New York City – The 2014 Manhattan Cityscapes

“The City that Never Sleeps”, “Gotham City”, “The Big Apple”, “Empire City”, “The City of Dreams”, “New Amsterdam”, “The Melting Pot” – to everyone that visits or lives in this incredible city, the place leaves a lasting memory that means something different. One thing that is common to all who visit or wake up in this amazing place is the sheer sense of wonder as you look out over the skyline – and that’s what makes it a cityscape photographer’s paradise ;-)

Glow Manhattan Cityscape Skyline Paul Reiffer Professional Landscape Photographer New York City Sunrise Empire State

I first “properly” photographed Manhattan in 2010 – and my image of “The Empire State” managed to catch the eye of companies such as Yahoo! and SanDisk for their campaigns in the following years, but the temptation to head back for a dedicated photography trip was always lingering following that visit, so in 2014 it was time to take a trip back to New York City for a big shoot from sunrise to sunset and all through the night…

New York City Paul Reiffer Photography Shooting City At Night Manhattan Bridges Cityscape Brooklyn Jersey

This time, I wanted to focus on the skyline – starting the very night we landed, off to Brooklyn we went to capture the latest feature of the Financial District – The Freedom Tower at its famous address: One World Trade Center from across the river:

Arise Financial District Freedom Tower One World Trade Center FiDi New York City River Paul Reiffer Cityscape Landscape Photography

As every traveller knows, jet-lag has its advantages as well as disadvantages – but when shooting cities at sunrise and sunset the ability for your body to want to be up at 4am is pretty handy and these four days were no exception! The image at the top of this post was actually captured on the first morning in New York, having driven to Lincoln Harbor to set up. A few friends had reported bad weather the week before, so I wasn’t hopeful for our heli-shoot that was planned in for afternoon, but hey, it was worth a shot… ;-)

helicopter shoot photography aerial new york city paul reiffer heli cityscape charter

Now if anyone wants an “instant jet-lag cure”, I can now confirm that hanging out of the side of a helicopter with no doors on during a 120mph journey across the city does the trick. Wide awake, I clicked away as we positioned into the key places I wanted to capture from above.  I’ll be posting more of these aerial views soon, but this one shot below has to be my favourite – how else to represent the “concrete jungle” of a city surrounded by water?

Concrete Jungle FiDi New York City Manhattan Financial District From Above Aerial Paul Reiffer Professional Photographer Freedom Tower

On many photographic trips, not everything on the itinerary is completely up to me – and this was no exception. Shooting a commissioned piece (I’ll explain in the next few months!) meant we took about a day out to find the perfect location to get this shot, twice, of the Queensboro Bridge as it spans across the river to Manhattan. First, from the West:

Queensboro 1 Bridge Manhattan Skyline Queens River Paul Reiffer Professional Cityscape Photographer Landscape New York City

And then from the East, as we made friends with a rather helpful building that happened to have a fantastic view over the city and across the entire skyline. They may not have been on my original “wish list” for New York, but wow, the city looked great from up there as the clouds rushed by in the wind through the night:

Queensboro 2 Empire State Skyscrapers Bridge Manhattan Skyline Queens River Paul Reiffer Professional Cityscape Photographer Landscape New York City

So on to another morning and an (almost) disaster… No, not everything on these shoots goes according to plan! The morning of our Queensboro shoot, I’d actually headed back across to New Jersey to capture the Financial District (or “FiDi” as it’s commonly known) now that the new tower was complete. The wind was a challenge in near-freezing temperatures, but it made for one amazing sky over a 60 second exposure:

Financial Freedom Tower FiDi New Jersey Clouds River Long Exposure Dawn Morning Paul Reiffer Photographer Cityscape City Manhattan

Having captured this shot, while I was happy with it, I felt that I’d missed the real colours of the morning due to the clouds – so I wanted to try again for a second time to get the shot I had in mind. Heading to the same spot, we stood there as the sun slowly came up but something was wrong: The sky where we were was just boring – looking left (north), my heart sank: The sunrise over midtown was phenomenal, and we were 10 minutes south!

Honestly, I have never packed up my equipment so fast in my life. Into the car, we drove back to Lincoln harbour to find a show of reds, oranges, yellows and purples exploding across the sky. Even on an iPhone the scene looked incredible:

Capturing Shooting Sunrise New Jersey NYC NY City Skyline Skyscrapers Cityscape Colors Warm Morning Paul Reiffer Professional Landscape Photographer Manhattan

But on a medium format camera, wow – I just love this shot. I got lucky too – I took 3 images: A 2 minute exposure (that was sadly affected by camera shake in the wind). A 60 second exposure (this one). And another 60 second exposure that was just too late to get the famous “New Yorker” hotel sign in lights, as the city awoke. Still, 1 out of 3 isn’t bad going for a shoot that was supposed to be a disaster!

