For decades I was schooled in conventional (film) photography. So it’s natural that I am a lover of photographic prints. And although I enjoy the convenience and portability of electronic display devices, I simply prefer to view my work on hardcopy prints.
Last last year, I ordered a large format printer – the Epson P800. Normally it makes prints up to size 17″ x 22″. Add a roll paper feeder and it can produce enormous panoramas up to 129″ wide. Since the printer was in high demand at the time, my waiting time was about a month for delivery.
When I finally received the printer, I was preoccupied with a lot of other work. To ensure that the printer was working properly I used to make only two or three prints and then set it aside.
Jump ahead two months and I’m attending the WPPI Conference & Expo. I think to myself that I should learn about printing papers to get the best results from the investment in my Epson P800. And so at WPPI I stop at several makers of fine art papers to get educated.
Hahnemuhle is a German based company that offers a wide variety of papers. I look at their large catalog and am stumped by some of the terminology. So I start asking questions.
What is baryta paper? I’m told that it is paper coated with barium sulphate, a substance used on traditional photographic paper. When baryta paper is used for inkjet printing, it supposedly reproduces the effect of silver halide processing.
Many of the paper descriptions include a gsm value. I find that gsm is an acronym for grams per square meter. Thus a square meter of Canvas Metallic 350 gsm paper is heavier than FineArt Baryta Satin 3500 gsm paper.
I am also curious about paper with the rag description. I learn that this paper is made from cotton linters or rags and is superior to wood-based paper.
The helpful representative left me with this sampler – a collection of their fine art photography papers and other helpful literature. For more information please visit Hahnemuhle.
Namhoon Kim is the Marketing Manager for Durico Media. The company is based in southern California. As you can see from the below photograph, they have a rather large selection of papers.
I helped myself to about a dozen of their print samples all on different paper stock. I find that the samples are the only way to determine if a paper is suitable for one of my prints. Reading a catalog description does not give me the know-how to select a paper – I require hands-on to feel the surface and a sample photograph to give me the visual feedback.
Epson is probably best known as a manufacturer of printers. They also are a large producer of high quality printing papers.
My visit to Epson is to find out more about their printing papers and luckily I am handed a “Print Sample Guide” to take with me. It has their complete line of papers with printed samples: photographic, matte, cotton fine art and canvas.
Before I depart the representative shows me their new software Epson Print Layout. This app is for users of Epson professional printers and provides a convenient and elegant way to organize, set up and print your images. If you’re a user of a high end Epson printer, you can download a copy of the Epson software from here.
For more information about their papers, please visit Epson.
Paperwise, I’m 3 for 3. I walked away with samples from three different manufacturers. So with samples in hand, I am prepared to make my paper choices. Now I’m ready to fire up that printer that has been sitting idle waiting for me.
At this year’s Wedding and Portrait Photography International expo, I spent several hours talking to vendors of cameras, equipment, accessories and services. The people at the Think Tank booth, gifted me a small accessory for everyday use.
This accessory goes by an unorthodox name: My 2nd Brain 11. I suppose the name suggests that all of your necessities can be easily kept in this single case.
The “11” refers to the size of a tablet or notebook that it can hold, in this instance an 11″ model of either.
Load up the case with what you need, throw it over your shoulder and you’re ready to attack the world.
The inner pocket is well padded and provides protection for my iPad. The outer pocket is perfect for holding my cell phone. A non-zippered pocket on the reverse side conveniently holds standard letter-size papers.
The case opens wide and has several elastic-mesh pockets for securely holding pens, business cards, notepads, more. The padded shoulder strap is fully adjustable.
My 2nd Brain 11 comes in black and green. The suggested price of My 2nd Brain 11 is $85.
Think Tank also has larger My 2nd Brain cases for 13″ and 15″ tablets or notebooks.
At this year’s Wedding and Portrait Photography International expo, I spent a considerable amount of time talking to many of the 200+ vendors of cameras, equipment, accessories and services. Spider Holster was one of these vendors that caught my attention.
