Theresa Manchester – Canon 5D Mark III + EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM
This past weekend welcomed another addition to my ongoing Tattoo Series – Curators of Art. For this photo shoot I had the pleasure of working with model and world traveler Theresa Manchester. She was a great subject to work with. Aside from a her beauty and considerable collection of body art, she came with quite a bit of experience in front of the camera. She also spends some of her spare time behind the camera. This all made for a great productive session as I was able to quickly and easily communicate and direct her throughout the shoot while she shared her many exploits around the world – some in places I have been myself. It was great to work with you Theresa. I certainly hope we get to collaborate again someday.
For this shoot I kept it fairly simple and spartan as I typically do. I used the the Canon 5D Mark III. I started off with the EF 24-105mm f/4L but quickly switched to the EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II once we got into the rhythm of things. For lighting, I used two Canon 430EX speedlites in manual mode with Photix high speed sync RF triggers. I shot full manual the whole time for precise control of the camera, lighting and desired effect. The location was my private home studio. Key shots will make it into my limited edition collection prints from my Tattoo Series. Few will ever be published, however I felt I should at least share one (above). Below are a few behind the scenes shots. For BTS coverage I used the Canon 7D Mark II and EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS USM on a tripod. I used the built-in intervalometer to trigger the camera periodically throughout most of the shoot.
Damian reaching out
The beautiful Leah
Almost a year ago I started planning and underwater fashion shoot. I wanted to gain experience with this medium and apply my experience with other genres of photography to it. From day 1 it has proved to be perhaps one of the most challenging forms of photography I have tried yet. Aside from the fact that I had to put this shoot on hold through the winter due to the weather, I have continuously run into one major roadblock after another.
It started with water proofing my camera. After careful evaluation I settled on the DicaPac WP-S10 as there was no need for a full blown scuba setup in a pool. It is a relatively very affordable solution and enabled me to mount a pocket wizard RF flash transmitter. Two triggers were mounted to two high power strobes on the edge of the pool, directed downward to the surface at a roughly 45 degree angle to each other. In my initial tests, the RF triggers worked in the water but on the day of the shoot I quickly learned that my tests were conducted in a very controlled fashion and RF signals simply will not penetrate water enough to reach the triggers.
This threatened to deal a major blow and setback as the sun was setting and sky very overcast. However I modified my shooting technique to keep just the very top of the DicaPac housing above the surface of the water, just enough for the RF triggers to sync. I shot as wide as possible to incorporate as much of the surface without having to drop below it. This obviously allowed only one vantage point, where I was going for more dramatic angles. I have some ideas on how to address this issue and will be testing them in the coming weeks. I used the Canon 5D Mark III and Canon EF 17-40mm f/4L lens.
A successful underwater photo shoot requires a team or creative, like-minded, passionate people. From the models to the makeup artists to the folks hosting and supporting the shoot. It requires a fair amount of planning and forethought. I would like to give special thanks to my good friend at Steve Phang Photography for all the support, creative and technical inspiration he has given me all these years. It was definitely a fun, very productive learning experience for all involved.
Charis on the tracks – 5D Mark III + Canon EF 300mm f/2.8L IS II USM
A few weeks ago I was wrapping up my evaluation of the Canon EF 300mm f/2.8L IS II USM super telephoto lens. Just like the Canon EF 400mm f/2.8L IS II USM I had evaluated a few weeks earlier (see my post Fashion: Winnie Stackz Collection), the folks at Canon USA were kind enough to send me a copy for review. This is the second in a series of posts in which I will be discussing my observations and results of my evaluation. I had one last item to cross off my evaluation list and that was to run it through at least one photo shoot with a human subject aka model.
This lens is nothing short of spectacular. The EF 300mm f/2.8L IS II USM and the EF 400mm f/2.8L IS II USM are in a league of their own. They both represent the pinnacle of lens technology and the very best of the best money can buy. They are both uncompromising pieces of precision gear. The EF 300mm f/2.8L IS II USM was perfect for, if not more at home with the task of fashion/model/portrait photography. The resulting images required no editing whatsoever. The clarity, sharpness and contrast were on point. Perhaps this lens’ strong suit is how well it performs wide open at f/2.8, affording shutter speeds that will stop any kind of shake. The amazing IS was almost unnecessary in daylight. The depth of field is very well defined, none too shallow (perfect), but what sets both lenses apart was how graceful the fall-off is and sublime transition to creamy bokeh. I will be writing more on this soon and which lens won my shoot-out.
Canon 5D Mark III + EF 300mm f/2.8L IS II USM
Charis was gracious enough to volunteer. I have photographed Charis before and posted about it in 2015 Sacramento Fashion Week and in Retrospect Vintage Fashion exhibit at Demin Spot. She has a look I always found intriguing, is an all around great person to collaborate with. Beautiful inside and out. New for this shoot was our hair and makeup artist Nicole Matta. This was a last minute shoot and she was a breeze to work with given my time and scheduling constraints. What I like most about her work is her execution – clean, seamless, and picture ready – which means much less work in post processing. My good friend and fellow photographer Steve Phang also partnered with me for this shoot to assist me in making the most of this opportunity. I have often drawn creative inspiration from him over the years, over numerous photo excursions and assignments.
Below are some behind the scenes shots to give you some insight into what it entailed. In all it was a very productive afternoon. I hope you enjoy and please feel free to share any thoughts, questions or ideas you may have.
