A Taste of Honey

Christy Wihelmi

The natural fear of a stinging bee is a threat that we often face when retrieving our desired honey. This fear was not lost on our team when we were faced with the challenge of working with these tiny soldiers.  However, there are many different roles that bees have and the bees we often see are the foragers. They have a crucial role in the hive and in nature in general. It is their job to search up to a 3-mile radius to collect nectar from the surrounding flowers while simultaneously pollinating the area. The nectar is then brought back to the hive to produce honey. They are the bees we typically see flying in and out of a hive and it is those bees that co-starred with Christy Wihelmi on our shoot on Cal Poly Farm.

Christy in her own right is a keeper of bees. She is an avid gardener and has become the rescuer of bee swarms that develop in her community garden. The word “swarm” sounds overwhelming and terrifying but it is a natural instinct for bees.  Once the population grows too large for the hive, the colony divides. This process involves a new queen to develop and the old queen leaves to start a new home. A swarm is created when a gathering of bees surround the traveling queen. The bees are particular docile during this time and their sole goal is to protect the queen. At this time it is easy to handle them to relocate or just wear them on your face like a beard of bees.

Bee Bearded Man

Even with Christy’s bee handling knowledge, they are as unpredictable as the weather and they don’t follow direction very well. This is a challenge you face when working with animal talent.  That being said, we had a game plan, all of the techniques first developed by ancient Egyptians, and a lot of PMA (positive mental attitude) which is always a good start.

Robert Luessen wishing he wasn’t surrounded by bees

This project was especially challenging for Chris and Robert who both faced childhood trauma regarding bees. Under any other circumstances they would have been with the rest of the crew some distance away, but instead, the two had to suit up and get acquainted with our tiny stars.

With the on-set beekeeper managing the bees with perfectly timed puffs of smoke to subdue, we accomplished beautiful photos that inspire. There was only one stinging incident which, ironically happened to one of the far away crew members. When we finally wrapped, we left that day with new found respect for bees and the people who keep them.

Montana with Field and Stream

Historically, the flow of our year is defined by travel. The summertime usually provides a few breaks to spend some extra time with our families and that time at home to recoup is essential to our well being. However, when Field & Stream proposed an opportunity to work with Yvon Chouinard, the founder of Patagonia, all of that R&R was out the window. After a month long of uncertainty, our schedules aligned and we boarded a plane to Montana, ready to embark on an experience of a lifetime.

Yvon Chouinard

We set forth on our adventure through the beautiful landscape of Montana and we were pumped, to say the least. Thanks to Field & Stream we were on our way to spend two days fishing with Yvon and Kenton Carruth, Co-founder of First Lite Outfitters. Kenton is one of the nicest guys you could meet and if you are not familiar with THE Yvon Chouinard, then google him. We’ll wait… These two men live out life with a love of the outdoors as a guiding force. They both created clothing companies that cater to those who share that love of the wilderness. We traveled from Philadelphia, Pa to Augusta, Mt to spend some time in this majestic place and help tell the story of national public lands and the challenge to their future as a thriving place for future generations to enjoy.

On the road to Augusta, Mt

The plan was to meet in Augusta at Buckhorn Bar at 6PM. When we arrived at the quaint town, we noticed piles of sandbags scattered outside some local businesses. The town had recently experienced some seasonal flooding. The excessive amount of rain would show itself useful later in this tale. 

Augusta, MT

We arrived at Buckhorn Bar, passing under a pair of mounted horns as we entered. We walked into the dimmed lit neighborhood watering hole and found everyone already there with a beer in hand ready to eat. Fried chicken, the house specialty, was the cuisine of choice for the evening. Over a pint of beer and a basket of chicken, we began to get acquainted.

Buckhorn Bar

Once our bellies were full and thirst quenched, it was time to fish.  We hopped in our trucks and headed off to a nearby lake in Fairfield. Driving down a dusty dirt road, we chased the sun in hopes to take a few pictures before the day ended.  We made it with only a few moments left of daylight.

Fairfield, Mt
Fairfield, Mt

Yvon was the first to pull his fly rod out and began doing what he came to Montana to do. At the same time, with his tool of choice, Chris began documenting the gorgeous moment we were experiencing. 

