RT2Photo: Blog http://www.rt2photo.com/blog en-us (C) RT2Photo paul@rt2photo.com (RT2Photo) Mon, 01 Apr 2013 18:52:00 GMT Mon, 01 Apr 2013 18:52:00 GMT http://www.rt2photo.com/img/s/v-5/u532261739-o745440747-50.jpg RT2Photo: Blog http://www.rt2photo.com/blog 120 80 Photographing a Spahten http://www.rt2photo.com/blog/2013/4/photographing-a-spahten Many of you know that I am a very active member of the New England Spahtens - we're an obstacle course race team based in New England, and this past weekend, we got together to train.

The venue was Harvard Stadium. We had nearly 100 members of the team show up, and give it everything they had, carrying sandbags, climbing walls, flipping and dragging tires. Of course, I brought my camera along, and after the training I setup for a series of portraits for anyone who wanted them.

I actually put a lot of thought into the setup. I wanted something I could be consistent and fast paced with, as I knew I would end up with a line of folks - the goal was to rattle off four or five photos of each person, or combination of people, and come away with at least two really good keepers.

The location was key - I went into the concourse area of the stadium, where vendors would setup during a game. It was tall, with long corridors of columns, and worked perfectly to give some visual hooks and interest.

This was going to be a two light setup - and since getting my 600ex-RTs, which use radio frequency for triggering, I didn't have to worry about line of site anymore - and for the record - they worked amazingly well the entire way through the set.

So - this is the kind of image we were taking, for a couple of hours, consistently. The cool tone, industrial blue background was achieved with the simple act of changing my white balance from Auto, to Tungsten - which has the effect of taking natural daylight tones and throwing them into the blue range.

I corrected for that, by putting a full CTO gel on my main light - so anywhere lit with the CTO'd light stayed regular tones, everything else went cool - including the rear light.

And how was it lit?

Nice and simple. A single 22" Beauty Dish with sock up front (with a full CTO gel in), and a totally bare bulb speedlite out back.

We moved things around a lot - that bare rear flash would go to either side, or directly behind someone for some awesome hair light. The Beauty Dish would move around and get in super close, or further back for some spread. 

They were both on separate channels, and set to a 2:1 ratio (the front light being twice the power of the rear), and full ETTL the whole time so I could quickly and easily move them around the place.

You can find a lot more of these right here:


and some of my personal favorites

paul@rt2photo.com (RT2Photo) http://www.rt2photo.com/blog/2013/4/photographing-a-spahten Mon, 01 Apr 2013 18:52:09 GMT
How to shoot a race http://www.rt2photo.com/blog/2013/1/how-to-shoot-a-race There is a huge difference when you pick up your camera to shoot a kid, or a wedding, or your spouse - then there is when you pick up the camera to shoot a race. Whole new kettle of fish. As my buddy Vince recently found out when he tried to photograph us at the Hangover Classic 5k on Jan 1st, 2013 - people move quick and there are a LOT of them. Spectators get in the way. Weather elements ruin your day.

So - here's a quick primer on things you should keep in mind when you show up at a 5k road race, or obstacle course event, and want to photograph the runners (whether that is *all* the runners, or just your family and friends).

Before you leave the house.

  • Spare batteries - shove them up your shirt. The cold weather will eat them.
  • Pack the longest zoom lens you have. Personally, I take a 70-200 f/4 L.
  • Pack a flash, and an external battery pack. With spare batteries. Shove them up your shirt too.
  • Pack a small stool. I got mine from Dicks for less than $30.
  • Pack a monopod. You can get them from Walmart for $15.

Of course, you can spend a TON on any of the above, and there are a bunch of different options, but this will get you started.



Getting to the right spot is essential.

  • The common "finish line" shot is a LOT harder to get than it seems, and folks will look at their absolute worst during the final sprint to the finish, so I rarely go for it. I may bring an "autocam" and leave it on an intervelometer if I think I can do so safely.
  • Once the start has gone, walk backwards into the course and look for a spot about 1/2 mile in that will be photographic as a background, but also thin the runners out a little - a long straight shoot down a road for example. For a 5k road race, you've got about 15minutes before the winner is going to be coming by - don't delay.
  • Once you have your spot, find a piece of course and go and sit on it. Get inside any barriers, move cones - do whatever you have to to be between the public and the runners. Once you have your stool, monopod and zoom lens out - folks will leave you alone. I have NEVER been questioned when I do this.
  • Park your butt on the stool, attach the monopod, set a shooting angle so you're shooting UP at the runners, not directly at them, and patiently wait for the lead guy.
  • Pick a shady spot for the runners to come through, or get the sun to the front and side of them. The flash is for those moments when you find the course is putting the sun to the runners backs and you've got a terrible problem with back lighting.


Configuring your camera correctly is essential. I shoot with a Canon 7D, so most of my settings will have that in mind. Nikon shooters, you're on your own.

