Archive for Destination wedding

The SMDV Alpha Speedbox: Lighting on the Go

Posted in General with tags , , , , , , , , , , on January 24, 2016 by kendoophotography
SMDV Alpha Speedbox with adapters for Profoto, Bowens, Elinchrom, and Balcar.

SMDV Alpha Speedbox with speedring adapters for Profoto, Bowens, Elinchrom, and Balcar.

Introduction

Technology and development is fast paced in the world of digital photography. Every year (or every other year) manufacturers introduce dozens of new innovative tools and equipment at large photography shows such as Photokina in Germany or Photoplus in New York. Innovation may be large or small, but if a new product can actually make my job as a professional photographer easier, that is what makes it a worthwhile investment to me.  The SMDV Alpha Speedbox is one of those innovative worthwhile investments that has found a place in my studio, and especially when working on location.  When surrounded by announcements of the latest fast lenses and 100 megapixel medium format digital backs, it may be difficult to get excited about a studio lighting modifier. But I think the SMDV Alpha Speedbox does a pretty good job here. SMDV was established by JS Kim in 2003 and is a relatively small company headquartered in Busan, South Korea. The SMDV Alpha Speedbox is not an inexpensive lighting modifier and should not be confused with cheap photography products cranked out by some Asian companies. On the contrary, the quality of materials used here is top-notch. Pricing starts at about $300 depending on mount selected and the size of the modifier. Warranty service and support is provided by SMDV USA. The US Distributor is www.legioaerium.com

36" Alpha Speedbox and 44" Alpha Speedbox shown with optional grid for more light control

36″ Alpha Speedbox and 44″ Alpha Speedbox shown with optional grid for more light control

Background

The SMDV Alpha Speedbox is a parabolic softbox designed for studio lights. It is available in 32”, 36”, 40″, and 44” sizes. In a sea of “parabolic” lighting modifiers, what makes the SMDV Alpha Speedbox standout is the quality of its feature-set in a packable lighting kit for working on location. Oh, yes—and it’s easy to use and speedy to set-up, hence its namesake.

Following my review of the KPS T5 geared ballhead, the US Distributor for the SMDV Alpha Speedbox asked if I would be interested in trying their relatively new softbox. Eh, not really I replied, but then again I had just acquired a Profoto B2 on location lighting kit from Capture Integration in Atlanta, along with a Profoto B1 and Profoto Acute2 B600 pack also for working on location. I was not impressed with Profoto’s diminutive 2’ OCF Octobox, so maybe trying some new on location lighting modifiers wasn’t such a bad idea after all. And SMDV had just added a Profoto speedring adapter for the Alpha Speedbox. Speedring adapters are also available for Bowens, Elinchrom, Broncolor, Hensel, and Balcar.

At the end of September 2015, I received two Alpha Speedboxes, Profoto speedring adapters, and accessories. No compensation was received from SMDV. I was asked to simply use the Speedboxes and provide input and a review. Unlike many reviews where a product is “used” for a scant few hours, I used the 36” and 44” Alpha Speedboxes extensively over a period of three months in a variety of situations both in studio and on location, primarily in portraiture as well as at two destination weddings.

SMDV Alpha Speedbox softcase shown inside my hardcase, along with lightstand and Profoto umbrella---ready to go.

SMDV Alpha Speedbox soft case (similar to a tripod soft case) shown inside my hard case, along with light stand and Profoto umbrella—ready to go.

Optional grid comes in its own soft case.

Optional grid comes in its own soft case.

SMDV Grid in case WEB

The Meat and Potatoes

The Alpha Speedbox is a parabolic softbox with an internal baffle and a removable outer diffuser. Once set-up, both the internal baffle and outer diffuser may be left attached to the Speedbox. Using the Profoto adapter ring adds several inches to the length of the modifier when folded.  The 36″ Speedbox (with Profoto adapter) is about 28-inches in length when folded; the 44″ speedbox slightly longer of course. The diameter of the Alpha Speedbox when folded is just under 8-inches. The entire kit is easily packed into its included “to-go” zippered soft case, which is similar to a tripod case with handles and shoulder strap. The grid comes with its own protective soft case. An available cloth honeycomb grid is easily attached for further light control. I was very surprised when I first handled the grid. It is a slightly heavier material and its quality is surprisingly better than grids I have seen from Profoto. The grid attaches easily to the outside of the Alpha Speedbox with velcro tabs.  The optional grid is expensive, starting at approximately $150-$190, but the quality is also apparent. The grid is a special order item that is hand-made in Korea. I am told that an optional deflector plate will also soon be available providing lighting similar to a beauty dish.