Chris and Yvon

Unfortunately, the sun didn’t stick around and we were left to enjoy the tranquillity of our surroundings. Once the warm rays safely tucked themselves behind the mountains, we too packed up. Our shelter for the evening would be one of the few private hunting lodges inside Bob Marshall Wilderness. With an early morning ahead, we quickly settled into slumber.

Chris, Kenton Carruth, Hal Herring, Yvon, and Ryan Callaghan

6am arrived quickly and soon enough we were on the road again, this time to the South Fork of Sun River. Normally the water levels of the desired location run low. However, the recent flooding allowed us to travel by boat with ease. 

South Fork of Sun River
South Fork of Sun River

The seldom fished pools just above the Gibson Reservoir provide anglers a perfect scenario; low fishing pressure and a heavenly backdrop. The blissfully ice cold water was bustling with rainbow, cutthroat and brook trout. The fish in that section of the Sun River were not large but they were hungry and striking every fly that hit the water.

Kenton and Chris
Chris and Yvon

When you stand in the steady crystal clear current, looking around at the perfection of nature, you understand why Yvon and Kenton passionately feel the need to preserve and improve our public lands. The idea that future generations could be deprived of these experiences is epically tragic.  

Yvon and Garret Smith

Yvon uses his voice and resources to advocate for and protect our public spaces. His firm stance against the current White House’s policy to reduce National Monuments caught him locking horns with Utah Rep. Rob Bishop. Bishop called to his constituents and fellow Republicans to boycott Patagonia. What Bishop didn’t realize was that those he was calling to arms were outfitters and the boycott request had the exact opposite effect. Patagonia’s sales increased by 600 percent that month.

There are people in this country with plenty of funds that want to end public lands. They wish to divvy up the open space to private owners, which would keep hunters and fisherman at bay. This is not how Yvon and Kenton had envisioned our nation’s public lands in the future. They value a life experiencing the outdoors quite similar to that of Theodore Roosevelt.

“The beauty and charm of the wilderness are his for the asking, for the edges of the wilderness lie close beside the beaten roads of the present travel.”

Theodore Roosevelt
Yvon and Kenton 

On a personal note, our very own Mike Ryan was personally mentored by Yvon and caught his first ever trout on this trip of a lifetime. These memories have fueled his new found passion for this leisurely sport. 

Yvon and Mike
Mike and his Trout

Lisa Calvo – Oyster Farmer

The sun had just begun to look over our shoulders as we approached the beach of Cape May Court House, NJ. Nature had beaten us to the punch on their morning assignments. Seagulls were flocking over their breakfast feast as the tide rolled away from the shore. There was a morning breeze that swirled and helped to offset the smell that was left behind. These were our first impressions upon arriving at Lisa Calvo’s oyster farm.

No matter who you are, there’s always a great sense of anticipation when you meet someone that up to that point you could only envision. The small cottage where Lisa stores all of the needed equipment blended in with the rest of the buildings on the paved but sandy beachfront street. Lisa was the first to greet us. One by one we met the rest of her crew – Patty Woodruff, Diane Driessen, and Sarah Borsetti quietly walked over with coffees in hand and sleepy eyes; a 6AM call time comes early for everyone. We muddled near the quaint cottage as both of our teams prepared for the work ahead. Once all needed supplies were loaded into the beach cart, we headed down to the water.

Lisa, Sarah, Diane, Chris, and Mike walking to the farm
Lisa and Chris amounts the rows of racks

As we waded through the knee-deep water of low tide, we approached a series of racks perched out on a sandbar. Each rack looked like a bed frame cut off just above the legs. Upon each rack was a layer of netted bags. Each bag contained an appropriate number of growing oysters. Different sections of racks accommodate oysters at varied stages of growth. Lisa’s team focused on a section comprised of matured oysters that were ready to harvest.

