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Tech Post – on moving from Elinchrom to the new Profoto B1′s

I’ve used Elinchrom Quadra packs right from when they first launched several years ago. For the kind of photography I do, they were revolutionary. I rarely get to use an assistant day to day, get little notice of a shoot and often only get 10 minutes to set up before a maximum of 5 minutes shooting with talent. So the portability, 400ws, no need for mains power, large range of modifiers and reasonable price made these little packs an amazing  step up from speed lights.

But they were never perfect, too many times the cables or sockets have failed on me. What was probably intended for clean, boardroom environments didn’t stand up too well in the day to day heavy use. I could only ever use the sky port controllers reliably when it was connected to the cameras sync socket. For me, the real killer issue was the recycle rate. Too many times they left me stuck on a job where I had to be quick, but shooting at anywhere near full power was leading to awkward 5 second pauses between each picture.  400ws is generally plenty for me, I’m often only shooting at the lowest powers on the packs, but speed is the really important factor.

So to the Profoto B1. I picked up two last week along with the TTL- Controller before heading out on a couple of shoots, but unfortunately one had a broken flash tube on arrival. Hopefully they turn out to be as durable in the long term as they appear when first handling them, rather than this out of the box failure being indicative of anything more than a one off and bad courier handling. So left with one usable head, I mixed it with my Elinchrom Ranger  and Quadra packs and gave it as much of a test as I could on a couple of corporate jobs – A quick set of business portraits, and the latest in my series of large shoots for Rentokil Initial’s Experts in the Essentials Campaign . I’ve now been shooting this for nearly three years, and have progressed from using a single quadra pack with two lights into scenes using up to 5 or 6 heads and three packs. This blog post may be a little light on pictures, the 2 shoots apart from the pic above are under embargo, but they were used with the same modifiers as I always use – so I couldn’t tell any difference in the type of light they produced. If I update my modifiers to Profoto, then I’m sure I’ll post any findings then.

SIZE – this thing is compact, all in all it takes up about the same size in a ThinkTank airport as a Quadra pack and head, but it means your only going to fit two of them in there, rather than the two packs and 4 heads I could get in with the Quadra’s.

On the job, having all of this in one unit means no more wires and packs trailing from stands, no more dragging multiple bits round every time you need to move a light. Is there a downside to having it all up there on a light stand? Yes, your not going to get away with a nano stand, your going to have to carry bigger supports, but unless your shooting indoors with large modifiers I can’t see this being a big difference from what your probably using now.

The build quality feels great, the LCD is clear and easy to read and the dial on the back makes turning the power up and down very quick. The only thing I need to research is whether Profoto soft boxes  have any way of taking the small diffusers inside that Elinchrom ones do, they’re something I rely on quite heavily to take away the hotspot of a soft box. 

SPEED – it is absolutely incredible how fast Profoto have got this light to be. Full power recycle only 2 seconds, at lower powers it easily keeps up with a 5d mk3′s continuous high shooting. Side by side with the other two kinds of light, it was a mile ahead on the recycle each time, even when providing the main light power.

BATTERY – A full days shooting, with over 1100 frames at differing power levels and the battery was only down to half power.

TTL Remote – I personally don’t think I’ll find much use for the TTL function, I gave it a try on my first shoot and it worked absolutely fine, but I’m so used to shooting with everything manual that I would struggle to go back to trusting the kit to work out what I wanted from it. The odd time I can see myself using this is on some kind of fixed spot news job, as an alternative to a speed light where the extra power would give me a clear advantage over someone using speed lights, quantum packs and pocket wizards. I would never dream of taking a quadra on a job like this, but the B1 could definitely come in handy sometimes.

For wedding shooters – the B1 should be an absolute dream for its portability and speed!

As a manual trigger, it works great. With a good screw action lock on the base, there’s no chance of knocking it off the hotshoe, you can see how much you are dialling the B1′s up or down, and modelling lights can be controlled too. The only thing I wish for was that it was a two way system – so that the current power of each head could be read on the controller.

CONCLUSION – While I am going to miss being able to pack 4 heads and 2 packs into a roller case  for a shoot, I expect the Profoto B1′s qualities means I’ll be happy to make do with less heads, and instead use the power and speed of it to light scenes in a “bigger” way, rather than having to use lots of little lights to highlight pieces of a scene bit by bit. I suspect I’ll be picking up some of the nifty looking Profoto modifiers soon….A  Fresnel Light, giant umbrellas, gridded striplights, and in the future, maybe one of their battery generators to replace my current “entire scene lighter”, the Ranger Free Lite. Having a generator to complement a pair of B1′s will probably provide the perfectly balanced kit for the shoots where I need lots of lights, or a smaller head perched on top of the stands.

