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The SMDV BRiHT 360 Portable Lighting System

Posted in General, Portraiture, Weddings and Bridal with tags , , , , , , on June 4, 2017 by kendoophotography
Ivy Jane

Ivey. ©2017 Ken Doo Photography.  SMDV BRiHT 360 with SMDV Speedbox 85, Phase One XF, Phase One IQ3 100, Schneider 150mm LS

Photographing portraits on location or working at a wedding with a tight schedule poses special challenges for photographers. Working in a controlled studio environment can be relatively easy whereas working on location often means working with a degree of uncertainty, which may include an abrasive wedding coordinator, dimly lit venues, and rapidly changing weather conditions.  Natural light is very limiting and using studio lighting on location is often necessary to produce dramatic lighting, overpower the sun, or simply to get the shot inside a dark reception hall. Mastering studio strobes on location often differentiates novices from more established professionals.  For the busy on-location or wedding photographer, a good, reliable lighting system is indispensable. Portability and ease of use are arguably the most important features for an on-location lighting system, and in this regard, the SMDV BRiHT 360 strobe excels.

IMG_0222 Ken bts in studio BRiHT 360 and Speedbox 85

Behind the scenes. Testing in studio with the SMDV BRiHT 360 and SMDV Speedbox 85.

I recently had the opportunity to test the newly released SMDV BRiHT 360 strobe. I am familiar with SMDV since I had reviewed their excellent SMDV Alpha Speedbox over a year ago, and use it with my Profoto studio lighting system.  The BRiHT 360 enters the highly competitive lower priced lighting market—at least lower in price compared to offerings from Profoto, Broncolor, and other well-established photographic lighting companies. This new competitive arena is crowded with relatively new brands such as the popular Godox, Flashpoint, Paul Buff Alien Bees and Einsteins, Jinbei, and seemingly dozens of other newly hatched companies eager to join the fray. The challenge should not be to find a portable studio strobe at the lowest price point. The goal is to select a flash unit that offers quality, reliability, portability and ease of use at a moderate price point.


Small, portable, complete lighting kit in a small carry case.

The SMDV BRiHT 360 comes packaged in a nice zippered case with padded dividers, not much bigger than an insulated lunch bag. Inside is ample room in the case for the strobe, handle, two batteries, 5-inch reflector, and Flashwave5 2.4 Ghz transmitter (Canon or Nikon). The lid has additional pockets for extra transmitter batteries (AAA), the manual and 5-inch reflector grid, gels, and diffusion sock. In the case image above you can see an Arca Swiss compatible quick release attached to the handle. An Arca Swiss compatible plate is affixed to the bottom of the BRiHT 360. This allows for extremely fast set-up and break down of the lighting system. Additionally, it also enables the BRiHT 360 to be mounted alternatively onto a tripod with an AS quick release clamp. Pretty nifty. An umbrella holder is built into the light handle.


The SMDV BRiHT 360 is quite small compared to the larger and heavier 500ws Profoto B1 and 250ws Profoto B2.

This light is on the small side and with its attached handle and battery, weighs only about 3 pounds. Despite its small size the SMDV BRiHT provides 360 watt seconds of lighting power, less than the Profoto B1’s 500 ws, but more than the Profoto B2’s 250 ws.  The SMDV BRiHT 360 is situated between B2 and B1 in output, but its form factor is closer to the B1 with its attached lithium battery and cordless operation—but at half the weight!  Build quality is excellent particularly at its price point of approximately $700 for a complete kit (strobe, battery, charger, 5-inch reflector, and Flashwave5 transmitter), which is about 1/3 the price for the Profoto B1 or Profoto B2.  The bare bulb flash tube is user replaceable.

I enjoy working with my Profoto lights, and am fully invested in Profoto and have no intention of changing my lighting systems. I am also fully aware of weaknesses in the Profoto B1/B1x, which is primarily its weight, tipping the scales at just over six pounds. The B1 is cordless and easy to use, but when placed on a light stand with a modifier, it can be easily blown over in the wind. Heavy light stands and sand bags are the norm when using the B1, which in turn takes away from its touted portability.

The SMDV BRiHT 360 weighs less than the Profoto B2 pack and head, yet retains the ease of cordless operation similar to the Profoto B1. Its small form factor and light weight means the BRiHT 360 can more easily be used with smaller (lighter) light stands and be easily weighted down if necessary by a photographer’s backpack and a bungee cord. I found the SMDV BRiHT 360 to be fast and easy to use. It is small enough to be easily portable, yet with enough power for individual and group wedding portraits. I could easily set up one or two of the BRiHT 360 strobes on light stands to remotely light a wedding reception dance floor, using my Canon speedlite for fill, and without worrying about the lights crashing down on the party. If I were still shooting weddings, I would seriously consider the SMDV BRiHT 360. Its small size, light weight, and balance of power make it ideal for weddings. Its smaller cordless form factor makes it a better choice when mounted high up on a light stand over a reception dance floor than other larger, heavier studio monolights such as the Profoto B1 or Godox AD600.


