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Learn from a Pro

Pro Spotlight – Dale Mears

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JOBY Pro Spotlight | 13 Questions for a Pro Photographer |Dale Mears

This month we’re featuring professional photographer Dale Mears. If you’re into kayaking, you’ve probably seen one of Dale Mear’s photos or read one of his articles and reviews. Dale is a regular contributor to The Paddler UK magazine and has contributed works in N-photo and UK’s independent Nikon Magazine. It’s always great to work with someone you can count on to get the shot; but even more important is working with an overall positive and energetic person. Over the last two years, Dale has become more than a JOBY advocate, he has become part of the JOBY family. He always delivers the shot (even with little notice) that make us smile and wish we’d taken that image.

 

Dale Mears  |  Age: 30   |  United Kingdom

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/dmphotography_uk/

Facebook: facebook.com/DaleMearsPhotography

Twitter: twitter.com/DMPhotogrpahy

Flickr: flickr.com/people/dalemears

 

What type of professional photographer are you?

Mostly white water kayaking and other action sports. I like to try a bit of everything, though!

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Your Gear ­ What gear do you use regularly?

In my go to gear bag: Nikon D7000, 50mm f/1.8, 70-200mm, sb700 flash, 2 GorillaPod Focus with Ballhead X, Action Grip, Action Jib kit, Contour Roam 3 and Plus 2, Lowepro bags/cases and JOBY Action Suction cups are the essentials.

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What would be your dream photography job?

One traveling around the world earning lots of money! I’d like to see lots of places, maybe on luxury yachts in far off destinations!

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Why did you become a professional photographer and when did you know you wanted to be one?

Technically I earn a living teaching in the UK, but pick up photography work in my own time. I guess I knew I wanted to be a photographer around 8 years ago, I was on a trip kayaking in Norway with friends and was first introduced to a DSLR. I was amazed by the quality and images that it would take and decided I couldn’t miss out on all the photo opportunities I have had over the years. First thing I did when I returned was buy a DSLR and read as much as I could and practice all the time. The buzz has grown and I still can’t put down my camera.

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Did you study photography?

No, I am self-taught, but photography runs in the family. My granddad was a photographer and my dad always had a passion which he started again when I started photography. Most of my experience comes from working most weekends at the National White Water Sports Centre and coaching from my boss at the time.

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Do you carry a camera with you daily when not working?

I always carry a camera. I’m scared if I leave it at home I will miss something!

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When you’re not shooting photos ­ you are?

Teaching Design and Technology at secondary school, spending time with my fiancé and friends. Kayaking (when its hot)

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If you couldn’t be a professional photographer, you would be a?

I quite like the idea of digital marketing, I would enjoy working for a good brand, I have a real passion for promoting good gear.

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Have you ever dropped a lens? ­ Come on be honest!

During my time spent photographing at the UK’s National White Water sports centre I was stood taking photos of the white water rafts one day when I blacked out, I guess the night before had been a heavy night! I stepped forwards and went straight into the water, I remember it happening in slow motion, I tried to throw the camera onto the bank and it just dropped in. It was a Canon 7D with a L series 28­-300mm attached. They had to shut off the course at night and drain the water! But luckily my boss went in with a wet-suit and Snorkeling goggles to find it for insurance. Fortunately, that’s the only one that I’ve dropped. I always use a JOBY wrist strap or Pro Sling Strap to stop it happening again!

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If you could only have only one lens for a year what would it be?

I think it would have to be a 50mm f/1.8; It’s a good lens to carry around. It’s small, light, fast, easy to use and gets amazing shots.

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Name a famous person living or dead whose photo you would wish you could take.

Wow… this is a hard question, maybe the Queen, a proper royal photo shoot though, not just from a distance. As to be asked by the Queen would be an honor!

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The next piece of gear you’re going to buy is?

A Nikon 70­-200mm f/2.8 would be nice, but I have a wedding this summer to pay for first!

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And finally what is the one thing you wish a professional photographer had told you before you became a professional photographer?

How addictive and expensive it can be!