The New Yorker Sunrise Red Orange Yellow Colours Silhouette Manhattan Skyline Cityscape River New Jersey Lincoln Harbor View Paul Reiffer Photographer Hotel

Shooting New York, of course, wouldn’t be complete without capturing the sights of its amazing bridges and lights at night. While the Brooklyn Bridge has been under construction/renovation for the last 3 times I’ve been in the city, it’s still no less impressive when you see it against the backdrop of the city behind at dusk:

Stone And Steel New York City Brooklyn Bridge Freedom Tower One World Trade Center Financial District FiDi Manhattan Long Exposure Night Sunset Lights Cityscape Paul Reiffer Photographer

And then it’s the often-neglected sibling, the Manhattan Bridge – just as important, but not as famous, I just love the fact that you can see the Empire State Building “hiding” in the background of this shot:

Empire City New York Manhattan Bridge Brooklyn Night Cityscape Photography Paul Reiffer Professional Landscape NY

I have to admit I got a little carried away with the bridges, and even turned to black and white to showcase the textures and structure of the Manhattan Bridge the next morning, as the clouds eventually rolled in across the river. As I say, it may not be as famous, but it’s no less impressive!

Crossing New York Manhattan Bridge City NY Queens Brooklyn Downtown Paul Reiffer Photographer Cityscape

So, my final take-away from my 5 days in New York: The Top of the Rock. I simply love this place. While they don’t allow tripods (without paying to close the entire rooftop for filming), if you’re able to get a good enough spot, it can be the source of some incredible pictures, and memories, of this fantastic city. This really was a last-chance shot on the final night, as we headed to the top around 1.5 hours before sunrise. (If you get there less than an hour before, don’t expect to get a usable spot!). As often happens with the best made plans, however, we arrived to a sky full of clouds and no sun to be seen.

I really wanted to capture a similar shot to my existing “Empire State” image, as it was taken before the Freedom Tower at One World Trade Center was built – but it didn’t look hopeful. We waited, along with what must have been 50 other photographers, and listened as each person’s heart sank towards the time the sun was due to set. But (as often happens), last minute – we got that amazing break: The sun broke through a tiny hole over New Jersey, sending streams of orange and pink light over the city just at the right time.

Photographing One World Trade Center Freedom Tower Empire State Building New York City Rockefeller Top Of The Rock Cityscape Sunset Pink Clouds Paul Reiffer Photography Professional

I’ve never heard so many clicks of a camera shutter – even during press events – it felt like the whole world wanted to capture that one moment that two pink stripes passed behind both the Empire State Building and One World Trade Center for a few moments that evening. And despite the lack of tripod, and space to move, I got it ;-)

The Empire State 2 Freedom Tower Building One World Trade Center Statue Liberty Sunset Clouds Paul Reiffer Professional Cityscape Photographer

Of course, after such a dazzling display by the sun, it would have been rude to leave before the night showed us what it could do and in that respect, New York never fails to impress. Granted, the lines to get back down nearly ruined any plans for dinner that side of midnight, but wow – images like this just make me want to visit the city again and again and again:

Midtown New York City Manhattan Cityscape Landscape Photographer Paul Reiffer Empire State Building Rockefeller Center Chrysler South Sunset Night Professional

Yes, that last image is one of the “standard views” of Manhattan – but hey, it’s become a famous shot not only because of the number of people who have clicked the button in that direction, but also the simple fact that every single person heading up to the top of the Rockefeller Center does exactly the same:

Walk. Stand. Look. And say the one simple word: “Wow”.

And that is why I’ll always love photographing New York. :-)

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Paul Nominated for The Societies’ Photographer of the Year 2014

Well, we’re definitely heading into the “awards season”, and what better news to receive today than the email that came in informing me that I’d made the shortlist for The Societies’ Photographer of the Year 2014 award – Europe’s largest association for the serious photographer.

The Societies 2014 Photographer Of The Year Travel Nomination SWPP

Against some of the worlds most renowned photographers, my image of Huvafen Fushi‘s Spa Jetty – “Overwater” – will compete for the award of Travel Photographer of the Year and The Societies’ overall Photographer of the Year, with the winner being revealed at The Societies’ 2015 Convention Awards Dinner held in London during January 2015.

Overwater Huvafen Fushi Sunrise Spa Jetty Paul Reiffer Photographer Of The Year Nomination The Societies 2014 2015 Professional

Over 12,500 images were entered in to the competition and photographers from all around the globe have been putting forward their images making this a truly international competition.

Phil Jones The Societies’ CEO says, “This year we have seen a fantastic range of images and the standard has been very high. The finalists represent some of the finest images entered in to the competition and have competed against some of the world’s best photographers. Congratulations to all our finalists.

To go with this bit of good news, there was a bit of a surprise waiting for me when I got to Huvafen Fushi last weekend after shooting at W Maldives: Their digital artists have used the image as the backdrop for their Christmas 2014 campaign materials:

Huvafen Fushi Maldives Logos Dream Calendar Festive Season Paul Reiffer Spa Jetty

And that’s not all. The same image is also the feature shot for their “Decade” CD, celebrating the soundtrack to the island for the past 10 years, mixed by DJ Ravin.

A Decade By Ravin CD Cover Huvafen Fushi Maldives CD Music Cover Paul Reiffer

Not bad for an early-morning wakeup call in paradise, I guess! ;-)

Posted in Advertising, Creative, Industry, Landscape, Photo Shoots, Technical Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Win a full Phase One iQ250 system for a month!

