If you’re familiar with my previous Bachman Ferrari Collection feature, you know that I don’t get to see many exotic cars where I live in South Carolina. So when Car And Driver asked if I could sit shotgun in a bright orange McLaren 650S blasting across the Florida everglades, I fried a few brain fuses.
$352,000, 641hp, 0-60 in 2.8 seconds, 1/4 mile in 10.5 seconds, 207mph top speed… this thing is *tad* faster than my daily GTI. Even though this thing is ungodly fast, our mission was to drive from Miami to Naples, FL via the Alligator Alley as fast as possible with the only the aid of Waze. What is Waze you ask? It’s a real-time traffic and navigation app where drivers share road info. Basically, it’s a community of people sharing where road hazards and (cough) police (cough) are located.
But, we don’t live in a Mad Max world, so averaging the don’t-get-thrown-in-jail 99mph speed while heavily checking Waze was a great compromise. I’m SURE Florida’s finest wouldn’t mind an exotic McLaren from Surrey, England in impound, but Ezra Dyer (the driver/writer) wouldn’t give them the satisfaction. Speaking of Ezra, read the full article here. His words never fail to entertain.
THANKS to my buddy William Stern for assisting (aka, driving the support Mercedes GL63 AMG). Your beard is glorious, and your tequila is delicious.
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.