Lastolite Collapsable Backdrops

Those of you who follow my blog and twitter feed, see me using Lastolite Collapsable Backdrops on the majority of my Portrait Sittings. As a travelling portraitist collapsible backgrounds are a quick and easy solution. They take seconds to set up and pack away making them equally convenient to pop-open in offices & clients homes.

Harry Groener Rory Lewis Photographer

Harry Groener Rory Lewis Photographer

I enjoy shooting portraits with the collapsible backdrops. As a one man band, I can easily accomplish the background set-ups by myself since they fold and unfold like a giant reflector. They are easy to carry on public transport, which is a blessing. The majority of my sittings take place in London. As a regular passinger on the London Underground they are easy to stow in a large suitcase.

 

As well as single sided backdrops, Lastolite offer reversible backdrops giving you more options. The backdrops I most frequently us are the Black/White, White/Light Gray. I also utilise the dyed/muslin backdrops Wyoming/MississippiVirginia /Kentucky. Muslin backdrops give you the choice of colours and patterns.

Left (Virginia Dyed) Capt Reilly Royal Irish Regiment, Right (Wyoming Dyed) Actor Brent Spiner

Left (Virginia Dyed) Capt Reilly Royal Irish Regiment, Right (Wyoming Dyed) Actor Brent Spiner

What are Dyed/Muslin backdrops you may ask; well they date back to the 17th century. They where mostly used in dressmaking back then, as it’s a breathable fabric that drapes niceley. But it also holds dye and paint very well, which moved it into the world of theater, and, eventually, photography. I know what you are thinking, your mind is going back to your days at school, when the school photographer would capture your portrait against an awful dyed backdrop. I thought the same thing, but after looking at the work of the portrait artists of old, Muslins where widely used. Utilising the right lighting and mood these backdrops can help unleash your creativity.

Lastolite Black/White Left Actress Helen Bench, Right Actor William Shatner

Lastolite Black/White Left Actress Helen Bench, Right Actor William Shatner

I mostly use the Black/White Collapsible, I love shooting on black so much and this makes my life very easy. The black is especially handy for when I want a completely dark background that has no light reflection. Most of the locations I shoot in are not ideal, sometimes their is a little too much daylight I can’t block out! I find the backdrop absorbs light from the strobe far better than seamless backdrop paper which in my experience seems to catch the light.

 

Lastolite Urban BackdropsLastolite also offer a selection of Urban Backgrounds bringing the outdoor look, indoors; with a wide selection available. Urban Backgrounds help to save time and costs especially when you trying to find the right location for you portrait photoshoot. (Left Lastolite Urban Collapsible 1.5 x 2.1m Tarnished Metal/Container) The uncontrollable weather and the risk of distractions in the background no longer present challenges. Whether in a studio, or a client’s home, you can create the outdoor look in any location. In conclusion, I couldn’t imagine going back to the days of carrying roles of seamless backdrop paper around, or hunting for a suitable location and in turn praying for good weather.

 

It is also worth mentioning if you are going to invest in Lastolite Collapsable backdrop system. Make sure you purchase the Magnetic Background Support Kit. The Kit enables photographers to quickly and easily attach any collapsible backgrounds with a steel rim to a traditional lighting stand. The background can be attached to the support at a comfortable height. It is also quick and easy to switch backgrounds; simply pull one off and snap another on.

 

The Importance of Photographic Printing

The Digital Revolution has been a remarkable transition, long gone is the day of analogue. Digital has many advantages, it enables us to learn faster, and gives us technological opportunities that we could have only wished for in the days of film. New styles of photography have emerged and no doubt the digital shift has been a positive one.

Photographic Printing David Warner Actor London Portrait Photographer Rory Lewis

Photographic Printing David Warner Actor London Portrait Photographer Rory Lewis

Yet it is is of vital importance to keep one area of “analogue photography” the ‘physical print’. More and More, I value the presence of a tactile image, one you can hold, bend and tear. Printing is a crucial factor in the success of many photography businesses and if you wish to develop yourself as an artist printing is the best way to grow.

Epson SureColor SC-P800 A2 Printer Prints Rory Lewis Photographer

Epson SureColor SC-P800 A2 Printer Prints Rory Lewis Photographer

An art form in itself, printing is the most effective way to show and sell your work, adding value to your product. Print is also, in my own personal opinion the best way to backup your work, data can be lost very easily, storage devices can quickly go out of date. Prints can stand the test of time, and physical prints will always be their.

