Archive for August, 2010

Rebecca Guenther on Light Meters

August 27, 2010

Rebecca Guenther of M5A1 Photography has a video out entitled “How to Use Light Meters.” A photographer in Austin, Texas, Guenther was filmed by Todd Green.

For those of you looking for a very basic explanation of how to use a light meter from a very talented photographer, check out this video!

Guenther also has another great video which showcases some of her work and ideas about creative lighting.

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Getting Real with Rachel Rebibo

August 25, 2010

Moving from New York to Paris six years ago, Rachel Rebibo has had image-making in her for a long time. Previously a resident of Washington, D.C. and New York, she now finds herself in sync with the European lifestyle, despite the byzantine maze of French paperwork she’s often required to navigate. Finding herself behind a camera since she was ten, this photographer is hitting her stride in a big way. Often carrying four cameras and a light meter in her handbag, she’s ready for any photographic happening. “I’m one of those chicks who rocks a really big purse,” she laughs.

 

©Rachel Rebibo

 

Women and their fashion accessories is something Rebibo knows a lot about. She loves to photograph women. In particular she has shot a woman named Julia, a professional makeup artist, in a wide variety of styles and locations. “I feel like the camera loves her. She can’t take a bad picture,” she says of her muse. The two became close friends after meeting as students. “I’m sort of addicted to taking her picture, I think she’s beautiful,” Rebibo says. You can see more of these images on her site.

 

©Rachel Rebibo

 

Not content to just photograph female models, Rebibo drove around the United States for a month and a half, creating images for her Americana series. Rebibo didn’t simply document landscapes, buildings, and still life studies. She also got to meet citizens who took her into their homes and fed her. She’s chronicled misspelled signs, trailer park life, bar-be-que joints, and taxidermy examples of two-headed mammals. Her images of this largely unseen yet common America are moody, sometimes disturbing, and partially askew. Her untypical camera angles and composition help emphasize a land and a people not wholly content or at peace.

 

©Rachel Rebibo

 

Estimating ninety percent of her fashion and commercial work is shot on film, Rebibo also shoots digitally. Not a fan of retouching, she proudly states, “I don’t use the healing brush and I don’t Liquify at all, ever.” Utilizing Photoshop to only color correct, tweak contrast, and eliminate dust, she says, “I refuse to deform women’s bodies. I don’t use the Liquify filter in Photoshop to make them thinner, make her boobs bigger, make their eyes pop, and then make their lips fuller. I just don’t do that.”

 

©Rachel Rebibo

 

Rebibo finds clients gravitating toward her film photos. “When people are looking at my book and they go, ‘I love this photo.’ Nine times out of ten, it’s a film photo,” she says. Because of this preference of paying customers, she finds the need for accuracy in her exposures to be even more critical. “In black and white and color printing—that’s when you really realize how important it is to expose correctly. When you’re trying to print, it’s not the same as what you can do in Photoshop. When you’re trying to print you really need a correctly exposed negative where you’ll spend hours and hours and hours trying to get the image you had in your head. Because of this, when I went to school it was required you had a light meter.”

 

©Rachel Rebibo

 

It’s an amorphous quality that a well-metered film photograph holds. “It’s just got something you can’t quite put your finger on. It’s not flat, like a digital photo, but there’s something else to it.”

“Something else” might just be the quality her photographs hold. She uses Profoto and Mamiya gear, but she’s especially keen on Sekonic meters. “I use my Sekonic light meter all the time,” she says. “It’s a beast. I wouldn’t mind at all telling people how much I love that product.”

 

©Rachel Rebibo

 

Using a Sekonic Zoom Master L-508, and it hasn’t failed her yet. “When people ask me advice about equipment and stuff, they always make remarks light meters are really expensive,” she explains. “My answer is they have always been expensive and they will always be expensive, but it’s possibly the most sound investment besides your heavy duty professional camera body because you use it forever. I think I’ve had my light meter for ten years. It’s held up the whole time for me. I’ve taken it all over. It’s been to Asia four or five times. It’s been across the United States. It’s been in rain and swamps and sand and all sorts of stuff. It’s slept with me in a tree house in Vietnam. It’s never, ever malfunctioned ever, it’s never had a problem.”

