Friday, December 13, 2013

Outdoor Light-Studio Style...GBP Creative Photography and Video

Some of our favourite portraits as of late, we got when we were asked by Up Here Magazine to shoot Claude Vallier, who is one of our premier backcountry skiers.  (Get their latest issue to check out the article!)

Sweet assignment right??!  Problem was, at the time, there was no snow outside for us to use… and a portrait of Claude in normal clothes standing outside in the dirt seemed like a bit of a waste compared to the graphic elements of an awesome skier in full ski gear and the beauty of soft, snowy light. So... the only choice was to hit the studio and make it look like an epic snowy day...Challenge accepted.

SO have you ever been outside on a bright, snowy winter day? The light is rad… it comes from everywhere…well, I mean, it comes from the sun of course, but then bounces off the ground and the trees and everything else that is covered with snow (think giant white reflectors from every direction) and creates this amazing, soft, beautiful wrapping light….. 

So in order to get that all encompassing light feeling, we had to ask ourselves, how do we create that in the studio??  Turns out it takes a crap load of lights…. or 5... cause that’s what I ended up using, and a whooooooole lotta reflection. 

This was a cool setup because we used the studio "backwards", meaning, instead of having your subject stand in front of the big white backdrop wall, we instead put him at the other side of the room from the big white wall, with the camera's 'back' to the wall instead.  Fortunately our studio is painted flat white which makes it easier because this whole thing involves using the walls to create massive soft white light sources. (See super-detailed and very scientific diagram below)

The main thing to watch out for with this set-up is lens flare, as there is a lot of light going everywhere and it makes it really hard to minimize flare (which will washout and reduce contrast in your image)…. I have found that my 100mm f2.8 macro handles flare way better than any other portrait length lens I have, so it wasn't too much of a problem this time.

So, for you lighting nerds out there (oh how we love you guys...we are kindred spirits), here's a little breakdown of what we did...

A : 1 bare bulb light aimed directly up at the ceiling to create the light coming down from above (this was our key light).
B: 2 barebulb lights aimed back behind me to bounce off the back wall and angled ceiling to make our fill (about 1/2 stop under key)
C: 1 diffused uplight to mimic the light bouncing off the snow/ ground (1 stop under key)
D: 1 light behind subject to make our white background completely white and even glow a bit (about a stop brighter than group B lights)

After that's set up, you dress up a dude in ski gear and BAM you're shooting beautiful outside snowy light portraits in the comfort of you slippers! 

HUGE thanks to Claude for being so great to work with too...turns out he's crazy talented AND an awesome guy...

Friday, December 6, 2013

Things I wish someone had told me before I quit my day job-Part 1 ...GBP Creative Photography and Video

WARNING: This is about to get super nerdy...

As we mentioned the other week, we've decided to start a new section of our blog where we share some of the knowledge and tips we've learned over the past few years, now that we are full time photographers/ videographers. 

It's an attempt to help share knowlege with fellow photogs/videographers, in hopes that you don't have to learn the hard, and often expensive way of trial and error... Not that that's what we did... *cough cough*

Now, we're not saying that there aren't better solutions and products out there, but we're not product testers… We don't get stuff for free, so everything here we have learned, first by researching online (obsessively) until we figured we knew what we needed to know, then spending some hard earned (or borrowed) money. This is all stuff we wish someone had told us when we started in this business years ago...

Part One: Batteries are lame.

AA Batteries are a the WORST...AND it turns out they run pretty much everything we (ie. photo/video people) use from the Zoom H4n, to pocket wizards, to of course the biggie… our speedlights. 

Ok you're right, it could be worse...we could have like 5 different kinds of batteries to use instead of just the standard AA’s. BUT the problem comes when you're shooting almost every day, but you're going broke trying to keep up with replacing these Double A demons….

Because if you think about it, even if you're shooting with only 2 flashes, both with battery packs, and say you get a whole week out of those batteries (not likely), thats 12 AA’s per flash 24AA’s a week, 96 a month, or over 1000 batteries a year!! In other words, you quickly could become a planet killing, douche ”B”! (A broke one too)

Now, say you forget to buy some extras, because you thought you had enough to last this job… but you end up shooting way more than you thought and you run out of batteries...

When someone is paying you to shoot something there is no way in hell you can risk having a dead battery stall, or even worse shut down your shoot. Can you imaging having to ask the client … “um hey man, um do you have any double A’s kicking around that I could borrow?” … NO, just NO. 

