The Pretty Side of Cycling (Story by Tamron)

Hernan Rodriguez uses the Tamron SP 24-70mm f/2.8 Di VC G2 & SP 70-200mm f/2.8 VC G2 lenses to capture the finest sides of a professional female cycling champion, making it more than just about the bike.

Story Contributed by Tamron

 
Here is a brief glimpse into Scotti’s life, which will help set the stage to her personal timeline, shared in these captured images.

Meet Scotti Lechuga: Professional cyclist, wife, mother of two beautiful 6 year old twin boys, fitness coach and coffee addict. She is one of the few mothers in the sport of professional women’s cycling.

Working as a Los Angeles based commercial portrait photographer my work spans from personal commissions to celebrity and editorial assignments. When I was selected to photograph Scotti, it was not merely for my style and artistic vision but also because I shared a deep passion for cycling, stemming from the many years racing in the elite category. “I believe you will understand where I am coming from”, shared Scotti, and that is what essentially sealed the deal. 

Setting the Stage

Since Scotti lives in Arkansas, all the preliminary planning and concepts were discussed over the phone and through emails. Scotti was very direct on some specific shots she wanted to capture from the session. “The rest I leave to your artistic and creative interpretation”, she added. As usual, I created “mood-boards” which displayed the wardrobe, lighting style, studio backgrounds and environmental locations for each shot. This is collaboration between photographer and subject, so I had Scotti email me 15 inspirational pictures she admired. This step also helps ensure the photographer is on the same page as the client. Once Scotti reviewed and approved the boards, we both had a solid idea of what direction we wanted to go with the photo shoot. I also explained to Scotti that these were for reference and inspiration. Many times during a shoot, you might find something that works better, or head in a totally new direction. 

One thing that was certain though, was that we were going to shoot many changes and looks. A classic vintage look, two sophisticated fashion looks, a hybrid shot of cyclist meets fashion, two looks that revealed Scotti’s inner person, and of course, two looks with Scotti and bike. She also arrived with two beautiful carbon fiber bike frames granted by her professional sponsor. This one I thought we would have fun with and make it more of a conceptual shot. She agreed. 

Tamron 24-70
For the most part, I used the Tamron SP 24-70mm VC, for the versatility of its zoom range, which allowed me to cover the various shots we had planned. All except for the tight sophisticated beauty shot, in which I used the Tamron 90mm. I usually will use the Tamron 70-200 for the majority of my fashion work, but since I was shooting full length and ¾ shots combined with a bike and frames, I thought the 24-70 would be a better fit. This lens alone would also cover that 45mm – 50mm range, which is great for full-length fashion and environmental portraits. I also had just received the new lens two days prior, so I was very excited to see the new added features and upgrades. I was shooting many setups with both strobes and continuous lighting, so the lens would have to perform well through the varying f/stops. The fast f/2.8 would also assure the option of creating beautiful creamy backgrounds, and keeping the focus on Scotti. 

One thing I find concerning or rather important when shooting fashion and portraits with continuous lighting, is finding the best camera setting combination allowing me to create clean sharp images. You are bumping up the ISO, dragging the shutter speed to very slow speeds, or opting to use a tripod, which sometimes can disrupt the flow of the photo shoot. This mid-size powerhouse lens performed way beyond my expectations. It allowed me to keep the ISO to a minimum of 100, while relying rather on the Vibration Compensation feature to compensate for the low light. I found myself easily dragging the shutter speed 4 stops, while going hand-held to 1/15th of a second on Scotti’s Vintage setup, which was shot with one “hot-light”. 

Tamron was the first in the market to have a vibration compensation option for a 24-70mm lens, and this “next generation” G2 has just gotten better. With the quick focus, even under low-lighting conditions, I was able to work freely with Scotti, covering a range of poses as we moved and talked throughout her session. This allowed me to capture honest and less contrived expressions. It is a practice I use which can be helpful to both portrait and fashion photographers. 

It Takes A Team

Leading up to the shoot, I usually start by building up my core team, which is integral to the success of the photo shoot. They consist of makeup artist, hairdresser, wardrobe specialist and a personal assistant. This assistant will sometimes work on specific needs I might have and will also delegate certain instructions to the rest of the assistants when they may be needed. Certain tasks might involve shopping, catering, music, grip, and more.

Prepping For The Shoot

Once we agreed on the storyboards, the next step was preparing the stage for the various setups. This is not any different to when I shoot my celebrity portraits. This preparation is extremely important as it helps keep a constant flow throughout the day, and it also leaves less room for error. During this process, I will usually test my equipment along with my lighting gear and make sure everything is working and up to par. As far as lenses go, from my years of experience, I will usually know which lenses I will be using. In this case, since we were shooting in that mid-range focal length, I was very certain the Tamron 24-70 would be all I’d need for the session. I also buy new batteries for all of my triggers, and I pre-cut any Rosco filters for the shots that will be customized for the use of color. I make sure all of my digital media cards are formatted and ready to shoot. If I am shooting tethered, I pretest to make sure all communication channels are working. One last thing I do the day before the shoot is to create a “Call Time” sheet which specifies everyone’s contact information, location of shoot, everyone’s arrival time and lunch break. This can be a time saver and a lifesaver as well. 

