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Popular Hasselblad Editorial Published in Digital SLR Photography Magazine

Wow, huge honor and really stoked about this one. I was just published in the latest issue of Digital SLR Photography Magazine. I'm normally one to stay in my own micro climate of San Francisco, but when the United Kingdom-based magazine asked if they could republish my article, I couldn't refuse.

If you haven't yet read that piece, you can see it in it's original form here. Otherwise, go get yourself the most recent issue of Digital SLR Photography magazine!  

 

Is Your Loyalty a Lie? The Actions of Nikon and Canon Say Yes

Nikon D610 and Canon T5i are Proof That Brand Loyalty is One-Sided copy.jpg

When Nikon released the D610, I’m sure that many of you (myself included) initially reacted with joy. “Hooray!” we said. “They’ve fixed the problem of the D600! Nikon made things right!” But then I let things sit for a few hours and I realized, Nikon did no such thing. They didn’t fix anything, no more than Canon “fixed” the T4i when they released the T5. Hooray? No. Not hooray. 

As photographers, many of us have an unhealthy attachment to our cameras, and rightfully so. I’m sure there are many of you who have a camera shelf, a place for you to place cameras you might no longer use, but can’t seem to part with. They’re part of your past and your dedication to your craft. They are an extension of who you are. 

As such, Canon and Nikon each have their insanely rabid fans, fans that fight tooth and nail in comments sections, forums and on Reddit furiously to claim their little black box is better than the other little black box. For those of us who keep a clear head, we know there isn’t really a huge difference. In the end, it comes down to preference (but even then, we would still like to claim for one reason or another that our chosen preference is the smarter, better preference). 

So we fight, we bicker, and we defend our camera and the camera maker time and again. Some of us might not even know why we’re so fiercely loyal. But it’s time for all of us to stop deluding ourselves and recognize one serious fact: this loyalty is completely one-sided. 

Canon and Nikon don’t love us back. They love our money and they love the free publicity and viral reach they get when we argue. They want us to list the products we use and tell our friends how great their latest product is. They want to see “shot on a Canon 5D Mark III” listed in the first sentence of a Vimeo description. But don’t confuse the desire to see us use their equipment with their desire to make us happy.

Canon and Nikon are guilty of exactly the same thing. When Canon’s T4i exhibited problems with the rubber grip, rather than recall the cameras, fix every broken one and return them to the users, they just re-released the camera with a new name. Within six months, all was forgiven and forgotten. Mistake? What mistake? 

Even though I’m a Canon user, I still find myself respecting Nikon a bit more for sticking to their roots. Canon has a ton more products across a vast number of markets, so to me they’re the big hulking beast. So for that reason, I found myself holding Nikon in higher regard. “Nikon would never do what Canon did,” I found myself admitting. “They have too much respect for their much smaller customer base.”

I was wrong. Nikon, rather than issuing a recall and replacing the faulty parts for all those proud D600 purchasers, ignores their customers and releases a “new” camera with marginally expanded functionality. What about all those D600s already out there? What if you saved for 6 months and finally was able to purchase one last week? Tough. Nikon doesn’t care about you. They care about money. Fixing your camera doesn’t make them more money. 

Maybe it’s time we took a hard look at how we talk about and feel towards the big two. Do I think or advocate moving to a different manufacturer? No, because the sad fact is they would all act this way. Why? Because they’re corporations whose single goal is to make money. That’s a fact. Not a sad fact, not a disappointment, just a fact. But it’s important for us to actually mentally recognize it, because our blind loyalty to these brands is only benefitting their bottom dollar, not our experience as consumers. 

How to Use One Lighting Setup for Two Very Different Portraits

One thing that I like to tell photography beginners (and beginners in a lot of things actually) is a well-known but still very true statement: "Keep it simple!" Often beginning photographers will try and buy as much gear and lighting equipment as they can in an attempt to be "more pro." Being a solid photographer is as much about restraint as it is about using lights. 

Something to keep in mind when you're assembling a studio is to remember that many of the exact same lighting arrangements can be used to create drastically different end results. For example, I planned to shoot a glamour/fashion headshot in my San Francisco-based studio, which required two rim lights, a fill reflector, and a beauty dish. Because of the look I wanted to achieve, I used mixed colored gels on the two rim lights to cast a nice blend of colors. I placed an orange gel on the right rim light and a purple gel over the strobe inside my octo box camera left. 

 

SECOND SETUP.jpg

The beauty dish would be my key light and the reflector would provide a nice fill. The image below was shot at f/6.3 at 1/100 of a second, ISO 100 on a 40mm lens. 

san fransico portrait fashion commercial photography jaron schneider.jpg

Obviously this is a very specific look that, at first glance, you would think would only work in this kind of a situation. But if we make just one adjustment (like removing the gels) we can see how dramatically the image changes: 

original san fransico headshot photography photo.jpg

If you didn't know better, you might think this was different lighting setup, right? I just altered my aperture slightly, stopping down to f/7.1 and adjusting the height and power of the lights to match the new skin toning, but the light positioning and modification remained constant, save for removing the two gels.   

My final was intended to be a black and white, with some moderate skin retouching: 

 

san-fransicso-headshot-photographer-WEB-black-and-white.jpg

I had a conversation a couple weeks ago with an aspiring photographer who was asking me how he could improve his images. He said he didn't want to do what everyone else was doing, and wanted to come up with is own unique lighting setups. I told him that while this was a great goal, not only would it be incredibly difficult to come up with a whole new, totally unique lighting arrangement that nobody had ever tried before, it's also pretty unnecessary. Many photographers use quite similar setups but end up with different results based on how they use those setups.

Don't get caught up in trying to be different in what gear you use or how many lights you have going in your studio. Even something as simple as a one or two light setup can have dramatically different end results just by altering the model's pose, the power of each of the lights, or the environment. Stop thinking about gear and focus on the art.  It's not the what, but the how that matters.