Thursday, June 27, 2013

Robert Harrington Lighting Workshop

On Tuesday, Robert Harrington taught a lighting workshop at Foto Care. The workshop focused on using light to your advantage in any environment. 

As you can see, Robert was able to transform our stage into any environment that he wanted by his use of light!

Before and after the use of gels!

Adding a little warmth to our stage!

It was truly amazing to see how much each image was changed with each new lighting set-up, and we hope that every attendee learned a lot!

To see more of Robert's work and find out where his workshop is next, visit his website.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Interview with Fashion and Beauty Photographer Morgan Miller

Morgan Miller will be at Foto Care on June 26th from 12-3pm to a demonstration of the Leica S. The new Leica S system is faster, more sensitive and improved handling. So come to the Leica S demo on to learn more about this amazing system and test the camera! Register here.

Foto Care: Tell us about yourself and how you got into photography?
Morgan Miller: I have been around the photography world since I was very young.  In fact photography was a common occurrence for me throughout my life.  My father (a photographer and photography dealer) and my stepmother Colleen Kenyon (who ran the Center for Photography at Woodstock) from as early as I can remember had famous photographers as houseguests and big photo workshops at our home.  I was often around and able to speak with many very well known and established photographers such as Mary Ellen Mark, Sally Mann, Arnold Newman, Patrick Nagatani, Kenro Izu, William Wegman, Larry Fink, Tiziano Magni, Sheila Metzner, Jose Picayo, Christopher James, Lucien Clergue, etc. But, didn’t appreciate it or understand the importance of this till much later in life. I had decided to study business in school and it was not until later on that repeated occurrences kept happening to push me towards a career in photography. The most pivotal being one evening when I was with a group of friends including Peter Beard, one of them wanted to show him some photos I had taken while hiking Mayan ruins in the Yucatan.  That evening the direction of my life changed, Peter declared I was to be a photographer; I didn’t take much heed at first.  In fact he suggested I quit everything I was doing at that time to take photographs and that I should start the very next day. Which was followed up the next day by a phone call to bring a camera and come meet Peter at a shoot.  And now it is difficult to imagine being anything other than a photographer.  I wake up every day looking forward to being able to pick up my camera and capturing more light.

FC: What was your break out job that helped launch your career?
MM: I don’t know if its ever truly just one thing but a series of things that start to make people aware of you and your work, and then to continuing to build. Certainly the exhibition with Leica at Milk Studios Penthouse was a big break out and a major high light of my life so far.

FC: What has been your favorite assignment(s) to date?
MM: If I had to choose, and it’s hard, as I have many favorites, I would say my "Sparks" fashion editorial, where we cut a brand new Mercedes S600 in half with the models standing directly in front - there were sparks and molten metal flying all around, it was beautiful, challenging and a bit scary all at the same time.  I also really enjoy shooting beauty as it is so different in what it requires, perfect lighting and a lot of technical skill; it’s always a challenge as everything needs to be very precise, when you shoot beauty the eye will go straight to any imperfections. I love a creative challenge, projects like my Leica Iconic fine art exhibition shoot, a big favorite of mine, where I shot 6 models in 4 very different locations (in-side and outside) over two days for 18 plus hours a day was one of the most intense but exhilarating shoots I have had to date. Photography can offer unlimited avenues for creative fulfillment!

FC: Where do you draw your inspiration?
MM: From many things around me, and from things I've seen growing up, from the world and its history, and from New York and its fashion and many interesting scenes... things all around me…

FC: What do you do to market your services?
MM: A lot of it is through word of mouth, but my agency, Seminara Artists, is also a big believer in targeted emails and mailers.

FC: Do you use Social Media as part of your marketing mix? Do you think it is effective?
MM: I think that Social Media is an exciting world and full of possibilities, it can be effective as long as your know what’s possible and what is not within that realm. It can, however, be a very time-consuming and confusing landscape to navigate. It is definitely something on my list of things I want to continue to develop and expand on in the future. (Facebook, Twitter, Website)

FC: How has your work changed in the last few years?
MM: I am continuously studying my craft, and always trying to learn more, trying new ways to light, new post production techniques, to have my work continually evolve. What I love about photography is that there is perpetual room to grow, learn, and expand ones horizons; that each day I will face new and exciting challenges.