The Alpha Speedbox, “Alpha” referring to its aluminum construction and metal speedring, is a twelve-sided dodecagon shaped softbox, as opposed to a more popular six or eight-sided octobox. The dodecagon shape is more circular and lends itself to better catch-lights. The ribs are metal and workmanship and quality of materials is excellent. The reflective material is held taut by the unique engineering of the modifier. The modifier is quickly deployed in about thirty seconds—not minutes—simply by pulling each steel rib upwards until it clicks into place. I have found that by skipping every other one and then rotating the modifier until each rib is locked into place is the fastest method to deploy this modifier. There is no fumbling with color-coded ribs into speed ring slots or struggling to set-up a large softbox. Ease and speed of set-up is particularly important for photographers who often work alone or without the luxury of assistants. Few other lighting modifiers offer both the speed and ease of set-up as the SMDV Alpha Speedbox, and certainly not with the same level of light control and available accessories.  All this—in an easy to pack along, lighting kit.  Putting the modifier away is even faster: simply squeeze the six tab locks together and the modifier instantly collapses down ready to put into its case.

SMDV Alpha Speedbox with Profoto Speedring Adapter

SMDV Alpha Speedbox with Profoto Speedring Adapter. The band attachments are now even stronger with a new reinforced rubber.

So, how is the SMDV Alpha Speedbox as a portrait lighting modifier on location?  Put it this way, if given the choice, the SMDV Alpha Speedbox 90 (36″) is my first choice. I had a hard time deciding whether to purchase the SMDV Alpha 36″ or 44″ Speedbox or both. In the end I opted for the SMDV Alpha Speedbox 90 (36″). It is a nice size yet still easily maneuverable on location.  For a destination wedding in Sedona, Arizona, I chose to use the SMDV Alpha Speedbox 90 (36″) paired with Profoto’s more portable B2 lighting kit.  Special thanks to Don Libby of IronCreekPhotography in Tucson, AZ for providing the short video clip.

https://youtu.be/V5eqIuWHgp0

Engagement Session in Sedona, AZ. Phase XF with IQ180, Phase SK 75-150mm LS; SMDV Alpha Speedbox with Profoto B2

Engagement Session in Sedona, AZ. Phase XF with IQ180, Phase SK 75-150mm LS; SMDV Alpha Speedbox with Profoto B2

SMDV Alpha Speedbox with grid, Profoto B2

Profoto B2 and SMDV Alpha Speedbox with optional grid.

As a portrait photographer, I often work alone. Being able to set up quickly is a value that I place a great premium. For individuals, couples, or even small groupings, the SMDV Alpha Speedboxes are an excellent choice. I like the flexibility that the Alpha Speedboxes offer with removable diffusion panels, grids, and soon a deflector plate. Its parabolic shape makes it easy to feather the light when needed, and its flexible design makes it easy to change the quality of light from a diffused source to a more distinct light.

SMDV Alpha Speedbox with grid

SMDV Alpha Speedbox with grid

Packing “light and tight” is a necessity to fly across the country for a destination wedding. Setting up quickly for portraits after the wedding ceremony and racing the setting sun can be a challenge.  The SMDV Alpha Speedbox with Profoto B2 lights excels easily at both. The design of the Alpha Speedbox and its flexibility as a modifier make it an easy choice to take on location.