SMDV Flashwave 5 transmitter.

I was particularly impressed by the SMDV Flashwave5 transmitter.  The SMDV BRiHT 360 offers easy wireless control through the Flashwave5 transmitter. Power output is easily adjusted in manual mode by pressing the minus (-) or the plus (+) buttons. High speed sync (HSS) is available as well as shooting with through the lens metering or TTL. I found that the implementation of TTL by SMDV to be exceptionally easy and actually better than the Profoto Air TTL. TTL adjustments on the SMDV BRiHT is made by pressing the (+) or (-) buttons, which adjusts exposure compensation. This is more intuitive than adjusting exposure compensation on the camera body itself.  Channels and groups are easy to adjust on the SMDV Flashwave5. The transmitter is triggered by the camera hot shoe. It uses standard AAA batteries.

SMDV TeleReflector

SMDV 7-inch tele-reflector next to the Profoto Zoom II and the Profoto Magnum reflectors.

The SMDV BRiHT 360 has its own proprietary mount, similar to Bowens-style mount, but in miniature.  The included 5-inch metal reflector is similar to that used on the Quantum Q-flash. Aftermarket grids and gels are available for the 5-inch reflector. I found the optional tele-reflector to be much more useful as a modifier, particularly when used with 7” grids or a diffusion sock.  I was surprised to find that the quality of the SMDV metal reflectors was on par with my Profoto metal reflectors, using a similar gauge of metal.  The reflectors are not thin and cheap like the standard Alien Bee/Einstein reflectors. I especially liked working with the SMDV Speedbox 85 with the BRiHT 360.  The SMDV proprietary mount on the Speedbox 85 is much lighter than the SMDV Alpha Speedbox used with my Profoto lighting. The SMDV BRiHT 360’s lightweight and small form factor make it particularly effective when working on location and I foresee a formidable lighting tool for wedding photographers. An optional SMDV mount adapter allows the BRiHT 360 to use any Bowens mount modifier.

The SMDV BRiHT 360 strobe is a high-quality lighting option considering its price point.  However, I also know that the market is replete with many different lighting options at this level, and I admittedly am not familiar with Godox/Flashpoint and the many others. Consequently, I thought it would be interesting to invite other photographers with different lighting experience levels to give their impressions of the SMDV BRiHT 360.  No compensation was provided by SMDV.  I didn’t even ask SMDV for their permission to invite other photographers to participate. I just thought it would be interesting to see if other photographers found the SMDV BRiHT 360 easy to use or not.  I invited Monterey photographer Lucas Huey and Carmel photographer Brandalyn Rexeen to try the SMDV BRiHT 360. We shared use of the SMDV BRiHT 360 lights and Flashwave5 transmitter extensively over approximately four months. I hope that the experiences of other photographers with different approaches is a valuable collective review and users report useful to other photographers interested in a portable lighting solution. Their reviews follow.

I have been a full-time professional photographer for over seventeen years. I consider myself “semi-retired” concentrating mostly on portrait work and fine art printing for other photographers and artists. My conclusion in a nutshell is that the SMDV BRiHT 360 is an excellent studio lighting option for on location work. It is small, portable and easy to use. Its size and light weight make it a particularly good choice for wedding photographers.  The SMDV BRiHT 360 is distributed in the U.S. by

Ken Doo


User’s Report:  The SMDV BRiHT 360 Strobe

By Lucas Huey

Growing up I spent a lot of time at my Grandparent’s house.  My father was a farmer, and during the various picking seasons, my mother, brother, and I would go visit relatives in San Diego. My Grandfather loved photography and maintained a working darkroom along with a plethora of 35mm to 4×5 view cameras. As I spent more time with my grandfather, my interest in photography grew.  I learned how to develop and print in the darkroom and use various formats of cameras. My interest in photography continued through my youth and I continued my photographic training with courses in college. I graduated with a BFA in Graphic Design with a minor in photography.

I moved to the central coast of California in 2005.  I am a portrait, wedding, automotive, and landscape photographer located in Monterey, California.  I use studio strobes for most of my work. Currently, I use the Paul Buff Einstein with Cyber Commander transmitter and the Flashpoint Xplor 600 (Godox AD600) with R2 4 zone TTL transmitter. Recently, another local photographer, Ken Doo, asked if I would like to try the new SMDV BriHT 360 strobes.

Senior Portrait

Senior Portrait. SMDV BRiHT 360, Canon 5D III. ©2017 Lucas Huey Photography

While testing these lights I used them in a variety of situations including senior portraits, commercial, and an engagement session. My initial impressions of the BRiHT 360 were placed in the backdrop of my own studio lights, though both systems are more powerful than the 360ws of the BRiHT 360. Both the BRiHT 360 and Xplor 600 offer HSS and TTL, whereas the 640ws Einstein is limited to 1/200th flash sync on my Canon DSLR.