FC: Where is your work heading next? Where do you see yourself in the future?
MM: I love shooting high-end, editorial and commercial fashion, beauty and lifestyle so I will definitely continue to develop my career in all of those avenues.  I also find fine art very inspiring and expressive so I intend to work intensely to come up with exciting new images in that arena as well. I just signed with Gallery Orange in New Orleans, so an expansion into more galleries in other locals is currently under way.

FC: What equipment are you currently using to produce your work?
MM: For cameras I use Leica and Canon bodies, all of the Leica S Lenses are truly amazing; especially the 70mm and the 120mm for me. My top Canon lens choices are the 16-35 f2.8 Mk2, the 24-70 f2.8, 70-200f2.8mk2, the 85mm f/1.2 mk2. The Leica S-System is my favorite camera and lens combo without question. For lighting equipment I currently use all Profoto lighting equipment (with thanks, to Cliff Hausner of the Mac Group), from Strobes to the HMI (which I love), and everything in between; I'm especially a fan of large Parabolic Umbrellas.

FC: What equipment would you most like to own but don’t yet have?
MM: I would like to have more strobe heads and more HMIs as the more you have the more you can do.

FC: Do you work with Video? Have you stepped into the Hybrid Video market at all?
MM: Morgan Miller Photography has been doing videos for its clients for years, but I have recently begun getting even more directly involved in the entire video directing, shooting and editing process.  Certainly the video market will continue to grow, though I do not believe in personally shooting stills and video at the same time as I think you have a greater chance of missing “The shot” and missing the moment, its too much of a risk to end up having less great shots and a lower quality video.
FC: How do you choose your locations?
MM: It depends on if the project is for a commercial client where they often know what they want already or if it is for a magazine where the photographer will often have more creative input. However in either case creative meetings with the team are crucial in choosing the perfect location for a project.

FC: When/how did you first hear about Foto Care?  What is it about Foto Care that brings you back? 

MM: Foto Care is a special place in the photography community, a tremendous resource, I was first brought there years ago by Cliff Hausner and they consulted with me and helped me with the right equipment for a big and difficult shoot, that at the time was honestly over my head. They offer so much to photographers of every level and in every type of photography; they have an amazing knowledge base along with every piece of gear you could ever want. The entire staff really seems to care enough to personally take the time needed with each of their clients. I have learned something every single time I have gone in there - from the retail to their great rental dept. At one point the owner (Jeff Hirsch) personally spent hours with me on which light stands to purchase to best support certain types of lighting in different locations on different surfaces. Very few stores let alone owners would ever take the time to do something like that; Foto Care is a great resource to everyone in the photographic community.

Artist Lecture with Kimia Rahgozar

Last night, Iranian photographer Kimia Rahgozar gave a lecture at Foto Care. Kimia started out the presentation in a unique way: questions first. She took the time to personally talk with each of her guests, introduce herself and answer questions about her work and her culture; it was a great way to start a lecture.

Kimia Rahgozar with Foto Care owner Jeff Hirsch

Quote used in Kimia's short film

Kimia presented a short film that she created. As part of an installation in Iran, Kimia invited guests to have their portrait taken, using a 4x5 camera and instant film. While she shot portraits, a video camera sat nearby to capture moments before, during and after the portrait itself. Using that footage, Kimia's short film showed a diptych of the sitter and herself behind the camera. The duality was an interesting way to not only create work, but show the process in an artistic way.

Following the film, Kimia showed photographs that she has taken as part of her project Photosophy. This project focuses on almost a lack of identity. She explains that an interesting part of taking peoples' portraits is the way people are so aware of the photograph. Why do people want to have their picture taken? Where are those portraits going to go? Who will see them? As a result of these questions, Kimia created the series to obscure portrait, show only tiny details or hide the face entirely rather than a typical studio portrait. You can see examples of this below.

To see more of Kimia's work and learn more about Photosophy, visit her website here.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

The Cartwheel Initiative Gallery Show

Last night, artists from The Cartwheel Initiative came to Foto Care for a gallery show. The show was a great success and quite eventful! There were silent auctions, a stop motion booth, food and drinks. The group was able to raise money for their trip to Sri Lanka later this summer to work with kids through a series of workshops in storytelling, filmmaking, photography, multimedia visual arts, and music composition. But, they still need your help. Visit The Cartwheel Initiative website here to donate to their cause.