 

 

 

 

 

Aaron Levie – Box.com CEO

Aaron Levie, chief executive officer of Box Inc., following a Bloomberg Television interview in London, U.K., on Monday, Nov, 4, 2013. Levie said earlier this year that his business-software company will likely go public in 2014

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London to Brighton Vintage Car Rally

LONDON, ENGLAND – NOVEMBER 03: Participants in the Royal Automobile Club’s annual Veteran Car Run in Hyde Park on November 3, 2013 in London, England. Around 500 eligible pre-1905 cars take part in The Royal Automobile Club’s annual 60-mile drive from Hyde Park in central London to the seafront on the Sussex resort of Brighton. It is the longest running motoring event in the world, and attracts entrants from across the globe. (Photo by Matthew Lloyd/Getty Images)

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World Islamic Economic Forum

The World Islamic Economic Forum at ExCel

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Video Director Tim Pope – For the WSJ Off Duty Section

One I forgot to blog when it came out ….. Video director Tim Pope shot for the WSJ’s Off Duty section – good fun, nice guy and a very cool greenhouse….

Article Here

 

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Ian Rosenblatt – Portrait Shoot

A short portrait session with Ian Rosenblatt of Rosenblatt’s solicitors to update their PR pictures.

Craig Kreeger, Chief Executive Officer of Virgin Atlantic Airways Ltd.

Craig Kreeger, chief executive officer of Virgin Atlantic Airways Ltd., poses for a photograph in London, U.K., on Friday, Sept. 6, 2013. Kreeger said he’s optimistic about a turnaround at the U.K. airline as the economy improves and a partnership with Delta Air Lines Inc. expands market access.

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Rentokil Initial’s Expert’s in the Essentials – Schiphol Airport

Ambius, a division of Rentokil Initial, is the world’s largest interior landscaping company.  They design, install and service office plants and interior landscaping for commercial businesses. I spent a day covering their work at Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport. I’ve passed through here before, but never really noticed many of the places and features that they maintain before. The trees, tulip containers and living walls blend into the environment seamlessly, turning a cold and sterile area into a more relaxing and experience. It takes a full time team to look after the whole airport, next time your passing through Schiphol open your eyes and have a second look around.

All shot using three Elinchrom Quadras with various softboxes, which was all taken in hand luggage. The airport has no shortage of places to shoot, we could have easily spent another two days going through all the different backdrops, but unfortunately only had a day. We narrowed the focus down to the key elements of aeroplanes, the Dutch aspect and concentrated on working these into the images. The airport is so huge that getting between each location, plus passing through security took a large amount of time.

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Rentokil Initial’s Expert’s in the Essentials – Hamburg Docks

Rentokil pest control team – Hamburg. After telemarketing identified a potential shipping customer based in Hamburg; Marco Bartens presented Rentokil’s credentials to the company. The ship was found to have bed bugs.  Marti & Marco Haas shipped the necessary equipment and boarded in Venice. They finally disembarked in Turkey – having disinfected 168 crew and 12 passenger cabins.

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Rentokil Initial’s Expert’s in the Essentials – Madrid

In Madrid we focused on Initial Hygiene, and also staff members who worked behind the scenes in the office, in the critical areas of customer service, training, sales and admin. Making offices look exciting is always a creative challenge, but with a lot of lighting and plenty of smiling and acting we made some of our favourite pics so far. While some of the pest control teams jobs are so visually striking it’s hard to take a bad picture, its satisfying to make something great out of a very plain office.

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Rentokil Initial’s Expert’s in the Essentials – Duiven

Following on from the Schiphol airport shoot – we travelled to Duiven, the site of the Ambius processing factory. Here plants are grown, looked after, made into arrangements by the very talented Marcel, and shipped off to their prospective customers.

Working in one warehouse meant we could get round the whole team in a day, no time wasted packing away lights and travelling. The usual lighting setup is two softboxes on a person, using extra heads/softbox to fill in any dark areas in the scenes and add a three dimensional quality.

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Rentokil Initial’s Expert’s in the Essentials – Lisbon

Locations for the Rentokil Pest Control team on the Lisbon stop included  flour and food processing factories, along with set up scenarios in the area surrounding the offices.

