Behind the Scenes: Garry Tran

Running alongside Garry Tran, I did my best to keep up to cover his photoshoot. This is a little video covering the shoot from location to location at the best time of the day. During the shoot, we had overcast, rain, and a beautiful sunset to finish off. These changes in lighting conditions made for an interesting shoot both in photo and video.

I chose to do this one using Nikon LOG so I had to run an Atomos Ninja V. I went from the Ronin-S to a SmallRig for handheld shots while having the monitor mounted can be a real challenge. Weight isn’t fun, especially on the Ronin-S but shooting LOG is worth all the effort because it helps retain detail. I always slack a little bit when it comes to blogging but this video was shot in the summer. running around with a loaded Ronin-S gets you sweaty quick. I don’t know about you guys, but when it comes to trying to think of the next creative angle or shot on the go, it just adds to my sweat production. Overall, I had a wonderful time shooting this shoot from behind a camera, but recording motion.

You can check out Garry’s Instagram here: garry.zip

My First 85mm. Nikon nikkor Z 85mm f/1.8 S

Back on par with gear talk. Once you get a couple of photographers and videographers together, it an endless conversation about what we own, what we used to own and what we would like to one day own. This year, for me I managed to rebuild my kit to go fully mirrorless. I took a chance on the new Nikon Z6 at the end of last year and soon after, I dropped the Nikon D4 for another Z6. I know the cameras don’t look like much when you compare them to their parents, but it’s better in every way. Along with smaller more flexible cameras came the new series of lenses that deliver on their promises to be Better and sharper then their f-mount ancestors.

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The new Nikkor Z 85mm f/1.8 S has been a masterpiece on the couple of jobs I’ve worked with it. The weight, the sharpness and bokeh has been outstanding. The 5-axis stabilization makes for smooth experience when compared to DSLRs. One of the best features of shooting mirrorless, apart from the size is seeing is believing. By that, when you look at your monitor and set your exposure, what you see is what you get. Nailing your exposure right out of camera is a huge time saver.

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Because what you see is what you get, I have begun using more content light over slash in darker situations. Flash still has its roll in my work, especially in studio. In studio, it can be a bit of a challenge seeing when you have the aperture stopped down, but there’s a setting in camera to help with those situations. The image above is shot with a Aputure 300D MKii with a small octabank on it camera left. The best thing about constant light is seeing exactly what the photo will look like between shots. I find that you can also balance your lighting with ambient light to either build interest or highlight your subject.

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I don’t usually bad mouth my Fujifilm GFX50S because its a great camera that produces amazing photos but, that continuous focus option should just not exist. The most simple tracking focus tasks end up failing and you are left with 1 GB of out of focus shots. The Nikon Z6 has this down pat, like all my past DSLRs. Being able to track, even at long focal lens is a godsend. The new S lenses from Nikon are quick to focus an for video purposes, super quiet. Nikon did a great job with the new 85mm f/1.8 S and I can’t wait for the what’s coming next year.

The Outside Studio

I take the studio outside all the time, but I have yet to take a backdrop outside. Taking a huge piece of paper outside comes with its challenges. there is the basic issue, like rain, but the silent killer is wind. Luckily, this was a nice calm, warm day and the paper, for the most part, stayed still. The sun was high at the time of the shoot so most go it was blocked with a large umbrella from Profoto. I rarely shoot without flash and this was not one of those cases. I added a Profoto B1 with a beauty dish camera left. Flash always adds some kind of direction to your work. That gradient of light helps the subject pop out from the background.

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If you would like to get a visual of what the set up looks like, just scroll down. When it comes to working with color backdrops or any backdrop indoors, you would need to light the backdrop to get an even look. Since we were workout outdoors where the light is uniform, a simple exposure for the model and backdrop kept everything in check. I can promise you that there was no backdrop manipulation and most of these photos are close to what they look like straight out of camera. It was a please not having to set up 4 or more light and achieve something that looks complicated and clean.

