Fashion Campaign Work

Several times a year I lens fashion video campaigns during the actual still photography shoot. It’s exciting to work with a slew of talented creatives whose singular focus is to execute the creative director’s vision. It’s great to to work alongside seasoned still fashion photographers who bring their unique style and lighting techniques. It can be challenging because of the overlapping demands on the talent, forcing you to be quick on your feet and selective with your shots.

 

On a recent four-day campaign shoot for the brand Tom Tailor of Germany, I had the pleasure of working with German director Birgit Amelung of Profashional here in New York City.

 

The five videos we created each possess a different feel. The creative direction was different for each clothing line we filmed and the location, camera movement, and edit came together very well.  

 

Here are three of the four videos created:

 

A Night at the Brooklyn Museum

We never know where our choices in life will take us. I feel this is especially true in the creative arts, especially because there are no set rules. We're constantly redefining paradigms of the generation before us, accelerating our output and collaborations through curated experiences and focused communities. I guess the only real rule is to keep practicing what we do with diligence and honest intentions.  

The crowd outside the museum on Saturday, August 1, 2015. Photo by Jon David Kane

The crowd outside the museum on Saturday, August 1, 2015. Photo by Jon David Kane

This past weekend, Papa Machete, a short documentary film about Haitian machete fencing screened at the Brooklyn Museum for 1st Saturday. I am grateful to be the DP of this film. It was a labor of love for everyone involved. The audience posed some great questions and our director Jonathan David Kane and I appreciated the intellectual dialog. Thanks to Tenba Bags for the continued support and all of those individuals who have invested in our film. 

The Papa Machete Q&A at the Brooklyn Museum. Photo by David Bergman

The Papa Machete Q&A at the Brooklyn Museum. Photo by David Bergman

10 years ago I first walked the halls of the Brooklyn Museum and I couldn't predict that I'd one day be part of an evening of art.

Looking back two years ago, I couldn't predict the film we planned quickly and shot expeditiously would have made it this far. 

Here's to our celebrating a collaborative work in a beautiful environment. Thank you. Now onto the next endeavor only to improve on what we've created thus far. Tomorrow there's no telling where we will stand. 

Photo by Sarina Di Mento

Photo by Sarina Di Mento

Cuba's Cinema Paradiso, Tasty Alligators, and a Vegas Desert Joust

April, May and June offered several challenging opportunities for me - aggressive travel schedules, light-weight effective lighting, and tight deadlines to meet for deliverables. On the one hand, I prepared to travel to Havana, Cuba, to DP a documentary and, on the other, I was a field producer / DP for three installments of the new Food Network show, "Craziest Restaurants in America." Then, in June, I played the role of co-DP shooting the new TravelChannel.com show "Travel Channel Star."

A late night football match in Old Havana photographed at night with the Sony Alpha A7S 

A late night football match in Old Havana photographed at night with the Sony Alpha A7S 

The Sony FS7, Canon C300 and Sony A7S served as the backbone of my camera packages while traveling. The bulk of my lighting package needed to be portable, AC/DC powered, possess a long battery life, be bi-color, and definitely be small and lightweight. Before my trip I had read several reviews of the Wescott Icelight. I know several shooters who swear by them and have had great success using this light. I like their slender design, but during my visit to visit to B&H I compared the Genaray Light Wand to the Wescott Ice Light. The Genaray is similar in size, dual color temp and has an extremely long battery life. Plus, it's pretty bright when putting out full power. I purchased four Genaray lights for the various applications ahead in order to ensure an on-the-go and versatile interview lighting setup.

As my crew and I packed for Cuba, we had to be mindful of the strict baggage restrictions and weight limits imposed by the airline. Each person traveling is allotted a total of 44 lbs. and every additional pound costs $2 more. Also, each checked bag costs $25. In the end, the size of the camera package and lighting were legitimate concerns for our producer on this documentary shoot. We were scheduled to work with a Cuban production unit, but wanted to be as prepared as possible before boarding the plane. Rental houses and Home Depots are a little hard to find on the island.

I really began to appreciate Havana once we arrived and I felt the tropical climate wash over me. The sounds and images you experience immediately after leaving the terminal reinforce the allure of this once secluded country. The daily churn of life is a testament to the resourcefulness of the Cuban people.

The focus of our documentary centered on the numerous, beautiful movie theaters built in Havana from the 1930s through the 1950s. Our storyline took us in and around the city's Art Deco and Modernist cinemas. These structures are temples to the cinematic experience, past and present.

