Review? I meant to say “reaction”. And that’s the way I like to keep it.
First of all, I do not do reviews that offer blatant kick-backs. Second, I am NOT being paid by Mastering Lighting for this review, and the authoring I gratefully did for Mastering Compositing was a one-time flat rate. I’ve done a review of a Phase One, my manly leather bag, and my sweet rolling desk. I will only review things that I personally want associated with my name.
Now, let’s add another to the short list: Nick Saglimbeni’s Mastering Lighting.
Some of you may first know me through the Mastering Compositing DVD tutorials I authored, which was a suppliment to Nick’s ridiculoulsy detailed Mastering Retouching series. Now it’s Nick’s turn again, and DAMN did he deliver. Nick will be the first to say that I am his worst/best critic, and I was flat out impressed by this first installment of Mastering Lighting.
To be honest, when I first saw the preview trailer for this set (featured below this paragraph), I was a bit hesitant since it took something as basic as a photography tutorial video, and slathered it with Michael Bay sauce. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE Transformers and The Rock… but I watch those for entertainment, not for education.
BUT!!!! Pop in the full feature, and I am INCREDIBLY impressed from start to finish. It’s like Nick is the love-child of Michael Bay and Bob Ross. The entertainment and special effects are there, but it’s mixed with a highly educational artistic guru with a buttery smooth voice that inspires you to do it yourself. How impressed was I?? Since Nick and I are buddies and have cellular devices, we were messaging live as I was watching the tutorials. Give or take a few personal super top secret messages here or there, this is the conversation verbatim:
What did I learn? It is a fact that Nick is one of the most professional and successful photographers/retouchers in the world… and for anyone to say they didn’t learn from his techniques are fooling themselves. Even after knowing and working with Nick for over 7yrs, I never exactly knew how he approached light until this tutorial. He explains his workflow perfectly. This first installment of Mastering Lighting is *only* 70 minutes long, but, every single minute is packed harder than a Starbucks during finals week. The $149 introductory price is more than worth it, especially considering that price will easily be swallowed by 1 paying gig, no matter what level you are.
I was one of the lucky few who got their hands on the V.I.P. (Very. Important. Photographer) Box Set. It looks like there are only 100 being made, with more possible in the future. I gotta say the mini softbox + battery pack is the COOLEST desktop item EVER. Yoda approves
From the dirt roads of North Carolina and Kentucky, to an air-conditioned gym with lots-o-lights. I got the green light from OhYeah! Nutrition to shoot their upcoming campaign featuring “weekend warriors” having an OhYeah! Moment. To say these athletes are weekend warriors is a bit misleading, considering they can all probably beat me in arm wrestling with their pinky finger.
What I may lack in arm wrestling ability, I make up in photobility. Look at that, I just made a new word! This advertising shoot demanded an all-white background, with pin-sharp frozen action. So, I rented 8 Paul C. Buff Einstein lights to freeze the action, and I was so impressed with them I bought 4 for my personal collection. In a nutshell, the Einstein lights have an extremely short burst of light, with a very small trail of light, which is amazing at freezing action. Take, for instance, when you turn off your bedroom lights, you can visually see the light tapering off in power. This is baaaad for freezing action. And I am baaaaad at going into technical detail. To better explain, read this extensive review by Rob Galbraith.
But basically, since I was using my personal Canon 5D MKIII for this shoot, I was limited to a flash sync speed of 1/200. Therefore, instead of relying on a leaf shutter lens to obtain a 1/1600 frozen flash-sync image, I had to rely on the flash duration of the Einstein lights. Shooting action at 1/200 WILL leave trail marks, however, the flash duration of the Einsteins are SO quick, that leaving the shutter open at 1/200 in a “dark” room will only expose what’s being flashed. At 80ws (which is the power output I used for this shoot) the Einsteins provide the action stopping characteristics of shutter speeds roughly between 1/6000 and 1/10,000… This is amazing folks. Check out a few images below, you can see a close-up of a 120-mph golf swing. The action isn’t frozen perfectly, but the visible bend in the club goes to show just how powerful these lights are.