The SMDV BRiHT 360 is light, even with the battery attached. It is more portable than the Xplor or the Einstein. The BRiHT 360 balanced really well with the battery sitting on top of the strobe as opposed to the side or with a cord attached. The included case is nice and small and easily slips into a photo backpack with a camera body and 2 lenses. This strobe is also light enough that I was able to use a small, lightweight Cheetah light stand. The Cheetah light stand legs automatically fold up when the stand is lifted, making it exceptionally fast and easy to move and walk to the next location with your client.  See,  I felt comfortable that the strobe would not fall over.


Behind the scenes on a windy day, I chose to use the SMDV BRiHT 360 with an Arca Swiss quick release on a tripod instead of using a light stand.

The Flashwave 5 remote trigger is really easy to use. It is pretty intuitive.  Adjusting zones was simple and easy to understand. The Flashwave5 are perfect to control lighting on a dance floor during a wedding reception because of the ability to have the different zones fire at different settings. Using Manual mode was also easy.  The Flashwave 5 transmitter is far superior to the R2 trigger of the Xplor 600. The Flashwave 5 allows the BRiHT the ability to adjust by 1/10 of a stop as opposed to the 1/3 stop steps of the R2 and Xplor 600.  This capability made it easier to dial in the correct exposure in manual mode on the BRiHT 360.

The SMDV BRiHT 360 allows HSS up to 1/8000th.  This a nice option to have and I found that 1/1600 seemed to provide the best lighting for my personal tastes. When shooting on location, using HSS with the BRiHT 360 allowed me to better control the sun while preserving important details in the portrait.

4 edited

Engagement session. SMDV BRiHT 360, Canon 5D III. ©2017 Lucas Huey Photography.

The mini-Bowens mount on the BRiHT 360 is small to aid portability, but it also limits readily available modifiers from other manufacturers. An adapter must be used in order to mount standard Bowens modifiers.  Over the period of four months, I used the SMDV BRiHT 360 on a variety of jobs and used the standard 5-inch reflector, the SMDV 12-inch beauty dish, the 7-inch tele-reflector, and the SMDV Speedbox 85 with the BRiHT 360.

I was impressed by the ability of the SMDV BRiHT 360 in helping me to achieve a nice blurred background or “bokeh” during a senior portrait session. I was able to shoot at f/2 at 1/1600, ISO 500. Using HSS made it easy to freeze waves crashing in the background without motion blur. I tried shooting at 1/8000, but found that often 1/1600 was the best shutter speed for my sessions.  An Arca Swiss compatible plate was attached to the bottom of the strobes and allowed me to attach the BRiHT 360 to my tripod as opposed to a light stand. This is an easy worthwhile modification to make on the SMDV BRiHT 360.

5 edited

SMDV BRiHT 360, Canon 5D III. ©2017 Lucas Huey Photography.

I used the BRiHT 360 on an engagement session in the mountains, a beautiful scenic setting that was special to my clients. The BRiHT 360 is so small and portable, it was easy for my assistant to hold the strobe and direct the light quickly when directed.  When portability and weight is a factor, the SMDV BRiHT is the perfect lighting kit.  TTL and HSS on the BRiHT 360 is easy to use and allows me to direct my attention to creating images with my clients rather than fussing with the lights or remote.  The strobe is not the most powerful option, but offers a better balance for portability in a lightweight, easy to use lighting kit. It is ideal for working on location and provides enough power for most situations.


SMDV BRiHT 360, Canon 5D III. ©2017 Lucas Huey Photography.

The small footprint of the BRiHT 360 worked well in a commercial setting. It was nice not having to worry about cords all over the location, which also had pedestrian traffic in the area.  I used a 40 degree grid on the 7-inch tele-reflector, and along with HSS and TTL, my subject popped out nicely despite the busy background.


SMDV BRiHT 360, Canon 5D III. ©2017 Lucas Huey Photography.

During an editorial shoot featuring a car and owner, I decided to use the SMDV BRiHT 360. It was easy to use the strobes in manual mode to underexpose the clouds and background while boosting the light at 1/10th of a stop to create highlights that would show off the curves of the car. The Flashwave5 transmitter made it very easy to control the lighting. The controls on the transmitter are nicely laid out and it is very intuitive.


Editorial shoot. SMDV BRiHT 360, Canon 5D III. ©2017 Lucas Huey Photography.


Porsche Carrera RS. SMDV BRiHT 360, Canon 5D III. ©2017 Lucas Huey Photography.

The ease of the SMDV BRiHT 360 makes it an ideal “first” lighting kit for a “natural light” photographer as well as a perfect portable lighting kit for a portrait or wedding photographer.

