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I need street and colour and a giant gasp of visual oxygen. Been browsing through Philip-Lorca diCorcia’s Tokyo work and it almost hurts. I can sense the crowds, the movements, hear the murmurs.

February is when starvation kicks in.

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diCorcia but also Crewdson...I’m on a rampage. It’s a new ritual, making a point of searching for images, seeing the work of others—photographers or painters or sculptors. Forcing it as an essential part of my day. Feeding, really. I keep a running screenshot scrapbook in Bear—I started this a long time ago but I’m now trying to add content to it daily. It’s a vicarious stratagem...to get behind someone else’s eyes and understand their impulse. A deconstruction of intent. Ultimately I’m creating a lookbook based on my own personal triggers, without direction or afterthought.

I invaded our bathroom yesterday morning, with a flash and a c-stand, a tripod and my GFX. I noticed colours, however dilapidated, and couldn’t help myself. Cynthia called it our crap as art when I showed her the results later in the evening. “Good hashtag”, I joked. Crap/treasure...we all know how that goes, right?

For now it’s all an antidote to whiteness.
 #crapasart

Artefacts I

ARTEFACT (ˈⱭːTꞮˌFÆKT) OR ARTIFACT
N
1.SOMETHING MADE OR GIVEN SHAPE BY MAN, SUCH AS A TOOL OR A WORK OF ART, ESP AN OBJECT OF ARCHAEOLOGICAL INTEREST
2.ANYTHING MAN-MADE, SUCH AS A SPURIOUS EXPERIMENTAL RESULT
3.(BIOLOGY) CYTOLOGY A STRUCTURE SEEN IN TISSUE AFTER DEATH, FIXATION, STAINING, ETC, THAT IS NOT NORMALLY PRESENT IN THE LIVING TISSUE

The sprawling Irving Penn exhibit I saw in Stockholm lives with me still. Namely his simple yet effective skull images: just a few monochromes on a white background. Nothing fancy, no tricks...just the purity of a subject without artifice. Anytime I get mired in complexity, someone or something throws reality back at me—and I remember we don’t need sixteen lights or a huge Hollywood production. We just need the desire to see.

My dad traveled the world on a freighter ship in his youth, back when a boy could escape without so much as a backward glance. From the Arctic circle he brought back a hunter figurine; from Africa, a couple of strange acrobats. Much later, while on a business trip somewhere in Canada, he bought me a necklace carved in caribou teeth. All of these sparked my imagination—the concept of political correctness still lost to a much distant future.

Then there’s the other necklace I found in my mom’s jewelry box one day, the one I wore on stage for years; the creepy baby teeth hidden away, slowly dissolving in the drip of decades. I wanted to see these artefacts again, to record them like Penn’s skulls.
Without makeup.
Without ruse.


Shot with the GFX 50S and GF 120mm f4 LM OIS R WR (Acros film simulation)


December Publications

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Guy* and I were sitting in the hotel hobby, waiting to meet friends for dinner. This would be our last night in Stockholm after two very full days surrounding the unveiling of the Profoto A1. We’d spent the morning at the company’s HQ, had met with some of the engineers and managers and done a full-blown interview with CEO Anders Hedebark later that afternoon. The plan all along had been to write a basic account of the launch event for the magazine. But I’d been sitting in my room for an hour, going over conversations in my head, dozens of encounters and moments...and my brain was quite literally buzzing.
You know, this piece I have to write...I think it needs to get a lot bigger. Can we do that?
What do you have in mind?” Guy asked.
A road movie. This journey, the A1—but ultimately…Profoto. It needs to be about Profoto itself.
Go for it”, he said with a big smile.

That story—Fearless: Profoto. The A1. The Future—is on newsstands now, in the December issue of Photo Life magazine.

Here’s the gist of it: I was deeply impressed by what I saw over there. Ultimately, beyond the almost iconic nature of this company in our industry, what I witnessed was a very small group of people pushing hard. That’s it. So I wanted to write something that would express this as honestly as possible, without becoming sycophantic. Hopefully I’ve succeeded.

Now of course, the reality of print media is quite different from these virtual worlds we build here on the web: pages cost money and space is finite. So I’m all the more grateful that Photo Life accepted to let me expand on our initial vision—especially under the crazy tight deadlines we were facing at the time.

Below you’ll find some of the images I shot for the article, along with a few more that couldn’t be included. That space thing I just mentioned.

Later :)

P.S Alongside the December issue, the magazine’s annual Buyer’s Guide is also hitting the shelves. I was contributing editor this year, my first time doing anything of the sort. Quite an intense experience but I’m very proud of the results.

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 *That’s Guy Langevin, editor-in-chief for Photo Life and Photo Solution.

Fujifilm + Profoto A1: Testing 1-2...

Stockholm was a pretty wonderful whirlwind. I need to thank Photo Life, Profoto Canada and Profoto Global for making it such an unforgettable experience. I’ll be writing more extensively about the Photo Quest adventure in the next issue of the magazine, but I wanted to quickly touch base with you about the big star of that show: the Profoto A1.

