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Thursday, June 14, 2007

Lori Adamski-Peek - Motion Sickness

Lori Adamski-Peek has learned to trust her digital equipment in even the stickiest situations

Motion Sickness Converting to an all-digital system brings with it many unique challenges. The photographer has to not only become familiarized with new equipment, but also master a new workflow and, in many cases, new shooting techniques. For Lori Adamski-Peek, these challenges were only the tip of the iceberg.

One look at Adamski-Peek's portfolio and it's quickly evident that she isn't afraid to push her high-tech equipment to its limit. While she began her career as a traditional sports shooter, including coverage of 10 Olympic games, Adamski-Peek's work has evolved into what she calls “active lifestyle” photography—mainly, images of animals and athletes at play in a natural environment. She may find herself on a snowcapped mountain on a bright, sunny day photographing a snowboarder or on a muddy patch of grass for a rainy rugby shooting session. Regardless of what the location and the weather throw at her, Adamski-Peek is no more afraid to subject her digital gear to rigorous activity than she was when she was still shooting film.

“I don't really have concerns shooting digital cameras in wet and dirty areas,” she explains. “We take care to cover the cameras carefully and to clean them well after extreme conditions. The only type of weather that shuts us down is rain, and even then we tend to sit it out and wait for some clearing and possibly something magical to happen.”

As if remote locations, rugged weather and reliance on something magical aren't enough to contend with, Adamski-Peek's shooting style presents unique lighting challenges as well. Not only do her photographs stop motion, but they manage to convey a strong sense of motion as well. Capturing a snowboarder in midair on a bright, sunny day is tricky enough—even more so if you need to maintain a deep blue sky and accurate colors in the subject's clothing, all while keeping the snow from becoming a blown-out blanket of white. That's where Adamski-Peek's years of film shooting pay off. The same shooting principles apply to digital as they did to film, only now she has found more freedom to challenge herself and experiment with her subjects.

Shooting digitally for the last three years, Adamski-Peek says that the advancements in the cameras have been revolutionary. The versatility of a digital workflow means that she's not only more comfortable on any given shoot, but more confident that she'll be able to deliver exactly what her clients require. After a couple of decades in the business, she has reinvented the way she works.

“I never use a light meter to determine an exposure anymore,” she says. “I always shoot some tests of a scene and determine exposure by two means: one is the in-camera histogram to see where my highlights and shadows are, and the second is to use the overexposure guide, the blinking highlights, to decide on the proper exposure. My digital assistant, Ben Fonnesbeck, and I have worked closely to understand the proper exposure for digital. The exposure we come up with is often the one where the highlights just start to blink, or a one-third stop from having them blink.


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