Posts Tagged ‘L-758DR’

Emily Knudsen: From the Bomb Shelter to Restaurants

September 20, 2010

Not many photographers her age have as much film experience as Emily Knudsen, but she feels fortunate she does. Originally from Lebanon, Connecticut, it was in high school where she took a photography course, learned darkroom skills, and shot countless rolls of 35mm film. “I had a Pentax K1000, and that was my first real manual camera,” she says. “It was given to me by my father. It had been his and had been given to him by his father.”

Knudsen refers to her grandfather, the K1000’s original owner, as the spark of her interest in photography. In the 1950’s he had built a Cold War bomb shelter in his basement. This he later turned into a darkroom, where he developed film and printed. “That was a big hobby of his. It got traced down through my Dad and then to me,” she says.

©Emily Knudsen

Although she has since joined the digital revolution, Knudsen’s roots are firmly planted in her film origins. “This might sound kind of silly, but for me the one big attachment and the thing that really hooked me using that camera—and really getting into photography—was the feel of the shutter and advancing the film,” she explains. “I loved it, just that feeling. You had just completed the picture, you put the shutter down. Take your picture and you complete it by advancing the film. I loved that.”

Learning basic skills in her high school class, Knudsen then started looking for higher education opportunities in photography. “I went to get my senior pictures done and asked the photographer where she went to school,” she recalls. “She went to the Hallmark Institute of Photography. That’s how I got into rethinking Hallmark and it sounded perfect because it was such a short program and it was so intensive. It was all photography and, more importantly, not the photography, but the business end of it.”

©Emily Knudsen

Attending Hallmark right out of high school, Knudsen initially studied portraiture. Being a self-described people person, she thought this was the way to go. Eventually, she learned working on commercial assignments such as products was more to her liking, with food photography at the top of her list. “You’re there in the studio and you can take as much time as you want,” she says. “Pressure’s off, unless something’s melting. It’s just you and your subject, which can’t talk to you, or rush you or anything. I am very picky in just about every little detail. I really find myself liking that and just liking to have my own time and just working by myself and styling things the way I want them.”

After she built a general portfolio covering a range of photographic styles, Knudsen graduated and began working at a portrait studio. Her assignments included lots of babies, children and some families. She grew tired of this type of shooting, and eventually took an internship at The Improper Bostonian. Soon, she was photographing food again, more than she ever had in school. She was sent on location, which initially made her anxious, as she was used to studio lighting. Turning a challenge into an opportunity, she researched photography and food both online and in food magazines. Drawing inspiration from her research, she soon found her vehicle. “The more I looked at the food photography I liked,” she recalls, “it just looked like natural light.”

©Emily Knudsen

Blessed with an encouraging editor at The Improper, Knudsen quickly began forming her signature style. When on location at a restaurant, she will move dishes near a window to take advantage of natural light. “I usually mix a little bit of flash—I just bounce the tiniest bit of flash to fill in shadows, but I’m all about the natural light now,” she says. “I almost don’t know what I would do if I had to photograph food in the studio.”

Part of the appeal of working this way is the verisimilitude, according to Knudsen. Although this flies in the face of what most commercial photography is about in our age of heavily retouched hyper-real media, this young photographer has her reasons, and they are honest and full of integrity. “It seems more natural,” she explains. “It’s as it should be. That’s how you view food when you’re going to eat it. It’s a shame when you view food and it doesn’t look appetizing. It’s a shame.”

©Emily Knudsen

With her editor sending her to Boston’s better restaurants, Knudsen is fortunate in that the great culinary artists she’s documenting are all about presentation. Arming herself with a Canon EOS 5D and working with accomplished chefs, she rarely has to ask them to change things or use different dishes.

With her photographer grandfather deceased before seeing his granddaughter following in his footsteps, he would be proud. Knudsen knows how to make dishes look their best, and quickly builds strong rapports with chefs. “They’ve worked with photographers before,” she says. “They know what works. I put a lot of trust in them to prepare the food because they really do know what they’re doing.” That said, she does make small styling tweaks now and then, such as wiping something errant off a plate, but she largely lets the chefs present as they wish.

©Emily Knudsen

Coming from a film background, Knudsen relies on her early training and applies it to the digital world. “I am all about getting the shot right in camera,” she states. “That’s something I learned from film. You’ve got to get it right in camera. The flip side is that using a digital camera, you do have that ability to instantly view what you just took, so you really can get it right in camera. Obviously, metering is very important to me. I like to play around to see what works.”

