New Video Workshop/Tour with Shane Hurlbut

The Shane Hurlbut Illumination Experience Video Tour

I’ve spent the last few days supporting the opening sessions of Shane Hurlbut’s Illumination Experience Video Tour. Datacolor is a sponsor of these events, which will take place in 26 cities.

The sessions are “intended for any filmmaker seeking industry insight on cinematic lighting and cinematography” – but they are much more than that. These workshops cover a lot of ground – from lighting basics through full cinematic setups, to camera operation and exposure management, to on-set color controls, plus post-production tips and more – and, Shane is one of the top instructors in the field.

Shane incorporates Datacolor technology into his color workflow, starting with lighting/camera setup through post-production.

shane photo

 

Quoting from the press release:

“The Illumination Experience is a two-part series; the Illumination Workshop, which will be taught in all 25 cities, and the Experience Masterclass which will be available to students in nine of these cities. (see link at the end of the post)

For the Illumination Workshop, Shane will demonstrate his avant-garde approach to three-point lighting during an interactive live shoot. Divided into three phases: discovery, creation, and execution, Shane’s students will…. design, develop, enhance, and supplement the storytelling process with lighting, script analysis, storyboard preparation, lighting schematics, and shot lists.

The Experience Masterclass is a day-long hands-on intensive consisting of two live shoots. The class will be divided into four teams. The teams will follow Shane’s lighting schematics to re-create film scenes from Crazy/Beautiful (2001) and Swing Vote (2008). With Shane’s guidance, students will learn to integrate methodical lighting with precise camera motion to achieve impactful results. Students will experiment with gear such as the Fisher 10 Dolly, the Movi, and the Kessler Crane in conjunction with various lights, filters, flags and bounces. Shane will critique each scene and provide customized feedback to each team.”

Shane Hurlbut, A.S.C., is a world-renowned cinematographer who has shot multimillion dollar blockbuster films such as Act of Valor, Drumline, Terminator: Salvation, The Rat Pack, We Are Marshall. Shane is a member of the prestigious American Society of Cinematographers and The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. He is among a select group of cinematographers recognized by Canon as an “Explorer of Light” and by the Tiffen Company as an “ImageMaker”. “

For more information and registration: http://illumination.mzed.com

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Review, Adorama Flashpoint 180 – Portable Flash Unit

I have a new portable flash unit in-house for testing. It is the Flashpoint 180 – a highly portable, lightweight unit that produces up to 180 watt/seconds of output. It comes complete with portable battery pack and charger, a diffuser dome, a reflector, a shoot-through white umbrella, a brief instruction manual, and a carrying case.

180 1

According to the manufacturer’s specs, it is capable of up to 700 flashes at full power. Flash duration ranges from 1/400 to 1/1100 of a second, depending on power output selected. Specifications state that color temperature is 5500k +/- 200k, which is reasonable.

The battery pack consists of two Sony rechargeable units housed in a plastic case; these are removed and charged via external charger. The manufacturer provides two charging units. Good news is that 700 shots should get you through a full day’s shooting. If you are shooting consistently outdoors in bright light or direct sun, depending on your needs you may want to get two of these, one of the 180 model, and another of the 400 model, using one for key lighting and the other for fill or add-on.

Overall, this is a lightweight unit, favoring portability over bullet-proof construction. The controls are sturdy and well made, and should hold up over time. Most of the flash body is aluminum, and a diffuser dome does double duty protecting the flash tube and LED-based modeling light. This is definitely not water-proof, so I would take care outdoors in mist or rain.

180 2

Power output is controlled via a stepless rotating knob, providing about 5-stops range. A slave sensor is also provided, along with an on/off switch for a triggering audio signal.

An LED modeling light is provided, but it’s anemic at best. Not too surprising, as many people will leave it turned on throughout a shoot, and that will drain batteries quickly.

Adorama also provides a short padded handle which can be inserted into the mounting socket – it’s easy to carry the unit around in the field – you would just clip the battery pack to your belt or carry it in your off hand.

Like any other studio flash unit, time to recycle depends on power output selected. This ranges from 1-5 seconds; not surprising at all on a battery-powered unit supplied by a lower-voltage power pack.

I also like that the unit is Bowens-compatible. As I own some Bowens gear, that’s a big plus in my book. I can use their light modifiers on this flash unit, for example.

Overall, a good, lightweight unit, highly portable and suited for use in the studio or just about anywhere you want to go.

Link to the Adorama page: http://www.adorama.com/FPBPLB.html

New Webinar – Small Lighting For Big Spaces

New Webinar – sponsored by Datacolor and co-sponsored by Metz

Not too long ago, standard practice for lighting large spaces involved hauling a lot of heavy equipment into a venue, laying out electrical service lines, creating support stands and scaffolding, and so on. Of course there was also tearing it all down, packing it away, and hauling it off again. Things have changed. It’s now possible to carry all or most of the gear you’ll need to light a large space in a duffle bag and camera bag, frequently doing it all without touching an electrical outlet and getting an equivalent or superior result.

Join David Saffir and David Tobie as they explore newer methods for lighting interiors using lighting systems adapted from on-camera flash units, purpose-built remote units and triggers. We think you’ll be surprised by the possibilities and impressed by the results!

An interactive Q&A will take place throughout the webinar to answer any questions you may have.

