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Gear Review: Canon 50mm f/1.2L

If you’ve ever worked with us or keep up with our ever expanding arsenal of camera goodies, you may have noticed that we are (er, were) exclusively die hard Canon users when it comes to glass and digital cameras. With the exception of adding the Sony FS700 to our roster of digital bodies, and my exploration into a Hasselblad film body (but honestly, that doesn’t really count against Canon), we are dedicated to that brand. I shot a Nikon once, it was weird and I assume they use voodoo demon magic to make their images are a very nice company to be behind as well. Over this past Memorial Day weekend, I shot two weddings and finally got around to using the holy grail of L Series lenses, in my opinion of course, the 50mm f/1.2.

Taken with a 50mm 1.2L, of me holding a Canon 5D Mark III with a 50mm 1.2L

Taken with a 50mm 1.2L, of me holding a Canon 5D Mark III with a 50mm 1.2L

I like my set up simple when I go out on a shoot, because I know what works for me and I know I can get everything with just a messenger bag full of gear. The 50mm prime lens series has been my go-to since just a few weeks into learning photography. I’ve used my fair share of lenses now, but nothing could be more simple yet so versatile to me then one camera body with a 50mm lens on it. When doing portrait work and my early gigs of shooting concert photography in next to pitch black rooms, I needed a lens that was long enough to get medium-close to my subjects and fast enough to shoot wide open and get great shots (this is where the f-stop becomes the key factor for me). A lens that might only open as wide as f/4, like say the very popular Canon 24-105 L, is gonna limit me well over two full stops which can be crippling in some situations. Your trade off at this point of course, is a very ‘narrow’ depth of field, meaning that even if you hit your focus point just right you might only get the eyes tact sharp and everything else will be out of focus. Lets be honest though, who doesn’t like a healthy dose of blur and bokeh in a portrait?

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The 50mm is the perfect all around lens if you ask me. It stays on my camera 90% of the time when I’m out shooting. There are three lenses in the Canon 50mm family; the f/1.8 (also commonly referred to as the ‘Nifty Fifty’), the f/1.4 (my workhorse thus far) and finally the f/1.2 L. I’ve never personally owned the 1.8 but clocking in brand new at $100, you would be foolish not to pick one up just to give it a try. The 1.4 has gotten me to where I am thus far in my career and I would highly recommend it for a significantly better build and great optic quality over the 1.8. However, the 1.2 L was such a beast that I can’t see myself going back to anything else. From the solid, weather sealed body that just feels like it can take a beating, to the absolutely stunning and sharp as glass image quality paired with the killer auto-focus, this is the one for anyone serious about portrait work. The 1.2L will set you back about $1,500 new, but if you are serious about your image quality being top notch then it’s an essential investment.

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I should take a quick second to advise against going fully wide open on these lenses unless truly needed. All of my example shots above were done at f/2, and mostly for the reason I touched on that by opening up more than that you run into a very, very narrow depth of field with minimal wiggle room for error. I’ve found that the f/2 to f/2.8 range is ideal for that extremely sharp point of focus with great fall off to that milky soft bokeh you see everywhere else. By opening up to f/1.8, f/1.4, or even f/1.2 you run the risk of having an image so soft that it may not be usable. If you need the extra full stop or two in order to get the image, however, then open it up cause nothing is worse then missing the shot all together. With all that being said, this is a dream lens to me. If you have never tried one out, I couldn’t recommend any other lens higher then this bad boy right here. Go track one down, slap it on whatever body of choice, and get to shooting.

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FTF’S Favorite “Game of Thrones” Characters.

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Anyone else disappointed there isn’t a new episode of everyone’s favorite “Game Show” tonight? Well in order to fill that empty arrow hole in my heart I’ve compiled a short list of FTF’s favorite characters from the HBO fantasy epic.

– Up first is Co-owner and Editor, Chaddix Malchow, whose favorite character is Arya Stark . “I think she has the most interesting story and character build up, and she’s on the coolest path,” says Chad of the young Northerner.

– Next is Co-owner and Director of Photograhy, Pat Shelton, whose favorite character is Jaqen H’ghar. “Why? because he keeps his word and has a great head of hair.” Can’t disagree with that.

– Audio Engineer and Composer, Devon Johnson, says his favorite character by far is Tyrion Lannister. “I love how he is arguably the most intelligent character of the show. He’s small in stature but plays one of the largest roles.” Certainly a very popular choice.

– Our Production Assistant and Photographer, Anthony Gilbert chose Lord Voldemort for his favorite, saying “I just can’t get enough of the lightsaber battles, vroom, vroom!” Yeah… I don’t think Ant watches the show.

– As for my favorite character I have to go with Sandor “The Hound” Clegane. “I just really like the duality of his character, he’s an anti-hero but also really one of the good guys.”

