Adam Lerner »

Intro to Film Cameras

Adam Lerner March 25, 2013 Comments Off

I love film and shooting film. I started shooting film as a kid and shot film thru college until I moved to digital. I still have my very first film camera, a Pentax ME-Super, however that camera doesn’t see as much use as some of my other film cameras that I tend to use on a regular basis. Shooting film will slow you down.

8590199910 d246f4042f z Intro to Film Cameras


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Portfolio Review #001

Adam Lerner March 22, 2013 Comments Off

I recieved so many portfolios from you guys and they keep coming! I’ve been really enjoying looking at your work and as much as I’d like to talk about EVERY portfolio, I can only get to a few. Please know that if I don’t choose your website, it’s not because I didn’t like it, however I chose portfolios that I felt stood out. We all have room for improvement. I know I have tons of room for improvement. In fact, that’s what keeps me going with photography. The fact that I’m always working on my craft and can always challenge myself to grow, to improve, and to work harder. I have friends that I trust to look at my work and give me feedback. Some are in the industry and some I just trust their eye. So please know that my critique of your work is only my opinion. It’s not personal, so plesae take what I say with a grain of salt.

I’m not only looking at your work, but I’m also looking at your website. I’m looking to see how it flows, how it’s laid out, the interface, navigation etc. There are many things that I value in a good website and there are things that I find really annoying. And I’m not alone. Most folks have a very short attention span when it comes to the web. If your website doesn’t function quickly and is well laid out, chances are people are going to move on.


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Backup your Photos!

Adam Lerner March 14, 2013 Comments Off

Backup. Everyone seems to stress about this. Lots of people say they’ll get around to it, but wait until it’s too late. Hard drives will fail. Yes, let me repeat, hard drives fail. It’s not a matter of if, more a matter of when. So it’s imperative to not only backup your photos, but to have a solid backup strategy in place. Something that is robust, redundant and automated so you can Set it and Forget it. Seriously, we are all so busy with our lives, the last thing we need is to manage our backup every day.

I would recommend that everyone have at least one full duplicate of your photo library. That means if your primary library gets corrupted or compromised, you have an exact duplicate to work from and restore another backup. I like to take things one step further and have triple redundancy. That means I have three exact duplicates of my photo library. They’re all on external Hard Drive RAID’s so that if at any time one of them goes, I can just start working off the other and still have a third backup as a safety. Ultimately, I will assign an off-site backup but that’s another conversation…


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Feisol Tripod and Ballhead Unboxing

Adam Lerner March 7, 2013 Comments Off

One of the most essential pieces of gear for every photographer is a tripod. There are so many different choices out there and many of these choices are based on what you shoot and where you shoot. I do a lot of location work and travel with my gear, so for me, it’s important that my tripod be lightweight, yet sturdy. Also, I’m 6’1″ and need a tripod with good height. I want the legs on the tripod to be extended to a height that meets or exceeds my height with the camera attached and don’t want to rely on the center column for that additional height, I want to use the legs for stability.

Belive it of not, up until now, I never really made the “investment” into a proper tripod system. I have a decent pistol grip head and carbon fiber legs, but they’re decent at best and were just not cutting it, so I finally decided to bite the bullet and make the investment. I looked at a ton of brands, but my buddy Peter Hurley couldn’t stop saying great things about Feisol, so I checked them out and wow, am I glad I did.

I ended up getting the Feisol Elite Tripod CT-3472LV, which is a carbon fiber tripod that has a self-leveling center column. I paired that with the Feisol Ball Head CB-50DC which also is carbon fiber and seems ideally suited for the tripod. I actually even reached out to Feisol to consult them about my decision and they were so helpful and responsive.

I have relationships with the companies that make most of my gear and feel this is very important as a professional photographer. I want to deal with a company that not only makes good product, but is also responsive and supportive of their core customers.

I’m not sponsored by Feisol, so I have nothing to gain by promoting their product, however I really believe in their product and company and wanted to share my thoughts with you guys. Buying a tripod is a long-time investment. A good tripod system will last for years, hopefully decades, so buy right the first time. And remember that the tripod is holding your precious camera equipment, so definitely not worth skimping on a tripod if you value your gear.

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AWL 4394 300x199 Feisol Tripod and Ballhead Unboxing

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Chimera Octa Beauty

Adam Lerner March 5, 2013 Comments Off

Lighting tools are essential to controlling your light source. I love lighting modifiers and with my strobes, I always seem to use an Octa Box as well as a beauty dish. With a studio strobe, you have a lot of power to use an Octa Box as they typically are large modifiers, however I recently picked up a brilliant lighting modifier that I can see replacing my convertible umbrella for editorial portraits and beyond.