 

©Rachel Rebibo

 

Rebibo has strong feelings about the practical use of a meter by serious photographers. “I think people get too used to looking at the screen with digital photography, and I feel like that’s a big problem because you can’t look at the screen for exposure,” she says. “If you’re street shooting, you can sometimes get away with not using a light meter because you can sort of gaze, but in a studio I think it’s shameful to not use a light meter,” she laughs. “I think it should be illegal to not use a light meter in the studio.”

There is a clear method to why she feels so strongly. “Our studio teacher at the School of Visual Arts made us do these horrible exercises shooting white on white, reflective metal on white, reflective metal on black, and all those types of things to learn proper metering for products and clothes. If you’re shooting a white dress on a white background, looking at the screen is not going to guarantee you that you have the right detail in both.”

 

©Rachel Rebibo

 

Meters and film are not the only two tools Rebibo sees as superior for photographers. “Most digital prints become pretty yellow and gross within three years of printing, no matter what the manufacturers claim,” she says. “You need to print it again, but you don’t ever have a tangible item, a finished product in your hands the way you do when you have a set of negatives.” Referring to very professional labs, Rebibo has been dissatisfied with today’s prints, but doesn’t blame the labs. “It’s the materials they’re sold by manufacturers. Whereas for instance, fiber prints I printed myself in high school still look as crisp and as clear and as white and black as the day I printed them.”

 

©Rachel Rebibo

 

Rebibo shoots several Mamiya cameras, including a Mamiya C330, her very first medium format camera. “I dream of owning an RZ67,” she says, her goal being able to provide film-phobic clients with images from a digital back. A fan of natural light when shooting outside or on location, in the studio, Rebibo exclusively uses Profoto lighting gear. “I shoot really fast, even when I’m shooting film I can kill 30 rolls of film in 45 minutes without blinking an eye,” she says. “One time I was borrowing a friend’s studio, and I don’t remember what type of lights he had, but they definitely weren’t the most expensive professional lights, which is what I’ve been used to using. Every other shot was black because I was firing too fast and the recycle time wasn’t fast enough. I’d end up wasting so much film with black shots that it’s always worth it to just go with Profoto and then I know that won’t be a problem. I can go as fast as I want.”

 

©Rachel Rebibo

 

Leaning towards film and hand-printing her work, it’s not surprising to learn Rebibo’s overall goals in photography. “My philosophy of shooting is getting back to something real and honest,” she declares. “I think that’s probably where my attachment to film comes from. I don’t want to see a 15 year old girl selling me a pair of shoes that’s aimed for me when I’m 28, and then I don’t want for an agency to send me a 15 year old girl and then ask me to Photoshop out her bones because she weighs 90 pounds and almost fell over at the end of a ten hour shoot.”

What bothers her most about the state of commercial photography? It’s what today’s consumers don’t know. “They don’t realize every single image you see, from children on cereal boxes to every other image you see has been retouched. It’s been Liquified, it’s been airbrushed, and people are not conscious of that. I think it’s really dishonest. I definitely say my philosophy is getting back to something that’s real.”

 

©Rachel Rebibo

 

Rebibo won’t be offended if you say she operates from an photographic era in the past. “I’m sort of an old school thinker, I guess,” she says. “My favorite photographers are Richard Avedon and Helmut Newton and Herb Ritts and also Joel‑Peter Witkin on the very fine art side and they’re real photographers. They made their own photos and I think when you have a creative director and an art director that’s designed everything for you, you’re just someone who’s executing someone else’s idea and that’s not necessarily being a photographer. Photographers take pictures of everything they love—not just fashion, not just advertising, not just documentary, not just portraits, not just fine art.”

In the future, we won’t try to pin Rachel Rebibo down. We’ll watch whatever further developments come from the lenses of this photographer who has a vision no matter the subject matter at hand. Bonne nuit.

 

©Rachel Rebibo

 

Rachel Rebibo Photography
Rachel Rebibo on Behance Network

Written by Ron Egatz

Vintage Light Meters

August 17, 2010

Tomas Webb has written an interesting article on Feeling Negative. The catch phrase of the Feeling Negative Web site is “Hang in there… film isn’t dead yet!”

Webb gives a great overview of old meters, and details what happens as selenium cells age and go bad. Remember, if you’re relying on an old battery-less meter utilizing selenium cells, make sure you’re either well-aware of how many f-stops it’s off due to age (you can do some simple exposure experiments to figure this out), or you have a reliable and accurate backup meter to reference.

