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.
As an editorial photographer photographing on location and traveling by air frequently, I need sturdy, compacted and powerful lights. Now that editorial photographers have to create videos along with still photographs the lights should be able to do double duty for still and motion. LEDs are the perfect choice since they are very sturdy so able to withstand the baggage handlers and inspections. The bulbs last a long time, up to 50,000 hours with little change in intensity and color balance. LEDs draw little power so hooking up to outlets that also have computer inline do not have the same hazardous that strobe surges create or the power draw of tungsten. The new Spectra series from Manfrotto fit the bill perfectly.
The Spectra 900F is a daylight only balance powerful on or off camera LED compact light. It has a 50 degree wide beam. As you can see from the picture you get the light, ball head and three large filters in CTO, 1/4 CTO and opal diffusion. The ball head allows you to either mount the Spectra to the hot/cold shoe on your camera or by using the 1/4” threading allows various mounting possibilities. You might like to use the new lightweight Manfrotto NanoPole Stand with the Spectra 900F, I’ll describe it more fully in another blog entry. The Spectra 900F works for about an hour at the highest setting on 6 AA batteries, AC adapter, or D-Tap adapter for various power sources.
I was able to use the 900F by itself and with other Spectras for a variety of photographs and videos. I stretched the Spectras to the limit of their capabilities. In the 50’s glamour shot above, I used direct light for the main light high and to one side creating a small shadow under the nose and gently contouring the face. I used a Spectra as a back rim light to softly fill the shadow on the face, neck and shoulder and help give highlights to the hair. To make the background more interesting and add to the 50’s glamour look I used a third Spectra shining through a Chimera Window Pattern Kit to cast a palm leaf pattern.
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.
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.
Every decade or so, a piece of gear comes along at just the right time. It’s a piece that is innovative and nicely fits a new issue that confronts photographers. I say a decade or so because for over a decade I have been trying to figure out how to easily shoot both video and stills with the same tripod head. The traditional still photography tripod head does not have the smooth movement needed for pans and tilts with video. The traditional fluid head for video is very awkward to use shooting vertical shots because it is really set up only to shoot horizontally. So I ended up either taking two tripods when shooting assignments that included both video and stills or trying to get by by turning the fluid head on it’s side (it wasn’t pretty).
The Manfrotto 055 Magnesium Photo-Movie Head has solved the problem by being a hybrid. The photo-movie head has all the functions of a traditional fluid head and still photo head. In what Manfrotto refers to as the photo mode, part of the head is released so it can move in a 90 degree arch allowing the camera to be locked at any angle from completely horizontal to completely vertical. It is like a ball head but with resistance controls added. Then by simply turning the photo/video selector to video mode, the camera is locked into a horizontal only position with all the functions of a traditional fluid head.
Some of the features that are very helpful are the bubble levels, degree markings and reversible pan bar. There are bubble levels that work both for the vertical and horizontal positions, a must for video but helpful in stills. The reversible pan bar allows you to choose which hand you want to use for panning. I switch back and forth depending on the camera I’m using. The degree marks help when shooting panoramas and matching shots in compositing. It’s the best of both worlds, especially when shooting with the HD DSLRs. It looks cool, too.
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.
Being an advertising and editorial photographer and videographer in Los Angeles I have spent decades going on location. My advertising and editorial photography assignments have taken me around the world but some of the most fun have been local assignments that I can drive to within a day. This is specially true with what has happened with air travel lately. Not only do I get to take extra equipment, but I get to visit additional locations along the route. I get to stretch my shooting eye along with my legs at these photo stops.
Recently, I drove to Tucson Arizona from Los Angeles so had the chance to drive through the sand dunes near Yuma on I-8. I got there around 3:30 in the afternoon when it was a balmy 105 degrees. There were mild gusts of wind that blew the extra fine sand swirling around my feet. If you watch the video the video closely you will see it flowing over the surface in some of the shots.