For those that remember, I switched to Phase One’s iQ280 / 645DF+ medium format system last year, and have never looked back. The image quality is simply stunning, and I can honestly say it is the best camera system I’ve ever used.

Since then, a few more technological advances have been made by Phase One, most recently including the introduction of their 1.3x crop 50 megapixel CMOS iQ250 digital back. One thing digital Medium Format camera systems have historically struggled with is high-ISO noise when you push them too hard – the iQ250’s sensor is not only the world’s first medium format CMOS digital camera back, but it’s also one of the most capable low-light performers I’ve ever seen.

645df iq250 medium format digital back camera system phase one contest win

So, they’re celebrating the launch by running a photo contest which offers a month’s use of the full system (lens, 645DF+ body and iQ250 digital back) as the prize – worth $5,000! (Yes, you have to give it back after a month – the full system is quite a bit more than that to buy…!)

The full details are in the copy below; it’s open to everyone and free to enter. Better still, (along with two other great photographers – Michael Woloszynowicz and Tim Kemple) I’m one of the judges for the competition :-)

Phase One Photo Contest Win iQ250 Competition 2014 2015 Paul Reiffer Judges

  • For those of you who have always wanted to see how Medium Format camera systems perform, this is a great opportunity.
  • For those who want to take the next step in terms of image quality, there’s no better time to give it a try
  • For those who simply want to see if you have an image that cuts the mustard with the team at Phase One, what better way to get your work in front of them while at the same time returning with a very cool camera to use all around the world for a month?!

So what do you have to do? Simple – just enter by clicking here (having read the full terms and conditions by clicking here) and upload your photo.

You need to “theme” your image with the simple catch-phrase: “What the world’s best [your theme] is made of”. Maybe it’s “what the world’s best cities are made of” or “what the world’s best love story is made of” – it can be of any theme, any subject.

It’s absolutely free to enter, and based on the $5,000 prize (along with a lot of exposure for your work), I’d say it’s worth a quick upload ;-)

Good luck!

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Tara Stiles – Strala Yoga at W Maldives Retreat

Some people think they’re flexible (and I’m not one of them), but having now had the privilege to shoot Tara Stiles during her Strala Yoga Retreat at W Maldives, I’d say my definition of flexibility has definitely changed…!

Tara Stiles Overwater Jetty Ocean Suite W Maldives Retreat Yoga Blue Pose Strala Paul Reiffer Photographer

Now, first things first – while it may sound like a dream shoot, shooting in the Maldives can sometimes be tough (and this was no exception). Landing late at night, you’re then working 16 hour days in 30-40 degree heat (which digital backs don’t appreciate), bombing around in hot seaplanes, blasting across the sea in speedboats to chase shots, sweating as you go. Although you’re staying in “paradise” (and it really is!), the fact is that you actually get to see the inside of your dark editing room for most of the trip!

Seaplane Arrival Editing Room Speedboat W Maldives Moofushi Fesdu Island

All that said, what a place to call an office for a few days! (Yes, the footsie shot above does prove that for at least 12 minutes I managed to make it into my ocean-view pool while we were there ;-) ). These Lagoon and Ocean Oasis rooms are a lot different to the beach bungalow I had last time I visited Fesdu Island to shoot, and it’s easy to see why many people head to the Maldives as their choice for a dream vacation. The W Retreat is absolutely stunning, and one that images and video really can’t do justice – you have to see it with your own eyes to experience how incredible the place is.

Fabulous Lagoon Oasis W Retreat Spa Maldives Deck Pool Private Ocean

Along with 9 journalists, we spent the week shooting Tara while she held private classes at sunrise and sunset each day. With a stunning location and absolutely perfect sunshine for 4 days in a row we got lucky with these setups, getting to see those amazing golden colours each morning and night.

Group Yoga Sunrise Sunset Sessions Away Spa W Retreat Maldives Tara Stiles Media Visit Paul Reiffer Photographer

As an ex-model, Tara established her Strala Yoga venture as a way of getting more people to see the benefits of yoga and a healthy lifestyle. By definition, however, Tara isn’t one to stick with the traditional Yoga rules – the whole point of her FIT collaboration with W Hotels Worldwide is to encourage people to try yoga in any and all situations. The result – their combined “PoseWhenever” tagline and Tara’s label as the world’s “yoga rebel”. In many of the city locations, it’s about what you can do in your surroundings – so when planning the Maldives shot list, of course it had to involve water and a bit of “wow”.

Tara Stiles Strala Yoga W Maldives Retreat Spa PoseWhenever StralaEverywhere Escape Luxury Yacht Sunrise Group Pose Paul Reiffer Photographer Commercial

What does that mean? Well, over the 4 days of shooting she was up on seaplanes, jetskis, underwater – the whole time in yoga poses. While a lot is obviously for publicity shots, to see someone pull off amazing yoga poses while balancing on the roof of a fast-moving yacht was pretty impressive – this woman is flexible beyond belief! :-)

Photographing Escape Luxury Yacht W Maldives Sunrise Yoga Paul Reiffer Photographer

So there’s me on the roof of Escape – W’s luxury yacht in my blue t-shirt. Opposite, the 10 people who managed to stay upright the whole time during a 1-hour sunrise yoga session as we made our way south to swim with whale sharks. You have to remember that these guys were a mixed level when it came to yoga experience, so to be doing this on the roof with Tara helping them all into positions they didn’t think possible was pretty damn cool.

