review: Profoto B2 Off-Camera Flash – photo shoot

Over the years I have used a variety of off-camera lights on location shoots and at weddings, and have worked my way up from Dynalite and Quantum flashes (and speedlights), to the Profoto B1. The Profoto B1 (vendor) has made such a difference for me in the ease of use, the speed of setting up, and the sheer power of 500 W/s of light. I love my B1 flash. For example, here is how I used the Profoto B1 portable flash at a wedding.

Profoto has now released the Profoto B2 250 W/s Air TTL Flash, and it comes as two options:
Profoto B2 Location Kit with two flash heads (vendor)
Profoto B2 To-Go Kit  with a single head (vendor)

The Profoto B2 immediately intrigued me for a few reasons. As a quick summary, the B2 offers:
250 W/s power. (Half that of the B1)
- High-speed flash sync and
- TTL flash exposure metering, as well as a
- Freeze Mode where the flash duration is cut down to 1/15,000 sec. at lower power settings.
– It is much lighter and compact than the B1 – but this comes with a few penalties.

Before we discuss the advantages and disadvantages of the Profoto B2 vs the B1, I have to mention that every review I’ve read so far, mentioned the B2 as a lower-cost alternative to the Profoto B1. However, I don’t see the Profoto B2 positioned like that – the single-flash unit is about the same price as the B1. So there’s no financial advantage there. Now, by the time you get to the 2-flash head Location kit, then the B2 kit is less expensive than two Profoto B1 heads … but still with certain disadvantages to it.

So really, I don’t think the Profoto B2 was meant to be a lower-cost option to the B1, but was meant to just be a different option to the B1. Just different. You have options. You get to choose what suits your needs best.

To test the Profoto B2, I met up with Anelisa and an assistant in Manhattan, to do a Fashion-styled shoot out on the streets. Exactly the kind of thing where the Profoto B2 is meant to excel – being a portable high-powered flash that offers high-speed flash sync, as well as TTL flash exposure metering.

There is a behind-the-scenes video clip that will be posted in a few days. Check back!

Learn more inside…

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portrait photography – allowing influences to inspire your own style

I keep a folder of Inspiration images to which I often add interesting photos shot by other photographers. This serves as an ideas folder. There are hundreds upon hundreds of images. I add to this Inspiration folder, and I also discard images over time as my own style and what I want to work towards, form better shape. I might browse through this and see what sticks in my mind. Sometimes it is the amalgamation of ideas that lead to something new. Even when I try to emulate the style and lighting of an image, there are always distinct differences that lead to new images with a different look for me.

Similarly, the photo above was loosely based on ideas I saw elsewhere … yet, by the time we were done, the  photos from this session didn’t look like the inspiration images. Different model; different lighting; different post-processing; different interpretation and a different photographer.

Learn more inside…

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workshop: wedding photography – Sunday, 26 April 2015

I’m presenting a workshop on wedding photography on:
Sunday, on April 26, 2015 at Unique Photo in Fairfield NJ.
12:00pm – 4:30pm

 

the program description

We will discuss real-world practical steps to help you develop and achieve a personal style in wedding photography. We will also discuss photography techniques, as well as topics such as posing and lighting. We will cover various other aspects that photographers can work on and develop, so that they aren’t overwhelmed and daunted by the wedding day.

Please note that this seminar is about the techniques and styles of wedding photography, and isn’t a seminar on business and marketing per se, although we will touch on those topics.

This program is a repeat of a program presented two years ago, but of course the material has been finessed and updated.

Learn more inside…

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flash photography: applying the Sunny 16 rule and the flash Guide Number

In essence, if you know the GN of your flash, then you could use (bare) off-camera flash to match the sunlight, without even metering!

There is a super-useful shortcut built into those two simple values: Sunny 16, and the Guide Number.

Now, I am pretty sure that when you hear mention of the Guide Number of a flash, you’re most likely switching off already, thinking that it is just an arcane list of numbers – different apertures against different power settings. But hang in there – this is very useful stuff to have a grip on.

And yes, since: GN  =  distance  *  f-stop
that is what the Guide Number tells you – the distance multiplied by the aperture is the GN.

But there is something immediately useful there in the Guide Number, which is hugely important. If you understand this, then you have an important key in your pocket about how to quickly match bright sunlight with your speedlight. It’s really simple:

Learn more inside…

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photography workshops

March 16, 2015

photography workshops for 2015

The group photography workshops are full-day events – and are a mixture of seminar presentation and practical shooting. The workshops will be held at my studio space in NJ. There is free parking, and it is easily reached from the main highways in the area. There is also regular bus transport from NYC. (We can fetch you from the bus terminal.)

