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 also teaching classes at Santa Monica College in video production for professional photographers and photography students.
Manfrotto 536 MPRO sticks and the new 504HD fluid head saved the day in strong wind gusts. Just after being on an advisory panel at Brooks, Institute of Photography presenting my vision of the future of photography, I headed up to Carmel for a meeting with the Weston Family. Carmel is also the home of the famous Point Lobos State Natural Reserve and some of the most beautiful scenery along the Pacific Coast.
As soon as I got out of the car at Point Lobos, I knew something was up. The wind was coming in strong gusts, buffeting me. I planned to shoot with the lightweight compact Panasonic HMC 40 using the advanced AVCHD codec to capture the fine detail in the sculpted rock and twisted Monterey pines. As I looked up the first of many flights of stairs that would take me over the hills through the woods, I knew I wanted rock solid shots and silky smooth pans and tilts. The upside of a camcorder like the Panasonic HMC 40 is it is small, lightweight and easy to carry yet carries a big punch in image quality. But, its light weight can make it difficult to hold it steady in strong winds. My solution was choosing the Manfrotto 536 MPRO tripod and 504HD fluid head.
Manfrotto 536 MPRO Tripod and 504HD Head
The Manfrotto 536 MPRO sticks might seem like overkill for such a lightweight camera, but in fact, it was just what was needed to add stability. I was not going to spend my day climbing the hundreds of stairs of Point Lobos and end up with shaky shots. Lightweight camera plus substantial sticks equals steady shots. If I had been using a heavy shoulder mount camera that placed a lot of weight on the tripod, forcing it down, I might have been able to use a lighter weight set of sticks. However, with only the sticks to ground the camera, I was happy to have the sturdy carbon composite legs. The MPRO 536 held the HMC 40 in place even in the heaviest gusts of wind. Another nice attribute of the MPRO 536 is that I could extend the legs making it easy to get higher than eye level shots and, of course, it can flatten out to almost ground level.
As for the 504HD fluid head, again, one might start out thinking why such a strong head for a handheld camera? Same as with the sturdier 536 legs, the ball bearings and wide range of adjustments for tension in panning and tilting added to silky smooth moves with the 504HD. It reminded me of thick creamy chocolate milk as I made my pan / tilts. I was able to follow the waves working their way up the mini fiords of Point Lobos while splashing against the rock walls. My pans were kept smooth even when I was hit by an unexpected wind gust as I stood exposed on the rocky shoreline.
Lee White Shooting Monterey Coast
Lee White Shooting Along Monterey Coast
The samples of the video from my shoot will be posted soon.
Where do I think photography is going in the next five years? I just got back from being on an advisory panel at Brooks, Institute of Photography that addressed just this issue. I was asked to prepare a 5 minute presentation about my current role in the industry and where I think the industry is moving. Below is pretty much the text from my presentation.
Before I forget, I want to say what a pleasure it was to be on a panel with so many thoughtful and articulate professionals that were so willing to give their considered opinions. A special shout out to Jeff Sedlik of the Plus Coalition, who’s incredible efforts are going to protect our rights as creators. You should all go to the plus site, http://www.useplus.com, to see find out how best to deal with the coming copyright reform.
Now to my presentation:
I am a professional photographer and I create advertising and editorial content in the form of still images and video. I have also been giving a series of seminars and workshops around the country called “The Secrets of Video Production for Photographers.” Plus, I instruct six and sixteen-week college classes in video production for photographers.
And now for my vision of photography in the future. I think that photography is going to thrive and become a hybrid. It is going to thrive because we have become an image thirsty world. We take large gulps of visual content and have an appetite for an ever-increasing amount of new material. Photography, or I should say photographers, will become more of a hybrid than we already are. We already digitally process, manipulate and output our own content to a greater degree than ever before and we are now starting to include motion and sound.
If you notice, both articles and printed ads, not only use photography, but now often have a “go to the web for more information” component. Here are just a few examples I was able to quickly find after being asked to be on the panel.
Point of Purchase Business Size Card Found Next to Product in Store
Article in Videography Magazine
(Note: each uses a photograph to draw the reader in and then suggests the web for more information)
Since bandwidth is now fast and cheap, it is almost as easy to provide video on the web as still images.
Personal electronic devices such as the personal computers, smart phones and smart pads are the entertainment norm for Generation Y. And along with that, comes a thirst for ways of communicating that grabs the attention of eyes that are now bombarded by content. Just think about the office worker of the past who besides a visit to the water cooler or occasionally flipping through a magazine, had no access to outside influences while working. Now it is the norm for that same worker to spend some part of his day surfing the web. TV commercials have gone from 60 seconds to fifteen seconds partly due to cost and partly from the short attention span of viewers. Content users realize this and are looking for the best ways of grabbing that viewer’s attention and what better way than movement and sound?
While traveling the country speaking to photographers, in every city I experienced photographers telling me that clients are asking for video along with still images. Whether or not clients have a use for it right now, they feel the need to get it. I attribute this to things like the easy access to moving entertainment via the web and camera advertisements that show “professional like video” can easily be shot with just about any digital camera. The result of this thirst for video content in tandem with stills is lost jobs for photographers who cannot provide video or worse yet, lost clients, when skilled photographers who are not trained in video production make bad videos. That quick video favor can turn into a quick disaster.