 

A print doesn’t need to be enjoyed on a screen, when looking at a printed picture their are no distractions, no icons bouncing up and down or Facebook notifications popping up. I enjoy presenting prints to clients, framing and mounting them, it is something that can be physically enjoyed.  If you want to connect with your viewer, the print is the strongest method.

 

Epson SureColor SC-P800 A2 Printer

Epson SureColor SC-P800 A2 Printer

By far the best printers in the opinion of this Blogger are the SureColor range of Epson Printers, I recently invested in the Epson SureColor SC-P800  this has enabled me to become a full service photographer being able to offer everything from the photoshoot to print sales. Helping clients to preserve their memories and guarantee them to last a lifetime.

 

The SureColor range of Epson Printers present the professional photographer with superior quality prints, using the new UltraChrome HD Ink Cartridge, offering vivid colours and the deepest blacks, the colour is true to the image you see on screen. The printer also offers A2 roll paper printing, enabling you to print panoramic images. With WIFI Printing capability, you can place the printer anywhere in your studio or office which is ideal due to its large bulky size. The SC-P800 was built with the professional photographer in mind. with exceptional print quality, and the quality of materials used, I have no hesitation recommending it to any photographer demanding the highest quality in photographic printing.

Print & Pay Station Calumet Drummond Street, London.

Print & Pay Station Calumet Drummond Street, London.

Calumet Photographic has made it even easier and more affordable to print your work, by opening up an Epson print & pay station at their Flagship Store Drummond Street, London. Using all the latest Epson Print Technology, customers including professional photographers, artists wanting to print limited edition prints, or anybody wanting to print an image can take advantage of the new dedicated area within the store.  Large format prints from A2/13ʺ through to A1/24ʺ can be printed on a choice of media including Epson Traditional Photo Paper or Epson Canvas, or they can scan their original image to print using the latest Epson Perfection V750 Pro high-quality scanner. The Calumet store staff are trained on the latest Epson equipment including the new SureColor SC-P600 A3+ printer and the SureLab D700 printer, and are on hand to help customers make the right printer choice.

Hahnemühle Baryta FB 350gsm Mexican Ambassador to UK Rory Lewis Photographer

Hahnemühle Baryta FB 350gsm Mexican Ambassador to UK Rory Lewis Photographer

Their are many printer papers to choose from, it can be a minefield finding the best paper and it can be process of trial and error. Above all my favourite is Hahnemühle Baryta FB 350gsm has a great feel, weight, and the light from the gloss brightness is beautiful. I favour Hahnemühle papers as they delivery highest archival quality for my clients. 

 

Printing is a skill that all photographers must learn, I hope this article has proven helpful. I can’t express the feeling that I have once a photograph is printed and mounted. Creating something of beauty rather than the digital perspective of viewing my work on screen. I often think back to old movies when you see old attics, full of interesting things, I hope one day when my children’s, children route through the attic they will find some beautiful prints of my work. Printing does make you nostalgic.

Bowens RX 400 Review, Portability & Power

Two words to describe the Bowens RX400 kit, portability and power, for the photographer on the move they are an ideal solution. I had the chance to test out the RX kit on a recent photoshoot with Red Dwarf and Coronation Street actor Craig Charles.

 

gemini-400rx_2The Rx 400 Kit is smaller than the standard Bowens Gemini kits, with the test button now integrated with the power LED. On the back, there are three switches: one to change the modelling light mode, one to change the modelling light control and one for setting whether the device beeps when its ready to be triggered again. The 400Rx also has the standard Bowens battery port, so is able to be used with the Travel Battery-pak .

 

Built into the 400Rx is a radio receiver compatible with Bowens Pulsar radio triggering system the system allows for 24 channels, accessed by using the two buttons on the transmitter. The Pulsar Radio trigger is lightweight, compact and solid . With the receiver being built in, you don’t have to have things attached or dangling from the monolight, but there still is a sync port in case you don’t have the option to use the Radio trigger.

 

The kit is a great choice for those just starting out, and seeking their first set of strobes, or those looking for kit that gives them portability, without having to carry bulky heavy lighting systems. With the kit you can create easy two light setups without any fuss. On the photoshoot with Craig (Image Below) taken with a Canon 5DMk III you can see the quality and power of the two strobes.