Netted bag holding oysters
Lisa, Patty and Sarah

After a short set up, the oyster team quickly fell into their familiar process. While standing around a metal table supported by sawhorses, they began to sort the oysters. Meanwhile, camera in hand, Chris transitioned into shooting mode. Using PVC piping as a gauge of size, the team divided the oysters into three buckets. One bucket was for ideal large oysters, one for less attractive large oysters, and one for those that needed more time for growth. The ideal large oysters go to market, small ones return to the algae covered bag and the ugly ones, well that day, we ate them!

Sorting oysters
Lisa, Sarah, Diane, Chris, and Mike
Chris enjoying an oyster

We spent the majority of our morning gaining a better understanding of the positive environmental impact of oysters. These uncanny bivalves are particularly efficient at cleaning the water they live and grow in. For instance, a single two-inch oyster can filter 50 gallons of water per day. That is 16,800 gallons of water filtered in one year. Their presence in southern New Jersey has not only improved our dinner menus but also the cleanliness of the waters enjoyed on its coast. Lisa and her team are making a significant impact and at the forefront of a thriving industry. We are grateful for the opportunity and education from a world that we were always curious about. Perhaps you can put yourself in our shoes the next time you order a dozen oysters from Cape May.

Jesse Eisenberg : NY Observer


Hi everyone! Short and sweet post for you today. Back in July we got another call from the NY Observer. We love getting their calls because you never know who they’re going to have for us to shoot. They’ve given us Kevin Spacey, Henrik Lundqvist, Kevin Kline, and a few others in the past. If you haven’t seen them, there are posts for each. Check them out!

This time it turned out to be Jesse Eisenberg and we were super stoked on this one. I LOVE movies. I’ve seen every movie ever. So yeah.. I celebrate his entire catalog… He’s been in a ton of stuff. He played Mark Zuckerberg in The Social Network. Zombieland is probably my favorite of his but Adventureland was great too. He’s also playing Lex Luthor in the upcoming Batman Vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice (!). Can’t wait! Anyways, back to it. He was great to photograph. Super generous with his time and very easy to talk to. The shoot went smoothly and we’re all very happy with the pictures. Many thanks to Jesse, the Observer, and the Library Hotel in NY for letting us use their roof. Enjoy!



And of course, some BTS:


Chris is pretty relaxed on set sometimes.


And yours truly sitting in for another light test.

Nature Conservancy: The Clean Cut

crisman ellsworth creek

Hi everyone! We’re super happy to to announce that the story we shot back in February for The Nature Conservancy has finally been released. Usually when we get the call from TNC, we need to prepare ourselves to go to some far off place and this job was no exception (and neither was the one we just got back from… we’ll be talking more about that in a few months!). This job had us go to southeastern Washington to the Ellsworth Creek Preserve to photograph their operation.

I’m sure a lot of people are wondering why TNC would put a logger with a fallen tree on the cover of their magazine… and that’s a good question. I’ll try to explain things as simply as possible. Back in the day (about 100 years ago), logging companies we’re cutting down everything they could get their hands on. They’d just completely clear cut entire forests – sadly, this is still happening as you’ll see in one of the pictures below. After a few decades pass, trees would grow back but the forest would all be the same height. There would be no diversity in the ecosystem. So TNC is thinning out these second growth forests to allow sunlight to get through to the ground and allow a natural diversity in plant life and wildlife to take hold while also creating jobs in the local community. Here’s a link to the story which is more detailed and explains things much better than I could ever do. (http://www.nature.org/magazine/archives/beyond-the-timber-wars.xml).

I’ve gotta say that this was one of the toughest shoots we’ve ever worked on. It rained the whole time we were there.. which makes sense since it’s a rainforest but rain and photo gear don’t get along. The terrain was steep, slippery, and overgrown. Most of the time I was carrying a Profoto 7b pack and a small octabank through the forest and Chris had the camera and tripod. We were falling all over the place even with the spikes our contact had loaned us, all while trying to keep the gear dry. We took a beating but sometimes that’s what it takes to make great pictures. I’ll let the pictures below tell the story.

Russell Shippey, timber faller, cutting corridor to pull out trees in second growth forest at the Ellsworth Creek Preserve, WA on 2/10/15.

Russell Shippey, timber faller, walking up a tree he just fell in a second growth forest at the Ellsworth Creek Preserve.

