Category Archives: studio news

Canon CPS service

Dropped by the new CPS facility in Ridgefield, NJ today to have some of my Canon gear checked. It  was a rough and busy summer this year. Turned out the 1Dx needed the complete mirror box exchanged, a recall, who knew, i just shot with this yesterday. But they did it on the spot, talk about warranty and CPS service, brilliant.

And i had 3 lenses and a 5M III cleaned and adjusted. All that done in a day, i couldn’t be happier. Only thing, i had to drive over there and back, which at 5pm took me more than an hour, otherwise i’m happy i shoot Canon, no technical failures and all the equipment was in great shape.

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…wrapped The Affair, Season1…

What a shoot, what a tour de force. And what a story. From Montauk to the Brooklyn Promenade and so much in-between. This will be another must see TV show, looked great while on set, the characters, so well played. Thanks to all the cast and crew for having me around. And it’s airing soon too, even better, so check out SHOWTIME…

…wrapped GIRLS, Season 4…

Quite the season, from Brooklyn to Iowa, can’t wait to see it all in a final cut in January 2014. The shoot days where pure brilliance, entertaining and felt like a family affair. Thanks cast and crew for letting me into your world. (My only regret is that i don’t have video of the zingers, one liners and ad-libs, that would’ve been just too much).

Have a great Fall everyone, see you at the premiere…

Profoto Battery packs…

A couple of thoughts on the current Profoto Battery units. Due to the cleaner digital capture and subsequently usage of higher sensitivities, we are using these more and more to compliment and augment available light situations instead of relighting entire room and setups.

Two years ago we finally added a couple of Acute 600B packs and heads to the kit. While i generally prefer the Pro line, these are great little units that travel well and pack incredibly small. We actually did a couple of shoots with just a Tenba 38″ rolling grip case, 2 stands and some Photek and Chimera light formers with great results, even outdoors.

I love the simplicity of just plugging the lights into the unit and setting the lights, no outlet search or power issues, all while only bringing one case, genius.

 	Generator, Acute 600R

 

My only issue with them is the cryptic power adjustment and not being Pro head compatible.

 

 

 

 

Now in early 2014 we saw the introduction of Profoto’s B1 heads, basically a D1 mono head with a built in battery. I never actually worked with these mono blocks, so i wanted to give this a good look, and Fotocare set me up with a testing unit.

Profoto-B1Basically it’s a great pro level product, but i found a couple of issues that i didn’t like at all. First of, due to the construction, even with the glass dome, the light distribution in my Photeks is different to the traditional Profoto heads. And for reverse mounts (umbrellas, Elinchrom Octa, etc.) the body is just very large and interrupts the diffusion pattern that aims toward the subject, not a good thing at all. Besides, all the controls are now under the diffusion. On the other hand, in Chimera boxes it’s actually impressively good.

Now my second biggest concern is recycle time and power, compared directly to the Acute 600 i needed much more power (about 1 stop) for the same results, aka meter readings. That means, slower recycle and more energy usage, both never a good thing, on batteries, a real concern.

So i actually decide against the B1 units and started looking into the Profoto B4 1000 Air pack.

Profoto-B4This is on the opposite value scale of the Profoto line, but not by much. Considering that purchasing 2 B1’s, glass domes and 2 extra batteries is around $5000, the B4 pack is “only” $2900 more, the heads we already have…

We actually had the back to back opportunity to use the B4 on very different assignments, one was in an older, distinguished NYC apartment building with 15A wiring, not a good place to plug in a Pro8 pack, and the other a location shoot, partly in a garden and on the beach.

There B4 left us quit impressed, recycle time is quicker than our Pro7 packs, adjustments are spot on and don’t need a meter reread, battery lasts forever and it’s well built, the light quality, as i use my Pro heads, as expected, with an incredible short flash duration. And best of all, the unit can be plugged in and charge the battery while shooting, drawing less than 3A.

At 21lb, 9.8 kg it has a certain heft to it, but my 2 Acute 600B packs come in at 16lb, 7.2kg and 2 B1monos are 13.2lb, 6kg;  not free either.