Lucas Huey

Monterey, CA May 2017



The SMDV BRiHT 360: An Easy Introduction to Off-Camera Lighting

By Brandalyn Rexeen, Photographer, Red Light Girls

Seven years ago, I started the Red Light Girls as a social network for women striving to release their many egos/facades through modeling and sisterhood, and shedding the stigma of social media’s “ideal” model’s body. I have photographed women in all stages of cancer, paralysis, multiple sclerosis, stretch marks, scars, cellulite, varicose veins, all body types and ages—striving to reveal the beauty within every woman. Until recently, I had been photographing my clients only in natural light.  I knew that the next step for me as a photographer was to begin utilizing off camera lighting in my portrait sessions in order to offer my clients better image quality.

IMG_0184 Brandy BTS with the SMDV BRiHT 360

Behind the scenes with the SMDV BRiHT 360 with 7-inch tele-reflector and 30 degree grid.

The vast majority of my photography is outdoors and on location. I am also new to using off camera flash. Consequently, both portability and ease of use are very important to me. When Ken Doo asked me to try the newly released SMDV BRiHT 360 for him, I was cautiously optimistic.


RLG. ©2017 Brandalyn Rexeen. SMDV BRiHT 360, Canon 5D IV, 85mm f/1.2 L.

I am relatively new to studio lighting and assumed that setting up lights would be both tedious and difficult. I was surprised how quick and easy it was to set up the SMDV BRiHT 360 with my Canon 5D Mark IV. The Flashwave5 wireless transmitter works seamlessly with the BRiHT 360. I found the controls extremely easy to use.  TTL and HSS functions worked flawlessly to balance with natural light even in harsh mid-day sunlight.  I was surprised how easy this lighting system is to use.

IMG_0213 Brandy BTS BRiHT 360

Behind the scenes with the SMDV BRiHT 360 and SMDV Speedbox 85.

I initially sought an off-camera flash solution to simply add some fill onto my model’s faces. Once I used the SMDV BRiHT 360, I realized the capability of this portable system to not only fill in shadows but also to easily add dramatic lighting in any setting.


RLG. ©2017 Brandalyn Rexeen. SMDV BRiHT 360, SMDV Speedbox 85, Canon 5D IV, 85mm f/1.2 L.

The locations that I like to use often require travel and can be somewhat remote. The BRiHT 360 is extremely compact and lightweight, making it easy to slip in a photo backpack with my other gear. I initially used the SMDV 7” tele-reflector with a 30 degree grid and also the SMDV Speedbox 85. Both have helped to unleash newfound creativity and enthusiasm.  The SMDV BRiHT 360 is now a valuable part of my photography kit and I look forward to using it to empower and reveal the natural beauty of the everyday woman.

You can see some of my earlier work at

Brandalyn Rexeen

April 2017

The SMDV BRiHT 360 Portable strobe and Flashwave 5 transmitter is distributed in the U.S. by


Beach Blast Gymnastics Tournament Comes to Monterey; Monterey Bay Academy of Gymnastics Team Portraiture

Posted in Events with tags , , , on October 29, 2014 by kendoophotography
A floor exercise competitor finishes her event at the Beach Blast 2014 Tournament

A floor exercise competitor finishes her event at the Beach Blast 2014 Tournament. ©2014 Ken Doo Photography

The Monterey Bay Academy of Gymnastics hosted their annual Beach Blast Gymnastics Tournament last weekend. The tournament was well-attended with hundreds of competitors representing several teams from California. Ken Doo Photography was the event photographer at this tournament, covering seven sessions over the two day competition. We focused primarily on the Beam and Floor exercise events.  Photographing the event was challenging with capturing moving gymnasts, low light and no flash (to avoid distracting competitors).

Catching air on the floor exercises.  ©2014 Ken Doo Photography

Catching air on the floor exercises. ©2014 Ken Doo Photography


Nearly seven thousand images were taken during the course of the event!  Event images from Beach Blast 2014 may be viewed and purchased online, or see  Each session (1 through 7) will have several galleries (A, B, C, etc.) to aid in viewing the events. All sessions:  1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, and 7 are now complete with both Floor and Beam events online and available for viewing and purchase.   Each gallery is considered a separate “event” and purchases made using the online shopping cart will need to be completed before moving onto the next gallery or event.  Images online have not been edited or retouched. Selected images for purchase will be edited and/or cropped as needed prior to printing.

On the Beam. ©2014 Ken Doo Photography

On the Beam. ©2014 Ken Doo Photography

All purchased prints are quality guaranteed. Both print and low resolution downloads are available for purchase online.  Call the studio at (831) 626-1844 for different size options or special requests. A high resolution print CD/download option of all images taken of a single gymnast is available for purchase. Call the studio for details.  ken.

Head coach Jessica helping to set up the team.

Head coach Jessica helping to set up the team.

Just a month earlier, I photographed the Monterey Bay Academy of Gymnastics Team. Aside from the normal team and individual photos, the gym wanted a large group photo of the competition team to put on display.  The team was photographed with a Phase One 645DF and IQ180 medium format digital back, including the individual images with gymnasts flying through the air! The short flash duration capabilities of the Phase One IQ180 and leaf shutter lenses actually made it easier.