Tara Stiles Strala Yoga Group Session W Maldives Retreat Spa PoseWhenever StralaEverywhere Escape Luxury Yacht Sunrise Pose Paul Reiffer Photographer Commercial

Of course, not all of the sunrise sessions were on a moving platform (that would just be a little too extravagant ;-) ) so the whole island was brought into the show during the course of the shoot. Photographing from the spa jetty one morning, we managed to capture this great alignment of the sun against a position that Tara held for a lot longer than I thought possible. (And yes, a position which would require me to break a few bones to get into myself…!)

Sunrise Yoga Tara Styles Upside Down Reverse Splits Jetty W Maldives Retreat Hotel Resort Sun Flare Paul Reiffer Photographer

One more location: The “Extreme Wow Ocean Haven” pool and deck. This infinity pool has incredible ocean views and a pool to die for – the temptation to shoot a series on the special stage they’d made was too much, so we spent quite some time playing with shapes and light to show off some of the amazing shapes she can hold.

Tara Stiles W Maldives Retreat Strala Yoga Rebel Poses Infinity Pool Extreme Wow Ocean Haven Platform Water Blue Paul Reiffer Photographer

I wanted to give you a sample of the type of shots we were grabbing – and this post only really just does that. The range of what we actually captured is huge, and you’re sure to see a few more in magazines over the next few months. The reality of shooting this type of event, however, is that while the location sounds incredible, it’s most definitely time for me to now book a proper vacation in order to recover! Shooting from 5am until 9pm every day, then editing in between, is a pretty heavy schedule to say the least, but there are few places in the world more amazing to be doing it. We packed a heck of a lot in, and I’m really happy with the shots, but wow that was exhausting – and I’m not the one doing all the yoga!

Sadly, my plan to photograph Scarlett Etienne (in the middle shot below) got shelved simply down to time. As the resident DJ at W Maldives, she’s hot property on the music scene and absolutely stunning in real life – maybe next time we’ll manage to squeeze that shoot in.

In the meantime, she provided some amazing mixes for the guys in each of the sessions – a real star on a tropical island :-)

PoseWhenever Tara Stiles Scarlett Etienne Music DJ New York Maldives W Resident Yoga Tara Stiles Retreat Beach Paul Reiffer Photographer

A few more of Tara’s yoga pose shots are below. Check them out – while I know for sure I can’t do any one of them, I’m pretty sure a few of you could give them a try!

Tara Stiles - Rebel Yoga - Strala at W MaldivesTara Stiles - Rebel Yoga - Strala at W MaldivesTara Stiles - Rebel Yoga - Strala at W MaldivesTara Stiles - Rebel Yoga - Strala at W MaldivesTara Stiles - Rebel Yoga - Strala at W MaldivesTara Stiles - Rebel Yoga - Strala at W MaldivesTara Stiles - Rebel Yoga - Strala at W Maldives

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The Cobb – Capturing Sunrise at Lyme Regis

Sometimes those unplanned shots are the best. Well, I say “unplanned”, but what I mean is I hadn’t intended to photograph Lyme Regis during this trip back home. Having spent the previous afternoon exploring the quaint town of Lyme Regis, however, meant the lure of the next morning’s sunrise was simply too great – and look at what I got:

Breakwater Lyme Regis Bay The Cobb Paul Reiffer Professional Landscape Photographer

As always, there’s a bit of an emotional rollercoaster involved in shooting sunrises and sunsets overwater. You need cloud – not too much, but not too little; you need a clear shot of the sun, but not head-on; you need a calm enough wind to allow for a long exposure, but not so calm that the sea is flat and dull; and of course, when it comes to standing on sea defences – you need the weather to be kind enough to not cover you and your equipment in water!

Arriving at Lyme Regis before sunrise, I was met with a pretty disappointing view. Fishermen were getting ready to head out to sea, and the town was slowly coming to life, but the shot I was looking for looked at risk : cloud was forming, fast.

Photographing The Cobb Lyme Regis Bay Paul Reiffer Behind The Scenes Professional Photographer

What had started out as a (luckily) relatively clear sky, despite the forecast for rain all day, started turning against me. The sea was perfect – a few small crashes here and there, but otherwise calm enough to allow for a half-second or second-long exposure to capture the motion. Visibility was clear too – but as time ticked on, past the official sunrise, there was no point of light to be seen.

Sunrise Lyme Regis Bay The Cobb Paul Reiffer Photographer Behind The ScenesOf course, these stories only have two potential outcomes – and you can guess from the shot above how this one turns out ;-)

Last-minute (around 15 minutes after the sun should have appeared), the illusive rays started to appear between the clouds. Another few minutes, and there was a complete sun blasting through – but it was clear it would be short-lived. The view was stunning, however, and even the iPhone shot (to the right) managed to do it justice.

