Then and Now

I was going through my archive the other day and stumbled on the first kitchen I ever photographed:

I shot this way back in January of 2003, on film, with a Nikon F4, and a manual focus 20mm lens. I shot it on Kodak E100VS slide film and I think I scanned it on a Nikon scanner, too. My memory is a little hazy on the digital stuff since it was so new then and changing so quickly. I shot film for the first three years of my career and learned a lot by making some very expensive mistakes. Fortunately, this shot wasn’t a total failure. But it shows me how lucky I am to have the technology I have today to do my job. Back then, I just had to guess that the shot was going to turn out. I had to trust that I focused correctly. I did sometimes shoot a test shot on Polaroids, but you really didn’t know what the the film was going to look like until it was processed. I had many sleepless nights waiting for the film to come back.

Things are so much better now. Take for example, this kitchen I shot November of 2012:

Almost a decade later and I was shooting this with a Canon 5D Mark II, 24mm TS-E II, and tethered to a MacBook Pro with Retina display. I could Live View the shot and see exactly what it was going to look like after I pressed the shutter. I knew exactly if the chairs were lined up correctly. And I knew I was going to have to shoot a bracket to get an exposure for the view to Photoshop in later. With digital, I have total control of the look and feel from set all the way to client delivery. No worries about labs messing up your film. No hassle and image quality degradation from scanning. It’s as perfect as a photo can be. Once digital hit 6MP, I was all in. Now were up to 50MP like it ain’t no thing.

It’s hard for me to imagine what I’ll be shooting 10 years from now. I do feel things are about to change again in a big way. Mirrorless cameras will definitely probably surpass and overtake the traditional DSLRs. I can’t wait till Canon comes out with a mirrorless version of the 5D. I shoot that camera on Live View 90% of the time on my architecture shoots. The mirror just gets in the way. The iPhone is an amazing point shoot that you always have with you. It’s not the best quality, but for small quick shots it can’t be beat. And then you have crazy compact cameras like the L16 by Light that has a field of tiny lenses to make one awesome camera that rivals a DSLR. I’m dying for a good travel camera and I would love to have the L16 in my back pocket, rather than lugging around a whole kit. Can’t wait to test it out.

Anyway, no matter where the technology goes, I’ll be sure to keep up and use it to take the best possible photography I can take. As Eve Arnold once said, “It is the photographer, not the camera, that is the instrument.”

Interview in Popular Photography Magazine

For their February 2013 issue, Popular Photography Magazine interviewed me about one of my more challenging and technical pictures from my portfolio. I always get a little nervous when when speaking about how I did something, but I’m very happy with how the article came out. Attached are the tear sheets and full text is below.

Lincoln Barbour in Popular Photography Magazine February 2013

 

Lincoln Barbour in Popular Photography Magazine February 2013

ONE-MAN BAND

Depicting an original metaphor for sameness

THE TEXT for an advertisement promoting a new housing development asked, “What would life be like if everything was the same?” Lincoln Barbour, a Portland, OR-based commercial shooter, took on the creative challenge of answering that question visually in a series of images that included this shot of an all-tuba high-school band. “The ad agency hired me based on my personal work, which is quiet, subtle, and candid,” Barbour says. “So the hardest thing for me was finding my personal voice in the shot while meeting everyone else’s expectations.”

Barbour’s first challenge? Simply finding enough kids who had band uniforms and tubas. Unfortunately, he couldn’t. “We had six tubas and ten kids,” Barbour recalls. “I had to shoot the same picture three times and move the kids around with the different tubas, and then Photoshop it all together so it looked like one photo.”

Working with the agency’s art director, Barbour determined that the frames to be composited would need to be captured from the back row to the front in order to get the right overlap. “I shot six people at a time with tubas, and there was always one person on the next row below, overlapping so I could line them up as we went along,” he explains. “We had to think about the kids and where they’d be in the picture, and, yes, there are two or three repeated musicians, but who’s to say they weren’t twins?”

Barbour also faced a tough task in getting even light and lots of depth of field in the cavernous gym. He used four Profoto 7B packs and heads with magnum reflectors, bouncing the light off the high ceiling at full power. The light stands were placed at the four corners of the frame. The exposure on his Canon EOS-1Ds Mark II was 1/125 sec at f/11 and ISO 320. The lens: a 24–70mm f/2.8L Canon EF zoom at 57mm.

“When this job came in, I took it on myself to do everything— all the production, prep work, location scouting, and prop building. I was exhausted when it was over,” he says. “I learned a lesson here: Next time, I’m going to hire stylists, a location scout, and a tech guy for all the Photoshopping.” No more allowing himself to become a one-man band!

—Laurence Chen

Canon CPS Repair Form

Accidents happen. And when they do, it’s good to be prepared.

One thing I recommend is becoming a Canon CPS member. They have different levels of membership, but the biggest advantage is that you get priority repair turnaround over the average Joe. You also get discount on repair (up to 60% for you accident prone shooters).

I always misplace my printed repair forms that Canon sends you. I found one on Google that you can fill out using Acrobat. I thought I’d put it here for everyone and also so I can find it again easily.

Click here Canon CPS Repair Form (PDF)

If you’re not CPS member, don’t use this form for repairs. They might send to Nikon for a laugh.

Attach a Digital SLR to a View Camera

So, imagine for a moment that Canon really does come out with a full frame  square sensor. Imagine it’s around 40mp. Now imagine putting that camera body digital back on a view camera and being able to use Rodenstock digital lenses (some of the sharpest and clearest lenses I’ve ever used). That would be sweet.

For architecture photography, this is not a great solution. The widest digital view camera lens is a 28mm and it’s very dark with not a lot of movement.

But, for food and product photography, this is a life saver. You can pick up a used Sinar pretty cheap and this adapter is about $1,870. It’s pretty inexpensive solution for high quality view camera system. The newer digital lenses though, are not cheap. I wonder if anyone’s done a shootout between older view camera lenses and newer ones.

Check out PDN’s Gear Guide post: New Sinar Mount Lets You Attach Digital SLR to View Camera Body.

Canon 5D vs. Hasselblad H3Dii

UPDATED: So, as Johnny Danger pointed out in the comments below, I didn’t upsample the 5D to match the native resolution of H3Dii in the original test article. I have added two new slides to illustrate this and it really shows how much better the H3Dii is compared to the Canon 5D. I’m still amazed that this little blog post gets about 100 unique visitors a day and is the #3 link when you do a Google search for h3dii.


As you may have followed in my Daily Photoblog, I’ve been testing out the new Hasselblad H3Dii 39.1MP Back. The camera is just awesome and really fun to shoot with after being in 35mm format DSLR for the past 4 years. And the files I pulled off it were amazing. The image quality, sharpness, and dynamic range just blew my mind. But is it worth $30,000? Better yet, is it worth a $500/day rental versus a $150/day rental for Canon 5D? Continue reading “Canon 5D vs. Hasselblad H3Dii” »