Step 1: The first step I take is to breakdown the storyboards into groups that will have the same type of lighting style. Here I can also determine further if it will be grouped with flash or continuous lighting setup. I usually will pre-test the day before and I also will have an accompanying notepad with settings, including ISO, exposure and color filter selection noted along with custom white balance notes. I might also keep a custom white balance CF card for each setup, which allows me to keep consistent color from set to set. 

Step 2: Here I determine the background selections for each setup and the accompanying wardrobe, whether casual or upscale. I usually will use a wide range of solid colored seamless paper from Savage Universal. In my opinion it keeps the focus on the subject and maintains a sense of timelessness. I will also use one setup for a classic portrait appeal, using a custom painted canvas by www.seamless.com. This background will usually be set back far enough from the subject, and shot with a shallow depth of field. I usually will shoot this at f/3.2. I also have a setup for black and white, which will have a higher lighting ratio to create more contrast and pop.

Step 3: In my opinion, this is the most important point to note. Make the client as comfortable as possible. Not only physically comfortable in the studio, but just as important is gaining the trust of your subject. Usually everyone’s a little apprehensive about that initial shot. This was Scotti’s first professional photo shoot, so we dialogued a lot and I made sure she was not feeling rigid throughout her shoot. The dialogue helps the subject get out of their headspace, where they might tend to overthink things. This will translate to very rigid posing. The tendency is for the subject to usually go to the “cliché” hand on the hip pose. I will tend to pose less and let the subject fall into their natural body language expression. I just then slightly refine the pose by repositioning hands and feet, or head tilt. As you will see in the example images of Scotti, her expressions are natural and her poses are fluid.

A Pro On And Off The Bike 

We covered multiple wardrobe changes for Scotti, so I will share some of the standout images of the session, and the specifics of the shot.

Tech Notes: In all of the setups where flash was required, I used a Dynalite Kit, which consisted of 3 power packs. 1 RP1600, 1 MP800, and 1 MP400, in combination with the RoadMax Series Heads and the SR3200 Ring Flash. 2 Portable Baja’s were used on location. 

Setup 1. Was our “Ice-breaker” Shot. I wanted to have Scotti be as natural and comfortable as possible. For wardrobe we selected something a bit understated as to let her expressions dominate the portrait. I had Scotti wear a free flowing white tank top and black fitted athletic pants. This allowed her to show some of her fitness as well as her personality. Her low cut boots gave the outfit a fashionable appeal. 

© Hernan Rodriguez
SP 24-70mm, 50mm, f/6.3, 1/125 sec, ISO 125

We began in a white studio cove and lit the background with 4 flash heads. Two bare bulb flash heads were placed one on top of the other and bounced off of a V-Flat on each side, for an even spread of light. All four lights metered f/11 on the background. This was 1 EV above the key light. The key light was a large Westcott Zeppelin Parabolic without diffusion. This light metered f/8. For fill, I used two flash heads placed in a reflective umbrella directly behind me on each side. This was a combined exposure of f/7.1.

The Tamron 24-70mm allowed me to capture a series of shots that varied in focal length. Most often I use the Tamron SP 70-200mm f2.8, but by using a shorter focal length, I was able to stay closer in proximity to Scotti, which allowed us to interact more intimately. It’s great when you also need to direct the subject through a variety of poses. I was also able to quickly shift between full-length shots, to ¾ horizontals for an asymmetrical look, which gave us the option of using it as a website banner.

© Hernan Rodriguez
SP 70-200mm, 11mm, f/8, 1/125 sec, ISO 125

Setup 2. The second shot was a variation of the first setup. By placing a black V-Flat directly behind Scotti, I was able to quickly switch to a more classic sophisticated look. The lighting setup was kept exactly the same. I had Scotti change into a cobalt blue blouse, which really made her eyes stand out. I wanted this series of images to display her confidence and strength while still showing her femininity. Nothing changed in relation to lighting and exposure. This made for a quick transition with a completely new look for Scotti.

© Hernan Rodriguez
SP 24-70mm, 63mm, f/7.1, 1/125 sec, ISO 125

Setup 3. The next shot was also setup to have an easy transition, with a slight lighting variation and background change. A quick setup of a Savage Gray seamless paper on stands was placed behind Scotti. The key light was kept the same with the Westcott Zeppelin Parabolic. We kept the same distance and power to maintain consistent lighting at f/8. I also wanted to create an overall open fill, so instead of using the two umbrellas for fill, I used a 72”x72” Westcott Scrim Jim in its place. I simply just placed two Dynalite flash heads set far enough behind the scrim, to create my fill using the full size of the scrim. This light quality was smooth, similar as to a large bay window. It also gave me just enough detail and separation from a black bike against a gray background. Since this setup was to be shot full-length with Scotti’s bike, we needed to make sure we had plenty of space around the scene, as to create a clean image that could be used for advertising or editorial purposes. Most photographers make the mistake of viewing the shot through the lens, and crop in too tight. This limits the image from being used for multiple purposes. You also have to make certain the transition of light onto the subject and background are smooth and consistent.

