Alexander Ovechkin vs. PocketWizard

Some of us are old enough to remember the days when hockey players were not required to wear mouth guards and helmets. There were a lot of toothless guys on the ice who had no problems suiting up again and again to do battle with wooden sticks. Bones were broken, noses bloodied, and equipment got seriously abused.

That said, it’s nice to see PocketWizard gear can take any damage the NHL can dish out. Check out this segment from a Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals game, as posted on YouTube by the NHL. Alexander Ovechkin of the Capitals not only scores on Marc-Andre Fleury, but takes out the net cam, remotely fired with a PocketWizard MultiMAX.

Watch carefully, and you’ll see a technician remount the PocketWizard back on the camera. If anyone knows who the photographer is, give a shout. We’d love to credit him, as we do with all shooters who use PocketWizards.

Enjoy, sports fans!

Laura Barisonzi’s Difficult Locations and Extreme Conditions

“I’ve never really been a big studio shooter,” says photographer Laura Barisonzi. “Long before I was into photography, I was into being outside and hiking. I really like being on location and the challenge of changing light.” This makes perfect sense for a photographer using the tagline “Difficult Locations and Extreme Conditions.”

©Laura Barisonzi

Barisonzi left Wisconsin to study painting at Brown University and the Rhode Island School of Design. Majoring in Foreign Languages, travel was essential to her education. While traveling, she began to photograph in earnest, and upon graduation, began assisting professional shooters.

With her work appearing in such publications as Cigar Aficionado, Forbes, GQ, Newsweek and Outside Magazine, she’s proven her ability to capture not only sports, but corporate leaders, book reviewers, rock bands, and other clients in need of portraiture. Regardless of subject, her colors are consistently rich without being blown out, rarely falling victim to trendy overexposure looks.

©Laura Barisonzi

Thinking differently on her personal projects is one of the standout qualities of this young photographer. Having shot for Yoga Journal and done other yoga assignments, she wanted to breakout the ancient practice from elegant studios and pristine beaches to something a-typical. In “Yogasana,” Barisonzi had accomplished yoginis and yogis perform their practice in outdoor locations never normally associated with the peacefulness we find in yoga. “I wanted to show yoga in a stressful environment,” she says. “I also like to use real practitioners and not models, who can typically only do a few basic poses. That sort of defeats the purpose for me. I do this on ad campaigns, too.”

Her “Free Running” series shot in New Mexico features two athletes performing their moves in some well-composed shots against backgrounds of adobe beige and blue sky. “I wanted it to be visually stunning and not have the setting interfere with the action,” she recalls. The completely stopped motion and carefully controlled shadows show viewers Barisonzi knows what she’s doing.

©Laura Barisonzi

In “Winter Surfing,” she captures a different set of athletes attempting to surf while there’s snow on the beaches of Maine and New Hampshire. Carrying surfboards in thigh-deep snow and paddling out to catch waves as wind blows stinging, nearly-vaporized water into your face is not for the weak-spirited. “That was definitely pretty terrible,” she laughs, recalling the weather.

Barisonzi’s corporate and editorial portraiture is at least as strong as her personal projects. “I always try to shoot portraiture in an interesting location, if I can,” she says. Examples are pediatrician David Kaelber on a kiddie swing next to one of his supposed patients, to musician Greg Lato at the counter of an old-fashioned diner. “I try to make the people stop posing. That’s a real struggle with editorial work. The people are usually very conscious of posing. They have a lot of expectations of what you’re trying to portray. If you can get them to forget all that, then something good can happen.”

©Laura Barisonzi

“I’m really into lighting. I’ll frequently have it all set up, and then look at it, and change everything. I’m very picky. It makes my assistants crazy,” Barisonzi says. “My goal is to make it look like it could be natural lighting, even if it’s not. I’m not a lover of ring flash or raw flash effects. I use a lot of big reflectors and grids. I’m into controlling every single light as much as possible. I like things to be warm.”

Always emulating the sun and eschewing cold studio lighting, Barisonzi feels passionately about advice she was given when she began her career. “There’s so much pressure to specialize. People say you need a recognizable look. Early on I was told I’m too all over the place, and that I need to concentrate on one style,” she says. Barisonzi rejected this advice. “If you shoot just one thing or style, you might have limited success for a short time. I believe if you’re going to have a full career, you should have a big repertoire of abilities and skills.” This has suited her well, as she regularly shoots lifestyle and sports portraits for a wide variety of clients.

©Laura Barisonzi

Preferring to get most of her signature saturation and lighting effects in-camera, she uses Photoshop and Lightroom for a minimum of processing. Barisonzi is more particular about the hardware she uses. Owner of an Induro monopod, she only uses it “for shooting over my head, in the air, or at weird angles,” she explains.

Profoto is her choice of packs and heads. “I like to rent the Pro-8a, depending on the location. Sometimes I’ll get Pro-B2 generators,” she says. “They always do a great job for me.”