So who is your favorite player in Westeros, Jamie Lannister the “Kingslayer” or maybe Daenerys Targaryen “Mother of Dragons?” Don’t tell me its Joffrey Baratheon “First of His Name.” Whoever it is let us know on Facebook or Twitter, and don’t forget to click that subscribe button.

(Oh yeah, Gordon wants you all to know his favorite character is Ghost, but he knows nothing.)

Guardians of the Galaxy 17 Minute IMAX Sneak Peek. (SPOILERS)

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So just this last week I had the opportunity to see a limited screening of 17 minutes of footage from Marvel Studios’ newest film Guardians of the Galaxy, in IMAX, and it blew my freaking mind. Marvel Studios has done this in the past with international audiences; showcasing footage from Shane Black’s Iron Man 3 and Alan Taylor’s Thor: The Dark World, and Just recently the studio has begun to offer these first looks to American audiences. The first real sneak peek came in the form of 11 minutes of footage from Captain America: The Winter Soldier (Directed by brothers Joe and Anthony Russo) shown in select IMAX theaters. The preview not only showcased the change in tone of the movie but also hyped up audiences to actually shell out the cash for tickets. It worked on me, as I saw the film at least three times in theaters, and it looks like I’ve fallen under Marvel Studios’ Executive Producer Kevin Feige’s spell once again.

So without any further ado (and be warned here there be spoilers) I give you the Guardians of the Galaxy 17 minute first look.

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From left, Kraglin played by Sean Gunn and Yondu Undonta played by Michael Rooker. Via USA Today

The sneak peek began with an introduction from the Director of the film James Gunn (Check out his other films Super and Slither) informing the audience the footage being shown had been fully converted to IMAX and 3D for the showing.

The scene in question began with the familiar line-up shots we’re used to from the first trailers with some added footage, mainly focusing on Gamora (Played by the beautiful Zoe Saldana). John C. Reilly’s Rhomann Dey informs us that Gamora is the last of her species from a destroyed world, and that she is the adopted daughter of the “Mad Titan Thanos” (played by Josh Brolin) who has loaned her and his biological daughter Nebula (played by the equally stunning Karen Gillan) to Ronan The Accuser (played by Lee Pace) for use of their unique skills in acquiring “The Orb” before anyone else can get their green or blue hands on it. The Orb is Marvel Studios’ latest “Infinity Stone” and the film’s galactic macguffin introduced in the mid-credit scene in Thor: The Dark World (The Dark World also introduced “The Aether” another Infinty Stone).

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Chris Pratt’s Peter Quill and the Infamous Orb. Via: Marvel

After some more of Chris Pratt’s Peter Quill aka Star-Lord flipping off the camera we are brought to “The Kyln” and intergalactic prison were our would be heroes first start to work together. The team, sans Drax (played by Dave Bautista) are being herded down a hallway of cells. Rocket (Voiced by Bradley Cooper) is shown to be a very loud-mouthed vocal character, boasting about his exploits with his partner Groot (Voiced by Vin Diesel). This part has some pretty funny back and forth between Quill, Rocket and Groot. Peter calls Rocket a raccoon to which Rocket responds “what’s a raccoon?” so its not an insult to him quite yet claiming “there ain’t no thing like me, except me” while Groot attempts to communicate with Quill but only succeeds in annoying the human with his repetition of “I am Groot.” Rocket seems to have a lot of knowledge about the galaxy, he knows about Gamora’s family history and tells us that Groot’s species can only articulate the words I am Groot, in that exclusive order.

Following the characters down the hall Peter spots what looks to be a Kree prison guard examining his walkman. Peter slips into the cage and demands that the guard “take those headphones off, RIGHT NOW!” The guard grabs a shock stick but Peter is not deterred saying the walkman doesn’t belong to the alien and that Blue Swede’s Hooked on a Feeling is “his” song. At this point the guard tazzes him into the ground while Hooked on a Feeling starts playing over a short montage of Quill and the team being processed with some kind of orange cleaning fluid and put into their cells. In this scene we see that Rocket has some sort of implants on his back as we were informed earlier that he is the result of genetic experimentation on a lower life-form. It seems that Rocket is going to have a lot more to him than just a machine gun and fur.

We next see the characters attempting to enter the mess hall but they are quickly recognized by the inmates, particularly Gamora who has helped kill a lot of the inmates families in her work for Thanos. Peter is stopped by a large blue alien which is not a Kree, it resembles something from the Star Wars Prequels. Blue Alien starts to get in Peter’s face intimidating the smaller human until Groot shoves two fingers into the alien’s nose growing them up into his brain leaving him a blue sobbing mess on the floor. Rocket informs the rest of the inmates that “this one here [Peter] is our booty!” Still not sure if he means a bounty or prison sex, this is some of the dark humor that (Director) James Gunn is known for and is prevalent through his films.