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What does it take to get the shot? CAVING

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Photographer Chris Higgins shows us what it takes.

ChrisHigginsPhoto.com

I think we’ve all seen those amazing caving photo images and looked at them in awe, but just what does it take to get those shots? A few months ago I came across a photo by Chris Higgins that was a top five winner in a JOBY, Lowepro, & Outex  joint contest. It started me thinking about all the difficulties capturing just such a shot might entail. So after a few emails back and forth I was off to Tennessee with Joey Hiller (JOBY Web Designer).  Assuming you’ve watched the video I’ll be elaborating a bit more below about what you don’t see, all the gear, and Joey will chime in with his perspective.

 

 

Never again! -Zach

“Never again” we’re the first words out of my mouth as we emerged from the cave. I’ll straight up say it right now; I had an amazing time but hundreds of feet underground, completely covered in mud, and mostly in complete darkness wasn’t for me. This is odd as I’m drawn to extreme activities but I’m also a clean freak. All I know is this was one of the rare times I thought I’d gotten myself in over my head and I’ve literally  crawled out under the wing of a small plane mid flight to get a shot.

BehindTheScenes

BEHIND THE SCENES:

The video is made up of a combination of two days of caving but for the sake of storytelling we combined them into one. The first day we were in the cave 12 hours and it was almost all rappelling. We came out of the cave at about 1:30am and were freezing after climbing up the waterfall. We then had to ride in the back of Chris’s jeep for an hour just to sleep on the ground in a cow pasture. You can probably already guess; I didn’t sleep. The second day we entered a second cave and were in the cave 8 hours. Day two was almost all crawling on our stomach. It was 2000+ feet in and 2000+ feet out. At 4 hours into it on the second day I called it; we had the footage we needed and I wanted to take a shower and crash in a hotel bed.

TRAINING: Joey has experience outdoor climbing and he is comfortable around ropes. I have a lot of structure/ building exterior climbing and rappelling experience but using a different rappel device. Our training with Chris literally was 5-10 minutes each where we both had tried to go up and switch over from the ascenders to the descenders (rappel device). I messed this up both times which resulted in the descender opening. If I had an issue while climbing back up the rope and needed to make a change over to the descender I would have to do it right. On Joey’s ascent before me he had an issue with his crawl (the ascender close to your chest that holds you in place) and almost had to make a change over. The crawl was slipping and not grabbing the rope securely. After he finished his ascent he lowered his harness  and gear down for me to use. I had to use it for my ascent; so you can see why I was a bit nervous.

GEAR:  As you can see in the closing shot we took a lot of gear into the cave with us. Most of it was ropes but I’ll list out everything we used to film it and what Chris brought.

Chris”s Higgins Gear: Nikon D7000, Sigma 10-20 lens, JOBY GorillaPod HybridJOBY Flash ClipLowepro Dryzone 40L When outside of a cave Chris has a variety of other lenses and uses a Lowepro Photo Sport Pro 30L AW and a JOBY GorillaPod Focus with Ballhead- X.

Chris's Gear

Zach’s Gear: Canon 5D mkII, Canon 50mm f/1.2 L, JOBY GorillaPod Focus with Ballhead- X, six JOBY GorillaTorch Flare 125’s, Lowepro DryZone 200, Rode Mic

Zach's Gear

Joey’s Gear: Black Magic Pocket Cinema Camera, Panasonic Lumix 14mm f/2.5, JOBY GorillaPod Focus with Ballhead- XLowepro DryZone 200, two JOBY GorillaTorch Flare 125’s

Joey's Gear

I couldn’t have imagined myself actually doing this. – Joey

“There was really nothing that could’ve prepared me for this trip. The conditions in a cave are truly some of the hardest I’ve dealt with. It all became obvious when we first entered the cave. With camera rubbing against the rocks and a 150 foot rope around my shoulder pinning me in place, I stopped feeling the jet-lag and the reality of what we were doing really set in.