  • Single point auto focus - this will let you put a single dot on the runners face/body and focus on it. using group focus modes will focus on their arms as they swing forwards, or the traffic cones in the middle.
  • AI Servo - this will then track that focus point, and lock your focus down. Note - there are a bunch of custom functions that let you control the sensitivity and speed of this mode, and until you know what they do, ignore them.
  • Shoot in JPG - controversial, as most pro photographers will recommend RAW all day every day. This is the exception. You may be taking LOTS of photos in quick succession, and you need the write speed to your memory card. You may also want to consider reducing the resolution your camera is shooting in, again - smaller files mean faster write speeds. Of course, shooting in JPG means you had better get your white balance and exposure correct before you even start shooting.
  • Manual mode - be careful. Set your aperture, set your shutter speed, but be aware of changing conditions and cloud cover. Slightly over expose if possible, and be wide open if possible. 1/400th should be the slowest shutter speed you go for. f/4 or wider if possible. ISO is where you have the flexibility.
  • Single Shot mode - the best way to spot someone who doesn't know what they are doing is to listen to their camera. Does it sound like a 12 frame per second machine gun any time someone passes them? Then they are praying like hell they get a shot. Don't be this guy. Instead, get the running in your frame - let them get closer. Lock your focus point on them and track them. Let them fill the shot. Click. Now move to the next runner and repeat. When you have large packs of runners coming at you, this process is no different, just quicker.

Your goal is to come away with one well exposed, well framed photo of as many runners and athletes as possible. Once you are comfortable with the basics, you can start worrying about additional lighting, leg and foot locations (try not to chop them off at the knee as they run), and interacting with the runners (I frequently ask them for a smile, or a thumbs up, or shout encouragement).


Fitness Concepts 5k 2012 - part one of the North Country Quad Series


paul@rt2photo.com (RT2Photo) How to Race Photography http://www.rt2photo.com/blog/2013/1/how-to-shoot-a-race Fri, 04 Jan 2013 20:35:32 GMT
New gear http://www.rt2photo.com/blog/2012/12/new-gear One of my "signature" techniques with my photography is lighting. I don't bill myself as a natural light photography, and I *firmly* believe that people who try and talk down flash or strobe lighting, and bill themselves as somehow purer or better because they only use natural light simply don't know what they are doing with strobes.

Personally, my lighting of choice are speedlites - Canon branded flashes. There's a whole world of "off camera lighting" out there, and how well you figure this world out dictates how good you are at using these speedlites. Personally, they appeal to the gadget geek in me, while letting me get creative and dramatic.

This photo - one of my favorite "kid" portraits from 2012 - has three speedlites in use, balancing with the natural sunlight of the day

RT2Photo: Fall 2012 &emdash;

While this handsome chap was only lit with one

RT2Photo: Death Racers: Keith and Angela &emdash;

I challenge anyone to tell me they are somehow better, or worse because they weren't lit with pure sunlight :)


Of course, you can get dramatic and do things you simply could never do in "natural" lighting. This was lit with only two speedlites - one of which had an orange gel on it

RT2Photo: Harvard Holiday Training 2012 - New England Spahtens &emdash;


And to the point of my post - I've recently sold on my old 580exII's, which could only be triggered with a cable, or infrared (like your TV remote) - which meant shooting outside was always a challenge in getting good line of sight, not putting them too far away from each other, and making sure no one was blocking the receiver - and replace them with three 600ex-RTs - which have radio wave triggering. This means I now have much greater range, no line of sight problems ... I can hide speedlites behind walls, in softboxes ... anywhere I like within around 100 feet, and still get the amazing, dramatic - or simple and complimentary lighting that I'm going for.

I can't wait for 2013 to hit, and get the chance to really play with these babies.

paul@rt2photo.com (RT2Photo) canon gear speedlites http://www.rt2photo.com/blog/2012/12/new-gear Mon, 31 Dec 2012 13:48:47 GMT
Bye bye SmugMug http://www.rt2photo.com/blog/2012/9/bye-bye-smugmug If you're in the photography field, you no doubt heard the news that SmugMug was raising their prices. By quite a considerable amount. Double. You may also know that SmugMug was the service I was using to host my website, galleries and handle my printing. It may also be interesting to know that they took a percentage of every print, and that percentage didn't change.

So, the dinosaur in the room - no new features, no reduction in print percentage, no timeline for updates - and at double the cost. Why should we stay?

You can go check their site out, and see the videos they posted explaining their desicion - they justified it by saying they hadn't increased prices in 7 years, they hadn't anticipated future storage or bandwidth needs ... none of it made it any easier for me to find double the fee ...


I had been with them for two years. When I first joined them, I ran into limitations, frustrations and road blocks aplenty. Never anything critical, but little, niggly, annoying things.


  • I couldn't nest my categories very deeply (for example, I could NOT have Portraits / Families / Jones / Christmas ... it would stop at Portraits / Jones)
  • To make changes to my template, I had to know CSS, HTML and Javascript. Or know someone who did. Or find / borrow / steal code from somewhere else and figure out how to implement it. SmugMug sites have a certain "look" to them, that everyone knows too.
  • If I was photographing an Event - their events system was HORRIBLE. I'm sure if I shot your event, you were confused by favorites (what were they for?) and logging in.
  • Frequent downtime, and almost weekly maintenance outages ... who the hell needs to pull their entire site down for maintenance these days?!


There were many others. Nothing critical. When I signed up, these were all assured to be fixed / changed / upgraded - whatever, and it always seemed to be on the near horizon. However, two years later, when they doubled their prices, and still nothing had changed - I had to make a call. Do I renew at the cheaper rate while I can and buy another year of waiting and biting my tongue, or do I find a new home.


Happily for me - Zenfolio bubbled to the top. They offered much the same feature set as SmugMug, and roughly the same price as their original price - but they were light years ahead on the management side. I can offer better looking websites, with much better management tools, an integrated blog (thats what you're reading now), and take payments by credit or even offer PayPal without having to jump through huge, custom integration hoops. They have kick ass events, kick ass coupons ...