© Hernan Rodriguez
SP 24-70mm, 50mm, f/6.3, 1/125, ISO 125

The Tamron 24-70mm f/2.8 was the best lens option for creating this series of shots. I was able to choose my angle of view, and varied my focal length from 45mm-70mm range for these particular shots. Since the bike was positioned behind Scotti, I also wanted to secure an accurate perspective. I also captured tighter shots by simply walking closer to Scotti, while maintaining my focal length at 70mm. This series of images were some of my favorite shots of Scotti. It presented her as she truly is – A female professional cyclist with a great sense of fashion.

Variation – Since the background and lighting style of this setup covered many looks we had storyboarded, I simply had Scotti jump into two more changes to keep the flow of our day fluid. The wardrobe, posing and expressions are what varied for these shots.

I had Scotti change into a fun expressive outfit to show off some of her funk and “cool” side. Most people might think female cyclists don’t have a life outside of their bikes, or just don’t have a good sense of fashion, but Scotti was the complete opposite. She was fun, possessed a great sense of fashion and was very assertive in her choices. I wanted to show some of that in this next series. I directed Anthony, my makeup artist, to create a bolder look by adding more depth to her eyes, and a bold red lip color. Her hair was also pulled back into a stylish knot. For wardrobe, Scotti changed into jeans with a black sports top, and layered on top was a white mesh athletic jacket that completed the look. I took a series of ten quick shots, which completed this wardrobe change.

© Hernan Rodriguez
SP 24-70mm, 44mm, f/8, 1/125 sec, ISO 125

The Tamron 24-70 rendered amazing accuracy on the representation of skin tones. To any portrait, beauty and fashion photographer, that is the number one objective. Making sure the color balance is accurate, and the dynamic range in the skin carries enough latitude. I was very impressed. I am sure you can find a lot of literature on these specs for the 24-70, but in my testing, I am sharing this through these portraits. 

Setup 4. The next shot was to capture Scotti the “mother.” Not much change here again. Since this shot was Scotti and her twin boys, all I needed to do was to pull back the large parabolic to allow more spread of light onto three subjects. I also increased the power on my Dynalite pack to compensate for the loss of light. I took a final meter reading to f/11 for light consistency. 

© Hernan Rodriguez
SP 24-70mm, 48mm, f/6.3, 1/125 sec, ISO 125

My Tamron 24-70mm was quick to focus and also gave me the ability to adjust my focal length constantly. I turned off the VC feature for most of my studio shots, since the flash was enough to keep images sharp and my shutter speed also was high enough to keep tack sharp images. 

NOTE: When shooting under mixed lighting conditions, continuous lighting and natural light, I will keep the Vibration Compensation on. Though I will be using flash, I also keep my shutter speed very low to allow ambient exposure. The speeds might vary from 1/15th of a second to 1/60th, depending on the effect and lighting conditions.

I directed Scotti to just have fun with the boys. “Let them hug you, hold onto you, kiss you” I instructed her. I didn’t want anything posed or contrived, so by the constant movement and interaction with her boys, it gave us a great variety of portraits and kept it fluid and organic. By pausing and directing my subjects to pose might have stopped a natural moment from occurring. As a photographer you need to discern when to pose your subjects and when to allow them to just be expressive.

This was really fun for all of us!

Setup 5. Now we step into our fashion segment with Scotti. From our storyboards, we had determined three specific fashion looks. One a vintage change, another a sophisticated look and lastly was a bolder look incorporating color and contrast. 

Vintage. Scotti brought a classic off-white vintage dress, which I thought was perfect for creating a 1940’s style portrait. Hard light, deep shadows with high contrast. To replicate this period, we started with another hair and makeup change. The stylist created a period hairstyle with tight waves of hair pinned closely together. This also framed her face nicely. The makeup contoured her cheeks and a deep rose lip color was used instead of red. 

© Hernan Rodriguez
SP 24-70mm, 48mm, f/8, 1/125 sec, ISO 125

With the varying lighting scenarios we had set to shoot, I needed a lens that would help control camera shake, especial when shooting under lower-light conditions. The Tamron 24-70mm Vibration Compensation (VC) technology, which allows photographers to shoot as many as five shutter speeds slower than usual when shooting hand-held, allowed me to confidently capture every shot under constantly changing lighting conditions, even with low ambient and continuous lighting. 

I started with the same Savage gray seamless paper, which kept the focus on Scotti and also worked well for black and white conversions. To create that classic Hollywood style portrait, we decided to use just one “hot-light”, just like they did in the Ol’ Days. I really never use these lights as they tend to get extremely hot and are a bit cumbersome, but there was one sitting around the studio, and I thought I’d give it a shot. Because of the extreme heat, we shot this setup in just five minutes. I clipped on a set of barn doors to direct the light. 

While Scotti was in makeup, I turned on the light, did a quick white balance with a SpyderCHECKR gray card, and uploaded it as a custom white balance. The Kelvin for the light was 3200.

Now this is where the Tamron 24-70mm VC is extremely beneficial. With the newly dedicated MPU (micro-processing unit) solely for Vibration Compensation, you have the flexibility of using much slower shutter speeds with the stabilization performance level of 5 stops. 