Light metering is part of her approach, although her eye for food photography in natural light is very accurate. “The first time I ever used the meter was at Hallmark,” she says. “That’s where I learned it. That’s where I got my Sekonic L-758DR meter. It is a huge help. I use the meter more so when photographing people, when I’ve got my lights out and everything, but even on location, just to get that light right, I rely on my Sekonic. I’d rather just have the shot right and go home and tweak a few things and call it a day. I like being happy with what I have and knowing I was able to get it right in camera. I carry it around everywhere, and it’s always held up for me.”

©Emily Knudsen

For the times Knudsen does pull out strobes, she relies on Profoto gear. “I use them whenever I shoot people” she says. “I have the AcuteB 600R’s and I use mainly the three by four softboxes. I love those soft boxes. I also have a Beauty Dish which I use occasionally.” To fire off this gear, Knudsen uses PocketWizard Plus II units.

©Emily Knudsen

For the immediate future, Knudsen sees herself staying in Boston and learning more. Although she’s out of the bomb shelter darkroom, she still uses film now and then for personal projects. Her professional and impressive food photography is digital, and that’s where she’ll keep her focus. We don’t know where opportunity and career changes may take this young shooter, but we’d be happy to sit down to a plate of almost anything Knudsen has photographed. She makes it look that good.

Emily Knudsen Photography
Emily Knudsen Blog
Emily Knudsen on Twitter

Terry Stacey, Verisimilitude Master of Light

February 9, 2010

Cinematographers live or die by light. There are two big guns in their arsenal: choice of camera and choice of lighting rigs. How they manipulate and capture both natural and man-made light affects the look, and hence, mood of an entire film. Closely related to the art of still photography, cinematographers also have to deal with time and movement. These added dimensions make their choices all the more critical. Since 1997, Terry Stacey has been a director of photography on major motion pictures with stunningly effective, understated and natural-looking lighting.

Terry Stacey takes a light reading on the set of The Extra Man.

In the early 1980’s Stacey graduated from the University of Manchester in England and moved to New York City. “These were the halcyon days,” he says, laughing. He worked as a musician and photographer at The Collective for the Living Cinema. He also shot and edited Super 8 short films and got involved in the nascent music video scene. “There was a huge Super 8 scene, which is a great way to experiment. I learned so much doing that,” he explains.

Arming himself with a 16mm Bolex, Stacey headed to South America and made his own documentaries. “It was all done with available light,” he says. He later made his own films and documentaries in India, Iceland, and England. “I put together a show reel with footage of work I’d done for friends’ bands. That actually got me a job on a really low-budget documentary shooting in Brazil. It was almost a dream. The director responded to my work because of my work in natural light. That documentary got me more work.”

One job led to another, and soon he was in Los Angeles, shooting music videos until he returned to New York to enter the independent film scene. “I was there again at the perfect time in the nineties when the IFC was pumping out great films out of great scripts for just one million dollars.”

Regarding his style of cinematography, Stacey points to his origins. “My roots are in documentaries, so I tend to see things in a more naturalistic way. Things are slightly enhanced, but a naturalistic romanticism is how I see the world,” he chuckles. “To me, the best stuff looks like it wasn’t lit.” He has given his signature natural lighting-look to films as diverse as the groundbreaking American Splendor, The Nanny Diaries and In Her Shoes. In television, he’s shot Dexter, Sex in the City, and a hauntingly sparse, brilliantly-lit extended promo for The Sopranos, among others.

Much of what Stacey does is artful subterfuge. Stacey’s latest film to be released is Dear John, starring Channing Tatum and Amanda Seyfried. Shot in Charleston, South Carolina. “We had to do a lot of scenes that took place in Afghanistan, Eastern Europe, and Saudi Arabia, and we shot it all in South Carolina.” Stacey says. The production designers and crew specify and utilize props, but it’s Stacey’s job to match lighting from around the world.

Stacey is now prepping a film in Vancouver which is supposed to take place in Seattle. I’m with Cancer is a black comedy starring James McAvoy and Seth Rogen, and directed by Jonathan Levine. “To me, comedies often look too vivid, clean and over-lit. In this one we’re going to go for a softer, muted palette, and show a few more flaws in terms of framing, hand-held cameras, and let windows blow out. Just add some roughness to it so it feels a little more like life. Tattered.”

Terry Stacey on set with a Sekonic L-608 Cine light meter.

