Wednesday, August 16, 2017

The Solar Eclipse: Taking the Perfect Shot

On Monday, August 21st, the moon’s shadow will envelope the sun and completely blacks it out for minutes, on a straight path over the United States of America.  The sky will darken, the temperature will drop, and confused crickets will chirp loudly, thinking the evening has come early.  Do you have plans to photograph this rare miracle of nature?  While memorializing this event through photography is important, remember to be present and take it all in.  For many, this solar eclipse will be a once in a lifetime experience.      

image: NASA

The most important thing to remember while shooting the solar eclipse is to have both a Solar Neutral Density filter protecting your camera and specially designed glasses protecting your eyes.  Viewing the direct sun through a lens, a telescope, or binoculars for even a second can permanently damage your vision.  Shooting the sun directly without the filter will ruin your cameras sensor.  We stock Hoya Filters, both 77mm and 82mm, which will protect your camera’s sensor from the sun.      

With that out of the way, let’s move on to the fun part:  shooting the Solar Eclipse.  Any camera body can capture the eclipse, but more importantly, a long telephoto lens and steady tripod will be necessary.   The Canon 5D Mark IV is a great choice for the camera body because it’s touch screen LCD display so you can easily focus without moving or shaking the camera.  The Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 Lens is perfect to get a close, clear shot of the sun.  If you want to get even closer, you can purchase a 2x lens extender.  An important tool for shooting the eclipse is a sturdy, precise tripod and head.  A good choice is the Manfrotto MT 055 Carbon Fiber Tripod with a Geared Head.  The Carbon Fiber is lightweight for traveling, yet steady to avoid any shaking while taking the photos.  The geared head will allow you to tilt the camera up towards to the sun with precision.      

There is a “Path of Totality” across the United States, cutting through 14 states, pictured on the map below.  You can only see the full solar eclipse if you’re viewing it on this path.  Everyone in the North America and parts of South America will be able to witness a partial solar eclipse.  The extent of completion will change depending on where you’re located.  New York City will see about 71% coverage of the sun, starting around 1 pm, reaching peak coverage at 2:44 in the afternoon, and returning to normal by 4 pm. 

image: NASA

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Black and White in Unparalleled Detail: The Phase One Achromatic Back

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to shoot with the most light-sensitive, 101-megapixel digital system on earth?  I gave it a shot to see what all the fuss was about, and I was not disappointed.  The IQ3 Achromatic creates images dense with painstaking detail, even more than the naked eye can see. 

You might ask yourself why someone would choose a camera that only shoots in black and white.  The Achromatic was built from scratch with its own unique CMOS sensor made without the Bayer color filter that is on every other color detecting camera sensor.  Without the filter, the sensor can pick up more unobstructed detail than ever.   Ryan from Rentals and I went out to our backyard to test drive this powerful camera.  Luckily, our backyard includes an iconic, wonderfully detailed, New York City landmark: the Flatiron Building.

I mentioned before that the camera can capture more than the human eye can see.   That allows endless creative possibilities for infrared applications.  Infrared light exists outside the visible spectrum, opening a literal unseen world for you to photograph. 

For anyone who’s ever wanted to push the limits of detail, tone, and contrast in their black and white images, I highly recommend the Phase One IQ3 Achromatic Back.

The Rental Rate for the Achromatic Back is $950 a day, which includes a set of IR UV CUT Filters for Phase One Lenses.   You can reach rentals by calling 212-741-2991.  

Feel free to make an appointment anytime to demo this amazing medium format system on our rooftop. Contact us for demo and sales inquiries at 212-741-2990 or visit us at  


Friday, August 4, 2017

Photographer Spotlight: Lisa Futterman

Last week, we had an Environmental Portraiture Photo Walk with Fujifilm and Broncolor.  Many fantastic photographers joined us to expand their knowledge of lighting outdoors.  We posed a challenge: the best photo posted on Instagram and tagged #fotocare would win a $50 gift card to our retail store.  It was a hard decision from all the great work the participants created, but Lisa Futterman’s image stood out from the crowd.  She thought outside the box, and didn’t just shoot portraits of the models, but also shot the other participants of the photo walk and the people around us on the street.  Here’s the shot that won us over:

After checking out some more of Lisa’s work and being very impressed, we decided to ask her some questions.  

Q:  What kind of photography do you shoot?  

Lisa: Right now, I'm focused on documentary, street and portrait photography. I've been working on a project entitled County Fair for the past seven years and that's still ongoing. I took a workshop with Mary Ellen Mark in 2010 and she took us to the Ulster County Fair. I'd never been to a county fair before and was so inspired by the whole scene, but mostly the 4H kids and their relationships with animals they've been raising. It’s county fair season now and I'm about to go to my third fair of the season to add to that project. 

I was in Cuba for the first time in February and that was inspirational. I love Latin culture and I’m interested in spending time in Latin American communities here in New York. There's an openness in the culture that makes for very interesting photographs. I'm currently learning Spanish to be better able to communicate with people I photograph.

Q:  How did you start shooting?  When did you become a photographer? 

L: My dad was very interested in photography when I was a kid. He had a Nikon Nikkormat 35mm film camera made in the 1960s and I used to go out shooting with him a lot when I was around twelve. He also had a darkroom in our basement. He gave me that camera when I went to college and I took a few photography classes. I later inherited my uncle's Nikon F2.  I still have both those cameras and occasionally still shoot film with them. I used to love spending hours and hours in the darkroom.

Q: What inspires you? 

Lisa: Neighborhoods in cities are fascinating. I'm very drawn right now to a few in New York City:  Red Hook, Brooklyn where I live, Alphabet City and the East Village, the South Bronx, East Harlem. The people and urban landscape are very interesting. People are more open to being photographed outside of midtown Manhattan so I try and stick to neighborhoods that are a little on the edges where great interactions and photographs have a chance to happen.

I like people that have had some challenges in life. I've always worked with people like this in my professional work life (non-profit manager) and I find I am drawn to them as people to photograph as well. My first real photo project was when I was in my 20s and teaching kids with severe disabilities. I made black and white portraits of them and gave prints to their parents.

Q: What do you shoot with?  What's your go to gear to bring with you to shoot? 

Lisa: My go to for any situation that might arise is my Canon 5D Mark II with either my 50mm or 28mm lens. I also have a Canon 7D Mark II with the 100-400 lens plus extender for shooting wildlife which I love to do sometimes. Lately I am shooting lots of street photography with my Fujifilm X-T2. I only have one lens (18-55 kit lens which is great) and as soon as I get a few more, it might be my go to in any situation, but the 5D Mark II is still great.

I just bought a Hasselblad 500CM because I want to try making portraits with medium format film. I'm just learning to use the camera and am looking forward to getting film developed after long time shooting digitally.

Check out more of Lisa’s work on her website: