All posts by Mark Wallace

Mark is a traveler, photographer, and writer.

Shots from the road

The Mark Wallace US Meetup Tour sponsored by PocketWizard continues to be a blast. We’ve been to Miami and Seattle and are headed to NY tomorrow. At each of the stops I’m encouraging participants to upload their shots to the Mark Wallace Tour Flickr Group. Follow the link to see all of the shots (or upload your own).

We’ve had some pretty amazing shots along the way. Here are a few that give you a hint at the type of fun we’re having at the event. We even have a bonus stop action video shot by Adrian Collier (click the photos for credit and Flickr info):




Pocket Wizard Event

Mark Wallace Presentation

Shooting the shooter

Getting Low

Ted Shooting Trixie




Mark Wallace and SPA crew

SPA Studio & Mark Wallace from adriancollier on Vimeo.

Thank You Miami!

I had a blast in Miami this past weekend and I’d like to say “Thank You” to all of you who made it to the Meetup. MAPS Studios was a terrific location.

The evening before the meetup a few of us went to Books & Books Cafe’ to have some coffee and chat about photography. I really enjoyed hanging out and meeting a few new friends:



The next day we were all in the studio having a blast. Here are a few shots from the event taken by some of our participants:

A few of the attendees posed for a group shot. This was lit using a single Profoto AcuteB 600R head.

Mark Demonstrating the PocketWizard FlexTT5 with Model Jocelyn Binder.

Mark outside demonstrating High Speed Synch with the PocketWizard Mini and Flex.

Mark Wallace - Miami Meetup
Mark demonstrating the Xrite ColorChecker Passport Lightroom plug-in. Perfect skin tones!

Mark Wallace - Miami Meetup

Another lighting demo.


Mark walks the group through the steps of using high speed synch to get great bikini shots. Our Model, Izabela S, was freezing in the white robe behind Mark.


And the shot by photographer Armando Orraca


Shooting Gorman


Last month I shot a short video of Greg Gorman for Xrite. Here’s a short breakdown of the production.

The video was all shot on a Canon XH A1. This is a great little camera and perfect for shooting on location when you need to keep things simple. I only had a few hours to shoot everything so speed and mobility were key.

I used a modified Zacuto newsman kit to help keep things moving along. When shooting on a tripod I used basic Zacuto baseplate and Zamerican arm with a Marshall HD Monitor. When I needed to shoot handheld it only took about 3 minutes to rig the camera for a shoulder mount kit.

The Zacuto rig and Marshall Monitor. The indoor interview was lit using natural light.

Shooting the studio session.

The Zacuto rig in action.

A closer look at the newsman rig.

I used a Rode NG-3 shotgun mic with a Dead Cat wind screen for all of the audio. I was very impressed at how well the Dead Cat worked so close to the ocean. It was pretty windy and the Rhode gear handled everything perfectly.

The Rode NG-3 and Dead Cat.

Everything was edited in Final Cut Pro and then converted to H.264 for the web using Compressor. And here’s how it all turned out:

Vote for your city!

If you’d like the Mark Wallace US Meetup Tour to come to your city here’s your chance. The rules are simple:

  1. To be included in the list I must receive at least 10 individual nominations.
  2. U.S. Cites only.
  3. To nominate a city just leave a comment, send a tweet to @jmarkwallace, or enter your city in the “other” field below.
  4. Once I have at least 10 nominations for your city it will be added to the poll.
  5. Vote for your favorite city in the Poll (once per person only)
  6. The city with the most votes on December 25, 2009 (12:00pm MST) wins!


How To Make a “Disgusting” Photo

My “Disgusting” photo of James Nachtwey.

Yesterday I was very excited to have the opportunity to hear James Nachtwey speak at Photo Plus Expo in New York City. James Nachtwey is no ordinary photographer and for me to see him speak, and even have a remote chance of shaking his hand, was a dream come true. James Nachtwey is one of my heroes and a source of inspiration. When asked, “If you could meet anyone in history?” I usually answer, “James Nachtwey.”

When the door opened for his Keynote address I pushed my way through the crowd and somehow got a seat on the front row right in the center. James was on stage trying to get his computer working and the crowd waited. I decided to pull out my camera and shoot a few frames.

The light was very low so I put a flash on my camera. I decided to use my 200mm lens so I could get a decent shot. I took a few photos and then something totally unexpected happened. The guy next to me began to critique my skills.

He began by shaking his head and then said (with a very strong German accent), “No, no. I’m sorry but that picture is horrible. It’s disgusting. It’s not even average.”

Excuse me?

“It’s disgusting. You need to use wide angle lens, you need to get right up to him and use a spot meter and figure out the proper exposure. Do you have a light meter? Your photo tells no story, why are you even shooting?”

I didn’t know how to even respond to this guy, so I said the first thing that came to my mind, “Who are you?” I mean if this was Shaul Schwarz or Damon Winter I’d certainly want to hear what they had to say. But it wasn’t either of those guys or even anyone I’d heard of, although he did make sure I knew he “commuted from Munich to New York regularly.” Good for you dude.

He continued, “You need to frame your shot totally differently. You need to get Mr. Nachtwey and his photos at the same time, nobody will want to see your photo. Turn off your flash, why are you shooting like this?” Still amazed I replied, “It’s for my blog.”