The fee for the full-day workshop is $600 and the workshop is from 9am to 8pm. Lunch and refreshments are included!

The workshops are now limited to 6 people – and working within my own studio with more equipment readily at hand, gave the workshop a relaxed tempo. The material is always streamlined a little bit more, from workshop to workshop.

More info about the photography workshops.

The three workshops for 2015 will take place on:

  • May 17, 2015  (Sunday)
  • July 19, 2015  (Sunday)
  • Sept 20, 2015  (Sunday)

Book a spot at one of the workshops.  Each class will be limited to 6 people.

If you would like an individual workshop, or a personal tutoring session, those are available as well throughout the year, depending on both of our schedules. The studio is only 17 miles from Manhattan. Just a short hop from New York and quite accessible by bus. Oh, and there’s parking at the studio. Free parking.

If you are limited in how far you can travel, there are Skype sessions and also video tutorials to help you get a much better understanding of photography and lighting techniques.

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portrait photography – show us a favorite or break-through photograph

This photograph remains one of my favorites. It was taken circa early 90’s during a studio shoot-out arranged by a camera club (CCJ) I belonged to in Jo’burg. In this photo, the models are waiting for their turn to be photographed in a studio setup, using studio lighting, as well as available light in the large studio. It was a candid moment, as I knelt in front of this model, Megan.

For me, this was a transitionary photograph – I was at a point where I knew basic photography techniques. I read voraciously, and devoured magazines and books. But my own images at the time – landscapes and cityscapes and such – were mostly “found” images. For me, there was still a gap between what I was photographing, and the images I was drawn to – portrait and fashion images which were more controlled. Even then, the portraits and fashion photography that appealed to me, had a fresh and “loose” feel – and I felt I wasn’t quite  capable of that yet. It wasn’t just insecurity, but also shyness in working with people, and posing them. I lacked the courage to involve the people in my photography.

Yet, here I had a photo that had that spontaneity and elegance that appealed to me. Even though the moment was presented to me, and I had nothing to do with how it was arranged, I still felt really proud of it … but more so, the realization dawned on me that I could do this. I could have set this up and shot it. It was within my reach.

I was aware of the problems with this photograph – the fingertips cropped off, and the tilt. The pillow she held to herself is incongruous. The background is cluttered. A more controlled photograph would’ve been more successful. Still, this was one of those photographs which sparked a change for me.

This photograph then, was pivotal in my progress as a photographer. For the first time I took a photo that looked (nearly) as good as I saw in photography magazines. I could do this!

 

I would like to hear your story, and see your favorite or breakthrough portrait.
It need not be perfect. It just needs to be important to you.
There are two book prizes to be won:

 


The Portrait: Understanding Portrait Photography

The Portrait: Understanding Portrait Photography, by Glenn Rand & Tim Meyer, is a good introduction to portrait photography. Over the course of 200 pages, the authors explain the essentials of Portrait Photography.

You can order this book from Amazon, or directly from Rocky Nook.

If you order an eBook directly from RockyNook, then the coupon code Portrait40 offers 40% off the ebook version of The Portrait.

You can also buy it at a discount as an e-book bundle, along with Tilo Gockel’s book, Creative Flash Photography. (review)

Learn more inside…

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The Lighting Notebook eBook now only $9.95

The Lighting Notebook, by Good Light! Magazine, is a PDF eBook that gives you easy access to all the lighting setups you might ever need.

– One-click jump to any setup from the visual index
– Categories: One light, Two light, Multi light and available light
– Copy and print the PDF without technical restrictions

New setups are added to The Lighting Notebook on a regular basis. All updates to future volumes are free of charge for you.

*** please note: This e-Book contains nudity in the examples. If you’re okay with that, then great. If not, then this book isn’t for you.

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promotion – special offer: iDrive – an affordable online backup system

It is tough for me to summon up sympathy for someone who wails on FB that their hard drive has failed. My advice is always simple – go to your back-up! It’s so obvious.

Hard drives fail. You need to rigorously take that into account, or else you will lose your photos … and potentially your business. It can be that devastating.

Even more devastating is complete loss of everything, with no chance of even having a hard-drive that could be rescued. Fire, hurricanes and tornadoes – all of these things can obliterate your office and home, leaving you nothing … unless you have everything backed up online. For example, as described in this article – photography workflow and back-up plans for disaster – the photographer pretty much lost everything in Hurricane Sandy, but he was okay in that all his data was backed up to the cloud. He didn’t lose his files!

There are a number of options which are easy to use, and inexpensive. Which means at this point it would be inexplicable foolishness to not have an online back-up for your images.

