Category Archives: Equipment

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Location Shoot!

A behind the scenes look at the Orcatek photo shoot on location and working the Gimbal for the Second Skin Dancewear company! You’re business is everything! When it comes to advertising or your product photos, you need to bring on a professional photographer. The quality of your photos and image of your products can make the difference between average sales and a highly successful business. You’re image is everything and sometimes you only get one shot at creating it. Trust Orcatek with all your business image and product needs!

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Business Product Videos!

A behind the scene’s look during the filming of product videos for an exercise equipment company. You’re business is everything! When it comes to advertising or your product photos and videos, you need to bring on a professional photographer. The quality of your videos and image of your products can make the difference between average sales and a highly successful business. You’re image is everything and sometimes you only get one shot at creating it. Trust Orcatek with all your business image and product needs!

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Professional Fitness Product Shoot!

A behind the scene’s look at the Orcatek Productions video and photo shoot for 3G Cardio Fitness equipment. The image of your business and products is so important and can determine the level of success a business may have. It is so important to trust a professional with shooting all of your photo and video needs. Orcatek has years of experience and expertise in shooting business products and you will always be a step ahead of the competition!


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Snowmobile Photo Shoot!

A behind the scenes look at Orcatek snowmobile photo shoot for Wesll.


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Fitness Video Shoot

This week Orcatek Productions shot videos and stills for 3G Cardio Fitness equipment.




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How to succeed as a photographer – Part IV

This is the final part of my series on how to be a success as a photographer.  In past blog articles I wrote about working with your clients, providing them with what they want and equipment choices.  This week I am going to write about some more tools and training.  I am going to assume you are working with a digital camera like me. 

The worst thing any photographer can ever say is “No problem, I will fix it in Photoshop.”  I can only wish every time a photographer says this they get a shocked by their camera – ZAP!  Yes Photoshop is a great tool for photographers, but it should be used to enhance a good photograph.  Removal of stray hairs or getting rid of blemishes are good uses for it.   You need to get the shot right in the camera first or it’s like putting pants on a pig, its still a pig.

You may have noticed I said Photoshop.  There are several other good programs available that you can also use such as Gimp or Paintshop.  The challenge with these programs is when the time comes to share your work or even get training your options will be limited.    In the end you will need a good program to retouch your images.  Or you can hire a service to do this for you.  This can be a good choice as you spend your time taking photos and not sitting in front of the computer.

The next question I get is, “What plug-ins should i buy?”  Plug-ins are those add-ons to Photoshop that automate and add features.  None are actually needed to do standard retouching.  You can achieve what you need to do without them.  Some are nice to have as you have revenues, as they can save time.  If you must spend some money, I suggest looking at a sharpening tool and a skin softener.  Learn to use them with a lite touch.   You will hear the term selective / masking in Photoshop.   You can download trials from almost every major vendor.  It is a matter of tasted as to which works best for you. 

Learn to create or find some actions to do your work.  Actions are an automated series of steps in Photoshop that are processed very quickly.  I have about four actions that I use daily which I have created.  These are about fifteen to twenty steps long.  What would take me over ten minutes to do manually, the action will do in about a minute.  For example, I use an action to take a two page album spread and cut it into two images, adjusting the image for the gutter (area where pages come together in the center of the book) so the spread looks good when the book is opened. 

If you can’t write your own actions, look on-line for them using one of your favorite search engines.  One good action site is – Lots of free actions.  Even if you don’t use them, you can see how they were constructed and learn some things about Photoshop can be used.  Assign the ones you like use to function keys to save time when you want to run them.  You can even use these in batch processes to do a hundred images at once – great for weddings. 

Get some training on using Photoshop.  Attend classes, get a book, read magazine articles,  or even on-line.  Lots of good free Photoshop videos are available on YouTube.  Photoshop is very powerful and some basic training will go a long way towards learning how to use it. 

The one tool you should get is a graphic tablet, such as those made by Wacom.  They make a small tablet that does everything a photographer needs – the Bamboo is about $80.  It will save you huge amounts of time and improve accuracy once get used to using it.  Later you may wish to upgrade to a larger one, but I have both and have found the small one is just as good or possibly better for my photo retouching work. 

The other big time saver I cannot stress enough is learning the keyboard shortcuts in Photoshop.  This will save you so much time you can’t imagine.  It doesn’t take long to learn either.  Here’s how you can learn them quickly.  Each time you need to click on a tool or menu item, look at the short cut and then use it instead of clicking.   The items which you use a lot you will learn in a very short period of time. 

Once again I’ve gotten long a bit winded in this blog article.  Feel free to drop me a line with any questions you might have.  For those who are in the Phoenix area I do teach retouching with Photoshop. 

 Orcatek Photography, Phoenix – Arizona

 Photography Studio Rental in Phoenix

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How to succeed as a photographer – Part III

This is part three on succeeding as a professional photographer.  The question that I am always getting asked is what equipment and tools should I buy.   “Canon, Nikon or Sony is coming out with a new whiz-bang gizmo, should I buy it?”  In short, probably not.  I am not going to recommend brands,  because as long as you stick to the major manufacturers it doesn’t make a whole lot of difference in the long run.

First lets look at cameras.  The body you choose depends a lot  on what you will actually be shooting.  If you are shooting action sports a camera with decent frame rate should be considered.  Also read up on focus speed and focus tracking.   Portraits are your primary business, then low light might be important, so look at noise levels for these images.  In the end a lot of photographers choose a camera which does well in both areas, but isn’t the best at any.  Another option is two cameras, one suited for each style.

