Canon and Sony


Another quick test: this time it’s about the Sony a7rII and Canon 5DSR. I added the Canon 5D MKIII just for reference. There is no grading added to the photos. My first impression is that the a7rII holds up very well against the 5DSR. This is my first Sony camera so I wasn’t sure what to expect. The 42MP image is close enough to the 5DSR that image quality does not seem sacrificed.

The biggest difference I see is the 5DSR has deep blacks and shadows where the a7rII has very open shadows. You can see an example of this with he black cars below. I’ve checked the settings for the 5DSR and even with everything turned down, the shadows are still too dark. I much prefer the open shadows that the a7rII produces.


Because the images are saved for the web you lose some of the sharpness—so it’s not the best way to judge the images. When you look at the RAW files the 5DSR is the clear winner based on sharpness. The a7rII is close behind the 5DSR and a step up from the 5D MKIII

If I had to pick one I would go with the 5DSR because everything works or will work with Canon (such as my Profoto Air-TTL). That said, I’m really impressed with the a7rII…it has made me rethink what I need in a camera. For instance, I love the a7rII’s electronic viewfinder. It great for reviewing images in bright sunlight. With the Canon I need to find shade in order to see the screen clearly. One thing I wish the a7rII had is a quick way to change focus on-the-fly. I found a workaround by customizing the buttons, but you still need to hit the center button before the dial lets you move the focus point. With the 5DSR I can just move the dial making it really fast to follow someone with the focus. After using the massive amount of focus points on the a7rII the 5DSR focus feels like a let down. The size of the a7rII makes it great for carrying around. It is less intimidating…allowing you to take more discreet photos.

Sony has impressed me with the a7rII, which now has a permanent home in my camera bag.



Canon 5DS R test


There are tons of very scientific tests of the Canon 5DS R on the web. When I got mine I simply wanted to know who how it compared to my old Canon 5D MKIII and my Phase One IQ180. I don’t need charts or numbers I just wanted to see a real world image. I did a quick very un-scientific test out my studio window.
All three camera’s where photographed very similar to the pulled back photo above. I then overlaid them all at 100% which gives the crops below. I’m only looking at two things with my test, resolution and sharpness. The IQ180 is still king in that regard but I’m very impressed with how well the 5DS R did. I’ve always felt that the 5D MKIII had a lack of sharpness which prevented me from using it for more than people. Maybe it’s the added resolution but the 5DS R has a sharpness that puts it much closer to the IQ180. This is the first time that I might consider using a Canon for studio work.
This is the first time that I might consider using a Canon for studio work.






Plow Video

Recently I created a time-lapse video for Plow, one of my favorite restaurants, on Potreo Hill in San Francisco. The concept was to show a day at the restaurant. Such a big part of that is not only the amazing food, but the community that gathers there.

The video starts with the owner baking before sunrise and ends with the staff toasting the completion of a day well done. I personally love the top view which shows half the kitchen area and half eating area. It’s cool seeing the food created and consumed in the same frame.

Time lapse often seems like a simple process, but you need to think about how often to capture in order to make the video smooth, plus exposure and color changes that will lead to camera flicker. I used a Canon 5D MKII to capture the outside and a GoPro 4 for the inside stuff. I used an ND filter on both the Canon and GoPro which kept the shutter speed low. This gave a small amount of motion blur which helps blend the images together making things look smoother. Image grading was done with Lightroom and LRTimelapse. Final video was created with Final Cut Pro.

You can see the video on the Plow website:

It’s on Vimeo:


Make It Personal


I always have ideas brewing of image concepts that I want to see come to fruition. Finding time for personal projects is hard but important for creative growth. I find that the process of shooting personal images helps influence my professional work as well.

I have always loved using donuts as a subject. They are delicious and unique with a rich history. I find them fascinating. For this recent series, I wanted to shoot large prints of donuts around San Francisco. It was cost prohibitive to actually print out the images and place them in the settings, so I placed an 8’x8’ square of white foamcore in each location. My assistant was the lucky one who got to watch over the foamcore once it was leaning in the photo. We had a couple of times where it almost blew away!

By shooting the images with the actual large foam core in location, I was able to capture people’s reactions or lack thereof one. I was surprised with how many people just ignored us and just walked around.

Shooting donuts is always fun and satisfying. I never know where or how I’ll shoot them next!

Peter-Belanger-47A0131_PB-FLAT Peter-Belanger-47A0027_PB-FLAT Peter-Belanger-47A9942_PB-FLAT Peter-Belanger-47A9732-PB-FLAT Peter-Belanger-47A0234_PB-FLAT


Stop Motion Fun

Donut Fun

I love donuts and I love stop motion so why not combine them? That’s what I’ve done with this playful video, it’s short but sweet—just like the donuts in it. The creation of the video took several days. It may look simple but it took lots of planing and strategizing. One issue is that donuts change their appearance over time. I had to plan each part to be completed within a day. If I wasn’t able to get the shot done, I had to wait until the next day to start again with fresh donuts. Another issue was that the donuts left a sugar/grease trail as they moved. Rather then clean the surface after each move (which I did in the beginning) I backed each donut with cardboard. This made it much more efficient to move the donuts around without the hassle and mess.

Another big part of completing the video was finding some great music to set the tone. Thankfully Craig Bromley was on board for creating some custom music for the video. I am amazed he was able to develop such a range in the relatively short time span of the video.