In behind the scenes photos taken on-set, Stacey is often shown holding a Sekonic L-608 Cine meter. “I use it all the time. I take it to bed with me,” he says, laughing. His meter of choice these days is a Sekonic L-758DR. “I have it hanging around my neck every day. I used to always carry two meters—a Sekonic and an old Minolta spot meter. I’d put one down, pick up the other, and I’d always lose one. It’s great to now have an incident and a spot meter all in one, and it’s incredibly accurate–that’s the amazing thing. It looks more delicate than it actually is. A lot of filmmaking is in the moment, and it’s great to have it there at all times, ready to go. All you need is a couple of seconds to double-check that reading.”

Stacey can be seen in the January 2010 issue of ICG, using a Sekonic L-608 meter. His career has been spent shaping light and making our entertainment look as real as possible. The the art of filmmaking is better for it. Terry Stacey is the master of beautiful, but not obvious lighting techniques. We’ll happily keep our eyes on what he does.

Terry Stacey Cinematography
Terry Stacey on Wikipedia
Terry Stacey on IMDb

Written by Ron Egatz

Yung-Jing Hsu: Products and People

January 27, 2010

Clean lines. Well-lit products. Effective use of depth of field. Rich, but not overblown saturation. These are some of the initial impressions taken from the work of Yung-Jing Hsu. In 1995, Yung-Jing Hsu graduated from Tamkang University in Tam-Sui with a degree in Mass Communications. In his second and third years there, he studied commercial photography and photojournalism. He currently lives and shoots in Taipei, Taiwan.

©Yung-Jing Hsu

When asked about his product photography, Hsu says it’s more difficult than when he takes portraits. “I have to use all my concentration when taking pictures of products because they never ‘talk’ to me,” he says. “I can communicate with models, but you can’t do that with products.” Eager to make products look as good as they possibly can, he sees the challenge of shooting inanimate objects which are straightforward photographic assignments, yet have an absence of rapport with this particular shooter.

©Yung-Jing Hsu

As a full-time professional photographer, Hsu’s main clients are newspapers and magazines. Previously, he shot exclusively for the Taiwanese newspaper Apple Daily.

Often working in a deliberate methodology, Hsu typically composes and arranges the elements of his photographs before shooting. There is not much shooting from the hip at a Hsu photoshoot. His main camera body is a Canon EOS 5D Mark II. His post work sometimes includes color correction or saturation enhancement in Photoshop.

©Yung-Jing Hsu

“I’m using a Sekonic L-758DR meter right now,” says Hsu. “It’s the most powerful and convenient tool for light measurement.” When asked how the L-758DR helps his photography, Hsu says, “the multifunctional control of measurement helps me in all situations. The sensitivity and correct readings let me control the light perfectly. The large display panel gives me all the info I need, and it’s really easy to read.”

©Yung-Jing Hsu

“I use Broncolor when taking pictures in studio,” Hsu continues, “and Comet for a backup system. I use different lighting control equipment for different subjects. In product photography, I prefer lightform panels with standard reflectors. Sometimes I add a honeycomb. In beauty photography, I prefer a beauty dish with a lightform panel or softbox. In fashion or portrait photography, lighting depends on what the editors want, or which atmosphere is suitable. Sometimes it’s just bare florescent tubes.”

©Yung-Jing Hsu

“I use a sync-cord to connect with lighting gear and L-758DR. The incident-light measurement for exposure value and every independent lighting control. Using reflective light (spot-meter) measurement for lighting condition inside the scene. Eventually, I will buy a PocketWizard for wireless flash triggering to improve my work efficiency.”

In the short term, Hsu is looking to take on some projects that will expand his ability to handle different subject matter. In the long term, he hopes to “combine photojournalism and commercial photography in order to have my own photography style,” he says.

Hsu Yung-Jing on Flickr

Hsu Yung-Jing on Facebook

Written by Ron Egatz

Gage Thompson, There and Back Again

January 21, 2010

Located a half-hour south of Salt Lake City, Utah, Gage Thompson has known what he’s wanted to do for a living since taking photography classes in high school. While shooting black and white film for high school functions, Thompson got a part-time job working for Cory Adams, “a high-volume portrait photographer,” Thompson explains. “He shoots schools and Little League teams. He shot all-digital Nikons, so I was able to learn about that world there.”

©Gage Thompson. Key light: beauty dish directly above model. Rim: two large softboxes on either side of model. Background: one standard reflector.

