31 01, 2018

Super Blue Blood Moon Eclipse

2018-01-31T17:19:44+00:00 Photography|

Haze softened the effect of the Super Blue Blood Moon Eclipse this morning as the moon was setting in the WNW sky. These two images were taken at 5:42 AM(partial) and 5:57 AM (totality)
Super – 25,000 miles closer than normal
Blue – 2 full moons in one month
Blood – at totality the sun’s rays are refracted by the earth
It was pretty cool to observe. These images were taken 15 minutes apart on January 31st.
The partial eclipse was shot at ISO 200 1/100 second. When in the full shadow of the earth, blood moon, I set the ISO to 800 and used 1/4 second exposure which is almost too slow as the moon is moving. A 1,000 mm lens was used.

 

5 12, 2017

Sunrise at Mesa Arch

2017-12-05T18:27:27+00:00 Photography|

How I Got the Shot

Friday, November 24th, 4:45 AM, my alarm goes off in Moab Utah disrupting dreams about family, turkey and good wine. I throw on my ski jacket and grab my backpack that I had prepared the night before with camera gear, tripod and monopod. I step out into the dark cold and climb up into Brian’s Jeep Rubicon. We drive an hour on winding roads unaware of the beauty around us, only seeing what’s in the headlights. I was unaware of the experience I was about to have photographing the sunrise at Mesa Arch. The sky starts to glow as we approach the parking lot for this trailhead; it’s packed! We grab our gear and hike 1/2 mile in the 35 degree cold (cold for a Phoenician) only to be discouraged by the crowd of 50 – 60 people that had arrived before us. Of the 527 square miles in Canyonlands National Park everyone seemed to be in one spot. Shoulder to shoulder and 5 deep they stood behind their tripods waiting for the sun to rise. Brian and I split up and hiked left and right along the rim to find another shot, no luck. Beautiful views but no arch.

The sun rose up off the distant canyon. Cameras starting clicking and iPhones were waving above the crowd. The polite, respectful photographers peeled off the pack after each of them got their shot. We worked our way in and set up, careful not to bump a tripod. I started shooting this incredible view, knowing that I could remove a few cameras, arms and heads in Photoshop. As the photographers cleared out we could move about and get different views through the arch. One advantage to being late to the party was that as the sun rose it illuminated the canyon below to add depth to our shots.

Although I prefer my Canon 5D for photography I have been hiking with the lighter Panasonic Lumix GH4. I bracketed the exposures planning to layer the images in photoshop to manage the wide dynamic range of this scene. However, I had enough latitude in the raw images to be able to adjust the highlights, shadows and blacks in camera raw to create my final images.

Before sunrise some sat quietly taking in the beauty. One photographer was so elated by this experience he did a handstand at the edge.

This was truly a spiritual experience.

25 09, 2017

Photographing Technology

2017-09-25T22:22:02+00:00 Photography, Photography, People|

What are the challenges when photographing technology at Versum Materials, a facility with clean rooms, research labs and chemicals? First, we must comply with OSHA’s safety rules which is standard in most manufacturing plants like Intel, Microchip and AT&T, which means we must wear the safety gear which restricts our movement. The glasses can restrict your vision when using the camera’s viewfinder. My assistant and I also wore orange vests in the warehouse so we would not get run over by a forklift; all of this is a normal part of the OSHA safety standards.

Protective gear

The second thing is Versum Materials’ plant in Tempe, Arizona is full of complex machinery and high-tech equipment. Combine that with safety stations and caution signs and it can make for some busy backgrounds. Our job is to make a simple, clean composition by removing distracting objects from the scene and choosing the right lens and camera angle. Luckily I did not have to operate their complex equipment, just photograph it, but they do some awesome things like polishing wafers or magnifying the surface of a wafer, right down to the atoms!

We had about 40 topics to photograph. 50 – 60 photos would be adequate for brochures and web site. We produced 250 photos to satisfy the needs of media-hungry social media.

Getting the right angle for a clean shot.

We may use color or repeating shapes in a composition to hold the eye of the viewer.
See more photos of people in the work-place here.

22 08, 2017

Product Photos and Videos

2017-08-22T17:20:41+00:00 DSLR Video, Multimedia, Photography, Product, Video|

When Noraxon came to me with a request for product photos and videos of 40 items I knew I had to create a new workflow for maximum efficiency. The two services became one. I started with a strobe set on the left for the photos and a hot light set on the right to record the video clips. I made a turntable and painted it white so I could rotate the table top when it was important to see 2 or 3 sides of that product. Tests were done to match color with both sets and test the rotation. 4’ x 4’ sheets of foam core were placed on the turntable for the larger kits. These kits with up to 30 items were set up on the turntable where both the photo and video were captured with the same camera to become even more efficient. The video was recorded and played beck in slow motion to ensure smooth motion.

I created the simplified GIF below as a sample of the product videos.

Animated GIF.

When you need product photos and videos go to the photographer with years of experience in each medium.

21 08, 2017

Solar Eclipse August 21, 2017

2017-08-21T22:01:42+00:00 Photography|

Three stages of the Eclipse, beginning, peak and near the end, as seen from Phoenix, AZ.

This solar eclipse was special to us here in the US because this was the only country that was able to view it. I’m in Phoenix so I didn’t see the total eclipse. Here we saw about 62% eclipse. I had my viewing glasses with an ISO rating of 12312 so I knew my eyes were protected. You can’t see a thing with them on except for the sun so I had to take them off to work my camera.

