Where has the time gone?

Bad photographer… Bad! 9-months since my last post, really? I guess so.

If you look back at my last post I was talking about video work and the equipment associated with that. Since that post I have acquired another LED light from the folks over at Aputure… Their new LC C120d II. A great little light which is the next evolutionary step in their “Light Storm” product line. We now have a fantastic little 3-light video kit which is perfectly color balanced and runs cool for those hot summer days. We also picked up a new V-Mic D3 Pro from Aputure’s sister company, Deity. Unfortunately, we really have not had a chance to put the D3 through its paces yet, but look forward to doing so soon.

In addition to talking about video hear in my last post I also teased about some client updates and preparations for our two-week trip to Switzerland and Italy. Since that time we have added the following clients to our roster:

  1. Humble7 (consumer electronics)

  2. Holland & Knight (Law Firm)

  3. Basware (tech)

  4. Barton G (restaurants)

  5. Foundation for Sickle Cell Research (non-profit)

  6. Jabian (consulting)

  7. Sotheby’s (auction house)

  8. Calmetto (management services)

  9. Chicken Salad Chick (restaurants)

We are grateful for these new clients and all of the additional individual clients whom I have not mentioned.

Europe 2018

As one might expect from a gear head, I had a terrible time determining what photographic equipment I wanted to take with me. Being that I was traveling with my wife and four friends, knowing that we were going to be staying in four separate cities and doing day-trips to others, I knew that I needed to stay light and mobile. As is the norm for me, I did more than my share of research… I asked questions… I pounded my head against the wall.

For our last trip across the pond (in 2012) I opted for my Canon Powershot S95 point-and-shoot and my first generation FujiFilm X100 (first generation) with a fixed 23mm f2 lens (35mm equivalent on 35mm Full Frame). Fast forward six years and I no longer have either camera. The S95 took a dive at a friend’s wedding (thanks to entirely too much Angel’s Envy Bourbon). The X100, which I loved with all my heart, was sold off to a friend in order to generate capital for another equipment purchase.

So what to do..?

Being that I own a FujiFilm XT2 and a 23mm lens (along with a 35mm f2 and 16-55 f2.8), the easy answer was to take that system, especially given my previous travel experience with the x100. I decided to remove the battery booster grip from the XT2 and leave the heavy zoom at home, so I could save on space and weight. Being that we had plans to travel to Venice and other older European cities, I decided that something wider angle would be handy for the streets… So I picked up a Samyang 12mm f2.0. Much like my previous trip, I wanted something which I could put in my pocket and possibly zoom in a bit to capture action in the distance. I spent a long time researching… Longer than normal. The camera I wanted did not exist and all others fell short. In the end, I rented a Canon Powershot G7x II from the folks at LensRentals.com. The final piece of the image capture puzzle was my smart phone… My Samsung Galaxy Note 3 was a bit long in the tooth, so I upgraded to a Samsung Galaxy S9+.

Varenna, Italy:  Scott Clinton Photography’s travel kit, consisting of the Canon Powershot G7x II along with the Fujifilm XT2 and Samyang 12mm f2.0 lens.

Varenna, Italy: Scott Clinton Photography’s travel kit, consisting of the Canon Powershot G7x II along with the Fujifilm XT2 and Samyang 12mm f2.0 lens.

While traveling I was shocked by how often I kept the 12mm mounted on the XT2… It was definitely my go-to setup and yielded some fantastic results (IMO).

Lake Como, Varenna, Italy.    Fuji XT2 w/ Samyang 12mm f2.0

Lake Como, Varenna, Italy. Fuji XT2 w/ Samyang 12mm f2.0

Truth be told, I believe I only mounted the 35mm f2.0 once the entire time we were traveling. For the most part it stayed behind in the hotel room. The canon did what I needed it to do… Nothing to fantastic, but it did allow me to zoom into objects when I needed to and travel light if I chose to. It also did a great job with travel snapshots of Ms Terry and our friends.