Amazingly enough even through it was a Sunday afternoon the dunes were mostly undisturbed. One set of footprints went up the top the major dune but other that that the civilians had not trod over everything since the last thunderstorm wiped away their traces. I wish I could say that about the two people that later walked within feet of my tripod and me continuing on directly into where I was filming. Since both had cameras and were taking pictures I wonder were the courtesy of asking if I was done shooting went but…
Can you tell I edited this on Premiere Pro? Of course, not. Unlike cameras with particular compression formats or lenses with certain characteristics that might be visible in the final video, there is nothing to tell the viewer what software was used to edit the video. A long time Final Cut Pro user I am checking out other NLEs. The attached video was done in a few hours on a friend’s Premiere Pro system.
I had the chance to spend a day training on Premiere Pro in a class by Weynand training at DV Expo in Pasadena, now called Rev Up Transmedia. I found Premiere Pro to be very similar to FCP7. There are some useful features like being able to edit many formats without the need to transcode and the speech to text. There are a are some differences in shortcut keys, color correction, rendering and I’m sure more once I have had a chance to work with Premiere Pro in my own editing suite I’ll find more.
Lee White working with Panasonic HMC 40 on Manfrotto tripod and fluid head
Once again, I’m wearing the most comfortable hat I have ever had, the Redrock Micro cap.
Secrets of video for photographers Friday seminar in New Jersey is more timely than ever for you if you want to have the skills most in demand today. Saturday workshop info below.
Learn how to make videos that people want to watch. Whether you’re an amateur or professional, learn the techniques that every photographer shooting video should know even if you never take your camera off automatic. Translate your photographic knowledge in to cinematic genius. What equipment do you need and when do you need it. Come and get inspired as well as educated.
The Friday evening seminar will include:
– Visual storytelling
– Basics of camera, sound and lighting techniques
– The latest in video equipment and software for video suitable for photographers getting into video.
– How photographers can apply their present skills to video
– How professional photographers can create new revenue streams
Secrets of video for photographers workshop in Atlanta on Saturday gives you a quick and thorough education in the tools and techniques every photographer should have when doing video.
Whether you are a beginning, advanced or professional photographer, you can advance your visual storytelling with video in exciting new ways. Don’t miss this opportunity to hit the ground running in your adventure into video.
Come join Lee White, professional photographer/videographer and college instructor as he guides you through the tools and techniques needed to help you make video without pulling your hair out. Avoid the common mistakes that ruin most novice videography. Learn what camera settings on your HDSLR for video mean and how best to set your camera for different situations. Find out how to do good audio recordings. See what video gear can help you make better videos. Find out what is involved with editing your video, adding music and getting it out for others to enjoy.
The Saturday workshop will include:
– Hands-on experience with camera, lighting and sound equipment
– A chance to direct and shoot talent and a table-top situation
– The importance of workflow including recording formats and camera settings
– How to edit video and output
– How photographers can market their new skill-set
As an advertising photographer videographer based in Los Angeles who goes on location, Showcase Photo Video in Atlanta is the kind of store I dream of finding. It is easy to find just off the I-85 in central Atlanta. As soon as you walk it shows they know photography and video. It is a bright and organized store that seemingly has everything right where it should be and I mean everything. The selection of gear is tremendous.
The staff working at Showcase are friendly and knowledgeable. They take the time to talk with you so they can make sure what you get fits your needs. They know about photography and video so can offer a selection of solutions for your needs. While setting up for my Secrets of Video for Photography events they hosted, we had a nice chat about the latest equipment I am showing including the amazing Manfrotto 050 photo/video fluid head that solves many of the problems with shooting photos and video on a tripod. They also were at my events last year at the APA Atlanta chapter on video for photographers to make sure they were up on the latest.