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After their small show of force Groot, Rocket, Quill, and Gamora begin discussing how they are going to escape the prison and we get a glimpse of Drax staring down Gamora. Rocket informs the three others that they will need a cybernetic arm remote from one of the guards, an inmate’s prosthetic leg, and the battery from an alarm on the guard tower. In one of Gunn’s long camera takes that he is utilizing for the film, Groot takes its upon himself to get the battery while Peter, Rocket and Gamora argue over the best course of action. They need the battery last because its very high up and once it is disconnected the alarms and security system will activate. Behind the three, Groot grows himself tall and yanks the battery from the wall, the alarms sound and chaos ensues. Gamora goes for the guard remote and Peter gets the leg, while Groot is attacked by floating gun turrets. In an epic scene Groot lets out a loud “I AM GROOT” and grows himself a shield, his strength and wooden body seems to be very resilient, he basically just takes the shots fired at him. Rocket runs up his friend’s shoulder jabbing at him for ruining the plan. Drax uses the chaos to join the others in their escape, this is when Drax’s character starts shine. In fight choreography reminiscent of The Winter Soldier Drax takes out three guards, using mostly his head, its all very “Terminatory.” Drax grabs a gun from the floor and tosses it up to Rocket calling him “creepy and little”, Drax is very literal and funny. Rocket takes the weapon and this is the scene from the trailers where Rocket cocks the rifle saying “oh yeah.” There is no other way to describe the carnage of Rocket and Groot other than bad ass. Gamora displays a fighting style similar to Black Widow in Iron Man 2, making use of her legs to take down some of the guards. Meanwhile Peter tries to convince the inmate from earlier to give up his fake leg. The team commandeers the guard tower and Rocket begins work on his plan.

In one of the funniest scenes in any Marvel movie Rocket starts to make fun of Peter for actually getting the leg, Rocket was kidding with Peter and in more of that Gunn humor Rocket begins to laugh asking Peter what the guy looked like hobbling around, Peter says he had to wire 30 units for the leg! There is more comedy from Drax too, Peter calls him a walking thesaurus to which Drax gets deeply offended warning Peter never to call him that again. This is when Rocket informs the gang about Drax’s unique species and their aversion to metaphors, Drax is confident that “nothing goes over [his] head” and that “[his] reflexes are too fast, [he] would catch it.” Gamora laments that she is going to “die surrounded by the biggest idiots in the galaxy.” Before Rocket can finish what he is working on a team of Nova Corp officers surround the guard tower and shoot the glass with well placed rockets to weaken the structure. However, just before the final volley from the Nova Corp hits, Rocket shuts off the artificial gravity everywhere but inside the tower, he then re-programs the automated turrets to latch on and fly them up towards the exit. The Guardians (who aren’t quite Guardians of the Galaxy just yet) crash through one of the walls of the prison ship and the scene ends. The preview was then followed by an exclusive extended trailer that shows more of the camaraderie between the guardians but most intriguing was a short glimpse of Ronan the Accuser bowing to a familiar purple chin in a floating gold throne, the one and only Thanos of Titan.

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Guardians of the Galaxy. (From left, Gamora, Rocket, Star-Lord, Groot, and Drax). Via: Marvel

I’ve been following Marvel Studios’ evolution from independent film studio to multi-million dollar brand since the release of Jon Favreau’s Iron Man in 2008 and I can honestly say I have not been more excited for a marvel movie since Joss Whedon’s The Avengers in 2012. I predict that this film is going to be a game changer for summer blockbusters. In all the interviews I’ve seen Director James Gunn has shown he has a strong passion not only for science-fiction and Marvel comics but the art of film itself. He really is an auteur and this film will be his gift to audiences come August.

To help tide you over until then here is the edited down extended trailer shown. Don’t forget to click that subscribe button and share with your friends on Facebook and Twitter and remember to get your tickets for Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy coming out August 1st in Cinemas and IMAX near you.

 

12 Revealing Questions Successful Executives Must Ask Themselves

This is some great advice to make sure that if you are an executive – you’re doing things right.

1.Are You Still Relevant? Is your company’s primary product riding a growth trend or is it declining? Are you Hostess still trying to sell Twinkies or has the market long ago moved on? Do you still matter? Where is the next big wave to catch if you aren’t on one?
2.What is Your Why? Is your primary purpose for doing what you are doing still clear and compelling? Have you defined your Why? (Mission or purpose.) Is your What clear? (Vision) Do you have your When written out? (Goals) Are your Hows set and prioritized? (Values, strategies and tactics) Is it still the right Who? Target audience and your executive team.
3.Are You Leading or Managing? You lead people, you manage things. You need both. Leadership is the greatest variable with the most leverage. Leadership decides the path to follow, how fast is the speed of the march, and how to deal with each bend in the trail. Management executes to the variables of the journey. A leader is a shepherd who walks in front with a clear voice, a manager is a sheep herder with a well-trained horse, while a poor manager needs a sheep dog.
4.Are You Great, or just Good? Excellence is first a decision before it is action. Do you have passion for what you do? Are the best in your world at it? Can you make enough money to keep the water over the rocks? Jim Collins in his awesome book Good to Great says you need passion, potential to be the best in the world, and a clear ability to make money to be great in our world of business. Be honest… are you great? Or just good.