Cartwheel Initiative artist Deborah Feingold talks with guests
Sri Lankan food was on the menu for the show
Cartwheel Initiative artist Ashok Sinha talks with a guest
Ashok Sinha makes a speech

A stop motion booth was set up to keep guests entertained during the show

Friday, June 14, 2013

Jay Maisel's Light, Color and Gesture

Jay Maisel
On Tuesday night, photographer Jay Maisel gave a talk at Foto Care on his latest work. It was great to hear from such an accomplished photographer and learn what elements are important to creating his work, like the use of light, embracing color and gesturing in photographs. After the talk, Jay took questions and attendees were able to talk to Jay one-on-one and take pictures. 

Jay Maisel with Iranian photographer Kimia Rahgozar
Thank you to everyone who was able to attend this event!

Monday, June 3, 2013

Zeiss 12mm and 32mm Touit lenses for Fuji X-Pro1: A Hands on Review by Tom Grill

Tom Grill of About Photography borrowed the Zeis Touit 32mm and 12mm X-mount lenses from Foto Care and wrote this great review! See what he had to say below:

Let me begin by saying I could have written this entire review in this one sentence: "The Zeiss Touit 12mm and 32mm are two of the best lenses I have ever tested -- resolution is exceptional, distortion is non-existent, look and feel are pro-quality perfect."

With that out of the way, let's move on to see what drove me to this conclusion.

A Zeiss 12mm Touit lens mounted on a Fuji X-Pro1 with the 32mm Touit beside it.

The first thing you notice about the Touit lenses is that their build quality has a simplistic, sculptural elegance to it -- nothing extraneous, no knurling on the rings, just a stylish, minimal design.  They look like they belong on the Fuji X-Pro1 camera, which is what I used to test them. The lenses are also made in and "E" model to fit the Sony Nex mount. They are slightly heavier than the comparable Fuji 14mm and 35mm focal lengths, but not so much that you would notice when using them.  In fact, in themselves they seem quite light and easy to handle.

Zeiss Touit 2.8 12mm lens and Touit 1.8 32mm lens with lens hoods in place

Zeiss Touit 2.8 12mm lens and Touit 1.8 32mm lens with hoods removed

The first practical test I put the lenses through is my brick wall test, the results of which are below.  Download links are supplied below so you can judge the results for yourself. It was right after performing this test that I realized I was witnessing something special with these lenses. As you can see from the results, there is no visible distortion -- practically no vignetting, no bowing of lines, and the corners are sharp even at wide open apertures.

Zeiss Touit 12mm f/2.8 Distagon lens

The 12mm focal length of the Zeiss Touit is equivalent to 18mm in full frame and has a99° angle of view. It weighs in at 9.17oz  (260g) with a minimum focus distance of 7.09" (18cm), a 67mm filter size, and apertures of f/2.8-22. By comparison, this is shorter than the Fuji 14mm lens which is equivalent to a 21mm lens with an 89° angle of view. My review of the Fuji 14mm lens can be seen here.

Download each of the Zeiss 12mm Touit high res tests using the links below.

Below are some downloadable files from the Zeiss Touit 12mm lens, which should demonstrate its very high resolution and low distortion.
I chose most of these subjects because their texture demonstrates the resolution capabilities of the lenses. This photo was taken with an f/5.6 aperture.  Click here to download a hi res version of this file.  

Taken at f/5.6.  Click here to download a hi res version of this file.

A super wide angle lens such as the Zeiss 12mm is often used to obtain a sweeping perspective tying the foreground to background with the lens placed close to the foreground object and focus place forward also. In this type of shot it is very important to have a sharp image in the front corners.  This shot demonstrates that capability. It was shot at f/8 with focus placed on the protruding bolt. Even in the front corners the image is sharp.  Download a hi res version by clicking here.

This photo of a red caboose was taken at f/8. Click here to download a hi res version of this file.

Another example of using a super wide angle lens to relate a foreground subject to a background. Taken at f/8. Click here to download a hi res version of this file.

Zeiss Touit 32mm f/1.8 Planar lens

The 32mm focal length of the Zeiss Touit has a 48° angle of view. It weighs in at 7.41oz (210g) with a minimum focus distance of 1.21' (37cm), a 52mm filter size, and apertures of f/1.8-22. This is a little shorter than the Fuji 35mm lens and gives the Zeiss a bit more of a slight wide angle effect.  It is equivalent to a full frame 48mm.