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OK, I may have lied when it comes to not manipulating the backdrop. But I promise you all I did was mess around with H/S/L and change the colors around to compliment the model's outfit. The photo below was an attempt to bring a little more mood to the shoot. By changing my expose to minimize the ambient light and turning the power upon the flash, I was able to create more shadows and direction. I also placed the key light almost behind the model and have the light skip off her face partially. Shadows also yield more interest. So they say.

So, if the wind is low or nonexistent, its completely worth it to venture outside and bring the backdrop with you. This was the first and not the last time.

In the real world, none of these photos are possible on my own. The styling for these product shots was done by @mrigini for @meripetiofficial. I am a big believer that people should play to their strengths. It’s most apparent on set where I am already dealing with composition, lighting and all the technical mumbo jumbo but at the same time having to do styling. I can do it, but a professional will get it done in less time and produce an even better outcome. It always takes a team to get the best possible outcome.

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For the gear guys:

Camera: Fujifilm GFX50S

Lens: FujiFilm GF 110mm f/2

Lighting: Profoto B1, Profoto Large Deep Umbrella

Summer Street Shooting for Umoro

After all these years, street shoots are still alive and well. When you need to switch it up and need a real challenge, the streets will always provide you with ample stress. When summer hit’s here in Toronto, I do my best to take advantage of the good weather. The summers aren’t too long and the weather is perfect to explore all the nooks of the city. It was Canada Day, so the city is mostly dead. This would be the best time to explore the University of Toronto without getting in trouble. I am old now and I don’t think I can pass as a student anymore.

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Street shooting is all about wondering and letting locations and scenes open themselves up to you. On the drive in, an alleyway caught my eye. After shooting near where we parked, we ventured into that alleyway. There we found many textures and interesting light to work with. Slow shutter work is always risky, but not every image needs to be sharp. This particular jacket has a unique tear away zipper. I was trying to convey the action of opening the jacket.

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When it comes to street shooting, I pack very little. The only item really is the camera. I don't bring lights or reflectors. I intend to move quickly and get as much variation. I also know we aren’t always welcome everywhere we choose to shoot so the smaller the footprint, the most likely no one will bother you. Instead of lugging a flash (although I would love to) I hunt for good or interesting light. I am no longer afraid of hard light when I find it, with the Fujifilm GFX50S, there is forgiveness in the highs and lows.

gfx50s, Umoro, toronto, UofT, street, style

Speaking of light, the best time to shoot would be the evening or early morning. Everything from the colors to the long shadows from the low angle of the sun really changes how everything looks. At this time, I’m usually in a rush to get as much as I can be fore the sun dips or gets too high. Speaking of street photography, I have to plan a solo shoot and really try some new techniques before the summer is over.

Model: Mark Gallardo

Shot for: UMORO

Myodetox Performance Centre - Promo Video

Myodetox Performance Centre (MPC) is the home of a handful of trainers who hold a set of unique group workout classes. All workouts are never the same. Along with a great crew, the members here always give their all. In this montage, I do my best to capture what these people make look easy.

Karasu 2019 Look Book

With the new mirrorless cameras from Nikon, the possibility to jump into video is even greater. Nikon has been my choice from day one, solely because my dad had some old primes laying around and I could use them to start creating. The Nikon Z6 has proven to be a tiny, lightweight beast when it comes to providing beautiful images and video. Everything is perfect, from the weight to ergonomics. As I get older, smaller, lighter cameras are a welcome change. I have since traded in my old battle axes for the new mirrorless format.

On this shoot, we were able to make use of Nikon’s new LOG format N-LOG. The most surprising detail was the dynamic range. In the photography world, RAW files make the world of a difference when it comes to retaining detail in post production. It does spoil you when entering the video world. When looking at the footage, it’s amazing to see detail in the window, I was expecting them to be blown out.

