This is quick write up I did a while back for Tethertools.com about the new CamRanger. I bring the CamRanger to almost every shoot now because I never know if I can use it. The few times I did not bring it I could have used it for some weird angle or camera control! Be sure to check out the link below for the CamRanger and I also recomend getting an extra battery as well!
A quick shot of the CamRanger in action onto of the Induro C-313 Tripod during the Axis T22 release Campaign studio shoot.
In the Beginning
I have been using remote cameras and tethering for a variety of action sports and commercial clients for years. When I use remote cameras I am able to get second angles as well as angles I cannot access during the action. When I am tethering directly to my computer I am able to instantly view and edit my images full-screen onsite. I can also set up real-time client viewing if needed for specific shoots.
These options have always worked great for every situation but each has had a variety of drawbacks I felt held me back in the past. Remote cameras always work well with any PocketWizard and a motor drive cable. The biggest drawback is there are no controls over the camera and no way to view the exact shot you have. Tethering works very well with cables from the camera connected directly to the computer that can be mounted on any mountable workstation. The largest drawback of tethering is the ball and chain feeling I get with the wires.
There have been options on the market that solve one or two problems but then would fall short in other situations. Nikon has been making wireless transmitters for cameras for a long time. The early ones were large and bulky, offered no camera control, were a nightmare to set up, and cost a quarter of what the camera cost. The newer ones are great and offer limited camera control but have slow upload speeds and eat the camera battery. They are also very costly for the higher-end models, but very inexpensive for the lower-end cameras. The Eye-Fi card is a good inexpensive option but gives zero camera control.
CamRanger – Chris’ Wireless Solution
Finally, the CamRanger came out and saved my life! The system offers everything I could ask for out of my Nikon camera system. I am able to remotely set up my camera and have full control over almost every option of the system, even manual focusing. I have the feel of holding my camera in my hands when it is mounting up on the roof . This is also very helpful because I can view the image right from my iPhone or iPad to see if I nailed the shot and if it is in focus. I tend to almost always shoot with speedlites. When I set up a remote camera I use PocketWizards as the transmitter on the camera and the CamRanger with my iPhone as the camera remote trigger. This setup allows me to check for athlete style, action and my lighting style right from my phone!
I also tend to run into a lot of last-minute same day deadline assignments on the editorial side of my life. The CamRanger has come to my rescue many times in these situations. The jobs usually involve being in very remote place, in very bad situations with very limited time. In the “good ‘ol days’ I would normally shoot as much as I could until we thought we had what we are looking for, rip back to the computer, upload the images, edit, send off to the editor, and cross some fingers. Now I am able to attach the CamRanger to the camera, turn on the Wi-Fi, connect my iPad, and set up a Dropbox folder where I can sync the images. So as I am shooting, images are immediately uploading to a folder that’s viewable on any device.
Achieving the Difficult Shots with CamRanger for Composites
I have a technique that I have been using lately for a few commercial shoots with boats and cars. I am almost only able to achieve this with the CamRanger. This style involves me shooting a series of images with different lighting. I then layer and mask everything into one photo to complete a final image. It is extremely important for the camera not to move one bit during the process. With the CamRanger I have complete control of the shutter with zero chance of the wires being touched and moving the camera.
The shot below was completed with a Nikon D800 mounted on top of a Kupo C-stand about 9 feet in the air. We controlled everything from an iPad mounted to the magliner cart on a Kupo Grip Arm. We also remotely uploaded the images to the laptop for quality control and periodic focus checks. The final shot is a c4d rendering advertising campaign for the new Axis T22 from the crew at alreadybeenchewed.tv
Another option I like is the remote live view control from the iPad. The art director can watch the iPad screen as I move the camera to get the exact angle they are looking for. For the “walk through” shot of the Axis T22 below I set up the Nikon D800 on an Induro tripod with a sandbag for stability in the boat. I just easily adjusted the ball head and took direction straight from the art director. I was also able to use the live view option the “cheat” and see which way the light was reflecting to the camera to get the exact spectral highlights I was going for.