Enough techno-babble, here are the shots. It was a super fun shoot from start to finish. Will Keown dropping it down with another great BTS video:
The kind people at Westcott let me test their HUGE 59″ Zepplin for this shoot. Despite the size, it was surprisingly not complicated to assemble. I placed this behemoth behind camera for the key light. It certainly gave onlookers a WOW impression, and the light was niiiiice and smooth. I didn’t have the luxury of an extensive test at the shoot, but when it comes to a big soft key light, the bigger the better! I can see this big guy being used in future, especially for studio shoots. Click the BTS video for a better look at the Zepplin in action.
Welcome to the wonderful South.
The land where overalls are considered formal, dogs are commonly in the family will, and running moonshine is a national pastime that grew into a multi-billion dollar sport. Yep. Let’s not forget about grits… mmmmmmmmmmm grits, and of course diabetic-inducing sweet tea!
This Car and Driver assignment took me from the dirt roads of Eastern NC, through the Kentucky Bourbon Trail, then finishing at their offices to deliver the… um, flavored bottles of water. It was a great throwback to the old age of moonshine running, where the cars doing the transporting weren’t exactly flashy, but had the muscle under the hood in case the fuzz got a whiff of what’s in the trunk. And if the coppers get a good sniff, the Lingenfelter-blown Chevy SS has a pretty good chance of… um, merging into traffic faster. Let’s make that a 3.7 second 0-to-legal-60mph to be exact.
Again, when dealing with the ranks of the Car and Driver staff, my witty blog posts are nothing in comparison to their cream-of-the-crop writers. The full feature story is a real hoot. So if you’ve read this far, do yourself a favor and read the masterwork of my partner in glass-bottle transportation, Ezra Dyer:
…Funny how I have acquired a distinct taste for fine bourbon after this trip. We were generously gifted a box of select bottles from the Buffalo Trace Distillery. 2yr Buffalo Trace for my old fashioneds, Eagle Rare when I want a kick, and Blanton’s for a trip through bourbon bliss.
“Trees are your best friends” was the first bit of advice for my inaugural assignment with Car and Driver. And no, that advice wasn’t given by a tree-hugging hippie with a curly fro, it was from the veteran videographer from MadRam11, the media leader in all things that involve 600+hp machines, big-ass vertical rocks, and mayhem… emphasis on mayhem. “Trees are your best friend because you can hide behind them when a rock bouncer gets out of control, which isn’t uncommon” he says. I quickly made friends with the biggest, sturdiest trees in Arkansas, for this was the 2014 Southern Rock Racing Series Finals… where the word “Finals”, translates to “let’s break as many parts on the last event of the year as possible”.
If you remember the last blog post about shooting the Ferrari collection, this feature is almost like that. No wait, it’s NOTHING like that, other than the horsepower numbers. These tube frame home-built monsters push anywhere from 600-1000hp.. and they need every bit of that horespower because they’re racing UP a wall of rocks, trees, and mud. Looking around the “race course” in the middle of a rocky forest lined off by frail plastic caution tape, I’m stupefied by the agenda that something with 4 wheels will be driving up the terrain.
I’m not even going to begin to further wittily describe the event, considering how masterfully Daniel Pund’s words illustrate the madness. I’ve done my fair share of writing, but Daniel is a true guru of the craft… so get to reading here.
From a photographer’s perspective, there was eye-candy everywhere I pointed my nose. The people, atmosphere, scenery, and beautiful beastly machines of controlled chaos made it hard to narrow down selects for the blog post… so F* it, you’re getting a long wall of southern rowdiness!!!
My poor excuse for a beard and steel-toed mud shoes helped me blend in a little better with the rootin-tootin crowd. I was born and raised in the South, but I admit I was a little out of my element with this bunch… AND I LOVED IT!! As the editor Daniel Pund so elegantly put it, “Natural Light tastes better than it has any right to.”
I did the best I could to illustrate the rock-flinging madness in pictures, but nothing beats seeing these machines muscle their way up vertical jagged walls at full throttle in person. Much of the success of the new sport of Rock Bouncing can be attributed to youtube videos, more specifically from the author MadRam11. The video posted above is just the event I covered… but watch their latest “2014 EPIC CRASH COMPILATION” to permanently have your jaw glued to the table.
If this is a preview of the random assignments that are in store for me with Car and Driver, then 2015 is going to be one hell of a wild ride.