The video component to still photography assignments has happened much quicker than what we experienced with the conversion from analog to digital. As a photographer, if you are not prepared to do video, be prepared to lose more and more jobs to photographers who are prepared.
The good news is everyone is right. It is easier now than ever before to create good video, technically. The bad news is it takes some new skills and changing how photographers tell the story from stills to video. Remember, video is a bunch of still images strung together, so photographers already have many of the skills needed for the basic visuals. How to manage that bunch of stills so they tell an interesting story is new to photographers.
Photographers also face the issue of sound which they have not had to deal with in the past. The videos they are faced with are usually short form advertising or editorial videos which have different requirements than feature film production or news reporting taught in cinema classes. The crew make up is different and the focus on still and video creation together add certain unique challenges. But with the right training, all of these challenges can be met and can enhance the abilities and profits of the new hybrid photographer.
Photography is going to evolve. Just as it added color to B&W, then digital to analog, it is adding motion and sound to still photography assignments.
As a busy advertising photographer that also shoots video, I am always looking for tools that make my job easier. The right tool can make for a faster and more professional outcome. One function that video cameras like the Panasonic HMC 40 have that is still lacking in the HDSLRs is the waveform. Photographers might think of the video waveform as the histogram turned on it’s side. The bottom of the waveform (0) is like the left side of the histogram as it shows the shadow / dark values. The top of the waveform (100) is like the right side of the histogram showing the highlights / bright values. And just like the histogram, if the waveform bottoms out at or below 0 there will be no information in the shadow /darkest values. The same holds true with the highlights / bright values, if the waveform peaks at or above 100, there will be no information in the highlights / brightest values.
In the picture below you can see the waveform in the LCD screen of the Panasonic HMC 40 where I have put a red box around it. You can also see that the waveform does not touch either the top or bottom of the scale so there are no burned out highlights or dropped out shadow areas. The waveform can help with both exposure and contrast ratio information as you shoot video.
Waveform in LCD of Panasonic HMC-40
The biggest difference is that you can see the video waveform as you view and shoot with the video camera rather than needing to shoot a still with the HDSLR and pull up the image file to view the histogram. This makes adjusting exposure and judging contrast a realtime event, not an after the fact method. Realtime saves time and I need all the time I can get while shooting.
I have mentioned how handy the Chimera Window Patterns kit was after using it during my Secrets of Video Production for Photographers in Charlotte N.C., New Jersey and again at my Brooks Institute of Photography presentation.
Chimera Window Pattern projected on wall
In Charlotte N.C.
In talking with Terry Monahan of Chimera, he was kind enough to share a system he has developed to make the Window Pattern kit even easier to use. This system holds everything, light source and window pattern, on one stand to make it easy to move as a single unit. The Chimera softbox also controls the light spill.
As you might remember, one of the great things about the Window Patterns is that changing the pattern is a snap, as each of the many different patterns is attached by Velcro to the matte. Since there is Velcro on both sides of the matte, you can also combine two patterns to make a third.
To see Terry’s system visit http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=200389&id=110580113666
At my recent Secrets of Video Production for Photographers, which I gave at Unique Photo in New Jersey at the end of October, a participant asked me about finding an after market viewfinder screen for his Canon 7d.
At the time I had no information but that didn’t last long. While talking with Richard Schleuning of Zeiss lenses, the company that brought us the incredible HDSLR and Compact Prime CP.2 lenses with more info at http://www.zeiss.com/photo, I found he had the answer. Now this is not uncommon for Richard as he is a wealth of information not only about Zeiss, but about lenses in general and is always willing to help you find the best solution. Richard told me that Brightscreen at http://www.brightscreen.com/styles.html has several screens that are brighter plus you can choose from matte or split screen for DSLRs as well as a variety of other cameras.
I know that Richard is at the Zeiss booth at Createasphere happening today at the Burbank Marriott – http://createasphere.com/En/. I always check in with him at the Zeiss booth at any show, expo or conference because Zeiss is continually bringing out new lenses. In fact, I’m excited about the idea of matching up Zeiss lenses with the new Panasonic AF-AF100 fourthirds video camera coming out this December.
☞☛Mt. SAC, Walnut, CA Two-day workshop April 19-20, 2013
First day lecture and demo second day shooting and editing
New Jersey, Unique Photo, Video seminar and workshop
Sept 16 and 18 see blog and http://university.uniquephoto.com/e/
Continuing - Photo29 "Video Production for Still Photographers" at Santa Monica College. A class in video production for professional photographers and photography students. http://www.smc.edu/schedules/2011/fall/default.htm
Just past - Atlanta, Showcase Photo & Video, Video seminar and Workshop
August 26 and 27 see blog and
Portland, Pro Photo Supply, Video seminar and workshop
June 10 and 11 see blog and
Just past - Sennheiser sound capture event at Santa Monica College May 3 see blog http://www.leewhitephotography.com/blog/?p=825
Past - Panel discussion for Brooks, Institute of Photography.