Cliff Mautner Bootcamp

Cliff Mautner Bootcamp

It’s finally here, after 48 hours of travelling I arrived in Cherry Hill, Philadelphia excited for the intensive 3 day boot camp with reknowned Cliff Mautner. Nikon Ambassador, prize winning and in my view one of the most creative and best wedding photographers in the world. 

Cliff doesn't stop enriching you with knowledge. Carrying on through breakfast, lunch and dinner. Even the bus journey was filled with information.

We were invited to attend Cliff's studio on Monday evening for a meet and greet. This was a great chance to get to know Cliff and our fellow attendees. Plenty of food and drink was provided and Cliff used the evening as a chance to get to understand our strengths, weaknesses and to understand what we wanted to get out of the course.  It was clear from this point that this course was going to be very different from any other I have attended. Cliff really does care about his students, and this comes across in everything he does. 

The course started early on the Tuesday morning, and we were straight into classroom theory on how to use light. Cliff warned us that he doesn't follow a strict curriculum and this was proved very early on. The sun showed itself from behind a cloud shining through the studio windows. He stopped mid sentence, grabbed a camera and ran outside for us to follow. He proceeded to explain his process for shooting in harsh direct sunlight. This was brief, to the point and very easy to follow. No flash, reflectors or black magic required. 

Shot Under Philadelphia City Hall.  This is why I travelled 3,000 miles to attend this workshop. Cliff truly is the master of natural light. I can honestly say that I now see light in a whole new way, opening up endless possibilities. 

After a great lunch from the local deli, it was off to Philadelphia to shoot our 6 models provided. The first location was Washington Square Park, it was overcast and Cliff had to think on his feet for learning points as usual this is about shooting in harsh light. All we had was overcast safe flat light. There were some really good learning point and Cliff was very active in getting around everyone and looking at LCDs giving personalised learning points and critiquing images. 

Next was the real reason I and most other people attend the bootcamp. Cliff’s use of light is what makes him stand out from the crowd. To teach us “how to see light in a different way” we moved onto Philadelphia City Hall and arrived into what I would have described prior to this course as a dark and dingy undercroft.  Thanks to this course I can now see the possibilities in situations I would have actively avoided previously. 

Again Cliff was around checking LCDs and always had time to answer individuals questions. I got some images that I was really proud of and can honestly say, I would not have been able to get these shots prior to the bootcamp. 

We returned to the studio for more theory, any questions were welcomed and answered thoroughly with demonstrations to illustrate. The second day followed the same basic structure with a visit to a local hotel in their suite and ballroom to illustrate off and on camera flash, again we had 6 models to shoot which gave everyone plenty of time shooting. 

The third and final day was spent going through how Cliff does business, pricing and marketing. Again there were lots of questions from attendees, I can honestly say Cliff was an open book, he endeavoured to answer all questions honestly and never felt like he was preaching. We then spent some time with Heather. For those unaware, Heather is Cliff’s studio manager and her section of this bootcamp was all about business, post processing, albums and work flow. 

I hugely enjoyed my time with Cliff Mautner and everyone else who attended the course. I can honestly say, if you have an interest in photography go for it! You will not regret your decision, it is informative and just like Cliff says in his promotional material, he really is an open book! This is easily the best and most influential course/ bootcamp I have been on and would thoroughly recommend it to anyone.

 

https://www.cmphotography.com/for-photographers/lighting-skillset-bootcamp 

 

Light Field Photography - The Lytro Illum

After reading copious reviews online, unable to find a consensus. I took the plunge and purchased Lytro's Illum camera from Amazon UK who were the cheapest seller at the time.  

There are many reviews online detailing the specs of this camera, so I will focus on real world experience. 

The box arrived and I was very impressed with the packaging, an almost Apple-like experience during the unboxing and importantly comes with everything you could possibly need. USB cable, battery charger with another cable, lens hood and neck strap. 

The camera itself is weighty, and larger than I was expecting from pictures. The build quality is outstanding for a small manufacturer. Gunmetal paint and lots of soft touch rubber on the grip and zoom/ focus rings. There is a handy tutorial mode walking you through the basics at first power on.

The "live" photographs turned into videos and the adjustability of focus and depth of field are interesting and provide a great change of pace and style in a digital slideshow. The ability of the camera to focus at the front of the lens provides a great macro capability and opens up creative options to pull the focus, revealing the subject out of the background.  

All considered for the current price of around £450 I think the camera is a good purchase if you are interested in the creative options it opens up. I don't think judging this against a DSLR or mirrorless on picture quality is constructive as it isn't a replacement, just another tool to enhance the package you provide to customers.