Rentokil Initial’s Experts in the Essentials – The Research Laboratory

A fascinating laboratory, but very small offices means lighting becomes a challenge – both to make it look visually exciting, and the practical problem of keeping lighting stands and soft boxes hidden from the shot. Grids, gels and artificial whitebalances become key to lighting only the bits that are important, making the results striking and stylised.

Simon Cook, Chief Executive Officer of DFJ Esprit LLP

Simon Cook, chief executive officer of DFJ Esprit LLP, an investment company specializing in technology companies, poses for a photograph in London, U.K., on Friday, Sept. 6, 2013. U.K. stocks climbed as investors assessed the likelihood of the Federal Reserve tapering its bond purchases after a report showed the U.S. economy created fewer jobs last month than forecast.

Russian Billionaire Dmitry Pumpyansky

Dmitry Pumpyansky, Russian billionaire and chairman of OAO TMK, the world’s largest pipemaker by output, poses following a Bloomberg Television interview in London, U.K., on Thursday, Oct. 10, 2013. TMK, owned by Pumpyansky, sold more high-quality pipes in the first quarter amid demand from customers that include state-run OAO Gazprom and OAO Rosneft. Photographer: Matthew Lloyd/Bloomberg via Getty Images

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Tattersalls Autumn Yearling Sale

I spent a day shooting the annual yearling sales at Tattersall’s bloodstock auctioneers in Newmarket, a place I’ve been to for at least the last four years. Originally I shot this for editorial clients, but for the last two years I’ve been commissioned directly by Tattersall’s to shoot in an editorial style for their marketing materials. It’s difficult to keep coming back to the same place with a fresh eye every time, but it’s such a large and beautiful estate that with some nice light to highlight the horses, there’s still endless beautiful pictures to be had.

More London

A businessman holds a mobile device in front of 6 More London Place in London, U.K., on Wednesday, Sept. 18, 2013. U.K. commercial real estate values rose for the fourth straight month in August, led by office buildings and warehouses, Investment Property Databank Ltd. said.  Matthew Lloyd/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Mayor Bloomberg & Mayor Johnson

LONDON, ENGLAND – SEPTEMBER 24: Mayor of London, Boris Johnson (R) talks with Mayor of New York, Michael Bloomberg on the balcony of City Hall, after launching the 2013-2014 Mayors Challenge in Europe on September 24, 2013 in London, England. The Mayors Challenge is a competition, with prize money coming from Mayor Bloomberg’s philanthropic foundation, designed to challenge cities to find innovative and creative ideas to solve problems faced by urban living. (Photo by Matthew Lloyd/Getty Images)

Rio Tinto CEO Sam Walsh

Sam Walsh, chief executive officer of Rio Tinto Group, poses for a photograph after announcing the company’s earnings in London, U.K., on Thursday, Aug. 8, 2013. Rio Tinto Group, the world’s second-largest mining company, said first-half profit dropped 18 percent as slowing economic growth in China sapped demand for raw materials, dragging down prices. Photographer: Matthew Lloyd/Bloomberg via Getty Images

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Rush Hour in the City

Commuters walk down steps during the morning rush hour on London Bridge in London, U.K., on Tuesday, Sept. 10, 2013. Job vacancies at London’s financial-services companies jumped 16 percent last month, as confidence returned to the market, recruitment firm Astbury Marsden said.

CEO of the PRA, Andrew Bailey

Andrew Bailey, Bank of England chief executive officer of the U.K.’s Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA), poses for a portrait following a Bloomberg Television interview in London, U.K., on Friday, Sept. 6, 2013. Banks must hold better quality capital against risks not captured by Basel rules, the U.K.’s top banking regulator proposed, as it prepares to implement European Union standards. Photographer: Matthew Lloyd/Bloomberg via Getty Images

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Notting Hill Carnival

The Notting Hill Carnival on August 26, 2013 in London, England. More than one million people turned out to enjoy this year’s Notting Hill Carnival. It is the largest street festival in Europe and was first held in 1964 by the Afro-Caribbean community. Over the bank holiday weekend the streets come alive to steel bands, colourful floats and costumed performers as members of the public flood into the area to join in the celebrations.