Due to the heat emitted from the light and to make our subject confortable, we varied the distance of the light to the subject, which also varied our exposure settings. For minimal noise I kept the ISO set at 100, and relied more on the VC feature to compensate for the slow shutter speed. We shot this series in the 1/15th – 1/50th of a second range at f/3.2. The slow shutter speed also allowed me to create a lot of detail in the fabric shadows by picking up some of the weak ambient light for fill. 

Bold Fashion. In our storyboards, I had diagramed a lighting setup with a very specific look we were hoping to create. When I mention, “hoping”, it’s because we had not tested. Most often with my lighting experience, and my familiarity with my equipment and modifiers, I usually am close to the mark. Sometimes it only takes small adjustments, or maybe it’s a starting point for something even more fantastic. Without my sketchpad though, it is very difficult to just arrive at these types of shots.

The inspiration I took from a 1940’s fashion image, which had a high-contrast lighting style. I decided I would light this with a hard and directional light source. For my key light I used a bare Dynalite flash head with a sheet of Rosco Opal diffusion paper to minimize some of the brightness and hard light edge. After a proper white balance, I also added a Rosco Calcolor 15 Cyan filter to create a cool mood. The light was positioned from the side and relatively high up for a more dramatic effect. For the background, I used two more Dynalite flash heads with 36” black and white umbrellas, bounced onto the same Savage gray seamless paper. To create a more graphic image, we added a Rosco Calcolor 60 blue filter on each light. This along with the bolder makeup added on Scotti created our take of a 1940’s vintage fashion look.

© Hernan Rodriguez
SP 24-70mm, 53mm, f/8, 1/125 sec, ISO 125

Fast and Accurate. Under these low-light studio conditions, the Tamron 24-70mm excelled in capturing focus even after focal length readjustments. This was very apparent in our bold fashion shot, where we were only able to focus with weak modeling light in a dark studio setting. This is in part due to the embedded DSP (digital signal processing) blocks that enable high-speed digital signal processing. We were able to achieve quick responsiveness from the camera’s AF selection point to the lens.

Class and Sophistication. This is how I can describe the last look in this series. Scotti stepped out of wardrobe in a black elegant sheer blouse. Nothing overstated but none-the-less, with a timeless appeal. Her hair was pulled back, which gave notice to the added jewelry Scotti displayed, and a touch of blue eye shadow was added to pronounce her beautiful blue eyes. To add to the timeless appeal, I thought it appropriate to shoot on a white background, and allow the light falloff to add the right amount of depth. I decided to shoot with a Savage Translum white paper roll, which is not 100 percent opaque, but it’s rather more of a velum translucent paper, allowing me to place a flash head behind the paper roll. This created an extra kick of light on the background but not obvious as if I were to use a spotlight directly in front of the background. 

© Hernan Rodriguez
SP 70-200mm, 111mm, f/8, 1/125 sec, ISO 125

The lighting was very tight and precise without much movement allowance for my subject. We spent four hours on setup to construct specific lighting characteristics from this look. I wanted to create a lighting style between a classic portrait and the specular quality you might see in fashion photography. I specifically wanted the light focused on the front plane of her face and graduating darker above her forehead. I also did not want an obvious spotlight effect either. 

One thing I found impressive about the Tamron 24-70mm was the flare and ghosting control it offered. The multiple-layer coating techniques of the lens provided superior anti-reflection performance, especially in backlighting portraits as in this particular portrait. I can also see how this lens would be a perfect fit for any product photographer, as it also captured Scotti’s ruby and diamond accessories with sharpness and clarity. Something most commercial photographers strive to accomplish in their work. This is attributed to the new specialized, high quality glass elements. 

For the main light I used a Dynalite flash head with an18” beauty dish, fitted with a grid and fired it through a Westcott Omega reflector. The shape of the reflector served as a gobo to create the shadow around the face, while keeping the brightness in the center of the face. I also used multiple black boards to control the light falloff and block direct light from striking the lower part of Scotti’s dress. The main light was metered at F/11, four feet from my subject. As a fill light, I used two 36” white and black umbrellas metering F/5 each. I varied the contrast throughout this setup by using either one or two fill lights. The fill was set to the left and right of my subject to create non-directional open fill. 

Money Shot. From all of our shot storyboarded, this is the one shot Scottie was counting on as her money shot. She wanted to create an avante-garde fashion shot using her sponsor’s bike frames, which would be able to be used for commercial advertising purposes. The lighting we used was the same, but we added a Dynalite Ring Flash set at a low angle for specular fill. This light was metered 3 stops less than the main light. We also switched our background to black velvet, which really made the frames standout. Scotti also had a makeup change to a bolder and graphic look, adding bright orange eye-shadow and blush to match the bicycle frame. 

© Hernan Rodriguez
SP 24-70mm, 70mm, f/7.1, 1/125 sec, ISO 125

The Tamron 24-70mm is such a sophisticated lens and in a class on its own.

