Archive for the ‘Projects’ Category

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Choosing Lights: Tungsten vs. Fluorescent vs. LED (Post #1 of 4)

Tuesday, February 26th, 2013

(Note: I originally started writing this as a single post, but it turns out there is so much to say on the topic that I’m going to break it into several posts. Links to the others will be at the bottom.)

I recently found myself in the same situation that every photographer and videographer occasionally faces. I’m currently expanding my arsenal of photo and video lights, so I’ve had to tackle the question of which type of lights to buy. Since my work includes both still and video (and since I already have a selection of strobe lights that I’m happy with), I’m focusing now on continuous lights that can be used for either still or motion work.

First, some background. As photographers and videographers know, the most commonly used lights have traditionally been xenon gas flash tubes for still photography and tungsten incandescent bulbs for video and film (HMIs are also somewhat common for motion as well, but less so than tungsten). These traditional kinds of lights work very well and they definitely still have value in the right application (in fact, in certain types of applications they’re still the best type of light there is), but they do have significant weaknesses and disadvantages, and recent technological advances have improved other light sources such as LEDs and compact fluorescent bulbs to the point where they too are now practical for photo and video use.

Choices choices choices!!!

Choices choices choices!!!

So we now have this whole range of light sources available to us that includes the traditional tungsten and HMI (such as those made by Arri, Mole-Richardson and many others), fluorescent (in both tube format like Kino-Flos and CFL format like Westcott Spiderlites) and LED (like Litepanels) as well as some even newer and more exotic technologies that are still coming to market like organic and plasma panels (the Zacuto “PlaZma light” will be very interesting to keep an eye on once it is introduced, hopefully later this year).

Among all of these options, how do we choose the right light? Every type has advantages and disadvantages, and as with most things, which is best comes down to your individual needs and what type of work you do. Personally, the vast majority of my work is done on location instead of in a studio, so the factors that are important to me are 1) efficiency (i.e., power use), 2) heat generation, 3) portability, 4) speed of setup and ease of use, and most importantly, 5) light quality (CRI). (Cost is of course also a factor, but with each type light there are expensive options and cheaper options, so that’s less relevant). So for my current round of equipment purchases, I evaluated each of the light types on each of the criteria above. In the next couple of posts I’ll talk about how the various types of lights compare when it comes to efficiency, heat generation, portability, speed of setup and ease of use, and light quality, finally ending with my conclusions and my purchases.

Tomorrow I’ll talk about the efficiency and heat generation of each types of light heads.

(Update: Links to the subsequent posts in this series are here:
Post #2: Efficiency (i.e., power usage) and Heat Generation
Post #3: Portability and Speed of Setup & Ease of Use

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Two New Portfolio Additions

Friday, December 21st, 2012

On this last rainy weekday before everyone takes off for the holidays, I had a few free minutes and decided to add a couple of images to the website that I really like, but until now very few people had seen. The first image, “Dave,” was shot several months ago during the summer, and the second image , “Kaylee 2″ was shot just last week. Here they are.

"Dave": Canon 7D, Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM @ 70mm, ISO 100, f/2.8, 1/1000 sec. ©Chris Conti Photography All Rights Reserved.

Dave is a master craftsman who works for a large marine services company in Portland, Maine called Portland Yacht Services. This summer I was in Portland on a commercial shoot for PYS on a dry dock in Portland harbor producing a timelapse video of PYS’s employees using the drydock to service a large yacht that had been damaged. The drydocking process is fascinating (the entire structure lowers itself under water, the vessel to be serviced maneuvers inside, and the structure rises back up, lifting the entire vessel out of the water). It was a great shoot in a totally unique setting, and I also just happened to catch this candid shot of Dave on the dock. To me, guys like Dave epitomize the Maine maritime economy and culture.

"Kaylee 2": Canon 5D Mark II, Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II @ 200mm, ISO 800, f/2.8, 1/250 sec. ©Chris Conti Photography All Rights Reserved.

Kaylee is a musician and music therapist from Seattle in the final stage of her training. Last week I was shooting a music therapy session at a senior housing community called Jewish Community Housing for the Elderly in Framingham, Massachusetts shooting marketing photos. I was severely limited in the amount of equipment I was allowed to bring into the facility and was limited to a single strobe and reflector, so I had to get a bit creative with my lighting. In order to create the image above I decided to take advantage of large windows that were in the room, and use the natural light as my key light and instead use the strobe only for fill. Given the limitations I really like how the image turned out.

That’s it for me, now it’s time to pack up and get on the road to my parents’ house for the holiday.

Happy holidays!

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Stratton Mountain Timelapse

Monday, December 17th, 2012

I was up in Vermont with some friends at Stratton Mountain this past weekend, and I figured I’d take advantage of the cold, dry mountain air combined with the lack of light pollution and shoot a night timelapse (I also experimented with a couple of new tools I’m developing to solve a couple of persistent difficulties you run into when shooting long-duration timelapses in questionable environments… more on that later!).

Here’s a quick frame from the timelapse. The constellation Orion is very clear in the sky just right of center, the Milky Way is faintly visible in the center and I believe the very bright object at the top of the frame is a planet (although I’m not sure which one; this image was shot at 10:30PM ET on Dec. 15… can any astronomy buffs tell me what it is?).

Check back in later for the finished timelapse shot!

Stratton Crown Point timelapse: Canon 5D Mark II, Bower 14mm f/2.8 @ 14mm, ISO 1600, f/2.8, 30 sec. ©Chris Conti Photography All Rights Reserved.

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Music Therapy

Tuesday, December 11th, 2012

My shoot today was of a music therapy session at Jewish Community Housing for the Elderly in Framingham, MA. I’d never seen a music therapy session before, so it was a really interesting experience for me.

Most of the images are still in the editing process, but below is a quick frame of one of the therapists. Interesting day!

"Kaylee": Canon 5D Mark II, Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II @ 165mm, ISO 800, f/2.8, 1/250 sec. ©Chris Conti Photography All Rights Reserved.

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New Timelapse Reel

Wednesday, November 28th, 2012

I finally got around to cutting together a timelapse reel today, and now it’s done! Take a look. I hope you like it!

(as with all Vimeo videos, for best viewing, hit the play button and then pause it to allow the video to buffer, then watch with HD turned on and in full screen!)

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