About six months ago I made a fairly significant equipment transition. I had been using Speedotron Strobes for over 20 years. They are tanks! Built strong to last long! And indeed they did. I had used the same 2 packs and 6 heads with only the occasional repair (maybe half a dozen in 20 years) and they functioned for the most part, flawlessly! They got tossed around and “handled” by baggage handlers and generally treated like the big bricks they were, and consistently performed.

But some of the reflectors and other accessories were starting to show their age. So I went into Samy’s to purchase some replacement parts and to spruce up the system. I walked out with something a little different.

Since going completely digital about five years ago, I had occasionally noticed inconsistencies in the flash intensity from frame to frame. This was not a result of firing before the unit was fully recharged, but rather that the packs were just not consistent. My guru over at Samy’s proceeded to tell me that in the days of film these inconsistencies were less likely to show up or even be noticeable if they did because of the latitude of film vs. the rather precise nature of digital. I rather think that we just did not have the ability to “flip back and forth” between images like we can now do with digital. Either way the inconsistencies were starting to bother me.

I had over the past 3 or 4 years toyed with the idea of moving into a new strobe system, but strangely enough got talked out of it every time. Mostly by those who would be selling me the new system!

Well this time was different! Ken (aka Samy’s guru) introduced me to the (at the time) fairly new Profoto D4 system. It did not take a lot of effort on his part to sell me on this new system! It was a combination of several factors that made it somewhat of a slam-dunk sale.

1. Consistency. These packs are said to be some of the most stable / consistent packs on the market.
2. Size / Weight These VERY WELL DESIGNED packs are significantly smaller and lighter that my good `ol Speedo’s! Now in reality this was more of a selling point for my assistants than it was for me… but they did thank me!
3. Built in Pocket Wizard! I cannot tell you how many Pocket Wizard cables have one missing. Not any more!
4. My favorite – All four sockets are 100% independent of each other and variable over a 10 stop range in 1/10th of a stop increments! How nice is that!!!

There are a lot of other bells and whistles on these puppies but that was enough to sell me. I must say that there are a lot of cool attachments for this system as well. Trust me I have already purchased too many of them!

My big beef is the grid spot integration; not very good at all and I use a lot of grid spots. And if you buy their grids, which are of course a different size than most others, firstly you will pay MORE for one grid than you would for a set of four from most others. Then you would also only have three to choose from rather than four that most others offer.

Other than this I am very pleased with the new system and also very happy knowing that my old Speedo’s are still out there helping someone else make a ton of great images!

Currently we are “packing”:

2 – D4 2400R Packs
6 – Acute/D4 Heads
1 – Acute/D4 Ring w/ softlight reflector
1 – StickLight (very cool!)

Plus all of the obligatory reflectors, umbrellas, softboxes, grids, head extension cables, etc. etc. etc.

Annie Leibovitz

Last week Art Center hosted a lecture by Annie Leibovitz. Some friends of mine (also Art Center Alumni) and I went. Although it was a very poorly organized event by the College, and despite the fact we ended up standing during the entire presentation despite our getting there almost an hour early and certainly before most other attendees..(does one detect a note of bitterness??) It was all in all a nice presentation.

So many times I am disappointed in lectures and discussions and panels done by many professional organizations. And frankly I was a bit skeptical walking into this one, but hey, like her or not, it’s Annie Leibovitz. A very successful photographer, no matter how you look at it. And given it was all of a 3-mile drive to attend, it would have been silly not to go.

It was not a long presentation, only about an hour. It was mostly revolving around the release of her new book. There were a couple of images that I thought were stunning, but what I mostly got out of attending was a push. A not so little nudge. A reminder as to why I started taking photos in the first place. That inner feeling that at least I tend to loose over time, doing the day to day “work” of being a photographer. One that thankfully can be revived by seeing other work that inspires you, or someone saying something that either gives you that “ah-ha” moment or that you can completely relate to.