SmugMug do somethings well - they have partnerships with some of the best labs out there, and the folks manning their support desk, rightly so, are called Hero's. They have fostered some amazing brand loyalty amongst professional photographers too.

But, Zenfolio is snapping at their heels, and doing some things as well, or better. I worked with their support team, and they were just as responsive, just as helpful, but didn't have the fancy superhero facade of SmugMug - they just got the job done. Their price is right, their features are in many cases better.


Time will tell, but I have a happy new home - I hope you, my customers and fans, enjoy it too!


paul@rt2photo.com (RT2Photo) smugmug smugmugged zenfolio http://www.rt2photo.com/blog/2012/9/bye-bye-smugmug Fri, 14 Sep 2012 02:29:50 GMT
Spartan Race, Hurricane Heat 16 http://www.rt2photo.com/blog/2012/8/Spartan-Race-Hurricane-Heat-16 Lets get some background out of the way – Spartan Race is a series of obstacle course races that I’ve been running since 2010 – but you probably know what they are. The Hurricane Heat is a special, untimed, team based run of the course that happens the morning of, or night before – born out of a cancelled race back in 2011 due to Hurricane Irene. This is a review / write up of the Hurricane Heat from the 2012 New England Sprint race, and has little to nothing to do with photography


They are special. They push you physically and mentally, as well as test and grow your ability to work in a team. They are rewarding, I’m already booked for the 2013 Hurricane Heat.


None of that tells you what they are – and because each HH is different, it’s hard to explain them well. Instead, I’ll tell you my experience of Hurricane Heat 16, the one year anniversary.
I hadn’t anticipated that the Hurricane Heat would actually start well before the 5:30am Saturday meeting time. Required gear lists were being teased all week (Thanks Tommy Mac!), and when they finally came out – confusion reigned when we realized there were different lists … oh boy … would we need the egg? The candle? what was the jump rope for? Sandles?! My only advice for future HH participants – just go with it – it’s part of the experience, and if you let them get in your heads now …


We met in a parking lot at 5:30am – with stern warnings not to be the last person there, and strong advice not to be the first either. Before we knew it, we were doing burpees. Then more burpees. Then more burpees. Just for fun, you know. Teams of 25 were formed, and team names made up – my team became the Junior Varsity Ninja Death Sqaud … didn’t take long for us to become simply Team Ninja. We moved onto the course and started doing more burpees, jumping jacks, lining up on the trail and doing some “rocking chair” movements as a group (I’m sure they looked better than they felt …) – at one point, a lovely young French lady walked across us, counting aloud and we were told to remember our number – I was soixante et un, but of course, we never used it again … We formed back up as a team, and wisely gave ourselves team numbers so we could easily stick together – from this point on, I was Ninja Two (also known as “English Ninja” – but I tended to think of myself as “Shouty Ninja”, as I seemed to do a lot of that …)




Then we started moving. At this point, a blow by blow recap of the four hours would follow, but it’s a total blur, so you’re just going to get the highlights. It wouldn’t matter anyway, you won’t be doing the same things. We moved through the course sideways, backwards, in loops – sometimes we didn’t even run through the course at all.




As a team, we had to carry several tractor tires, with one of our team mates perched on top. As a team, we had to all make it to the top of the 15′ rope – which started in chest deep water – and if you ever want to see an example of team work – ask 25 random strangers to help each other up a rope. We went through the barbed wire crawl in both directions, we hopped in the water filled trenches several times, we climbed all kinds of walls. We climbed the cargo net, ran down the hill, then picked up a buddy (Hi Jessica!) and carried them back up again. Then we did the same thing with 40lb Spartan Pancakes. We chanted the Warrior Ethos at the top of the slope – led on by the infamous Sgt Sedlack, and paused for a photo op.




I will always place the mission first
I will never accept defeat
I will never quit
I will never leave a fallen comrade


One of my favorite moments was around 3 hours in – we were sharing the course with the Elite and early waves, and Tommy Mac had to get the HH’ers from one point of the course to another through a series of single track paths (that happened to run through muddy swamps) – without interrupting the athletes on the course. So, as a single file, we hoofed it. I was fortunate to be right up front, and to see the look of astonishment on the athletes as a pack of backpacked, muddy Hurricane Heaters overtook them as we bombed through was priceless. Weren’t we supposed to be the tired ones?




That gear list we agonized over for a week? We used the eggs – in one instance, two people from our team had to be in the air, with eggs, while we went over walls and through nets (this will show how quickly your teams will come together …). In the second instance, we threw them, at a 6′ wall with strict instructions not to miss or we’d do burpees. Miss? A six foot wall? Someone did. Burpees! I laughed every time I approached that wall for the rest of the weekend – how on *earth* do you miss a huge ass wall?


Before we knew it, we’re back at the top of the main hill, forming up behind the fire obstacle. Sgt Sedlack is leading us through louder and louder repetitions of the Warrior Ethos, and we can see the crowds at the bottom of the hill, but they can’t see us. We get louder and louder, then GO! A 250 strong pack of screaming Hurricane Heaters leaped over the fire and bombed down the hill – we hit the 45 degree soapy wall (please don’t slip, please don’t slip … this wall killed me last year!), then through the Spartans to the finish line!




Yeah, that was awesome. I walked right out into some friends who were getting ready for their heat, and some more who were volunteering at the finish line – I got the huge compliment “You’re crazy!”, and I couldn’t get the big, sh*t eating grin off my face.


