2016-website-revamp-1Over the last few months I have been working on a slight revamp to my website. It has been three years since I have really gone in and changed up the website and I had a lot of new images that haven’t been added to the mix so I decided to overhaul all of the image galleries and take a hard look at everything on the website. To help me decide what should stay and what should go, as well as help me edit my own work, I reached out to my good friend Peter Dennen of Pedro + Jackie. Peter gave me a fresh set of eyes to dig up both old and new images that needed to be seen.

Of course, editing your own work and figuring out how to display it is always tricky. This time around, I went with a popular method of displaying a large number of images in a masonry grid, not dissimilar to Instagram. This seems to be the hip new layout that art buyers and photo editors love because it helps them find what they are looking for that much faster. Of course, you can still click on an image and click through images individually as well.

2016-website-revamp-2The website is still a work in progress. I will keep updating it over the next few months when I am allowed to show new assignment images currently under embargo. Check it out at www.michaelclarkphoto.com. Drop me a note or leave a comment here and let me know what you think.

  • Eagle - WowZA.
    Love the website…looks really great !
    Did you do the design work yourself?

    I looking at designing my own site and moving away from zenfolio.

    I see you used the ProPhoto framework, are you happy with who it worked for you?
    Also i love your menu – best looking wordpress menu I’ve seen! Is the menu part of the ProPhoto suite/tools or is it a special plugin…

    Okay sorry for so many questions, main point being – Your site looks great.
    I’ve been a follower of your work for years. Killer photos and appreciate you abiity to communicate your passion and experience to those whom you inspire.

    Regards,
    Eagle

  • Michael Clark - Eagle – I worked with a graphic designer and then tweaked the website a bit to my taste. I used an AphotoFolio.com template for the main website and a ProPhoto template for the WordPress blog. Both have worked very well for me. The menu on the main website is not work press but the aphotofolio template. The menu on the blog is wordpress. Thanks for the note!

mclark_H5D_0616_004After six months or so of using the Hasselblad H5D 50c WiFi medium format digital camera, I thought I would add a blog post here summing up the experience so far. To start with, I am still completely excited by this camera and do not regret purchasing it at all. The H5D still inspires me every time I pick it up and pushes me to create new and exciting images. I have taken this kit with me on quite a few assignments this year and have learned a lot about shooting with medium format in general and where it excels.

Over 45 days this spring, I created a pretty amazing array of images with the H5D. I myself was surprised by the quality of the images I was able to create. I have shot everything from landscapes to portraits and plenty of high-octane action including BMX and rock climbing. What has really impressed me is how the huge viewfinder allows me and forces me to really look critically at the entire frame when crafting the image. This slows you down but really helps when it comes to the quality of the images.

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Of course, Hasselblad has not been sitting still the last six months. They have announced and released not just one but three new cameras: the H6D-50c, H6D-100c and the X1D. When the H6D was announced I was quite jealous of the new specs but I have to say as time has gone by since that announcement, and having used the H5D on quite a variety of shoots, the only spec that I really wish the H5D had was the 1/2000th second flash sync. With the announcement of the X1D, Hasselblad has me drooling yet again. One of the biggest issues for me with the H5D is just getting it to the location when flying. For most of my assignments, and to this point on all of them, I have to take at least a rudimentary 35mm DSLR kit along with the Hasselblad. For adventure sports assignments I often take a fairly large DSLR kit as that is my main working kit for fast moving sports. Getting on a plane with even a basic DSLR kit and a basic two-to-three lens Hasselblad kit plus a laptop is quite an organizational undertaking. I generally have the DSLR kit in my Lowepro Whistler 450 AW backpack, with a laptop stuffed into the front pocket of that backpack, and my Hasselblad kit in a Pelican 1450 hard case. Hence, because of this, the idea of traveling with a smaller medium format rig like the X1D, which (hopefully) has the same image quality as my H5D, is quite appealing.

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Regardless, I still love the H5D. The size and weight of the H5D is significant but the handling and image quality is hard to beat. I will say that the big differences in image quality between the H5D and my Nikon DSLRs, especially the D810, are difficult to see on a monitor. Sure, the H5D has more pixels, but the tonal transitions and the micro-contrast created with the H5D is really only visible in prints. And it is when you print the images out of the H5D that you really start to see why this camera is so special. I have made quite a few prints of images shot with the H5D and they are breathtaking. Portraits especially show tonal transitions that are much more subtle and smoother than anything I have shot with my DSLRs. The images look more film-like than anything I have worked with since I stopped shooting medium format film over ten years ago.