Eventually you are going to need to have two cameras.  As a professional you need to have a back-up available for emergency.  In the beginning it may make sense to  rent your back-up camera until revenues justify owning a second.  Also remember your back-up does not need to be the same model as your primary.   A lower end camera can work fine.  Typically I rotate cameras from primary to back-up to sold.  Last year’s model is often a great way to save.

Which brand of camera should you be using?  If you know other photographers, using the same brand may be beneficial.  You may have the ability to borrow a lens for flash in an emergency if you use the same gear.  Also you will have someone to ask questions. 

Lenses are another area of debate among photographers.  A prime vs. a zoom is the one of the biggest questions.   Primes will almost always give better results than zooms.  But in the real world, it can be very difficult to tell the difference in a final print if you have good zooms.  The most important thing is to buy good lenses.  You will have them for a long time, whereas camera bodies in the digital world have become consumables unfortunately.  Again, rent the specialty lenses as you need them.  Owning a seldom used lens is a waste of precious money.

Lighting is the last key piece of equipment.  Reflectors and bounce cards are your friend.  Learn to use them and you will need fewer lights, saving money.  If you are shooting outside the studio you need a good on camera flash.  Lots of modifiers are available read reviews and get one you like, or make one.  The ability to use your flash off of the camera will come in handy, so consider this as a future upgrade – brackets with cords or wireless remotes for longer distances.

In studio you can do a lot with as few as two lights, especially with the use of reflectors and a few good modifiers.   Umbrellas are the lowest cost modifier, but softboxes tend to be the favorites among the pros.  Get some decent stands and some sandbags to keep the lights from falling over.  Once again look at wireless remotes, you can use cords to save some dollars, just be careful about tripping.  Some lights have them built-in.  This equipment can be rented too as needed when you are starting out. 

Renting a whole studio for your shoots is a good idea when starting.  A studio is a huge overhead with rent, utilities, alarms, insurance…   Many studios rent to other photographers, and some cities have studios that only exist for rental purposes.  Some rent equipment too making it every easier, albeit a bit more expensive.

Insurance is probably one of the most important areas that photographers will overlook.  You need to not only insure all your equipment, but also have liability insurance protection.  You may be able to add onto your home owner’s policy when you start out.   Check as if you use your equipment for business, it is often excluded or requires a special rider.

The biggest equipment area to watch is spending.  Don’t buy until you can justify with revenue.  It is so easy to want the latest and greatest.  Manufactures love to push this, but buy with caution.  If you don’t manage your money, there will be no money to manage. 

Next week I will continue this discussion and talk about computers, software and organizations.

Orcatek Photography – Phoenix

Studio Rental in Phoenix

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The Studio is now open

The Studio is officially open for business.  We built the Studio so that photographers could rent a studio with the features to create amazing work without paying for all the flashy stuff that doesn’t pay the bills.  With today’s tight economy, photographers need to watch their budgets very close.  The Studio is the answer to their needs.

We have four primary shooting areas available for rent.  Each bay was created to fit the varied needs of a photographer.  Why rent what you don’t need.  Of course if you need more we have that too.

The first bay is a large cyclorama which is 20×36.  Plenty big for photographing cars and large groups.  With two cove corners to allow the photographer to work with ease.

The second bay is a small cyclorama which is 18 feet wide.  The bay extends back 23 feet.  Perfect for fashion photography.

Bays three and four are what we call our standard bays.  They are 18 feet wide and 23 feet deep.  Bring your own backdrops or rent our seamless papers.

 The bays can be draped off for privacy as needed.

 Located on the Tempe / Scottsdale / Phoenix border, it is the perfect location.

It took a lot of time and effort to build The Studio, but it was worth it.  We have already had photographers come in from Los Angeles and they said it was just what they needed – affordable quality and functionality.  Exactly what we had in mind.

The Studio – Phoenix, Tempe, Scottsdale and the rest of Arizona

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Studio Construction Continues

Studio construction continues as we race towards a May 1 completion. Painting is scheduled to begin Wednesday on the main studio. The lobby is scheduled for paint today.

Construction Continues

So many things to get done, power, internet, alarms, audio systems, new locks, moving equipment, new furniture, permits, etc. We also need to get in touch with a welder to finish off some of the metalwork in our new studio. A friend of ours is a welder and has just purchased some weldpro multi process welders for his welding company, so I might have to give him a call to see if he could help us. I cannot wait to see how everything comes together. This has been our most audacious construction project to date. That being said, our construction project was made a lot easier through the use of construction project management software. Keeping on top of all the different tasks involved in a construction project is not always simple, but using software can make a big difference. Slowly but surely it moves on. We have our first scheduled shoot for May 2, sure hope we are ready!


BTW, if you need a great drywall guy in Phoenix, message me and I can hook you up.

Orcatek Photography – Phoenix

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Skylights in the Studio

The new studio is still in progress with the build out, but I couldn’t resist testing out the skylights to see if they were going to be as nice as I had hoped. They were better than I had hoped. Simply set the camera up – ISO 400, F5.6, 1/60 and shoot away.

Lots of freedom of movement around the studio area as the pool of light is very large. The skylights themselves are 4×8 and about 21 feet above the floor. If you want to have a skylight dome for your studio or any other room, they would definitely be recommended due to the amazing lighting that they can offer.

Skylight Test

This sample shot is pretty much straight out of camera. I just cropped and reduced it in Photoshop.

We are still on schedule for a May 1 opening of The Studio. Back to the work to make sure everything gets done.

Orcatek Photography – Phoenix, Arizona