Powerful Portfolio Books

When you think about photo albums, all sorts of variations may come to mind, perhaps featuring weddings, personal photo shoots or family holidays, to name a few. But how about showcasing your company or your work projects in a powerful way? This is one of the specialist applications that we apply to portfolio books, ranging from high-end, leather-bound options with individual presentation boxes, to more affordable, quality versions, all of which can uniquely highlight who you are and what you do.

One of our esteemed clients, the Barrow Group, have capitalized on this opportunity to showcase their exceptional construction work, such as for their iconic Metropolis on Park building in Sandton, Johannesburg. Above is a sneak peek at the beautiful top-of-the-range photo book that we designed and delivered for them, along with 10 mid-range versions, all finished to exacting standards. As an example, these can offer the means to share an exquisite summary of the building in its reception area, as well as provide personal gifts for key stakeholders. Here is another pic, showing the personalized front cover with the Metropolis on Park logo.

We captured photos and footage from the start of the development, when blasting began, right through significant milestones to completion of this 13 story masterpiece, which is topped by penthouses. Photographing the fabulous launch party enhanced our scope of content with warm, engaging images of people enjoying themselves in and around the building, reflecting the exclusive luxury lifestyle that it offers. We created a similar series of unique portfolio books for Barrow’s phenomenal Katherine & West building in Sandton, which was voted the Coolest Building in Jozi. That featured some of the select installations of business tenants, in addition to captivating penthouse spreads. For both projects, we included breath-taking aerial perspectives using drone technology.

For years, we have used a similar A3 sized, leather-bound portfolio book to support the marketing of our company, Outdoor Video & Photographic. It features a double page spread for each of the primary genres of photography that we offer, including wildlife. This has served us brilliantly at countless introductory meetings, giving prospective clients an immediate idea of the quality and style of our work, and establishing common ground with those who share our passion for wildlife. If you fancy raising your marketing game with a powerful portfolio book, then feel free to contact us to discuss your options. We’d love to connect with you.

In the meantime, to find out more about the exceptional residential apartments available for sale and to rent at ‘Sandton’s Most Beautiful Address‘, please visit the Metropolis on Park website . . . and prepare to be enchanted!

Talent in Studio

There’s a special buzz here at OV&P when we have talented people in our studio – an excited sense of knowing that they will go far in their lives and achieve significant things. This is the feeling that I had recently, while photographing Daliso Masongo (pictured above and below), and also his sister Mwila Masongo a few weeks earlier.

Mwila scooped 3rd place in the Commercial Model of the Year category at the IMTA (International Modeling and Talent Association) convention in New York last month, on the basis of the modeling portfolio that I shot for her. To view some of the gorgeous images from her photo shoot, follow this link to my Facebook album: Mwila Masongo in Studio.

Daliso is currently a sports management student, in addition to being a model at Ice Models Johannesburg. He has a flair for acting too, which contributed great fun to his shoot. It was a treat to work with him (and have some help from Mwila who was in studio as well), as we planned how to combine outfits, backdrops, props and poses for his portfolio.

Daliso Masongo's Portfolio by Naomi Estment

Exceptionally tall and athletic, Daliso had some great ideas of his own, including action shots such as his leap into the air that you can see above. He put me through my paces, not only while shooting his photographs but also with regard to editing them afterwards because he jumped so high that his head was above the top of our backdrop!

All in all, we aimed to capture Daliso’s vibrant personality, as well as his model looks, and to include versatility in terms of expressions, postures, style and mood. For this reason, we also shot some photos outside, capturing a completely different atmosphere to the studio shots. The selection of images featured above share a sample of this. What do you think? Did we succeed in achieving our objective? We think so, but would love to know your feedback, so please leave a comment below to let us know 🙂 Thank you!

Playing at Kruger Park

What do you like to do with overseas visitors? We love to enjoy African wildlife together. So when our Swiss cousin Kevin recently popped out to SA with his family for a holiday, Naomi and I arranged a trip to Ngwenya Lodge at the Kruger National Park.

I deliberately took along only the essentials to take a couple of pics and probably no video. Yeah, right 😉 Kevin’s wife Anne had earned a reputation for finding big cats on her first trip to SA, when we saw 4 different Leopard sightings in 3 days! That was also at Kruger, many years ago, and if you know anything about the bush, you’ll know it’s incredibly rare. 2017 was right up there.

Anne was on form, and the family saw the Big Five in no time at all, including leopard. As we relaxed and shifted from Joburg mode into Bush mode, the trigger finger started itching and I really enjoyed shooting the wildlife we came across. A highlight was two Tawny Eagles (pictured above) battling it out in the sky overhead, which is tricky to capture because everything happens so fast.