My only concern why the B4 cannot replace our plug in AC packs, is that the model light is drawing too much power (250W are done in 20min) and even worse that it dimms while recharging (which is horrible in a dark or dim room). The solution, as bron shows us, are LED lights, even an upgrade bulb with daylight balanced 250W equivalent would make this the ultimate game changer. Video and still light with he same head and quality, still for a limited, but much longer time on battery power, dimmable, with a color consistent model light. And absolutely NO auto dimming…

Anyways, welcome Profoto B4 to the studio (In it’s own Tenba 38″ roller), we just got an Air remote with it, as Profoto seems to be dropping support for built in Pocket Wizzards…

J Ralph’s studio for Vanity Fair

Josh Ralph on stage, for VF

Josh Ralph on stage, for VF

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here’s a great photo essay on the Clinton Star Theater, that’s the only privately owned and used theater space in New York, never been photographed before and only used by Josh and his cohorts for creating and recording the most ethereal music. Some for film, some for advertising, and even just great music, but always unexpected and unrivaled quality. And inside this fantastic and slightly decaying space is one of the most outstanding musical instrument and recording collection imaginable (Above you’ll see Duke Ellington’s Grand piano, and a vintage Neumann U47 microphone once owned by country singer Ricky Skaggs).

As for technical notes, we again shot all this with Canon 1Dx and a variety of fixed L lenses, as well as the TS 24 and 45mm. The main shot with Josh is shot with a L35mm, Profoto, Zoomspot, a Photek umbrella, 12″x12″ silk for the front and variety of Tungsten lights, from Arri 650W, 1k, 2k’s and around 9 Dedo 100W heads on dimmers for the room, along with some more Profoto gear. Due to the size of the space, this is one of the more technically involved shoots that needed a lot of moving equipment and i was happy to translate some lighting tricks from my friends that i met over the last year on various TV sets.

More pictures on the Vanity Fair website and the current magazine.

Vanity Fair “Act One” portrait

Matthew Schechter, Santino Fontana, and Tony Shalhoub, who all play Moss Hart in Act One; photographed at Sardi’s, New York, for Vanity fair

Matthew Schechter, Santino Fontana, and Tony Shalhoub, for VF

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Very happy to share the portrait of Matthew Schechter, Santino Fontana, and Tony Shalhoub, who all play Moss Hart in the Broadway play “Act One” that I photographed at Sardi’s Restaurant, in Manhattan, for Vanity Fair‘s May 2014 issue.  Philip Rinaldi, the show’s publicist,  found a caricature of Hart’s wife, Kitty Carlisle Hart, on the famous Sardi’s walls and we all knew it had to make it in the photograph. A big thank you to the team who made this shoot so successful, and to Tony for showing up ready to roll and wearing a great tweed overcoat that saved the day. I always love to hear when people discover photography so it was great to hear that Matthew saved up to buy a camera and is loving it. Reminds me of my beginnings…

To add some technical notes, we shot this with a Canon 1Dx and the L 50mm lens, lighting with one Photek umbrella, a 12″x12″ silk and a large Chimera strip and some additional custom pencil lights, powered by Profoto Pro 7 packs, to mimic and elaborate the existing light at the location. To keep the image crisp, no available light was part of the final exposure, but the image still feels like it does walking into Sardi’s. The tricky thing with this setup was that all the caricatures were in glass frames and reflected everything, so camera and light placement was rather complicated.

Also, read Ben Brantley’s review of “Act One” in the New York Times here: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/04/18/theater/several-moss-harts-are-in-act-one-at-lincoln-center.html

Catch the show at the Vivian Beaumont Theater, Lincoln Center; 212-239-6200, lct.org. Through June 15 ONLY !!!

…AND THEY JUST RECEIVED 5 TONY AWARD NOMINATIONS, CONGRATULATIONS FOR BEST PLAY TO JAMES LAPINE AND BEST ACTOR IN A LEAD ROLE TO TONY SHALHOUB.

