Tech Update No. 10


Sharks, Genies &
Jennifer Aniston


It’s been over a year since my last Tech Update and quite a bit has happened in that time.

From a tech perspective, the most exciting development of the past year is that I recently purchased a brand new, fully tricked-out MacBook Pro with Retina Display. I’ve already had the new machine out on location and it runs Capture One like a dream. Although, having fewer I/O ports to work with calls for some new additions to the equipment list, which I’ll discuss further in the Tech Tip below.

In addition to getting upgraded, over the past 12+ months I’ve been privileged to work on some amazing jobs. I don’t have room to discuss them all but I do want to mention a few standout gigs.

Late last year, Max Abadian hired me to tech a portrait session for Vanity Fair. The shoot featured Casey Nicholaw (director and choreographer of Disney’s Aladdin: The Musical) and several Princess Jasmines. Aside from working on images that would appear in one of the world’s premiere magazines, the most memorable part of the shoot was having the magic lamp forgotten on my capture cart at the end of the day.

More recently I worked with celebrity fashion photographer Yu Tsai while he shot some of Hollywood’s biggest stars as the official portrait photographer for the Variety Studio at the Toronto International Film Festival. Over four days we photographed the likes of Michael Douglas, Selma Hayek, Chris Rock, Richard Gere, Steve Carrell, John Cusack, Keira Knightly, Robert Downey Jr., Robert Duvall and Jennifer Aniston. Despite cramped quarters in the makeshift photo studio we built in a back corner of Holt Renfrew’s Mens Department, Yu Tsai managed to get some amazing images. Case-in-point, Variety was so happy with his shot of Ms. Aniston that it was rushed through approval and published only three hours after it had been captured. That makes it one of the fastest image turnarounds I’ve ever worked on.

And last but not least, during the first week of March, while Toronto was still locked in Winter’s icy grip, Juan Algarin graciously air-lifted me to Miami to help on his Mother’s / Father’s Day shoot for Hudson’s Bay. In spite of oppressive heat, a lack of shade and even a shark scare, the trip made me realize that warm-weather shooting is my favourite type of shooting.

Having said that, regardless of where or how warm your next shoot may be, I’d love to be a part of it.


Tech Tip

Connectivity in a Thunderbolt/USB3 World


Three years since it was first introduced, Thunderbolt has finally become a common sight on the computers I’m given to run digital capture. Since most photographer were, and in many cases still are, heavily invested in FireWire peripherals, the transition to Thunderbolt devices came to resemble a war of attrition rather than an eager scramble to get the latest tech toy.

Thunderbolt’s ability to run an external display AND provide fast data transfer via one port is impressive; however, the converse to this double-duty is that more and more external devices now need to access the same port.

While one may be less likely to run out of ports on the new Mac Pro dustbin, which offers four USB3 and six Thunderbolt ports, many photographers capture to a laptop. The new MacBook Pro laptops have only two USB3 and two Thunderbolt ports, whereas older models (like my recently retired MacBook Pro) had a DVI port for an external display, two FireWire ports for portable hard drives, two USB ports for camera tether and peripherals, and a PCI card slot which could be used to add additional ports of one’s choosing (USB, FireWire or even eSATA).

The bottom line is that in this new world of Thunderbolt your laptop is no longer the connectivity hub it used to be.

To avoid a port crisis and ensure you can have everything you need connected at the same time, I strongly encourage all photographers to invest in the following for their capture setup:

With this trifecta of connectivity helpers you will never want for an available port and your work area will be free from cable spaghetti.

If you’ve discovered some other indispensable item for the transition to Thunderbolt, I’d love to hear about it.