This particular lecture, pointed out to me that besides producing images for my clients, which is absolutely necessary, and I ABSOLUTELY love to do, I need to get back to producing images for myself. Whether or not they are ever seen by anyone else, it is a personal process that I need to do for me. Sometimes to express myself, and sometimes just to get it out of my system. I tend to get very caught up in “working” and often forget that my “work” can only get better as a result of me shooting just for shooting’s sake.

So Thanks to Annie for that little refresher course! And I’ll be sharing what I’ll be doing about this in upcoming posts.

Ben Pritchard

Ben Pritchard - Newcastle England - 14 Days Project, Day 5

Last week we received the startling news that Ben Pritchard, an energetic and valued colleague from the 14 Days Project had passed away at the age of 25 from a heart attack while mountain biking. I met and worked along side Ben during the 14 Days in Great Britain project and he always made me laugh. I don’t say that lightly, because I feel that is one of the greatest gifts one can give in this world today! He was a highly knowledgeable photographer and truly a core part of the 14 Days team.

I did not know Ben very well but from my experience with him during 14 Days, I imagine that he lived his life with gusto and passion. A lesson for us all. Ben will not be forgotten, but he will be missed!

Corporate Image Libraries™ by Dana Hursey Photography

Corporate Image Libraries™ — Creating proprietary image libraries for corporations and medium sized firms as a long term and more cost effective alternative to stock photography. Corporate Image Libraries™ creates customized imagery tailored to specific client needs and moves away from the “one-photo-fits-all” disadvantages of using stock photography and eliminates the possibility of branding imagery being used by competitors or other industries thereby diminishing the identifying power of your imagery. Visit www.corporateimagelibraries.com

West Hollywood, California June 25, 2007 — The Lighthouse Imaging Group announced today the launch of a unique Corporate Image Libraries™ concept developed and operated by Dana Hursey Photography. Corporate Image Libraries™ provides a persistent bank of images for strong identity and various media content, used to enhance the company’s brand and services as well as supporting other media rights management applications. Corporate Image Libraries™ provides brand-enhancing images for corporations and medium sized firms.

“Central to our success is becoming a trusted partner and supplier to the corporate clients we serve. The Corporate Image Libraries™ we create enable those clients to effectively protect their image content for use in a multitude of media applications; all of this with control and security stamping there own creative mark on the theme and style of the images. Effectively insuring against multiple image use across similar market sectors and industry competitors. We work creatively and collaboratively to enhance the services and products offered by our clients, ensuring that the end customer relates succinctly to its services and methodology. Our photography enables trusted relationships between provider and customer through unique themes, where customers are encouraged by their own special position within the providers environment,” Dana Hursey June 2007.

Visit: www.corporateimagelibraries.com

Or call The Lighthouse Imaging Group toll free in the USA at 866-687-3686. For further information visit the official website at www.lighthouse-elements.com

See the June 25 edition of “Brandweek” Magazine for a full-page advertisement announcing this innovative approach to the creation of dedicated brand imagery.

Also visit:
Dana Hursey Photography
626 345 9996

Corporate Image Libraries™

Although we have been covertly promoting this “service” to corporations and medium sized companies for several years, this week we are making a big deal about it with what might be called a second roll out with press and PR and full page ads. We are finding a lot of companies are tired of dealing with stock photography and want their own proprietary in house photo libraries with custom imagery tailored to their specific needs.

In response we created Corporate Image Libraries™

We are a bit excited about our ad campaign, which is debuting in Brandweek Magazine this week as well as features on PRWeb.com plus a variety of other things we are doing to get the word out.

We have been working in this business model for quite some time but we are finally making some noise about it as demand grows.

Check out the web site, pass it along, and give us your thoughts!


Since I found this great resource I have been sharing it with everyone I know. And, No, I don’t get a penny for it. Good resources don’t need to pay for advertising….

Lynda.com is an online training program for a huge multitude of software / programs that we as “creatives” use on a daily basis.