Parents Portrait with the SMDV Alpha Speedbox 90 (36") at a destination wedding. Canon 5Ds and Profoto B2

Parents Portrait with the SMDV Alpha Speedbox 90 (36″) at a destination wedding. Canon 5Ds and Profoto B2

What It’s Not

The SMDV Alpha Speedbox is not a knock-off. The SMDV Alpha Speedbox is not cheaply made.  And the SMDV Alpha Speedbox is not at all like Adorama’s Glow Parapop modifier. During the course of my review, another photographer pointed out to me the Adorama Glow Parapop as having similar features. I was intrigued, so I bought Adorama’s Glow Parapop 38-inch modifier, a bundled Glow Parapop kit with a Balcar mount for Paul Buff’s Alien Bees or Einstein monolights, to compare.  Apparently some parts were licensed by SMDV to Rimelite who in turn sold them to Adorama for their Glow series. The Adorama marketing description made the two modifiers seem strikingly very similar. But once in hand, it is abundantly clear that there is no comparison. It is not even close.  The reflective materials and the diffusion panel materials are markedly different. The quality of materials and design of the SMDV Alpha Speedbox are clearly superior.

Not comparable in shape, quality of materials, or light output.

Not comparable in shape, quality of materials, or light output.

The SMDV Alpha Speedbox was designed with studio lights in mind. The speedring and adapters are made of aluminum to handle heat generated by modeling lamps. The ribs on the SMDV Alpha Speedbox are made of steel. The ribs on the Parapop are fiberglass. The Parapop is advertised by Adorama and recommended by them for use with studio lights, but to do so I think is irresponsible. The provided Balcar adapter is held in place by some really tiny screws, into the plastic Parapop base.  Really tiny screws. Plastic base. Really inappropriate. It is a disaster waiting to happen—and it did.

Tiny screws shown with the Balcar adapter. Trouble waiting to happen...

Tiny screws shown with the Balcar adapter. Trouble waiting to happen…

Within minutes of attaching the Glow Parapop to the Einstein monolight, the Parapop came crashing down on the studio floor. The heat from the Einstein modeling lamp had expanded the plastic screw mounts, and the tiny screws holding the Balcar mount adapter in place slipped out! Both the plastic mount and Balcar adapter remained very hot for quite some time.  Luckily no damage was caused to the Einstein monolight tube.  The Glow Parapop is not designed for studio light use (as was marketed). Obviously I was not able to do further studio testing of the Parapop. But frankly, in light of the glaring differences in materials used, there is no legitimate comparison to the SMDV Alpha Speedboxes to begin with. I found the two release tabs on the Parapop plastic base were very difficult to squeeze and close the fiberglass tines on the modifier.  In contrast, the SMDV Alpha Speedbox uses metal rods which easily collapse down when released. The six pairs of tab locks on the Alpha Speedbox provide added strength and tautness to the modifier. Oh, and by the way, the Glow Parapop “38-inch modifier” is not 38-inches—it really is only 36-inches.  SMDV does make a different line of modifiers for speedlite use, but even those are made with steel ribs and the same high quality diffusion material that is used on the Alpha Speedboxes. Note the differences in diffusion panels and light quality in the image shown above between the SMDV Alpha Speedbox and the Parapop.

Inner baffle differences in both size and quality of materials used. The SMDV diffusion panel is markedly better.

Inner baffle differences in both size and quality of materials used. The SMDV diffusion panel is markedly better.

Note the differences in reflective materials and tautness of the modifier

Note the differences in reflective materials and tautness of the modifier

Conclusion

The SMDV Alpha Speedbox is an excellent lighting modifier. It is easy to use, truly quick to set up, and fast to break down. SMDV has put together a nice on location lighting kit in a single bag.  I am able to pack the SMDV Alpha Speedbox in its softcase, SMDV grid, a light stand, and a Profoto shallow medium umbrella (for those bigger group portraits) in my own hard case for additional protection when traveling. The hard case that I use is a US Art Supply 10-inch drafting tube that telescopes from 36 to 59-inches.  One of the things that I like about small companies like SMDV is that they are responsive and focused on providing high quality photographic gear for professionals.  The owner of SMDV, JS Kim, was also a professional photographer and seems to have a good understanding of photographer’s concerns.  The quality of materials and workmanship on the SMDV Alpha Speedbox is excellent and makes the investment in this lighting modifier worthwhile. I look forward to trying the optional deflector plate that will be available shortly.  I am also told that SMDV is working on Alpha Speedbox Stripboxes too.