Russell Shippey, timber faller, cutting corridor to pull out trees in second growth forest at the Ellsworth Creek Preserve, WA on 2/10/15.


Russell Shippey, timber faller, cutting corridor to pull out trees in second growth forest at the Ellsworth Creek Preserve, WA on 2/10/15.

Russell falling a tree in a second growth forest at Ellsworth Creek Preserve.

Russell Shippey, timber faller, cutting corridor to pull out trees in second growth forest at the Ellsworth Creek Preserve, WA on 2/10/15.

Russell Shippey, timber faller, cutting corridor to pull out trees in second growth forest at the Ellsworth Creek Preserve, WA on 2/10/15.

Kurt Bower, log loader, standing on back of logging truck with full load of trees at the Ellsworth Creek Preserve, WA on 2/10/15.

Kurt Bower, log loader, standing on back of logging truck with full load of trees at the Ellsworth Creek Preserve.

Kyle Smith, TNC forest manager, overlooking the Ellsworth Creek Preserve , WA on 2/11/15.

Kyle Smith, TNC forest manager, overlooking the Ellsworth Creek Preserve.

Kyle Smith, TNC forest manager, taking measurments in old growth forest at the Ellsworth Creek Preserve, WA on 2/10/15.

Kyle Smith, TNC forest manager, taking measurements of an 11-foot-wide western red cedar at the Ellsworth Creek Preserve.

Aerial views of the Ellsworth Creek Preserve, WA on 2/10/15.

The effects of clear cutting seen from the air neighboring the Ellsworth Creek Preserve.

Landscape of old growth forest at the Ellsworth Creek Preserve, WA on 2/12/15.

Landscape of a healthy old growth forest. This is the scene TNC is trying to create by thinning the second growth forests. 

Tom Kollasch in old growth forest and with big cedars at the Ellsworth Creek Preserve, WA on 2/12/15.

Tom Kollasch, TNC Willapa Program director, in old growth forest and with big cedars at the Ellsworth Creek Preserve.

Darryl Waddle, choker setter, in the logging yard at the Ellsworth Creek Preserve, WA on 2/13/15.

Darryl Waddle, choker setter, in the logging yard at the Ellsworth Creek Preserve.

Rober walls, choker setter, in the logging yard at the Ellsworth Creek Preserve, WA on 2/13/15.

Robert Walls, choker setter, in the logging yard at the Ellsworth Creek Preserve.

And here’s a few BTS shots from our time in Washington:

Screen Shot 2015-08-10 at 11.02.30 AMA clear cut and the border of the Ellsworth Creek Preserve.

Screen Shot 2015-08-10 at 11.03.15 AMThis is the machine that pulls the thinned trees out of the forest up to the lumber yard. It’s very heavy. The workers specifically said don’t stand under it…. Chris fell directly under it. 

Screen Shot 2015-08-10 at 11.03.40 AM

Screen Shot 2015-08-10 at 11.03.56 AMWe drove down to Astoria to catch our plane to get aerial shots of the preserve. We had to stop here. 🙂

Screen Shot 2015-08-10 at 11.04.47 AMLighthawk is a non-profit organization that donates air time to conservancy efforts. Chris is doing business before taking off.

Screen Shot 2015-08-10 at 11.04.24 AMGetting aerial shots in our Lighthawk flight. Apparently the air is really cold going 100mph and having your hand out there is uncomfortable.

Screen Shot 2015-08-10 at 11.05.17 AM

Screen Shot 2015-08-10 at 11.06.10 AMChris working with the crane operator in the lumber yard.



Screen Shot 2015-08-10 at 11.02.55 AMAnd lastly, it was oyster season while we were there. These were the largest oysters we’ve ever had. They were the size of our hands. 

Tech Post: Canon 5D Mark III, 5Ds, and PhaseOne IQ160 Head-to-Head


Hi everyone!

So we just recently received a new Canon 5Ds. It’s been a long wait since we pre-ordered, but it’s finally here so we decided to see how it looked side by side with our trusty 5D Mark III and our somewhat finicky IQ 160 Phase One back. Below are some comparisons of Chris’ pearly blues from ISO ranges 100-800.