Download each of the high res Zeiss 12mm Touit tests using the links below.

I was also able to perform a comparison set of tests on the Fuji 35mm lens below. I think you will see that the corners of the Fuji lens are softer at the more open apertures.

Download each of the high res Fuji 35mm tests using the links below.

Below are some downloadable files from the Zeiss Touit 32mm lens, which should demonstrate its very high resolution and low distortion.

A super sharp image of nautical rope taken at f/11.  Click here to download a hi res version of this file

Strawberries at the farmer's market taken at f/8 Click here to download a hi res version of this file.

At f/11 the resolution of this image is amazing.  Click here to download a hi res version of this file.

Street scene shot at f/7.1  Click here to download a hi res version of this file.

This is about as close as the 32mm lens will go. The shorter 48mm equivalent focal length gives the perspective a slight wide angle rounding affect when used close in like this.
 What about bokeh, which refers to the degree of pleasantness in rendering out-of-focus areas. Below are two images to illustrate the bokeh of the 32mm Touit lens. The roundness in the out of focus blurs is due to the roundness of the lens diaphragm.

Shot wide open at f/1.8.

Also photographed at f/1.8.  Click here to download a hi res version of this image.


I began by stating that the Zeiss Touit lenses were two of the best lenses I have ever tested, and hope that the sample images presented above show why I reached that conclusion. These are truly professional grade optics with exception resolution across the image plane, and no noticeable distortion.

If I had to pick one thing to complain about on these lenses it would be the tiny blue dot Zeiss uses as an index to align the lens when mounting it on the camera.  I can see that the blue dot is an attempt to match the color of the Zeiss logo, but there is a reason most companies use a red dot.  It is easier to see. The blue dot is not only too small, it is barely visible. So that's it -- my one tiny complaint.

We cannot help but draw comparisons between the Zeiss lenses and their similar Fuji X counterparts. Truth is the Fuji lenses are really very good, but the bottom line is that the Zeiss lenses are better. Is this difference worth the extra cost of $1250 for the Zeiss 12mm vs $899 for the Fuji14mm, or $900 for the Zeiss 32mm vs $599 for the Fuji 35mm? Naturally, this depends upon your own standards and the particular uses you have for these focal lengths, and also upon the fact that they are slightly different focal lengths.  With wide angle lenses in particular, just a small change in focal length can make a big difference in angle of view.

This comparison shows the slightly wider angle focal length of the Zeiss 32mm on the left as compared to the Fuji 35mm on the right.
My opinion is that the Zeiss Touit lenses improve the Fuji X-Pro1 camera to an image level that is commensurate with the top pro cameras out there, and I mean even the full frame models. If you can afford to go the extra few hundred dollars to upgrade to theses lenses, I think you will find they are well worth the price.

It will be interesting to see what other lenses Zeiss will be adding to the Touit series. The quality of these lenses is a real game changing upgrade for mirrorless camera systems.

A late afternoon shot with the Zeiss Touit 32mm lens at f/8.
 The two images below illustrates the degree of corner fringing from the 32mm and 12mm Touit lenses.  Keep in mind that this is a very difficult test.  I would expect all lenses to show fringing in the corners under these circumstances, which is to say an over-exposed, backlit shot with areas of strong contrast and blown highlights. While you will find a small degree of blue fringing in the images below, keep in mind that this is exceptionally minimal to what I would normally expect from any lens in this situation so the Touit lenses pass this test with flying colors.  Also keep in mind this degree of fringing is easily correctable in post processing.

Taken with the 32mm Touit at f/4.  Click here to download a hi res version of this image.
Taken with the 12mm Touit at f/5.6.  Click here to download a hi res version of this image.

A special thanks to Jeff Hirsch of Foto Care for supplying the Zeiss Touit lenses for these tests.  If you are a pro photographer in NYC you probably already know Jeff.  If you don't, you should. He has been supplying professional photographers in New York's photo district for years. His shop is located  between 5th & 6th Avenues at:

Foto Care
41 West 22nd Street
New York, NY 10010

Thanks for the review of these lenses Tom! To read more from Tom, visit his blog at About Photography