Jacqueline in motion
I recently covered one of the shows organized by Sacramento Fashion Week. The show featured Emerging Fashion Designers and stylists in the area. I was very impressed with the caliber of the work exhibited. One of the designers/stylist that stood out was Winnie Stackz. There were a few of his looks that I wanted to explore a little more off the catwalk/runway. I was also evaluating some gear from Canon USA and thought this would be the perfect opportunity to put it through it’s paces.
A lot of Stackz’ looks have a very urban feel so I wanted to capture them with some of the amazing graffiti hidden around downtown Sacramento as a backdrop. I also wanted to incorporate the ‘in motion’ aspect of an urban setting into some of my shots. I thought this would take the looks from static and lifeless to more fluid and alive. The Models Jacqueline, Kevin and Anthony were perhaps the best part of this photo shoot. They were all as good-to-go as I have ever seen any model be. My best experience so far. Here are some highlights from our shoot.
Canon 5D Mark III + EF 400mm f/2.8L IS II USM
For this shoot I used mostly the Canon 5D Mark III with the Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8 IS II USM lens.For the wider shots I used the 7D Mark II with the Canon EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS USM. I also used the Canon EF 400mm f/2.8 IS II. The later is an an amazing piece of gear which I’ve had the pleasure of evaluating over the past few weeks courtesy of Canon USA. I will be posting my thoughts on that later. Here are some behind the scenes shots from our session in the alley way at sunset.
I definitely have a lot of catching up to do. More than half of my final cut choice images shot last year have yet to be posted or printed. While taking stock this evening I stumbled across this image from a test shoot I did with Hannah over a year ago. This shot however was one of my personal favorites and remained all but finished until this evening. I just love the way her understated beauty comes through here. The complementary styles also give it a uniqueness. Those Red Boots! When she pulled them out I thought to myself “Oh my gosh! What am I going to do with those?”.
I have learned to just go with the flow. I shot the Red Boots only after we had exhausted all her other looks. As it turned out, they were my favorite. I must credit Hannah for her sense of style. She is also an amazing hair and makeup artist. She did it all herself.
This 330 Megapixel composite image was taken in my private studio with the Canon 5D Mark III and the Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM lens at 150mm, 1/125 second shutter and ISO-640. For lighting I used two Canon 430EX speedlights. One with barn doors on left and one with soft box diffuser on the right. The speedlights were set to manual at 1/32 and 1/64 respectively. I used a slightly higher ISO than usual to pick up a bit of the warmth from the halogen track lighting above. I love it when test shoots yield unexpected gems.
I definitely look forward to many more creative photo shoots with Hannah.
Nicole at Magos – Canon 5D Mark III + EF 50mm f/1.2L
I was recently out with Pete from Denim Spot after one of our creative collaborations. We settled over a glass of wine at Mango’s Antro and as always, began going over the days creative endeavors, what we would have changed, what we liked and what we would like to try on our next project. Before long we happened upon a young, lady called Nicole. We both thought she had great energy, personality and attitude. It was also pretty obvious she maintained an active lifestyle and great shape. All of a sudden we were talking about trying some of the looks we did not get to shoot that day because we just did not have any models that matched the looks.
Nicole was gracious enough to be our model. Even though she did not have very much modeling experience, her personality and attitude definitely made up for it. Ironically I have found this is often more important than looks and can make or break a photo shoot/project. We shot just two looks. I definitely look forward to more photo shoots with Nicole and working with her on more creative projects as she gets more time in front of the camera.
For this shoot I used the Canon 5D Mark III. For lenses I used the Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM and the EF 50mm f/1.2L. For fill lighting I used two Canon 430EX Speedlites with Photix E-TTL RF triggers. For behind the scenes shots we used the Canon 7D + EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS USM.
Retrospect Vintage Fashion exhibit at Demin Spot
Several Friday evenings ago I had some free time so I decided to get out a little. My plan was to visit my good friend Pete at Denim Spot downtown. He’s very much involved in the local fashion scene and is always exploring creative ideas and projects. On this evening he was collaborating with Hanna Be of Retrospect Vintage Fashion a local fashion designer with a very interesting take on retro fashions and style. They setup a live shop window mannequin set. It’s just one of many cool ideas I’ve seen them come up with.
I planned on stopping by and getting a few shots of the action before moving on to a Friday night photo outing all over downtown. I never made it passed Denim Spot. I ended up shooting various looks and indulging in creative and fashionable atmosphere. It was tons of fun and a very rewarding way to kill an otherwise lazy Friday night.
I really wasn’t ideally equipped for a fashion shoot. I packed just my Canon 5D Mark III and the Tokina 16-28mm f/2.8 lens. I expected to take mostly casual night action shots both in tight bar/restaurant settings as well street corners. What made this fashion shoot particularly interesting was that I had to make do with what I had – an ultra wide lens.
The Tokina was surprisingly good. Since I had no flash, I shot wide open at f/2.8 to capture as much ambient light as possible. The 5D3 also permitted a much higher ISO so I could shoot handheld as I did not pack a tripod. I was even able to shoot HDR bracket shots hand held under very challenging lighting conditions. If you take a closer look at the photo to the left, you will notice this lens still has an impressively shallow depth of field for an ultra wide angle. A great benefit of having the ultra wide angle lens was that I was able to work in the small set spaces at the boutique and still capture full body shots showcasing the styles and looks. The Tokina 16-28mm is rectilinear, much like it’s more popular APS-C sibling the 11-16mm f/2.8 and manages to render surprisingly straight perspectives even at it’s widest.
Below are some shots from the evening of fashion photography and fun.