Beats by Dre #showyourcolor at Ansan Valley Rock Festival 2013 – Seoul Photographer

It’s hard to say no when Beats by Dre comes knocking and asks “Do you want to photograph festival goers being themselves at Ansan Valley Rock Festival, hang out with a handful of beautiful models, see Nine Inch Nails, and have a few drinks?”. From my perspective, there is only one answer to that question. A resounding yes followed, and the preparations began.

As part of Beats by Dre’s Show Your Color campaign, we would be photographing 300 festival goers each day in the Beats by Dre tent. The process was simple: come in, choose a word, represent that word in your photo, collect a print, share your image on a social network and pick up your prize. On our end that meant squeezing a flash and a computer into a corner of the tent and photographing those that came to see us.

With a triangle of space approximately 2.5 square metres in size, there was no room for more than one flash, one photographer, and the subjects. I would be squeezing myself in next to a single lightstand with my Westcott Orb flying over my head. This size of light would give some freedom of movement to the people who visited the booth, and give a fairly cleanly lit background as well. We needed to have a background that was close to white so as not to distract from the subjects and their chosen words. My 24-70 gave me a good mix between headshots and waist-up portraits in this space, and allowed me to shoot small groups if they came in.

We also needed to run a printing station, but there simply wasn’t enough room in the photography booth to have everything set up. So, we needed to get the images from the booth to the other side of the room without filling the place with cables. I tossed a few solutions around in my head. WT-5A? Nikon is just taking the mickey there. Eye-fi? If only I could have got one in time. Two computers on a wireless network? Lots of possible errors, but a good solution.

I tethered the D800 to Lightroom in the photobooth, and had it save the files to a Dropbox folder. Small jpgs were the only way to maintain speed here. The second computer was on the same network and linked to that Dropbox folder. As files made their way into the Dropbox, my assistant Damari opened the files in Photoshop and overlaid the subject’s chosen word. They were then saved back into a watched folder that would upload the files to my FTP server, allowing people to instantly share their photos on social networks while they waited for the prints. This whole process took approximately 2 minutes from shutter release to final print.

Two Canon Selphy printers were connected to the second computer for the printing, and ran all day without issue. I’ll talk a little more about these printers in my next post, but safe to say that they are phenomenal. Pick one up.

Enough of that though, on to the photos.

VSCO Film Pack 03 – A Quick Review / Preview

As an avid user of VSCO Film Packs in my post processing, I was undeniably excited at the possibilities when I received the email that a third package was released. It didn’t take me long to click the buy button on VSCO Film Pack 03, a collection of instant film presets for Lightroom and Adobe Camera RAW.

The idea of sending photos back to my parents childhood at the click of a button seemed like a novel idea, and it is for this idea that the pack has received a little heat. It has been accused of being a desktop version of Instagram, of being ‘hipster’ and of reproducing darkroom mistakes, but all in all it is simply giving you more processing options.

Let’s take a look at some of the presets in use.  As with all VSCO Film Packs, these are not simple Lightroom presets – they also include camera profiles that mimic the old films’ response to light more effectively. These can be used as a part of VSCO’s presets, or as a base for your own presets. The images below were not chosen to show a final processed image, or the best possible way of using the pack, but to how they work applied to a few of my everyday photos from recent shoots and days out.

By far my favourite of the ‘new films’ is the consumer grade PX-680 – an Impossible Project film preset. No, you wouldn’t use it every day, but would you shoot everything on a film like this anyway? It gives a low contrast, warm toned effect that reminds me of the prints in my family albums from the ’70s and ’80s. Great for quickly processing some family snaps or bringing a little life to flat lit images.

Impossible-Project-PX-680

For something a little less extreme, the Fuji FP-100c brings good contrast and not too much colour-shift. This is one of the more useful presets for everyday processing in my opinion.

Polaroid-FP-100c

For another classic Polaroid feel, the Polaroid 669 emulation gives some shift towards greener highlights, slightly tinted shadows and reasonable contrast.

Polaroid-FP-669

One more final look at another extreme preset – the Impossible Project PX-70. It should be fairly clear what this one does. The original frame was shot in warm pre-sunset light. I probably won’t use this one all that often, especially in light like this!

Impossible-Project-PX-70

As with the previous VSCO Film Packs, I have found that many these presets lack contrast for my tastes and often require blacks/shadows adjustments along with an overall contrast boost to bring them to a level I am happy with.

As a final note, I feel that some of the more extreme presets would be more useful if offered in half strength versions. But for now, layering a VSCO processed copy over an unprocessed copy in Photoshop and fading it seems to do the trick.

Am I satisfied? Yes, and no. The pack does what it is supposed to and is useful to an extent for my purposes. But, hindsight being 20-20, I should have realised these effects were not really a part of the way I like to process my images.