An hour later I was wearing my Hurricane Heat dogtags, changed, and lining up with the same friends to go out and run the course “properly” – and bugging the crap out of them with my “when we did this earlier” talk. My time sucked, and I didn’t care – I still had a big grin slapped on my face.


Hurricane Heat – big thumbs up. See you in 2013.


All photos thanks to Amanda Ricciardi and her father, Richard Ricciard who ran along after us with a camera :)

paul@rt2photo.com (RT2Photo) Chat hurricane heat spartan race http://www.rt2photo.com/blog/2012/8/Spartan-Race-Hurricane-Heat-16 Fri, 17 Aug 2012 06:09:43 GMT
How to shoot a Spartan http://www.rt2photo.com/blog/2012/8/How-to-shoot-a-Spartan I’ve shared a few photos from this series already – but I really wanted to take some time to share the story behind one of my favorites, and for the photographers out there, a little bit about how it was shot, and what the lighting for the shoot was.

The goal for this shoot was to take local Spartan Race elite, Andrew Hostetler, and get him some great photos to use in his application for the elite entry of (the aptly named) Epic Racing Arena. We wanted trail running, portraits, mountain and outdoors and heavy things being carried.

Primarily, I was shooting with my Canon 7D body, and a combination of 70-200 f/4 and the new 40mm f/2.8 lens. The photo I’m going to be sharing here was shot on the super sharp, relatively bargain priced 70-200 f/4, which you can pick up for around $500 and is a STEAL, if you ask me! I was shooting with available lighting – this means I was using the light available too me, which was a combination of the sun, filtered through the trees, and up to three Canon 580 EXII speedlites. This was not a time to try and shoot with with nothing but the ambient sunlight – it was coming through some heavy tree cover, which would have left a dabbled, spotty lighting pattern that would have sucked.

This is the shot we’ll be talking about today – we’ll cover how it was setup and how it was lit.

Andrew carrying a stone

Canon 7D, 70-200 f/4 L @ ISO400 f/4 1/250s 75mm

This particular photo was shot later in the day – we’d already been up the mountain and down the mountain, and we were thinking of wrapping up for the day – I realized we hadn’t really lifted any “heavy sh*t” yet, and whats more Spartan Race than picking up heavy things for no real reason? Andrew found a handy rock, picked it up and hefted it to his shoulder – where I promptly made him wait while I get the lights setup :) As you can see, he was already dirty – no makeup needed here! After a little guidance to get his pose right, and get more of his arm in the shot, we took a few frames.

Lighting diagram

Lighting diagram

This was a relatively simple one to light -

Camera position was at a good distance from Andrew – I wanted to make sure he was nice and sharp, but the background trees were blurred and pretty.

My main light was a single 580 EXII in a Westcott Apollo Orb – a 43″ roundish softbox. This was positioned just in front of Andrew, pointing backwards of him a little – I wanted to catch him with the rim of the light, not the full on panel. I love this modifier – it’s big, but collapses down to a nice size, and can take one, two or three speedlites easily if I need more power.

My secondary light was a 580 EXII, Totally bare, no modifiers – I wanted the back/side lighting to be hard and harsh.

All the speedlites were shot on ETTL – I had +1 compensation for some of the shots, but this, with it’s wide open aperture, didn’t need it. I was triggering my main light using a 24′ ETTL cable from Flashzebra. The second light was triggered with the built in wireless system – line of site was no issue here. Personally, I love ETTL – it saves a lot of time, especially when you’re setting up on a trail full of hikers and spectators, or fighting off mosquitoes!

Note: I think it’s interesting that you can tell, so easily, how different a modified speedlite (in the Orb) is, compared to the unmodified speedlite (the rim) – both on the same power. The harder, edgier, brighter lights on the side with the rock give this that gritty feel that was part of our remit, while the main subject of the photo, Andrew, is lit nice and evenly from the big Orb.

So, there you have it – a bit of a how-to lighting diagrammed, behind the scenes of what ended up being a really neat shoot that got some great end results – huge thanks to Andrew for helping me out, and good luck to him on his application to Epic racing!

More photos:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10151020754653872.456157.106747678871&type=1

RT2photo.com: http://www.rt2photo.com/Sports/Portraits/Andrew-Hostetler/

paul@rt2photo.com (RT2Photo) Camera News Setup Tips behind the scenes how to obstacle course racing http://www.rt2photo.com/blog/2012/8/How-to-shoot-a-Spartan Sun, 05 Aug 2012 17:24:00 GMT
More bad (drive) news! http://www.rt2photo.com/blog/2012/5/More-bad-drive-news You may remember me writing about the 6tb Mybook II drive that suddenly decided not to let me write to it in OSX – and the scramble I had to get 2.5tb of data moved before I formatted the thing.


Guess what? It happened again. Amazing.

So – no more messing. I’ve got a 3tb G-Drive being over nighted from Amazon, and will be moving everything onto that. The MyBook II will be un-raided (is that a word?) and split into two, then just become a redundant backup drive.

Safe to say, I can’t recommend Western Digital MyBook II‘s anymore!


paul@rt2photo.com (RT2Photo) Chat News http://www.rt2photo.com/blog/2012/5/More-bad-drive-news Tue, 08 May 2012 18:40:05 GMT
Printing and wrapping http://www.rt2photo.com/blog/2012/4/Printing-and-wrapping I love getting prints made up – and SmugMug make a great partner for me to do that. Of all the types of print they allow me to offer, one of my favorite is their ThinWrap. You can read more about what they are, and see a short promo video here:


Basically, they are a high quality print, wrapped on a board, coated and float mounted.

