The Ground-breaking Profoto B1

Yesterday was a very interesting day. I had an opportunity to work with the great people of Right Hand Events and Kaiser Permanente San Diego covering the groundbreaking of a new hospital here in San Diego. Aside from a terrific event with local business and political leaders, I was tasked with capturing a very challenging scene. The actual “shovels in the dirt ground breaking” happened a few minutes before noon – I know, every photographer’s favorite time of day to shoot outside – with backlit subjects and a highly reflective facade above and behind them.

Now in older days I would have brought out an Alien Bee and powered it with a Vagabond battery pack. Unfortunately this setting was the middle of a large parking lot, and I would be unable to ground the battery pack. And 640 watt-seconds was not going to match the harsh sunlight. So I brought out my trusty old Dynalite 800ws pack along with a Dynalite inverter (which doesn’t need to be grounded) and powered a single 4040 head with all 800ws blasting directly from the 7″ reflector. That’s a lot of power, but it was approximately 20′ from my subjects. And did I mention it was almost noon? Knowing the importance of these shots to Kaiser Permanente, I opted for photographic redundancy. I decided to photograph these key moments using two cameras and two lighting setups.

Profoto B1 and Dynalite lighting

Profoto B1 strobes flank a Dynalight pack and head

I added a PocketWizard to my new Nikon Df to trigger my Dynalite pack. A PocketWizard TT5n fired my Nikon D3 mounted on a tripod at a slightly lower angle. Atop the D3 was the Profoto Air Remote, which fired a pair of new Profoto B1s. Their combined 1000 watt-seconds was almost enough to match the sun, even at that distance. With a little adjusting in Lightroom I was able to produce a pretty good image – in the middle of a parking lot in midday sun, with no wires. The example below is from the D3, showing the hard-working ladies of Right Hand Events after successfully executing the groundbreaking. (The key images of the Kaiser Permanente team will need to be approved by their Public Affairs office before they can be shared.)

Right Hand Events' ladies break ground for the new Kaiser Permanente hospital in San Diego

Right Hand Events breaks ground for Kaiser Permanente

The B1s are impressive. Two lights with remotes and chargers fit neatly in a backpack. Their batteries are mounted “in to” the head, so nothing is left dangling and there are truly no cords whatsoever. These units are able to work in TTL mode – although currently only with Canon DSLRs. The Nikon version of their remote won’t be available until late this year. (Note that the strobes themselves are identical, only the remote differs. So even though you can’t purchase a Nikon version of the remote now, you can purchase the B1 strobes – and they will work with the Nikon remote as soon as that is available.) The TTL was impressively accurate in a studio demo with Canon cameras last week. The B1 also has an incredible recycle rate, able to keep up with the Canon shooting at high fps in the studio. Granted that wasn’t full power, but it was impressive nonetheless – and should be of tremendous benefit for anyone shooting action.

If you’re interested, these are now on my birthday list and my Christmas list… ;-)

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Social Media Revolution

There’s no question that social media rules marketing in today’s world. A few good articles have recently emphasized the importance – the critical importance – of visuals (such as photography or graphics) in social media:

Check this video for some impressive facts, and feel free to add your thoughts in the Comments below.

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The Power of Words

2014 is a new year, with untold new opportunities. I don’t do New Year’s resolutions, but do aspire to improve myself every year. I make a conscious effort to learn more, work more, perfect more, and contribute more every year. This year is no exception — I will strive to improve my photography skills, the images I produce, and the clients I help. I also intend to give back more. This past holiday season’s fundraising efforts were very rewarding to me personally, and I am looking for other ways in which I can improve the world around me.

This video came up in my Facebook news feed today, and inspired me. Although it looks way too staged, the message is very clear — and the idea is not lost on me. See what you think.

Perspective, and attitude — can change everything.