 

special offer

iDrive is one such service available – and there is a special discount for followers of the Tangents blog!

1TB of Cloud Backup + 1TB of Cloud Sync space for only $14.88 for the first year, for followers of the Tangents blog, via this discount page. (For transparency: it is an affiliate link.) The regular price of $59.50 for 1TB for one year, is discounted by 75% if you sign up through that link.

Learn more inside…

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Photoshop tutorial: create a Photoshop action to add texture overlays

guest post by Adrian, at Five Star Studios
wedding photographer, Mackay, Queensland in Australia

 

Neil’s post on applying a texture to the background, made me think of the things I do to give photos ‘that special look’ and when I told Neil about it, he kindly invited me to write an article on this topic – adding texture layers to photos. This can be easily applied via an action, outlined step by step further down.

The post by Neil was a texture ‘replacement’ background as opposed to laying a texture on the image itself, a big difference, and that involves a lot of ‘cutting’ out, brushing, etc, which just simply cannot be done via an action unless a lot of  ‘Stops’  – read a message (messages on what to do can be built within actions) – and then continue.   It’s just not practical with some images.

Remember, we are laying a texture over the image, as opposed to using a texture for replacing the background, so before we start, you need to have some images that you have found or even shot yourself.

Images like rusted metal, old painted peeling doors/walls, rocks, absolutely limitless.

Google ‘textures/patterns’ and there are 1000’s of free images to source.

Also, give them names you can relate to, makes it easier rather than eg: Image1.jpg, Image2.jpg, etc.

The textures we are going to use will first need to be made into Patterns and the beauty of this method also is you only have to build just the one action, but you can apply countless different numbers of texture variations over the image/s by merely changing the ‘Pattern’ itself on the ‘Pattern Adjustment Layer’ built into the action.

Learn more inside…

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photography – inspiration; overcoming fears & maintaining momentum

It was high time that I updated my bio photo on my websites and profile photos. I wanted something casual, yet with a certain gravity. While at WPPI last week in Las Vegas, I was surrounded by photographers. I asked … well, prodded and pushed my friend Annie Sullivan to take a series of photos in various locations inside the MGM. This is the photo I settled on. We have other photos that are equally good, and less serious, but this one really says “I’m the one who knocks…” So this is now going across my websites.

Annie was hesitant to take on the task of shooting new bio photos for me. Apparently I can be intimidating. But it’s often a high pressure event to take another photographers’ photos – you feel like you’re being scrutinized. She admitted to being scared witless at the start of it, and then again when I posted this photo. As she told me afterwards, “I have confidence in myself as a human, it’s my work I struggle with. If I’m honest, I’m just afraid people will be like “she needs to go work in a toll booth.””

This ties in with a regular theme with photographers, experienced and less experienced – fear of failure holding you back. Getting out of your own safety zone, and trying the new and unexpected – these are tough hurdles to overcome.

However, in the inspiring words of Eleanor Roosevelt: We gain strength, and courage, and confidence by each experience in which we really stop to look fear in the face … we must do that which we think we cannot.

It really is as simple as that – systematically attempting things which we would rather not because they are too difficult. Or scary. Or too much like hard work. Then, in addition to that, we need the energy to maintain momentum. This is why personal photography projects & goals are so good to have – things we do for fun to inspire us, and make us reach further.

 

staying on track & keeping momentum

While we’re quoting Eleanor Roosevelt, one of her sayings made a huge impression on me the first time I read it:

Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people.

How true is that? If you think of friends and acquaintances you have – there is a pattern that people who are negative will talk badly about others and gossip. People who reach higher and are successful, are usually the ones who are brimming with ideas. The ones who would rather consider “how do we change this?”, instead of whining about a problem.

Is someone else doing better than you are at either the craft or the business? Don’t resent them for their success. Instead, it should motivate you to do better. It is something you aren’t doing, or it is something you need to be doing better. That’s where the focus should be.

Whenever I feel myself slump into negativity, I remind myself of this truth – great minds discuss ideas. That is where the energy is. That is where the upward trajectory starts – ideas and concepts and projects.

As an aside – chatting the one evening at WPPI with a few people who are prominent in the photography industry, I took to heart something that Roy Ashen of TripleScoopMusic said. In an interview he was asked about his marketing strategy in having created a successful business. He laughed when  they were surprised at his answer – his business strategy is built on a simple idea: be nice to everyone and help people were you can.

Again, such a clear truth. Be nice to everyone and help people where you can. Now couple that with: great minds discuss ideas … and add consistent hard work. That’s the road to success.

Learn more inside…

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