The part-time job not only solidified Thompson’s goal of becoming a professional photographer, but also gave him practical digital workflow experience. Higher education was calling, and Thompson began researching schools. He decided on Hallmark Institute of Photography in Turners Falls, Massachusetts. Graduating in the top ten percent of the Class of 2009, he’s returned to his hometown to begin his career as a professional photographer.

©Gage Thompson. Key light: two white umbrellas on either side.

Shooting a wide variety of subject matter from slick product photography to gritty portraits, Thompson sees himself shooting movie posters or other commercial work in the future. Shooting all-digital now, Thompson uses a Nikon D700 body after formerly using Canon products.

©Gage Thompson. Tripod used. Key light: two parabolics on either side of model at 45 degree angles behind for rim but allowed to hit in front of his face to illuminate the smoke.

Currently, Thompson finds himself shooting for clients such as a high-end real estate photography company and the Canyons, a ski resort where he’s often “shooting family portraits on top of a mountain,” he says.

©Gage Thompson. All natural light.

At Hallmark, Thompson got hooked on using the lighting trifecta of Profoto, PocketWizard and Sekonic. He also shot with Mamiya medium format cameras. As he continues to build his own gear collection, one item which won’t get replaced soon is his Sekonic L-758DR meter. “I quickly found the light meters in-camera try their best, but often fail,” says Thompson. “The 758 does a great job. It’s the one with the spot meter and the incident meter. It has so much to it, I haven’t even finished the manual yet. I use it to set up all my lighting gear. I pop off a few exposures to make sure the ratios are all good, and I’m set for the shoot. I rely on it. It saves time of me looking goofy taking test shots, for sure, and you get perfect readings. I’ve had for a year and no problems so far. If it can live through a year at Hallmark of everyone dropping it, it’ll keep working fine for me.”

©Gage Thompson. One large softbox above and slightly forward of watch. Two smaller softboxes in front at 45 degree angles to the product.

“I do enjoy shooting everything,” says our young photographer at the beginning of his career. “Opening a studio would be nice, where I can have all my gear and do product photography or fashion work. My latest project is a 365 day shoot of self-portraits,” which can be seen on his blog.

©Gage Thompson. Tripod, Key light: beauty dish directly above model. Fill light: parabolic with white umbrella to camera left hitting torso. Foreground lighting: two 1x4 softboxes on either side of sweep hitting the foreground. BKG: two 3x4 softboxes on either side of background.

For now, Utah holds many photographic opportunities for Thompson. He honed his craft at Hallmark, and now the corporate clients and snowy slopes have called him back home. Stay tuned for more professional-caliber product photography and other assignments from a young talent simply interested in shooting everything.

All Thompson’s photos featured in this blog post were metered with the Sekonic L-758DR.

Gage Thompson Photography

Gage Thompson’s Blog

Gage Thompson on Twitter

Gage Thompson on Facebook

Gage Thompson on MySpace

Gage Thompson on Flickr

Written by Ron Egatz

Bobbi Lane: Thirty Years of Freelance Photography

December 10, 2009

Thirty years isn’t much in plate tectonics, evolution, or changes in the Earth’s magnetic field. In the world of freelance professional photography, thirty years is a significant achievement. Bobbi Lane has been involved with serious photographic pursuits since her undergraduate days at Emerson College and New England School of Photography. After graduation, she started an apprenticeship with Bill Sumner in Boston. In 1979 she became a freelance photographer and has been self-employed ever since.

©Bobbi Lane

Being an assignment photographer is not her only accomplishment for the past three decades. She is almost as equally well-known as a photographic educator, teaching seminars and workshops around the world in places such as Dubai and Costa Rica. In the United States, she’s often lecturing or teaching in Los Angeles, Santa Fe, New York City, Boston, Chicago and Rockport, Maine. Five books, two DVDs, over a dozen exhibits, and many industry awards are a testament to her talent as a photographer and her instructional abilities.