Logistically, the interiors of the movie theaters were difficult to shoot. Some were equipped with  220 as well as 110 power voltage. Our Cuban gaffer was very resourceful at navigating the tricky electrical systems of these aging theaters.

Our lighting package consisted of (2) 1ks & (1) 2k (3) 650s (4) LED Genaray light sticks. I needed more light at times -- considering the size of the interiors we were filming -- but we soon adopted the no-nonsense attitude of our Cuban crew. ("Just make it work.") The native 2000 ISO of the Sony FS7 and 3200 ISO of the A7S aided us in our endeavor to light up these cavernous spaces.

Below are still images of the Art Deco and Modernist theaters we filmed. The 2k and 1k provided the bulk of the ambient light. Genaray light sticks hidden in the orchestra pits and along the walls provided up lighting, while our 650s accented the chairs and curtains.

Sony FS7 on a Zeiss ZE 21mm Prime Lens, F/2.8, Native 2000 ISO

Sony FS7 on a Zeiss ZE 21mm Prime Lens, F/2.8, Native 2000 ISO

Below is another interior shot, I opted for the A7s as the main camera (8000 ISO on the 16mm on a Canon 16-35mm Lens, F/2.8) because of the size and low light of the space.

For interviews, we used the light sticks for edge lighting, catch light and hair lights. Our key lighting source was either the 1k or 2k pumped through a medium chimera. However, when electricity was not available or we were shooting in rooms with no airflow, we used the light sticks.

Here are a couple of frame grabs from our interviews:

Cuba is a complicated place filled with uncomplicated people. Those whom I spoke with were kind, passionate, and engaging.  I can't wait to go back to finish the doc.

Back in the States, I switched gears and prepared for three restaurant shoots for an upcoming show on the Food Network called "Craziest Restaurants in America." We used a lot of available light when possible throughout each location. The shot list was challenging for a one-day production. I lit the food prep and food porn with a variety of sources, however my assistants enjoyed using the light sticks most.  Throughout the locations I found that they could be easily tucked in corners to create a natural looking bounce or as a directional source when creating specular highlights and edge lighting on the food. In some cases, the food props for the show were a bit to gamey for me to get close to:

Catching-up with one of the locals at Joanie's Crab Shack in Everglades City, Florida.

Catching-up with one of the locals at Joanie's Crab Shack in Everglades City, Florida.

My 1st ACs carried two or three lights easily, sometimes tucked into their belts like Jedi Knights. It didn't take much to ignite the Luke Skywalker in each of us when we had a couple of minutes of downtime.

I shot a variety of 60 FPS - 150 FPS at 24p to capture the visual delight of the syrups and sauces during the prep shots and presentation money signature dish shots. I was happy to see that I didn’t encounter flicker while shooting the slow-motion food porn.

Food prep using two Genaray light sticks, Canon C300, Canon 24-70mm Lens, 850 ISO

Food prep using two Genaray light sticks, Canon C300, Canon 24-70mm Lens, 850 ISO

Finally, I was really fortunate to work with a good friend and talented DP / Director, Francisco Aliwalas, on TravelChannel.com's hunt for their newest host called, "Travel Channel Star." The crew was a great ensemble of personalities and talent. Despite the large amount of coverage that was needed for each of the contestants, we managed to knock out five distinct pieces with some time to spare for a laugh:

A deadcat blowing in the Las Vegas desert winds and a tasty cigar pose for Fran's camera - good times.

A deadcat blowing in the Las Vegas desert winds and a tasty cigar pose for Fran's camera - good times.

We shot in five cities over six days and needed to pack for the lily pad airport hopping. It was a success. Fran and I even managed to test our skills with The Force in the Vegas desert in an epic battle of good versus evil:

Michael Jordan Bald Lord (Me) & Young Skywalker (Fran)

Michael Jordan Bald Lord (Me) & Young Skywalker (Fran)

May the force be with you.

 

Sony Alpha A7S - First Impressions - Part 1 - Photography

Sony A7S, Metabones Leica M-E Mount, and a Leica 35mm F/1.4 Summilux Lens

Sony A7S, Metabones Leica M-E Mount, and a Leica 35mm F/1.4 Summilux Lens

My career is focused on cinematography, yet I’ve longed to own a new camera that can efficiently shoot a good digital picture, but still remind of my roots as a street photographer and photojournalist without making me feel like I'm "on the job." I feel it keeps my timing and composition sharp. Plus, it's just a great feeling to make images with something other than my iPhone. The following pics were shot casually last weekend. 

