Quick Tip - Press line & Sundance - Why you need flash and power

Shooting events such as a film premiere, you will have to account for a lot of variables; Your Position, Lens Choice, TIming, etc etc. And Lighting.

If you are relying on the ambient light only you may be stuck with candle like wall accent lights, fluorescent tube panels or maybe nothing at all?

- My Solution & Tools Uses -

Using an on camera speedlight, power pack with plenty of energy for really short recycle times. I use the built-in diffuser from the speedlight and leave the white flag down. I toss the flash facing forward (direct flash I know…) and time my shots to the attention of the talent making their way through the line.

Taking multiple shots in order to get that keeper you definitely have a ratio of 1:5 or 1:10 in getting your shot in focus and not having the other flashes around you over exposing your shot.

For example: Let’s take my shooting actor Clara Rugaard from the Australian film ‘I AM Mother’ and her entrance and solo pictures at the premiere at the Eccles Theater. This particular set with the one final “keeper” I probably took 6 shots.

Shot 1: Under Exposed - Flash Didn’t Fire


Shot 2: Over Exposed my flash an other flashes fired at the same time.


Shot 3: Perfect exposure, expression caught


Shot 4: Caught the sync speed at a bad time, only partially lit.


And then again, shots 5, 6 had similar issues and were eventually discarded along with shots 1 and 2. Then you would get another “keeper” after that, and repeat and repeat.

That is why it is very important to plan, know what composition you can get etc. test your flash, have a person stand in before the talent gets there! … Grab the publicist grab another photographer, anyone. Then when the talent arrives, above all be polite, don’t yell, ask for attention, ask for a direction for them to put the attention, multiple shots. 1,2,3,4,5,6 “To your left please” …1,2,3,4,5 “One more time, thank you for coming out” 1,2,3,4,5. Etc Etc…

Tips: Don’t let the shutters just go off in silence, if you are not saying anything, if your fellow photographers are not saying anything, say something. Compliment a smile, say something about their outfit etc. No matter who it is, they’ve probably put thought into themselves, or hired a designer for some aspect of their ensemble.

That’s it

Pretty much everything else is not something you can copy, you can watch, learn etc. But if you talk verbatim how another photographer is talking that is weird, if you approach every subject the same way, that might not work. If you take a direct approach, if you are working with a group, if you are getting frustrated. That will come through and people will know, just like if you are having a conversation with an acquaintance, and they are upset, you can tell!

Let yourself have fun, get your shots but above all be nice, be fun, let your subjects gain that confidence for the 5 minutes you have them. Yes they are professionals, but maybe they are much more shy in person than you think.

“Final Shot” with light edits, sharpening and color adjustments in Lightroom

Clara Rugaard - At the premiere of ‘I Am Mother’ at Sundance Film Festival.

Clara Rugaard - At the premiere of ‘I Am Mother’ at Sundance Film Festival.

Did you learn anything? Have any tips of your own? Leave a comment and reach out on social media!

Did you make it out to the festival? - Please share your experience below!




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Farmer's Market - Testing the new Canon 6D Mark II

Having just upgraded my back up body from the Canon 6D to the newly released Canon 6D Mark II, I want to show how I took a few hours during the weekend to test this new body out... The Saturday Farmer's Market in Downtown SLC was the perfect opportunity.

I took my bike downtown with my plan: To capture as many portraits and images of people shopping, the wares available to display the capabilities of the new camera. 

The Farmer's Market, during a sunny day posts a great challenge for any camera as there is so much sunlight in mid day, scattered shade and lots of strong contrast from tent to tent. I use both manual mode, and aperture priority to get used to what the camera will set to. I use the swivel screen, touch focus, touch shutter, the only setting I leave alone is the metering mode, set to Center Weighted because the focus points are very much center weighted and would balance the subject in focus being appropriately exposed.

I jump right in treating this "test shoot" as I would any assignment by a publication for getting the overall energy of the scene with a mix of environment and portraits.

These images are all edited and presented as I would for online presentation (i.e. gallery, website, local news, social media, etc.)

I take some shots of the first tents wares.