My Canon 5D Mk II was set to ISO 160 with a shutter speed of 1/100 – 1/250 at F 8. I used a filter with the equivalent of 16 stops! You cannot stack a few ND filters and get to 3 or 5 stops darker. You will burn out your sensor. I did not view the sun through the viewfinder. I set the camera for live view. Blew the image up to check focus on the sun and used a lens at about 240 mm.

The photos above show the change in exposure during the partial eclipse. The exposure was the same for both images.

The next blog on this topic for the Solar Eclipse, August 21, 2017, will be Aril 8, 2024. See you then!

24 07, 2017

Large Product Photography

2017-07-24T19:13:22+00:00 Photography, Product|

No matter what the challenge with large product photography, Trotto is up to it.

Assembling the sophisticated medical device.

The Cranial Imager, used to map the shape of an infants brain, required 30 photos on green screen. It was photographed on location at Atom in Scottsdale. Atom is the product development company for Cranial. To accomplish this Trotto and Frank Salle created a wide green screen studio using both cloth and paper materials. Then the set was carefully lit to allow the background mask to be cut.

Cisco provided Trotto with a lengthy 10 page document specifying the exact specs for the tonal range of the photos. Here’s the catch. They didn’t allow post processing. The RAW images were to be delivered with blacks and whites at a certain level. A test shoot was necessary to establish the camera settings. The final shoot was done at Avnet where they assembled the racks and servers. Frank Salle was technical adviser.

The 14” Pocket Digital Calibration Target by Photovision is normally used for color balance. For Cisco/Avnet it was used in the testing and the final shots to check that the black and the white values matched Cisco’s specifications for product photography.

When you have special challenges for large product photography give Trotto a call. No challenge is too great. He also has years of experience photographing large RV’s for Cruise America. Check out Trotto’s product photography.

7 02, 2017

4K Video and the Hybrid Photographer

2017-05-19T23:56:10+00:00 DSLR Video, Photography, Video|

The obvious advantages to 4K video are the resolution and then the ability to zoom in or pan across the frame in the edit when working in the smaller 1080 HD timeline. However, when you combine 4K video and the hybrid photographer it opens the floodgates for more creativity. I can pull a single frame and open it in Photoshop and alter parts of the video clip while allowing the other section of the clip to play normally, creating a surreal look. A still frame from the GH4 has enough resolution to be manipulated in Photoshop like any photo from a DSLR like my Canon 5D MkIII.

While recording, locking down the camera has many advantages. It allows for more creativity round tripping a single frame to Photoshop and back to Premiere Pro. I am able to create more effects like freezing people or moving people in reverse. Then I bring that 4K video (3840 x 2160 Pixels) into a 1080 timeline (1920 x 1080 pixels) and add the motion of panning and zooming in or out to look like the camera was moving to follow the action in the scene. Here is a link to a video with some simple effects added. This is just one example of what can be done to the athletes in this video. Note that only some clips were shot in 4K and final output is 1080 HD. Watch the video.

 

27 01, 2017

The Grunge Look

2017-05-19T23:56:10+00:00 Photography, Photography, People|

The grunge look is perfect for football photos. The original image was captured on a Canon 5D mkIII at ISO 25,600 at F5.6 with a shutter speed of about 1/640. A 150 – 500mm lens is my favorite for covering most of the field.

I start the process in camera raw by desaturating the image and then adding contrast. I open it in Photoshop. Working with 2 layers I add noise and mask out part of one layer so the athlete pops out of the photo.

8 11, 2016

Audio for Food and Beverage Videos

2017-05-19T23:56:10+00:00 DSLR Video, Multimedia, Product, Video|

beer-pour-still008
The sizzle helps you taste the food and just hearing a beer being poured into a glass can crank up your thirst. Most of the audio for food and beverage videos is recorded separately for the best quality and, keep in mind, there is no audio recorded with slow motion video. For the slow motion clips I formed the visuals in the timeline first. Then I knew how long the sound had to be to sync with the visuals. Watch the video.
match-still006_650w

A match ignites in a fraction of a second but in this video the match took 7 seconds to ignite (1/8 speed). I slowed the speed of the audio clip to 40% and duplicated it on 2 more audio tracks with some overlap to cover the 7 seconds. The beer pour was done in a similar way. The “plop” sound of the olives dropping into the martini glass required a speed of just 35% for the audio clip. Sound is important and audio for food and beverage videos has it’s own unique chalenges.

28 10, 2016

Slow Motion Food and Beverage Videos

2017-05-19T23:56:10+00:00 DSLR Video, Multimedia, Video|

“See what you can’t see”. slowing the action of a pour or food preparation can increase the viewer’s anticipation of what it’s going to taste like. Use this visual effect in your slow motion food and beverage videos. Watch the short video here.
martini-still004_650w120 frames per second is good for some slow motion shots. 240 frames per second renders amazing slow motion but may be too slow for your viewers. Here’s what I mean. At 240 fps pouring a beer that takes about 6 seconds will take 48 seconds to play back that clip,, or 8 times as long. Your viewers will fall off their bar stools waiting for their beer. Recording at 120fps will take 4 times as long to play back the clip. This is why I record with 2 cameras for my slow motion food and beverage videos. One camera records in normal speed and I cut between the 2 views (and 2 speeds). In post I may speed up the slow motion clip and slow down the clip recorded at normal speed.
strawberries-still001_650wThe shutter speed of at least 1/240 second will freeze the action when exporting a still frame as you see in the 2 images above. Slow motion enhances any production.