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.
The quality of light is something photographers obsess over whether they work in still or motion. This is especially true when discussing lightbanks. The last thing that kisses the light before it reaches the subject is the front diffuser of the bank and this is why I have always appreciate the quality of light created with the Chimera lightbanks. Yes, the Chimera material is durable and fade resistant, at least in my experience. But it’s the quality of the light that keep me coming back to Chimera when my choice is a lightbank.
Chimera has two types of lightbanks, one for strobes and another for film & video. It’s important that you use the correct bank for the continuous hot lights because of the higher temperatures. Coming from strobes I had to introduce myself to Chimera’s Video Pro line when I started shooting motion with hot lights. The OctaPlus has become my go to light when I need the wrap around of a 7 foot light and that special light quality. When doing many of many portraits the Chimera medium bank is perfect.
Portrait by Lee White, Los Angeles photographer using Chimera medium lightbank
For more information on the various types and sizes of lightbanks go to http://chimeralighting.com/
As a location photographer in 2001 I visted China, I finally I got a chance to return only to find many changes. The people are still friendly but the pace at least in the cities has sped up. Instead of bikes filling the streets, it is motorbikes filling the streets and sidewalks. In China the electric bikes are cheap and you do not need a license. Motorcycles that use gas and cars do require a driver’s licnese. You can imagine the amazing traffic this creates. Everyone just goes – pedestrians, bikes (yes, there still are a few), electric bikes, motorcycle, cars, bus and trucks weave about in a dance of bear misses with car horns setting the beat.
The prize for the “Best Dramatic Short” sponsored by indiSystem is the Vortex DSLR Dolly.
indiSYSTEM Vortex dolly
Their slogan isn’t a fancy one made by a focus group, or a bunch of ad men, it is the philosphy behind indiSYSTEM.
indiSYSTEM is capable of being your number one source for follow focus, matte box, DSLR rigs, camera slider, and other custom camera accessories meant to make your photography life easier and more efficient.
The Vortex dolly is a completely new way of moving the camera for spectacular new shots. Its’ two arms allow movements that up until now have not been possible with any other dolly. You can move in/out, around corners, in circles just about anyway you can imagine. Think combination steadicam, slider, and skater dolly, all quickly set up on a set of tripod legs or the available indiBASE! It’s hard to describe but a dream to use.
Valued at over $1400/year, the power user account gives you full access to First Cut’s professional video collaboration tool that saves you time and money during post-production and editing. You’ll have nearly unlimited resources to share, collaborate and organize your post-production efforts with over 56 video viewing rooms, 7 concurrent projects, and up to 20 collaborators on each viewing room per month. In addition, you will have full access to our excellent service/support and continual product updates.
First Cut Pro is a professional video collaboration software built to streamline the video post-production and editing process. This software focuses on three vital aspects of the feedback and approval process: collection of feedback, organization of video notes and integration into the current post-production environment.
They have integrated feature-set is host agnostic which utilizes the security and availability of major video hosting services. Leveraging that technology, they deliver content to video stakeholders in a web-based viewing environment enriched with tools to provide frame-specific feedback on the various cuts made during post-production.
Supporting a streamlined feedback collection, they have built and continue to improve upon, a project management interface. The interface is intended to clearly deliver video notes to project managers and editors for review. During the note-review process, users are able to identify important edits to be made based on the content of the notes generated by the viewing room and it’s viewers.
They have built the ability to export specified video notes into a number of formats. First Cut Pro currently supports the ability to export markers to .CSV files for a spreadsheet, .XML metadata files for Adobe Premier/After Effects and Apple’s Final Cut Pro (7 and 10), as well as a formatted .txt file for import into AVID Media Composer. Combined with the other features available in First Cut Pro, our marker export feature allows collaborators to easily provide actionable feedback directly to editors in the simplest way possible.
First Cut Pro creates a user-friendly environment that promotes collaboration during video post-production. The ability to simultaneously contribute allows for increased communication among team members, optimized time usage of all stakeholders decreasing total post-production cycle time, and reduced confusion during the feedback process.
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.
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.
As a commercial photographer in Los Angeles, CA, most of my photographic subjects are already predetermined as part of the assignment. So it is a joy to photograph on my own. I try and keep a camera with me as much a reasonable. I get to practice developing my photographic eye. Watching the play of light. Finding compositions in the jumble of shapes around me.
