I'm an advertising photographer/videographer based in Los Angeles, California. My mission is to create striking advertising photography, corporate photography and editorial photography of people for major advertising agencies, fortune 500 corporations and major magazines. I shoot photography and video assignments throughout California including Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego as well as the rest of the world. As a photo educator I am happy to share my unique vision and methods. I'm currently teaching classes at College of the Canyons in video production for professional photographers and photography students. I give workshops, seminars and lectures on short form video production at colleges, organizations and conferences around the world.

Color Balance Important in Video

Posted: April 15th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Lighting, Manfrotto, video | Tags: , , , , , | No Comments »

As an advertising and editorial photographer in Los Angeles, I usually shoot in RAW so while I always do a white balance before I start shooting.  It is basic best practices even if it is not really baked into the image file.  It is even more important when one shoots video which has a baked in color balance.  Unless you are shooting one of the 4:4:4 video cameras which records all of the color information in the image file you are interpolating down much of the color information to a small percentage of the original.  You cannot be far off in your exposure or color balance without downgrading your image in post corrections.

Yet, so often I have to remind photographers who are starting to shoot video that right after getting the exposure setting to white balance the camera.  I would say this is important all the time rather than relying on the presets even if you are shooting daylight or professional lights.  Very seldom do you really shoot in direct sunlight so there can be a bias in the diffusion material or fill reflectors.  Lights get old and change color plus any diffusion can again cause a color shift.

I always carry a 12 inch Lastolite  EzyBlance Calibration Card with me.  It folds down into a 7inch carry bag and flexes out to 12 inch with a neutral median grey side and neutral white reverse side.  The median grey side allows for both setting exposure and white balance.  This can be especially helpful to wedding shooters that have to contend with white gowns and black tuxedos under mixed light sources.

Lastolite EzBalance Calibration Card

Lastolite EzBalance Calibration Card

Go to http://www.lastolite.com/ezybalance.php for more inforamtion.

Another handy device is the SyderCube.  For RAW shooters you can use it alone to find your color balance.  For video you can use it in tandem with the Lastolite  EzyBlance Calibration Card to further refine your color balance.  It has four areas for adjusting your color and exposure – white, median grey, black and black trap.  Again, small enough to easy carry with you. Simple shoot the SyderCube and use the white and median grey sides with the eyedroppers and the black slider in Final Cut Pro to show a slight difference in the black and black trap.  I’ll post a video using the SyderCube for corrections soon.

Datacolor SpyderCube

Datacolor SpyderCube

Go to http://spyder.datacolor.com/portfolio-view/spyder-cube/ for more information.

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Sachtler ACEm fluid Head with 2 Stage Aluminum Tripod

Posted: April 5th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , | No Comments »

I’ve been working with the Sachtler Ace M Fluid Head with 2-Stage Aluminum Tripod over the last few months and want to share some observations about it.  So, let’s start at the top ad work our way down.  The Ace M is made of a lightweight carbon fiber composite material. The camera plate is nice and long so as to accommodate just about any camera you might want to use. There is an optional camera plate for DLSRs.  The head has a payload of up to 8.8 lbs.  Both the plate and the top of the head have scale marks so you can find the balance you like and by noting the position on the scales you are able to quickly reposition the camera to the same balance point. The plate is held in place by a tightening knob on the side of the head just ahead of the safety release for the plate.

As we move down the head, in the back, under the balance plate is a place to store 1/4” and 3/8” camera screws which is handy.  Along the left side is the tilt lock and in the center is a large tilt dial making it easy to set the tension dial with three settings of drag and 0 for no drag. Next to the tilt tension dial is a smaller counter balance dial that has 0 to 5 steps of counterbalance for just about any camera system you would put on the head. It seems like I have to tilt the camera forward or back a bit after adjusting the setting to activate the tilt drag and counterbalance to the new setting. Below the tilt tension dial is the spirit level which is clear but is not illuminated which can make it hard to use in low light situations.

Moving on to the front of the head there is a locking knob for the pan and just below that is the large pan tension adjust dial with three settings plus 0.  This is nice because no matter how you position the system you are able to quickly ajust the pan drag setting.  I like the that the large dials for both the tilt and pan tension settings makes setting them easy.  Quick mention about the Pan Bar which is only on the right side but is adjustable for angle and tilt.

The head is supported on a 75mm ball allowing for a tilt range of +90 degrees to -75 degrees.  The ball fits into the 75mm bowl in the two 2-stage aluminum tripod with a mid-level spreader and with a foot spreader version available.  I find the mid-level spreader easier to deal with and still gives me the rigidity I want.  The legs are the split uppers with single sticks for the bottom two sections.   The system tops out at 66.5” and folders down to 33.5”.  The feet are a adjustable from soft rubber to spikes depending on the terrain.

Sachtler Ace M Fluid Head with 2-Stage Aluminum Tripod

Lee White working with Sachtler Ace M Fluid Head with 2-Stage Aluminum Tripod

Shooting with the Ace is a pleasure; the tension adjustment range is suitable for a variety of subjects.  I found the pan and tilt to be smooth from beginning to end without the jump that sometimes happens at the beginning with some heads.  Equally important there is no spring back when I stop the move.  The head is solid so I did not have to worry about holding it in place for the couple of beats I usually like at the end of my moves.  Check out the surfing shot I just did as an example.  I used the Panasonic HMC 40 recording onto a Hoodman Raw STEEL SDHC card to capture the shot.

For more information on the SachtlerACE go to http://www.sachtler.com/?id=1109/product_fluid-heads-75-mm_ace-m__description.html

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