Tips for How to Photograph The Super Moon

Tips for Photographing a Super Moon by David Akoubian.
Story Contributed by Tamron
 
The term “Blue” moon is based on the simple idea that 2 full moons occur in a single calendar month. 2018 has 2 months in which we will have 2 “Blue” moons. The one on January 31, 2018 is also a Super Moon, and the second of the month as well. A Super Moon means the position of the moon is closer to the Earth than normally, so it can appear a slight percentage larger in the frame.
 
I’m an old school guy who falls back on manual settings when it comes to photographing a full moon. I remember my mentor telling me that a full moon is the same as shooting in conditions to the old “Sunny 16” Rule. This means set your camera to manual, select an ISO, I like 200 then a shutter speed and aperture that is a reciprocal value of 1/200th of a second at f16. I prefer 1/800th of a second at f8. This will allow me to capture great detail in the moon and have a fast enough shutter speed to steady movement. I will use a tripod usually, but with a high enough shutter speed and Vibration Compensation, handholding the lens is possible. Depending on where you live, atmospheric conditions may dictate opening up a stop because of haze. If that happens I will either adjust the shutter speed to 1/200th or change the ISO to 400. If you are using either Aperture or Shutter Priority, you will need to adjust your exposure compensation to get detail in the moon usually.
My lens of choice is the Tamron SP 150-600mm Di VC USD G2 lens. I will use either a full frame camera or a cropped sensor camera and crop a little to my personal liking during the processing. I like to find objects to place in the foreground to give it a different look as well. The best day to capture the full moon in the early dusk light is the day before the actual full moon occurs or the day after at sunrise.
 
I encourage you to get out and shoot the moon, have fun, get lots of images, find things to place in the foreground, shoot it high in the sky, but go out and have fun!

 

 

 

 ISO 400, F/11, 1/800 sec, 600mm

 

 

 ISO 400, F/8, 1/200th sec, 600mm

 

 

 ISO 100, F/8, 1/15 sec 18mm

 

 ISO 400, F/9, 1/640 sec, 850mm

Free Saturday Focus Sessions – February

Focus sessions are Free and take place in our store from 9:30 am – 10:15 am. Focus Sessions are mini classes and discussions and classes about photography. All sessions will allow for questions and answers. Please bring your camera and any images along that you have questions about. Please share your thoughts for future focus sessions in the comment box below.

No RSVP necessary – Free for everyone – Please bring a friend!


Hit the “Like Button” to let your friends know. Have suggestions for future focus sessions? Feel free to leave a comment.

Here’s our upcoming Focus Sessions:

 

January 27th – Flash Photography

February 3rd – North of the Wall – Photo Expedition in Iceland by Daniel Leeb

February 10th – Long Exposure & Night Photography with Johnny O.

February 17th – Photo Assignment Review – Make Something Ugly Beautiful – (Bring in 11×14 prints)

February 24th – Concert Photography with Jeremy

March 3rd –  Indoor Sports with Paul and John

 

These are free events – bring a friend along if you’d like.

Share with your friends on Facebook – Click the Like button below.

Hope you can join us!

Wide Angle Wanderings

When Marcie Reif’s daughter was born, she intended to take up photography as a way to document her child’s early years. “I was a teacher and worked with kids all of the time, so taking pictures was a fun diversion,” she says. She figured she could earn extra money on the side taking photos of kids, but as she got better at it, her side venture started growing. A few years in, Marcie finally decided to quit her teaching job and started her business as a family, newborn, and lifestyle photographer based in Atlanta.

On the flip side, Marcie also became involved with Clickin Moms, an organization dedicated to female photographers at every skill level. “Taking pictures of my kids as a hobbyist, especially down by the beach, is what grabbed the attention of that group,” she says. “Every time we went down to the water, I’d rent new lenses or a different camera—always looking for something new to play with.”

Marcie and her family recently took a Disney cruise—right as other families are also starting to plan their winter vacations to warmer climes—and she brought the Tamron SP 15-30mm F/2.8 VC wide-angle lens with her on her trip. “It’s such a versatile lens for a vacation like this, where we’re carousing on the cruise ship and on the beach,” she says. “This lens lets me capture the kids as they’re playing or otherwise entertaining themselves, with a good portion of their environment in the background; after all, you want to remember where you went on vacation! I especially like this lens because it’s not intrusive, meaning my kids are generally more cooperative in terms of letting me take photos.”

The lens is also a stellar performer in a variety of lighting situations, which is crucial when you’re constantly on the go on vacation. “Of course I love shooting at the so-called golden hour, but that’s when you might be having dinner or your kids are tired after a long day in the sun,” Marcie says. “The 15-30 performs well even during midday and nighttime scenes. It’s liberating to not have to wait for a certain time of day to shoot, ensuring you don’t miss a single moment of your trip.”

Marcie also appreciates the lens for the creativity it allows her on the fly. “When you’re on vacation, you obviously want to capture the memories for your photo album, but I also find myself playing as if I were an artist,” she says. “I really like the 15-30 because it lets me experiment with light and colors so effectively.”