VF 11.13 SPOT MARSALIS lofinal

Vanity Fair “Wynton Wonderland”

Excited to see our newest contribution for the fabulous Vanity Fair Magazine. Thank you everybody for getting this impossible proposition off the ground and for being part of the team. Especially the Toledos for creating those amazing costumes, Rubens drawings and then even hosting all of us that day. For a little sense of what went on, I really suggest to view the great behind the scenes video that Spreadhouse did for VF.com, and obviously read more about it in the piece by Bruce Handy in the new November 2013 issue of Vanity Fair.

See you all on Broadway for “After Midnight”.

…ALSO NOMINATED FOR THE 2014 TONY AWARD AS BEST MUSICAL IN 7 CATEGORIES I WANT TO CONGRATULATE THE WHOLE TEAM AND ADRIANE LENOX FOR BEST FEMALE PERFORMANCE IN A FEATURED ROLE AS WELL AS ISABLE TOLEDO FOR HER OUTSTANDING COSTUME DESIGN, BRAVO INDEED…

Website updated to HTML 5…

On a side note, we upgraded the markschafer.com website today to run on the new and very current HTML 5.0 standard. This makes the pages finally look nicer on the iPad and even the iPhone display is now bare able.

As usual i suggest to look at the site on a laptop or even larger screen, it’s all optimized to HD resolution, for better detail.

We’re working on the new image delivery system for our clients and have this up soon.

 

Adobe Creative Cloud or classic upgrade

Something to seriously think about, upgrading the system would cost $1000 or so (from CS5 Master), the cloud version $50 per month, so in a year (till the next upgrade that’s $600, and then the next upgrade for $500-600 is due).

I guess it’s cheaper, but what i really like is the 20GB storage and unlimited iPad App development option.

That sounds great and something to look into.

I appreciate any thoughts on this as we’re talking to people and do a test drive. We do use photoshelter and APF for image delivery, so that’s not a pressing issue, not paying for updates and freeing the machines from unsused applications that we might need for specific projects is more to the point.

Canon 5D Mark III is here

Now we have to work in to the workflow. For the video part i like the new head phone out and the ability to adjust the recoding volume. Otherwise it seems the same, i can’t believe Canon is not able to increase the resolution (and bit depth while they’re at it). So on the still image side i feel it’s at a stand still. The high ISO settings feel promising and will be finally giving us the quality we need for the more frequent low light behind the scenes work. Now i just wish it would be truly quite shutter release for that.

But overall a nice improvement and the 5D II’s and their support equipment will go on eBay soon. Now a full upgrade of system accessories, it never stops.

I wish they could price it at least similar, but there might be more coming in the future…

Cyndi Lauper for Die Zeit Magazine, Germany

20120405-113531.jpg

After a long day for Cyndi shooting a TV piece my time with her was shortened to a couple of minutes and we still got 2 great shots. Besides a fantastic musician she’s a great subject that hits the marks perfectly.
This was shot for ” I have a dream” segment in Die Zeit Magazine, Germany, March 29, 2012 issue.

Profoto Battery systems

After years of using Pro 6/7 on generators, then upgrading to the incredible Pro-7b packs, we decided it’s time to change it up and get the newish Profoto Acute 600b with the incredible lightweight LiFe batteries.

Mostly due to shooting a lot with 35mm DSLRS which needs less light than in the medium format film days, we can finally downsize this part of the equipment collections as well (not having  to travel with a separate case of film was already genius).

It’s a fantastic system with the same light quality of the Pro-7 system but in a much smaller package, which can be easily carried all day and fits in a much smaller case.

We’re now using the Tenba 38″ Rolling tripod case for 2 kits, stands and some umbrellas/soft boxes. Pure brilliance.

And it reduces the weight and cases by half. Much better on everybody’s budgets and joints.

Homework picked up by Fox Searchlight

If you haven’t heard, and follow this story, the movie was picked up at Sundance by Fox Searchlight Pictures a couple of days ago. I hope that the press coverage, with the images we did, helped this project along to get recognized by the right people.