I made the beginners mistake of not checking that I had spare batteries with me, assuming they would be in the camera bag. Wrong! They had been left behind on the desk in my studio. Plan B. Battery flat, great shots in the bag, so I capitulated and took one of our video cameras on the last evening/night drive just in case we saw anything special. Wow, we were spoilt for choice.

A pack of hyena hunting, hyena cubs in and around their den and lions mating right next to the game vehicles got our full attention. It was fun to see the reactions of the children and some Spanish folk we had met. They could barely believe their luck, but then I pointed out that we had “Annie find the Predators” with us, which contributed to much laughter and animated story telling.

To see some more photos, view our FB album: Kruger Park – July 2017, and here’s a short video of exciting highlights:

Early the next morning Naomi and I hit the road back to the ‘Big Smoke’ to do a shoot that we’d scheduled, leaving our cousins to enjoy a few more days in the bush. In true style, Anne spotted a leopard which posed proudly, allowing Kevin a chance to get some lovely pics of this magnificent, elusive predator for their holiday album. Pity we missed it, but there’s always a next time.

This trip reminded me of how important it is to get away sometimes with family and friends to places that feed the soul and allow us to truly relax and appreciate nature. I hope you feel inspired to take a trip somewhere special with your loved ones and recharge your batteries. Oh, on that note, don’t forget to take spare batteries for your cameras 😉

Aerial Image of Sandton by Dave Estment of OV&P

Night Photography – Not Always Easy

We’re often asked to do low-light or night photography, either in the bush, close to nature and the stars, or when our property development clients want to showcase their architectural creations, for example. The images above and below are classic examples of low-light photography, the first using a 3 Axis gimbal to stabilise the camera on an aerial drone and the second using a tripod.

The first thing that tends to pop into people’s minds when talking about night or low-light photography is that it’s difficult because the shutter speed, aperture and ISO settings are dramatically compromised due to the reduced available light. This can easily result in blurred images because of camera shake and not having enough shutter speed. In some ways they’re right, because it doesn’t matter how technically correct the image may be – if it’s blurred, it’s useless. Period.

Key Camera Settings

So, how do we produce perfectly exposed, pin-sharp images in near darkness? First, we need to stabilise the camera so that it stays rock steady while the shutter is open, sometimes for up to 30 seconds or longer. One of my golden rules when doing low-light photography is to use the lowest possible ISO setting, as this will minimise the graininess of the image. So if your camera has a low ISO setting of 100 and a high ISO setting of say 6400, ALWAYS choose 100 as your default when possible.

The second factor to consider is the depth of field you want to achieve in the shot. The larger the aperture, the shallower the depth of field, but the more light is allowed onto the sensor. What if you want a deeper depth of field where everything appears to be in focus? Simple. Use the aperture setting that will give you the depth of field you require. Then let the last setting that you need to consider compensate for the lack of available light, while ensuring correct exposure and depth of field. What’s this last setting? Shutter speed!

The Game Changer

Once you have stabilised the camera on a tripod or a three-axis gimbal in the case of a drone, you’re free to use the slowest necessary shutter speed to control how much light is allowed to reach the sensor. Stabilisation is the game changer. In general, it’s the answer to the problem, but there is another factor that creeps into the equation. What if you have areas of the image that are brighter than other areas, like a brightly lit lounge or bedroom in a house that is otherwise pretty dark by comparison?

Night Photography of Home by Dave Estment of OV&P

The Golden Rule

The golden rule here is to expose correctly for the brighter areas, because if you overexpose these, you will completely “blow” them, leaving no information there to “pull back” in post production. When you correctly expose the brighter areas of the image, which will in turn underexpose the darker areas, there is still a much better chance of brightening the darker areas in post production (since these tend to contain more information), provided they are not completely black.

The Next Level

It helps to use artificial light like a speed-light or studio lights to balance the available light in the darker areas of the image. This is where it can get tricky, and it’s probably a good idea to call in a pro in situations like this 🙂 The same principles apply whether you’re in the bush or in the “Big Smoke”. It does take more planning and time to execute a correctly exposed, pin-sharp low–light photograph, but if you use these guidelines, I’m sure you’ll be thrilled with the results.

Please feel free to contact us for your low-light projects and any other video and photographic requirements that may call for more experience. In the meantime, SHOOT SHARP.