A prime example of the 15-30’s performance was a photo of Marcie’s son snorkeling in the clear waters of Castaway Cay, Disney’s privately owned island. “I knew the lens would be able to capture the sky, the water, and all of the colors beautifully,” she says. “It almost looks like it’s not real. I barely had to edit this image afterwards. The only thing I did was add some contrast and a bit to the blacks. I also removed some people from the photo to make it appear like we were there by ourselves.”

© Marcie Reif
15mm, F/2.8, 1/4000th sec., ISO 200
The 15-30 also allows Marcie to hang back when her kids are immersed in play. “It’s not always necessary to capture your subjects’ faces when you’re going for a candid vacation photo,” she explains. “My son was just playing with this shower in this photo. Kids can sometimes get caught up in what they’re doing, and rather than distract them so they’ll look up for your photo, just take the photo. That’s part of being on vacation with kids—you have to capture them when you can. This picture ended up being one of my favorites, with that water falling on his head, and the way the lens was able to capture the movement and light here without being overblown.” 

© Marcie Reif
30mm, F/3.5, 1/800th sec., 200 ISO
The same type of furtive capture happened back on the ship when Marcie spied her daughter looking out over the water. “I asked her to look at me, but she didn’t really want to,” she says. “I loved the way the wind was blowing her hair and the way the light was coming through it, though, so I took advantage of those elements instead. I also appreciate the lines and curves of the ship’s form. Whenever I could, I’d try to bring my kids up to that bar and shoot at different angles just for that reason.”

© Marcie Reif
15mm, F/3.2, 1/1600th sec., ISO 200
To show how the 15-30 can be wielded for portrait photos, Marcie asked her friend’s daughter for a picture as she showed off her red heart sunglasses. “I was close enough that I could have reached out and touched her—you can actually see my reflection in her sunglasses,” Marcie says. “I’m still able to get an attractive close-up, with my subject super-sharp and the background blurred out nicely, which prevents it from distracting from my smiley subject. You can still tell exactly where we are, though.”

© Marcie Reif
30mm, F/2.8, 1/2500th sec., ISO 250
A photo of Marcie’s daughter decked out in her Princess Jasmine outfit made for a similarly sweet shot. “I placed her in front of the ship’s porthole because I liked how the light was streaming in through it,” she explains. “I knew the clarity would be good, and she was just happy she got to pose holding her genie lamp, which is why she has such a natural smile. It was a win-win for both of us.”

<center<© Marcie Reif
30mm, F/2.8, 1/100th sec., ISO 1600

Marcie says the 15-30 is tailor-made for photos like the one she took of her kids and her friend’s two girls hanging out in the surf. “The very slight distortion on the wave that I get shooting at the widest end of the lens is what I’m drawn to,” she says. “It serves as a leading line of sorts. I also love the way the lens preserves the sky and how you see all of the color in the image from their bathing suits centered right in the middle. The only thing I would’ve changed about this image, if I’d had the time, is to keep the horizon from going through their heads. I usually try to keep an eye on that, by either crouching down or getting up higher, but I had to break that rule to quickly capture this moment.”

© Marcie Reif
15mm, F/2.8, 1/6400th sec., ISO 250 
The lens also allows Marcie to indulge that artistic side she loves. “I visualized the scene of my son dashing across the beach before he even did it,” she says. “He was running around, so I simply jumped in front of him and waited for him to run through my frame. I was drawn to the sand, the sky, the colors, the yellow in his bathing suit. Once again, the lens is perfect for this—the wide angle at the 15mm end distorts the image ever so slightly, just enough to take a photo that might seem kind of ordinary and make it look more creative.”

© Marcie Reif
15mm, F/4, 1/4000th sec., ISO 250
The 15-30 handled superbly when it came time for Marcie to document a Disney day’s-end favorite: nighttime fireworks. “Fireworks can be pretty hard to shoot, especially because they happen so quickly,” she says. “I always think of them as a big challenge. I really loved how this particular image came out, however, because you can see my son and tell he’s in awe of the show, even though (once again) you can’t see his full face. The light on their faces is a reflection of what they’re staring at in the sky. It was the perfect end to a great day.”

© Marcie Reif
30mm, F/2.8, 1/60th sec., ISO 2000 
To see more of Marcie Reif’s work, go to http://marciereif.com

Charley Voorhis photographs Washington state’s most scenic byway with his Tamron powerful lens lineup

If you’re looking for the “ultimate road trip,” head to the Pacific Northwest. That’s where the Cascade Loop Scenic Byway is located: a 440-mile route that starts just south of Seattle in a little town called Mukilteo, heading east along Highway 2 through the southern Cascade Mountains. “It’s an all-encompassing representation of Washington and what the state is known for,” says Charley Voorhis, a local photographer commissioned to help loop organizers document and promote the route. “It takes you through all kinds of landscapes and sceneries. It’s definitely doable in one epic day if you really pushed it, but it’s best traveled over four days and three nights to really experience each region.”

To capture the Cascade Loop for his client, Charley focuses on three main aspects: lodging, adventure, and sightseeing. “That’s the client’s agenda as to what they’d like to show, so that’s usually what I concentrate on photographically when I travel the loop,” he says. “But personally, I’m most attracted to the adventure and landscape side of things. There’s majestic beauty all along the route, and I make sure I’m up at 4 a.m. and shooting all the way through to sunset to capture all of it.”

