Andy Marcus and son Brian are second- and third-generation portrait and wedding photographers. Their New York City studio, Fred Marcus Photography & Videography (www.fredmarcus.com), continues a tradition of dedicated service established by Fred Marcus back in 1941. “Back then my dad would use a 5x7 view camera for studio work and could be seen shooting portraits in bridal salons in the prestigious Bergdorf Goodman and Saks Fifth Avenue, among other venues,” Andy recalls. “When he shot weddings, he’d bring a Speed Graphic to the event—and flashbulbs.”
The merge to HDR process has for too long been a mystery wrapped inside an enigma. That cloak of mystery is one giant step closer to being removed thanks to HDR Express, from Unified Color Technologies (www.unifiedcolor.com). While this software greatly simplifies the process, successful HDR merges don’t just happen when you click a button. There is some planning involved.
Just as interchangeable lenses on an SLR each have a specific purpose or meet a certain need, the same applies to tripod heads. Even if a head comes as part of the tripod kit, you soon realize you may need to replace or supplement it. In this buyer’s guide to tripod heads we’ll look at some of the factors to consider, including budget, load considerations, applications, and matching heads to “sticks.” We’ll also look at the various types of heads available and how each can be used for very specific shooting needs.
There’s a new trend in camera carriers that appeals to photographers who want to look chic while still maintaining the core functionality of the bag. In terms of style they are at polar opposites to rugged backpacks or gear-laden roller bags, yet even the most stylish camera bag has to carry gear in a practical and organized fashion. That includes being built to withstand the rigors of being jostled or bumped in crowds, and being constructed to protect against spilled drinks, or rain at the very least. At the same time, the ideal bag should be built to carry everything we may need on a shoot, and then some.
My impression of a tabletop tripod was probably like yours—a squat, three-legged support that collapsed down to handily fit inside a camera bag. After unpacking the 17 camera supports that arrived, I had to modify my definition of the genre to include designs that mushroom to roughly 2 feet when fully open—and some with considerable girth and heft. That also meant extending my thinking to models with a center column and multiple leg sections, which might be more correctly termed “mini” tripods. Either way, in contrast to a standard tripod at its full height, the tripods under discussion, when fully open, have a small footprint and should effortlessly fit in tight spaces.
The new Nikon D5100 D-SLR is a compact and lightweight DX-format camera. The body is about two-thirds the size of a D300, recording on SD/SDHC/SDXC memory cards. The similarly compact kit lens, an 18-55mm VR, provides good balance, and, along with my Nikon SB-900 Speedlight, all fits neatly into a compact camera bag. The grip on the D5100 was a little smaller than what I was used to, but I soon grew accustomed to it.
Jeffrey Totaro (www.jeffreytotaro.com) didn’t plan on becoming an architectural photographer. After graduating Drexel University in 1991, he became an architectural engineer. In his job, he found himself working alongside architectural photographers and was soon assisting them, until finally he found the allure too great and switched careers. Now he runs his own studio near Philadelphia.
It isn’t often that as a camera reviewer you get the chance to test a camera with the technical experts right at hand, but that’s how I got to know the Phase One 645DF and IQ160 back. Actually, I attended one of the company’s Phase One Digital Artists Series workshops in Chicago with other photographers (see PODAS workshops sidebar for further info on this and other workshops the company is offering). Beyond the guided portion of the workshop, we were given time to go off and work with the camera at our own pace. It didn’t take long to find my comfort zone with the new IQ system. By the end of day one, I had a working familiarity with the camera and back and hardly paid attention to the big bundle I was hefting. Although I often felt quite at ease shooting handheld, for night photography and some other occasions I did employ my trusty Benbo tripod, with the camera seated on a Foba Superball M-2 on one day, an Acratech GP-L ball head on another.
Increasingly, manufacturers are coming out with cameras and speedlights that support wireless TTL flash operation. What this means for you is a simplified approach to using dedicated flash units off camera—especially multiple speedlights, alone or mixed with other light sources. With wireless TTL you’re free to move the off-camera flash a few inches or a few feet here or there, not to mention modifying the light in any desired fashion, and all without having to recalculate exposures, use a flash meter, and link everything together with wires. The camera’s metering system does the math for you. Beyond that, wireless TTL assures you that all speedlights on and off camera will fire in sync.
I was quite impressed with Nissin’s initial lineup of shoe-mount strobes. The Di866 Professional (now the Di866 Mark II) is quite innovative and versatile in its own right, sporting a full-color menu interface, while providing TTL wireless operation. There’s also the Di466 (for Nikon, Canon, and Four Thirds cameras). And the Di622 has been updated to the largely revamped Di622 Mark II, now the subject of this review.