The Spider Holster set of accessories provides a way to carry one or more cameras conveniently at your waist. The system uses a pin (ball-joint) mounted on a plate that attaches to your camera body. The ball-joint pin securely slides into a slot on a waist-mounted holster. The camera literally “hangs” at your waist leaving your hands free until you are ready to shoot again.
The camera hangs at the shooter’s waist with the lens facing backwards. If the shooter kneels, the lens will remain facing backwards and out of the way.
The pin bracket screws into the camera’s tripod socket. Notice that there are two positions to mount the pin. One position is for a left-hand holster and the other position for a right-hand holster.
The holster attaches to a waist belt. The ball-joint slides into to holster and has a safety latch to prevent the camera from inadvertently detaching.
Representative Ashley Cavanaugh is sporting a single holster. You can also attach a second holster to the waist belt enabling you to swap between two cameras.
To the right is a variety of brackets and plates. One of the plates lets you mount the camera directly on tripods that require an Arca-Swiss mount..
The SpiderPro single camera system includes the holster, the camera plate, the pin and single cam belt. The suggested price of the single camera system is $135.
The dual camera system includes two holsters, plates and pins and a dual cam belt. The suggested price of the dual camera system is $235.
As a long time follower of all thing photographic, I’m attracted to places where I can see, touch and fawn over new and innovative photographic equipment, accessories and services.
The upcoming PhotoPlus Expo 2016 Conference and Exposition is magnetically drawing me to New York City where more than 250 exhibitors will gather to show off their latest products and services. It’s the largest photography and imaging show in North America and has the distinction of more than 30 years of continuous operation.
Additionally, dozens of noted professionals and instructors will conduct 100+ of in depth seminars and classes demonstrating posing, lighting, wedding, portrait, marketing and photofinishing techniques.
Over the many years that I’ve been attending PhotoPlus seminars and demos I come away a little smarter as a photographer. Unfortunately (for my wallet), I also leave itching for new camera equipment and accessories.
The conference includes daily photo walks where attendees will explore the sites and streets of New York City accompanied by well-known professionals.
One standout is the Drone+ Seminar led by photographer George Steinmetz as he shows his aerial films. Also joining him are representatives form the FAA that will explain regulations concerning commercial drone photography.
PhotoPlus takes place October 19-22 at the Jacob Javits Convention Center. With the completion of the #7 subway last year, getting to Javits is an easy ride from other areas of the city.
If you share my enthusiasm for photography, visit PhotoPlus Expo 2016 for more details. Maybe I’ll see you there.
The Wedding & Portrait Photography International Conference and Expo
Can you guess who the target audience is for this convention?
For those professionals who want to enhance their skills – posing, lighting, equipment, marketing – the WPPI is a week-long “university” taught by experts. This year’s WPPI took place March 3rd through March 10th at the MGM Conference Center in Las Vegas. WPPI organized more than 250 classes and seminars for 13,000 anxious attendees. These classes were taught by 175 instructors including notables such as Joe McNally, Tamara Lackey, Lindsay Adler, Roberto Valenzuela, Bambi Cantrell, Hanson Fong, Kevin Kabota, Jerry Ghionis and Gary Fong to name a few.
In addition to the conference, the expo highlighted 270 exhibitors showed the newest cameras, lenses, equipment, lighting, accessories, supplies, marketing material and services. All of the major camera manufacturers will set up booths to demonstrate their latest equipment.
Following is a look at those items that caught my attention at the this year’s WPPI a couple of weeks ago.
Presentations and Seminars
There were many opportunities for everyone to learn new posing and lighting techniques right on the expo floor. All of the camera makers and many vendors were holding demonstrations conducted by well-known photographer/educators.
This small unit is a camera that works in conjunction with an iPhone. With a large 20mp 1″ sensor and f/1.8 lens you attach it to your iPhone to control settings. It also works “off-phone” if you want a small, lightweight camera. Though small, it can capture RAW images too. I found it very straight-forward to use and the images were quite good considering the convention hall lighting.