Craig Joseph Charles (born 11 July 1964) is an English actor, comedian, author, poet, television presenter and radio and club DJ. He is best known for playing Dave Lister in the British science fiction sitcom Red Dwarf and Lloyd Mullaney in the long-running soap opera Coronation Street. Charles first appeared on television as a performance poet, which led on to minor presenting roles. After finding fame in Red Dwarf, he regularly featured on national television, with celebrity appearances on many popular shows, while he continued to host a wide variety of programmes. Charles notably presented the gladiator-style game show Robot Wars and narrated the comedy endurance show Takeshi's Castle. His acting credits include playing inmate Eugene Buffy in the ITV drama The Governor, and leading roles in the British films Fated and Clubbing to Death. He has toured the UK extensively as a stand-up comedian. As well as starring in Coronation Street and Red Dwarf, Charles hosts The Craig Charles Funk and Soul Show on BBC radio, and performs DJ sets at numerous clubs and festivals, nationally and internationally. (Rory Lewis Photographer)The Bowens Gemini 400Rx kit retails at £599.00, including strobes, stands, umbrellas, a Pulsar Tx trigger and a case.

Mamiya Leaf Credo 40MP Digital Back Kit with 645DF+ & 80mm f/2.8 LS D Lens Kit Review

Mamiya Leaf Credo 40MP Digital Back Kit with 645DF+ Medium Format DSLR and 80mm f/2.8 LS D Lens ReviewMany believe the Medium Format camera is out of date. Something that has been passed over by the development of the Digital SLR. Especially with the price tag that Medium Format systems command; making serious professional photographers consider DSLR alternatives.  As a result pro’s have forgotten what medium format means and what medium format camera’s can do. They are by no means outdated, medium format camera’s have larger sensors, which means bigger pixels. The larger frame enables you to capture a more dramatically shallow depth of field than Digital SLR’s can produce; which is considered equal to film like quality. This is something to consider if you are a stickler for quality like myself.

 

At the start of 2015, it came time to upgrade my own camera system. As a serious pro, I spent countless hours looking for the ideal camera. This year I am embarking on a the largest portrait exhibition of my career. Featuring some of the worlds greatest actors and I needed to make the right decision. Weighing up all the options I settled on Medium Format.

 

Mamiya Leaf Credo 40MP Digital Back Kit with 645DF+ Medium Format DSLR and 80mm f/2.8 LS D Lens ReviewThe next question was affordability, some medium format digital camera’s cost nearly £25,000 without a lens! This was outside my budget; I began to think twice, but not loosing hope I found the Mamiya Leaf Credo 40 digital back with Mamiya 645DF camera and 80mm lens. Retailing at only £9999,00 (Calumet Photographic), the Leaf Credo is great value for money and an amazing quality product. Boasting a large CCD Sensor and 40 mega pixel resolution; a dynamic range of up to 14 f-stops providing brilliant detail, richness of colour, low noise and beautiful tonality.

 

Brent Spinner 01I’ve already begun my 2015 Portraiture Exhibition, and the results from the first portrait sitting with Actor Brent Spiner (Left) have been stunning. The Mamiya Leaf Credo 40 delivers uncompromising detail and a richness of colour. The difference in sensor size between DSLR and Medium Format is in my opinion very important for the “look & feel” of the image, but also for the resolution and overall sharpness. The smaller the sensor the more problems you will run into when placing a lot of pixels in that area, this will translate for example in diffraction (loss of detail on smaller apertures). The Leaf Credo 40 with its 40 mega pixel 43.9 x 32.9 mm CCD is larger than Canon’s 1DX (36 x 24 mm), it may not seem like much, but it does make a real difference when shooting in shallow depth of field conditions. Their is a lot less depth of field when shooting with a DSLR.

Closeup Detail Actor Brent Spinner ©Rory Lewis Photographer 2015. Mamiya Leaf Credo 40MP Digital Back Kit with 645DF+

Closeup Detail
Actor Brent Spinner ©Rory Lewis Photographer 2015.
Mamiya Leaf Credo 40MP Digital Back Kit with 645DF+

The 80mm F2.8 LS-D Kit Lens is extremely versatile, and complements the image quality, and the 645DF Camera body is sleek and easy to use.  In conclusion the Mamiya Leaf Credo 40 Digital back with Mamiya 645DF Camera and 80mm lens delivers, beautiful portraits, and I am looking forward to more stunning results from my portrait sittings.


Camera Specs

  • CCD size 43.9 x 32.9mm
  • Active pixels 7320 x 5484
  • Resolution 40MP
  • Aspect ratio 4:3
  • Pixel size 6.0 micron
  • ISO sensitivity 50-800
  • Dynamic range 12.5 f-stops
  • Exposure time 1/10 000 – 60 seconds
  • Full resolution capture rate 1.2 frames / sec
  • Colour depth 16 bits (65 536 levels per channel)