SMDV Alpha Speedbox

SMDV Alpha Speedbox: Professional lighting modifier to go

After using the SMDV Alpha Speedbox on dozens of individual portraits, engagement sessions, and travelling with it for two destination weddings, I’m glad to have the SMDV Alpha Speedbox as part of my lighting arsenal.  For professional photographers that work frequently on location, the SMDV Alpha Speedbox is a great lighting modifier to-go kit.  You can obtain more information or order the SMDV Alpha Speedbox online from the US distributor of SMDV products,  www.legioaerium.com

Ken Doo, www.kendoophotography.com

Ken Doo has been a professional portrait photographer for fifteen years, with a boutique studio in Carmel, California. He and co-conspirator Don Libby lead the Capture Integration in Carmel medium format digital “not a workshop-workshop” sometimes affectionately referred to simply as, “Pigs.”  Ken is also a fine art printer for artists and photographers, and recently launched his fine art printing website, www.carmelfineartprinting.com  He enjoys long walks along the beach, holding hands, meaningful conversation, and sarcastic humor.

 

New Wedding Book Cover Catalog and Swatch Book In!

Posted in Events, Portraiture, Weddings and Bridal with tags , , , , , , , , on July 7, 2012 by kendoophotography

New GraphiStudio Wedding Cover Catalog and Swatch Book. ©2012 Ken Doo Photography.

This just in:  GraphiStudio’s new Cover Catalog and Material Swatch Book!  Finally, choosing the right cover and fine art media choice for your custom GraphiStudio Wedding or Family Book couldn’t be easier!  GraphiStudio Wedding and Family Books are custom designed and handmade in Italy using the finest materials, and of course, your images all hand-retouched by your professional photographer, Ken Doo.  For more information on weddings, family portraits, and the incredible GraphiStudio Books, contact me at my boutique portrait photography studio in Carmel or call (831) 626-1844.  Ken

Happy Holidays from Ken Doo Photography in Carmel!

Posted in Events, General, Portraiture, Weddings and Bridal with tags , , , , , , , , on December 23, 2011 by kendoophotography
Home for the Holidays. ©2011 Ken Doo

Happy holidays!  I know that many of you expect a humorous holiday greeting from Duffy, my bull terrier.  Sadly, Duffy passed this last summer from kidney failure.  He is sorely missed around the studio!  2011 has marked an extremely busy year, and I’m looking forward to a busy and exciting new year.  I am already working on new collections for portrait, wedding, and commercial clients.  New custom backdrops are being hand-painted and added to an already extensive collection of fine art backdrops in studio.  New framing options are available as are new exceptionally high quality portrait substrates.  On the event photography front, the studio will probably (sadly) be retiring its venerable Kodak ML500 printer.  The recent demise of Kodak Professional meant no longer being able to acquire media for the ML500.  There is no comparable printer to the Kodak ML500, and its replacement will require the acquisition of several event dye sublimation printers, most likely the DNP DS80.

Steve Rease. ©2011 Ken Doo Photography. Phase 645DF and IQ180; Phase 150mm D, ISO 50, f/5.6 @ 1/100. B&W converted by Capture One Pro 6.

 I am really excited about new offerings for portraiture both in studio and on location, just simply unavailable anywhere else!  : )  February 2012 will be floater frame February—with 50% off all floater frames with the purchase of a fine art canvas gallery wrapped and stretched wall portrait.  Portrait sessions need only be scheduled before the end of February to qualify.  Graphistudio Wedding Book options from  have expanded with new cover and media selections.  For more information, contact me at my boutique portrait studio in Carmel or call (831) 626-1844.   Best wishes for the new year!  ken

 

Congratulations Adam and Anjani Harvey!

Posted in Events, Weddings and Bridal with tags , , , , , , , , , on August 3, 2011 by kendoophotography

Adam & Anjani. ©2011 Ken Doo Photography

Congratulations to Adam and Anjani Harvey who were recently married last weekend at Rancho Canada in Carmel, CA on July 31, 2011.  Adam and Anjani had put a lot of work into planning their wedding—and it showed.  The reception at Rancho Canada was elegantly decorated with festivities guided by DNA DJ Entertainment and even a belly dancer!  Their special day started early at 7:00 A.M. and did not end until well after 12 midnight, with a late night dreamy portrait session on the greens.