In essence, I've been wanting to reconnect with my roots... which is why I've been waiting for the A7S.

In 1999, I was handed a loaner Leica M4 with a 50mm Summilux f/1.4 by my then Dir. of Photography at the Miami Herald and mentor, Maggie Steber, with instructions to go find a story and tell it through a unique point of view. At the time I lived in Miami Beach, which was filled with nightclubs and back alley altercations. I began to document the play of light and shadow with Kodak's TMAX 3200 film that was pushed to 6400 during the processing. The film grain was palpable. I was given a pass to be a voyeur and a tool that enabled me to freeze the fleeting moments of the night.

Several years later I purchased the Leica M6 with a 35mm Summilux f/1.4 from my friend and fellow photographer Patrick Farrell. Hundreds of roles of film later it is my favorite camera. The weight, ease of use, and design are at the same time exquisitely refined and absolutely simplistic. As time passed and film processing fees became more expensive, I sadly found it collecting dust as a memento rather than the workhorse it used to be.

Present day...

This brings me to the Sony Alpha A7S combined with a Metabones Leica M-E Mount. It feels great to once again discover a photographic frame within that familiar intersection of light and timing, all the while carrying a tool with a solid build and a tangible physical weight and feel.

The following set of photographs are made with the A7S, the full frame, mirrorless camera that utilizes my Leica glass and will serve as a second camera for future video shoots.  The fact that this small package also boasts incredible lowlight capabilities, an SLog video shooting profile, XAVC HD & AVCHD codecs, and 4k? Needless to say, I'm very happy with this purchase. Yes, Leica's current digital model, the M, is very impressive, but the price tag is too steep to throw at camera that didn't come with all these additional options for me.

This image of my nephew playing in a garden was made prior to removing the auto review feature within the camera. Once I turned that feature off I found shutter to be incredibly fast and I didn't miss the moment I wanted to frame.

A7S + Leica Summilux 35mm f/1.4 : This Image F/2.0, ISO 100, Shutter 1/800 - Extra Fine JPEG I love the lens flare and artifacts of this lens and prefer the inherent imperfections over a razor sharp newer piece of glass.

A7S + Leica Summilux 35mm f/1.4 : This Image F/2.0, ISO 100, Shutter 1/800 - Extra Fine JPEG

I love the lens flare and artifacts of this lens and prefer the inherent imperfections over a razor sharp newer piece of glass.

In my next post, I'll share the results of the Sony A7S's video capabilities. I'm expecting to be very impressed with the latitude and low light capability.  Getting the camera to seamlessly work within my current 4k FS700 workflow will have it's challenges I'm sure. 

All of the images below were captured using manual settings for my shutter, ISO, aperture, and focus. 

I have found using the auto exposure or shutter priority to be very accurate and I favor setting the exposure compensation at minus (-) 1/3 to (-) 2/3 of a stop to protect my highlights.

 

Larz at the MoMA PS1 Contemporary Art Center during the Summer Warm-up party on Saturday, July 19th, 2014.  A7S + Leica Summilux 35mm f/1.4 : This Image F/2.0, ISO 100, Shutter 1/640 - Extra Fine JPEG

Larz at the MoMA PS1 Contemporary Art Center during the Summer Warm-up party on Saturday, July 19th, 2014. 

A7S + Leica Summilux 35mm f/1.4 : This Image F/2.0, ISO 100, Shutter 1/640 - Extra Fine JPEG

The flexibility of the A7S's high ISO range is fantastic and offers a new range of creative freedom in low light. Selecting between ISO at 3600 - 100,000 provides the opportunity to create a picture with a lot of depth of field instead of being wide open if you so choose (Yes, the camera does go to 400,000 ISO but I found 100,000 to be the point of diminishing return). Plus with a f/1.4 lens a 400,000 ISO was a bit bright, but I can see it coming into play for specific applications... for example, shooting night for day in video.

I personally love the look of my Summilux at F/2 - F/2.8 and I feel the lens has a beautiful innate vignetting quality and shoot it an ISO setting where I'm still using this f/stop. My lens is nearly 20 years old and has a softer quality then other Leica ZE primes that I've shot with on the A7S. I haven't tested the 35mm prime auto focus Zeiss lens that is made for this camera but it seemed to be very fast and an excellent option when at Abel Cine NYC.