Recently, I took the family, my camera and a single, fixed focal length lens to Old Sturbridge Village (we have memberships, highly recommend it!) – an exercise in creativity, I could only use 28mm as my focal length, and I set the camera to shoot in black and white only. Of course, I had Dylan on my other arm, so not being able to use two hands to zoom a lens was a consideration too.  I found it more of a creative process when I was limited like this – it means you get in closer to your subject and pay more attention to your composition and framing.

At the end of the day, I came home with a gallery full of photos that you can browse and purchase here:


OSV on a warm sunny day OSV on a warm sunny day

I spent a bit of time “living with” my favorite photos – turning them into screen savers, using them as desktop images – I wanted to be sure I liked them enough to really live with nice, big prints. Once I’d made my selection, I pulled the trigger and ordered myself two large ThinWraps, and one smaller ThinWrap (wifes choice) to go up on the walls of the home.

Then I had to wait – the worst bit – but finally they arrived



Now I had to find somewhere to hang them – they sat around for a few days – but now I’ve got them in their new home.

If you were interested in what these look like on the mounted board, he’s a side profile shot

ThinWraps make a gorgeous addition to your walls – I plan on making more for myself!

paul@rt2photo.com (RT2Photo) Chat Tips http://www.rt2photo.com/blog/2012/4/Printing-and-wrapping Wed, 11 Apr 2012 17:51:16 GMT
Ham of the race http://www.rt2photo.com/blog/2012/4/Ham-of-the-race As you’re aware, I encourage all the runners, racers, riders, walkers, joggers, hoppers, climbers and crawlers who pass my camera during an event to give me a wave, a thumbs up, a smile even – something to show me you’re enjoying yourself (even if, at that moment in time, you may not really be having a ton of fun!)


Here’s some more inventive … introducing the “Ham of the Race” competition – this rewards the hams – the people who do something really cool for the camera – the people who really stand out. At a race, I may be shooting thousands of photos, and when I’m clicking through them in the days that follow, it’s nice to come across something I didn’t notice, or someone who’s really living it up – so I want to reward those people – long live the ham!

Almost “hammy” enough


What will you get if you’re the ham of the race? Your choice of a full resolution download from the gallery, or credit enough to get you an 8*10 print to hang on your walls – you pick.

Rules – Choice of “ham” is based on how much of a chuckle I get during processing, and is not scientific or open for discussion. Prizes are an 8*10 or a full resolution download with personal use license. Chosen “ham” needs to get in touch with me once their photo has been posted to Facebook, and redeem their prize within 1 month of the race date.

paul@rt2photo.com (RT2Photo) News http://www.rt2photo.com/blog/2012/4/Ham-of-the-race Sun, 08 Apr 2012 10:22:26 GMT
How good are your backups? http://www.rt2photo.com/blog/2012/4/How-good-are-your-backups I came downstairs this morning, and sat at my computer to check out Facebook and do some clicking around, and OSX kindly informed me that my main Storage drive was no longer writable, and would I kindly format it to resolve the issue.

Wait – what?!

That storage drive is a 6tb Firewire 800 Western Digital beast. It’s relatively new. Oh, and it has all of my Aperture libraries and iMovie archives. Format *what* ???

I tried using disk repair, but apparently it doesn’t like RAID drives. I tried running some of the disk utility commands from a command prompt, with no joy or change. I also had a shoot today, so I knew I would be leaving shortly and would need that drive when I got back home – with several memory cards full of gigs and gigs of photos.

It’s times like this you start to wonder how good your backup routine really is …

I’ve been using Apertures built in Vault system to archive my photos off to a secondary drive. I also have a cloud backup system that is currently, slowly, uploading my stuff to the magic cloud. Vaults were going to have to be my saviour.

I had a couple of things on the drive that weren’t backed up with Vault, so I moved them off to any space I could find – then after getting back from my shoot I hit the magic “format” button and wiped the drive out. *GULP*

Happily, I’m here to report that the Vault worked just fine, and I now have a full copy of the libraries ready to go, no hassle, no sweat – well, other than from me.

Turns out the problem was a permissions issue – the drive is healthy and happy. Now to buy another layer of drive backups! …

How good is *your* backup routine?

paul@rt2photo.com (RT2Photo) Chat News Tips http://www.rt2photo.com/blog/2012/4/How-good-are-your-backups Sat, 07 Apr 2012 18:04:35 GMT
Smile for the camera! http://www.rt2photo.com/blog/2012/3/Smile-for-the-camera As a fellow runner, I know that after I’ve crossed that finish line and headed home, I’m excited to see the shots of my big day – especially if I ran with friends or family – rightly so, I’m proud of our athletic acheivements that day, and want to share that.

Of course, that quickly sours when I see that the shots are of me, sucking air, hair slicked down my face with sweat – and me looking a little less than my best! It’s disappointing, and bums me out. True story, I buzzed all the hair off my head after seeing one of these photos.

See? Thats some BAD hair!

So now I’ve been on both sides of the lens. I know it takes two to tango! Your race photographer can’t help you sweat less, but if you want to increase the chances of awesome race photos – here’s a few tips:

Wear something bright – costumes may or may not be appropriate, but avoid being one of the masses in black on black on black fitness gear. This makes it a million times easier to find your photos later too! If you run with a team, wear matching shirts so the photographer knows to photograph you all together if it’s possible.