The CamRanger has so many uses and should go into every photographer’s bag. I use it for commercial shoots all the way down to a quick Instagram upload. It has opened so many new creative windows and gives me all the freedom I want on my shoots.
I originally shot cars when I was coming up as a photographer, and I have been wanting to shoot them more and more recently. When approached to do a #BTS video about some of the commercial shots I was involved with last year I really wanted to show what I do with the Westcott Icelight. Over the course of the project planning in grew into involving two of the best crews I could ever imagine working with! The Dupont Registry has always been the dream magazine I look at as far as I can remember. The crew at AlreadyBeenChewed.tv is the future of commercial photography as far as I am concerned! With cooperation of both Dupont and AlreadyBeenChewed they have allowed me to create one of my favorite photos I have ever taken.
The process of shooting is actually pretty straight forward and required minimal equipment. For the main shoot of the car. The equipment used was:
The final shot requires multiple images to be layer into a single image for different purposes such as, spectral highlights, shadow, and details. Basically the camera can not move a hair. For this I used the Indruo C-314 Tripod and a sandbag to keep everything stable. The hardest part is to shot and not get movement what so ever, this is where the CamRanger comes in.
The Camranger allows me to have full control over the camera from and iPhone, iPad, or computer. This way I am able to adjust focus, set f-stops, and set the camera to bulb capture. I need to use bulb capture for the longer exposures required for light painting. I am able to start the capture, shoot what I need, and end the capture. I then can review the image and make adjustments as need for the next image. I also have the option of of live view. I can do a test run watching the screen to see if I am going to get the desired reflection off of the car.
The Westcott Icelight is one of the best peices of equipment i have used for this style of shooting. General in light painting techniques I would use flashlights or pen lights. These all work okay but have different white balances. The Icelight has a super controlled white balance, general matched to my flashes white balance of 5600K. This way I can also use my Elinchrom flashes in a lighting painting and flash mixed image. The ice light also has an internal battery which has an insanely long run time. I did not even recharge the battery for the entire shoot, and the video guy was using the Icelights for most of it. They also have a soon to be released barn door attachment which helps control the beam and light spill off of the Icelight. I also have the ability to control the light output via the dimmer on the Icelight control panel.
Here is one of the images were I am using the Icelight to get the main spectral highlight from the rear of the car to the headlight.
Westcott also has a new product called the Skylux. This is a kelvin matched constant LED video light that works with the Icelight. It is not battery powered as it puts out a lot of power. It also has a dimmer control so you can match the power of the Icelight. I love using the skylux because it accepts Lightbox accessories from Westcott. I tend to use a large soft box to get softer lines along the car, or softer reflections.
This is an example of using the Westcott Skylux to get a softer reflection on the ADV1 rims.
I then used the Skylux to give the car a flat even light.
For an option I added Steven in the car and used two Icelights for rims lights, and the Skylux with a soft box for the main overhead fill light.
The initial shoot is the easiest part of the entire process. I then go into photoshop and layer in all the images I took. I ended up using 31 images for different highlights, shadows, and parts of the car to create the below final image.
This images is all 31 shots layered together
I then clipped the background to get a better look at the shot.
After the shoot I walked around downtown tampa bay and took various images for a background. I ended up liking the sparkling garage of the Westin the most. Here I dropped the car into the background, added a shadow and some light coming through the windows of the garage. This part is tricky as you have to shoot the same focal length, camera level, and angles so it looks realistic.
For the final image I shot the layers over to Barton Damer of AlreadyBeenChewed.tv. They specialize in motion graphics and creative design. I have worked with them on a few previous projects and they are my got guys for any C4D style image processing.
Here is the first part of the image were Barton added some tea light, some of the city skyline I shot, and adjusted the Ferrari Position.
This is the first step of the C4D working on the cracking "earthquake" like effect on the garage.
A little further adding some overhead effects.