Monterey Bay Academy of Gymnastics. ©2014 Ken Doo Photography

Monterey Bay Academy of Gymnastics. 30 x 60 wall portrait! ©2014 Ken Doo Photography

The final image was printed in studio and measures 30″ x 60″ . It was mounted and framed in a solid wood, matte black frame, and is currently on display at the Monterey Bay Academy of Gymnastics in Sand City, CA.  What a great way to build team spirit!  For more information about event photography or medium format digital portraiture, contact me at my boutique portrait photography studio in Carmel, CA or call (831) 626-1844.  Ken

Custom Wedding Guest Signing Books and Save-the-Date Cards Added!

Posted in Events, Weddings and Bridal with tags , , , , , , , on March 11, 2012 by kendoophotography

Save the Date cards and guest sign-in books for 2012

Just a quick update:  Newly offered for 2012 wedding packages are “Save-the-Date” cards and custom Wedding Guest Signing Books.  The Save-the-Date cards are custom designed from the client’s first engagement session, printed on high quality card stock in full color.  Custom Wedding Guest Signing Books are designed from images taken over the course of several engagement sessions and printed on smooth fine art paper.  The Guest Signing Books may be designed to match (if desired) the cover of the client’s custom GraphiStudio Wedding Book album.  All images are hand-retouched naturally.  For more information, contact me at my boutique portrait photography studio in Carmel.  Ken (831) 626-1844.

The Phase One IQ180 Takes On Race Cars at Laguna Seca Speedway!!

Posted in Events, General with tags , , , , , , on January 23, 2012 by kendoophotography
Fred “Frosty” Knoop on the Corkscrew in a Lister Special.  Fred Knoop brings a lot of history to the beginnings of Laguna Seca.  ©2012 Ken Doo Photography
Last week I was invited by a client and friend, Rick and Cydette Knoop, to accompany them to the racetrack at Laguna Seca.  I have been doing the medium format digital copywork and giclee fine art reproductions on canvas for Cydette Knoop for her series on famous racetracks.  Her husband, Rick Knoop, is a professional race car driver.  So when they asked if I’d like to see them exercise the cars, I just couldn’t turn down that special opportunity.  This was not an event open to the public and was one of the few times where the cars are allowed to run basically open muffler without sound restrictions.  Consequently, these high horse-powered cars were running fast.  And so I brought along a Canon 1Ds Mark III with a 300mm f/2.8 IS and what the hell, let’s see if the Phase One IQ180 can capture a race car.  So I took along my Phase 645DF and Phase One IQ180 outfitted with a 150mm f/2.8 D series lens.  I know, I know—that Don Libby guy is gonna be chiding me all week long about selling my Mamiya 300mm AF.  But even yet, the 300mm would have been a bit short in focal length.  The 150mm would have to do.  After viewing some of the incredible cars in the garage, we headed out to the famous Corkscrew, the setting for Cydette’s first oil painting in her racetrack series, Heart and Soul.

Rick Knoop heads down the Corkscrew in the Knoop Mann Lister Special. ©2012 Ken Doo Photography.

 The above image was taken with the Phase 645DF and IQ180.  Surprisingly, the camera system was able to stop the action.  I set the AF switch on the 645DF to continuous focusing.  I set custom function CF19 AF to speed.  It was bright outside so ISO was set at 50, which still set the shutter at 1/1000th.  I shot the image at f/2.8 (hey, no guts no glory, right?).  A faster shutter might have yielded a sharper image on this fast moving subject.  So what does eighty megapixels on a full-framed 645 sensor yield?  Take a look at the crop below.

Fred Knoop on the Corkscrew; cropped image from above. ©2012 Ken Doo Photography

 Not bad. This is not to say the Phase 645DF and IQ180 is a suitable choice for fast moving sports and race cars.  Hardly.  But it does go to show how flexible and capable this camera system is.  I didn’t even try to use the faster capabilities of the IQ180’s Sensor Plus feature, albeit at lower resolution but still on a full-framed 645 sensor.  Hell with that.  I just wanted to see if the Phase 645DF and Phase One IQ180 could be coaxed into photographing race cars.  And with a much too short focal length, I knew I would need the full eighty megapixels to crop.  Okay, so the Phase 645DF and Phase One IQ180 was able to photograph race cars going through their paces at Laguna Seca, but it’s still not my first choice for fast action.  Images here on the track were much easier to capture with the Canon 1Ds Mark III paired with a 300mm f/2.8 IS great white.  But this exercise was to answer one of those what-ifs.  So kudos to Phase One for an extremely flexible camera system.  The 645DF with D series lenses and IQ180 is able to focus quickly, and although slow compared to flagship DSLR offerings, it certainly is faster than some current DSLRs such as Canon’s 5D Mark II.  I’m impressed.  I look forward to seeing further improvements and refinements with Phase One’s rumored new camera body.