I knew of Lynda Weinman from many years ago as she was teaching in the Computer Department at Art Center for a period during my 15+ years of teaching Photography there. Then she started to write “how to” books for a variety of popular software.

I knew she had a web site but thought is was just more for PR.

When Adobe CS3 came out recently I knew I had to migrate from GoLive to Dreamweaver but had never even looked at the Dreamweaver interface. I started to look for classes to learn yet another piece of software.

I was not looking forward to this! In the first place classes were as high as $1200.00!! Secondly .. not bragging.. but I am a fairly quick learner when it comes to things like this. I did not want to sit in a class where inevitably there would be that “one person”.. you know them, bless their heart… they hold up the entire learning process. Be it going off on tangents, needing attention, or simple incapable of “getting it”.

Somehow, I honestly don’t know how, I wound up on Lynda’s site.


For $25 mo. or $250 yr you have unlimited access to excellent training videos for virtually any popular software you might need as well as videos about other topics – not software specific! Anything from Word to Final Cut. From CS3 to iPhoto.

The courses are very well rounded and done in such a way that you can watch them in succession or just watch a topic that you need. You can even watch the first few lessons of most tutorials without even signing up!!! I initially signed up for one month, but by the time I was through the first couple of chapters on Dreamweaver and saw all of the other programs I had access to I realized I would use this all the time, so I signed up for a full year.

The other day I was working in Photoshop and remembered that there was this new feature in CS3 but forgot how to use it. I signed into Lynda.com, watched 2 mins of a 3 min video and I was back to work!!

I actually watched a few of the lessons on Blogging…

The fact that you can do it at your own pace, whenever you want for as long as you want is the best. You don’t have to block out a Tuesday night. You don’t have to go anywhere. You don’t have to change out of your p.j.’s. You can take 5 mins out of your lunch and watch a lesson!

Check it out! I think you’ll get hooked. (I wish I did get a commission on everyone I send there!! )

My Favorite Photoshop “Action”

I am shooting pretty much 100% digital now. And as a rule I find most images that come from digital cameras are a bit flat for my taste. I prefer an image with some “snap”. Most of the time I spend a fair amount of time “working” an image once I get it into Photoshop. But sometimes I just want to get a quick image out to someone and I want it to have that “snap”. But quite honestly, I use the following “action” on a lot of my images even if I am spending a lot of time on them…

Give your Image a Quick “Snap” (Increasing Contrast… in a snap)

1.) Have your image open in Photoshop (For this we are assuming it has only one layer)
2.) Duplicate the layer (Layer > Duplicate Layer – Click “OK”)
3.) With the new layer selected in the Layers Palette ( this happens by default) Click on the Blending Mode Menu (that little drop-down menu in the layers palette – below the word “Layers” – that by default says “Normal”) and select “Soft Light”
4.) Click on “Opacity” – just to the right of where it now says “Soft Light” – and either adjust the slider or type in a numeric value that will give you a pleasing effect. Most of the time I use 25% – 35% but on some images I have used 50% / 75% / and even in rare cases 100%! It’s whatever looks good to you!
5.) Flatten your image ( Layer > Flatten Image)
6.) Save your image

That’s it!

A quick little increase in contrast to give your image a little extra punch.

Point`n Shoot

I get a lot of people asking me advice on what camera to buy. Now if you were asking me about the pricey high-end cameras I would definitely have an opinion on that. But in the “Point and Shoot” arena…. man – it’s almost impossible to stay on top of it all. I don’t know about you but for me I research and stay on top of the stuff I use on a day to day basis. Anything else…. sorry! Not enough time in the day or room in my head!!