I won’t get into details and specs here...all of those can easily be found around the web. I just want to address a couple of points that may interest some of you.

X...for Fuji?

I had the Canon version of the A1 a couple of weeks before leaving for Sweden—to work on the magazine article. I tried everything to make it trigger on my Fuji cameras but nothing would do the trick, apart from using the older universal remote (single pin). I eventually had to make peace with the fact that it simply wasn’t compatible. Fast forward to day one of Photo Quest, when a few of us noticed a menu item in the A1 flash settings labeled X-Sync. At lunchtime we’re sitting around the table and I ask about this to Andres Prieto, marketing manager at Profoto Canada (great guy). He tells us this is a way for the flash to bypass all attempts at TTL communication...at which point my eyes widen. I grab an A1, put it on my X-Pro2, switch on X-Sync: bingo. Let there be on-camera light. 

I’ve since tried this setting on both the Nikon and Canon versions and can confirm that it works with both. There’s no TTL and no HSS in this mode—it's all manual—but until we get the recently announced native Fuji remote, this will do the job just fine.

One of the shoots after lunch...trying X-Sync for the first time. This is an A1 on-camera acting as commander and triggering two A1 strobes on the floor. X-Pro2 and XF 56mm f/1.2 R.

It’s just an expensive speedlight...

No, it’s not. Is it a smaller, camera-mountable flash? Yup. Does it have as much power as some speedlights? Nope. Is it a game changer? Hell yes. Two reasons as far as I’m concerned: refresh rate and the light itself. I met two incredibly talented Canadian photographers on this trip—Lanny Mann and Erika Jensen—who were chosen for one of the promo videos. They said they shot over 7000 frames during a party, on a single battery, without a misfire. That’s seven followed by three zeros. Which is why I don’t shoot weddings. But that number is simply insane.

And then there’s the light: round is not a gimmick. This, combined with the wide-angle beam and included dome diffuser, effectively creates a fall-off that you can play with and feather the way you would a softbox. There’s a heck of a lot of engineering going on, all for the sake of scattering those photons—and it works.

Modeling. Light.

A real light. Not some crazy hold-down-a-button-while-the-flash-goes-into-strobe-mode preview but an actual LED. Trivial? Not in my book. And the kicker is that it’s powerful enough to be used as a light source—complete with zooming (and there's a really cool story behind this). It’s like a bonus.

Franken...

So, this morning I unpacked my own A1 (a gift for all the guests...huge thx) and thought I’d put points #1 and #2 to the test. Weird looking male model but meh... he was available. First, the Franken-setup:

 Don't hit it...seriously, don't.

Don't hit it...seriously, don't.

That’s an A1 on top of a Cactus V5 (a pair of old triggers I dug out), in a plastic holder in a clamp...all on a C-stand. Unwieldy, fragile and definitely not something I’d travel with but, it did the job* (again, all manual). I set the Profoto A1 to X-Sync and, sure enough, everything fired perfectly: one trigger in TX, the other in RX. I used the Dome Diffuser (included), set the A1 camera-left, about two feet away, and angled it slightly above my head to catch the edge of the dome (as opposed to its centre); same thing I’d do with any modifier.

Selfies like these are never easy and I’m not winning any prizes here, but I think the light itself—in terms of structureis rather impressive. Especially when you consider I spent all of 15 minutes on this. Btw that shine on my face is from the crazy 40ºC weather we're struggling with...summer is over right?... Anyway, I won’t be ditching my Deep Octa just yet but this opens up a lot of possibilities...big possibilities that fit in my bag.

More Stockholm in the coming days.
Later :)

*Except now I’m stuck with AAA batteries again. Sigh. Go Profoto/Fuji remote...

 

 

Table Organics

I'm working through ideas for an upcoming portrait project, playing with various scenarios—lighting, focal length, colour—and the process has made me realize I miss managed shooting. I love chaos and get a thrill out of pure randomness, but there's also a rush to the deliberate crafting of a visual object. It's two sides of a same coin, both essential...but when left to my own devices I can easily favour one over the other. Shooting the GFX and anticipating how I’ll be using it has brought back a taste for control.

So I took an hour or so yesterday to just shoot a few purely aesthetic images in a controlled setting—one strobe with a grid, a couple of house plants on our dinner table. I used the venerable 60mm f/2.4 and MCEX-11 (on and off). I shot uncompressed raw and used the files to test Capture One Pro 10—yeah, I pulled that update trigger. I'm not about to do the Big Switch (yet again), but it's abundantly clear how superior this app is at extracting the most detail from raf files. The decoding is better but also the tools available—structure for instance. Version 10 adds local sharpening and very impressive output sharpening that can be targeted and previewed—way beyond what Lightroom currently offers. Adobe needs to get their $#@ together IMHO. I hate that Phase doesn't support lossless compression and the app is still no speed demon... but regardless, this update has me contemplating a mixed app scenario once more. Here we go again.

Have a great weekend all :)


Shot with the X-Pro2 and XF 60mm f/2.4