Smile for the camera! If you see a big white telephoto lens pointing in your direction, look at it, give it a smile and a thumbs up, and say hi! Your photographer will be taking thousands of photos, make yours the one that he comes back to in post processing.

Huff and Cuff 5k - 2011

Run! If we catch you at a spot in the race when you are struggling for breath and walking for a period, just take a stride or two as you pass the camera – your memories of the race will be of you running like the wind – this will make sure your pictures capture that acheivement!

Have fun!!

It simply boils down to – smile for the camera, have fun, give us a wave – enjoy your day and your achievement!

Huff and Cuff 5k - 2011
(well, someone is having fun)

paul@rt2photo.com (RT2Photo) Chat Tips http://www.rt2photo.com/blog/2012/3/Smile-for-the-camera Fri, 30 Mar 2012 13:59:52 GMT
Casting call for athletic types … http://www.rt2photo.com/blog/2012/3/Casting-call-for-athletic-types Every year I kick off the spring season with a photoshoot for someone I normally wouldn’t have had the chance to work with before, or on a topic I normally wouldn’t get the chance to shoot. Something to get the creative juices going and set the direction for the coming year.


Considering that in the past, I’ve been very actively chasing down every Obstacle Course Race I can physically get too, and I’m already scheduled to photograph a ton of road races in 2012, my intent this year is to do an active, outdoors sporty photoshoot.


So – I’m putting this out there – roll call! Are you active? Do you do a lot of trail running? Do you do Obstacle Course specific training? Are you involved in the fitness industry or community, and could use some high quality portraits in your marketing material?


Get in touch – I’d love to talk to you.

Paul@rt2photo.com or through Facebook messenger

paul@rt2photo.com (RT2Photo) News roll call http://www.rt2photo.com/blog/2012/3/Casting-call-for-athletic-types Mon, 19 Mar 2012 09:48:56 GMT
For Sale – 430ex II speedlite $230 shipped http://www.rt2photo.com/blog/2012/1/For-Sale-430ex-II-speedlite-230-shipped I’m upgrading my entire speedlite collection to 580exII’s so I can use external battery packs, and keep everything consistent. The last one is being shipped to me today. It arrived.

So, that means I’ve got my excellent condition 430 EX II speedlite available for sale. I’ve owned this since July 2010, and it is in pretty much perfect condition (it is used, but has no visible scuff marks or dings). Includes all the boxes, manuals, pouch and stand

These are excellent little speedlites – powerful, reliable. I’ve used this in softboxes, umbrella’s, with Lumiquest products, gels – it’s never skipped a beat. I once had to do an entire outdoor location shoot with this as my one and only light after my only 580ex II took a tumble and it’s hot shoe fell off!

Shot with the 430ex II on a monopod, with a lumiquest pocket bounce as the only light!

These currently retail for $299 on Amazon, and resale prices on used speedlites tend to be good, with little drop in value.

$230 includes shipping – comment or contact me (paul@rt2photo.com) if you have any questions!

paul@rt2photo.com (RT2Photo) 430 430 ex 430ex II Camera Chat News canon flash for sale sale speedlite http://www.rt2photo.com/blog/2012/1/For-Sale-430ex-II-speedlite-230-shipped Wed, 25 Jan 2012 06:59:40 GMT
Timelapse with Camalapse http://www.rt2photo.com/blog/2012/1/Timelapse-with-Camalapse Timelapse is a realm of photography I’ve started to get into over the past 6 months or so – and it’s a weird, technical, artistic world indeed.

Mostly, I’ve been using my GoPro Hero HD. It’s got a built in intervalometer, is easy to setup and easy to use

Shot with my fun GoPro Hero HD, stuck to my deck door with the suction mount. A gorgeous sunrise over the snowy morning. Enjoy!

To get some more animation in a timelapse, it’s handy to have some way to move the camera, and a slider or other mechanical systems can run to many hundreds of dollars.

Enter, the Camalapse.

Camalapse timelapse device

This is basically an egg timer. However, it has a custom shell (and doesn’t “ding”) with markings and tripod mounts, and like any kitchen timer, it’s good for a one hour, full 360 revolution. Happily though, they have marked it up in 15min increments if you want to do something a bit shorter, or don’t need it to rotate the full 360.

It has a standard tripod screw on the top, and socket on the bottom – one dissapointment was that these are both plastic, so don’t over tighten them in case you screw up the threads.

Camalapse tripod mount

So, how does it work? Exactly as you’d expect! I took this quick video this morning – camalapse on my desk, one hour, 360 degree rotation

I’m pretty happy with it – I can find uses at events, and shows I photograph to get some neat fusion video. For the $25 it’ll run you, it’s a nice, neat tool. It can be stacked on top of another camalapse too for some more neat effects.

Points to note:

It’s only capable of holding a small camera (no DSLRs)
It’s pretty light weight itself.
Plastic threads, don’t over tighten.
Not programmable or adjustable – 1h = 360degree, or variations up to that.
It’s dirt cheap. Enjoy.

