Archive for 'Equipment'

Most of my work is documentary in nature, whether it's daily life, portrait, sports or news. I'm working quickly and in a wide range of environments and conditions.

So for me there can be no one lighting setup. The gear, and how I use it, is as diverse as the subjects in each photo.

There is always a solution: Elinchrom.

Elinchrom flash systems have been my go-to lights for over a decade because the results are constant. I know exactly what I’m going to get out of each strobe, each light modifier, each power setting.

Over the last couple months I have taken my Elinchrom gear with me on a number of assignments and two stand out for the results and diversity of my subject matter.

The first shoot was a series, portraits and a video Laura Heald and I did on Officer Bobby White of the Gainesville Police Department and the foundation he has set up to build basketball courts for kids in the Gainesville community. 

The story started with a dashboard camera video clip that went viral. Officer White was called in to deal with a noise complaint. Kids were playing basketball in the street at 5 o’clock in the evening. Instead of telling the kids to stop, he picked up a ball and played with them.

My idea for the portrait series was to go back to the spot where this story began and make portraits of the kids in their environment. For that, the Elinchrom Quadra with an Elinchrom Rotalux mini octa was the perfect way to go. The setup is small and mobile, while still offering powerful and beautiful light.

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Bill shooting portraits for the basketball cop story.

 
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Bill shooting portraits for the basketball cop story.

 

Basketball Cop Pictures by Bill Frakes and Laura Heald for ESPN Dennis Darby, 16

Dennis Darby, 16

 
Basketball Cop Pictures by Bill Frakes and Laura Heald for ESPN Tyree Thomas, 16, sitting on the hoop that was in the street. Since the day Officer White arrived on January 15th, the Basketball Cop Foundation has built a court in his backyard so they no longer have to play in the street.

Tyree Thomas, 16

The second shoot was at the Invictus Games in Orlando. I wanted to make a series of elegant yet simple portraits of our country’s most inspiring athletes. 

I wanted the athletes to be separate from the background. It was their faces and bodies that were important, not the environment they were in. To do that, I used my Elinchrom 2400 w/s pack with a 59” Rotalux Octabox and a simple, muslin backdrop. 

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Swimmer Elizabeth Marks with her medals from the games. Marks was wounded in Iraq. Her tattoo is her life story and covers many of the scars she suffered while serving.

 
ORLANDO, FL - MAY 11:  Stefan Leroy, 25, and his service dog, Knoxville. Leroy served in the Army and is from Jupiter, Florida. He competed in track and volleyball.   Bill Frakes for ESPN

Stefan Leroy and his service dog Knoxville.

This week I'm at my favorite yearly event, Louisville's own -- the Kentucky Derby. It's my 34th trip to the Run for the Roses. Since my great buddy Dan Dry invited me to join him here in 1981, I've only failed to be at Churchill Downs once on the first Saturday in May. In 1994, my then boss and always mentor Heinz Kluetmeier sent me to Beijing, I think it was because he wanted the finish line to himself, but that's another story for another time. There's nothing quite like the Derby.  It's an event steeped in style and tradition. Rich in nostalgia. Drama. Intrigue. My gear list for this event is sizeable. I'm bringing 40 DSLR cameras, 44 lenses that range from 14mm to 600mm. 60 magic arms, 100 super clamps, radios, hundreds of feet of wire, connectors, tripods, and a bunch of other stuff that makes all of this work. The way I cover the race changes every year.  Which brings new challenges, new demands, lots of worry, and a whole bunch of stress. The first time I showed up to cover the race I had three cameras and three lenses. One of those lenses, a Nikkor manual focus 50mm f1.4 has been with me every single visit I've made to the Derby.

LOUISVILLE, KY - MAY 05:   at Churchill Downs on May 5, 2016 in Louisville, Kentucky. (Bill Frakes for ESPN)

LOUISVILLE, KY - MAY 05: at Churchill Downs on May 5, 2016 in Louisville, Kentucky. (Photo by Allison Hess)

I'm not superstitious. This little guy has earned a permanent spot in the rotation. Laura says I'm a softie.  Not everyone would agree with her. But I am sentimental. Most of my gear goes in cases and travels under the plane.  Only a few things get carried into the cabin with me. When I was packing and running low on space it was the one lens I refused to remove from my roller case.  Far from the most expensive, or fragile, but maybe the most precious. No idea how many images I've made with him, several hundred thousand any way, and while not all of them have worked out that's been my fault. overhead_100_W He's hung from the roof, he's been buried in the dirt under the rail, traveled through the crowds affixed to every flagship body Nikon has produced with an F mount -- at least 12 different models -- he's been left out in the rain, and under a blazing sun. Saturday, he'll be doing some heavy lifting again, attached to a D500.  And you'll see the results. Follow me on Instagram (@billfrakes) and Twitter (@billfrakes) for complete ESPN coverage of this year’s Derby.

After I posted my list of favorite books of the year, we got a bunch of emails asking for end of year gear buying advice.
This is a short list but it's all stuff we use constantly and love.

Anything from RED.com

And if you are shopping for me... http://www.freeflysystems.com/products/moviM10.php

I'm lucky that my vocation and avocation are one in the same. I almost always haves a DSLR close by, but there are just some times when I want an extremely lightweight, very small, but full featured camera that I can take everywhere. The P7800 is a camera I can comfortably share with my 12 year old daughter Havana, and that's a real joy. Small enough to fit in her pocket and easy for her to handle, it has features and files good enough for me to use for art prints. These rich, contrasty, luscious black and white images essentially came out of the camera that way. The top image I lightened to bring out the clouds, the other three images are straight from the camera, nothing was done in post production. I configured the camera to shoot b/w and using the built in ND filter, I shot these during the middle of a bright South Florida day.

What does football, horse racing, and the President have in common? Find out in this exclusive interview Bill had with our friends at Red River Paper.

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