7.21.2010

A rare portrait of me by Ellis Vener, Monday.

A rare look at a crusty blogger.  ©2010 Ellis Vener.   In my front yard....

I've known photographer and writer, Ellis Vener, for......decades.  We were in school at the same time at UT and we intersected at the Ark Cooperative Darkroom pretty regularly.  Ellis moved to Atlanta from Houston a while ago and he's doing well with both his commercial photography business (http://www.ellisvener.com)  and as a writer and equipment reviewer for Professional Photographer Magazine.

He's in Austin this week and dropped by my studio to pick up a tripod.  He does these incredibly complex image assemblages (far beyond a typical stitched panorama....) and he needed some stout sticks.  I lent him the big, black Berlebach tripod.  Like a consummate pro, he brought his own tripod head.....

As is our habit, we sat around the studio and swapped stories about outrageous bids, even more outrageous clients and equipment nerd stuff.  When the conversation slowed down Ellis announced that he was sporting some new technology and wanted to try it out on me.  Here's the technospeek about the technique used to do the portrait, above:  http://www.fredmiranda.com/forum/topic/919822

The new TTL Pocket Wizards have the capability of giving your Canon camera's FP flash sync at much higher shutter speeds than before.  Interestingly enough, it's a technique that rewards flashes with fairly long burn times.  We hauled out the Profoto 600b with a head and a small Elinchrom shoot thru, umbrella modifier and headed toward the stone wall the runs along the street at the front of the property.  Goal:  Get portrait with cool, out of focus sky.

After some playing around Ellis added a backlight from a Canon 580 EX2, also equipped with one of the Pocket Wizard TTL transceivers.  We found that solid, Texas live oaks can block radio signals but we eventually get everything worked out.

Ellis was shooting with a Canon 1D mk4 (a camera I am very interested in) and the new 70-200mm f2.8 IS lens.  Fun to watch another photographer at work from the point of view of the subject.  However, as it was close to 100(f) in the shade we quickly headed back into the cool, dark cave that is the studio.

See the shirt?  It's one of the Ex Officio technical shirts doing its job and keeping me from sweating.  Now if I could only figure out why Ellis PhotoShopped my hair gray........ (humor intended.  Signal provided for the painfully serious....).

This is a great way to try out product.  I don't have to invest anything till I see how it works, what the tradeoffs are and how I might be able to use it.  Another fun topic of conversation was the Paul Buff, Einstein monolights.  Ellis showed me some great footage he'd done using the 10 fps of his Canon 1dmk4 along with the fast recycle of the Einstein.  Cobbled together from hundreds of jpegs into a Quicktime movie-----it was an eye opener and presages yet another paradigm shift.

Say what you will about Paul Buff but he is single-handedly keeping an entire industry on its toes.......

On the calendar today,  Young Ben will be pressed into service as an assistant for another Dr. shoot out on a ranch.  I have high hopes for something as fun as the Dr. feeding the baby deer shot I showed a week or so ago.  We'll see how the boy does as a videographer and general assist.

11 comments:

Dave Jenkins said...

Apropos of nothing, but interesting to me, Kirk, you look very much like my dad did when he was your age.

I haven't seen Ellis's name very much recently. In the late 90s, he, I, and a color lab operator whose name I don't remember were probably the top three posters on photo.net. I've never met him personally although we've exchanged a few e-mails over the years, and I would have to say that he's the most knowledgeable person about photography I've ever encountered.

If he's shooting a Canon he must have it out for testing, because he's always been a diehard Nikon fan.

kirk tuck said...

Dave,

I'm not sure. I know Ellis shot Nikon back in the film days and I know he was invited to Tokyo for the roll out of the D3 two years ago and had a loaner to shoot and write about but from what I understand he's shooting a 1DS3 and a 1Dmk4 with the fun lenses.

I think he looks in from time to time, maybe he'll leave an equipment note in the comments......

kirk tuck said...

I'm not really pissed off in the photo, the sun is just really bright....

Gordon said...

FWIW, you don't look pissed off to me. You just look like someone with a low tolerance for fools; a gentleman who is equally capable of settling an argument with words or bare knuckles. Fortunately for the fools, you prefer the former.

Ian said...

Hi Kirk,

Do you think you'll ever be testing/giving thoughts on the Einsteins?

kirk tuck said...

I'll probably buy a set when I revise the first book. If I revise the first book. When I buy them I'll review them. In the meantime, if Paul Buff sends me a sample I'll be happy to write a review. You might want to query Ellis about doing a review on his site or in the magazine. His contact info is on his website. I think I included it above but it's www.ellisvener.com

Ellis Vener said...

No he really was pissed off that I made him drag his butt outside in the middle of a swelteringly hot Austin afternoon. He makes a pretty good male model and was patient with my abuse of him.

Dave: Thanks! I remember you too. I am about 70/30 Canon to Nikon these days. I also have a D3s currently in the stable.

John Krumm said...

Ellis, enjoyed browsing through your site, especially the portrait section, though I also spent a lot of time staring at that sun-sparkle on the water-covered metal wall.

John Taylor said...

… i'd say craggy rather than crusty

ki6mf said...

Nitpicking here really the Oak trees, if they are the problem (probably not), are at best diffracting the RF Signal.

Bold Photography said...

I picked up the REI equivalent to that shirt... and shot outdoors most of Saturday. While it would get wet from the sweat, it dried off very quickly. I may get a few more of the 'genuine' ones, but not from REI - they're charging full price ($80) and amazon is charging $50-60.. good thing I'm a size larger than you as yes, they're all out of stock of the white mediums...