All posts by Mark Wallace

Mark is a traveler, photographer, and writer.

New PocketWizard Videos

In May and June of this year I spent a lot of time working with PocketWizard on a few videos and some instructional content for their website. All of the new step-by-step instructional info is just about to go live on (it’s going to rock) and I wanted to give you a sneak peek at a couple of other videos that will hit their site soon.

The first video is just an overview of the PocketWizard MiniTT1 and FlexTT5. There are a few sample pictures and some behind the scenes video of me shooting in New York.

The second video explains hi speed sync and shows you how you can extend this functionality using the Mini and Flex.

Guess the scene, win a bag.

I’m in Hollywood for a couple of days meeting with some clients. In the spirit of Hollywood I thought I’d have a little contest. A few years ago I was in a movie with Tom Cruise (yes, I really was). If you’re the first person to guess the movie and the scene you’ll win a cool PocketWizard bag.

This contest is being held on the blog and on Twitter. So I’ll give a bag to the first person who leaves the correct move/scene combo in the comments section as well as the first person who tweets the correct answer.

The bag holds two standard PocketWizards or Two Flex units and One Mini. It’s very cool.


Hint: “You had me at PocketWizard.”


And the winners are…

@wordslinger0044 was the first to guess correctly on Twitter and seraphicimago was the first to guess correctly in the comments section on the blog.

I was an extra in the movie Jerry Maguire. Many of the football scenes were filmed at Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe, AZ – just down the road from our first studio. I was in the end zone for many of the scenes and was later moved to a section by the 20 yard line. Although I was pretty close to the field I’m totally indistinguishable in the movie. In fact for most of the scenes everyone had cardboard people sitting between the real people in the seats. The entire upper deck of the stadium was cardboard people. It was pretty funny.

Congratulations to our winners. Your bags will be sent out soon.

Lightning photos, the easy way.


Last night we had our first big monsoon storm here in the desert. We had a ton of rain, wind, and lightning. I always love these big storms because it means I have another chance to capture some lightning shots.

There are many great ways to capture lightning and most involve some type of trigger that tells your camera when to open the shutter. I’d love to have some of that equipment but since I don’t I use a different method. It’s very simple and almost anyone can do it, but be warned, this method only works at night. Here’s how you do it.

  1. Set your camera to manual mode.
  2. Set your shutter to 30 seconds (yep, that’s right).
  3. Set your aperture to f/10
  4. Set your ISO to 100
  5. Shoot in RAW mode.
  6. Set your focus to manual focus and focus just shy of infinity (this assumes you’re a few miles from the lightning).
  7. Use a wide angle lens – I usually use an 18mm – 35mm set at 35mm. This really depends on how close you are to the lightning and how wide spread it is. I don’t recommend you get close to any lightning – you can die.
  8. Put your camera on a tripod and point it in the direction of the lightning strikes.

Once you have all that set up you can “fish” for lightning. Click the shutter and wait 30 seconds. Any lightning that strikes during that time will be captured in your shot. Just keep clicking your shutter over and over and you’re bound to capture some great lightning. It’s not the best way to do it, but it is easy and it works. I captured both of these images using this method.

Once you get back from shooting your big storm you’ll need to do some post production. Your color temperatures (white balance) will need to be adjusted and you’ll probably need to do a bit of adjustments to the curves. You should be able to do all of that in Aperture or Lightroom.

When you’re shooting make sure you don’t do anything stupid, like getting too close to the storm or putting your camera in the rain. In Arizona it’s easy to shoot lighting from miles away. If this isn’t the case where you live than you may want to take pictures of something else. Be safe and have fun shooting.



New Episodes on the Way

Our first video update via iPhone.

We’ve been working on a bunch of new Digital Photography One on One episodes and we’re set to begin production in 2 weeks. We have some really great episodes one the way. The scripts are written, locations have been scouted, and now we’re down to casting models and getting all the wardrobe in place.

Yesterday we held a casting call and took a few “polaroids” (OK, they were digital) of the models and also had them do a short screen test. We’re looking for models that are great in print and in front of a video camera. One of the funny exercises we did was to have each of the models stand next to me so we’d be able to judge height. When we frame videos it’s important that the model and I are about the same height. It’s good for composition.


Today we’re meeting again to go over all the screen tests and polaroids, take a second look at portfolios and make a final decision about which models we’ll be using for the videos. Shooting begins July 28 and the first video will be posted soon after.

We’re also trying something new to give you a behind the scenes look at how it’s all done. We’re shooting a bunch of quick iPhone videos along the way. If you like them we’ll keep making more for other projects as well. Let us know what you think!

Beauty and the Beast giveaway!

The Beauty and the Beast tour with Hanson Fong and John Woodward is just about to begin – and we’re giving away 2 tickets in every city on the tour!

Here’s how you win:

  1. Follow Mark on twitter: @jmarkwallace
  2. Post your best “beauty” or “beast” shot on your blog, website, or flickr.
  3. Send Mark (@jmarkwallace) a tweet with the link to your photo and the city where you’d like to attend the tour.
  4. Two winners will be selected for each city:
    1. One will be selected at random
    2. The other will be selected based on creativity. You can be creative with your photo, your blog entry, or your tweet. Tell us why you want to attend, show us how you’d benefit from the tour, or just do something amazing. It’s up to you.
  5. The winners will be announced on twitter. All winners will get a Direct Message from Mark.
    1. Winners for each city will be announced at least 15 days prior to that city’s tour date. That means Nashville people have a bit more time than Portland.