Webinar attendees will have the chance to win a SpyderCHECKR or Metz 44 Flash as well as receive exclusive discounts!

October 17, 2 PM EDT, 11 AM PDT

Register HERE!

Product Review: The Flashpoint DG600 300 w/s AC/DC Monolight

I’ve been testing a studio strobe from Adorama, the  Flashpoint DG-600. Intended for use in both studio and location work, this is a 300/WS workhorse (published guide number of 58m/190ft ISO 100) that offers flexibility in many types of shooting situations. It can run on normal household power (US) or a 12v DC power pack.

The housing of the light is made of heavyweight plastic, and seems quite durable. An attached carrying handle is provided, as is a  8” metal reflector – the latter is attached using a locking bayonet-style design.

On the front end, one sees a conventional semi-circular flash tube mounted in front of an LED-array modeling light.

hero shot angle

At the back, most controls are push-button variety, with the exception of the power switch, which provides on/AC, off, and on/DC positions.

hero shot rear

The unit is provided with a nice long power cord (which is a good change – it seems lately that power cords are shrinking in length, or are not provided at all), and a PC/sync cord for those of use who haven’t yet gone to wireless triggers. The sync plug on the housing is of mini-plug variety, not the full-size “stereo” plugs one often sees.

Push button controls include flash test, sound on/off, modeling light, and slave operation. Flash intensity is read through a digital numeric display, and is controlled through a rotating knob. Flash intensity numbers are not linked to f/stop, but are displayed relative to total flash output, from nil to maximum.

Flash output is consistent in intensity right from start up, and stays that way throughout a shoot. Max recycling time is 1.5 seconds at max power (AC) – but at lower power settings is near-instantaneous. The cooling fan is quiet and unobtrusive. Stated flash duration is 1/800 to 1/1500/sec.

I also tested the light with a color meter. While I found that the light easily hit daylight color temperature (5500k) a from a cold start, it needed to fire a few times before settling in and stabilizing at this color temperature. (In other words, color temp varied a bit from shot to shot from a cold start to warm-up).

Once warmed up, variance in color temperature in the mid- to ¾-power range was not a significant issue. At full power, it took a bit longer for the light to warm up and stabilize – if you are shooting at full power, and the light has been resting a while, fire off five or six test shots to bring everything into line.

The modeling light is an LED array, which operates in proportion to flash output settings. This is a great idea – those of us who engage in day-long shoots will appreciate this. Completely cool, with no appreciable heat generated, so less wear and tear on umbrellas and soft boxes, not to mention one’s fingers!

Also, unlike tungsten or halogen-based bulbs, it is roughly the same color temperature as the flash tube, which is a significant convenience. However, the modeling light is challenged to provide enough illumination used with a diffuser or soft box, and I’d like to see available luminance increased. Otherwise, a brilliant idea (no pun.)

One might think that the lower power usage of the LED modeling light would bode well for its use with a battery pack – however, Adorama doesn’t recommend this.

Accessories available include a NIMH portable battery pack and spare battery, a speed ring for soft box/light modifiers, a beauty dish, umbrellas, and related items.

At this price point, $199, this light is a good value vis-à-vis overall build quality and light output, and it appears that it would deliver sold performance in the field or in the studio. In my opinion, at 300/ws, a couple of these would fill an average room nicely – even at levels below full power. All you location shooters and real estate photographers, take note!

The Flashpoint DG-600 is available through Adorama: http://www.adorama.com/FP600DG.html

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Me? Use a Hand-Held Light Meter for Photography or Video? (Part 1)

Me? Use a Hand-Held Light Meter? (Part 1)

You bet. In fact, with some of the newer designs available, you’d find they are easier to use, frequently more accurate, and will often help you improve the quality of your work!

I recently attended the Exposure Photo Expo in Toronto, sponsored by Henry’s Photo and Video. A couple of models from Sekonic caught my eye, among them the L-478 and the L-478DR. They have all-digital readouts, touch screen capability, and more. Very nicely updated designs.

Features include incident light readings, spot readings, the DR model is capable of Pocket-Wizard triggering control, enhanced HD Cine features, exposure profiling, flash power controls, flash-ambient measurements, and more.

Spot reading, as compared to incident light metering, can be much more accurate in evaluating dynamic range in a scene, and getting the right exposure in high-contrast situations.

I’ll be writing more about this topic later on, focusing on using a hand-held meter vs. an in-camera meter – probably in two more additional segments – regarding general use, and in creating lighting setups.

Sekonic Meter


Segment 9, Photo Review Series: Line, Light, and Color with David Saffir and Sally Wiener Grotta

Photographers Sally Wiener Grotta and David Saffir analyze David’s midnight Manhattan street scene photo, which was created by engaging his technical expertise, but being guided by compositional instinct.
Image © David Saffir
(Video is part of the Light, Line, and Color series © 2012 by Sally Wiener Grotta and David Saffir.)

Next Segment, New Photo Review Series: Line, Light, and Color with David Saffir and Sally Wiener Grotta

No photographer can plan everything. Sally Wiener Grotta and David Saffir discuss how photographers hone their eyes and minds to take advantage of often fleeting accidents of nature and timing that can lead to momentous photographs. Image © David Saffir
(Video is part of the Light, Line, and Color series © 2012 by Sally Wiener Grotta and David Saffir.)

PS – take a look at the Workshops tab at the top of this page!