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Month: July 2011

iPad 2 winner receives his prize and a tour at tonic studios

iPad 2 winner receives his prize and a tour at tonic studios

Ben Smith of The Lavidge Company with studio director Patrick Darby
tonic photo studios director Patrick Darby presented the iPad 2 to winner Ben Smith of The Lavidge Company

We mentioned recently that Ben Smith of The Lavidge Company was the lucky winner of our iPad 2 giveaway. Last week, Ben came down to tonic photo studios to receive his snazzy new iPad and was treated to a tour of the studio by Studio Director Patrick Darby.

We thank everyone who entered our giveaway by liking our Facebook page and updating their contact information on our mailing list. We appreciate your support and hope you enjoy reading about our projects here on our studio blog. Keep watching for upcoming stories from Patrick’s recent project with i/o Data Centers.

Also, we will be playing the role of host for the American Society of Media Photographers on August 18th. ASMP will be holding an event here which focuses on commercial architectural photography, one of our specialties here at tonic photo studios. Patrick and all of the staff here are looking forward to it, so expect to see some stories and pictures from the event later this month!

tonic photo studios getting serious about beer at SanTan Brewing Company

tonic photo studios getting serious about beer at SanTan Brewing Company

Hot on the heels of our work with Flo’s Asian Kitchen, we were called upon by local brewery SanTan Brewing Company to produce a library of product shots. The brewery needed current photos for use across their marketing and advertising channels, so the tonic studios team headed to Chandler to shoot photos and learn something about brewing along the way.

Studio Director Patrick Darby, production assistant Sara Baldwin and local stylist Ellen Straine set up a studio on location at SanTan’s pub and brewery. During the course of one intense day of shooting, they captured over 100 product shots covering SanTan’s entire line of brews. We’ve included just a few below, but look for many, many more to appear on SanTan’s website and marketing materials.


Spending the day at SanTan was an all-around fun time and we learned a few things about the brewing industry from brewmaster Anthony Canecchia. He’s very passionate about craft beer and is constantly looking for ways to move the industry forward. For instance, he was an early adopter of can packaging for craft beers and is always looking for new ways to pair his brews with dishes created by Dennis Martinez, SanTan’s executive chef. Anthony taught us that in brewing, just like with diamonds, color and clarity are signs of quality. In fact, he’s so in tune with his brews that he needs only a glance to tell if a beer has been brewed to his exacting standards. Head over to SanTan’s website to read about their beers and check out Anthony’s blog for more fascinating brewing details!

While the beer photography is wrapped up, we expect to return to do styled food shots, architectural photography and some lifestyle images for SanTan in the near future. Keep watching for updates when we go back and in the meantime, head over to SanTan to see (and drink) their beer!

tonic photo studios captures food photography for Arizona’s Flo’s

tonic photo studios captures food photography for Arizona’s Flo’s

tonic photo studios team has been busy lately with creative projects which have been outside the usual repertoire. Shooting for the Grand Canyon Railway and Mort Fleischer was both fun and challenging and Patrick enjoyed the chance to do some projects which were a little outside the norm. But, food, product, architecture and conceptual are what the phoenix commercial photography studio is known for, so we were bound to return to those at some point. That point arrived when our partners at The Lavidge Company approached us with a food photography project for Flo’s Asian Kitchen.

Flo’s wanted to add imagery to their website which tells the story of the great cuisine, energy and experience which can be found at the restaurant. Lavidge art director Melissa McFarlin turned to us, knowing that we could deliver photos which captured everything Flo’s has to offer.

Patrick, tonic’s food stylist Cathy Marshall and valley phoenix food stylist Ellen Straine spent two days on location at Flo’s, shooting not only food, but scenes of the kitchen staff in action and portraits of Flo herself. It was a great shoot and Flo was an incredibly gracious host. We were able to enjoy several of Flo’s dishes while we were there and all were awesome! We can highly recommend Flo’s as a dining destination after our firsthand experience there.

We’re proud of how the images turned out. They highlight tonic’s ability to capture strong and diverse images which fit into a larger narrative. Once again, we want to thank The Lavidge Company for choosing to partner with us on this project. As always, Melissa and the Lavidge staff were a pleasure to work with.

Workin’ on the railroad: Grand Canyon Railway photo shoot with tonic photo studios

Workin’ on the railroad: Grand Canyon Railway photo shoot with tonic photo studios

Fresh on the heels of shooting images of the Fleischer Western art collection, tonic photo studios was called upon by E.B. Lane to travel up to Williams, Arizona in June and shoot images for their client, the Grand Canyon Railway. However, this shoot wasn’t typical for many reasons.

First, this was another project which was a little outside our usual repertoire. A train is smaller than most architecture, but much bigger than most products we shoot. Secondly, the end product of this photography was not a promotional brochure or corporate website. Instead, the images were destined for the wrap which you now see on METRO light rail cars here in Phoenix.

Creating photography for a train wrap comes with a unique set of challenges. In order to have a high quality appearance, the wrap needed to be printed at a resolution of 72 DPI (dots per inch). That translated to a source image which needed to be 300 DPI and 217 inches wide by 20.5 inches high. Essentially, the massive final image delivered to the wrap printers needed to have utmost quality, detail and sharpness.

Fortunately, Patrick Darby is a top-notch pro and he was able to find a way to overcome the technical challenges inherent in achieving these results. His approach was to create 20 separate images at 40 megapixels each.

A train engineer at the controls of a Grand Canyon Railway steam engine
One of the 20 photos which make up the final composite image; tonic photo studios

In order to capture consistent images, the crew measured an optimal distance from train to camera (about 25 feet) and created a line parallel to the tracks along which to travel as each image was captured. Patrick then took images at 10 foot intervals along the line, thereby creating a set of images which captured the full length of the engine, tender and passenger car. He also bracketed each image to produce final images with an extended dynamic range and details from deep shadows to bright highlights. When he arrived back in the studio, Patrick’s post-production work involved stitching each of the 20 images together into a seamless composite.

Some of the individual photos of the Grand Canyon Railway train before stitching
Some of the individual photos just before being assembled into the final image: tonic photo studios
The complete Grand Canyon Railway image
A low-res version of the final image, seamlessly stitched together: tonic photo studios
A train robber on horseback, waving his pistol in the air
This train robber and his horse will be layered over the train image

If you’ve had the pleasure of riding the Grand Canyon Railway, you know that part of the fun is when actors playing the part of robbers hold up the train mid-journey. E.B. Lane and the railway wanted to include that detail in the wrap, so Patrick also captured photos of a robber on horseback. The robber image was layered on top of the complete train image to give the impression of a train robber riding next to the train.

Overall, this was an incredibly cool concept and was tremendous fun to work on. We greatly appreciate working with clients such as E.B. Lane and the Grand Canyon Railway.

The photoshoot crew and client representatives
Patrick, the photoshoot crew and representatives from E.B. Lane and GCRW
A portion of the Grand Canyon Railway wrap on a light rail car
The final product riding the rails in Phoenix
tonic photo studios announces: we have a winner!

tonic photo studios announces: we have a winner!

The winner of our Facebook page promotion has been chosen! The lucky recipient of a snazzy new iPad 2 is Ben Smith from The Lavidge Company.

Big thanks to Ben and everyone else who Liked our tonic photo studios Facebook page and updated their contact details. We appreciate your support and we look forward to keeping you up to date on the exciting photography work we do. If you or your company needs commercial photography work of superior quality and creativity, don’t hesitate to call us and find out how tonic studios can deliver the cure for the common image.