Suggested price is $499. For more information please visit DXO
MagMod makes a set of accessories to improve the quality of light from your flash unit. These include a snoot to narrow the light to a beam, a sphere to diffuse and soften the light and a bounce that reflects the light output and avoid harsh shadows, gel which add various colors to the light and grid to focus the light.
What is unique about these accessories is that become part of your flash unit using a magnet for instant attachment. Price for the complete set is $235.
I received two demos at this booth. One was for their Derringer above left for carrying from 1 to 3 cameras. You wear the strap on both shoulders with wide padded straps that relieve pressure points and back. The straps are adjustable for easy access to any of the cameras. Price is $485.
For carrying two cameras, the Clydesdale above right can help you more easily carry your equipment. The strap attaches solidly to the camera’s tripod socket. RL makes several styles differing in weight, padding, air holes for easier breathing, color. Prices start at $205 to $425 for the deluxe version.
Sony is the undisputed leader of mirrorless cameras. They have been rapidly adding lenses to support their highly acclaimed full-frame models: A7R II and A7S II cameras.
Three of Sony’s new lenses made it to WPPI for demoing. These are the 85mm f/1.4 GM, 70-200mm f/2.8 OSS and 24-70mm f/2.8 GM. Prices are $1800, $2900 and $2200 respectively. For the 70-200mm lens, Sony is also releasing 1.4X and 2.0X teleconverters. Sony claims a higher resolution of the G series lenses compared to others and superior auto focus performance.
Spider makes a holster with a unique locking-clamping device for conveniently carrying your camera at your waist. The holster is adjustable and is worn like a belt to either side. The clamping device is solid and easily slides into the holster for hands-free carriage. Price for the Spider Pro holster is $135.
The company also has a variety of heavy duty hand straps that come in a variety of colors. All are made of durable material, attach to the camera with a tripod plate and include a removable wrist strap. Price for the black model is $65 and $75 for other colors.
The Wedding & Portrait Photography International Conference and Expo
As I sit at my computer in crusty Michigan with the clouds building for another forecasted snow storm, I’m looking forward to escaping for a few days.
My destination is the WPPI Conference & Expo which begins March 3rd and runs through March 10th. For professional photographers and hobbyists alike, it’s a chance to learn from experts.
Additionally, you’ll travel to the warm climes of Las Vegas at the MGM Conference Center for extracurricular activities that are sure to add up to a practical education and fun packed week.
WPPI is comprised of hundreds of classes and seminars taught by noted photographers such as Joe McNally, Tamara Lackey, Lindsay Adler, Roberto Valenzuela, Bambi Cantrell, Hanson Fong, Kevin Kabota, Jerry Ghionis and Gary Fong to name a few.
Alongside the conference is the expo portion in which 80,000 square feet of space occupied by 300 exhibitors who will showcase the newest cameras, lenses, equipment, lighting, accessories, supplies, marketing material and services. All of the major camera manufacturers will set up booths to demonstrate their latest wares.
The Consumer Electronics Show has been the face of the electronics industry for almost 50 years. Except for one year, I’ve attended the show continuously since 1980 first as an exhibitor for many years, next as an industry member and lately as part of the press.
CES is held each year in early January in Las Vegas. This makes traveling to CES a respite from the cold and snowy winter weather of my home base in Michigan. I walked many miles through the aisles and took in the breath of new gadgets that may make their way to our homes and businesses in the next months.
Along with 170,000 attendees, I was privy to see some 3,800 exhibitors that occupied 2.5 million square feet of floor space showing their products.
Here are a couple that caught my attention.
DXO One – iOS Camera
One of my first stops was at the DXO Labs booth where their rep Elodie Petiot demonstrated a small, standalone camera that melds seamlessly with the iPhone and iPad.