ISO 320 - 50mm - f/4 - 1/1250 - AV

ISO 320 - 50mm - f/4 - 1/1250 - AV

ISO 320 - 41mm - f/4.0 - 1/80 - AV

ISO 320 - 41mm - f/4.0 - 1/80 - AV

So far I really am liking the colors, the amount of detail and the focus nailed by the live view dual pixel auto focus.

Continuing on...  I approach some vendors as I walk down the road.

The very sweet Linda Hart of Linda Hart Designs - www.LindaHartDesigns.com   ISO 320 - 33mm - f-4.0 - 1/800 - Manual Mode

The very sweet Linda Hart of Linda Hart Designs - www.LindaHartDesigns.com 

ISO 320 - 33mm - f-4.0 - 1/800 - Manual Mode

This portrait of Linda was very promising, I was able to recover a lot of the highlights behind her to a level that I would normally wish. 

*Hint - Taking photos of a business card ensures you will not lose it or it will not get sweaty and crumple in your pocket!

Redbard Collections - www.RedBarnCollections.com | ISO 320 - 28mm - f/4.0 - 1/160 - Manual Mode

Redbard Collections - www.RedBarnCollections.com | ISO 320 - 28mm - f/4.0 - 1/160 - Manual Mode

www.VinyliciousDesigns.com | ISO 320 - 31mm - f/4.0 - 1/320 - Manual Mode

www.VinyliciousDesigns.com | ISO 320 - 31mm - f/4.0 - 1/320 - Manual Mode

Using the swivel screen for this portrait I was able to get a good angle of the products on the table as well as a good portrait of my subject. Shot at just above my waist level.

**When shooting from the hip so to speak, saying "eyes on me" doesn't really work anymore since "me" means my face rather the camera, that is no longer... At my face.

Ben's Brew operator pours me a sample of the cold brew coffee selection at the market. Totally bought some, super tasty.

A mix of Manual and AV mode - Edited to recover what highlights are possible. A very good test of the strong contrast in the midday sun.

ISO 320 - 57mm - f/3.5 - 1/250 - Manual Mode - Swivel screen overhead.

ISO 320 - 57mm - f/3.5 - 1/250 - Manual Mode - Swivel screen overhead.

A note with this shot, using the swivel screen overhead and getting a better view, there is one thing I noticed.

Click to enlarge. 

Obviously a lens issue, not really the body, but a testament to the sensor in the 6Dii maybe? (I am no expert) 

You can see that this lens produced some magenta fringing on the border of this white tent overhang. Yet with a click in Adobe Lightroom CC under 'Lens Correction | Defringe"...

Click to enlarge

Boom! ... It's gone.

I continue on... 

And I stop at 'The Soap Lady' tent and cannot help but take some photos of the colorful soaps and bathbombs that are all over the table.

ISO 320 - 28mm - f/3.5 - 1/500 - Manual Mode

I also stop by the Pioneer Valley tent with Wayne and take a few shots. 

ISO 320 - 24mm - f/3.5 - 1/800 - Manual Mode

A note of the shots below, while using live view I was taking a more candid shot of this honey vendor. I noticed that the live view focus really wanted to grab the closest object in the frame (the man's black sleeve). Even after lifting my finger and pressing down again, set to "one-shot" it refocused 2-3 times on the sleeve. 

Only after I used my thumb on the screen to refocus on the woman's face did it relent and keep that for the next few shots. Even though these are not really "keepers" it was a nice thing to learn and I can anticipate later when it is more important to get the shot in focus.

Stopping at the coffee truck 'BUZZED' I ask the barista inside for her portrait and she graciously agrees to pop out for a quick shot. 

This was a great look at the cameras abilities, I had to balance the shiny white surface of the truck to the left, the shaded face of the barista from the overhang above and you can still make out a tiny bit of the interior of the truck as I lifted the shadows a tad.

ISO - 38mm - f/3.5 - 1/320 - Manual Mode

ISO - 38mm - f/3.5 - 1/320 - Manual Mode

These next images are probably the best example of how the 6D mark II handles very strong, very direct sunlight, with reflective objects and materials.