©Laura Barisonzi

Barisonzi’s choice of camera body is a Nikon D3, and triggers her strobes with the PocketWizard MultiMAX and Plus II units. “I use both Plus II’s and/or MultiMAXes on every shoot I do,” she says. “PocketWizards are indispensable for me. I also have played with the MultiMAXes to get creative approaches to capturing motion, such as my shot of the guy pitching. That effect is all in-camera with MultiMAX.”

©Laura Barisonzi

In the future, Barisonzi plans continuing the growth of her client base, staying diverse, yet having the quality her portraits are known for as being the element which pulls it all together. Seeing how easy she makes her results look, this shouldn’t be difficult or extreme at all.

©Laura Barisonzi

Laura Barisonzi Photography

Laura Barisonzi blog

Laura Barisonzi on Twitter

Laura Barisonzi on Vimeo

Tim Kemple Reaches High

We first wrote about Tim Kemple at the end of last year. Here’s a more detailed profile of the man and his work.

Climbing led to photography, which led to a career for Tim Kemple. A former professional climber with sponsors, Tim got to know a climbing magazine photo editor, who critiqued the young shooter’s photos taken on days off. A microbiology major in college, Kemple is all about learning why things work. This approach has suited him well in photography. He constantly experiments with his gear, and is deeply interested in ways to get results he wants.

©Tim Kemple

“I have three different setups I roll with,” Kemple reports. “One is just lightweight speedlights. I took those on bigger expeditions, like one to Pakistan a few years ago. Three speedlights on a four-day hike after five days of driving in Himalaya. This was for hiking and climbing; a lightweight setup, but not very powerful.”

©Tim Kemple

“The next step up would be a set of lights with homemade nickel-metal hydride batteries, weighing about eight or nine pounds each. The largest setup with the most power is Profoto Pro-7b generators. You can overpower the sun, and a lot more. You can use the PocketWizards’ HyperSync with the Pro-7b’s. It’s a great setup.”

©Tim Kemple

Kemple’s shots 1500 feet up the Mescalito route on Yosemite’s El Capitan is one of his most impressive, both for the photographic results and for the lengths he went to in order to achieve them. “I’ve been shooting a fair number of shots where I have an assistant holding a light directly overhead or maybe slightly behind the climber. This one was probably my most involved. I brought a light and a nickel-metal hydride battery. We knew the right side of the cliff got beautiful sunset light, and it was right below our camp, which was on a ledge at about 1500 feet, a thousand feet from the summit. We got very lucky the sun came out and lit up the wall. It was one of the most impressive sunsets of our trip. My assistant had the light on a pole and hung it over the climber’s head, pointed back in at the face of the mountain a bit.”

©Tim Kemple

“I like to shoot with the light as far off-axis from the camera as you can,” he continues, “because it still gives texture and depth to what you’re shooting. If it’s right next to the camera, you lose texture. By putting it directly overhead, I can get a lot of power on the subject, but still get the texture in the rock. The same is true for shooting runners or other portraits outdoors. A lot of people think you need to blast as much power on the subject as possible. That’s not always the case. It’s about blending the flash in naturally. That’s the look I’m going for.”

©Tim Kemple

Kemple used a Canon EOS-1Ds Mark III on that shoot. “It has a faster shutter so it HyperSyncs better with the PocketWizards,” he says. “I’m able to HyperSync at 1/500th of a second. With the Profoto Pro-7b I can shoot at 1/1200th of a second. I lose about a stop and a half of light, depending on the power of the light, but sometimes it’s worth it because I’m gaining more than two stops over the actual normal sync of the camera. I use a FlexTT5 on the camera, and a bunch of MultiMAX Transceivers as receivers.”

To blend light on location, Kemple takes what’s needed. “That often means bringing heavier lighting setups so I can shoot through softboxes with grids. You can control and shape the light so it has a more appealing look to it, and not just something blasted at full-power.”

©Tim Kemple

Extreme sports are not Kemple’s only subjects. He also has shot fashion photography for dawn+Relentless, and actually got his professional start shooting editorial. “A good photographer can shoot whatever the client wants, whether it’s rainy or sunny, or whatever, no matter where they are. Having your lights with you all the time is the best case scenario. It gives you that much more control over the photo in general. Being able to use all the tools you have, and to have the right tools with you, is the best way to roll. Sometimes you’re running with small crews or traveling great distances, so you have to make due. I like to have my lighting rigs with me and use them about half the time I’m working.”

©Tim Kemple

Kemple reports he’s shooting all-digital these days. “I still have a pile of slides sitting around which need to be scanned for the last year and a half,” he laughs. “Digital brings the speed editors are asking for.”

©Tim Kemple

Recently relocated to Salt Lake City after growing up in New Hampshire, this California-born photographer is enjoying shooting the more-grounded sport of running as of late. “I used to run in junior high school and high school, so I can really relate to it,” he says. Whether shooting while hanging from a cliff, hiking the Himalayas, or on a bike trail, Tim Kemple and his gear will have his subjects well-lit.