More Race cars on the Corkscrew. ©2012 Ken Doo

The original Lister. ©2012 Ken Doo Photography

Rick and Fred Knoop, father and son. ©2012 Ken Doo Photography

Rick Knoop in the Lister Special. ©2012 Ken Doo Photography

You can see more race cars at Laguna Seca from last weekends festivities on my website,  Go to the commercial side of the website.  From the top menu bar, select Commercial Client Area.  Enter the password:  knoop   There is a mixture of images taken with both the Canon 1Ds Mark III and the Phase One IQ180.  Obviously where the IQ180 really shines is in the studio or on location for landscape and portrait work.  For wall portraits and large prints, the quality of the Phase One IQ180 is unsurpassed.

For more information, contact me at my boutique portrait photography studio in Carmel, CA or call (831) 626-1844. ken

Monterey County Artist’s Studio Tour September 24 + 25, 2011

Posted in Events, General, Landscapes, Nature & Wildlife with tags , , , , , , on September 21, 2011 by kendoophotography

Gallery wrapped images stretched on Bamboo and other fine art papers are some of the things on display during the Artist's Studio Tour at Ken Doo Photography in Carmel this weekend.

The Monterey County Artist’s Studio Tour will be held on September 24 + 25, 2011, from 12:00PM until 5:00 PM on each day.  Artists throughout Monterey County participating in the tour open their studios to the public giving them a glimpse at the artist’s work and workplace.  An opening reception kicking off the event will be held on Friday, September 23, 2011 at the Pacific Grove Art Center on Lighthouse Avenue from 7:00 PM to 9:00 PM.  The public is welcome to preview artwork on display by various artists as well as enjoy refreshments , raffles and prizes.  This year I plan on showing a few unique pieces of my landscape photography, which I have chosen to print on Bamboo fine art paper and then stretching it over bars, similar to stretched canvas.  I will also be showing several large panoramic images with incredible detail, some approaching eight feet in length, photographed by me with high resolution medium format digital cameras.  Come by and visit my boutique photography studio in Carmel, see some of my landscape photography, and enjoy a glass of wine, coffee, and cheesecake (hey, I like cheesecake.).   You can see more of my landscape photography at  .  ken

Traeger in the House: Bbq Just Got Serious

Posted in Events, Landscapes, Nature & Wildlife with tags , , , , , on May 21, 2011 by kendoophotography

I love food.  And with some apologies to my vegan friends (ok, not really), I like meat.  And one of my favorite ways to cook meat is barbeque.  Real bbq.  No stinkin’ propane gas.  Real fire, the type that men and pre-pubescent boys can revel in.  (ok, not really).  But yes, real barbeque to me does mean cooking with fire, whether with charcoal or wood.  And Traeger Barbeques has made it easy, marrying the taste of real wood-burning barbeque with the ease of a knob. 

Traeger Wood Pellet Burning Barbeque

The Traeger Barbeque comes in several sizes, but all operate similarly with a hopper that feeds wood pellets into a fire-pot at the bottom of the barbeque.  The bbq uses wood pellets specifically made for barbeque in a variety of different hardwoods, such as hickory, mesquite, and fruit woods.  A thermostat easily adjusts the temperature making perfectly smoked meats child’s fare.

Baby back ribs and baked potatoes on the side

Traeger Barbeques are often used in barbeque competitions.  It took me about a year to perfect my baby back rib recipe, and the Traeger simply makes it easier.  And yup, you guessed it, coming full circle back to Pigs in a Blanket and medium format digital photography.  You can count on the Traeger being part of an upcoming Wine, Dine, and Swine —a medium format digital landscape workshop.  No joke!  ; )  ken

p.s  My version/recipe of chinese bbq pork or char siu is here CHINESE BBQ PORK. (And no, that’s not my baby back rib recipe)

More Fabulous Fall Events!

Posted in Events, General with tags , , , , , on October 9, 2010 by kendoophotography

It seems that every year in the fall brings many exciting events for me to photograph for clients here on the Monterey Peninsula, as well as in locations outside of the area.  My boutique portrait photography studio in Carmel is one of the few studios with the true capability of printing onsite with a Kodak printer on Kodak Professional portrait papers, and that sometimes means traveling to areas in need of an onsite event photographer. 

Carmel High School Senior Jay Louis with CA State Supreme Court Chief Justice Ronald George

I have been the event photographer for several years at the Diversity and the Pro Bono Awards reception for the CA State Bar Annual Meeting, which is held every other year in Monterey, California.  This year the event was held at the Portola Hotel & Spa in Monterey.  The event held special significance because CA State Supreme Court Chief Justice Ronald George recently announced his retirement from the bench.  CHS Water Polo standout Jay Louis helped assist me at this event.  Best wishes to a great Chief Justice.  

Incoming CA State Supreme Court Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye and Carmel Photographer Ken Doo.