Get your own here!


paul@rt2photo.com (RT2Photo) Camera News Tips camalapse gopro hero hd motion product review time lapse http://www.rt2photo.com/blog/2012/1/Timelapse-with-Camalapse Mon, 23 Jan 2012 10:34:29 GMT
Browncoat Ball 2011 http://www.rt2photo.com/blog/2011/10/Browncoat-Ball-2011 This post is going to be one huge geekfest. Not only is it going to cover science fiction, but it’s going to cover technical components of photograph and lighting. If both of those topics, especially together, make you yawn – you may want to skip on over this :)

Several months ago, I was approached by Melissa

(Say hi to her second brain)

to see if I could shoot the Browncoat Ball of 2011 – Browncoats being fans, followers and slightly obsessed individuals who love the Joss Whedon show, Firefly and it’s movie, Serenity. Being slightly geeky myself (only slightly), I jumped at the chance to shoot the shindig ball on the Saturday.


Whats a shindig?

Think, big formal ball, classical music, dancing, gowns – and being a fan convention, costumes. Hell yes, I was in.

I’ve shot at the venue before – the Rotunda ballroom at the lush Crowne Plaza hotel in Rhode Island. The room is big, round, and above all, brown. Really brown. Brown carpets, brown walls – and from a photography perspective, even the lights are brown (well, orange) – tungsten bulbs give off a pretty gross orange glow – and this room is lit with nothing else.

So, what does a photographer who is relying on a daylight balanced flash do? Break out the gels – in this case, a full CTO gel – which takes my flash, and turns the light it puts out from a blue daylight color, to a close or similar orange – hopefully matching the tungsten bulbs in heavy use in the Rotunda. Of course, I also tell my camera to use Tungsten white balance – which helps – but still doesn’t do the job entirely.

So, what next? The photos from the event are great – I’m really happy with them – as you can see, they look great

But, when someone wants a print – I don’t want to run the risk of their skin tones coming out oddly – every single print order I make will be hand edited first – the resulting file sent to the printers – this is the difference

Enjoy the full slideshow:

1080p slideshow!Buy this video in mobile or hi-def copies for your personal use :)http://www.rt2photo.com/buy/19739104_ks8PHX/1550349126_P5FQhrG/

paul@rt2photo.com (RT2Photo) Chat http://www.rt2photo.com/blog/2011/10/Browncoat-Ball-2011 Thu, 27 Oct 2011 11:47:14 GMT
Toy Town Duathlon 2011 – Time lapse mode http://www.rt2photo.com/blog/2011/10/Toy-Town-Duathlon-2011-Time-lapse-mode Shooting a running race is fairly simple – you park yourself on the course somewhere, and you photograph people as they come past. Simple, right?

Toy Town Duathlon

On Saturday, I was shooting a Duathlon – for those not aware, a Duathlon is a multi-sport event. In this case, a run, then a ride, then another run. The racers went out for a 2mile run around Winchendon, before coming back into the parking lot, hopping on their bikes, doing a 9 mile loop on the bikes, then back in again for a final 1mile sprint to the finish line. The problem for a lone photographer is that there is a TON of stuff going on, in a TON of different places, and I needed to be at all of them at once!

Toy Town Duathlon

So, rather than contract in a second or third photographer, for the Toy Town Duathlon at The Clark YMCA, I brought in robots :)

Well, kind of.

The gear:

For the parking lot (this would be catching runners leaving and returning, riders leaving and returning), I put up a GoPro Hero HD camera, with it’s time lapse mode set to take a shot every 2 or so seconds. This resulted in something around 650 photos.

I also wanted to catch the race finish line, so I put my trust first ever DSLR, a Canon Rebel XTI with a Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8 lens up high on a lightstand, with an intervelometer hanging off it set to take a photo ever 1 second. This resulted in taking almost 2500 photos!

This is the final result –

Toy Town Duathlon

The editing:

Straight from memory cards, I imported all the photos into new projects in Aperture 3 and ran some batch job edited (curves and vibrance adjustments mainly), before exporting them all back out again – taking care to make sure they were named sequentially.

Then, using Quicktime Pro 7 (and *only* 7 can do this) – you open the first image in the sequence and pick a frames per second speed. For both of these, I used 10fps, but using a higher fps will result in shorter, but smoother videos. Then, save these files as .mov’s

Lastly, open them up in iMovie ’11, merge them together, add some bumper images, then export again as 1080p HD video files.

This is the final *final* result

Toy Town Duathlon

paul@rt2photo.com (RT2Photo) Camera Editing Tips http://www.rt2photo.com/blog/2011/10/Toy-Town-Duathlon-2011-Time-lapse-mode Mon, 17 Oct 2011 10:23:32 GMT
Rugged Maniac 2011 videos http://www.rt2photo.com/blog/2011/10/Rugged-Maniac-2011-videos It took me a little longer than I wanted – simply because it’s kind of tricky to find somewhere to host a 2.5gb hi-def video file, but thats now resolved!

In September 2011 I ran the Rugged Maniac race in Southwick – an adveture / obstacle race over around 5k of motox track. It was pretty brutal, even compared to other races I’ve ran! Of course, when I’m crawling through mud, jumping off walls and getting wet, I don’t carry a big camera – but I do take my GoPro HD on a Chesty mount, and grab video footage!

You may have already seen the 7minute, edited version that gives you an idea of all the obstacles I hit

Rugged Maniac - edited, short version

But, you wouldn’t have seen the full length, ~40minute version yet. This is unedited, no music – I even left in the bits where I walked between obstacles!

Here it is:


paul@rt2photo.com (RT2Photo) Chat http://www.rt2photo.com/blog/2011/10/Rugged-Maniac-2011-videos Mon, 03 Oct 2011 16:00:02 GMT
The greatest camera in the world … http://www.rt2photo.com/blog/2011/8/The-greatest-camera-in-the-world This photo was taken with what I consider to be the greatest camera in the world. Hands down.