A portrait of Robert Reck, and his Ducati motorcycle.When testing out the Phase One XF, the rep said that shooting with medium format cameras makes you a better photographer. I thought at the time that was some serious salesperson hype, but now that I have shot with the H5D for several months there might be something to that statement. The large viewfinder and the largess of the camera system itself forces you to think more and plan out the shot in a way that I don’t find with my DSLRs. I am still not sure I’d say the work I have created with the H5D is better than that shot with my DSLRs but being forced to overcome the limitations of the autofocus and the camera does make you work harder and differently, which leads to different types of images than I get with my DSLRs.

dpp-mediumformat_1In the July/August issue of Digital Photo Pro, which is on newsstands right now, I have an article entitled, “Stepping Up to Medium Format,” which details my adoption of a new medium format rig. As is made clear in the article, I have not converted 100% over to medium format capture. I still use my Nikon DSLRs for the majority of my work but I have added the Hasselblad H5D 50c WiFi kit along with four lenses for those situations that don’t require wicked fast autofocus or lighter weight cameras. Above and below are a few screenshots of the article as it appears in the magazine. If you are interested in medium format, especially now that Hasselblad has announced the X1D, I highly suggest picking up a copy of Digital Photo Pro.

I know many will ask, why would an adventure sports photographer opt for a heavy, slow medium format camera? The answer to that question is a long one, and part of that answer was addressed thusly: “While testing out cameras over the last year there were several factors that made me seriously consider a medium format digital camera system. First, whether you are shooting on medium format film or digital, the larger image format gives a different look to the images. In part, this is because there is significantly less depth of field than with 35mm DSLRs. That shallow depth of field, created by the larger sensor of a medium format camera, helps isolate the subject when shooting portraits or any time you are using a large aperture. This is not to be understated. Medium format has a certain look that is quite different. I realize that only a small percentage of clients will be able to see that difference, but for those that can (or even if they can’t), if it makes the viewer look at the image just that much longer then it makes the image more successful. As I am already working with discerning clients who are looking for the best image quality possible, this new acquisition is another tool I can use to keep those clients and find others like them.”

Along with the article, Digital Photo Pro also included a healthy number of images to show the wide variety of action, landscape and lifestyle images I have produced in the six months that I have had the camera. I have to say that in such a short time I have already produced some amazing work – work that I look at and really love, which is not always the case with my own images as I am a very harsh critic.
DPP-mediumformat_2I will be shooting quite a bit with the Hasselblad in the months to come and will be posting that work on my website and also on Instagram. At some point here I will make some huge prints of images captured with the H5D and also with the Nikon D810 and do a comparison.

My thanks to Digital Photo Pro for publishing this article.

redbullillume-whatsinthebag-2016Red Bull Illume just posted a blog post about “What’s in my [camera] Bag.” I have done a few of these in the last year, notably one on ShotKit.com, and now this one on Red Bull Illume. This equipment overview also discusses some of my most challenging assignments, my recent medium format purchase and also my go to kit for various action sports. Check out the full interview along with images on Red Bull Illume’s website.

I talk a lot about the gear that I own and use here on the blog and in my Newsletter. I am a total gear head but everything I use is just a tool to create images. If you are really interested to see what I use and what I think of it check out the Gear page on this blog. You can also find reviews of much of the gear I shoot with on my website in the Behind the Scenes section.

Images of Michael Clarkmclark_H5D_0616_004My thanks to Red Bull for featuring me on the Red Bull Illume website.

MC_160620_untitled_0401Last week I was out in San Francisco, California working with Red Bull for their 2016 Summer Solstice Photo Challenge. For this event ten photographers were paired up with ten top Red Bull athletes and each photographer and athlete team were tasked with creating a variety of images on the day of the summer solstice. I was paired up with my good friend Levi Siver, who is a world-class wind surfer and with whom I have worked on a previous Red Bull assignment. This competition was also a way for Red Bull to celebrate a new kiwi flavor, which will be available only for the summer (as far as I understand it). Each team had until 2:30 PM on June 20th to create five different images for five different categories, which would be judged that afternoon for an awards ceremony that evening.