For two recent trips along the loop, Charley tapped into his full Tamron lens arsenal, including the SP 15-30mm F/2.8 VC Wide-Angle, the SP 24-70mm F/2.8 VC G2, and the SP 150-600mm VC. “They’re all so sharp and versatile,” he says. “Being out in nature with these landscapes sprawled out in front of me, I usually always have the 150-600 readily available, because gorgeous things can happen in front of the camera; I need the reach so I can immediately zoom in on them. And the 15-30 has revolutionized my ability to think wide, because I can use it on a full-frame camera (my previous wide-angle lens was an APS-C lens). The 24-70, though, is the lens that lives on my camera as my go-to. All three lenses allow me to work a lot quicker, which is important when you’re working with light that’s changing quickly.”

Charley and his team have also put together a video for the Cascade Loop Scenic Byway called “Found,” using a combination of all of his Tamron lenses. “The idea arose that we should brand the content we do as ‘found on the Cascade Loop,'” he explains. “It’s a play on words, because ultimately you ‘find’ yourself when you head out on an epic road trip like this. That’s the tone I wanted to capture in this video—that we’re all soul-searching at any given time, and things happen in our lives that shape our feelings and our life trajectory. Shooting handheld video with these three lenses is terrific, because they’ve got the Vibration Compensation (VC) feature I never had previously. It allows me to take advantage of shooting in so many more situations now.”

Here, Charley talks about some of the images he captured on his trips around the loop.

© Charley Voorhis
15-30mm (15mm), F/5.6, 1/500th sec., ISO 100

One of the things you can do along the Cascade Loop is what’s called a canopy tour. You pay a company to harness you up, and the staff will guide you up an old-growth Douglas fir—it’s like 300 or 400 years old. 

I climbed alongside this character here, with my 15-30 snapped onto my camera, which was attached to my belt with a carabiner. Once I was up there, I was only a few feet from her, but I was still able to get a shot that wasn’t too close or intrusive. The Vibration Compensation (VC) really helped out in this case, because I was swinging around a bit while I was dangling up there. The stabilization helped me get a shot that was usable. 

© Charley Voorhis
150-600mm (150mm), F/6.3, 1/500th sec., ISO 100

The idea here was to capture people on the lake canoeing and having a good time. Luckily, these were characters of ours, so we weren’t voyeuristically photographing random people. I was able to shout out across the water and tell them what direction I wanted them to go in and come up with different compositions along the way. I was about 50 yards away from them (about half the length of a football field). The hardest part was getting them to smile. I had to keep yelling, “You’re having fun!”

One of the cool things about this lake is it has glacial sediment along the bottom. When everything is just right, the lake turns this milky green color. To help bring out that milkiness, I positioned myself so the sun was more behind them and up to the left. If it had been directly in front of them, the glare may have become an issue.

© Charley Voorhis
15-30mm (15mm), F/6.3, 1/400th sec., ISO 100

Along the upper Skagit River lies Diablo Dam, which powers much of Seattle. It’s built along the granite walls of Diablo Canyon. The builders wanted to build a spectacle for the locals to visit that would connect them to the outdoors, so they tried to preserve as much of the natural landscape in the dam as possible. Instead of just creating a huge concrete monstrosity, they made it look more like a nature-esque waterfall. It gives it this otherworldly look, especially when you can stand right up on top of it and peer over the side. 

Capturing this rainbow was simply good luck. What I teach my students is to have a reliable camera and lens and always be ready and opportunistic about things that present themselves. You can’t always plan on a particular element or guarantee a sunrise or sunset is going to be beautiful. But when something is beautiful, you want to be sure you’re ready for it. 

© Charley Voorhis
15-30mm (15mm), F/10, 1/100th sec., ISO 100

The woman in this photo is Annette Pitts, the executive director of the Cascade Loop. Her job is to live on the loop, basically. She travels around it four or five times a month, connecting with all of the members of the loop along the way. The idea was that we’d take some pictures of her shooting, since she’s learning more about photography right now. We wanted an in-the-field portrait of her; this is a photo she now uses on brochures and other forms of marketing collateral, since photography is a big draw for people to travel the Cascade Loop. 

We went out right before sunrise and hiked to the top of that mountain. Then, as the sun was coming up, I strategically positioned myself in that spot so the sun would be on the other side of the frame from her right as it was cresting. By closing down my f-stop somewhat, I was also able to capture it as a sunburst. I did have to shift side-to-side 5 or 6 feet to make sure the sun was positioned right where it is, for a sense of symmetry and balance. As you start shooting more, you start paying attention to how elements like that line up—and you remember that you have the power to physically move to achieve the photo you want. People forget that sometimes and keep their feet frozen in place. 

© Charley Voorhis
24-70mm (32mm), F/2.8, 1/320th sec., ISO 400

My hope for this photo was to show an ending of sorts for our Cascade Loop story—that even after the day is done, there’s still much fun and joy to be had. It was the perfect time for my subjects to unwind and enjoy a gorgeous sunset over the ocean.