I have strayed from the technical side and moved to the creative side. The technical aspect is good to know, but the creativity when it comes to shooting plays a bigger roll. When shooting video, all the small details count where photoshopping isn’t an option. Moving to video definitely opens your eyes to the fine details because no one what’s to do a pick up shoot.

Client: Karasu Clothing Company

Summer Skates

We were commissioned to produce photos for an upcoming ad for Summer Skates. Reflecting the comfort of the brand and the most popular custom slides, we utilized the models to show a mood of relaxation. We worked to light and pose scenes to maximize interest in the couple hours we had.

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UMORO Hyper-Light Coat

This would be one of the more intricate sets I’ve had a hand in. We built a six piece wall for this set along with added florescent lighting to get the glow behind each staggered wall section. The use of red gels wrapped around the tubes help bring the set together. With Umoro, we shot a product feature video to accompany each jacket color.

As the video progressed, we went from static poses to more movement. The jacket features an interesting zipper that can be torn apart when removing the jacket. This is shown with progressing shots mixed at various speeds to keep the interest factor up. A mixture of wide and close shots come together to give the viewer a sense of actually holding the jacket..

For all shots, video related the Nikon Z6 was use on a Ronin-S. The Nikon 50 f/1.8 Z was used for all the the shots. The 50mm offers a great middle ground for both wide and tight shots. The sharpness of this lens is unmatched among all the lenses I own. With smooth and fast native autofocus, the need to reshoot the scenes multiple times was not necessary.

Fun Fact: on the first day of this shoot, the power was knocked out by strong winds. We did what we could on battery power, but as the timer estimated we only had 27 minutes to shoot all of 20 shots we had planned. There was no way that was going to happen and in the end, we scrapped all the shots. This time, we had all the power we needed and with some help in editing, I am impressed with one of the first extended productions of a product launch video.

The Grand Canyon & Death Valley

In a joint venture with a great cinematographer, we have decided to step our game up when it comes to couple shoots. If we are going to photograph peoples union, it will have to be epic. We both our our heart and soul into other areas of our careers, so why not here. We decided to head to Las Vegas and make the most of the surrounding areas. I hope to provide a commercial feel to this genre.

3-Image stitch from the Fujifilm GFX50S.

3-Image stitch from the Fujifilm GFX50S.

Horseshoe Bend was absolutely stunning when we walked up to it. Mind you, it is a 20-30minute hike in through rock and sand with gear. I am absolutely grateful for LED panels for this reason. As much as I would have loved to use the Profoto B1 here, it would have cause more issues than solve them. With the soft light produced during a cloudy sunset, throwing hard light can be difficult. Check the behind the scenes shot below. I am always grateful to any helping hand when it comes to nailing the shot. Over the years, I’ve learnt that a group effort make a better end product.

It’s a group effort.

It’s a group effort.

Death Valley was next on the list. In hind sight, staying in Las Vegas is not the best idea if you plan on driving hours outside of the city for the natural wonders. Once you arrive, every minutes spent in the car is absolutely worth it. The mountains are one thing, but the scale of it all is what’s amazing to see and work with. During our time here, we tackled the Sand Dunes and Salt Flats within the park.

Blowing sand was a serious issue. I would recommend not to making lens changes.

Blowing sand was a serious issue. I would recommend not to making lens changes.

Stepping way back gives you a grand perspective.

Stepping way back gives you a grand perspective.

3-Image stitch from the Fujifilm GFX50S.

3-Image stitch from the Fujifilm GFX50S.

Missing the sunset is a real concern for us. On the way to this location, I’m sure we set a new land speed record in the Kia we rented. The Salt Flats here in Death Valley is vast and finding the right spot is tough. Luckily, we spotted an off-road path that brought us even closer. 

Dusk and dawn offer beautiful light and colours in the sky. Initially, we shot in the opposite direction, until we turned around and saw the amazing colours produced in the clouds behind us. We instantly changed direction. 

