Master Class
The Canon D10 Digital SLR

Master Class

I began photographing at the show by asking one of the entertainers appearing for Canon to get before my camera. She was very fair. I wanted to see if the new 10D could pick up her subtle skin tones. It did it wondrously well, don't you think?
Photos © 2002 Monte Zucker, All Rights Reserved

Oh, my, yes...I've fallen in love! This time it was at PMA 2003. I can't say that it was a surprise, however. Canon had their new EOS 10D shipped to me a week in advance of the show. I barely had time to run my hands over her body, but I already knew that she was for me. But it wasn't the only camera that got me going at the PMA show in Las Vegas. I was teamed up with two great Canon photographers, part of their "Explorers of Light" team. The first was Jack Reznicki, one of the world's greatest commercial photographers of children...and I'm sure a lot more. I just knew that whenever I looked at a Toys "R" Us catalog or saw a great kid's face in some commercial shoot, they were all shot by Jack. The other photographer was Douglas Kirkland, one of the world's greatest glamour photographers. He had just returned from a European shoot of glamour together with fine jewelry.

One of the first models who was ready for me was wearing clothing that I would never have selected for her. That shows you how much I know. Her blouse worked beautifully with the new lighting technique I was using. Guess I just have to rethink a lot of my ideas, don't I?

The three of us were there to demonstrate Canon's new camera. It wasn't just the 10D camera that I fell in love with. Believe it or not, I also flipped out with the lighting that Doug and Jack were using. It was totally different from what I've been doing for the past 50 years. They were using two softboxes almost directly in front of the models' faces. They were of equal intensity, the upper light just slightly closer to the subject and, thus, a little stronger. That was the main light.

The lower light was a wide strip-light softbox. The light carried all the way from the left to the right, past both sides of the face. It was so low, it was almost to the floor. I had always had my fill light coming from above camera level. I believed that light coming from below was incorrect. Catchlights always had to be at 11 o'clock or at 1 o'clock. But I shot this way to try it out...and loved the effect of the lighting coming from below. I was still getting modeling from above, but the faces were taking on an entirely different appearance with the low fill light. What I noticed, too, was that the pupils of the eyes looked great when the light came from the low level. The three lights were triggered by Quantum's new FreeWire.

It finally dawned on me that I was doing the type of portrait lighting that you see on the covers of all those magazines when you're checking out at a grocery store. Hey, if it's good enough for them...

(Above) I brought along a beaded collar that I wrapped around her shoulders for this next picture. Yes, I'm still observing the three basic facial angles. It's just another approach to lighting that I had never used before. A few camera tilts helped a lot in this series. I was working so fast, I didn't have time to even use a tripod. I felt just like the photographers that you see in the movies.

(Below) Continuing with the lead from Jack and Doug, I used a wind machine to put a little more action into some of my photographs. This time it wasn't her hair that was blowing but a little fluff collar with which I framed her face.

As we were photographing on the stage other Canon people were making 13x19 prints on their new tabletop printer, the S9100. The Canon wide format W2750 printer was pushing out huge, wall-size prints for everyone to examine while we were still photographing the same session. The prints were actually made from fine JPEG files, rather than from the RAW files that the camera was generating at the same time. No retouching was done, because we wanted to show everyone how incredibly sharp the system is.

If you don't believe me, take a look at these next two images, both cropped from full-face pictures of the models. The detail was so clear it was actually scary! Whew! In actuality there is so much detail in these images, we'd really have to use some soft focus in Photoshop, so that you wouldn't see quite as much detail as the camera and Canon lenses pick up. In no way was I ever able to get images like these before.

(Above) As I watched Jack and Doug photographing I got ideas that I had never used before in portraiture. Jack, for instance, was playing peekaboo with some of the children he was photographing. So, naturally, I used the same concept for this next portrait.

(Below) Man! Just look at those eyes! The enlargements were so clear you could even see where her nail polish didn't quite cover her nails. This was just too much. The audience practically smelled the prints; they were looking at them from such a close range. The skeptics were convinced. This digital camera has it all!

(Above) Red clothing for a portrait? Why not? If you're using a similar red cloth for a background. The whole thing has always been to blend the clothing with the background to make the subject stand out. Hey, it works! A small piece of satin fabric held up slightly behind her was all that was necessary for these next few pictures.

Did the camera tilts work effectively? What do you think?

(Below) By the way, if you want to see us all "live" photographing these models with our lighting system all set up and working, you can catch us on my web site: It's all there!