ride up on the Salt Lake City benches, called Bobsled. The image was shot just with rider Steve Lloyd using a 90mm tilt/shift on a full-frame camera (more tilt-shift photography. The Mountains are again ready and primed for some excellent mountain biking, so get out there and ride!

(note #1 - photos of the magazine and article via the new iPhone 3G S. As a photographer, I'm still not that impressed with the phones still photo capabilities of the iphone, but it's sure convenient and slowly improving. That said, the new video feature is absolutely awesome and opens up a new world of possibilities for sharing cool content. Look for some short films on the 3G S soon)

(note #2 - this is my first blog post exported and written within the Adobe Lightroom 2 software (LR2/Blog). I was stoked to come across a plugin that allowed me to export images and write a new blog post all within the same window. I'm experimenting currently, hence the tiny images, and once I'm sold, will donate to the project giving me access to exporting full size images)

Jun 16, 2009

Corporate Photography: Cascade Collision Shoot

Recently, I was hired by Cascade Collision, to create an "employee portrait" to accompany a magazine article. It's exciting when a company is willing to take a risk and do an employee portrait that is out of the ordinary, which was the case with Cascade. But before the background story, I've got to put in a plug for this extraordinary company which, unfortunately (*car wrecks suck) I have had the opportunity to work with on two occasions. They're service and quality top notch and I was impressed and returned to them long before they hired me as a commercial photographer and I will continue to use and recommend their company (...praying I don't need their services any time soon...)

On to the photography; the magazine article is titled "Angels among us" and will pay tribute to several employees that have gone outside of the daily job they do to help people in their respective communities deal with hardship and in this case, repairing and restoring a car for free for someone in dire need. We tossed around several ideas for the image like putting the employees on the roof of their building and shooting a more literal interpretation of the title, but in the end thought a dramatic portrait of the employees within their work environment, lit in a way that emphasized each employee throughout the scene, would provide a great image for the story.

We spent a solid couple of hours getting the set-up just right, including moving multiple vehicles around in the shop, creating "welding sparks" with a grinder, hosing the entire shop floor down (multiple times) and re-purposing several additional props to set the stage. Next, we lit each person with a strobe and grid and my assistant traveled the shop floor with one additional strobe to light other areas of interest within the scene (i.e. Logo on Honda in the back, etc.) to later composite into the final image.

The employees were a pleasure to work with and we were quite pleased with the final image. Great work Cascade and continue to inspire us with your service in the community!


On the job:

more of what they do...

Jun 11, 2009

LowePro's Packs & Service Rock!

The UPS guy has been showing up a lot lately, but today was a bit of a surprise, and a very pleasant one at that. This post is dedicated to a great company, making exceptional products and standing behind those products, for life! Roughly two weeks ago, before an advertising photography shoot, I was reviewing my gear for the shoot:

-5D Mark II & back-up body...check
-Fisheye lens...check
-16-35mm, 24-105mm, 70-200mm...check
-35mm f1.4...check
-135mm f2....check
-filters, strobes, batteries, gels, pocket wizards, tripod....check
(Lot's of heavy stuff, you get the point)

After packing it into my trusty, LowePro Computrekker Plus AW backpack I had the proverbial "zipper moment", yep, the main zipper sorta derailed itself from the track and left me in a bit of a bind. I quickly recalled a little sleepover episode back in the 2nd grade, on my buddies trampoline, when my then trusty "Papa Smurf" sleeping bag suffered a similar problem, leaving my little body exposed to the 6am sprinkler system. It was a terrifying recollection! (note: the LowePro zippers are inherintly much stronger than my $9.99 smurf special).
Now what, I thought? The bag limped through the shoot and afterward remembering the LowePro lifetime warranty and the fact these packs are not cheap to buy, I hopped on their website for a customer service link. Email sent, fingers crossed for a reply! 10 minutes later, a Mr. Maury Cohen (product specialist), gave me a few instructions to get the pack either A) repaired or B) replaced. Option B is always the dream of course, but I'd be happy to get my pack back to working order nonetheless. So, I boxed it up, shipped it back to Lowepro about a week ago with the expectation that it would be most likely repaired and returned (and please do it in less than a month's time). Suffice it to say, I was ecstatic when I opened the box today, to see a brand new pack, fresh from the factory, ready to go. Good job LowePro. You've earned a customer for life!

One small request, LowePro - I love your packs for their packing functionality, but please, please build in a worthwhile suspension system (See Osprey packs) for people carrying their stuff any distance over a 1/4 of a mile :-)

Jun 3, 2009

50 FACES PROJECT: Kevin Winzeler Photography


50 FACES PROJECT is in the works...You won't want to miss this!

What: Be one of 50 people included in a series of photographs all about EXPRESSIONS. We need people from all walks of life, including: different genders, ethnicity, age, dress, and most importantly expressions.

Who: You and anyone you know that fits the description above.

When: Tuesday and Wednesday (June 9th & 10th -- 4:00pm - 11:00pm both days)
15 minutes per person (whenever fits your schedule)

What you get: Beside fame, a free portrait.

Final thought: Come as you are; from work, the gym with or without make-up, it doesn’t matter. This is about everyday people. If you have an iPod, bring it loaded with songs that make you Laugh, Cry, Sing, Fall asleep, etc.

RSVP with a day and time you will be here: info@kevinwinzeler.com
Location: My house -- Right next to Cabellas off of the Alpine/Highland exit:
2702 West Shadyhollow Loop
Lehi, UT 84043

Call with questions: 801.319.8023 (Kevin)

Jun 1, 2009

Wakeboard and Water Ski Photography: Are you Ready!?

Summer is officially here! I have to say, that I am thoroughly enjoying some early morning exercise (running and road biking as of late) in this beautiful weather. My commercial photography shoots are also much more enjoyable without having to throw on a pair of winter gloves for extended periods of time. Of course "Summer" means a lot of things to a lot of people, but hopefully included on your list (in addition to exercise and photos) is a trip to your local lake, resevoir, or even your backyard canal. So grab that surf board, wakeboard, water ski, tube, or anything that could be pulled behind a boat and get out of the house! now! Okay, so maybe call your friend, who knows someone with a boat (perferably one who will invite you along) and get out there. We've got our annual Lake Powell trip just a couple months away, and I'm stoked to get down to one of the most beautiful places on earth. Speaking of Powell, I've got to mention a site I've partnered with as of late that provides some killer info on boating in the Utah are: Check it out Utah Boating Info You'll find a wealth of boating info on their site and some nice water and underwater photography :).

A post on my blog is not complete without at least one image, so here is one of my favorite Water Ski photos from last Summer; Branond Harding on a D3 Ski, "gearing up during sunset":