A day in the studio with Parish Kohanim and the Canon 5D Mark IV

by Dave Etchells and William Brawley with Canon Explorer of Light Parish Kohanim

About a week before the EOS 5D Mark IV's release, we had an unusual opportunity to spend a day with it and Canon Explorer of Light Parish Kohanim in his studio here in Atlanta.

Parish is an incredible photographer; it's well worth the time to visit his site and check out his work. A lifelong Canon user, he was one of the first Explorers of Light, when the program first began almost 30 years ago.

Besides a chance to see the 5D IV at work in a studio environment, it was fascinating for us to see such an exceptional pro at work. All of us here love photography and taking pictures, and I myself -- this is Dave E. writing this section -- have been in quite a few commercial photo studios. Those studio environments were always pretty cut and dried, though; the task at hand simply being to capture product photos or very standard catalog-style fashion shots in a pleasing manner.

We've all seen amazing creative photography, but had never seen how it was produced. We somehow had the sense that creative ideas just sprang into great pros' minds fully-formed, and the studio process was just about recording that vision with the camera.

Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS II USM: 46mm, f/7.1, 1/125s, ISO 3200
Note: This image has been modified. Click for full-size original image.

That may sometimes be the case, and pros surely have a general idea or vision in mind when they begin a shoot, but what was surprising to us was the extent to which creativity is a process of discovery for a pro like Parish. I'm thinking particularly of one of the setups in the video below, where Parish was posing Adair (our beautiful and talented model for the day) draped over a huge, illuminated ball. After a number of shots with Adair by herself, Parish decided to add a bouquet of flowers to the scene. The first shot he took with them was pretty ho-hum. I remember thinking to myself "well, it looks like that won't work."

He kept trying different arrangements and positions, though, and Adair's skill as a model was evident, as she worked through a range of looks and slight adjustments on her own, in between Parish's directions. They'd frequently break, and Parish would swipe through the latest set of shots (the 5D IV has a nice touch-screen interface), commenting back and forth on what worked and what didn't, and what they should try next.

The end result was an absolutely stunning shot of Adair with the flowers, looking out and away from the camera.

The huge takeaway for us here was the extent to which great photos are discovered, through a process of creative exploration of a broad range of variations. Parish underscores this point a number of times in the video; we found it fascinating to watch him work, and hope you will as well.

Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS II USM: 29mm, f/8, 1/125s, ISO 100
Note: This image has been modified. Click for full-size original image.

Of course, it takes creativity and a thorough understanding of your medium to even come up with the variations to try; that's where Parish's 30 years of experience and underlying creative genius come into play. We found it encouraging and liberating, though, to realize that even a world-renowned pro like Parish works each image, and that an initial lesser result isn't a reason to give up on a particular shot.

We deeply appreciate how generous Parish was with his time and studio space. (And thanks to his wife Rosanne as well, for her part in their gracious hosting.) Parish is a really remarkable guy, and our day with him was a genuine pleasure and lifetime memory. We asked Parish about interviewing him, to share his history and some behind-the-scenes on how he created some of his artwork, and he agreed, so stay tuned for that.

Canon 5D Mark IV: On Location with Parish Kohanim, Part I


Stills from 4K video with the Canon 5D IV

by Dave Etchells and William Brawley with Canon Explorer of Light Parish Kohanim

Besides recording crisp 4K video, the EOS 5D IV makes it easy to grab individual frames as 8-megapixel still files. The ease with which you can do this is pretty exciting to a photographer like Parish, as it not only gives him a much broader range of "moments" to work with, but also serves as an excellent tool for communicating with the model.

One thing that we heard from Parish that day was how capturing models (or just regular people) in motion leads to more natural-looking images. Even if they're acting in a prescribed way, when a person is moving, they're not posing, so photos are more free and natural-looking.

Shooting 4K video and then grabbing still frames is a natural for this kind of work. Even seven or 10 frames per second is a whole lot fewer "looks" at your subject, and a lot fewer moments in time than 30fps 4K gives you.

Eight megapixel stills sound like pretty small beer, compared to the 5D Mark IV's 30 megapixel sensor resolution, but we easily forget just how much you can do with that many pixels. Parish himself told us that a significant chunk of his needs could be satisfied with a good, sharp eight megapixels.

One important note about shooting 4K for stills, though: You need to set the camera to use high shutter speeds to avoid motion blur in the individual frames. This is exactly the opposite of what you want to do for smooth video; high shutter speeds in movies can result in very choppy-looking footage. Normally, the rule of thumb for video is that the shutter speed should be no less than half the frame time. (That is, for 30fps video, you shouldn't use a shutter speed faster than 1/60, and for 60fps, you should stay at 1/120 or slower.)

In the video above, all the footage is actually downsampled from the 5D Mark IV's original 4K, so you have at least a Full HD example of what the camera can do. (Because this was an early beta sample, we couldn't show you the full 4K resolution. Stay tuned for an update, though, as soon as we can get our hands on a production model!)

Canon 5D Mark IV: On Location with Parish Kohanim, Part 2
4K Frame Grabs


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