I will tell a couple of my considerations…

1.) Megapixels… that’s pretty obvious. The more the better.. as long as they are “Good” megapixels. Resolution is great but if the quality is bad then it’s kind of pointless. But I certainly want something that I can easily print more than a 5×7!
2.) Optical Zoom… Personally I find any digital zoom factor unusable. So the better you optical zoom again, the better the quality f the photo
3.) Lag time…. There is nothing more annoying then pressing a shutter button to capture a moment and finding that the moment was gone long before the camera ever took the photo. This to me may be the most import of the three for me on a “Point and Shoot”

Doing research at the moment you are going to buy is very important. There are new models coming out all the time and if you do all your research and then buy a month later, you may be wasting your time!

Go to a REPUTABLE camera store and listen to what the guy or girl behind the counter has to say. They are the ones that really keep up on all of this. They know the latest and greatest and what’s coming down the pike.

I am always a fan of Canon. Their sensor technology is really some of the best out there. So with them you’ll usually be getting “Good” pixels.

Strangely enough though, when I bought my first Digital Point & Shoot less then a year ago.. I did not get a Canon. I wanted as many megapixels as I could jam into the smallest package possible. So I ended up with a Samsung NV3! I wanted it for quick vacation snaps where I did not care about lugging around my big SLR but want to capture moments for personal use. With 7.2 Megapixels in a 3.75″ x 2.25″ x .75″ package that fits in my shirt pocket with tons of room to spare, it has a pretty good quality image! It also has a bunch of bells and whistles that I don’t use, like MP3 capabilities, etc. I occasionally use the movie feature.. and definitely use the manual adjustment options.

One of the best features is that it LOOKS GREAT! (That’s always important!) and my biggest gripe is… you guessed it, the lag time. I HATE IT! It’s not horrible in the scheme of things but it’s still way too long for me.

My best advice is to go out and hold these things in your hand and buy the one that fits you lifestyle the best. The one your gut tells you to buy. Everyone has different parameters for what they are looking to have their cameras do, so consequently your individual priorities will probably send you in a very different direction than mine.

Hasselblad H3 vs. Phase One P45 vs. Canon 1Ds Mark II

At the risk of scaring some folks away right off the bat, I wanted to share some insights with you about a camera demo that we recently had here.

I will emphatically state before I get started though that although this topic may be directed at the higher end professional photographers out there, this by no means is an indicator of the tone of future posts. I am really hopping to address a huge range of topics from simple to complex. So even if you have what seems to be the most basic of questions… I hope you’ll ask them!

So … last week we had Jeff Payne, a rep from Hasselblad, and Ken Dethloff from the Pro Department at Samy’s Pasadena come over to the studio to give us a demo of the Hasselblad H3. They also brought along an H2 with a Phase One P45 back. For those of you not familiar with these cameras and backs, they are medium format digital camera / back combinations both having a 39 Megapixel resolution and their cost is in the $30K – $50K range for a fairly complete system.

I have been shooting with Canon digital cameras since I migrated from film. I started out with the 11mp EOS 1Ds and two years later moved to the 1Ds Mark II when they were released. The Canons have been real workhorses and we have been very pleased with their performance.

I had never felt the need to step up to one of the bigger cameras especially after a reality check on the 14 Days in Great Britain project when a Hasselblad rep traveled with us with the new (at the time) H2 and the Imacon back. Richard Knapp, (the studio portrait photographer for the project) was shooting with this system while I was shooting the environmental portraits with the Canon. We took a break during one of our light days and shot an “apples to apples” comparison of the exact same subject with the exact same lighting and compared images. EVERYONE was surprised by the results. Personally I was relieved! Although there was “some” difference in the clarity of the medium format image, it certainly did not warrant spending an additional $20-$30K. And in fact the Canon image out performed the higher-end image in shadow and noise.

Now… that was in 2005… ages ago in digital years and certainly much has improved since then. So when I had two different clients ask for 39 Megapixel files for upcoming shoots, I thought well, maybe now it’s time to take another look at this..
I did a bunch of research and for me it came down to two major players. Hasselblad and Phase One. I have been using the Phase One capture software for years and again have been very pleased with the files it turns out. And ultimately thought that if I were to purchase a package I would probably go with the Hasselblad H2 body with a Phase One P45+ Back.