Sunset on Lake Lucerne…  Lucerne, Switzerland.   Jpeg straight from the camera (G7X II)

Sunset on Lake Lucerne… Lucerne, Switzerland. Jpeg straight from the camera (G7X II)

The Samsung Galaxy S9+ performed admirably as well. I am a firm believe that the best camera is the one in your hand at the time when/where you need it.

The view from atop Mount Pilatus, near Lucerne, Switzerland.   Panoramic from Samsung Galaxy S9+…  No filter/post production.

The view from atop Mount Pilatus, near Lucerne, Switzerland. Panoramic from Samsung Galaxy S9+… No filter/post production.

I rounded out my travel kit with gray colored LowePro Streamline 150 bag (which I picked up on deep discount at my local camera shop), , PeakDesign camera straps, SanDisk Extreme PRO UHS II SD Cards, my trusty Seiko automatic field watch, a host of Eddie Bauer moisture wicking shirts/pants/sorts, HATS, and a pair of On Cloud CloudAce shoes. The LowePro did really well and looked fairly unassuming. It was a bit small when carrying more than two lenses plus the G7X, but was perfect aside from that. I did put on an aftermarket Protec strap pad which I picked up off Amazon for comfort on the long day.

Caught in the act by the lovely Terry C.   Chapel Bridge, Lucerne, Switzerland.

Caught in the act by the lovely Terry C. Chapel Bridge, Lucerne, Switzerland.

As sad as it is, I have not done ANYTHING with the images from our 2018 European adventures. Below are a few picked at random for your viewing enjoyment. They are all pretty much straight out of the camera(s). Enjoy!

My next post will be about my the next step in my move to fire Canon (after 32 years).

Three Month Recap... Video Production

It has been over three months since my last post.   If you look back, I was focused on stepping up our game on the video front.   In that time we have worked on videos for a few different clients.   With each project we learn more about what works well and what doesn't work as well.   We have also learned that it takes a lot of equipment to create quality video content...  Even more than with stills!

As you will see from the behind the scenes photo below, we are using two DSLR cameras, a boom mic, lavelier mic (hidden under the client's dress), a field recorder, a laptop (just out of frame), and two lights.   LOTS of cables and cords.

Here is a behind the scenes shot from one of our recent photography and video shoots in Charlotte, NC.   The client, The Widrick Group, was amazing to deal with!

Here is a behind the scenes shot from one of our recent photography and video shoots in Charlotte, NC.   The client, The Widrick Group, was amazing to deal with!

In early May we did a project for R.P. Boggs and Company, located in Lake Wylie, SC.   I felt really good about the approach to the audio for that project and the results were quite good.   That said, May in Carolina's can get a bit warm and when shooting video it is best to turn off HVAC systems.   We discovered quickly that my existing video light kit was not going to be a viable option when working in the South.    By the end of the shoot the Boggs office was a toasty 90 degrees!  Said kit consists of three Lowell DP hot lights with 500 watt and 1000 watt bulbs.  A great kit, but just not practical for extended use during the summer...  Especially in the South.

Here is a look at one of the many videos we created:

And here is one of the still portraits we did of one of the R.P. Boggs partners, Sam Swisher:

Sam Swisher, R.P. Boggs and Co.

Sam Swisher, R.P. Boggs and Co.

Immediately following the Boggs shoot I found myself in research mode (again) complete with G.A.S. (gear acquisition syndrome).   I found what I feel is a fantastic solution for my work...  The Aputure Light Storm C300D.   I ordered two!   Fantastic lights which accept all of my existing Bowens S-Mount modifiers...  Or as I figured out, some of the modifiers?

Here is an example of what the lights look like with a still photograph of Lauren Widrick, Founder, CEO, and Head Coach of the Widrick Group:

Lauren Widrick, The Widrick Group

Lauren Widrick, The Widrick Group

One more thing I learned from my shoot with the folks at R.P. Boggs was that my Canon ef 85mm f1.2L, while great for portraits, was not going to work well for video production.   So, I was forced to upgrade.   This was a painful experience as I am feuding with Canon and have vowed to no longer support their product line (Fujifilm is the future people).    For the good of my clients I put my anger with Canon aside and purchased a new 85mm f1.4L IS lens.   All things considered, this is a well designed piece of glass.   I do not like it as much for portraits, but it is working extremely well for video and especially well for fashion on white backgrounds (more on that in another post).