I was already set up with my Cokin filters at this point and knew that the slightly pink cast caused by the mix of the 154 and 121 (ND and ND Grad) combination would actually bring something to the image this time. I had a window of maybe 2-3 minutes to capture the shot I had been waiting for – but as always, there are challenges, and in this instance there were two:

First, finding the perfect wave combination (I wanted a crash against the sea wall) to go with the sun-flare on the horizon. Luckily, with waves coming in every 8-10 seconds, this wasn’t going to be too difficult.

Second, however, was a little more tricky: People like to take their morning strolls and dog walks along The Cobb!

Dodging between walkers, clouds and waves, I finally managed to capture 6 images that worked. Looking at the sea structure in combination with the sky, “breakwater” was my favourite, and is now available as a limited edition print.

As for Lyme Regis? Well, it’s a fantastic little town to visit with loads of character and fantastic seafood. So much so, I think it’s going to have to be the destination for dinner tonight as well ;-)


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W Singapore Sentosa Cove – #UpClose2WTalents

Normally when I photograph “talent”, it’s part of a modelling shoot or specific commercial imagery. To the industry, the term “talent” has certain preconceptions attached to it, but is a generally accepted term for the star of the show. So why would a hotel group insist on employing “talents” instead of staff? At the W Hotel Singapore – Sentosa Cove, it’s blindingly obvious : These guys really are the star of the show each and every day!

Stephane General Manager Welcome Entrance Fountain Water W Hotels Singapore Sentosa Cove Up Close To Talents Photoshoot 2014 Starwood Group

In some ways, it’s crazy to think that these guys don’t just go through an interview process to be lucky enough to work at the W, they go through auditions; but when you see them in action, you understand why. Even having only spent a few days with them while capturing their personalities, it’s clear that W really do employ a group of special people, hand-picked for their character as much as their experience to bring something different to every customer’s stay at the hotel. For the past month, following on from the shoots we did in W Koh Samui and W Retreat Maldives, W Hotels have been featuring some of their Singapore talents as part of their #UpClose2WTalents campaign across social media – and it’s been great to see the results :-)

Aurore, W’s Digital Marketing Manager wanted to highlight some of the real “unsung heroes” in the company, and give them a brief spell in the spotlight as we talked about each of those we photographed online. With that in mind, we captured the whole spectrum of the team over the 4 days. From Stephane, the General Manager (who got so into it he was actually teaching some of the welcome team how to throw ice-cold water more effectively at him!), to the Spa girls with their crazy sound-booth hairdryers, to the restaurant guys with their frantic tea-parties and huge steaks; this was a manic shoot but a heck of a lot of fun!

Behind The Scenes W Hotels Singapore Sentosa Cove Up Close To Talents Photoshoot 2014 Starwood Group

So, what does a “W Talent Shoot” involve? Briefly, think…

  • Blasting the General Manager with iced water in their welcome fountain
  • Wrapping one of the Welcome team in bondage tape in an alien chair
  • Restaurant guys trashing the signature “Afternoon Tea”
  • Room stylists trying out the huge “Extreme Wow” bathtub
  • DJ Booth take-overs by the Welcome team
  • Zen-ing out in the signature grass-lights
  • Top Gear inspired attitude shots of the W Wheels
  • A meat-based workout for Andrew, their awesome chef in Skirt
  • Fitness shots with the team around Wet, W Singapore’s pool
  • Featuring some of the team against the backdrop of the hotel’s exclusive artwork

James TKT Kitchen Table Singapore Sentosa Cove W Hotels Group Talent Shoot Paul Reiffer Professional Commercial Photography

In fact, one of the girls – Hanis, managed to pull off a pose that really is the work of a true model. Stood amongst the multitude of textures and backdrops you find in W’s signature restaurant – Skirt – we got her into a genuinely unique position that could make the cut for many fashion adverts:

Hanis Skirt Light Restaurant W Hotels Singapore Sentosa Cove Up Close To Talents Photoshoot 2014 Starwood Group

In general, these guys really did pull out all the stops for this – and we captured some great shots as a result. It’s always a lot of fun working with such a fantastic team and they each really did deserve their moment of fame. Take a look below for a wider selection of some of the images, and if you want to check if they match their personalities, well, I guess you’ll just have to book a room and stay there ;-)

Hanis - Skirt RestaurantArisan - WheelsJames - The Kitchen TableSiva - WetAbby - WooBarAndrew - Skirt RestaurantStephane - WelcomeSherwin - Living RoomIvy - The BonBonHan - Grass LightsShiela - Living RoomAndrew - Skirt RestaurantAway:Spa GirlsBone - FitGigi - Extreme Wow SuiteDominic - The ResidencesGigi - Extreme Wow SuiteStephane - Party's OverGene - Living RoomStephane - Extreme Wow Suite

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New website launched – now with fancy responsive bits!

I remember writing this blog post in 2010 as if it were only yesterday. It was about the relaunch of my website after upgrading from an Adobe Flash based system to a more device-friendly one that met a lot more standards on the Internet.