Dylan looking up at the sky

And why would I say this was taken with the greatest camera in the world?

It’s not the sharpest photo. It’s not the clearest photo. The dynamic range of the picture sucks, and I don’t have a RAW file to make edits with. The colors are muddy, and in hindsight, I would have spent some time with speedlites making that silhouette sharper.

This is why -

I was outside playing with Dylan, my 2 and a bit year old son, when he went on a wander up the hill to our front lawn. It was about 6pm on a gorgeous August evening and the sun was setting behind him. We both heard an engine noise, and looking up we saw a small prop plane circling around, getting ready to come down and land at our local small airport.

As we watched, the picture formed in my mind .. I knew he’d only be interested for a few moments, not enough time to run into the house to grab either my DSLR or my high end point and shoot. If I went looking for my speedlites and light stands, he would have got bored and wandered off, or the plane would have landed. The memory card for my DSLR was in my computer, so I’d have had to go find that. Would I have shot this with a wide angle lens, or moved back and zoomed in with a telephoto?

If I spent any time at all thinking about those things, or hunting for that equipment, I’d have lost the shot. It’s not a shot I can recreate again either. Dylan won’t stare at the sky for me for long, and that sunset will, eventually, set.

So, this photo was taken on an iPhone 3Gs. It was in my pocket. I used the Camera+ app, and even just waiting for that to open almost lost the shot for me. Sure, I’ll never be blowing this up to a large canvas print (I’d love to), but at least I have it – that moment in time – my two year old boy looking to the sky.

Never forget, it’s not the gear, it’s not the camera, it’s not the equipment – use whatever you have to hand, and don’t miss the moment.

paul@rt2photo.com (RT2Photo) Camera Chat http://www.rt2photo.com/blog/2011/8/The-greatest-camera-in-the-world Wed, 24 Aug 2011 06:06:39 GMT
Spartan Race 2011 http://www.rt2photo.com/blog/2011/8/Spartan-Race-2011 http://www.spartanrace.com

Spartan Race is next weekend!

What does this race mean? For me, two things – it was my first adventure race (at time of writing, I’m 6 races in, with 4 more on the calendar!), also it was my first taste into sports shooting, something I’ve been doing a lot more of this past 12 months.

An adventure race, or mud run – they go by many different names – is typically a race between 3 and 12 miles (3.1 miles / 5k is a very popular length), held on and off road, with obstacles as you go through. These obstacles could be walls, tunnels, mud, throwing things, jumping things – every race is different and every race is a unique set of obstacles.

Spartan Race in 2010 was the first race I ran that wasn’t a typical, point A to point B road race, and I got hooked. Since then, I’ve ran the Rugged Maniac (5k), the Ruckus Boston race twice (4 miles), Hopping Mad Mud Run (10k) and Warrior Dash (5k) – this weekend will be the second running of the Spartan Race.

As a sports shooter, I’ve contracted with a national company to shoot triathalons, epic adventure races (Tough Mudder in VT) and several road races (the Tufts Womens 10k comes to mind) – I’ve also independantly shot some local 5ks and kids races, with more on the calendar – it’s a unique challenge to get out there with a zoom and a monopod and get awesome shots!

Me too! @ the FitCon annual 5k

@ The Clark YMCA kids tri

Tufts 10k for Women. Shot on assignment for Brightroom
@ the Tufts 10k for Women

@ the Tough Mudder VT – I’ll be running this in 2012!

So, Spartan Race is special to me – the races keep me motivated to stay fit and active (I wasn’t always!), and shooting sports lets me stay involved in the field, and I hope that the photos I take of people doing these amazing things just may, one day, inspire someone else to go out and do something amazing too.

paul@rt2photo.com (RT2Photo) Chat http://www.rt2photo.com/blog/2011/8/Spartan-Race-2011 Tue, 23 Aug 2011 07:00:21 GMT
Studio time with Michael Baxter http://www.rt2photo.com/blog/2011/8/Studio-time-with-Michael-Baxter http://raksphoto.com/

I’ve just spent a full day in a studio (http://www.erricostudiophoto.com/) seconding to the wonderful Michael Baxter. He had four bellydancers from the New England area lined up for photoshoots, and as is typical from these events, I came away inspired, educated and generally, a better photographer for the experience. Big thanks to Amy for organizing the trip, and bringing me in!

Much of my photography (especially in 2011) has been done on location or outdoors, primarily due to a lack of space and equipment to make the kind of studio photos I see in my head – but watching Michael working with studio lights, using a variety of softboxes and then improvising and building out sets that you would never imagine could come from simple lights – I’m inspired all over again :)

On top of simple technical skills, Michael’s ability to work with his model – Amy and I joked that Michael could run an entire workshop solely on “schmoozing the dancers” – it’s always great to see someone who is so passionate and involved with the process!

Of course, this gushing post wouldn’t happen if it wasn’t for Michaels openness. His willingness to share – something frequently lacking in the photography community – is what makes him unique in my experience.

So – a simple day in a studio, under the guise of being there to move lights and do bulb runs, turns into an education, an experience, and a good time hanging out with friends – sign me up for his next trip :)

You can find even more about Michael Baxter here:

paul@rt2photo.com (RT2Photo) Chat http://www.rt2photo.com/blog/2011/8/Studio-time-with-Michael-Baxter Mon, 22 Aug 2011 06:32:14 GMT