Tim Kemple Photography

Tim Kemple’s Blog

Tim Kemple on Twitter

Tim Kemple on Vimeo

Paul H. Phillips on Endurance and Planning

Triathlons are multi-sport endurance events, and the photographers who cover them are not unlike the athletes who participate in them. Paul H. Phillips and his team of photographers at Competitive Image in Minneapolis have identified their métier, and it’s in their blood. Competitive Image consists of photographers who also happen to be runners, skiers, cyclists, swimmers, and martial artists. These common athletic interests enable them to cover sporting events in ways most photographers can’t or don’t imagine.

©Competitive Image

Bob Kupbens teamed up with Phillips to conceive and create Competitive Image’s iconic shot of the start of the Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon earlier this year. The shot was also featured in Runner’s World magazine. It’s a classic example of the company’s premise of making great shots, as opposed to taking them.

©Competitive Image

This approach is paying off. By staking out race courses and planning out positions of remote cameras, the teams’ results are getting them recognition. Their soccer book, Portrait of Passion, has been nominated for the 2009 Billie Award for Journalism for the Outstanding Portrayal of Women in Sport. They have also had an image published on one of the ultimate sports marketing icons: a box of Wheaties.

Triathlons are essentially a long swim race followed by a long bicycle race followed by a long foot race. Photographers covering them need to work at least as long as the shortest time it takes the winner to complete the course. That doesn’t include setup and breakdown times. Endurance is the strategy on both sides of the cameras.

The PocketWizard MultiMAX has proved critical to many of Competitive Image’s shots, including some of their decisive images of winners crossing triathlon finish lines.

©Competitive Image

“We can now do some very exciting things with very high shutter speed,” says Phillips. “This is because of PocketWizard. We’re slowly making the shift from the MultiMAX to the FlexTT5 and the MiniTT1. I particularly like the Mini because it is what it is: it’s tiny! We’re combining all of these models on a shoot for the cover of Triathlete magazine. We’re going to use studio strobes, but we need a few highlights on the athlete’s bike, so we’ll use a few remotely-fired 580s, too.”

Competitive Image recently shot a series of swimmers in a pool using the FlexTT5 and the MiniTT1. “One Mini and three Flexes were used with five MultiMAX units. I only see our work with PocketWizards increasing.”

©Competitive Image

“The PocketWizards help us make the shot. We ask, ‘what shot would be really cool?’ Well, let’s build something and hang it from the starting line truss!” As the lead photographers for the Twin Cities Marathon, one of the top marathons in the country, Phillips and his team enjoys a large degree of latitude in creative license and permissions to set them up and get them. Named as one of the International Triathlon Union Photographers for 2010, Phillips is earning the reputation of the guy who can get the shots others don’t.

For the first leg of triathlons with athletes diving into the water, Phillips sometimes finds himself shooting half-submerged from the waterline with two assistants behind him holding strobes on monopods. He also has been known to sit backwards all day on a motorcycle, shooting athletes as they bike and run for the finish line.

©Competitive Image

“I only see our use of PocketWizards expanding,” says Phillips. “We’re only limited by our own creativity. We’re already designing our next big cover shot for a race that will be the first week in May of 2010.” Phillips will be detailing his preproduction work in an eight-page report, covering everything from how he’ll mount remote units on streetlights to dealing with crowds during a race which will be won in approximately four minutes. “At a four-minute mile, you’re talking about a runner moving 22-feet per second. Trying to light that and get a clean shot is challenging.” With that kind of action, the team will have several photographers firing a multitude of PocketWizards on different channels.

©Competitive Image

The Competitive Image team shoot a full range of lenses for both Canon and Nikon digital bodies. Two of the team are MIT grads, “so if we need something built, it’s no problem,” Phillips laughs.

The well-written Competitive Image blog not only details some solid tips for sports photography enthusiasts, but documents some of the detailed thought process Paul—a former racer himself—and his team do in the preproduction stage before an athletic event. Photography fans and athletes alike have reason to follow Paul Phillips and his team—until they have to start planning for their next race, that is.

Competitive Image

Water shoot

Video of water shoot

Blog entry on water shoot

Portrait of Passion

Tim Kemple – Extreme Exposures

Just because you’re 1500’ off the ground is no reason not to use flash and at this altitude wires could be a problem. Here’s how outdoor photographer Tim Kemple lights up El Capitan…

More extreme climbing photography (take a deep breath).

Read more about Tim Kemple: Website Blog

Keith Pytlinski is at it again!

You’ve probably read about Keith on our blog before. Well, he’s back with two action images shot with his trusty PocketWizard Plus II’s:

Check out Keith’s website and Flickr for more awesome action work.

It’s that Time of Year…

©Mark Rebilas 


©Mark Rebilas


You know, best songs of 2008, best books of 2008, best….whatever. Mark Rebilas, no stranger to the PocketWizard blog, has put together “Best Random Sports Photos of 2008” and they’re creative, powerful and even funny. Not all the photos needed remote control of camera or strobe, but it’s well worth the visit noneteless.


Happy Holidays!