© Mark LaMonica. All Rights Reserved.
Jeff Peeples - filmmaker - actor - chillin at LaMonicas
I met filmmaker/actor Jeff Peeples by what you would call Good Karma and a chain of events that followed.  My extensive knowledge of light, exposure, cameras and
lenses sparked a few conversations that resulted in talking shop over dinner before he had to head back to Texas. I gave him enough of a prime that when he came
back to Massachusetts we scheduled dinner at my place so we could really get down to business. After eating it was time to loupe some slides to show him the
magic I created with film, which is "real", no Photoshop, no fixing, it is what it is. Then we did some technical talk about cameras, lenses, post processing and
printing. We discussed several aspects of getting a natural look, capturing the natural flow, how to be fast, light a scene with minimal gear and make it look like you
spend hours setting it up and doing Polaroids. We then proceeded to do interior pictures of my living room using several wireless SB800 speedlights and checking
the results on the LCD as I explained what I was doing in terms of balancing interior exposure with exterior natural light and how many stops of additional light I was
adding to make it look just like what we were seeing with our eyes. This is how we approached the interior shoot. We went with Auto White Balance and manual
White Balance by setting our own Kelvins. This gave Jeff a chance to see that "Auto" isn't always the best option. With film this would be Polariod Tests and that takes
2 minutes each to process. The first step was balancing the mixed lighting, so we took a shot and checked it on the LCD, which was about a fraction of a millisecond
to process. By looking at what we had so fast it was easy to make changes in the WB (White Balance) since we opted to just go all manual and dial in our own. We
took another picture, reviewed the lighting and decided it was the best balance between the fading blue light outside and the tungsten light mixed with the SB800's
inside. Now that we had that dialed in we did another light check for shadows, possible reflections in windows, hot spots and overall evenness. Again we were able
to take several tests shots in a matter of a couple of minutes when it would have taken at least 20 minutes to shoot a Polaroid, process it and shoot another one.  
Since this was a combination hang out and have dinner and do some workshop stuff, Jeff found that by using digital instead of film gave us faster feedback on the
LCD panel and were able to make adjustments much faster. All the adjustments including the output of the flash units were all controlled from the camera.
So lets look at this from an assignment point of view. I have a filmmaker/actor at my house who lives about 2000 miles away and we do this in-house lighting workshop with some slide film. I would explain everything I'm doing
as stated above, but in this case, he can't really "see" what I'm talking about. The next step would be get the film processed and loupe the slides, but the problem is, he won't be here when the film gets back. Scenario 2 is I do
the same thing again as stated above, but this time, it's done with Black and White film. I take all 36 exposures and do in-house processing which would be at least 30 minutes and then I would have to scan the film for us to
see it. So at best, maybe we would be able to send the image to the printer in about an hour from the time I took the picture. So as you can see If I was using film, the fastest time from click to print would be about an hour and
that's only if the shot looked like the one I did digitally. Now here's the bad news . . . . . I stopped developing my own Black and White film in 1990, so "In-House processing is Out" and slides would take to long even if there was
all night E6 processing just down the road.
"make it happen" even on film. The reality is, I would have never been able to take that picture and print it for him before he went back to Texas. Photography is all about painting with light and the tools I used in the 70's are
still respectable, but times change, tools get redesigned and upgraded. Cameras are the tools of my trade and I use the best tools available to "make it happen" and if the client needs it now or tomorrow, those tools are
digital cameras, computers for processing images and archival Giclée printers. If they can wait a few days, those tools are film cameras, film and film scanners.
After that round, I explained several techniques I use when I'm in a situation where I have to move fast and being mobile is key to getting the shot. Life happens in milliseconds and if you're not ready, you'll miss it. Jeff was sitting
on the couch and I was telling him just look at the camera and I'll show you what I mean as I was using my "over the head" on the move technique. We ripped this one off in a fraction of a second and I showed it to him. The
picture simply stated, this is Jeff Chillin. I used a single remote flash at +3 pointed at the ceiling in my left hand and the on-camera flash at -3 for fill under his chin. The next step was to check it out on the wide screen computer
display and him how my post production software works. We uploaded the picture and there it was, life-size on this huge monitor in full color. I then converted it to Black and White, did some filtration, sharpened for output at 13"
x 19" and loaded my Epson with a sheet of Fine Art Velvet paper and hit print. Out came this beautiful Black and White print that was extremely sharp and it only took 15 minutes from the time I walked towards him with the
camera to having the print in his hands. That 15 minutes of on the move talking and live action, was the best learning experience he ever had. When he got back to Texas he gave the print to his wife Hilary and she was so
excited she had to call and let me know how much she loves it. Jeff told me it's hanging in her office. That's one happy wife :)