Easyjet CEO Carolyn McCall

Easyjet CEO Carolyn McCall has sought to multiply frequencies on services attractive to business clients while adding new routes from London to Moscow and between Milan and Rome Fiumicino airport.  Matthew Lloyd/Bloomberg

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Brompton World Championships

The Brompton World Championship folding bike race, which is part of the Orbital cycling festival at Goodwood Motor Circuit on July 28, 2013 in Chichester, England. The race starts with a Le-Mans style sprint to the rider’s bike, which is then assembled and followed by a 15.2km ride. A strict dress code of jacket and tie applies, with an award going to the most stylishly dressed.

 

Picked up by the guardian online for a featured slideshow

Ian Callum for Jaguar Luxx advertorial

Ian Callum: Rebel with a cause 

“Ian Callum, Jaguar’s design director, believes that most companies are still not doing enough to nurture youngsters with emotional intelligence, writes Nancy Durrant”

English keyboard player, composer and songwriter Rick Wakeman.English keyboard player, composer and songwriter Rick Wakeman.English keyboard player, composer and songwriter Rick Wakeman.

Rick Wakeman: The god of prog rock still looking for his holy grail

The former keyboardist of the prog rock band Yes poses in a shoot outside the Freemason’s Hall in London.  Read the article here

Luxury Shoe designer Nicholas Kirkwood

Luxury Shoe designer Nicholas Kirkwood pictured in his flagship store for Jewel magazine.

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Sculptor Justin Rowe for the British Academy

Sculptor Justin Rowe explores his love of books in this mini-exhibition at the British Academy. ‘Turning The Page’ is on at the British Academy from 20-24 May 2013 as part of Literature Week – a festival of free talks, lectures and performances on different aspects of writing, authorship, poetry and theatre. Organised in partnership with the University of London’s Institute of English Studies with support from the Royal Society of Literature and the Times Literary Supplement. Highlights include an exclusive Shakespeare evening at the world-famous Globe Theatre, featuring James Shapiro and Jonathan Bate. Lectures by Richard Parish and Hugh Haughton on imitations of Christ in 17th Century French literature and on modern British poets and rivers will also feature, and there will be poetry readings by Alice Oswald and Anne Stevenson as well as a special event on W.B.Yeats at the Irish Embassy. During the week there will be a small exhibition by the paper sculptor Justin Rowe celebrating the art of books. Justin’s sculptures explore the importance of not just respecting literature for literature’s sake, but showing the tactile beauty of books as art and sculptures themselves.

The WSJ shares a glass of wine with David Gower

Article Here:

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887324787004578494783804108240.html?mod=WSJ_EUROPE_LnS_LEFTSecondStories

Artist Bruce Munro unveils ” Canticus Arcticus”

Artist Bruce Munro unveils ” Canticus Arcticus” , a light installation in the coach house of Waddesdon Manor on March 22, 2013 in Aylesbury, England.

The return of the classic wet shave

Veteran barber James Ttoffali, of Truefitt and Hill in Mayfair for the Wall Street Journal’s – Off Duty supplement.

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887323628804578348360275598292.html

Director David Fincher

 

David Fincher, Director of Se7en, Fight Club and the Social Network and plenty more, photographed at the Netflix launch of the House of Cards series with Kevin Spacey. An awful stripey yellow hotel room left few options, but a nice guy who knows his ringflash from his double rim light!

Nat Rothschild for The Times

Called into the office last minute as financier Nat Rothschild was having a chat with one of the editors, I had to hang around in the off chance he would pose for a photograph. Having tried to doorstep him unsuccessfully at the high court several times, I didn’t think he would be too keen on having his picture taken. Luckily he quite willingly agreed to it on his way out, but only for three frames.

Playwright, screenwriter Tom Stoppard brings "Parade's End" to HBO this winter.Playwright, screenwriter Tom Stoppard brings "Parade's End" to HBO this winter.Playwright, screenwriter Tom Stoppard brings "Parade's End" to HBO this winter.ML_Tom_Benedict_0080_sq

Sir Tom Stoppard & Benedict Cumberbatch

Playwright Sir Tom Stoppard and Benedict Cumberbatch for the Los Angeles Times for a story on Parade’s End. Forewarned Sir Tom was infamous for being grumpy, and really doesn’t like being photographed, he turned out to be an absolute gentleman and great in front of the camera.

Acr1549888.tmp.pdf220213-RELAUCH-11Cocktails at Dukes hotel LondonAlessandro making cocktails at Dukes hotel LondonAlessandro making cocktails at Dukes hotel LondonA Pickleback at the Electric Diner on Portobello Road.