“Your blaahg.” He drew out the “aaaah” sound for dramatic effect. “Nobody will want to see your blaaahg.”

At this point I was not a very happy camper. But I understood what the dude was saying. In the context of James Nachtwey it made sense. Nachtwey has made a career out of getting closer. I’ve even written about it on this blog. The light from my flash would be flat, the shot unflattering, no context, no story.

But I didn’t care.

I just wanted a damn shot of James Nachtwey to document the fact that I’d been in his presence, to put a visual stamp on the memory of the moment. What Mr. Munich didn’t know was that I planned on shooting many more shots during the presentation. He had no idea what my blog was about or how I’d display the photo.

When I’m shooting it’s very important to me to know the context of the presentation. It changes the way I make a photo. I don’t shoot family vacation shots the same way I shoot a scenic photography. The intent is totally different. One shot is to capture a memory and the other is to create art.

I happen to like my disgusting photo of James Nachtwey. He’s isolated and looks very introspective. He’s just as I imagined he would be.

After the lights dimmed and James began to speak I was consumed by his imagery and inspired by his message. I was moved by his passion and desire to change humanity through photography.

After the event James was besieged by hundreds of photographers who wanted to get a shot or meet the legend.

And somehow I got close…

…and talked to…

… Mr. James Nachtwey.

My friend Zowie Stapleton was there to record it all with my iPhone camera. The pictures are all wrong, average and disgusting.

I’ll cherish them for the rest of my life.

PocketWizard RF Soft Shield is Free

67820091013_AC5_1618_shp.jpgMonday PocketWizard will announce that the new AC5 RF Soft Shield will be given to all FlexTT5 owners free of charge.

A couple of weeks ago I posted an iPhone update on YouTube about the new RF Soft Shield for the PocketWizard Mini and Flex. The big question was simple, “How much is this going to cost?” The answer: nothing. That’s right, everyone who owns a FlexTT5 can get a free AC5 RF Soft Shield from PocketWizard until January 31, 2010. Units sold in the future will have the RF Shield included in the box.

Getting a free RF Soft Shield is as simple as visiting this page:

I’ve been playing with the RF Shield, some call it “the sock”, for a few weeks now and the results are simply amazing. I’m getting ranges of several hundred yards. I’ve put the flash behind electrical units, football fields away, and had no failures. The truth is that I’ve been able to control my flash at such great distances that it’s not even practical. I’m not sure when I’d ever need to shoot with my flash 200 yards away, but I could.

The true benefit isn’t the extreme range but the reliable reception. 580 EX II owners can place their flashes anywhere they want with the confidence that the flash will fire and the exposure will be correct. But don’t take my word for it, check out this video and see for yourself.

Come Hang Out… San Francisco or New York


I’m going to be in San Francisco and New York in the next few weeks and I’d love to hang out with you. I’m hosting a walkabout in each city. What the heck is a walkabout? Well, simply put, it’s when a bunch of photographers get together, walk around and take pictures. Scott Kelby calls them photo walks.

San Francisco: Sep 27, 2009. 10:30am

We’ll be meeting at Union Square Park. I’ll be bringing along my nifty ColorChecker Passport for anyone who wants to take a look at it. I’ll also try to bring a few more toys for people to look at and play with. It all depends on how much I can put in my baggage for the flight over. I’m thinking something small and portable may be cool. There are a few other surprises I’m working on, but I can’t spill the beans just yet.

New York City: Oct 24, 2009.

I’m working out the time and location for New York. It will definitely be in Manhattan. I’ll have a bit more time in New York and I’m working on having more toys for people to look at and play with. I’m working on having a few PocketWizards around, some Profoto gear, and of course the new ColorChecker Passport. Other surprises need to be confirmed.

Stay tuned to the blog for updates on these events. The admission is free and everyone is welcome to join us! If you think you may make it please leave a comment so I know what to plan on.

New Passport


Image copyright 2009 Mark Wallace/snapfactory

A few months ago X-rite asked me if I was interested in testing out a new color checking device called the ColorChecker Passport. They gave me a brief overview of how it worked and I was sold. The Passport is a system for maintaining accurate color during capture and post production, specifically when using Adobe Lightroom.

The process is very simple. You place the Passport in the shot, take a photo, and then use that photo during post production to create a color profile for your photo sessions. This guarantees you have accurate color from the beginning. Once you get to your computer you use a simple Lightroom Plug-in to evaluate the shot and create the profile. It takes about a minute to do this.

The Creative Enhancement Target


This target allows you to adjust your white balance using the White Balance Selector in Lightroom. Just use one of the patches in the two center rows to warm up or cool down your photo. You can also check and evaluate shadow details or highlight clipping and check and control color shifting. This target makes the Develop module come to life.

The passport includes two other targets as well:

A Classic target that’s used as an industry standard color reference. This is also what’s used to create the custom color profiles.

A White Balance target used to set your custom white balance in the camera during shooting.

For all of this to work you really need to complete the color management cycle and calibrate your monitor and printer. I use the Color Munki because it’s affordable, easy to use, and it works great. Click here for more info on the Color Munki.

Seth Resnick made a terrific video that shows the passport in action.

For more information visit the Passport page at X-Rite.

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