In going against the grain of most collectables, the older models are generally less expensive because their functional accuracy is not as great. This makes vintage light meters an excellent value for collectors not interested in using them for professional photography jobs.

©2010 Feeling Negative

Have at it, eBay speculators!

Free Friday Photo School Seminar 8/20/10

August 16, 2010

Sekonic and FridayPhotoSchool are proud to present this FREE learning opportunity for you THIS FRIDAY!

The first in a series of educational video seminar series!

Will Crockett from ShootSmarter.com has created some great content on how to dial in a correct exposure for one of the age-old problems photographers face. Too dark or too light? Crockett solves the problem, and has created some free online video seminars showing you the answers. Why not get it right in camera, instead of trying to doctor your photos on your computer for hours afterwards?

Crockett is hosting a free FridayPhotoSchool.com seminar. Focusing on turning off some of the automated systems in your camera, and exploring manual exposure controls, Crockett aims to empower shooters by mastering their cameras, instead of the other way around. Be sure to check out his 80-minute free seminar this Friday. Set a calendar reminder!

Too Dark? Too Light? Just Right!
CONTROLLING THE BRIGHTNESS OF YOUR PHOTOS
With Will Crockett
FRIDAY AUGUST 20 around lunchtime at 1pm ET. 12n CT. 11am MT. 10am PT on www.fridayphotoschool.com

See you there! Note: the presentation is free, but registration for FridayPhotoSchool.com is required to watch the seminar.

Ronald N. Tan’s Flying L-358

August 4, 2010

Sekonic often gets unsolicited stories about the quality and durability of our meters. One which comes to mind is the email from Ron Plasencia when he wanted to share with us the story of his thirty-five year old Sekonic L-28c light meter, which still functions perfectly for him.

We recently were contacted by Ronald N. Tan, a photographer in Los Angeles and San Francisco, who is the proud owner of a Sekonic L-358 light meter. He shared a remarkable story demonstrating the products strength and durability.

As Tan, a former Applied Physics and Pre-pharmacy major recalls, he started teaching himself photography from scratch in 2007. At that time he purchased a new L-358. Within the first year of owning it, he had a shoot with a model at U.C. Davis and drove the 30 minutes to get there. “After our shoot, I accidentally left my L-358 and my color checker card on the roof,” he reports. “I know this because I have a habit of leaving things on my Maxima 2000.”

When he arrived home, he couldn’t locate the L-358 or his color checker card. “After searching my house, I finally drove back to U.C. Davis,” he says. “At the trunk of the tree located near the parking structure, was my L-358 along with my color checker card. I was able to spot my color checker card from afar due to its bright colors. Since then, my L-358 works perfectly. A good samaritan probably found my items and relocated them off the road and placed them at the trunk of the tree.”

The kindness of a stranger has not been in vain. Tan continues to meter his shoots with his L-358. “Since the accident, my L-358 has traveled with me to El Mirage Day Lake in Los Angeles and the beaches on the Pacific Coastal Highway in Malibu,” he reports. “It got sand on it and some moisture from the water, but it all works well three years later.”

Tan sent us a late email with the following quote. “Great investment!!! I stand behind that as a testimony of L-358’s durability! My L-358 hasn’t been serviced either. If it ain’t broke, why fix it?”

Ronald N. Tan Photography

Ronald N. Tan’s blog

Ronald N. Tan on Facebook

Ronald N. Tan on Twitter

Sean Armenta’s One Light Beauty Setup

August 2, 2010

Fashion, beauty, and lifestyle photographer Sean Armenta has released a video detailing how he sets up one light (a beauty dish) and some homemade reflectors to light a typical cosmetics campaign ad. That’s right. You heard correctly. One light for professional results you’d see in any fashion magazine.

Along with the beauty dish, Armenta also utilizes a Sekonic L-358 meter. At the ready is a bank of PocketWizard Plus II units.

Sean Armenta | One Light Beauty Setup from Sean Armenta.

Armenta put this video together for the FStoppers.com behind the scenes video contest.

We had previously checked out Armenta’s career and work in “Sean Armenta’s Ornaments of Women.” You can see more of his work and writing at the following links.

Sean Armenta Photography
Sean Armenta blog
Sean Armenta on Twitter
Sean Armenta on Facebook
Sean Armenta on Flickr
Sean Armenta’s Workshop

Written by Ron Egatz