The DXO One has a high resolution 20MP sensor with a fast f/1.8 32mm equivalent lens and attaches directly to the iOS device through a Lighting connector thereby eliminating the need for a wifi connection. An iOS app provides control over all of the cameras’s features – focus, exposure, shutter speed, aperture setting, ISO setting, more. Captured images are immediately transferred to the iPhone for editing or sharing online.
The suggested price for the DXO One is $475. For more information please visit DXO.
Sony Alpha 7R II Mirrorless
I’ve been using Sony APS-C mirrorless cameras for the past four years, but Sony’s new full-frame a7r II has been on my radar scope since it became available late last year. With a whopping 42-megapixel sensor it should fits into my fondness for landscape photography. Its BSI (back sided illuminated) sensor enables Sony to pack more light gathering power onboard, thereby boosting sensitivity to 102,400. Autofocus speed is said to be 40% faster than the earlier a7R model. Other improvements include five-axis image stabilization and shutter dampening for less camera vibration.
What’s holding me back from purchasing this camera? I’d also have to shell out a big investment for a set of full-frame lenses.
The suggested price of the a7R II is $3200. For more information, please visit Sony.
Stay tuned for a look at a couple of 3D printers that caught my eye at CES 2016.
The PhotoPlus Expo is the largest photography show in the US. This year more than 21,000 photo professionals and enthusiasts flocked to New York City’s Jacob Javits Center to attend the various events. These included more than 100+ classes conducted by 140 speakers covering posing, lighting, equipment, software, services, business techniques and strategy. In addition there were 15 photo walks across the New York City landscape in which participants were mentored by noted professionals.
I took an interest in the more than 250 exhibitors covering more than 100,000 square feet of space and demonstrating their goods and services.
Following are some of the exhibits that I stopped by during my visit to PhotoPlus Expo.
There were an abundance of live seminars and demonstrations on the expo floor. These covered a large gamut of photo topics: better use of equipment, lighting techniques, wedding and portrait sets, directing and posing subjects, post-processing and software usage.
Many well-known photographers and educators were on hand for the seminars and floor demos: Hanson Fong, Joe McNally, Lindsay Adler, Tamara Lackey, Terry White, Julianne Kost, Scott Kelby to name a few. With more than 100 classes, there is learning for every photographic category.
For those interested in trying new cameras and accessories, all of the major manufacturers had exhibits and representatives to demonstrate their wares and answer questions. Even hard-to-find accessories such as these long lenses were available for hands-on trial for the many interested photographers.
Many attendees use the services available at PhotoPlus to clean and/or service their equipment Here is a Canon rep cleaning a DLSR while the owner waits. The major manufacturers Canon, Nikon, Sony and Panasonic all had technicians on hand to provide service to those with extended service contracts. They also provided complimentary cleaning.
Barber Shop Leather Accessories
I was attracted to goods at the Barber Shop booth. They had a very attractive collection of leather camera straps and cameras bags. Barber Shop is an Italian company and these goods were exquisitely stylish and solidly made. For more information visit Barber Shop.
LowePro Camera Bags
Based on my many years of satisfaction with their products, I stopped at the LowePro booth. On display were several dozen of backpack style camera bags in sizes varying from small for a single camera to extra large for two cameras with six or more lenses.
I took to their Urban Reporter which looks more like a messenger bag rather than a conventional camera bag. It has room for a laptop, a large camera and ample padded storage for several lenses and accessories.
I also saw their new DroneGuard. This is a case designed to carry a drone (e.g. DJI Phantom) and accessories. This makes transporting the drone convenient and safe.
You can learn about their product line by visiting LowePro.
Urban Reporter 350
Tornado Hexcopter Drone
Drones are available in many different sizes and sport a wide variety of features. It’s almost essential that these flying devices have excellent digital equipment, stabilization and easy control if the desired end result is quality photography and video.
At the Yuneec booth, the Canadian company’s product director Mark Padilla gave me a demonstration of their Tornado H920. This professional drone has a lightweight carbon fiber body controlled by a sophisticated remote that includes “pilot view”, video downlink and instrumentation.