To get quality video in the cave I shot with the Black Magic Cinema Camera which has a native ISO of 800 and generally performs beautifully in low light. I paired it with the Panasonic Lumix 14mm f/2.5, which isn’t the fastest lens of all time, but has a nice field of view and has the added benefit of being only a $300 replacement if destroyed.” – Joey

Joey Hiller

Chris Higgins

 

Learn from a Pro Action Photographer – JOBY Burnout – Action GoPro Clamp

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The making of the JOBY Action Clamp Ad “The Burnout”.

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By: JOBY Photographer Zach Settewongse

I’m often asked how did you shoot that from people who are into photography. I also get comments like “Oh which Instagram filter did you use?” from those not into photography . . .  🙁

This is a behind the scenes look at what it took to create this action photography product image. You might be surprised at the work that goes into it?

The GOAL: Create an ad about the JOBY Action Clamp for GoPro, Sony, Contour, Drift or other action cameras that show the product used as intended, and do it awesomely.

Saturday 2pm

Step 1 – CONCEPT: This is the easy part as I use both GoPro and Contour action cameras daily during my work and could have kissed the designers when I saw the JOBY Action Series. Upon seeing the product I immediately thought this would be great for when I have to set up a GoPro quickly (in seconds), get my shot, and get out of dodge. I’m often frustrated with the GoPro mounting parts bits, the number of them I need to carry, and the time it takes to frame a shot with them. So while riding my bike I thought of the idea of a rider filming himself doing a burnout. At first I was thinking in the middle of a busy big city intersection but that changed as you’ll see below.

 

Step 2 – LOCATION SCOUT: This is seriously where almost all shoots start as the location can influence the final piece a lot. So I always begin by riding around on my bike and looking, going in alleys, by railroad tracks, industrial sites, new modern buildings, etc. I’m just getting ideas as I go and not dismissing anything; remember I said I already was thinking a busy intersection, but so many times before I’ve found something great is a just around the next block.

Down to two locations: Main intersection in old downtown Petaluma, CA or the parking garage close by. Why Petaluma, CA? Well because it is only 34 degrees outside and as much as I wanted to ride an hour into San Francisco at 2am to get my shot it was just too cold.

Saturday 7pm

 

Step 3 – TEST SHOTS – Time to head back out at night.

Now this sounds like I should take a test of the real planned shot but no. This is just to get a feel for how the elements will look on a bigger screen. Remember it’s a product shot so the product has to be placed right and there has to be plenty of room for the text that is sure to be placed on top of it later. An awesome shot with no clean area for copy will always get rejected; it’s sad but true 🙁

TIPS: Take notes:

  • Make notes of your camera placement.
  • Measure how far your product is from a fixed point
  • Measure all the elements in the shot’s placement to the camera.
  • Have a bag of fixed lenses. I always test with a 24,mm, 50mm, 85mm for this type of shot. Why? Two reasons. One because it’s a night shot and I want lenses with the lowest f-stop as possible. Two I’m not a huge fan of zoom lenses for ad shots. There is just a extra little bokeh (look it up) magic certain fixed lenses have. The Canon 24mm f1.4 has very little edge distortion if any. The Canon 50mm f1.2 is a staple of perfection giving you exactly what you see and low light magic. The Canon 85mm f1.2 can make a a subject absolutely pop; it’s a tricky lens to use but it can produce amazing results.
  • Move around and look at the subject from all angles. Take more shots.
  • Plan your get away 🙂

The Intersection: I had my mind set on this and found a nice architectural background. Idea one had it shot from the side of road with the JOBY Action Clamp clipped onto a mirror of another motorcycle. It wasn’t looking right, so how about a shot from the center of the road? That could work, maybe?

Location-Scouting

Parking Garage: Not digging it in testing but lets shoot a few shots anyways.

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Saturday 9pm

Step 4 – REVIEW TEST SHOTS:

Hmm time to make a decision, I only have one rear tire for the shot and time to take one. I really struggle on this for all of five minutes and then go for the parking garage.

So what am I looking for? I want a cool background but it can not be distracting. The background is so, so important in any shot. When I look at the images on a big screen the intersection is out and the parking garage looks promising but could be too boring. When all the element of the shot come together it might work; we’ll see!