Well, 4 years fly by and since then a lot has changed. HTML5 is now prolific, as are the demands of 3G/4G connections and devices instead of desktop, broadband, viewers. More importantly, however, is the wide-scale adoption of high density displays (or, as Apple have coined, “Retina” screens) in phones, tablets, iPads and now even 5k desktop displays.

So, it’s with pleasure that the “under maintenance” page has now been removed to reveal the brand new :-)

new 2014 website homepage

What’s inside? Well, a lot of the content remains (blog posts, for example), but aside from that pretty much everything has been rebuilt from the ground up. (Yes, that was a lot of work!)

We now have a browsing experience that scales, from tiny non-retina phone displays all the way up to the latest iMac with its monster resolution. The styling is now more modern, clean, and clear. All of our site imagery has been rebuilt with higher quality images (well, you’re here to look at photographs, right?!) and they’ve gone from 723 pixels wide to 1680 pixels wide (and actually up to 3,360 pixels wide on a hi-density display!). “Buy prints” has been re-built with a new, flatter, shopping cart system (as in the screen above) that sits on the menu bar and the portfolios section now shows images that will fill the screen of whatever device you choose to use.

buy prints portfolio blog new website

All that’s great (and I’m very proud of the new site), but the key driver for the upgrade was to make the site “responsive”. So, that’s exactly what’s been done. As the site scales, from big to small desktops, to tablets, to phones, to any device actually – the content now changes and adapts to the appropriate size and layout. No more zooming, scrolling, hunting for content around the desktop page on a tiny phone screen – it’s all been made a lot more fancy and clever!

new 2014 website responsive mobile devices

There’s still a lot more to do behind the scenes, but hopefully the fresh new look is something that you guys will like. It’s been quite a long time in the making (and the geek in me is upset that the site had to go offline for a while to do the “switchover”) but hey, it’s done now.

The old site lasted me for 4 years, through thick and thin. Here’s to the next 4 with even more images and stuff to see! :-)

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Photography Workshops announced – California, May 2015

It’s been a long time in the planning, but we’ve finally managed to pull together an itinerary that allows me to take 6-8 people “out on the road” for a journey across some of the most distinctive and impressive landscape views available in the USA. I’ll be offering an Asia workshop later in the year too, but for now it’s all about California with my “Going from Hot to Gold” photography workshop in May 2015!

Driving Into Death Valley iPhone

From Las Vegas (which, I know, isn’t California – but it’s a good starting point!) we’ll be heading into the desert floor of Death Valley for a few nights before travelling to Mono Lake, Bodie, Yosemite National Park, Lake Tahoe, Napa and San Francisco. Throughout the trip, I’ll be there guiding and assisting you in getting the very best from your camera equipment and the locations we’re visiting.

This is a full 12 days of shooting, with sunrises, sunsets, even night photography included, in a photographic workshop that is going to be as educational as it is fun, not least for the road-trip aspect alone. With the views we’ll be taking in, I’m confident that a few award-winning photographs could be taken during the workshop and I’ll be there to help you do just that!

professional photography landscape workshop death valley san francisco paul reiffer award winning

So, what can you look forward to photographing? Well, take a look through the work across my site – we’ll be heading to some of these views (plus many more) as we take time in each location to get the best shot possible in each and every case. We’ll go for iconic views as well as the more obscure and creative angles, culminating in the capture of motion-filled cityscapes as we head into San Francisco for the final part of the journey.

professional landscape photography workshop california 2015 paul reiffer yosemite san francisco las vegas death valley mono lake tahoe

If you’d like to know more about the workshop, with detailed itinerary and pricing, just click here to read on and book now.

itinerary for Paul Reiffer professional photography workshop California 2015itinerary for Paul Reiffer professional photography workshop California 2015itinerary for Paul Reiffer professional photography workshop California 2015

Places are strictly limited to ensure that we can spend the right amount of time with everyone – so don’t hesitate if you want to guarantee your place! It’ll be great to have you along for the trip :-)

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Shanghai Calling 2 : The Phase One Difference

It’s the one thing I promised myself I would never do after I upgraded my equipment from my Canon gear to a Phase One Medium Format system : re-shooting a cityscape I had already captured.

Shanghai Calling 2 Phase One Difference Nine Dragon Freeway Elevated Road Interchange Intersection Lights Blue Night City Cityscape Skyscrapers Skyline Medium Format iQ280 645DF Mamiya Paul Reiffer Professional Landscape Photographer

But the lure of Shanghai’s rooftops on a clear night was just too strong, and here I found myself shooting “Shanghai Calling 2″ with my 645DF+ and iQ280 digital back.

behind the scenes shooting shanghai calling 2 phase one iQ280 cityscape iPhone panoramic rooftop city

Now, before I go any further, let my just clarify one point: I LOVE my Canon EOS cameras. They’ve served me well and the quality they produce is fantastic for the price point. When shooting concerts or action, I would always reach for my 1DX and 5D3 “combo” as my first selection, but one of the biggest reasons I invested in the iQ280 series in the first place was the resolution it could produce for landscape images and so far I have always been impressed.