Stepping into Video

It seems like a natural step forward coming from photography. Taking this leap isn’t the easiest thing I’ve done, but it is a welcomed challenge. Going back to the learning phase is scary and exciting at the same time with so many more preparation steps to make sure nothing is missed. I don’t want to say photography is easy, but video takes a lot more consideration to make sure all is set for a shoot day.

Falling back on what I’ve done in the past when starting out in photography, I have gravitated towards books. There’s plenty of knowledge out there when you feel confused or unsure about what you are doing. I am a strong believer in practice. I’m all for jumping into the deep end, making mistakes and growing from it .

Photographing Penny Oleksiak for Asics

One of the best aspects of this job is working with inspirational people. This ranges from the talent to the team. I was asked to shoot the “I Move Me” campaign for ASICS. We would be photographing a range of athletes that included Penny Oleksiak, a gold medalist swimmer.

Fujifilm GFX 50S + 63mm f/1.8

Fujifilm GFX 50S + 63mm f/1.8

This shoot was strict with time. Adding to the stress, my time with Penny would be shared with an on going video shoot. In some way, most shoots some down to working quickly and creatively. To make the most of my time with Penny, scouting ahead and doing mental gymnastics as to how to shoot, using what light was continuous.

Fujifilm GFX 50S + 63mm f/1.8

Fujifilm GFX 50S + 63mm f/1.8

The image above is shot in an impromptu locker room. The lockers were moved into a corner and a bench placed to create the scene. Following the video team, we quickly set lights in place. Using complimentary colors to gel the light, we managed to nail a shot. Working quickly is one thing, taking a chance with color is another. Pushing yourself to do something different is always rewarding.

Fujifilm GFX 50S + 63mm f/1.8

Fujifilm GFX 50S + 63mm f/1.8

This is the last shot in the facility. The video team arranged for lights on the turf so basically the back lights were provided. With the addition of a gridded beauty dish boomed from above, we were good to go. One problem, I forgot to remove the orange gel from the light, so the original file was far from what I envisioned. My only excuse was the time frame I had to shoot so I kept shooting. With adjustments in Lightroom and Photoshop, I was able to balance the colors to the vision I had for this image. It would of been easier and less time consuming had I fixed it during the shoot.

Fujifilm GFX 50s + 110mm f/2.0

Fujifilm GFX 50s + 110mm f/2.0

The last location was an Olympic sized pool. When working around water, all extra precautions are taken. I opted for the battery powered Profoto B1s over the plug in D1s. With linked arms to a PA, I leaned over the pool to get the GFX 50s and 110mm lens inches from the water to create more drama. With the camera so low, the reflection in the water was exactly what I wanted. Well worth the risk.

Looking back on this shoot day, I remember how tired I was. Having to constantly be thinking of the next step requires a lot of brain power. Regardless, work is work and taking the oppertunity to both push your limits and try new techniques is always rewarding. The harder you push on the current shoot, the more doors will unlock in the future.

Shooting the Mirrorless Z6 in -26˚C

More often than not, when looking at an image, I take into consideration the conditions the image was created in. Funnily, it only occurs to me when I’m working in the extremes, either stiflingly hot and humid or the sub-zero temperatures. When I find myself in these environments, it’s important to work both quickly and with purpose. 

Nikon Z6 + NIKKOR Z 50mm f/1.8 S

Nikon Z6 + NIKKOR Z 50mm f/1.8 S

Having a plan really comes in handy when working in the cold. As much as I would love to ponder a location, the truth is that your hands are freezing along with your ears. If you are experiencing this discomfort, so is your talent. Find the location, your angle and nail the exposure. Moving to the new Nikon Z6 has really helped propel my workflow. Since using my Fujifilm GFX50 S, I have fallen for mirrorless cameras hard.

Nikon Z6 + NIKKOR Z 50mm f/1.8 S

Nikon Z6 + NIKKOR Z 50mm f/1.8 S

When it comes to mirrorless cameras, what you see is what you get. By not looking at a mirror, you see the limitation of what the camera can capture. From there you can begin to compromise and find the exposure that you truly want. Not having your eye trapped in a viewfinder is another perk. Being able to shoot from low angles without having to lay on the ground because of the flip out screen has saved me a lot of laundry detergent. Now, I can finally explore new perspectives without having to deal with 110MB files. 