 The incoming CA State Supreme Court Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye (say that five times fast) was also present.  I rarely let photos be taken of me at events, but couldn’t help myself here!  The new Chief Justice has a “rock-star” presence and a large following.  Her affable personality would make it extremely difficult for anyone not to like her.  I predict she is going to be a great Chief Justice.

Enrique Guzman and the UC Merced Office of Student Life

UC Merced recently held its annual Family Day.  This event presents a different challenge as we print onsite at the event and deliver portraits to the individual patrons.  I have been the event photographer for UC Merced since its opening about six years ago.  What makes these event portraits historic is that you can see the great physical changes that the univeristy has made with each year of growth.  The first year, portraits were taken in an open field with cows in the background!  Contrast this setting with older universities such as UCLA, where historic images can be seen with only the four main buildings in the quad, and nothing else.  No Westwood Village, nothing.  Portraits are taken with the new campus in the background.  The setting provides a challenging balance for lighting, but this year the real challenge was the heat.  It was hot this year, with temperatures hovering near 100 degrees F all day! 

Kodak Professional Dye Sub Event Printer -- "The Beast"

Luckily our “print room area” was air conditioned.  My photography studio is one of the few with true onsite printing capabilities.  We’ve worked hard over the years to establish a solid workflow, and our Kodak Professional event printer is a true workhorse, capable of printing 8×10 images on Kodak Professional Papers every thirteen seconds.  Separate thermal print heads on the Kodak Profesional printer mean a single pass workflow for the printer, and it still remains the industry leader in terms of quality and speed.

Many event folders options and choices, including stamped foil logos and text

For more information on event photography, contact the studio in Carmel, California at or call (831) 626-1844.  ken

Monterey County Artists’ Studio Tour Opening Night Reception September 10, 2010

Posted in Events, General, Landscapes, Nature & Wildlife with tags , , , , , , , on September 6, 2010 by kendoophotography


Cabins on Lake O'Hara, a 24x30 panorama on metal is on display at the Pacific Grove Art Center; Reception September 10, 2010 from 7-9 P.M.

You’re invited!  The Monterey County Artists’ Studio Tour Opening Reception is this Friday, September 10, 2010, from 7:00 P.M. to 9:00 P.M. at the Pacific Grove Art Center.  Come meet participating artists in the Studio Tour, view a sampling of artworks on display, and enjoy the food and drink!  A second Gala reception will be held on September 24, 2010 at the Pacific Grove Art Center to help kick-off the Studio Art Tour which is held the same weekend on September 25 and 26.  More food, drink, and a raffle for prizes!  The Studio Tour will mark the first time that I have opened my studio and landscape work to the public for the first time.  In between photography work, I have been busy preparing for the tour.  Artist Chris Love will be assisting me during the tour and will have some of her works on display in my studio as well.  More to follow…..  kmd

Maps of participating artists’ studio locations are available and will also be distributed in the Monterey County Coast Weekly.  For more information, contact me at my boutique portrait studio in Carmel at (831) 626-1844.  ken

BodyWorx Martial Arts in Monterey, CA Launches New Website and Blog

Posted in General with tags , , , , , on April 3, 2010 by kendoophotography

BodyWorx Martial Arts in Monterey, CA launches new website.

BodyWorx Martial Arts in Monterey recently launched its new website and blog,  BodyWorx is the premier place to go on the Monterey Peninsula for Karate, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Judo, Escrima, Yoga, and Kickboxing.  Classes are offered for both adults and children.  I have been photographing for BodyWorx for several years now, and I was excited when BodyWorx owner Kathy Cariccioli asked me to help in setting up and organizing BodyWorx’ new website.  The old website, is still online, as information is being updated and moved to the website domain name,  The new blog, will be used to make announcements and report recent events at the popular family oriented facility.  For more information on Bodyworx Martial Arts, visit their website or call (831) 372-9679.

Ken (831) 626-1844

Capture Integration in Carmel – 2nd Annual PIAB Part II and Other Misc. Ramblings

Posted in Events, General, Landscapes, Nature & Wildlife with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 3, 2010 by kendoophotography

Last week marked the end of the Capture Integration in Carmel workshop, otherwise known as the 2nd Annual Pigs in a Blanket.  As promised in part two of this series, I’ve included some of the images created over the course of several days shooting at Alcatraz, Muir Woods, the Sutro Baths, Carmel Mission, and south towards Big Sur. Many more images are available for viewing at my boutique photography studio in Carmel, and I will also post additional images on my landscape photography website.   As I write this, Don Libby of Iron Creek Photography in Tucson, AZ is just getting home from his extended travels with his new Leica M9, having photographed Yosemite, Lone Pine, Death Valley, Mono Lake, among others following the workshop.  All I can say is that Don is really really pleased with the addition of the Leica M9 to his Cambo RS and Phase One P45+ medium format digital back!

Alcatraz at Night. Phase 645AF, P65+, Mamiya 35mm, ISO 400, f/4.5 at 1/4oth

The CI in Carmel workshop really is a great opportunity to meet other like-minded photographers, socialize, learn, and try some of the latest digital photography gear.