Well one of the two jobs demanding the larger files disappeared and so I opted to rent a set-up for the other to test drive it and see how it did. I was not jumping up and down. Yes the photos were big and sharp, but I had a huge issue with the mask that you had to put into the H2 viewfinder to see the cropping for the Phase One back. It was nowhere close to accurate. And when you are spending that kind of money….. well.

Even before this, I had been talking to Ken over at Samy’s about my options. In the meantime I guessed he mentioned to the local Hasselblad rep that he had a client who was looking strongly at the H2/P45 combination. And the rep said “Give me the chance to demo the H3 and he’ll change his mind.” I said “Fine!”

Now I don’t want to get into all of the features of the various cameras in this post, that’s not why I am writing it. But Jeff and Ken came over last Tuesday to give the demo. I had invited my assistant Dylan, and colleagues Lilly Dong and Tia Magallon to join in as I knew they would all be interested in the results. We did not get overly technical in this demo, we just did some down and dirty real world tests, which frankly is what really matter to me. So as we went through the process it became abundantly clear that should I want to do this, the H3 was the better choice. One of the big drawbacks to the Hasselblad is their FlexColor software. Most will agree it’s not great software. But according to Jeff they have rebuilt the interface from the ground up and will be releasing a new version later this year. But as far as image quality I was shocked to see that the FlexColor actually did a better job. One thing I was not aware of until the demo is that the Phase One and H3 use the exact same sensor! Given that the whole H3 package was for me a much better system. Jeff was true to his word. I was a fairly quick convert. Which is unusual.

But wait… it’s not over yet!

Then we decided to take the same photos with the EOS 1Ds Mk II… and surprisingly after Jeff & Ken left we all agreed that the Mk II was still doing a comparatively great job!!

Consequently I have put purchase plans on hold at this point. Canon is rumored to be releasing a “bigger and better” camera towards the end of the year. These rumors (and there are many of them!) include all kinds of things… 22mp, live preview, faster frame rate, less noise and better shadows, self cleaning sensor, and two disturbing rumors, 1.)that one would need to buy all new lenses , 2.) $15k price for just the body.

Well if the last two are indeed true I think my $ will be better spent on an H3, but if not I will be looking long and hard at the new Canon. Either way you’ll probably be hearing about new cameras at DHP by the end of the year…

Welcome to the DHP Blog!

So we have decided to put together a blog, which is a bit daunting for a couple of reasons;
1.) I am NOT blog savy!
2.) This is going to be on me to keep up with! (As if I don’t already have enough on my plate)
But.. I am also kind of excited about it at the same time.
I am really hoping that this will become a very interactive blog, and not just me blabbing on and on!
I stopped teaching Photography at Art Center about a year and a half ago. I had been teaching there since 1988 and had gone through a couple of “burn-outs” but ultimately had to stop because business had picked up to the point where I was not able to devote the appropriate amount of time to the students and class.
I miss it.
I am hoping that this blog will fill that void and that we can have some lively discussions and sharing of information.
I am hoping you will bring a lot of questions!

So check it out, participate, give feedback, ENJOY!


June 2007

Kay Warren Book Cover Image

This Month we had a great time shooting for Saturn. The concept for the project, revolving around the 2008 Outlook, was developed by the folks over at Deutsch Advertising. We probably shouldn’t jump the gun and blab the whole thing, as Saturn would most likely want to be the ones to reveal their own campaign. But we were amazed at just how much “stuff’ we could fit in the back of an Outlook! Regardless we did a fun week of shooting with a LOT of props. We will share this one photo with you, but to see the rest of what we did you’ll have to wait and grab a 2008 Outlook Brochure from your local dealer when they become available.

So much of what we have done over the last decade of shooting has been location lifestyle, but the team at Deutsch keeps inviting us to do studio still life / product work, which has been a wonderfully refreshing change. I must admit that this is one of the things I love most about my work, always something different, always something new.