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Holiday Party Portraits On The Spot

One of the things that I really enjoy is celebrating. Pretty much any occasion. But the holiday season is particularly fun, as it’s far more decorative and pretty universally enjoyed. This is one reason I love doing photography at holiday parties, and meeting so many happy people. Once again this year I joined the employees at the beautiful Omni San Diego Hotel to celebrate the holidays with them, photographing singles, couples and groups and printing 5×7 portraits on the spot. It’s reassuring to be able to view the image seconds after capture and ensure that no one blinked and everyone likes their smile, hair, and so on. It’s also rewarding to see their excitement as they hold a print in a folder and “ooh and ahh” at the results, just a minute or two after we shot the image. Fellow photographer Tammela Loy captured a “behind the scenes” shot of me at work.

Morton Visuals photographs holiday parties and events

Behind-the-Scenes: William Morton directs two ladies’ poses at their company party

Below are a couple of images captured at this event — I think the fun is apparent!

Morton Visuals prints portraits on the spot at parties and events

Couples improvise their party portraits

Portrait printed on-site for a company holiday party

No doubt, they are ready for the holidays!

To see more information on Morton Visuals’ holiday party work, visit our Holiday Party Photography landing page.

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Happy Holidays from Morton Visuals

This holiday season is always hectic, as we struggle to find those “perfect” gifts for our loved ones. Often it’s easy to overlook the important things, and forget about giving the one thing that money can’t buy — our time. There’s not much that I can think of to ask for from my family or loved ones, so I fail miserably at making the infamous Christmas Wish List. But I DO know what I really want this year, and every year — some quality time with those I love, whether here in beautiful San Diego or back home. This year I won’t be able to make it back to NC for the holidays, so I’m sharing a little view of San Diego.

William Morton photographs the ice skating rink at the Hotel Del Coronado with a beautiful SoCal sunset

Happy Holidays from William Morton Visuals!

This image is one I’ve wanted for four years, and I finally got access to a vantage point to photograph it. This is the ice skating rink set up at the Hotel Del Coronado. Two images were captured, one to lighten the ice skating rink and one to darken the sky. They were processed in Adobe Lightroom 5 and merged to HDR Pro in Photoshop, where the blend was refined and some spot image adjustments were added. Life is Southern California is pretty good! :-)

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Event Photography Holiday Charity Drive

William Morton, owner of Morton Visuals event photography in San Diego, CA, has announced a new holiday charity drive today. For every holiday event photographed between Thanksgiving and Christmas, 10% of all sales will be donated to each client’s choice of two favored charities: St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital or the Wounded Warriors Foundation.

St. Jude Children's Research HospitalThe national philanthropy of Morton’s Tau Kappa Epsilon (TKE) fraternity, St. Jude’s goal is to advance cures, and means of prevention, for pediatric catastrophic diseases through research and treatment. Founded by noted entertainer and TKE frater Danny Thomas in 1962, St. Jude’s mission is one where no child is denied treatment based on race, religion or a family’s ability to pay.

Based in Memphis, Tennessee (near where Morton trained during his service in the US Navy), St. Jude treats nearly 6,000 children per year. St. Jude is aligned with two local San Diego institutions: Rady Children’s Hospital and the University of California, San Diego (where Morton previously taught photography workshops).

Wounded Warrior Foundation - Freedom StationThe Warrior Foundation~Freedom Station vows to be the leading force in assisting, honoring and supporting the military men and women who have so bravely served and sacrificed for our country. We are committed to supporting our warriors in a variety of ways, providing quality-of-life items and numerous support services designed to assist them and their families during recovery.

The Warrior Foundation~Freedom Station assists four main groups of warriors: the Seriously Injured (SI) just returning home from war; those suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or traumatic brain injury (TBI); those undergoing physical or occupational therapy, and warriors who have been medically retired and remain in our community. To serve this last group in particular, Warrior Foundation~Freedom Station pioneered a new approach and opened Freedom Station – a unique recovery transition center and housing facility that provides injured warriors with the acclimation time, guidance and resources to successfully make the transition from military service to civilian life.

Morton’s personal philosophy of “it’s not what you get in life, it’s what you give that’s important” encourages him to look for opportunities to better the lives of those in need. St. Jude’s and the Wounded Warrior Project each exemplify this vision, dedicated to giving children and veterans a chance for a better tomorrow.