Read the rest of the article at:
http://www.forbes.com/sites/kenkrogue/2013/03/19/12-revealing-questions-successful-executives-must-ask-themselves/

6 Ways to Enhance Your Credibility

Great little article discussing what some of us might think is obvious, but a refresher can never hurt.

Originally written by Geoffrey James

You won’t succeed in business if nobody believes in you. Here’s how to make certain they do.

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Your success in business is directly proportional to how quickly (and how well) you can establish credibility with your customers, investors, and colleagues. A while back, I had a conversation about credibility with Randall Murphy, president of the professional development firm Acclivus. Here’s my interpretation of his ideas:
1. Be genuine about who you really are.

The days are long gone when customers were impressed by an illustrious corporate name or a fancy job title. Customers are more likely to respect you if you present yourself as an individual rather than a plug-and-play “representative.” The moment you pretend to be more (or other) than you really are, your credibility flies out the window. Be authentic, even if all you bring to the table is your enthusiasm.
2. Know the legitimate value of what you provide.

When you know–truly know–what you’re products and services are worth, you’re unafraid to communicate both the strengths and the limitations of your offering. You’ll refuse to cave to unreasonable customer demands. You’ll stick to your firm’s policies and procedures, and explain to the customer why they make sense. You’ll be strong and confident about what you can contribute, thereby creating credibility.
3. Have insights based on research and analysis.

Adding insights to a conversation automatically creates credibility. Insight comes from learning about a firm, the role it plays in the industry, and the customers that it serves. Insight is strengthened when you develop multiple contacts (and thus different perspectives) within the customer’s firm. Remember: even the smartest CEO doesn’t know everything, and as an outsider, you can bring a fresh perspective to old problems.

If you would like to read the rest of this article click here

Who Likes a know it all? No one.

3 Words That Create Instant Credibility

Originally written by Geoffrey James

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When it comes to credibility-building, the three most powerful words in the English language are: “I don’t know.”

Many salespeople and most managers think that they’ll lose credibility if they admit ignorance, especially about something about which they “ought” to know. However, the exact opposite is the case.

Admitting ignorance makes everything else you say more credible. Admitting ignorance marks you as a person who’s not afraid to speak the truth, even when that truth might reflect poorly on you.

To read the rest of the article click here

FTF’s First Publication

We’re very pleased to announce that we have been in our first publication. Please check it out.

“Chaddix Malchow and Patrick Shelton made the difficult decision of pulling out of college to pursue their dreams of owning a small business in video production. Looking back, they’re glad they did.”

Read the rest here

Now is the time to get into Video Marketing

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“The business benefits of using video to increase discovery, traffic, engagement and conversion are widely documented”

– Brad Jefferson, CEO of Animoto.

 

The future of business marketing is in video. With websites like Youtube and Hulu becoming widely popular it looks like more and more consumers are turning towards the world wide web to get their information and entertainment, and the medium is ripe for the taking. According to a recent survey done by Animoto, a leader in online video production, consumers are much more likely to be interested in a company that uses online video for their business. The survey says 73% of customers would rather make a  purchase from a business using a short video for their product; and also goes on to say that 96% of customers find videos quite helpful while another 71% say they feel more positive about a company or product after watching their video. Online video looks to be the leader in marketing to the people and there is no better time to get your business out on the web than right now.

See the full article here

Is Social Media Adverting Effective?

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Well here is some news that I think most of us can agree with; You know the unaesthetic sidebar ads on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter, and those annoying commercials that play before every Youtube video? Well it turns out a new report from Gallup suggests that most consumers also find these ads irritating, if they pay any attention to them at all.

So why do these companies continue to fill our screens with their pesky product placement? One answer is that it could be subliminal persuasion as social media is growing everyday with more and more potential consumers logging on. The report, however, says that instead of trying to persuade people to buy, companies must first engage and establish a connection with their existing customers, thereby getting them to advocate the company’s product to others. Gallup goes on to say, “Companies that engage their customers, by providing exceptional service and a pleasurable in-store experience will, in turn, drive those customers to interact with them on social media. Simply promoting products and services on Facebook or Twitter is unlikely to lead to sales.”

So there you have it, companies really need to step up their game on social media advertising. If anything maybe I can watch that new Kanye video a little quicker.