It took a lot of effort to preserve the sky in the background and have the bright fire in the foreground, all with my subjects still illuminated. My strategy was to expose for the sky and then extrapolate from there. Realize in a case like this that on your LCD screen, the foreground is always going to look a bit darker than what you’d like it to. You can always bring up the shadows a little and reveal more of that information later in post-processing. 

© Charley Voorhis 
15-30mm (17mm), F/2.8, 20 sec., ISO 2500

At one point along the North Cascades Highway, you’ll catch a glimpse of one of the most iconic rock formations in the area: the Liberty Bell. It’s a popular climbing spot when the weather is agreeable, but for photographers, it makes for a stunning subject all year round. It was going to be a little out of our way to photograph it, since we’d have to go in the middle of the night, but the workshop students I had on this trip excitedly volunteered to go on this impromptu shoot. 

The night was crystal clear—perfect to teach them night techniques. None of the people on this particular tour had ever photographed stars before, so it was really an eye-opening experience for all of them. We set the composition up for the students from the side of the road, with the hope they’d be able to capture the Milky Way and witness how the camera can see a whole dimension of light you can’t see with the naked eye. We had them all use tripods, then I went around to make sure everyone knew how to turn on their timers (not everyone had a remote shutter). This way, the picture would be taken 2 seconds after they pressed the button. I explained that otherwise, even touching the camera for just that brief moment would cause camera shake and motion blur in their shots.

They all were stoked when they saw the results of what their cameras were able to do. Basically everyone who was there got at least one successful photo. There was one lady who approached me at breakfast the next morning and said, “That’s been on my bucket list forever; I can’t believe I actually got to go do that.” It’s really cool to be able to share that with newer photographers.

© Charley Voorhis
15-30mm (15mm), F/2.8, 20 sec., ISO 2500

This was the last shot of the night. We fired up the bus, everyone got out, and then we just photographed the bus, empty, under all of the stars. My idea was we could use that photo to promote more of our night workshops, letting people know that we have this bus we can load up, drive to an amazing place, and take these types of star shots. 

I’m not sure exactly what kind of bulbs are in the bus, but for whatever reason, the lights just went to that reddish-hot pink color in the photo. It was a happy accident, because the naked eye certainly didn’t see it that way. The naked eye couldn’t even see the mountains or sky behind the bus, because the lights overwhelmed our vision in the middle of the darkness like that. It’s a bit of an experimental shot, but I think it really works.

To see more of Charley Voorhis’ work, go to www.voortexproductions.com

Customer Spotlight – Father Anthony Falsarella

 

Welcome to our tenth Bergen County Camera Customer Spotlight. This monthly posting features a customer who’s made an impression on us. They might have grown in their understanding of photography, gained a mastery of the craft and / or have become a strong advocate of our way of doing business in the world of photography. During the next month you will see this customer’s images displayed on our digital signs in store, in our emails, blog posts and social media. We hope you both enjoy and are inspired by this new addition to In Focus and look forward to your comments and suggestions. 

Anthony Falsarella is this month’s customer profile.

Please enjoy a few of Anthony’s images in the gallery below.

Here is a word from Anthony Falsarella: 

Hi, my name is Anthony Falsarella, and I am a fan and customer of BCC. Photography has been a part of my life since I was about 10 when a second-hand Kodak Brownie box camera was given to me to use in order to occupy my summer time. I enjoyed capturing various things and would spend my weekly allowance on film developing and film. I did not get my own camera until I graduated high school, and that was a Canon Canodate rangefinder camera which I still have and use. Jumping forward into the digital photo age came upon me a bit late and I got involved with it in my regular work as a priest and monastic. My specialty is low-light religious art reproduction either for publication and web use or to document a piece for restorative and conservation purposes. I have done work both in the US and abroad in countries like France, Belgium, Poland, and Belarus to name just a few. I do other things for personal enjoyment so I like to think that most niches I can feel comfortable with.

Now you may wonder why I am a fan and customer of BCC, most times having to make a 125-mile round trip to get back and forth to BCC? The answer is quite simple, customer service and the staff’s dedication to making you a better photographer. BCC has among other things has reignited my passion for the printed photo, which to me is very important. Digital photos are nice, but when the file is printed much more comes out. One of the Canon specials that Paul announced after one Focus Session made me decide to upgrade from my old Epson photo printer. Now I have my own fine art printing lab at my disposal and those special prints are made on that using digital fine art papers.

The outings and educational emphasis of BCC to help make all customers better photographers is for me paramount of coming all the way to this store. Networking with other photographers, gaining that one nugget with each encounter that sheds light on improving your craft, and learning from each other. The staff and all the Saturday morning friends help make this easy.

Each year for the past several years, I have had a series of “photography” resolutions for the new year. These resolutions are more like goals. This past year, all my goals or resolutions were met in part of or with the help of BCC and its friends. I have a series of new ones I just started with, one being more involved with film or analog photography in the coming year. I am sure with the knowledge, the used gear, and the processing that is offered at BCC, that will be a goal that will be definitely accomplished.

For more of Anthony’s work, check out his instagram at @anthony.falsarella