Morton Visuals is a San Diego-based photography business specializing in commercial, corporate and event photography. Photographing anything from “guys in ties” to large-scale conventions, Morton Visuals delivers high quality images with an enjoyable photographic experience. Owner/photographer William Morton works quickly and efficiently to minimize the imposition on the time of busy executives, and strives to provide an entertaining presence for party guests at corporate or consumer events. Morton Visuals operates throughout Southern California and is available nationwide. Additional information is available online at http://MortonVisuals.com.

 

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Glamour Portraits for Makeup Staff

Morton Visuals had the opportunity to photograph the staff of Camera Ready Cosmetics recently. We very quickly realized that these would not be (and should not be) typical business portraits. These aren’t lawyers or realtors — these are people that live and breathe the beauty industry, and they are accustomed to having everything look “just right.” So owner/photographer William Morton decided to break out the ring flash for a markedly different look.

Morton Visuals uses a ring flash for glamorous portraits

William Morton using the Paul C Buff Ringmaster to photograph the Camera Ready staff.

Over the span of two half-days William worked with each manager and employee to bring out their personality and beauty, producing a cohesive wall of portraits that are similar yet still unique per individual. Each subject got to review his or her images immediately after shooting, and if they weren’t 100% satisfied with their smile, expression, or anything, we continued shooting until they felt they had an image that represented them they way they wanted to be represented. After a little basic post-production — no one wanted the overdone magazine look, but opted for “real” — the images below emerged. It’s hard to go wrong with great subjects!

Portraits of the staff of CRC makeup

The beautiful faces of Camera Ready Cosmetics

Camera Ready Cosmetics can be found at http://CRCmakeup.com, on Facebook, or Twitter. And they have a showroom in La Mesa where “makeup artists come to play.”

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Morton Visuals Photographs SAE Gentlemen

Morton Visuals had the opportunity to photograph the gentlemen of Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity for their website and upcoming brochures. Creative Director Brandon Weghorst brought together SAEs from three San Diego universities for these images illustrating the diversity of the fraternity.

William Morton of Morton Visuals photographs the gentlemen of Sigma Alpha Epsilon at the San Diego Photo District on 9/15/2013.

William Morton photographs SAE brothers from three San Diego universities for Sigma Alpha Epsilon.

With the expected use including magazine, brochure and website, the plan was to photograph each man in a variety of full-length poses on a clean white background (to enable clean knockouts for compositing). Morton Visuals selected the San Diego Photo District for this job, due to it’s huge cove, ample space for a dozen or more portrait subjects, and ease of access. We needed to match images previously captured at a Chicago convention, which were tone-mapped for an HDR look. For this reason William decided to use a silver PLM 86″ umbrella for a punch of contrast, and then filled the shadow edge with a large white sheet of foamcore to control the contrast. Lighting was provided by Dynalite power packs and heads. Images were captured in Lightroom 5, with a large monitor rotated to vertical to show each capture full-screen.

Each man was talked through a variety of poses, each eschewing stiff formal poses and displaying a casual and happy personality. Each man lived up to the fraternity’s “Be True” ideal, and were indeed a gracious bunch. Thanks to the gentlemen of SAE!

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The blog is alive! It’s ALIVE!

Yes, the Morton Visuals blog has been revived! We’re updating it with recent events, and preparing new photography-related tutorials and tips. Come check it out! http://blog.mortonvisuals.com/

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Happy Memorial Day

San Francisco National Cemetery, the Presidio

The American flag flies over the final resting place of many real heroes.

As a Navy veteran and participant in the first Gulf War, holidays like today hold special significance for me. I value my time in the service of my country, and it is part of what made me the man I am today. On this day of barbeques,  beach and celebration, let us never forget those brave men and women who literally gave everything they had for our freedoms. To all of our nation’s armed forces, both past and present – and to those who support them – thank you for your service!

These two photographs were taken at the Presidio in San Francisco in 2009.

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