 

Saturday 12:30 am It’s getting late!

Step 5: THE SHOOT – it’s about time.

Place the elements: I positioned the motorcycle and the JOBY action Clamp with GoPro first. Easy since I took notes earlier and then made adjustments after looking at test shots. Check, double check looks good.

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Camera & Lens: So I chose the Canon 50mm f-1.2 on a Canon 5D mk II body from testing. This combination is great for low light and the framing and focus DOF between the two subjects was best with the 50mm in this case. I wanted to use the 85mm but 50mm won out.

Place the Camera: I have a good idea of where I want the tripod. Exact placement of the tripod is important as it cannot be moved; you’re thinking “What?” I can’t give everything away but I almost always take multiple shots to create one image and no not like HDR.

START SHOOTING: I bet you’re thinking I should set up the lighting first? Well lets break down the shots:

Shot ONE

  • Move all subjects shoot empty background. You might need this later and will kick yourself if you don’t have it.
  • Put subjects back, remember I have measurements or marks. Check, double check! Is the product perfectly square ?. .  if someones paying you it better be.

 

Shot TWO

  • I use a JOBY Flare 125 to highlight the product and get sharp focus on product. Take a shot.

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Shot THREE

  • Elements: I need a shadow on that wall in front of the bike, so I use the headlight from my Mini Cooper (one light covered by a floor mat) to create it exactly where I want it. Take a shot.

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Shot FOUR

  • Additional elements: There is one more that is a lighting and focus trick combined. It is a subtle additional element layer that is right there in the photo. I’m keeping this one to me. Sorry 🙁 Take Photo.

 

Shot FIVE the cool one!

  • I then place additional lights behind the bike. Two more JOBY Flare 125’s at max to backlight this shot.
  • This is an action manly photo so it should be sharp. I’m shooting RAW, I always do and it’s a must for this photo for the sharpening effect I want. I’m thinking of the final product and not the photo I’m going to take next. OK time to get on the bike and do the burnout, it’s now 1:30am and Petaluma is about to wake up.
  • . . . . Oops security just showed up and are watching, Pretend to do pre-shots for 10min until they get bored and leave.
  • 1:45am their gone. I get on the bike and my assistant double checks focus. My assistant is my fiancee which is the only type of assistant you can find without pay, who will spend a whole day doing this, and stand there for an hour when it’s 34 degrees. She really is awesome! As I start the 30sec+ burnout which echoes intensely through the garage located adjacent the fire station I try to steady the bike as best as I can. The shutter speed on the camera is slow at 60 so if I’m not holding the bike still while the back tire is spinning it will be blurry. Shots are taken with remote rapid fire as fast as possible. She’s smiling so I know it looks good!

Holy Smokey! The final frame I end up using as the base is about 70% of the way through the burn out.

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Step 6: GAG tire smoke is not pleasant to breathe and at this point I start dry heaving in my helmet. Thankfully I didn’t puke!

 

Saturday 2am

Step 7: PHOTOSHOP

  • This is where I put all the shots together, all the elements. It’s all these small touches that make the image. I’m adding a few elements to the base final shot (step 5) and being subtle, really, really small adjustments.
  • Change the bike color from green to white.
  • Add a bit of gradient to the bottom. Those cables are a bit distracting.
  • Add a bit of text.
  • It’s 5am

It’s now 5am and I need to order a new tire before going to bed. I bet you never thought all of that went into that one image! Or maybe you did?

FINAL NOTE: Realize you will FAIL repeatedly. I FAIL miserably with shots from time to time. I can’t tell you how many times I thought I was going to have an epic shot and it didn’t pan out. But who cares just move on to the next idea YOU CAN create something awesome! Just believe in yourself and try, try again. After a few years I’ll admit I have much fewer fails but I think it’s only because I can see them coming sooner and move on to the next idea faster.

Hopefully you learned something from my long winded post. Onto the next shot.

Zach Settewongse – JOBY Photographer.

 

 

 

 

 

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