The camera provides full 1080 HD. Since the drone’s landing pods are retractable, the camera has an unobstructed view. Additionally, it is mounted on a controllable 3-axis gimbal for steady shots.
Below you can see Mark giving me a demo of the Tornado H920:
Cotton Carrier Harnesses
As an outdoor photographer, I typically carry two or more cameras on assignment and headed to Cotton Carrier to look at their products.
Their “vest” holds one or two handsfree depending on the options selected. Each camera is held to the vest using a locking connector and leash. They also have a Speed Belt for holding a camera at waist level.
Over the years I’ve owned several professional quality printers. The most recent was limited to 13″ wide prints.
I’m now interested in a printer for making larger prints and stopped to talk to the Epson representative who demonstrated their new SureColor P800. This device can make 17″ wide prints on a very wide variety of papers, has several paper handling features including roll feeder, uses large capacity ink cartridges with enhanced black and white printing. The samples produced during the demo were superb. The SureColor P800 is now on my wish list.
You can find out more about the P800 by visiting Epson.
Kodak PixPro SP360 Action Camera
Kodak’s Rep Amanda Drain gave me a demo of their innovative PixPro SP360 Action Camera. As its name suggests, it captures 360 degrees as 1080p HD video.
The camera itself is a cube with a dome on top. It’s weather resistant and ruggedly designed to withstand drops and knocks. It has Wi-Fi and NFC connectivity and can be controlled with either IOS (Apple) or Android devices.
To see samples of the 360 HD video and for more information please visit Kodak PixPro.
If you’re ready to experience the PhotoPlus Conference next year, mark your calendar for October 19-22 at Jacob Javits Center in New York City.
Note: This is a followup to an article written more than a year ago.
It happened just a few days ago. As I was getting out of my car, one of my cameras slipped from my grip and dropped onto the cement floor. I picked it up believing that it would require a trip to the repair shop.
On further examination I could see that the lens filter was shattered. I turned the camera’s power on and to my delight the viewfinder lit up brightly. Next I pressed the shutter half-way and was even happily surprised to see that the autofocusing was also working.
I felt lucky AGAIN for this isn’t the first time that a filter gave up its life to save an expensive piece of glass.
In my photography early days, I was a faithful user of lens caps. Whenever I wasn’t shooting, I would snap the lens cap onto the lens. I considered this a safe way to care for my equipment. Of course, most of us also enclosed the entire camera inside its companion leather case. Yes, we were very protective of our precious equipment. And yes again, I spent a lot of time looking for misplaced or buying replacement lens caps.
When I acquired my first SLR at age 14, I quickly fell out of the habit of using lens caps. I may have inherited this trait from my photography mentor for whom I worked while still a student. John explained that removing a lens cap required too much time when you are trying to capture the action.
Instead, I began to using a filter on the lens to protect the front glass element. The filter prevents dust and dirt from accumulating on the lens surface. And the filter is easier and safer to clean. To this day I use either a high quality UV or Skylight filter for most of my shooting.
Now that digital cameras have replaced film cameras I also notice that leather cases have all but gone out of style. I see very few them of them these days. But I do notice that many photographers still use lens caps to protect the glass in front.
I’m not here to make a political case for or against lens caps, only to suggest that filters offer more than dust protection for your lens. In addition, they can protect the front lens element from nasty scratches.
Here’s my latest proof. I was carrying this camera into the house when it slipped out of my hand and onto the floor. As you can see the filter is shattered.
Of course my heart missed a few beats as I watch the camera as it hits the floor. However, after removing the filter I can see that the front lens surface remains untouched.
In spite of the fall, the camera is working perfectly. Apparently the lens barrel took the brunt of the fall so I’ll have to repair the lens’ electronics.. But the glass is still pristine.
Again this isn’t the first time that I’ve had a mishap such as this. Actually, this is the third forth time that a filter has saved the front glass element of one of my lenses. This alone tells me that I should keep on buying filters for each of my lenses.