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Photographer Jeffrey Salter started his photographic career as a photojournalist shooting 35mm film. He covered everything from fashion shows in New York, London, Milan and Paris, conflicts and social upheavals in Haiti, and stories such as the crash of Pan Am flight 103 in Lockerbie, Scotland.
When he decided to become a magazine photographer he switched over to medium format and decided to concentrate on portraits and lighting.
“It’s my philosophy as a visual artist, to begin with an end in mind. I can tell by real world use that Phase One and their team of designers have produced a digital back of the highest quality with an eye on the details.
I desire to produce memorable and iconic images. A writer shapes beautiful narratives with nouns, verbs, adverbs and adjectives, we, photographers, use cameras, lenses, f-stops, shutter speeds and lighting to create compelling and beautiful images. The IQ260 gives me the look I want in my photography and is an important tool for a successful journey.”
Jeffrey Salter was one of the first to upgrade to an IQ260 digital back after its release. Within 3 months he had had 3 magazine covers published. His most recent was captured in the Florida sun and featuring international soccer star Mario Balotelli.
First of all, Jeffrey shares what the IQ260 brought to the Mario Balotelli shoot:
A. Dynamic range to deal with an extremely contrasty scene
B. 1/1600s flash sync for controlling the ambient light
C. 60 megapixel file which enabled the art director to crop the image from a horizontal (landscape) image into a vertical (portrait) cover
D. Consistent and reliable tethering via Capture One Pro 7.
The technical details:
Looking at it from a technical or objective point of view, my new IQ260 brought me a wonderful 13 stops of dynamic range. I started set-up time at 7 a.m. because you want everything to be set and ready when you are shooting a high profile subject. Mario Balotelli is an international soccer star, striker for AC Milan. He’s a great athlete, plays classical piano and has met with the pope, but still only 23. He was cool and approachable. The photography shoot was scheduled to start at a cool and comfortable 9 a.m. At that time the light was going to be absolutely beautiful, perfectly soft and diffused by clouds, a giant soft-box with low contrast. For a photographer it would have been a walk in the park, simply add a bit of shiny board or a reflector and you are golden.
However the shoot didn’t start until a sweltering 11 a.m. and by then the sun had arched higher in the sky blanketing everything with harsh rays, backlighting the pool and highlighting the palm trees in the background, creating a contrasty mash-up. My walk in the park was short lived. I faced blue water in a white pool; green palm leaves all gleaming from the sun and an athlete with dark skin tones, all backlit. The pressure was on. It’s important in my style of imagery to be able to control the contrast and fine-tune my lighting. The IQ260 easily captured the detail in this scene, not just detail, but richness in the detail.
A combination of syncing the strobes at a high shutter speed of 1/1600s, to bring down the highlights and a key light set at f/5.6 on Mario to open up the shadows (a Profoto flash head, 7B power pack and Profoto 5ft silver umbrella) gave me the shallow depth of field, allowing the focus to be on Mario and it painted the scene in the light values that I wanted. I was able put the highlights where I wanted by adding a strobe head to the left and slightly behind, fitted with a magnum reflector.
This image was composed to run across two pages, a landscape or horizontal spread, inside the magazine. When Brad Smith the Director of photography at S.I. returned to the New York City office, he suggested that the image should be cropped into a vertical and used as the cover. Having the IQ260 producing 60 MP raw digital file, which when exported out from Capture One Pro 7 to a 346 MB TIFF (16-bit) gave my client the quality to publish the image without limitations. Which gave me a third published national magazine cover shot with an IQ260.
It has to feel right when working with your camera!
Sports Illustrated magazine is one of most prestigious sports magazines in the world. It’s a weekly magazine. Therefore the deadline for images is very tight. Every cover image is important. It must scream out from the crowded newsstands.
From a subjective point of view, the dynamic range, 1/1600s flash sync speed, wi-fi connectivity and big file sizes, gave me peace of mind. This was a high-pressure shoot. Only two other international soccer stars have graced the cover of the magazine to date, and they are Pelé and Diego Maradona. The magazine’s director of photography, Brad Smith had taken a late flight from New York City the night before, was on the set, watching the images on an iPad. The features built into the IQ260 allow me to put my energy into the art. The fact of the matter is: Often you don’t get hours and hours to engage with a high profile subject. I only had Mario for 45 minutes, and needed to complete two set-ups. When he arrived on set it wasn’t going to be about f-stops and dynamic range. It meant running a tight ship with the best photo assistants and the best gear set up to create a knockout image which would be seen around the world. Once the stage was set the interaction would be between Mario and me. Having the mental clarity to concentrate to get Mario to relax and give the world a look, a gesture, a moment or window into his being, at that moment I simply press the shutter and my IQ260 would do the rest. The peace of mind that comes with knowing that the technical needs are answered allows me, or any other photographer, to get into the zone where we can create a good, great and sometimes iconic image.