Then ground in the earlier stages of the rendering.
THE FINAL SHOT
After shooting some smoke, and sparks in the garage Barton was able to finish off the final image! Feel free to click the image and download it for a desktop background or screen saver! Thank's to the crew at Dupont Registry for the Ferrari and location, Barton for working hard on the final image, and Alex Glass for the #BTS video!
I have driven by the USS Alabama and jumped aboard it plenty of times in my life. It wasn’t until two years ago that I had the idea to shoot in front of the battleship. But I had no idea how much work and planning would go into making any of it happen. About a year ago, I decided I really wanted to shoot Steel Lafferty in front of the ship. I wanted to work with Steel because of his talent on a board and his amplitude. I knew it would make a great shot. I also wanted this location to be my first cover for TransWorld Wakeboarding. Long story short: Steel ended up injured a few times throughout the year just before we had a plan to go shoot it. I had pretty much given up hope on shooting the location after two years of planning and trying. It appeared to be one of those dream shoots that would never happen.
Mid-August, I was in Colorado shooting some advertising shots when I got a text from Perry at TransWorld Media. He asked if we had been able to get any shots in front of the ship yet. With the obvious answer being no, I asked him how much of a window we had to get a shot in. He responded with, “Deadline would be pushing it on Sunday, and I don’t know if that could even happen.” It was Wednesday. Steel was also on the road in California on a tour for Liquid Force. To top it all off, there are no boats anywhere in the area of the USS Alabama. I knew Red Bull had just received a new wrapped X-Star from Mastercraft the week before. That boat was in Orlando with both of the Red Bull jet skis. When I finally got a hold of Cullen at Red Bull and told him what was going on, he was immediately in. Well, immediately in after a few phone calls canceling a trip with the boat up to Tennessee and Georgia. I immediately booked a flight back to Florida and talked Steel into taking a red-eye flight to Florida on Friday, so we could have two days to shoot what we needed. Once we all met up, we made the 700 plus mile drive out to Mobile.
We got into Mobile around 3 a.m. on Friday and were completely wiped out from driving in the Florida torrential downpours the entire way up. We ended up sleeping in and heading out to the ramps to drop the boat and skis in midday the next day. This was our first look at the location and the water conditions—which were a 9 on the worst conditions possible scale. The current was insanely fast. There were 2-foot swells and heavy wind chop. We ended up cruising around the Mobile Port area to explore and find some locations to ride in that were protected, while we waited for sunset and the calmer conditions that would come with it. We ended up back at the battleship with 30 minutes of light to try for a shot and at least test out the idea. The conditions were not the best, and we had to add in the factors of crab traps every 10 square feet all around the ship where we ended the shoot. We took a few laps and test shot it, so we could be ready for the next day at sunrise.
The next morning, we got on the water around 5:30 to get everything ready. We came to the conclusion that we needed a double up shot to get Steel as high as he could go to get above the guns of the ship. A double up requires a boat driver to drive a tear-shaped pass to allow the rider to cut in and hit the wake when the two come together, essentially doubling the height of the wake. This is a shot in which every angle and foot matter. If the boat starts in the wrong spot, is at a wrong angle, or takes the turn at the wrong time, it will not end up in the right spot. Basically, it was the hardest shot to get because nothing will ever even be close to the same. Not to mention, I was shooting flash, so I had only one click and less than a half of a second of vision to focus on Steel as he came around the bimini of the boat. Luckily, Gordon Harrison is one of the best drivers I have seen in a while, and he managed to keep the action in a 40-foot area and just had to adjust a few angles each time to make the shot happen.
In the end, we ended up with only a few good shots, and one that could really work for the cover. I still think this is one of the biggest “Cinderella shots” I have ever gotten in my life. Each time, the action was totally in a different spot with the background. And only one time out of 40ish shots did everything line up just right, where Steel was just out of the battleship, and the Red Bull boat was spread enough away from him.