Nikon Z6 + NIKKOR Z 50mm f/1.8 S

Nikon Z6 + NIKKOR Z 50mm f/1.8 S

In the end, a camera is just a tool and being a photographer goes way beyond what camera you use. The Nikon Z6 is a welcomed change, it’s now easier to get the same shot I would attempt with my DSLR. When it comes to ergonomics and flexibly, the mirrorless beats out any reflex camera. Not only can you explore more viewpoints, but it can be quickly before your talent gets frost bite. 

Nikon Z6 + NIKKOR Z 50mm f/1.8 S

Nikon Z6 + NIKKOR Z 50mm f/1.8 S

Nikon Z6 + NIKKOR Z 50mm f/1.8 S

Nikon Z6 + NIKKOR Z 50mm f/1.8 S

Images shot for www.umoro.com






Value Village + Rethink Reuse

We were commissioned to cover the creation of an art installation for Value Village. The art installation would be set up in Graffiti Alley in downtown Toronto over the course of a day. We were asked to shoot as the project unfolded with uploads periodically sent over for use on social media. Our challenges on this gig would be both logistics and the ability to shoot in a small area for two days, while capturing a fresh perspective each time.

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The point of the installation is to raise awareness of the amount of water wasted for the production of new clothing. I am all for reusable and renewable products. It was amazing to see the piece come together over the 8 hours. It was cold and wet, and when the sun finally made its way into the alley, all of us, both video, sound, and photo, did out best to soak up some vitamin D.

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We worked with an amazing team that catered to the content that was needed. It’s a wonderful feeling to see our work be posted as you shot both on social media and the website. I am not completely sure where else the images went, but when work is showcased, nothing else brings me more satisfaction. Back when I started, I just wanted my work to be part of something bigger. Working closely with Kae, we were able to edit and send images for use almost immediately. As time passes, you learn that you can’t do it alone, it takes a team. More perspectives honestly produces better work.

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Look Organic: Cosmetic Campaign

The most rewarding projects are definitely the ones where you are part of the planning and execution. Mind you, this project might of been on the rougher side, but never the less, there was art direction and a plan to build a powerful site for the launch. Check out Look Organics.

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The premise of the brand is hydration and using the least amount of ingredients possible. We ran with the hydration part of the brand here. It’s amazing what a borrowed fish tank, carbonated water and some lightings can do.

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Last but not least, the product shots. All products are shot one by one in studio. A series of light shaping tools and bounce cards help control unwanted reflection and reflect light to fill shadows as needed. My biggest tip fo shooting products is to have patience and take the time when creating the photo to fix lighting problems. You will be glad once you get into photoshop.

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Multiple Exposures - ACP Customs

One of the first realizations when it comes to lighting cars and motorcycles is size. These subjects are way larger than a person. The only way to combat this issue is either to use many lights or the much cheaper way, light painting. Combining multiple exposures really helps create a more balanced photo. 

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Making sure everything is placed the way you like it by taking the time to compose the shot. Cementing that tripod in place is key. Slight shifts of the camera, even when hitting the shutter button can spell hell later in Photoshop. Having to alight and free transform until everything lines up can be tough. Prevent this issue by using a remote trigger. 

Once you are happy with your composition, leave everything as is. When it comes to workflow, thinking ahead will save you a ton of time.  As I lite the bike by section, I was mindful of the key light position. Lighting the bike completely would result in a flat image. 

Fujifilm GFX50s + GF 63mm f/2.8 merged Pano

Fujifilm GFX50s + GF 63mm f/2.8 merged Pano

In post-production, the best thing about having multiple layers is the control. You now have full control over how bright any section of the bike can be. Fully lighting the bike wouldn't be as interesting, but this is subjective. The first image consists of about 6 images combined together. It's a fun test of my computer power, where 6 images stacked is a whopping 660MB o,r a whole bootleg movie from Kazaa. And that's just the working files. In the end, the extra effort placed on lighting and combining allows you to create a tailored image. 