So, you need yourself some rechargeables and a metric shit ton of em' too. So here's the ditty on rechargeable batteries that pertains to us:

The most common types of batteries today are NiMH and Lithium Ion.  Lithium Ion is the same type of battery that is in your cameras, cell phone, tablet, laptop etc. The reason for this is: they're lightweight, hold a mean charge,  have built-in temperature control stuff, and no longer have the need to completely run dry before you re-charge them.

The down side is that they are still relatively new (especially in the AA’s market) which makes them super expensive, and not easy to find. No doubt eventually we'll be rocking these little gems in all our gear but not yet my friends...

So, that takes us to NiMH (Nickel Metal Hydride). These guys have two types: Low self discharge (LSD), and the regular joes (lets call them RJ’s). The difference is kinda in the name.. the RJ’s will drain themselves as they sit there being unused in your gear which sucks if you like to have your batteries charged and ready to go (which you should) incase you get a last minute job call. The LSD’s, on the other hand, will still drain but instead of a couple months they will take like a year to drain anything significant. 

The only disadvantage of the LSD’s over the RJ’s is that the RJ’s will generally have a higher power output (that’s the mAh rating).  But realistically,  you have to be in a lab, bench testing this stuff to notice anything, and in my opinion, the advantage of the LSD’s outweigh any tiny amount of power difference from the RJ’s.

Part two: Chargers have feelings too

I thought a charger is a charger and that's that…nope! It turns out there are 2 types of AA battery chargers: a Smart one and a regular one. If you have a regular charger like I did, (Like a Duracell 4 battery charger I found at Walmart for my Duracell RJ’s, pictured right) it turns out, it only charges the batteries in a group, not as individuals.  In other words, it pumps the same amount of energy into each battery, regardless of their current charge, for a predetermined amount of time.  So when it says the batteries are "full" it might mean 1 is full, it might mean all 4 are have no way of knowing. Not to mention it can also damage your batteries during this process, which reduces the capacity for their life cycle.

SO, now you jam those AA’s into your speedlight and start shooting away, but your speed light only see’s the batteries in groups as well,  so when 1 battery drops below a certain point, (because it's the one that wasn't fully charged) it assumes they're all dead… So you're left not being able to figure out why you're getting crap battery life out of these damn rechargeables...

Now, the smart charger (SM), on the other hand, charges each battery separately and knows when to stop charging each individual one.  This ensures ALL of your AA’s will be fully charged every time. The batteries then also get less damage every time, increasing their life cycle...Good for your wallet, AND the environment.

SO, moral of the story? Quit pooping on the planet and buy some NiMH recharagbles which can be either LSD or RJ’s (up to you) but for love of GAD buy yourself a decent charger or you're not getting the most out of the rechargeable batteries you do have.

Gear that we chose, based on performance, value, reviews, and availability:

Batteries - Maha IMEDION 2400mAh

Location - because of good shipping, good value and decent web page (not great tho but works well enough).

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Adventure lover on your Xmas list? GBP Creative Photography and Video

Alright the countdown is on...Santa's gonna be squeezing into your living room in just a few short weeks, and we just so happen to know that he had a bit too much egg nog one night and is asking for some help to check off the gift lists this year....

So...if you've got an adventure lover on your list, we're here to help you out!

We have  prints from our 'Gear Room' series available, with custom frames done by the oh-so-awesome Steve Brewis of Northern Frameworks!

And since we're in the Christmas spirit, we're going to give you a SALE!

Originally $300, we are selling each for $250.00 instead!

So...who's on your list? A climber? Canoe lover? Mountaineer? Biker? We've got you (and Santa) covered....

For more info on purchasing a print, give us a shout at

**Features a simple black metal frame, with a clean white matt.  Glass is standard, gallery grade glass and print is on high quality exhibition fibre paper.  Each total frame size is 51cm x 68cm

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Old GBP Creative Photography and VIdeo

Before heading out onto his most recent tour, our buddy Jona Barr of Old Cabin came over to the GBP studio to get some new photos done for his Press Kit...

We were stoked with the results...and if you're looking for some awesome new music and haven't already, go grab his's wicked!

Monday, November 11, 2013

Winter is coming.... GBP Creative Photography and Video

Well, it's mid-November, so whether you're ready for it or not, winter is upon us....

We thought instead of fighting it we'd take a minute to reminisce about all the awesome that comes along with winter...and what better way to do it, than look back at one of our favourite assignments from last February.

We had a client from oversees, come to the Yukon wanting to experience some truly "northern" experiences...So, what better way than to take a Helicopter ride through the mountains, followed by ice climbing at the oh-so-awesome Equinox, dog sledding at Muktuk, and some Rendezvous festivities...

These are a few of our favourite shots, and we're hoping that they'll help you stop fighting the winter, and get pumped for all the fun stuff that can come out of it...