A few months back I had the chance to shoot a unique idea from the minds of Terry Adams and Adam Errington in Orlando. The shoot was actually set up around the end of winder snow season. I was on my way from shooting with the guys at shredtown in texas to do some work at Red Bull Snow Performance Camp in Colorado. The shoot lined up the day after the Colorado shoot and gave me the ohh so fun opportunity to shoot snow in the morning and then shooting water in the evening.
The Basic idea was to get a shot of Adam boosting over Terry while performing a flatland BMX trick. Sounds easy until you begin to realize that there is about a million factors that do not get a long with each other! Topping off the timing of the athletes tricks, style, position, and speed having to be right on; it was pretty much a hurricane out for the entire two day shoot. I was also shooting with flashes only giving me one click at a time to get the shot each hit. Also include everything being in in and around 5 feet of water with a decent white cap chop.
I had also never shot flatland BMX before so I needed a little warm up session with Terry to get some timing and style mentally noted. We took about 5 or 6 pics of the 3 different tricks and we were ready to go. Adam had a pretty tough job of hitting the kicker around 23 mph and going about 60 feet to flat water with all the force pulling him down. In the end we were able to get 3 different shots with all the timing dialed in. There are a few videos at the bottom that show the entire shot!
Nikon D3s 1/800th a sec at F 1.6 on Nikon 85mm F1.4
The set up i used around the 20 foot submerged platform was all Elinchrom Rangers in the water. I had them supported by Kupo C-Stand with clamps and J-hoks to hold the packs just above the water. I fired everything with Pocket Wizard FLexx's and ST4's.
Nikon D3s 1/640th a sec at F 6.3 on Nikon 85mm F1.4
Nikon D3s 1/1,000th a sec at F 2.5 on Nikon 85mm F1.4
Nikon D3s 1/640th a sec at F 6.3 on Nikon 85mm F1.4
Nikon D3s 1/800th a sec at F 1.6 on Nikon 85mm F1.4
New Wallpaper up for download on the right hand side! This is a shot of professional flatland BMX and Red Bull athlete Terry Adams. Be sure to check back tomorrow for the behind the scenes blog and videos!
I recently had the opportunity to shoot Pat Panakos for an article on the future of the projects. Pat is the mastermind behind the Projects wake park. The Projects recently shut it's doors to the public and is maintained by a few select riders. The wake park was originally a creative playground for many wakeboarders to build and ride features for article, editorial prints, and movies. So things have gone down at the Projects and make it one of the most important spots in wakeboarding history. It was also one of the first places for me to get creative with my style of action photography.
When Pat first called me to do the lifestyle shoot of him, about 5 hours before we started, I was in Tampa doing a media shoot for RedBull. I know Pat has one of the most creative minds in the action sports industry and was also presently building all the park features for RedBull Wake Open at the time. I knew I had to immediately jump on the opportunity to get the shot as I was leaving the next day to Texas for another shoot.
We wanted to show that the Projects was closed and yet still there doing things to push the industry. Pat and I came up with a few ideas and immediately starting shooting. I managed to get Alex Glass to come along and shoot a behind the scenes video of the entire setup and shot. The video also has a little history of the projects and shows a lot of the features from eh Red Bull Wake Open being welded and built.
I love shooting enviromental lifestyle shots everywhere I go. One main problem is that I travel a lot. It makes it very difficult to bring the Large modifiers I love to use. Westcott has a few simple modifiers that pack so light I bring them everytime I fly. The first is the Westcott Apollo, it is basically an umbrella that turns into an inverse octa-bank like light with an attachable grid. Another is the strip that has the same umbrella base setup. This 3 modifier combination fits right into your suitcase and only takes up a few pounds when traveling.
Check out my Behind the Scenes video I did HERE with the Apollo Orb, Strip and scrim-jims. I got Chad Sharpe to come over with his new Malibu Boats 22MXZ. The shoot was extremely fun going from being super sunny, to horribly windy, to raining, then to pitch black because of cloud cover. Welcome to Florida Spring Time.