I shoot a lot of portraits and often do editorial portraits around New York City. When I travel to these shoots, I’m flying solo with a minimal amount of gear and typically on the subway. Anyone who’s been to NYC knows that the subways are totally jammed and that there’s a ton of stairs and walking involved in getting around town. As versatile as a convertible umbrella may be, it’s a pretty large and long object to be carrying around hanging out of a backpack.


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PocketWizard PlusX

Adam Lerner March 1, 2013 Comments Off

PocketWizard released their new affordable and simple to use PlusX! So easy to setup and compatible with all PocketWizard products. If some of you guys were considering getting radio triggers, it looks like the wait is over!


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Portfolio Reviews!

Adam Lerner February 27, 2013 Comments Off

I’m always excited to check out new work and see what you guys are working on and now I want to see your portfolios! This means I want to see your website portfolio that you consider to be your best work. There’s a big step in putting together a portfolio of work. It means you’re serious about what you’re doing and looking to present it and share it with the world the best way possible.

Portfolios should embody what you consider to be not only your best work, but what defines you as a photographer. That includes, your style and point of view. Your subject matter and concentration should be consistent, and hopefully drive potential clients or galleries to your commercial and artistic work. Everything on your portfolio doesn’t have to be commercial. In fact, having personal work on your portfolio site can often even lead to paid work!


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Off-Camera Flash Optical Sync

Adam Lerner February 22, 2013 Comments Off

There are many ways to trigger an off-camera flash so lets start with the very basics. Getting the flash off your camera gives you much greater control of your light and far more freedom to be creative. There are four basic ways to trigger your off-camera flash. Optical sync, where you trigger the flash with another flash, PC Sync, where you trigger the flash with a PC Sync cable that attaches to your camera and to the flash, Infrared, where you are using an infrared signal to communicate between your camera and your flash, and, Radio, where you use radio triggers to sync your flash. All of these methods work and offer different challenges, pros and cons. The most basic and least expensive may be optical sync, provided you have a built-in flash on your camera.

In this video, I set my Fuji X100′s built-in flash to commander mode. I used commander mode, because when triggering optically, I don’t want the built-in flash to greatly affect the flash exposure. Thus, producing a pulse of light adequate to trigger the flash, but not too much so that it will mix with the flash exposure from the off-camera flash.

Optical Sync Pros:
- Low cost triggering system (provided you have a built-in flash)
- You can optically trigger as many lights as you want so long as they all see the master flash.
- Easy. Not much to know other than the basics.
- Effective. It works.

Optical System Cons:
- Limitation of proximity. Your off-camera flash needs to see the flash your camera produces.
- Not recommended in bright sun. If you can see that bright light, so can your flash.
- Other flashes will trigger your flash! So not recommended for events or parties.

Ideal for a controlled environment, shooting portraits, product etc.

Some other thoughts. There are times when you may want your built-in flash to produce more power in order to act as a fill. Why not? It’s another light and may help to get you the look you need for your exposure. I do recommend that when you are using this technique, that you get your main or Key light dialed in before you decide to add power to the built-in flash for your exposure. This way, you are making a choice on how you want your light shaped and not fighting the two lights to make them work. Sounds complicated, well, it is. Lots to consider. So, for the time being, try simply optically syncing your off-camera flash. See how it goes. Experiment with placement, flash-to-subject distance, flash power. Have fun and be creative!

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Screen Shot 2013 02 22 at Feb 22 10.53.01 AM 300x187 Off Camera Flash Optical Sync

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Keep It Moving

Adam Lerner February 19, 2013 Comments Off

I’ve talked about working for free and when it’s cool and when it’s not cool. This post is about looking for warning signs when negotiating with clients.

Years ago, I was working with a client in at the early stages of their business. They made promises of future work in exchange for lesser pay. Perhaps I felt I was getting valuable experience, however when I did try to negotiate, the conversations never went well. The writing was on the wall, but I chose not to see it.


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Fuji X-Pro 1 First Impressions

Adam Lerner February 14, 2013 Comments Off

Holy guacamole! Just did my first shoot with the Fuji X-Pro 1 and wow am I impressed! Thankfully, I received my copy just after Fuji released the latest firmware update which even further improves focusing. Having been an avid Fuji X100 shooter, I’ve grown accustomed to the quirky nature of the beast and slow focusing, however the X-Pro 1 is nimble by comparison.

Such a great handling camera with intuitive dials and button layout that makes for rather quick handling. Sure, there is a learning curve, but for the first time out of the gate, I found myself very confidently shooting with it. Feels great in the hands and the viewfinder is bright and huge.


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