Basketball Under a Freeway

It will always be a compromise, use a DSLR for the autofocus and speed or go for the medium format and get more detail, colors and depth. When it comes to speed, nothing beats a DSLR, the autofocus is lightning fast but, it falls short with it comes to color and dynamic range. I chose the Fujifilm GFX 50s for this shoot. When it came to action, we had to redo it multiple times, but when you grab that shot, it's all worth it. 

Fujifilm GFX 50s + 63mm - f/3.6 @ 1/100th/sec

Fujifilm GFX 50s + 63mm - f/3.6 @ 1/100th/sec

For this shoot, I chose two Profoto B1s with midi octabank from Elinchrom and Profoto Zoom Reflector. We were shooting around 11:30 AM on a sunny day, but since the location is under a freeway, it was completely shaded. The light on the side acted as a natural rim light. The octabank was the key light for this shoot. A bit of flash goes a long way when it comes to separating your subject from the background. In the image above, there are two flashes, one camera left with the zoom reflector at its' lowest power and another in the octa camera right. Adding @drkev_hybrid in the foreground camera right really helps build a scene as well. Having someone playing basketball with a friend is more powerful in this context. This is my personal feeling, Kev did not object. 

Fujifilm GFX 50s + 63mm - f/2.8 @ 1/125th/sec

Fujifilm GFX 50s + 63mm - f/2.8 @ 1/125th/sec

This shot took multiple tries. Moving onto an EVF (electronic viewfinder) has its pros and cons. A DSLR is a real-time image produced by a mirror, an EVF is a screen and when you consider all the processes needed to create that image, there are some delays. I am sure with practice it will become easier, but for now, it is still a little challenging to nail shots like these. Since I am using flash without the Profoto TTL remote, I am trapped at 1/125th/sec which isn't the best for freezing action unless you press that shutter at the moment of inertia. It took a couple tries and a missed shutter clicks on my end, but in the end, we came away with one useable shot. 

The lighting set-up for this shot is a little different. Adding more rim light wouldn't benefit this scene, there was plenty to be had from the sun. Instead, I opted to bounce light off the ceiling with a Profoto B1 with the Zoom Reflector. This helped reduce the exposure and retain some of the detail outside the underpass. Flash also aids in freezing action, something I needed desperately. There is an octabank camera left as well to help separate the shooter.  

Fujifilm GFX 50s + 63mm - f/2.8 @ 1/125th/sec

Fujifilm GFX 50s + 63mm - f/2.8 @ 1/125th/sec

If you can pose a shot, go for it. I start with the actual action and go from there. Considering that medium format cameras are slow, it's a must. Trying to capture this at its actual speed is nearly impossible or would take much longer. I am sure if you look, you can tell my light set up for this one pretty easily. Octabank camera left and the ceiling is a dead give away for the second light. If I could go back, I would have turned the power of the flash located camera right down just a tad.

These images were created for Myodetox. There was a book published and printed that I am waiting to get my hands on. Once I get it, I will update this post with some tear sheets of the design work. There are a couple of IG stories from the event I saw, it looks amazing. Seeing my work printed is why I do this. On to the BTS. 

iPhone X

iPhone X

The Jungles of Toronto and a Loading Dock

Deep in the jungles of Toronto, we shot for Umoro's new line of camp joggers. On this excursion, I brought the Fujifilm GFX 50s with the 63mm and 110mm. In all honesty, all I used was the 63mm. Wide angles seem to suit my style of shooting. As always, I push for sunset because a directional light is way more flattering to work with. On this shoot, @jaylee.tv will be modeling the jogger. I always find it extraordinary how you can see the same location in many different ways along with exploring a new one. We went to the valley and followed the paths carved out by stoners. 

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