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.
As an advertising and editorial photographer and videographer, much of my work consist of assignments where the subject is defined for me. I have the challenge of discovering the best way of illustrating the purpose of the photograph depending on the requirements of the client. It can be rewarding when that moment happens and you know you are on the right track.
It is totally different when there is no assignment or even a specific purpose for my photography. Each day I get up looking forward to the chance make an image. Note, I said “make an image” not just take a photograph. Anyone with a camera can take a photograph by just pushing the shutter, to me that is not making an image but just recording a scene.
I was recently listening to how Sam Abell talked about making his layered images and the discovery process he went through. It reminded me that it sometimes takes trial and error before setting on an image that you like. I think most photographers go through a similar process of sorting out how and what to use in making images.
This evening, just after sunset, as I strolled among a nearby beach, I found the tide was unusually low. I noticed it exposed the ocean floor that normally would be under several feet of water. There as a different texture to the sand and some interesting patterns. But, in the quickly fading light there was not quite enough drawing of the contours. Then, I saw the piece of seaweed in the first image which looked promising but again the light had faded a little to much. There was still enough side light to create interest but the values were now too close to really make a statement.
As I walked along, I noted shore birds wading near the shore with beautiful golden light reflecting off their white chest feathers. But, I was not prepared with a long enough lens to make anything worth while.
As I walked past the birds, I started to notice some chest feathers had come loose from those birds and were now sitting on some of those ocean bottom contours. I selected the ones I felt would make the most interesting images and quickly composed them in the fading light. See my final picks below.
Feather Sand #1
Feather on Sand #2
Feather on Sand #3
Feather on Sand #4
Feather on Sand #5
As you can see by the time I found the last feather, the light had almost faded to nothing.
Getting away from my duties as advertising and editorial photographer in Los Angeles, I spend a long weekend in Death Valley on a Photo Camping trip for Santa Monica College with 80 plus students. I spent the first day scouting locations as it has been awhile since I was last there shooting a series on skeleton images for my stock files.
Skeleton Death Valley by Lee White
This time I shot video as well as still images as I now do for most of my assignments. I had the chanced to fire up the Ki Pro Mini and Panasonic camera powered by the Anton Bauer Dionic 90 battery. I could have also powered an on-broad monitor like the Manhattan HD5 LCD monitor by splitting the feeds from the Anton Bauer. The nice thing about powering everything with the Anton Bauer Dionic 90 is I only have to keep track of one battery and it tells me the amount of power I have left on an easy to read scale on the side of the battery. It’s a real bummer to be dealing with three different sets of batteries.
Anton Bauer Dionic 90, Ki Pro Mini, Panasonic HMC40 supported by Redrock Micro and Manfrotto Photo/video head and MPRO 536 tripod in Death Valley
The Ki Pro Mini allowed me to record into PRORES right from the camera so no transcoding was needed to start editing. I could unmount the CF card from the KI Pro Mini and bring the files right into any NLE for editing.
To hold everything I used Redrock Micro gear including their matte box with their 4.5 X6 Circular Pola filter to bring out the colors in the sky and ground. I lucked out by getting to the outlook to the valley just a day after a good rain so the colors were still brilliant. The problem with Death Valley is how dry the conditions are which often hide the mineral rich landscape under a layer of dust. There were also some clouds left over from the recent storm that cleared completely out by the early afternoon. The skies are also often clear of clouds and somewhat filled with dust from wind and the many visitors. I suggest waiting until a spring or fall storm if you can when visiting the valley.
I did get to use my favorite fluid head from Manfrotto their new photo/video head. It is the smoothest lightweight head I have used and it has the added bonus of multiple vertical positions as well as horizontal. You can get more information on all the equipment at www.antonbauer.com, www.aja.com, www.redrockmicro.com and www.manfrotto.com. Music from Smartsound a www.smartsound.com.
As an advertising and editorial photographer and videographer in Los Angeles that often shoots on location I’m always on the look out for equipment that both adds production value and is lightweight. Very few pieces of equipment add the production value that Dollies do. Moving the camera smoothly even a short distance will enhance your shots tremendously.
For years I asked around at different conventions and expos if anyone had a rail system two to three feet long that I could make into a short dolly especially that I could mount on a tripod. Everyone thought it was an interesting idea but no one that anything useable then all of a sudden, they were everywhere. There some made of skateboard,wheels while other run on rails or rods.
I particularly like the ones from Indisystems. Tim Ovel of Indisystems first developed the IndiSLIDERmini and IndiSLIDERpro rail system. The mini is a small and inexpensive slider that you could fit into stand bag and set up quickly. It takes some practice but you can get decent results with lightweight cameras especially at the amazing price of only $99. The Pro is a heavier weight rail that easily mounts a fluid head with heavier cameras. Both can be mounted on tripods or optional legs. I like mounting either on a sticks like the Manfrotto MPRO 536 with a bowl and half ball for leveling.
Now to the sneak peak. I recently got a new lighter weight full size IndiSLIDERpro. Rather than a solid metal base the rails are held in place with crossbars and reinforced with a center strip. This makes the system very light weight but rigid while still having widely spaced rails for stability. The short video move below was shot recently in Death Valley at Bad Water with IndiSLIDERpro lightweight and a 7D with Zeiss 28mm Distagon ZE lens. Bad Water is the lowest, driest, and hottest locations in North America.
See the views below with the slider with a Manfrotto 503HDV fluid head on the head plate. For more information on the full line of IndiSLIDERs go to http://www.indisystem.com.