We all started out from the hotel ridiculously early on the morning of June 20th. Some teams left the hotel as early as 2:30 AM. Levi and I left at 4 AM for a morning portrait and lifestyle session on Treasure Island. Some of the other athletes that were brought in for this event were Robbie Maddison (motorcycle stunts), Ian Walsh (Big-wave surfer), JT Holmes (Skier/BASE Jumper), Meredith Kessler (Ironman Triathlete), Joey Brzezinski (Skateboarder), Corey Bohan (BMX), Steel Lafferty (Wakeboarder), and Giselia Pulidia (Kite Surfer). Among the photographers were Christian Pondella, Zak Noyle, Chris Garrison, Chris Tedesco, Trevor Clark, Nick Teller, and Jeff Landi. Because there were such a wide variety of sports, crews were running all over the San Francisco area and beyond. Levi and I headed down to the coast just north of Davenport to a wind surfing spot. We were quite lucky with the conditions as it could have just as easily been windless and flat on the ocean that day.

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As you can see in these first two images, we got quite creative with double-exposure images since windsurfing is typically an afternoon sport. [Windsurfing is an afternoon sport because that is when the winds start to ramp up.] Hence, early in the morning with the bay calm and still, we elected to shoot portraits of Levi looking out over the bay. Note that these double exposure images were created in-camera and no Photoshop was used to create the double-exposure images. Jet Ski restrictions in the bay area, as well as the limited amount of time, killed all of our ideas to have Levi wind surfing under the Golden Gate bridge or off Alcatraz Island. We were fairly limited in what we could do in and around San Francisco. Nonetheless, as you can see below Levi was able to get out and have a pretty amazing wind surfing session considering the off-season, non-prime conditions. He still caught some serious air and worked every possible wave to get as creative as possible.

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Levi Siver wind surfing in and around San Francisco, California on June 20, 2016.While we were out shooting we were also posting behind the scenes video footage via Facebook Live. The Facebook crew came out with us and were there to help promote the event. Out on the coast we didn’t have cell reception which prevented us from posting much but you can find the behind the scenes videos on my Facebook page. My apologies for the sound on those videos as they were done with an iPhone and no external microphones. If you want to see some of the other images each team produced use the hashtag #givesyouwingssf on Instagram or Facebook.

All in all, this event was a total blast. We were free to get as creative as we wanted and working with a top athlete to craft a set of images on a tight timeline was both intense and hugely fun. Working with Levi is always an awesome experience and while working together on this shoot we came up with quite a few ideas for future projects to work on. In the end we were all exhausted from a 15-plus hour day on the go but it was a lot of fun to hang out with my fellow photographers and athletes I have worked with on other projects.

Congrats to Nick Tellez and Corey Bohan (BMX rider) on wining the photo competition! My thanks to Red Bull for making this happen and bringing us all out to San Francisco.

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Last month Professional Photographer Magazine, which is the magazine of Professional Photographers of America (PPA), featured a profile of my work in the May 2016 issue. The profile, titled “Rock On,” discusses a wide variety of topics including several close calls, a few specific pieces of gear I use, my Newsletter, how I market my images, and also a few behind the scenes stories from recent assignments. To give you a taste of the profile, here is an excerpt from the opening paragraphs:

“I consider my job not a job but a lifestyle,” Clark says. Besides daredevil feats that most photographers couldn’t stomach, it requires the flexibility to travel nearly constantly. “I just got back from Patagonia, now I’m going to Hawaii, and I’m back one day and then I go to Colorado,” he says. It also calls for a deep understanding of adventure sports, a passion that drew Clark to photography in the first place.

PPA is a professional photographers organization that caters to wedding, portrait, senior and family photographers so my work was quite a departure from their normal fare. With over 29,000 members it is also one of the largest professional photography organizations in the world. My thanks to Amanda Arnold for tracking me down and crafting this profile. Check out the full article online on the PPmag.com website.

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The Spring 2016 issue of the Michael Clark Photography Newsletter is now available for download. If you’d like to sign up for the Newsletter just drop me an email and I’ll add you to the mailing list.

This issue includes an editorial about working with a new Hasselblad medium format digital camera system, a review of the Hasselblad H5D 50c WiFi medium format digital camera, an article detailing a recent expedition where I joined a team of photographers who traversed the Patagonia Ice Cap, an editorial entitled “Breaking through the Noise,” and much more.

The Michael Clark Photography Newsletter goes out to over 8,000 thousand photo editors, photographers and photo enthusiasts around the world. You can download the Spring 2016 issue on my website at:

http://www.michaelclarkphoto.com/files/spring_2016.pdf

If you’d like to check out back issues of the newsletter they are available here.

Please note that the newsletter is best viewed in the latest Adobe Acrobat reader which is available for free at www.adobe.com.

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