DPP Home Profiles Dirk Franke: The Miami Heat

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Dirk Franke: The Miami Heat

Dirk Franke stylishly blends beauty, fashion and glamour into a modern exploration of sensuality and classic sex appeal

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dirk franke“I don’t use lots of lights in a studio,” he says. “Often, I get away with two to three heads only because I use a lot of foamcore or other reflectors. When using strobes outdoors, my setup is very similar, only I use nature’s ambient light instead of reflectors. Using strobes outdoors is tricky—you really need to know your equipment and how to use your light meter to determine the correct contrast range—but when all components are being used properly, the results can be amazing. We usually use Profoto Pro-7b portable strobes. Sometimes I prefer to bring Honda generators, which allow me to use more powerful strobe packs.

dirk franke“I like strong, high-contrast light,” Franke continues. “Often I use my strobes ‘bare bulb’ or with a regular, small reflector. The result is a very powerful, high-contrast light, similar to sunlight but with even deeper shadows. When balancing ambient light and strobes properly on outdoor shoots, there’s no need for a lot of adjustment in postproduction. However, I do use Photoshop and other tools. I do my own retouching and sometimes tweak contrasts and color.”

Adds Franke, “My advice to young shooters is always the same: Know your equipment inside out! Only if you’re completely familiar with your camera and your gear can you turn your imagination into photographs. Your camera should be the extension of your mind.

dirk frankeTechnical issues must never be a problem. It seems like the most important tool for many young photographers out there is the little LCD screen on the back of the camera. They set up a shot without reading the light or contrast ratio properly, and they don’t worry about color temperature. Then one quick peek at the LCD, and if things look ‘kind of okay there,’ they fix the rest in Photoshop. While this may work for a little test shoot where you can spend two days turning these shots into something halfway decent, it will be devastating if you ever shoot a fashion catalog with 15 looks a day, and the client wants the images ASAP. There will be no time for ‘tweaking.’ Your shots need to be perfect right out of the camera. Besides that, the feeling you get from ‘knowing what you’re doing’—priceless!”

Franke is at ease on location or in the studio, treating either situation equally in terms of lighting and equipment. On a typical shoot in the field, he’ll bring two Pelican cases, one with a Canon system of cameras and lenses and the other containing a Mac laptop, card reader and two extra drives for backups. He archives during the shoot so that he has at least two copies of everything from the get-go.

dirk frankeHe owns two different medium-format systems, and even a 4x5, but he rarely uses any of those cameras. Franke prefers the freedom of shooting handheld digitally. He needs his camera to flow with the motion of his subject, and he likes to be able to shoot from different angles so he doesn’t torture his art directors with a series of repetitive shots all taken from the same angle and perspective.

“Once ‘back at the ranch,’” he says, “we copy everything to a server where RAW images are converted with Adobe Bridge and Camera Raw. I’m a big computer geek, so we have a combination of Automator routines, Apple scripts and Photoshop Actions that sort, rename, process and place files on secure client websites automatically. A RAID backup system with exchangeable drives helps for archiving productions. I was very happy when digital technology became available to us. Although we now work a lot harder than before—dropping film at the lab was easier—the instant gratification you get from seeing and presenting images to your client within a couple of hours makes up for it.”


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