*Travel and hotel expenses are NOT included. We’ll get you in the door but you’ll need to pay for the trip.


If you want to learn how two top, award-winning photographers put their techniques, styles and tools to work you’re in luck. Hanson Fong, one of the premier portrait/wedding photographers in the country and one who holds the degrees of Master Photography and Photographic Craftsman, and John Woodward, voted Photographer of the Year in 2007 by the Professional Photographers of America are embarking on an eight-city tour of the U.S. Cities are:

  • Portland, OR: July 30
  • Boston, MA: August 10
  • New York, NY: August 13
  • Indianapolis, IN: September 14
  • Grand Rapids, MI: September 24
  • Houston, TX: September 28
  • Los Angeles, CA: October 1
  • Nashville, TN: October 5.

Hanson and John are both well-known speakers and educators in addition to being top shooters. Topics covered will include: compositional study, facial analysis, portrait, glamour and modified lighting, lighting ratios, metering techniques, posing family groups, “The Wheel of Self-Assessment,” digital and the power of RAW, color management and its importance, 10 basic poses, flow posing and more. Great stuff! Last year’s tour was without a doubt a hit with photographers all across the U.S.

In addition, the day will feature a mini-expo which will be open for one hour before and after the seminar, during breaks and lunch. Representatives from Mamiya, Sekonic, Profoto, Induro, PocketWizard, Tenba, X-Rite, Eizo, Toyo-View, Creative Light, Benro, Marathon Press, ACI/American Color, Nik Software, Denny Manufacturing, Luma Vue Arts and Graphic Authority will be on hand to demonstrate products and offer special discounts.

Visit for more information and online registration.

illumine 2009 Recap

L-R Floyd Bannister, Brian Smyth, Ryan NeVille, Gwen Lindvig, Craig Bolton, Amanda Castillo, Jade Hannah, Nico Nguyen, Chuck King, Lilach Shokargi. Seated: Mark Wallace (they made me do it). Not pictured: Diane Wallace, Chad Westover and Jeff Caroli.

I had a terrific time hanging out with a great group of people this past weekend. Floyd Bannister opened the doors of Loft 19 and allowed us to play in his 10,000 square foot playground, um, studio. Students were able to use Pro 7 packs, ringflashes, gigantic parabolic umbrellas, a huge 35 cyc, magnum reflectors, grids, beauty dishes, Compact lights, Acute packs, and many other tools I’m sure I’m forgetting. The Loft 19 experience is something that’s hard to match in any studio.

We began the weekend with me teaching students about the qualities of light and how you can use different light shaping tools to create specific lighting styles. We followed that by setting up a basic 3 light setup. We then began to experiment with different lighting designs and students were encouraged to experiment and create their own. And create they did! Here are a couple of shots from our students. Great work guys!

Jade as shot by Brian Smyth. Image copyright 2009 Brian Smyth

Jade as shot by Chuck King. Image copyright 2009 Chuck King.

Gwen as shot by Nico Nguyen. Image copyright 2009 Nico Nguyen.

Jade as shot by Ryan NeVille. Image copyright 2009 Ryan NeVille.

New Workshop: Beyond the Basics

Beyond the Basics: the sequel to Digital Photography 101

Mondays, August 10-September 28, 2009

This 8 week workshop is the much requested follow up class to our Digital Photography 101 workshop. In Beyond the Basics you’ll build on the knowledge you have and learn how to use Adobe Lightroom to manage your post-production workflow, you’ll be introduced to new storytelling techniques, you’ll join your classmates on four location shoots, learn about the zone system and advanced metering techniques.

Beyond the Basics is being co-taught by Mark and Diane Wallace. Because half of the workshop will be taught on location we wanted to insure that every student had plenty of time with the instructors. We are limiting the class to 10 students to make sure everyone gets plenty of personal attention.

Click here for more details…


If you’re familiar with fashion photographer Ellen Von Unwerth then I’m certain you’re also familiar with her book Revenge. A couple of weeks ago Diane and I were invited to visit Riaz at Grand Photo Solutions. Riaz is the guy who printed Von Unwerth’s images for her book Revenge.

Riaz and Mark holding a signed copy of Revenge.


Riaz gave us a quick tour of GPS and we were able to see a bunch of amazing prints and meet some of his staff. GPS is able to do just about anything. They have some amazing large format printers and can do canvas, vinyl, coroplast and other things. They print albums and have a graphic designer as well.

Thanks for the tour Riaz!


Two weeks ago Diane and I were given a tour of the print shop at AdoramaPix in New York City. We met Ingrid a few weeks ago on twitter (@AdoramaPix) and she invited us to stop by when we were in town.

Mark and Ingrid in the print shop at AdoramaPix.

We were very impressed by the quality of the prints, but two things really stood out to us. The first – everything is hand made. Every print is individually inspected, color corrected, and handled by a human. Every single one. It’s amazing the detail these guys give to quality control.

Diane was blown away by the photo books. These books have a binding that allows every page to lie absolutely flat. There is no gutter – none at all. You can put a bride and groom smack in the middle of a two page spread with no worries.

A close up view of the photo book binding.

If you’re looking for a great place to print books, posters, and more the I highly suggest you check out AdoramaPix! Also make sure you follow @AdoramaPix on Twitter for special offers and tips.