This is just our quick look at the cameras side by side to get a idea of what the new canon is all about. It’s by no means an in depth technical review… We’re not exactly the most technical photo crew on the planet and we’re not hoping to be so either.

What we’ve noticed between the cameras is that the 5Ds files have a bit more contrast than the 5D3. The 5D3 handles higher ISO’s a little better than the 5Ds but that was expected with the cramming of more pixels into the sensor. The 5Ds is very close in sharpness to the IQ160 but we feel the IQ160 beats it just barely. In terms of ISO, the IQ160 is really not great above ISO 200, and even though we rarely shoot above 800, the 5Ds will be able to cover us in that department as well as having an actually functioning auto focus system.

I’m sorry medium format cameras, but you guys just cant keep up against massive multi-point AF arrays. I can see us moving away from the IQ160 for these reasons alone, but then again it could open the door for buying an even larger medium format back in the future.

Take a look at the images below.  We’d love to hear your take on all of this as well – let us know in the comments!


Click the images to see them at 100%.

ISO 100 test between Canon 5d Mark III, Canon 5DS, and PhaseOne IQ160.
ISO 100 test between Canon 5d Mark III, Canon 5DS, and PhaseOne IQ160.
ISO 200 test between Canon 5d Mark III, Canon 5DS, and PhaseOne IQ160.
ISO 200 test between Canon 5d Mark III, Canon 5DS, and PhaseOne IQ160.
ISO 400 test between Canon 5d Mark III, Canon 5DS, and PhaseOne IQ160.
ISO 400 test between Canon 5d Mark III, Canon 5DS, and PhaseOne IQ160.
ISO 800 test between Canon 5d Mark III, Canon 5DS, and PhaseOne IQ160.
ISO 800 test between Canon 5d Mark III, Canon 5DS, and PhaseOne IQ160.

Studio Manager Meditation: Up in the Air

We work like crazy. As a studio manager/producer/assistant/blogger life very rarely slows down to the point where I can step back and reflect on it. When it does though, I find myself mulling over aspects of this job that might seem so inconsequential, but for me hold deeper meanings. I’ve decided to start this monthly series on the blog to take a minute and stop, reflect, and write about some of the aspects of being a studio manager that really impact me. These are my studio manager meditations.

chris crisman studio manager meditation airplane flying photo ph

Up in the Air.

Airports are never fun. Security lines twist and turn, trudging onward. TSA double and triple checks your gear – yes it’s a camera, yes it’s called a Hasselblad, yes you can scan it again and swab it and do whatever you need to, just don’t drop it. Past the checkpoint and headed to your gate, you’re one step closer to getting there, fingers crossed there are no delays.

Time to board, back in line. Finally on the plane and you can hear the baggage handlers tossing luggage into the belly of the jet – simultaneously glad we’re carrying on the cameras and hopeful the lights and softboxes make it to the next stop in one piece. If we’re rough on our gear, I can’t imagine how the baggage guys treat it. Cabin door closes, iPhone turned off, finally pushing away from the gate.

Sitting on the runway, there’s a curious excitement that I being to feel. This comes from knowing that something greater lives at the destination; we’re always moving forward. When we are traveling out to a shoot it’s the anticipation of the photos we’re about to make and when we’re headed home it’s the feeling of relief from a job well done. Increasing speed, barreling down the runway and we’re off the ground. No turning back now, we’re on our way – we are up in the air.

In the sky, hurtling along in a aluminum tube affords a somewhat uninterrupted opportunity to catch up on email or work through a backlog of photo editing, but the most value that I can derive from flying is the simple quiet that an airplane can offer. Turn off the in-flight wifi, close the laptop, block out the din of the cabin, and just enjoy the uninterrupted isolation that 30,000 feet can offer. Yes, I have things to do; there are always things to do, but they can wait.

Time off the grid is getting harder and harder to come by, time that is uninterrupted by the sound of a cell ringer, the ding of an iMessage, or the ping of a new twitter reply. I’ll take any chance I can get to unplug and pause for a moment – it’s really when I can get the best thinking done.

Subtract your fellow travelers from the equation, close your eyes for just a moment, stop and think. You’re flying – you’re moving forward.