I even got my first NY Post reprint (interesting how this lines up with Fox Searchlight), if that pushed, it i’m extremely pleased with the outcome.

So congratulations to Gavin, the producers and the whole crew, and especially the actors, who barely had time to hold for a minute for stills (thanks).

You all probably worked as hard as i ever seen somebody, sleep deprived, but always cordial and nice.

Homework made it into Sundance

It’s official: Gavin Wiesen’s directorial debut made it in.

My first movie that i shot stills and portraits during the whole shoot.

With such a fantastic cast and crew we can only hope it makes it big next year, so stay tuned and come to Utah. But please don’t break a leg, as i did for our friend Steven Sebring and his doc about Patti Smith in 2008 (which worked by the way, but i still suffer today, so don’t don’t).

See you out West…

Hipstamatic and the new iPhone

Finally we’re moving into serious snapshot territory with the new iPhone. While it’s all nice and new (and quicker, with higher res. screen), the best part of this is that i finally discovered Hipstamatic.

I thought i have to move to Williamsburg to truly enjoy it, but the stuff i shot so far are dangerously fun by themselves. Thanks Steven for the intro on my birthday…

I promise i’ll post more snaps in the future

Hand held rig for the Canon 5D Mark II

After doing research online and reading all the reviews I could get my hands on, testing equipment from Fotocare and Able cinema we got around to put a nice and small system together for better camera handling while shooting moving images with the Canon 5D.

What I do find interesting is that the Movie Directors of Photography keep the cameras and accessories small, with prime lenses and very little other equipment, maybe a loupe, maybe a small LCD.

But the still photographers try to add everything possible to the unit, large Matt boxes, a separate audio recorder with shotgun mics and huge shoulder rigs in addition to the loupe and monitor.

The last resulting in the most comical contraption that’s unwieldy and takes up huge amount of space to transport, rig and move around. Kind of defying the purpose of the small unit with incredible image quality.
The solution that I prefer is a simple Redrock rig with two handles upfront and a simple gun stock, while the camera gets a Zacuto loupe mounted on the small LCD.
I could see adding a 7″ Marshall LCD at some point, especially when shooting from a tripod.
But I really like the feeling of the handheld shooting, conveying and more engaging with an immediate point of view.

A great addition to the still image, i can see this mixing well on the iPad and web editions of stories all the while keeping the feel and perspective very close.

Homework Movie Poster for Cannes 2010

Homework Movie Poster

Emma Roberts and Freddie Highmore on the Poster for the new movie Homework

This just in, during my month on the set i got some great photographs. And the shot of Emma Roberts and Freddie Highmore along with a NYC scape made it to become the poster (or One Sheet in movie land dialect).

Now we just need national and international distribution for which the film will be showcased in Cannes, France this week.

new Canon 70-200 2.8 II lens, what a gem

I always hated those obnoxious, huge, heavy (and white) lenses. Never shot with them, hate the focal length, you get my drift.

But i had to get one for a shoot on a movie set that i was doing for the last month (in case you missed me).

And i have to say i’m flored, it’s still heavy white and enormous, but the image quality, handling and pure genius that allows low light photography at exposure times previously unheard of, is pure magic. I got fantastic shots with 200mm at 1/20sec, various ISO, super low light on the film set, at night, i still can’t believe it. I actually prefered the lens over the much lighter 24-105 lens i used on the other camera, just due to the stabilizing abilities and the rendition of the scene.

It will be some time till i can post a gallery on the site, the client is getting proofs today and the movie is supposed to be done by the fall.

iPad, what else is the world talking about

I wonder, will it save publishing, will it replace my print portfolio, will we be able to replace Laptops, will we able to set it up as a preview screen on a shoot, how will my iPhone feel…

Anyhow, i can’t wait, my 3G is on the way, perfect for my trip to Europe. The hype is a little overblown, but it will do a lot.

I feel we’ll be ending up like those little round guys in WALL-E, sitting on a hover chair and having a iPad strapped in front of us. Interesting to think that Steve Jobs vision of the future is laid out in a children’s animation movie and no one picks up on this (iAd anyone?).