Becoming an alcoholic photographer….

Here’s a couple of recent shoots

a shot of whiskey followed by a chaser of pickle juice – the very American Pickleback at the Electric Diner off Portobello Road

classic cocktails at the exclusive Dukes Bar in Mayfair, with the charismatic Italian bar manager Alessandro Palazzi.

Both shoots for the Wall Street Journal’s Off Duty supplement, both places very cool!

GT-1GT-2ML_Nissan_0031The Nissan GT Academy at Silverstone with German winner Peter Pyzera.The Nissan GT Academy at Silverstone with German winner Peter Pyzera.ML_Nissan_0075The Nissan GT Academy at Silverstone with German winner Peter Pyzera.ML_Nissan_0143The Nissan GT Academy at Silverstone with German winner Peter Pyzera.The Nissan GT Academy at Silverstone with German winner Peter Pyzera.The Nissan GT Academy at Silverstone with German winner Peter Pyzera.The Nissan GT Academy at Silverstone with German winner Peter Pyzera.The Nissan GT Academy at Silverstone with German winner Peter Pyzera.The Nissan GT Academy at Silverstone with German winner Peter Pyzera.ML_Nissan_0260The Nissan GT Academy at Silverstone with German winner Peter Pyzera.Scan3

Nissan PlayStation® GT Academy at Silverstone

It’s not often I find someone I’d like to swap jobs with but recently I spent 2 days following Nissan PlayStation® GT Academy‘s German winner Peter Pyzera for Nissan Germany’s Magazine on his training schedule. Picked from the millions of Gran Turismo 5 drivers competing online, the academy provides the dream transfer to real life racing driver, culminating in a night time endurance race in Dubai. Gruelling physicals and psychology sessions are mixed with hours in the simulator and on the track learning the courses inside out before they get there. After a quick go on the sim I realised it wasn’t quite as easy but every bit as fun as it looked.

Of course a fast lap of Silverstone from inside the car was required to get all the shots necessary… :)

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Downton Abbey behind the scenes

I shot this feature over 8 months ago for the LA Times’ Hollywood Backlot and Calendar section and, it finally published this month as the latest series hits the US.

This being my first experience of the film set, it amazed me how slow everything is. In one day, 3 scenes were shot, a slow walk to the house, 2 minutes of conversation at the dining table and a brief encounter in the drawing room.

More of the pictures can be seen here:

http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/news/hollywoodbacklot/

http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/tv/la-downton-abbey-season-3-portraits_pictures,0,2212605.photogallery

Taylor Wessing Exhibition

My picture of REM singer Michael Stipe on display in the Taylor Wessing Exhibition at the The National Portrait Gallery.

Mentions in  The Times and The Guardian.

Putting Big Ben back

Parliament Square- 3am (BST),  to photograph the changing of Big Ben back for the end of British Summertime.

“If changing every clock in the house is a chore, spare a thought for the engineers responsible for resetting Big Ben to Greenwich Mean Time. The process of losing an hour requires split-second timing and takes the Palace of Westminster Clockmakers from 9.05pm BST to 2am GMT to complete.”

www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/news/uk/article3582203.ece

Conductor Yannick Nezet-SeguinConductor Yannick Nezet-Seguin

Conductor Yannick Nezet-Seguin at the Royal Opera House

“The conductor has spread his joy across 60 orchestras, but it’s time to settle down.”

- The Times

 

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The Chaps Protest

On Monday, 23rd April 2012 (St George’s Day) Chaps and Chapettes gathered outside number 3, Savile Row, to protest in the strongest possible terms against the opening there of a children’s clothes shop by Abercrombie & Fitch.

The Chap Magazine

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The Chaps Celebrate….

The annual Chap Olympiad, described as ‘a celebration of eccentricity and athletic ineptitude with the emphasis on panache and style over sporting prowess’, took place in Bedford Square, London, at the weekend and featured events such as cucumber sandwich discus and umbrella jousting

- The Guardian

Mike Venning Portrait

One I like rediscovered in the Archive…..  For the Guardian

Howard Marks Cooks Porridge

Former celebrity drug dealer Howard Marks shares his perfect porridge recipe with The Times…

http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/life/article3157290.ece

Kettlewell Scarecrow Festival

Getty Images – Kettlewell Scarecrow Festival
http://tinyurl.com/64tcwvl

Stern, Guardian, Telegraph, USA Today