Little known fact:
The fast-growing Spartanburg/Greenville region of South Carolina is home to the impressive BMW Manufacturing Plant. Every BMW X3, X5, X6 or Z3 you have seen has been proudly built in Spartanburg, SC… Which is PERFECT for me because I (obviously) love shooting cars. How convenient is that?
While shooting the new images for the BMW Performance Center (full blog post coming soon!), I was given the impromptu opportunity to also shoot press release images for the all-new 2014 BMW X5. Talk about being in the right place at the right time! For the first time the USA plant was playing host to the BMW X5 Launch Event, so they were extra proud to have some fresh images on home turf. Time wasn’t in our favor, but we were able to snap off 2 action shots, and 2 static shots with the Performance Center building in the background. A little bit of post-production trickery was used to match the high standards of BMW USA photography. Enjoy!
Chicago is on my top list of cities to visit. I’ve been there for a wedding, a week-long vacation, and last year to celebrate the 2012 New Year!.. but this time I’m armed with a camera, my hand-selected crew (Linhbergh and Jeremy Cliff), and a few lights for STA-BIL and their new product 360 Protection.
This was a unique photoshoot where the creative agency Marc USA scheduled all of the work during a 2-day period. No big deal usually, but I had to share the time with a little film mega-crew named Boxer Films and Kilt Studios. Less emphasis on “little”, and more emphasis on “mega”. These guys are the real deal. It was impressive to watch such a substantial film crew do their magic. As expected, the advertising spots came out extremely well (see videos at end of blog post).
My job as the stills photographer was to jump in at a moment’s notice to knock out pictures as fast as I could to give the film crew as much precious time possible. 2 working days to produce 3 TV commercials is a tall order. The less time I was behind my camera, the happier the film crew, agency, and ultimately the clients were. Personally this is what separates professionals from amateurs; being able to work in time constraining circumstances. Total, I had maybe 30 minutes over 2 days of live action time behind the camera. Ensuring that the photos are pin-sharp, well lite, and meet the specific approval of the client is a tough task considering you only get one chance to get it right after weeks of meetings and preparation… all of this while shooting tethered to an iPad for instant client feedback. If the focus is a little off, or a certain part of the composition isn’t lite well, then tough shit… no mulligans allowed.
These images were shot vertically considering their main use would be in print ads. Having ample vertical space was important for words and products. SO! All said and done, these are the fruits of our labor:
Of course I couldn’t of made this happen without my bombtastic assistants Linhbergh and Jeremy who are amazing behind the camera as well. It really pays off having assistants that understand exactly what’s going through my brain when time is of the essence…. not to mention it’s always nice to have a local that knows how to navigate a huge city! Essentially, STA-BIL only needed 3 staged pictures, but that didn’t stop me from shooting all day while the film crew does their thing. The first day I shot the boat and blue Viper. The second day was a long drive to the countryside for the red GTO. During our downtime, Linhbergh, Jeremy and I took a few Behind-The-Scenes pics:
Needless to say this was a fun assignment… The 3 happier-than-a-bird-with-a-french-fry dogs made it that much better. Props again to Marc USA for orchestrating such a complex creative schedule over such a small time frame and churn out brilliant video and stills. Hopefully I’ll be heading up to Chicago for more work in 2014!
I’m not ALWAYS behind the camera. Sometimes I help move some lights around and edit other photographer’s photos. I’m definitely not above photo assisting. It’s a great way to pick up new techniques, and free food! My superstar friend Douglas Sonders got the call to shoot Dale Earnhardt Jr. and his #88 NASCAR for the National Guard up the road in Charlotte, NC. Besides the obvious benefit of getting to meet Dale Jr., I jumped at the opportunity to help Douglas with the studio shoot. Quantity was the keyword of the day, and we got a BOAT LOAD of diverse images of Dale, his #88 NASCAR, and various soldiers representing the National Guard. The beauty of shooting in a studio is it’s a controlled environment with the ability to knock out many angles in a short amount of time. The Phase One IQ140 camera and ProFoto lights got very little rest from 7am till 7pm as you can see from the behind-the-scenes video:
Not only did I get to assist Douglas on the shoot by moving lights and getting my fingerprints all over his tethered laptop, I got to try my hand at compositing a set of images with full creative freedom. Browsing through my vast collection of locations, I decided to go for a hot dusty mid-day American Western theme. The Western look screams iconic America, and the long straight roads create a tension of speed.
I was able to piece together a fancy before/after slider to see exactly what changed in each composite.
Further down are clickable high-res final images, Enjoy!!
“Do you shoot Canon or Nikon” is usually the first question I get after I tell someone I’m a photographer. I’ve been holding a Canon since I was 14. The main reason is because my dad had some old Canon lenses that (I thought) looked expensive, that’s it. Canon, Nikon, Sony, Pentex, whatever the camera, if you rely on the camera to do all your work you’re gonna have a bad day. They are all very nice and capable cameras. Granted I’d rather work with a camera made in 2013 compared to 2003, but still when images are compared side by side it’s arguably tough to tell what image was taken with a Canon, Nikon, etc. This is why the phrase “Wow! Your camera takes nice photos” makes photographers cringe. Case in point, here’s a video of Douglas Sonders rocking a cheap camera.
I won’t go into too much detail yet for this post, but I demoed a medium format Phase One IQ160 from Digital Transitions for a recent Pepsi/Jeff Gordon shoot. Chance had it, this shoot and the Pepsi shoot were just 2 days apart so of course I’m going to test it out for both. Look for a more detailed write-up of the IQ160 when the Pepsi/Gordon shoot is posted.
This lucky subject is a fresh new BMW M6 tuned by GMP Performance on HRE Wheels. This was more of a natural light test. I say “more of” because I popped a speedlight to make the wheels stand out a bit more. But OH MY GOD, the Phase One IQ160 makes my Canon 5DMKIII images look like iPhone snapshots. Medium format cameras really are in a league all of their own… which is a good reason why they’re priced ~$20,000 more than a usual prosumer DSLR Canon. When shooting for clients such as Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Pepsi, Sta-Bil, Porsche, or simply need nothing but the best, the price is more than justified.
I was most impressed with the amount of tonal range the IQ160 yielded.
Here’s a super detailed scientific graph of what I mean:
[----|-----|----] prosumer 35mm DSLR range
[--|---------|--] Phase One range
Each “-” is a shade of light. In laymen terms the Phase One image sensor is much larger, and basically is able to capture more degrees of color in a single image. Also let’s not forget the files are 60.5 megapixels! “Zoom, enhance, zoom, enhance” has a totally new meaning to me now. Editing color is practically lossless. After using the Phase One I’m hooked, even more so after editing. For any big assignment I’ll break it out for sure. It’s sure to be a huge asset for me in the upcoming 2014 year.
Special thanks goes out to Lance Schad at Digital Transitions for giving me the opportunity to test drive their big bad IQ160. Give him a ring when you’re ready to experience the new world of medium format.