A View from the Bridge

I just saw the play on 48th street. Great cast and great use of the set. Even the clothes felt strangely modern yet classic. Flowing coats and skirts and the men somewhat reminded me of the current inspirations of Steven Alan, J. Crew etc.

Anyhow, Scarlett was great, we saw her quickly after the show, nice as ever, with her hat pulled down and smoking away.

I think it’s her first big show on Broadway and she said she’s exhausted from the schedule, but that’s theater. I remember her, sitting in the back of the car, singing Disney tunes wile we’re driving all the way from MRY to the Ventana for a shoot a couple of years back.

Walking out into the street, flashlight mayhem with hundreds of fans, and that according to her, every night. All the while the rest of the cast just walks into the night or even rode their bikes home, love it…

It runs for only one more week and i highly suggest to go and see it, if you can score tickets.

Video kills the …

Wasn’t there something like this not too long ago. Radio survived and that’s a good thing.

Now video is again at it, and the photo world seems to discover a new calling. Only, isn’t there something like a Director of Photography (who are great photographers themselves) on every film set. Nobody is waiting for the still photographers to come and reinvent the wheel. The DP’s are taking the small DSLRS and shoot footage previously unable or only obtainable with very difficult rigging. Maybe that’s the convergence of technologies. And it will be interesting finally and really incorporating editorial photography with video, at least to an extend…

My prediction: Still photography will come out of this even stronger than before. It’s hard to hang a movie or video on the wall, and moving images will enhance and add to the still portfolio in any publication (once we all have an iPad).

People will go back to actually capturing a moment rather than spending days reviewing, developing and editing RAW RED footage… In the end it’s all about the efficient method to get to the final product.

Alexander McQueen died today

What a sad, tragic and early end to a fantastic designer who i expected to continue to fight against the demise of ambitious and great fashion.

I remember well when he first came to Paris in’96, changing Givenchy; not the easiest transition, after the genius John Galliano moved to Dior.

I felt recently he really hit a stride and I thought he’s just warming up…

Promo Postcards going greener as well

Mailing post cards always makes me think and hope that one day email marketing will replace the paper campaign. But while i’m conviced that it’s still a viable and necessary way of showing off some new work, i’m always concerned about the impact this has on the environment.

So it’s nice to know that my vendor, Modern Postcard in Carlsbad, CA now only uses pulp from sustainable forests that conform to the www.sfiprogram.org and www.fsc.org .

And above that the printing paper they actually use has a 30% post consumer waste content to cut down the use of new fiber overall.

If you haven’t received a mailer from me recently let me know, but also check you email inbox. I do send out email much more often and to a little bit larger crowd..

movie industry is going green

Our great friend Alysse Bezahler was part of a panel of Movie and TV producers at the Hampton Film festival today, discussing the efforts of making movie productions more environmentally friendly.

And I really think there’s a lot that still photo productions can learn. From exclusive digital communication and file exchange in the production phase to renting Hybrid’s, renting equipment so it can be reused, using low power lighting solutions. To cutting down is disposable everything from foam core to foam cups, water bottles etc., and asking suppliers for “greener” and recycled products in general.

More ideas are here:

http://www.pgagreen.org

I’m happy that we implemented already a great deal of these ideas, from preproduction mostly done online; to the actual digital shoot, which requires less equipment, no chemicals and smaller crews; to digital file delivery versus the trusty world wide courier system.

And nice side effect was that productions also saved money implementing these changes, something that entirely makes sense.

New website coming soon

After some quality time with Dreamweaver I’m much smarter about the ins and outs of web design, content and theory, but will never become a web designer, now it’s time for a new site with new features.

I did some research over the summer and after looking very deep into livebooks, clickbooq, I decided the best solution for me is to work with Photofolio. I does everything I need, it’s straight forward, but complex enough to accommodate my vision and present my images in an uncluttered and professional way.

I guess I’m not taking any phone calls until this is done; my guess is by the end of the week the framework is up and by the end of next week I’ll start inviting people.