View on Vimeo: https://vimeo.com/109470568
View on Youtube: http://youtu.be/lKMNmyF1ErU

Pump It

I was inspired by my son’s weekly soccer games for the theme of this stop motion video. I wanted to create something fun and simple. While I was attracted to the basic theme of the idea, I learned simple things are not always easy! In this case, making the pump hose move fluidly was tricky. I needed to be able to move the hose in small, precise steps. Rather then run a wire in the hose I used a metal rod to hold each position of the hose in place. Later the rod was digitally removed. Hopefully the result looks simple and fun.

View on Vimeo: https://vimeo.com/109470570
View on Youtube: http://youtu.be/EJw-hALtd_k


Fun with Acrylic

Peter Belanger-IMG_1597

It’s always rewarding when the client is up for something more playful. In the current issue of Macworld we used circular acrylic to ad some fun to their feature on the two new iPads. It was decided the day before the shoot, thankfully Tap Plastics was able to turn around circular acrylic over night.

I’ve also post the covers to some past Macworld magazines that I never posted

Peter Belanger-IMG_1588 Peter Belanger-IMG_1592 Peter Belanger-IMG_1445 Peter Belanger-IMG_1412


Capture One Workflow

I’ve been asked several times to share my Capture One workflow. Everyone has their way of working and mine is by no means a fit for all. Grab your pillow, this subject might just put you to sleep.

I use a tethered session rather than a catalog. The new session is named with the date, job number, and client name. In this case, the session name is Date-Job#-Client. The default location of the Session in Capture One is set in the Pictures folder but I locate the Sessions on the Desktop for quick access and organization. Capture One recommends locating all Sessions in the Shared folder to prevent any problems with permissions. I’ve yet to experience any issues locating files on the Desktop. Hopefully, I didn’t just jinx myself.


My workflow normally requires one computer for capturing and another for organizing and processing. This way I don’t have to wait for my assistant to finish naming and organizing before I can continue to the next shot. The most efficient way to move files between computers is to capture images as an EIP file. This is done in the Capture One Preferences, click the check box “Pack as EIP when capturing.” An EIP (Enhanced Image Package) file format bundles the original Raw file with the image settings like Color Tag, Rating, ICC profile, White Balance, Crop and other metadata. Transferring these EIP files from computer to computer will keep the settings intact and allows them to travel with the image.


Before shooting, I setup the appropriate naming convention. Other settings I use are Copy from Last in the “ICC Profile” and Copy from Clipboard in the “All Other” dialog boxes.


After the first image is captured, I apply my presets for metadata, sharpening, white balance, etc. I copy the image settings to the Clipboard. In the “Adjustment Clipboard” I select everything I want to copy. Now all the information will automatically transfer to the following captures. Each time I make a change as I’m shooting I will copy everything to the clipboard again so all further captures will reflect the new changes.


The next step is to process the files. Capture One has basic recipes but you can create your own according to your needs. Lifestyle shoots often have significantly higher shot count than a product shoot so I include quickly viewable jpgs to accompany the hi-res tifs in a secondary folder. This way, the client can view and select the jpgs and reference the corresponding tifs when they are ready. The Default setting outputs processed files to the root Output folder created at the beginning of the session. This can be customized so that the output files are designated to specific locations. My Recipes include subfolders within the Output folder. Subfolders are a great way to automatically separate the file types like tifs and jpgs or other ways the processed files are best differentiated. Congratulations you made it this far, I stopped for a donut break halfway through.




xScope by Iconfactory is a software tool I use on a daily basis at the studio. It is a gem that others might disregard but I feel is essential in my workflow. Xcope includes various tools that float on your desktop window. One of the key features are the guides. I use the guides to make sure things are squared, leveled, equidistant and parallel when positioning a shot. Above are three screen grabs floating xScope guides on my Capture One screen. The first two show the product off centered, indicated by the pixel numbers between the guides. The third shows the product being centered, proven by the equal pixel numbers.
I also like the ruler. Often, I have to match the position of a previous shot I did. I use the ruler as a free-flowing glorified guide since it can be rotated in any angle and placed anywhere on the screen. Below are two screen grabs to diagram my use. Let’s say the first image is a final shot. Next on the shot list will be the same product but rotated 90 degrees. The best way to match angles is to place the ruler on one side of the first image and then rotate the product accordingly to match the ruler for the second image. Make sure you do not move the ruler, instead move the product little by little until the side lines up with the ruler. The second screen grab below not only shows the ruler matching the side angle but I also brought back the guides to make sure it is centered. I like how all the tools can be used in conjunction with each other.

Pebble Watches


MIT Technology Review featured the Pebble watch in an articled entitled “10 Breakthrough Technologies of 2013″ in their current issue. I was fortunate to photograph the watches at Pebble headquarters and work directly with founder Eric Migicovsky. Their Kickstarter story made history and getting my hands on these watches for a day was super exciting.


Macworld April 2013

I’ve posted about making animations for editorial before. This is the latest short animation created to go with the digital version of the April issue of Macworld magazine. It was used to introduce the featured article called “100 More Things Every Mac User Should Know.”

After photographing the main photo for the print magazine, the animation was created by taking the Post-it notes away one by one. When creating the animation with Apple’s Motion, the photos were arranged in reverse so it looked like the Post-it’s were being added rather than taken away.

I’m also testing out Vimeo Pro as a clean way to present my videos. Once I have enough videos I’ll incorporate it into my site.