Amore' Vlok, 2017 IMTA Contestant, photographed by Naomi Estment

Modeling Portfolio Magic

Do you or someone you know need a professional talent or modeling portfolio? Or do you simply enjoy beautiful portraits? Either way, you’re in the right place! If you’ve followed our blog for a while, you’ll know that personal portfolios are a specialty of ours, that I particularly love to shoot. This time of year is always exciting too because models, actors, singers and dancers all over the world are preparing for the IMTA (International Modeling and Talent Association) convention, which takes place next month in New York.

International Model of the Year

I’ve recently had the privilege and pleasure of photographing three stunning contestants from Figures Models Randburg. Above is a photo of Amore’ Vlok, who won the Figures Models SA International Model of the Year award, including an all expenses paid trip to the convention. She wanted some versatility in her portfolio, including indoor and outdoor images, so we set up a special portable lighting scenario in our garden, which is adjacent to our studio. This made it super quick and easy to incorporate natural, shallow-depth-of-field shots, as well as co-ordinate changes of outfits and backdrops. Here are a few more photos from her shoot:

Modeling Portfolio of Amore' Vlok - by Naomi Estment

Capturing Personality

As you can see, Amore’ brought along a hat, which really suits her. This is something that I suggest clients do for their individual portfolios, so that we can try it out and include a few photos with a hat in their final selection. Without fail, I find that it helps to bring out personality and inject a bit of fun into the shoot. We generally include a mix of casual and more formal clothing, which we go through together in order to match different outfits, hairstyles and make-up with various backdrops, props and lighting arrangements.

Talented Young Stars

It was a treat to photograph Amore’, who brims with talent, both on camera and in person. She is fabulously tall, giving her a great advantage on the ramp as well. To see more of her photos, view my Facebook album Amore’ Vlok in Studio. While you’re there, have a look at the albums featuring modeling portfolios of two more gorgeous contestants: Mwila Masongo and Nicole Morgan:

2017 IMTA Contestants, photographed by Naomi Estment

Each has their own signature brand of beauty, which I’ve no doubt will shine in New York just as it does here in Johannesburg.

Please join me in wishing all three of these talented young stars everything of the best for their trip!

Aerial Photograph of Construction in Progress

Time Lapse – It’s Just A Mystery

Time lapse photography is a genre of video work that uses still images shot at pre-determined intervals to create the illusion of a high speed ‘time warp’ for the viewer. It’s a popular method for creating another perspective on the progress or timeline of a project, event or natural scenario. Imagine shooting the night sky by depicting the stars and satellites appearing to scribe perfect arcs in the sky as the earth rotates, or creating a video to illustrate the progress of a skyscraper, where the building appears to go from its foundations to completion in just 90 seconds, with tiny people scurrying around at warp speed like ants building a nest!

We at OV&P have created a variety of time lapse sequences ranging from the erection of a record 13,000+ sq.m of Nomadik tents that seemed to pop up from nowhere in preparation for the epic annual 702 Walk the Talk event at Marks Park in Johannesburg, to a 19 month time lapse project of a 15 story building being constructed in the Sandton CBD – changing the suburban landscape forever to match the frenetic business transactions also happening at warp speed in the prime office space of the financial capital of Africa.

The variety of applications for time lapse video is unlimited, but we prefer to focus primarily on specific industries in order to specialize and serve our clients best by developing techniques and processes that give them the edge in their marketing. We often combine different elements of video into a project because we find that the more interesting we can make it, the more engaged the audience is, and the more success our clients enjoy. Below is a sample of the collaboration between Action Gear and OV&P in creating lasting relationships with developers like FWJK, whose 3 month progress on their Illovo construction project is depicted in the video:

Using a property construction project as a time lapse example, we utilize traditional ground based video to capture the close-up and panning shots required to emphasize the quality and attention to detail that’s so important to investors who demand the best bang for buck. We then add exciting high level aerial footage shot from our hi-tech drones. As a SACAA registered and qualified pilot, I use different techniques to fly through, circle upwards and away from the site and to get really creative shots not possible before the advent of drones. During all of this, there are strategically placed time lapse rigs quietly doing their jobs, perfectly positioned to capture the required compositions in order to illustrate the magical way that the building grows from day to day.

We highlight important stages of construction by using shorter intervals between shots to feature more detail for viewers, and then contrast this with the warp speed illusion which is so dramatic. We feel that using multiple disciplines to convey the story creates the most compelling end result, ultimately ensuring that we exceed our clients expectations and maintain a competitive edge in the market place by utilising the best gear, the best people and the best techniques available to ‘get the shot’. When we at OV&P call it a ‘wrap’, we go home and sleep well knowing that we went the extra mile to secure a win-win for all concerned.