I fully expect to grow the possibilities over the next couple of month, but the new portfolio with new images shot in the recent past (on and off crutches) is on it’s way.

Silvestri camera kit sold

Finally I get around cleaning out the equipment room a bit.

Now with the digital capture and the trajectory we’re all on I haven’t shot with this little gem in over 2 years. So I’m happy to see that there are still some guys interested in using/learning the classic ways of creating photographs with a vision and the right gear, Pola backs and all.

I really think eBay is a huge part of the “green” future of reusing equipment instead of filling up landfills. All our computers, printers and camera equipment in the past decade has been given a second live…

Dior Lady Rouge campaign starts

So our couples of days in Paris finally come to light.  What a great team it was and I have to say that Dior are a fantastic client. And we all loved Marion and Toni…

http://www.ladydior.com/thefilm/

The web campaign looks great, what a mash up of media, images. I put a little gallery together with some of my contribution.

http://markschafer.com/#/NEW:%20on%20set%20Dior%20%2709/on%20set:%20DIOR%20%2709/1

The new website is shaping up

Finally I get around to work on the new site. Now it’s all Dreamweaver designed, CSS styled and much deeper than ever before with a bio page, a client login area and links to photoshelter for some art and travel photography ready to license or print purchase, who knew.

Otherwise there’s still room to grow, looking forward to integrate the client preview pages, creating a print room to order some actual prints

“Green” lighting…

Tested some new lighting setups, all with CFL aka Fluorescent light bulbs. Besides a greatly improved and very energy efficient way to light a digital shoot a real joy to work with. One could even shoot video with this setup.

Back to the old “see what you get” Peter Lindbergh sets, just with a very modern twist. And besides the bulbs it all folds and packs very small. Now we have to conceive a kit that can come on location.

Another great step toward energy efficient greener shooting habits.

new Canon 5D MII

Finally got my hands on the new Canon can’t wait to test it out. So much smaller than the 1Ds I usually shoot. And the quality is said to be on par as it uses the same image chip.

Well, at least there no small images anymore I my library.

Serious photography has to hurt a bit, if not it’s just not serious (anybody said Canon G10???)

Slowly back to normal

What a week this was, had a great meeting to create images for a fashion designer. We actually want to make this a serial mailer and due to budget restrictions we decided to cut out the model, make up, hair department and shoot the outfits on a dress form. Can’t wait to shoot this…I got a call from the principal that night, that she loved my ideas and that i actually should create an Ad agency to do all the work on the project. Funny that there is the other flower client in Connecticut who want me to do the same…just online, we’ll see.
Interestingly enough that’s what happened at the first photographer that i assisted with, a year in we had our own little ad company, doing work for various german Fashion brands, and before you moan, BOSS and the Lagerfeld label was on the client list.

Otherwise we’re busy getting the finals retouched and uploaded for Chestnuts and updating the online system.

Today i met up with my old friend Julian Dufort. We met at Annie’s 10 years ago, he’s doing great now, shooting a lot in the UK and Germany, but published in the US quite frequently. He’s not giving up on film yet, even that he shoot a campaign right now with the P45+. We reconnected last year over an ebay ad, me selling my loved Fuji 690 kit, which he ended up buying. They’re his mainstay bodies and Fuji stopped making them a couple of years ago and i’m happy they found a great home with a friend.

Anyhow, due to Polaroid calling it a day, he now has to switch to Fuji-roid…Am i happy i switched to Canon and keep got so much better at the digital capture and post production early on.

Disney gets Behind the scenes with Michael Phelps and Annie L., Tasha first look for Album cover

so here we go: on the way to the Hamptons to shoot my friends daughter who just got accepted to Click models NY. Its going to be a fun weekend.
Disney got the Behind the scenes for the upcoming Ariel Ad shot by Annie L. That was a fun and full day at the Universal Studio lot, between Western Town and the tours going by…
And Tasha’s next music production goes into the final remix on Monday. We’ll reviewing artwork next week but we exchanged first impressions on the shoot this week.