We are still working on the Widrick videos, but here is Lauren's introduction:

We will continue to refine our technique as we do more and more video projects...  It is a process like everything else in life.

In my next post I will discuss some new clients I have been fortunate enough to land recently as well as my preparations for our upcoming two-week holiday to Switzerland and Italy!
 

Jumping in with both feet... Video

In the month since my last post, the world of Scott Clinton Photography has been a busy one.  Bookings with new clients and old, in and around New York City as well as the "Queen City" of Charlotte, North Carolina.

Lately we have seen a rather large increase in requests for video work in addition to our traditional still photography services.   Over the years we have done a fair amount of video work, but never truly embraced the medium.   With all of the recent requests for videography, I have been reevaluating my thoughts and position regarding the service and have made the decision to embrace it.

Over the course of the past week or two, Google and YouTube been my team's best friend.  We have been researching some best practices, techniques, and equipment.   As you will no doubt learn, I have a weakness for equipment...  I am a self professed "gear head" and suffer from G.A.S. (Gear Acquisition Syndrome) on a regular basis.   Being that we never have pushed video in the past, I never spent the time and money on things like microphones.  As anyone who has ever viewed a film/video knows, sound matters...   In many ways it is as important as the visual imagery.

In researching my competition I started to see an alarming trend.   In almost every case, there where big problem areas with their final product.   Either the sound was horrific, or the lighting was...  In some cases their framing was off and/or their editing was.   I began to obsess over one aspect of often requested "talking head" videos...  Microphone placement.   With nearly 100% of the content I viewed, the creative team chose to use ugly and visually intrusive lavalier mics on their subject(s).  I became fixated on this and hyper focused on finding another way to approach these types of shoots.   In the past I too have been guilty of this type of setup as well...  Partly due to ignorance, partly due to not having access other types of recording equipment.

Here are two examples of talking head videos my team created in the past:

and 

In both of these videos I used a lav mic exclusively and while that choice was a functional one, I am not satisfied with the visual appearance of the microphone.   Additionally, in my opinion, the quality of the sound leaves a lot to be desired.  

As I trolled through countless tutorials and equipment reviews I discovered a colleague out West who is not your typical YouTuber...   This guy knows his stuff and takes great pride in producing instructional and informational video content at a very high level.   This gentleman's name is Curtis Judd (https://www.youtube.com/user/curtisjudd) and I owe him a great deal.   As I went through his deep archive of videos I began forming my own conclusions about video production and the gear necessary to create videos that are up to the standards of Scott Clinton Photography.  In many cases the conclusions I have reached are different than Curtis', but he has definitely lead me down the road to self discovery.

In my next post I will share some thoughts on the equipment I have acquired and additional tidbits of my journey into video production.

SCP
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With the new year comes a new website, new blog, and renewed vigor towards my chosen career.   It is hard for me to fathom that 2018 marks my twentieth year as a working professional photographer.   My passion for this vocation is every bit as strong as it was when I started Scott Clinton Photography following my studies at Washington University, in St Louis.   Much has changed in that time, not only in my personal life and geographical location, but also in the photographic industry. Lower paying jobs have given way to stock photography, film cameras have given way to digital, and labs and darkrooms have given way to large computer monitors and Photoshop.   That said, the principles of photography remain… It is ALL about composition and light. These principles are part of what keeps me interested in my work as a professional photographer. The other part which holds my attention is the people… Both my clients and my subjects. Every day is a new adventure

I plan to use this new blog to talk about some of the things we have lost in the industry over the years, some of the things we have gained, and recaps of projects and shoots I have been involved with.

Keep in mind that I am a photographer… Not a writer.   Please be patient with me.


Cheers to 2018 and all she may bring!

Ssc