Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Russell James for Rolex

One of the most creative and charismatic photographers I've ever worked with is a fashion shooter named Russell James.

He does a lot of work for Victoria's Secret and many other very high profile clients, including Rolex. Every now and then we get a chance to work together, when a project is particularly involved with shallow water or splash environments, either in pools or in the ocean. I am always in awe of his considerable technical proficiency in these situations, but truthfully most impressed with his genuine affinity and friendship with the supermodels he works with. They like him, want to do good work with him, and in the end they look spectacular and the client is well served.

A few years ago we did a project for Rolex, in New Providence. Our mutual friend Stuart Cove provided all the in-water support, and we based the production at Atlantis Resort on Paradise Island. Russell flew a different supermodel in for each of 7 consecutive days and they would be photographed in a studio contrived in a ballroom at the hotel, and also shot in a pool or in the ocean (if their water skills allowed them to be safe in an ocean environment). I was there to shoot backgrounds in the ocean, which which the studio shots would then be composited.

Some of the open water shots of the girls, all wearing their Rolexes of course, worked. But, in my opinion the strongest shots, and the ones chosen to lead the campaign, were the studio shots Russell took of the girls in flowing gowns, with a wind machine ruffling the hair, and the light on the Rolex watch beautifully crafted. My underwater backgrounds were compositional elements, combined in Photoshop.

The results ran on the Rolex website and a huge print campaign in French Vogue.

Here's some Behind The Scenes shots:

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Cool Tool - HDR in Photoshop CS5

We spent a few days in London on our way to safari in Zambia and Botswana over the past few weeks, and I did the totally tourist things ... rode the double-decker bus, went to London Tower, walked around Piccadilly, etc. Actually, it is a great city, and a lot of fun to be photographing something other than fish and divers.

Mostly I walked around with my Canon G11 and took snapshots of the landmarks and my family. But, at least one night I went out semi-seriously to shoot nightscapes (these with my Canon 5DMKII), in particular the Parliment buildings and Big Ben over the Thames. The issue was to try to hold detail in the bright areas (like the clock tower) and also by able to bring out the darker areas like the reflections in the water. It seemed a natural candidate for the high dynamic range tool in the new Adobe Photoshop CS5.

The short story on HDR is that it combines a number of exposures, automatically in software, to extract the best of the highlights and shadows and composite in a single image.

Here are the four exposures I used to make the HDR image, each a full stop apart in terms of shutter speed:

Here is the image that Photoshop CS5 created for me:

Very impressive new technology, and this tool plus the content aware functionality are reason enough to upgrade to CS5.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Alexa Shoots Africa

I just got home from a terrific photo tour in Zambia and Africa. My wife, Barbara, organized the trip for a group of friends based at three lovely lodges: Lion Camp, Selinda Camp, and Jao Camp.

Our 17-year old daughter Alexa did really well with her photography on this trip, shooting both a Canon G11 and a Canon 1DsMKIII with 100-400mm zoom lens. The images in the portfolio above are all hers.

She even managed to get a shot of her Dad at work.

Special thanks to our African travel specialists, Explore,