As a bystander, I approach a melted cheese sandwich stand. The sun is beating down directly over head with a slight tilt, the vendor has a slab of cheese tilted toward the camera, there is white cloth around, all this light is being reflected harshly. 

I decided to include some SOOC (Stright Out Of Camera) and some final / edited images to show the range.

Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

I continue on again, I find a beer vendor. I love this test subject. I see that there is one person inside of the cart, ready to dispense some brew, one person standing outside. The difference on their exposure is very apparent, one completely in shadows and the other in the direct sunlight.

Here are those shots from 'The Bootlegger' beer vendor at the market.

Some more portraits of some kids in the shade...

Some dads with their kids and food...

ISO 320 - 35mm - f/5.6 - 1/160 - Manual Mode

Panda Propaganda has some sweet T's for sale and I grabbed a portrait of the owner.

ISO 320 - 24mm - f/5.6 - 1/160 - Manual Mode

Another direct sunlight test of this awesome couple...

One over exposed and brought down... One under exposed and brought up.

Can you tell which?

Stopped by Zach Martinez' plot with his sweet glassware and cuts made from liquor bottles. 


At last I have made it through the entire market, grabbed a ton of portraits and challenged the camera, lens and I hope I have shown what is the range within Lightroom.

But as I get my bike, and start to head out, I see a musician on the side walk... I love taking photos of musicians and cannot help but take one more photo. 

ISO 320 - 39mm - f/5.6 - 1/200 - Manual Mode

Portrait of the talented Liza Hedges (@SLC_Accordion)


OK, now that is quite a lot of photos. I hope that this has been helpful to see the range and capability of the newly released Canon 6D Mark II. 

I definitely know that everyone shoots differently, everyone edits differently, maybe some will not find the swivel screen useful? I do because being over 6'4'' I can lower my shot to my waist without bending over or dropping to my knees or I can easily raise my view above everyone for a different vantage.

My overall takeaways

- This camera handles very much like the original 6D, weight and grip are almost identical.

- The controls are almost the exact same, the only difference I noticed have to do with the focusing system.

The button to change focus area next to the shutter is awkward to my hands, I am not sure yet if it is becuase of the position, because it is new to me or simply I am so used to the toggle switch for the same function on the 5D Mark IV (Pictured Below)

- The camera has great auto focus overall, accurate and hits almost every time. The quirk to get used to is the very centralized cluster of AF points in the viewfinder and the tendencies of the LCD screen while in Live View.

- The touch AF on Live View is very quick to respond and the touch shutter is quick and accurate although I will need to play with it more to get fully comfortable.

- I do still wish there was a thumbstick for the AF points... The D-Pad works ok over all though and it is very much like the 6D

- I do wish there were two SD card slots...

Nikon D600/D610, Nikon D750, Canon 7D, Canon 7D II, Canon 1Ds III, Canon 5D III, Sony A6500, Fuji XT2, Fuji X-Pro2, Olympus OM-D E-M1 II, and so on... All camera bodies of similar or lower price that have dual card slots. Full Frame or not, this is a loss for the consumer. 

- I still do not care about the limited video functions... I do not use nor care about 4K video.

- I do think this camera should have been released at $1699 or so. The willful limitations placed on this model in comparison to other manufacturers offerings in the same price range are very hard to ignore.

- I do think the defense for Canon with people stating "well, it is an entry level full frame"... "it isn't for professional use" etc... etc... Is silly. It's professional, if you are doing professional work with it... A Rebel T3 can be professional if you're getting paid for the work...

But all that said? I will be keeping this body, it is a great 2nd body to my 5D IV, it IS better than the 6D albeit not as much as a lot of people would have liked. 

Personally I have too much Canon gear or Canon compatible gear to think about "jumping ship" ... I would just be losing money, I would have to get used to another system, I might miss work in the time it woud take to switch, and really would I take better images with another camera or should I just work with the tools I have?

Did I miss anything? Do you have any questions?     What other content would you like to see here?

Take a second and comment here or reach out to me on social media! 

Thank You For Looking!

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