The new Leica M9: the perfect MFDB complement

Phase 645AF with Phase P65+ and the new Leica S2 with 70mm lens

I did get to try out the new Leica S2.  This new offering from Leica is more similar to a DSLR, but with a much larger 37.5 megapixel sensor, placing it much closer in medium format digital territory.  The S2 is self-contained like a DSLR, and the body does not have a removeable digital back like its Phase counterpart.  For those new to the world of medium format digital, the S2 offers yet another platform to consider.  But for those that already have a medium format digital camera platform, the S2 is much less attractive.  And for me, quite bluntly, the S2 just didn’t feel right in my hands, and struck me as being cold and sterile.  Others in the workshop either loved the feel of the camera or disliked it.  Those smaller in stature enjoyed the S2, finding that the camera body was easier to hold than the heavier and thicker Phase One camera platform with a digital back.  And I can see how the S2 fills a niche.  I wasn’t a fan of the S2 menu layout, but then again, I’ve been using Phase One MFDBs for years now.  Compared to the Canon 1Ds Mark III or Nikon D3x, I’m sure that the comparatively spartan rear of the S2 would not be difficult to master.

Big Sur Coastline. Leica S2 with 70mm; ISO 160, f/2.4 at 1/4000th

But what do the images taken with the S2 look like?  That’s what is most important right?  I found that when used in abundant light, the S2 produced absolutely stunning images.  Just simply wow.  Leica is known for its quality lenses, and the big 70mm Leica lens does not disappoint.

Muir Woods with Dave Gallagher. Leica S2 with 70mm; ISO 160, f/2.4 at 1/60th

Cropped section of above image. Leica S2. Amazing clarity and detail with the Leica 70mm lens.

Now the bad news.  Unfortunately, the Leica S2 doesn’t perform as well in low light situations.  And the once stellar performance gets ugly when the light gets dim.  Real ugly.  Maybe I should qualify my comments.  In an age of relatively inexpensive DSLRs such as the Canon 5D Mark II, which are capable of quite respectable images at 1600 and 3200 ISO, it’s rather easy to demand more.  And there certainly haven’t been any exceptions, not even for medium format digital.  And true to form, newly released medium format digital backs such as the Phase One P40+ and P65+ are capable of producing good quality images at higher ISOs.

Leica S2 and 70mm; f/2.4 at 1/90th; ISO 640 equals yuck!

At ISO 640, images produced by the Leica S2 looked mushy. I took a quick photo of fellow photographer Rafael Hernandez  and the lack of detail and mush became even more apparent.  I processed the Leica images in Capture One Pro 5.1.  Alternatively, I also tried processing the images in Adobe Photoshop CS4 ACR, but the images from ACR were noticeably noisier and C1 Pro is simply the better raw processor.  We also noticed weird discolorations or anomaly on the back of the S2 LCD viewing screen.  Rafael later determined that this was caused by a bad JPEG viewing algorithm, but with no apparent effect on the final digital image files generated.  A firmware update should cure this anomaly on the LCD, and maybe Leica can improve high ISO image performance by firmware as well.  A clean 800 ISO image file is not asking for much considering the current high ISO performance of recent  MFDBs offerings from both Phase One (P40+ and P65+) and Hasselblad (H4D)—which are also available for sale at a lower price of entry than the S2.

Leica S2 at ISO 640 mushy!

Crop of above image; Leica S2 at ISO 640 mushy and loss of detail

I don’t doubt that Leica will sell many S2 cameras, for what it does well, it does exceedingly well.  But $28,000+ for the Leica S2 (body and 70mm lens) is quite a bit to invest, and certainly will give pause to many particularly considering that other medium format platforms, such as the Phase one P40+ and H4D40, are actually less expensive, albeit a bit bulkier, and minus that shiny red logo.  If I had money to burn, I might be inclined to buy a Leica S2 myself—just because.  But professionally, the S2 is not suitable for me.  Doctors and dentists are lining up now…..  ; )      [Note:  My comments here are not meant as a pixel-peeping review; rather they are my limited observations with the S2 during the workshop.  Hell, it could be fraught with user-error, so go out and grab an S2 and try it yourself…]  Okay, enough rambling….

Garrapata Beach; Phase P65+, ISO 50, f/32 at 3 secs.

Pfeiffer Beach; Phase P65+, ISO 50, f/32 at .8 secs

Carmel Mission Window; Phase One P65+, ISO 100, f/4 at 1/320, Mamiya 120mm D

Carmel Calla Lilly; Phase P65+, ISO 100, f/4 at 1/180, Mamiya 120mm D

Don and I really enjoyed hosting Capture Integration in Carmel, and working with Dave Gallagher.  It seems quick, but we’re already discussing plans to formalize future medium format digital workshops—keep an eye out!  For more landscape images visit my landscape website, .  For more information, including future Pigs in  a Blanket endeavors, contact Ken Doo at (831) 626-1844;

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