Allen's Blog

Posts tagged ‘LumiQuest’:

Beautiful, Endlessly Patient Models — Available at Very Reasonable Rates

Yellow orchid flowers

Many photographers dream of the chance to photograph beautiful live models—hundreds of them—each willing to pose without complaint until the shooters are satisfied with their results. It helps if the models are flowers, and in this case orchids.

Every year, the New York Botanical Garden puts on the country’s largest curated orchid show. Even if it’s freezing outside and the Garden’s extensive acreage is covered with snow, the crystal palace Conservatory plays hosts to thousands of visitors, the vast majority of them taking pictures with every level of camera – inexpensive point-and-shoots, iPhones and iPads, and the whole gamut of “big boy” digital cameras. The variety of cameras on display doesn’t quite exceed the variety of flowers…

And what flowers they are. A word to the wise: once you arrive at the Conservatory, set aside a few minutes for your camera to acclimatize to the high humidity. Here’s an example of what happens if you rush the process. (Who needs VSCO filters when you’ve got Mother Nature?)

Humidity caused this hazy effect

And sometimes, interesting images come not from the flowers on the stem, but the ones that have fallen into the reflecting ponds below. These are jade vine flowers — not technically an orchid, but a legume. They look positively otherworldly when they’re on the vine!

Jade vine flowers in the reflecting pond

In two recent visits, I didn’t see a single film camera being used, and there’s no question that if we were still in the film era, there would be a much smaller number of photographers there. In fact, the number of linear feet of film produced by Kodak is down 96 percent from 2007, and GoPro has a market cap six times larger than Kodak.

LumiQuest's Pocket Bouncer added some fill light

Lavender orchid flowers

This year’s show closes shortly (April 19th), and I urge you to see it.

If you can’t make it, remember that the New York Botanical Garden is an extraordinary venue for photographers year-round.

While it may seem remote, set in the middle of the Bronx, it’s actually very easy to reach by mass transit or by car. A comfortable 20 minute ride on Metro-North’s Harlem line lets you leave the intensity of midtown Manhattan behind for a few hours. And who doesn’t need that, once in a while?

We Photographers Need to Protect Intellectual Property — But Not in the Way You Might Expect

Flexfill: Still proudly made in the USA

Thirty years ago, we introduced collapsible lighting reflectors to America. Our Flexfill® products, still being made in our own US-based workshop by our own staff, are used by many thousands of still, video, and motion picture photographers all over the world.

But as I found out the hard way, having a great registered trademark for a fine product isn’t enough to keep the knock-off jackals at bay. There are a lot of copies of Flexfill reflectors out there, coming from offshore and produced with varying levels of quality. I’m always pleased when we hear from shooters who have used the same Flexfills for 10 or 20 years.

My good friend of many years, Quest Couch, has had (like me) a long career both as a photographer and as the founder and president of an innovative photographic products company. Many of you know the name LumiQuest, which has been one of the great innovators in accessories for flash photography. Recognizing the increasing and continuing abuse of intellectual property rights which apply to creative work, like photographs, and to physical products, such as those used by photographers every day, Quest has launched a website www.QuestForRights.org and produced a video that you should take about three minutes to watch.

Many years ago, I was asked to submit a portfolio for the annual report of a major international bank. In the initial meeting with the art director and the design firm, I was shown a dummy version of what they were hoping to produce for their client. I recall being asked if I could produce images with a similar look and feel to the sample. At the time, I was more amused than angry because more than half the pictures in the dummy presentation were mine, clipped from other projects I had photographed.

I have always worked hard to protect my rights to the pictures I’ve made over the past 45 years, and yet I know (as do most shooters) that in the digital world, images and text are routinely taken and used without payment or permission. I consider it a point of pride that we continue to manufacture our signature products here in America at a uniformly high level of quality, rather than take shortcuts. So here’s to Quest Couch and his new effort to build awareness and action on saving what many of us work very hard to build.

LumiQuest and Joe McNally at PDN PhotoPlus 2010

Quest Couch of LumiQuest at PDN PhotoPlus 2010

“These are really exciting times for small flash photography.”

So says Quest Couch, a good friend and the co-founder, with Heidi Kenny, of LumiQuest. Based in Texas, LumiQuest has for many years been the leader in accessories for small flash units. They have always been committed to “products that work, rather than gimmicks that sell.” Maybe that’s why Quest and I have always gotten along so well; here at Visual Departures, that’s our mission, too.

Quest and I spent some time watching Joe McNally do a live demo at the Nikon booth to a standing-room-only crowd; like many shooters, Joe makes the LumiQuest products a key part of his location lighting equipment package. Quest has done a number of short and very instructive videos on LumiQuest’s website. No matter how long you have been shooting, spend some time on their site — you’ll learn a lot in a short time. Joe McNally’s blog should be in your bookmarks as well, as he explains the nuts and bolts of his masterful photos.