This time my found photographic subjects were rocks along the seawall. The light seemed to caress the smooth round surfaces late in the day. I found one design after another. I struggled to take what was chaos and find order. I realized I must first take in the whole and then find the areas that most interested me to photograph. I wondered if while placing the rocks if the workers just considered strength or somehow drawn to the designs they were creating. While photographed in color the rocks were monotone and I felt they were best represented in B&W.
Ventura CA Seawall Rocks by Lee White
Ventura CA Seawall Rocks 2 by Lee White
Ventura CA Seawall Rocks 3 by Lee White
Ventura CA Seawall Rocks 5
Ventura CA Seawall Rocks 6 by Lee White Photography
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.
Make it big. As an advertising photographer in Los Angeles, I learn long ago clients love to see their product large in the photograph. Although creatively, in the past, this might not have served the purpose well, now it could be the best advice for much of how photography and video is seen. As more and more photography and video is seen on smaller and smaller screens the only way to really see it is to make the subject big.
My Secrets of Video for Photographers seminars and workshops take me across the nation. As I flew to Unique Photo in New Jersey to do my events, I had a chance to watch the latest Pirates of the Caribbean movie. Just a month before this I was in Kauai where they filmed much of the movie. While watching the movie on the tiny screen in the aircraft I could barely recognize the locations I was just at. If I had seen the movie on a 40 foot theater screen the impact of the locations might have been greater. As it was, I had to wait for the medium close-ups to close-ups to visually follow the story. I attribute my less than enthusiastic reaction to the movie to this size issue.
The reverse of this is true when I am watch the Wild China series by the BBC on my iphone. Most of the action is set in the close-ups with wide vistas used for presenting the overall environment. Admittedly, Wild China was produced to be seen on TV where Pirates was for the “big” screen which brings me back to thinking about where your images, be them photographs or video, are going to end up. When you are deciding how to shoot each shot consider how your shots are going to be seen, on a forty foot screen or a four inch screen.
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.
It’s easy to record audio if you take a few simple steps. As an extension of my Photo 29 class “Video Production for Still Photographers” in the photography department at Santa Monica College, David Missall of Sennheiser gave a seminar on recording good sounding audio for video and film. Of the many things David said that captured my attention, his suggestion about one part of listening was very intriguing.
When we do our location scout, we should already know to listen as well as look to hear if there is going to be any audio capture problems. Busy street noise, school nearby, construction even air-conditioning or a noisy refrigerator can all cause problems with audio. Of course, we also look to see if we see anything that might create a problem is not happening at the time we are there like is there construction nearby that might be busy most of the day but we are scouting at 6pm in the evening.
We also know that in residential areas the weekday day is probably the quietest time and corporate areas the reverse is true. Late night might be the only time for business areas although some business areas might follow the residential and corporate area sound pattern.
Stopping and listening to the location at the shoot is also important to pick up on any problems that might affect the audio capture at the time of the shoot. Things change and the weather might have change so now a heater or air-conditioner might be on that was not on during the scout.
One of David’s suggestions that struck me was to listen to the subject to get a feeling for exactly what the subject sounds like to your own ears. Have the talent talk naturally for a few minutes. Walk around the talent and listen to how they sound. How can we expect to set the audio up right if we have not heard the subject naturally first? Once we have heard the sound we are after it will be much easier to tell if we are coming as close as possible to it. Maybe you’ll find placing the microphone closer or further away is called for to get the right sound. Maybe switching from an omni-directional to shotgun or the reverse might do the trick.
A quick mention here about the Sennheiser ME series I use. It is very quick to switch from a ME62 omni-directional capsule to a ME66 shotgun capsule or any of the other ME capsules by just screwing them on the K6 power module already in the shock mount. This interchangeable saves time, space and cost as you are not buy a whole new microphone for each type of microphone, you just buy a capsule with the desired pickup pattern of omni-directional through long gun. You can find out more about Sennheiser at http://www.sennheiserusa.com/home.
As I write this, the neighbor’s hound has started to howl, my black lab barks at every delivery truck that goes by and a very loud vintage biplane from the nearby airport is circling above. So good luck if you ever try and capture clean sound in my neighborhood.
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.