SmartSound the company that brought us the amazing Sonicfire Pro music software and a large customizable music library is adding new music all the time. The newest additions are Coffee House Rules, Quiet Moments and Eclectric Beats albums. The best thing about the library is it is searchable and downloadable anytime day or night. If you are working at two AM on a tight deadline coming up that morning you can find the music you need and in a few moments have it edited into your project. Find out more at www.Smartsound.com
There are times when it is better to double up a Final Cut Pro filter rather than trying to push just one too far. Next time you are faced with a green screen project and are using one of the Final Cut Pro chroma key filters try doubling the filter once you get close to the final result you want.
It is easy to do because you don’t have to start fresh with the filter rather duplicate the original filter setting to refine the effect even more. In Final Cut Pro it is easy do duplicate a filter by simply dragging and dropping the adjusted filter onto the same clip in the timeline.
Since I put up an post (see Sept. 9) on taping a lavalier mic in place I have received a number of emails asking about the loop under the tape.
Sennheiser lavalier taped in place
The answer is that whether you are taping the microphone to a subject or using one of the clipping methods always remember to include a loop at the microphone to act as a strain relief. This prevents noise created by the microphone being pulled against the body or clothing. The loop also helps prevents the microphone being pulled out of position the first time a little strain is placed on the lavalier cable.
A big hit at Photocine Expo causing crowds around the Marshall booth was their new V-LCD50-HDMI Monitor. This monitor includes the great features I love about the V-LCD70P-HDMI but in a small package. Coming in at only 7.85Wx4.39Hx1.5D it gives you a low profile with a big picture. Those who want to shoot with the monitor camera mounted will be happy that it comes with a hot shoe adapter included along with a 1/4-20 bottom mount for support systems, cranes and jibs.
It keeps the False Color Filter for judging exposure that I talked about in my July 8 entry and peaking Filter for focus in my July 10 entry. Both False Color and Peaking make shooting with any video camera easier but especially HDSLR. The V-LCD50-HDMI offers standard features including a wide variety of formats and markers, 4 user-configurable front panel function buttons, RGB Check Field / Field Detect, RGB gain and bias control. More features included are Image Flip, Freeze Frame, and HDMI Auto Color Space and Ratio detect.
V-LCD50-HDMI Front Panel
The V-LCD50-HDMI also has the new feature of running off four AA batteries instead of the video batteries the 70P uses, both monitors accept AC power with the correct adapter. With a MRSP of $599.00 it puts a high quality american made monitor in the reach of everyone.
Brian Valente from Redrock Micro gave me a sneak peak this morning of their newest product an EVF (Electric Viewfinder). We had to be very secretive as we were at the Photocine Expom so I could take a quick shot and audio clip under less than ideal. Brian did a great job of describing the functions of their new EVF so click on the picture below to hear what it is all about.
Brian Valente with Redrock Micro's EVF
Admittedly, this product is not for every photographer just getting into video but it is good to be aware of what is out there so when the time comes you know what is available. Once I get my hands on one I’ll be able to give you my impressions. I’m excited about the idea of having an active viewfinder with the chance to also have a feed to a secondary monitor.
Just back from the Photocine Expo in Hollywood after a great day of seminars and a tantalizing news that Redrock Micro has a new product announcement coming Sunday September 26.
But we don’t have to wait for the latest from Zeiss. Zeiss has just announced a new distagon T* 1.4 35 mm with the bokeh in the out-of-focus areas that the Zeiss HDSLR lens are famous for. As with all the Zeiss HDSLR lenses, the distagon 35mm is color matched to the other lenses in the line and silky smooth right out of the box. On the 7d, the magnification makes it a very fast normal.
Zeiss Distagon 1.4/35mm
Richard Schleuning of Zeiss was a key member of the Photocine expo panel on cine lenses. Brian Valente of Redrock Micro moderated the panel, asking probing questions while Richard gave the attendees in-depth but understandable answers. Among other advice, Richard explained how cine lenses differed from traditional still lenses with longer focus pulls and padded focusing mechanisms adding to smooth accurate follow focusing.
Brian Valente far left, Richard Schluening left center
I can hardly wait for tomorrow’s announcement by Brian from Redrock Micro about their new product. Redrock Micro and Zeiss have long been at the forefront of the HDSLR revolution.
Nikon announces a 1080p Full HD D7000. Finally, after several years of devoted Nikon users telling me that they want to get into video but were waiting for a Nikon HDSLR with decent video capabilities. And I understand the desire not to switch makers when you have an investment in lenses and dedicated accessories. Well, the wait is possibly over.
The Nikon D7000 is said to start shipping in October and has some very attractive features. First off, is the Full HD 1080p at 24fps which is a step up from the 720p @ 24 fps of past Nikon models. Nikon also expanded the 720p modes to include 30fps and 25fps as well as the 24fps of previous models. An important note here is that the 24 fps is really 23.98fps and 30fps is really 29.97, which is more compatible with NTSC standards as is the 25fps with the PAL standards. I am disappointed that Nikon did not include 720p at 60fps. I love the way 60fps can capture action and I often do a speed change with 60fps to create a smooth semi-slow motion look.
Something that could be more exciting than the 1080p to a number of HDSLR video users and might be a partial Canon killer is the continuous auto focus in video mode. I hear photographers continually complain that they are having problems keeping moving subjects in focus. The wonderful cinematic shallow depth of field that the HDLSRs are famed for is also the bane of many photographers. It takes an experienced focus puller to handle a moving subject especially when the moves are not choreographed in advance. Most photographers are not doing projects that allow for extensive shot blocking and rehearsals plus few have a practiced crewmember that can be dedicated to just pulling focus.
I have not had the chance to see how well the auto focus works or how controllable it is. But, if it works decently at all, I can see several categories of video content creators switching to the D7000 just for the auto focus.
If you’re a Nikon user and have been waiting to jump into video, now might be the time. For more on the D7000 click the image.
☞☛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.