Showcase Photo Video also has the Showcase School which is dedicated to photo and video education. The school has a wide variety of classes from very basic to professional level. www.theshowcaseschool.com
Showcase Photo Video is a great resource for those working anywhere in the south eastern United States. They are at 2323 Cheshire Bridge Road, N.E., Atlanta, Georgia 30324. 800.886.1976 www.showcaseinc.com.
With the Manfrotto 055 Photo-Movie head w/Q5 Quick Release, once again, Manfrotto is in the forefront of supplying innovative products that make working with shooting stills and video with a HDSLR easier.
Manfrotto 055 Photo-Movie head w/Q5 quick release
As a people photographer, I’m often faced with assignments that require both a vertical portrait of a subject for the cover or advertisement and traditional horizontal video clip. Up until the Manfrotto 055, no tripod head has allowed me to do both easily. The Manfrotto 055 quickly goes from vertical to horizontal with the added benefit of being able to shoot smooth vertical video moves for web use in the skyscraper format. In photo mode it acts like a ball head and in video mode like a fluid head. Just like the all in one still/video solution that HDSLRs provide us, the Manfrotto 055 is the all in one tripod head for still and video.
Newspace Center of Photography was the perfect setting for my Friday evening Secrets of Video for Photographers seminar. We set up in the newly constructed main gallery surrounded by photography by local photographers. There were an interesting variety of photographers from advertising, editorial, commercial, corporate, architectural, wedding and portraiture that attended my presentations. Today’s photographers realize the need to get into video from the many requests they get from clients.
Saturday’s workshop was a combination of studio owners and some employees from Pro Photo Supply. The photographers were either getting into shooting video or sharpening their video skills by being introduced to new video techniques/products and their uses. The Pro Photo Supply employees both helped out with support and educated themselves on how to better advise customers on the products available to make shooting video easier.
Sennheiser condenser microphones and Sennheiser wireless systems are my go to microphones. I’m comfort handling just about any situation that comes up with my ME series of condenser microphones capsules with the K6 power module and Evolution wireless 100 G3 wireless ENG kit. I always try and use one of the ME series microphones directly cabled to the camera or a Beachtek DXA-SLR camera adapter with a balanced XLR cable. When that is not practical, my next choice might surprise you!
When I can’t cable the ME microphone directly because the distance is to far to conveniently use a balanced XLR cable, I use a Sennheiser SKP 100 GE wireless plug-on transmitter. This gives me the quality of a full size microphone and the convenience of the wireless. The plug-on goes right into the XLR pins on the K6 power module and locks in place for security. The plug-on transmitter does not supply the phantom power that the ME series needs to operate which is no problem since the K6 module allows for a AA battery to be installed to supply the power for the microphone. The plug-on transmitter sends signals to the evolution wireless 100 G3 on camera receiver, again going directly into the camera or through a Beachtek DXA-SLR camera adapter.
In the picture below you see the Sennheiser plug-on transmitter attached on the end of the Sennheiser K6 power module and ME66 microphone capsule in a K-Tek shock mount at the end of a Manfrotto boom stand. I felt the microphone system, boom and stand fit into the look of the stage and the feeling that Lacey Anzelc was being interviewed on camera that I left it in for the viewer to see during the very wide shot…
Sennheiser SKP 100 plug-on wireless transmitter on K6 and ME66 during interview with Lacey Anzelc
College of the Canyons - Photo 177 Video Capture for Still Photographers. A innovative class where students learn to shoot still images and video to complete projects. This class gives the still photographer the skillset to add narrative motion to projects.
College of the Canyons - Photo 280 Large Format Photography and the Zone System. A unique large format class where students will shoot 4x5 film using view cameras and the zone system. They will then develop and enlarge the film for assigned projects.
Beijing, China One-day still photography and video seminar June
Mt. SAC, Walnut, CA Two-day workshop
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
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
Sennheiser sound capture event at Santa Monica College May 3 see blog http://www.leewhitephotography.com/blog/?p=825
Panel discussion for Brooks, Institute of Photography.