Original Shanghai Calling Limited Edition Print Paul Reiffer Photographer Cityscape Night Canon 5D Mk 3It began as a regular planned cityscape shoot – capturing traffic trails and lights around the elevated roads at night along with the “Nine-Dragon Intersection”. (There’s a myth/story about deaths caused when the roads were built so a huge metal statue was constructed where the freeways join). The problem is, that same intersection is looked down upon by one of my first, and favourite, rooftop adventure buildings in the city and all I could do was keep looking up.

So while this was never intended to be a “product comparison” shoot, I couldn’t resist the urge to see how my Phase One equipment would perform in comparison to my original Canon EOS 5D mk III shot from a while back – “Shanghai Calling” (image on the right).

Obviously, atmospheric conditions change, as do buildings and their lighting setups over a period of years. So there was naturally going to be a little bit of difference in the two shots – not least of course being the difference in effect based on the pollution level of each day. And on the face of it, both camera systems did amazingly well.

It’s a challenging environment. Not only do you have wind blasting from all angles, but it’s pitch black up there with many obstacles on the roof, no safety barriers once you get your equipment up “on the ledge” and a friendly (ish) security guard counting the seconds you’re up there putting his job at risk. This time, I also had the benefit of my new Giottos Silk Road 3D tripod that allowed me to push the arm out over the edge of the building to get an unobscured shot (don’t worry, I checked below first!).

Granted, the lens itself has a huge, huge, impact on the final image quality at any point – but it’s a bit difficult to use the same piece of glass between Medium Format and 35mm systems, so I’ve had to stick with comparing the Phase One AF 28 mm f/4.5 A (17mm 35mm equivalent) to my Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L II USM. Both are fine pieces of engineering in their own right, but from a cost perspective one is 4-5x more expensive than the other. Likewise, the sensors are in different leagues – the Phase One 80MP Full-Frame Medium Format 645 CCD vs. the 22.3MP CMOS 35mm is somewhat of a David and Goliath scenario at best (at worst, a completely unfair comparison). But hey, I wasn’t trying to see if my iQ280 was better, I wanted to see how much better it was…

(Let’s call it post-purchase-rationalisation ;-) )

So here we go – here is the overall map of the new image, below. I’ve selected 3 very tricky sections to compare, and specifically chosen areas in the distance which are affected more in terms of and light blur, overexposure and distortion.

  • An area with lots of neon lines and potential barrel distortion.
  • One of the darkest areas in the image to see how low-light detail is captured.
  • An area with a lot of detail blown out but also the Pearl Tower which is deceptively far away in comparison to the rest of the scene.

Medium Format Phase One iQ280 Comparison Canon 5D mk 3 III Professional Cityscape Image Map Shanghai Paul Reiffer

The samples (close-up) are below, but these are also only very small versions of the full crop. If you click on any of the following images, you’ll be able to download the full 100% comparison (around 4MB each file).

At this point I have to mention one thing: The Canon image was already “tweaked” in Photoshop, to add some sharpness and fix the colour balance of this tricky scene (bright blue, red, yellow and white lights against a dark background can cause issues for any camera).

The Phase One image, on the other hand, while processed using Capture One Pro 8 as a raw converter has NOT been touched in Photoshop at all. This is out of the camera, no sharpness tweaks, no playing with colour (even in Capture One) – and for that reason alone, I’m amazed.

The Canon image was shot at f/16, ISO 100 and 20 seconds. The Phase One image is f/12, ISO 35, 30 seconds.

Area 1 Shanghai Calling 2 Comparison Phase One Medium Format iQ280 Compare Canon 5D mk 3 III sharpness calrity

Area 2 Shanghai Calling 2 Comparison Phase One Medium Format iQ280 Compare Canon 5D mk 3 III sharpness calrity

Area 3 Shanghai Calling 2 Comparison Phase One Medium Format iQ280 Compare Canon 5D mk 3 III sharpness calrity

Please do have a look up-close with these images. The difference is staggering (and rightly so) – let’s be clear here, we’re comparing around $4,000 of equipment against around $50,000 with just the one lens setup. On the scale of unfair comparisons, this one is off the chart – but wow. The richness of colour, the details, the sharpness and depth of the image coming out of the iQ280 is in a different league to anything the 35mm sensor can deliver.

So what did I learn? That the camera system nearly 13x more expensive than the other one produces better images? Of course, but we all knew that already! I guess I’ve at least confirmed it to myself now! :-) . To say I’m happy with my new equipment would be an understatement, and this has cemented my opinion that the iQ280 digital back is a phenomenal piece of technology (as is the rest of the system itself). But no, as I left my computer comparing these two images, I actually got a really bad feeling inside – why had I even tried to judge them in the first place?

close comparison phase one iQ280 canon 5D mk 3

Technically, it’s interesting to see the comparison – but for a brief moment I’d forgotten the one thing that I hold with the utmost importance when I’m shooting: I take pictures to capture how it felt to stand at that point, at that moment, right now. My Canon gear had been with me for years before the switch, and I absolutely LOVE the images I took with it. Not only because the quality of shots is fantastic in its own right, but also because each image I have captured brings back memories and reminders of how it felt to be there.