Sarina at the MoMA PS1 Contemporary Art Center during the Summer Warm-up party on Saturday, July 19th, 2014.  A7S + Leica Summilux 35mm f/1.4: This Image F/2.0, ISO 320, Shutter 1/160 -  Extra Fine JPEG

Sarina at the MoMA PS1 Contemporary Art Center during the Summer Warm-up party on Saturday, July 19th, 2014. 

A7S + Leica Summilux 35mm f/1.4: This Image F/2.0, ISO 320, Shutter 1/160 -  Extra Fine JPEG

The ability to use my camera like a true range finder at a certain F-stop allows me to shoot the A7S without having to traditionally focus the camera to get sharp images. I set my f/stop and keep in mind the range from the camera where my picture will be sharp. At f/8,  I have the flexibility of 4 feet to 9 feet to play with while not focusing. The image below was created quickly before the couple moved on into the crowd.

Focus peeking works great in very low light situations within the bright OLED viewfinder.

A couple at the MoMA PS1 Contemporary Art Center during the Summer Warm-up party on Saturday, July 19th, 2014.  A7S + Leica Summilux 35mm f/1.4: This Image F/8.0, ISO 640, Shutter 1/640 -  Extra Fine JPEG

A couple at the MoMA PS1 Contemporary Art Center during the Summer Warm-up party on Saturday, July 19th, 2014. 

A7S + Leica Summilux 35mm f/1.4: This Image F/8.0, ISO 640, Shutter 1/640 -  Extra Fine JPEG

The image below utilized the tilting back screen of the camera to line up the shot instead of traditionally composing the image by lifting it to my face. I enjoy using the back screen like a waist viewfinder similar to that of a Rolleiflex or Hasselblad. 

A reaction at the MoMA PS1 Contemporary Art Center during the Summer Warm-up party on Saturday, July 19th, 2014.  A7S + Leica Summilux 35mm f/1.4 : This Image F/4.0, ISO 2000 Shutter 1/640 -  Extra Fine JPEG

A reaction at the MoMA PS1 Contemporary Art Center during the Summer Warm-up party on Saturday, July 19th, 2014. 

A7S + Leica Summilux 35mm f/1.4 : This Image F/4.0, ISO 2000 Shutter 1/640 -  Extra Fine JPEG

1/250 of a second within a moving car at night is a great option to have at my disposal. Once again, I'm very impressed with the quality of the still photographs of this camera.

UBERing it home.   A7S + Leica Summilux 35mm f/1.4: This Image F/2.0, ISO 8000, Shutter 1/250 -  Extra Fine JPEG

UBERing it home.  

A7S + Leica Summilux 35mm f/1.4: This Image F/2.0, ISO 8000, Shutter 1/250 -  Extra Fine JPEG

Blue skies, dirt bikes, and back light.  A7S + Leica Summilux 35mm f/1.4: This Image F/5.6, ISO 250, Shutter 1/2000 -  Extra Fine JPEG

Blue skies, dirt bikes, and back light. 

A7S + Leica Summilux 35mm f/1.4: This Image F/5.6, ISO 250, Shutter 1/2000 -  Extra Fine JPEG

Blue skies, dirt bikes, and back light.  A7S + Leica Summilux 35mm f/1.4: This Image -  F/5.6, ISO 250, Shutter 1/2000 -  Extra Fine JPEG

Blue skies, dirt bikes, and back light. 

A7S + Leica Summilux 35mm f/1.4: This Image -  F/5.6, ISO 250, Shutter 1/2000 -  Extra Fine JPEG

A roadside diner in the Catskills of New York.  A7S + Leica Summilux 35mm f/1.4 : This Image - F/2.0, ISO 100, Shutter 1/250 -  Extra Fine JPEG

A roadside diner in the Catskills of New York. 

A7S + Leica Summilux 35mm f/1.4 : This Image - F/2.0, ISO 100, Shutter 1/250 -  Extra Fine JPEG

At 16,000 ISO the image below is pretty awesome especially since the room is flooded with neon lighting of all sorts. Plus it's a nice way to say, "DAMMMMMNN Sony!"

Ryan reacts to an enthusiastic dance-off contest at SPIN in New York City.  A7S + Leica Summilux 35mm f/1.4 -  F/4.5, ISO 16,000, Shutter 1/1250 -  Extra Fine JPEG

Ryan reacts to an enthusiastic dance-off contest at SPIN in New York City. 

A7S + Leica Summilux 35mm f/1.4 -  F/4.5, ISO 16,000, Shutter 1/1250 -  Extra Fine JPEG