Anjani on her wedding day. ©2011 Ken Doo Photography

It was a long day but we had a lot of fun.  I like to incorporate different styles of photographic coverage for weddings, and Adam and Anjani’s wedding was no different.  This was the first wedding that I was able to use the new Phase One IQ180 medium format digital back.  For Anjani’s bridal portrait above, I metered the background to overexpose the busy background and give the portrait more of a fashion flare.  I set the IQ180 ISO at 800 with Schneider 110mm lens, f/4 at 1/125th.  Earlier generation MFDBs would have been given great pause at ISO 800, but not at all for this new MFDB from Phase One.  I could have opted to use Sensor+ and still take advantage of the entire large full framed medium format sensor, but in this beautiful setting a gorgeous bridal wall portrait demands the full 80 megapixels of the IQ180. The performance and image quality from this eighty megapixel full frame medium format sensor really is incredible, producing quality beyond that of full-frame DSLRs.  I also photographed the same bridal setting of Anjani with my Canon 1Ds MarkIII, which is Canon’s flagship full-frame DSLR sensor camera.  Both image files were processed in Capture One Pro 6.  Not surprisingly, the Canon files were devoid of information in the background areas.  The Phase IQ180 file actually retains ample background information, though I have purposely set the background in the image to be well overexposed.   The native ISO of the IQ180 is ISO 35.  To still maintain this much control at ISO 800 is just short of amazing!

©2011 Ken Doo Photography

The wedding day is over, but my work is just beginning for post-processing hundreds of images and getting ready to create Adam and Anjani’s GraphiStudio Wedding Book.  Each image is hand retouched naturally.   Wedding products and services are all-inclusive and rather unique, departing away from the wedding industry norm. 

©2011 Ken Doo Photography

For this last image, I photographed Adam and Anjani in almost complete darkness,  illuminated gently by two strobes triggered by radio remotes.  The image was post-processed and toned for effect.  For more information on wedding photography, contact me at my boutique portrait studio in Carmel, CA at (831) 626-1844.    kmd

Congratulations Lisa and Michael Avina!

Posted in Events, Weddings and Bridal with tags , , , , , , , , , on June 29, 2011 by kendoophotography

Mike and Lisa wed in Carmel, CA. ©2011 http://www.KenDooPhotography.com

Congratulations to Lisa and Mike Avina!  Lisa and Mike were recently married in Carmel, CA on June 11, 2011.  The beautiful beach wedding was followed by a relaxed reception at the Forge in the Forest in Carmel.  Now the work for me really begins!  Aside from the engagement sessions, each wedding typically produces hundreds of memorable images to select from in building the new couple’s first family heirloom, their Wedding Book.  Each image is hand-retouched naturally.  The Wedding Book itself is handmade in Italy. 

Love Leads the Way. ©2011 Ken Doo Photography.

I typically use a variety of cameras and different photographic styles for engagement and wedding photography.  For the above image, I used a specially converted camera for infra-red capture.  The raw digital file was then processed in Capture One Pro 6 and final touches made Photoshop CS5.  This is all I can share for now, as Lisa and Mike haven’t even seen these yet!

For more information on my approach to wedding photography, contact me at my boutique portrait studio in Carmel, CA at (831) 626-1844.  ken

Ken Doo Photography Adds Apple Wedding iPod Touch for 2010

Posted in Events, Weddings and Bridal with tags , , , , , , , , on January 28, 2010 by kendoophotography

New for 2010, I’ve added as an exclusive for wedding clients, the new Ken Doo Photography Apple Wedding iPod Touch!  Previously I’ve used the Apple iPod Nano as a means for wedding clients to share their DVD slideshows, but the larger viewing screen of the iPod Touch adds a totally new dimension in viewing portability.  Along with their mini-GraphiStudio Wedding Books, wedding clients can easily share their Reflections DVD slideshow from their wedding reception and their GraphiStudio DVD / Blu-Ray Slideshow on with family and friends almost anywhere!  View the following short video clip to catch a glimpse of an actual DVD slideshow on the Ken Doo Photography Wedding iPod Touch: 

To see an actual GraphiStudio Wedding book layout, go to my website, www.kendoophotography.com  Enter Weddings & Portraits.  From the top menu bar, select Client Area and enter the password:  graphi 

Call 831-626-1844 for more information or visit my boutique studio in Carmel, California to see GraphiStudio Wedding Books and the exclusive Ken Doo Photography Wedding iPod Touch!  Ooooh!  And about that new Apple iPad……  ; )

Destination Wedding –in Japan!