©Bobbi Lane

No stranger to preproduction, Bobbi often sketches her lighting design ideas before shoots. Arriving prepared is key to her methodology. This was employed in her most recent shoot: guitarist Will Hanza on a Manhattan rooftop. The objective in this shoot was to get that magic time of sunset when interior lights of buildings come on, but the sky still naturally lit. To help accomplish this, she used a Sekonic L-758DR meter. “There were several reasons why I needed to have a light meter during this shoot,” says Bobbi. “First, I was using two light sources—two strobes: a beauty dish and a strip light for the edge effect. I had to get the right balance between the two. I used the Incident mode to measure the main light. I placed the strip light in relation to the main light. In most circumstances I would put the background light about a full-stop less than the main light. In this case, I did it about one half-stop less. I wanted it to be a little stronger because I wanted more drama and edge-feel. We used the spot meter to read the sky in the background. You can’t take an incident reading of the sky because an incident meter measures the light falling on a subject. The sky is a light source. You have to have a reflective meter to take the reading off the sky. That worked perfectly.”

©Bobbi Lane

The L-758DR came through on all fronts for Bobbi. “The meter was so good. I always look at my histograms to double check everything and make sure I’m getting the amount of light I need—not losing shadow detail or not blowing out highlight detail. This meter was so absolutely right on. I didn’t have to adjust or compensate for anything.”

©Bobbi Lane

A contributor to stock photography agencies for twenty-five years, she recently left Getty Images for a small agency which was bought by Corbis. Although she describes the state of stock photography business “dismal,” There are still a few bright spots. “Most of what I sell from stock agencies is Travel, and most of that is American cities. No one is really interested in buying stock photos unless you have full model releases on all the people in the photo. Because of the royalty-free stock and these micro-stock sites, the value of rights-managed stock has really come down quite a bit.” The news is not all dismal, though. “I still think there’s room for photographers making high-quality images in rights-managed stock, but no one’s making the money they used to. I know several photographers who shot stock exclusively, and their income is half of what it was ten years ago. That said, I don’t think stock photography is going away. No matter how many people put their images on the Web for free, if someone needs a high-quality image, they’ll pay for it.”

©Bobbi Lane

Client-direct assignments for corporate photography, particularly on a local level, has become the majority of her jobs these days. Small advertising agencies and design firms fill out her work week, with environmental portraits, formal portraits, and related work for companies’ Web sites. “It’s very similar to corporate annual report photography,” Bobbi explains. “You’re doing people, facilities, and products. Every client is different, so I try to create a different look for each company I work for.”

©Bobbi Lane

Editorial work for local magazines like Ridgefield Magazine and Bedford Magazine keep her busy, as does national magazines. Trade publications like Brandweek Magazine call her for interpretive portrait work.

©Bobbi Lane

The clients have come and gone and come again. The face of the stock photography business has changed radically with the advent of the Internet. Digital technology steadily replaces film. Through it all, Bobbi Lane continues to earn a living on her own terms as a freelance photographer, an educator, and through stock photo sales. Photographers everywhere can learn much from this talented pro shooter.

©Bobbi Lane

Calumet Photographic at 22 West 22nd Street, New York City, hosted Bobbi Lane’s Metering Video Premiere Event on Wednesday, December 9, from 6 to 8 p.m. Educator and photographer Bobbi Lane premiered of her new video for Sekonic on metering techniques. The video features guitarist Will Pino on a rooftop in Manhattan during an incredible sunset. Lane will be in attendance to talk about her insights on the creation of these dynamic images using Sekonic meters and Calumet Travelites.

Bobbi Lane Photography

Bobbi Lane at Photofolio

Portrait Lighting Techniques and Portraits Unplugged, produced and sold by Calumet

“Portraits Unplugged,” an online class for the Perfect Picture School of Photography

Written by Ron Egatz

Using Sekonic Meters to Balance Flash and Ambient II – Digital Photography 1 on 1 with Mark Wallace

August 16, 2008

Mark Wallace of SnapFactory made a GREAT video about balancing ambient and flash with the Sekonic L-758DR – very instructional, very detailed. Learn and enjoy. Thanks, Mark! Be sure to browse his blog – it’s chock full of video goodness. He runs a knockout workshop series, too.

Also can be viewed on, makers of the (awesome) LightSource podcast, and Vimeo

Sekonic Releases Version 2.0 of Data Transfer Software for L-758DR

March 11, 2008

Sekonic’s new Version 2.0 Data Transfer Software is used to create and edit camera exposure profiles and then transfer them to the L-758DR for extremely accurate control of exposure. Along with the sensors’ dynamic range, it records the unique variations of your digital camera, such as the effects of shutter speed and aperture mechanisms as well as the characteristics of the lens in use. This new software is designed to be user-friendly and its adjustable graph function makes quick work of viewing and modifying profiles.

Available for Mac OS X and Windows. 

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