Standing on top of the same building, shooting the same scene, just to see if it “could be captured better” felt a little empty. The excitement was gone – there was something missing at that moment; it had become a technical challenge, not an adventure. I am absolutely blown away by the quality of my new shot from that rooftop – up close, it looks amazing. But being there as a photographer, it simply didn’t feel the same as the first time I made it to the rooftop, looked over the side and said “woah!”.

My Phase One equipment really is the best camera system I can imagine owning right now in the world – and for this I am extremely grateful that I’m fortunate enough to have it with me. But does that in itself make any other camera “less good”? No, of course not.

I still maintain that the best camera in the world is the one you have with you right now. Whether that’s a Phase One Medium Format system, a Canon EOS DSLR or an iPhone camera – capturing the memory of what you see right now is what it’s all about. The highest quality image is just an added bonus when you also have the right gear!

So, it’s time to take my Phase back out to some new and unique locations instead…!


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Tiny Planets – Cityscape Skylines as Miniature Worlds

This is Auckland, but not as we know it :-)

tiny planet auckland night lights cityscape paul reiffer professional landscape commercial photographer

This is the “Tiny Planet” version of my cityscape from New Zealand in June this year – and while only a bit of fun, I think it looks rather cool!

Spending a week or so resting at Huvafen Fushi, I finally had time to start playing with some Apps I downloaded a long while ago. While there are much better (and higher resolution) ways of achieving the same thing in Photoshop, the “click-button” ease of these iPhone tools is quite staggering – and it all started with this shot, a panoramic image I took of my camera capturing sunset on top of a Shanghai skyscraper:

tiny planet phase one shanghai BTS shooting k11 mall top city phase one giottos sunset panoramic cityscape paul reiffer professional landscape commercial photographer

So, it’s a bit blurry at the outer edges, and isn’t a truly full-360, but hey – it’s a bit of fun :-) Having loaded it up onto Facebook, I had quite a few people guessing as to how it was done as it really is a different way of looking at a city. And that got me thinking: What would my cityscapes look like when ran through the same process of mapping the bottom edge to the center and stretching the outside. Lucky for me it only took a click or two to find out, and here we go with Singapore’s Marina Bay to start:

tiny planet singapore marina bay harbour skyscrapers night lights sunset cityscape paul reiffer professional landscape commercial photographer

Shanghai, of course, can be best viewed at night, and here’s the wraparound of my shot from a while back with the Shanghai Tower under construction:

tiny planet shanghai pudong skyline oriental pearl tower swfc lights neon river cityscape paul reiffer professional landscape commercial photographer

How about a bit closer to my home-town? Here’s London’s Tower Bridge just before sunrise in May.  (Here you can see where the blending on these Apps isn’t perfect, but still – I love the effect!):

tiny planet london tower bridge sunrise long exposure blue cityscape paul reiffer professional landscape commercial photographer

What about Hong Kong’s Symphony of Lights show? In person, it’s not quite the “spectacle” that it is built up to be, but hey – as a tiny planet it looks quite appealing :-)

tiny planet hong kong night symphony of lights show skyscrapers cityscape paul reiffer professional landscape commercial photographer

New York, New York? Here, my skyline photograph was taken to almost cartoon format by the tool as the Empire State Building projects outwards as the tallest thing in frame…

tiny planet new york city manhattan empire state building rockefeller cityscape paul reiffer professional landscape commercial photographer

I’m lucky to have this shot of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia at night (you can read all about it here) – but when it comes to recognisable skylines, this city has one of the most distinctive buildings in the world, the Petronas Twin Towers/KLCC:

tiny planet kuala lumpur kl klcc petronas towers night traffic light stream malaysia capital city cityscape paul reiffer professional landscape commercial photographer

Sydney’s skyline is of course cool without any “tricks” anyway, but playing with my sunset shot gave it something a bit different – a crest of clouds:

tiny planet sydney sunset bridge harbour grand opera house tower sea cityscape paul reiffer professional landscape commercial photographer

Back to London at night, for St. Paul’s Cathedral with the Millennium Bridge casting an upside-down heart shape in the middle of the frame – I didn’t see that one coming!

tiny planet london st pauls cathedral millennium bridge night long exposure city empty skyline cityscape paul reiffer professional landscape commercial photographer

While at the top of this post, my favourite Auckland “tiny planet” is actually now this shot, below, of the daytime skyline from the other side of the harbour. In June I said the regular shot already looked like a toy-town, but wow, this version of it is almost plastic…!

tiny planet auckland day new zealand sky tower cityscape paul reiffer professional landscape commercial photographer

Of course, it doesn’t only have to be cityscapes that get a cool new look from this method – while staying at Huvafen Fushi it would have been rude not to give it a try on one of my favourite overwater shots – Huvafen Fushi’s spa. :-)

tiny planet huvafen fushi spa maldives sunrise overwater paul reiffer professional landscape commercial photographer

So, photographically, are they the best quality or “perfect” images? Absolutely not. But they do give a cool new sense of looking down on the same scene that you normally see laid flat across your eyes. For that, just the simple act of giving us a different perspective, I think this is something that more people should try out…!

Now, to get back to relaxing :-)

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