Posted in Events, General, Weddings and Bridal with tags , , , , on July 12, 2009 by kendoophotography
Photographing a Destination Wedding at the New Sanho Hotel in Japan

Photographing a Destination Wedding at the New Sanho Hotel in Japan

Congratulations to Alec and Emi Beecroft, who recently celebrated their wedding in Japan last month.  I was honored to be their photographer for a destination wedding in Japan!  Alec is a US Navy officer and recent graduate at the Naval Post Graduate School.  Emi is a doctor and has family in Japan.  Alec and Emi blended both American and Japanese traditions for this special event.

Preparing readings for the ceremony at the Japanese Temple; details.

Preparing readings for the ceremony at the Japanese Temple; details.

Getting ready in the Japanese tradition

Getting ready in the Japanese tradition

I was amazed at the unique customs, attention to detail, and tradition.  Getting married at this particular Japanese temple held special significance for Alec and Emi, because Emi’s grandparents had also gotten married at this very same temple over sixty years ago on July 1, 1945.  Emi’s grandparents both attended Alec and Emi’s ceremony.
Alec and Emi outside of the shrine after the ceremony.
Alec and Emi outside of the shrine after the ceremony.
The reception!
A fairy-tale wedding; Dancing at the reception!

The reception was held at the newly remodeled New Sanho Hotel.  The venue was beautifully decorated.  Two huge movie screens at both ends of the ballroom simultaneously played Alec and Emi’s DVD slideshow choreographed to music.   Along one-side of the ballroom were displayed a large canvas gallery-wrapped wall portrait and other engagement photos carefully lit with accent lighting.  Large crystal centerpieces with flowing white roses adorned the tables.   Traveling to Japan, I only had limited space to bring photography equipment.  The Canon 1Ds Mark III and 5D II worked flawlessly.  I set up the ballroom with a studio strobe and wireless transmitters to provide more dramatic lighting at the reception.  It was perfect.

"Ken, Thank you so much  for your fabulous work, impeccable professionalism, and incredible flexibility with our demanding schedule to make our dreams of outstanding wedding and reception photos come true! We've heard great feedback from family and friends...everyone is excited to see more! We sincverely, greatly appreciate all your hard work! Thank you so much! --Alec & Emi
“Ken, Thank you so much for your fabulous work, impeccable professionalism, and incredible flexibility with our demanding schedule to make our dreams of outstanding wedding and reception photos come true! We’ve heard great feedback from family and friends…everyone is excited to see more! We sincerely, greatly appreciate all your hard work! Thank you so much!”    –Alec & Emi

Although my trip was short, I very much enjoyed my visit to Japan, and enjoyed being the photographer for this special destination wedding!  You can see some of Alec and Emi’s unretouched engagement, wedding ceremony, and reception images online at www.kendoophotography.com  On the Portrait and Wedding side of the website, select Client Area from the top menu bar.  There are now seven galleries.  Enter the passwords:  Alecandemi1 ,  AlecandEmi2 , Alecandemi3 , Alecandemi4 , Alecandemi5   The sixth and seventh galleries contain most all of Alec and Emi’s selections for their GraphiStudio Wedding Book.  The password is AlecandEmi6  and AlecandEmi7  The images have not yet been retouched!

The day of the event has passed, but there is still much work to do—I can’t wait to create a very special GraphiStudio Wedding Book for Alec and Emi!  I hand-retouch each image for their GraphiStudio Wedding Book which is then hand-crafted in Italy.  You can view actual GraphiStudio Wedding Books at my boutique photography studio in Carmel.   Call (831) 626-1844 for more information or to make an appointment.  kmd