June 10, 2012

After Dark Photography Education – Charlotte, NC –  2012

The recent After Dark event in Charlotte was the third time that I attended as a presenter. As you may well guess from my previous blog posts about After Dark Education events, I loved it!  A crazy-hectic-fun time. So much to do and learn and take part in. It is in my opinion the best opportunity for any photographer to learn and shoot. A lot. To sign up, or for more details, check out the After Dark Education (ADE) site.

The photo above is of Megan, one of the models at ADE. I little bit more about the setup …

For this pull-back shot, I had to bring up the detail at the top and bottom to reveal more about the lighting gear.

There’s the softbox strip above, and  the Westcott eyelighter reflector (vendor) below. It’s that U-shaped reflector (which also gives those distinctive catchlights in her eyes.

Instead of using the strobes though, I just used the modeling lights for these images.
camera settings: 1/100 @ f/4.0 @ 1600 ISO
Nikon D4 (B&H); Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8 VR II (B&H)

The way that After Dark is set up, is that there are 10 “pods” and 10 “bays”.  The pods are where there are seminars and presentations and discussions being held – up to 10 simultaneously. The bays are studio setups with a variety of lighting gear. At any time, the bays which aren’t used for a presentation, can be used by attendees, to photograph the models there.

Here I did use the actual strobes to photograph Shanese. My camera settings will reveal that studio strobes were used:
1/100 @ f/8.0 @ 100 ISO
Nikon D4 (B&H); Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8 VR II (B&H)

The pull-back shot (with a step to my left to show the large softbox to camera right, and one of the softboxes lighting up the backdrop.

Another image of Megan, with the same setup:

1/200 @ f/9.0 @ 200 ISO
Nikon D4 (B&H); Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8 VR II (B&H)

Courtney, photographed using just the modeling light again (to camera left). The red light behind her is meant to just be a subtle rim-light when the main strobe (with softbox) is used to light her. However, because the modeling light is much less bright than the strobe output would be, the red light behind her becomes more dominant. And I liked the result.

camera settings: 1/60  @  f/2.8  @  1600 ISO
Nikon D4 (B&H); Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8 VR II (B&H)

I co-presented a boudoir photo-session with the fabulous Jennifer Rozenbaum – a New York boudoir photographer. We concentrated on simple lighting techniques for boudoir. Danielle was our model.

… the last bit of sun streaming through the hotel room.
camera settings:  1/250  @  f/3.5  @  1600 ISO
Canon 5D Mark II;  Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II (B&H)

… using bounce flash with a 1/2 CTS gel over it to help match the flash’s color to that of the bedside lamp. I used the black foamie thing to flag my flash.
camera settings:  1/100  @  f/4.0  @  1600 ISO
Canon 5D Mark II;  Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II (B&H);  Canon 600EX-RT (B&H)

My demonstration on how to get studio-quality lighting with on-camera bounce flash, was very well attended. Of course, this revolved around directional bounce flash, using the black foamie thing. I photographed Haylie in different scenarios to show how to adapt the technique.

The background here is of the studio setups in one of the bays – the modeling light falling on the backdrop. Haylie is lit with just the on-camera speedlight. My settings were based on exposing correctly for the background. Then TTL flash picked up the exposure for our subject.

1/80 @ f/3.2 @ 1250 ISO
Nikon D4 (B&H); Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8 VR II (B&H)
Nikon SB-910 Speedlight (B&H);  Nikon SD-9 battery pack (B&H)

Working in the huge ballroom area we had as the main room, I wanted to show we could still get that kind of light, just from our on-camera speedlight. It all revolves around the direction of light, and how we pose our subject into that light.

1/80 @ f/3.2 @ 1250 ISO
Nikon D4 (B&H); Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8 VR II (B&H)
Nikon SB-910 Speedlight (B&H);  Nikon SD-9 battery pack (B&H)

In the hotel lobby, I chose a complementary background, and positioned Haylie in front of it, and then … directional on-camera bounce flash.

1/125 @ f/3.2 @ 1250 ISO
Nikon D4 (B&H); Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8 VR II (B&H)
Nikon SB-910 Speedlight (B&H);  Nikon SD-9 battery pack (B&H)

And for comparison, a without flash, to show exactly how much the on-camera flash contributed to the final image.


help support this website

{ 17 comments. } Add a Comment

1 Kevin Deibert March 21, 2012 at 12:50 pm

I have been wanting to attend the after dark workshops for a while now. But why, why, why….is it always on a Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday?


2 Trev March 21, 2012 at 7:16 pm


Because the weekends [incl Fridays] would be the main ‘working’ days for many pro photographers and since it’s their bread and butter, would not want to pre-plan ‘wasting’ a weekend prior to then having to knock back a job if they’ve committed to a seminar, or they have already booked out their weekends first.

Any seminar/workshop here [Australia] is always scheduled from Monday thru to Thursdays. Rarely on a Saturday/Sunday combo.



3 Neil vN March 21, 2012 at 11:05 pm

Kevin, it’s like Trev says. There was one After Dark event this year to which I was invited, but I couldn’t present there that time, because it started on the Sunday. And that’s a workday for me as a full-time photographer.

Neil vN


4 Bill March 31, 2012 at 12:40 am


Do you think this will every come to New York City? Anyway I just might go.



5 Bogdan June 11, 2012 at 1:10 am

Planning on ever crossing the border into the big frozen North? :-)


6 John June 11, 2012 at 1:13 am

Neil, these are surely some fantastic photos of lovely ladies. Oh, I suppose there was an article in there somewhere, huh?


7 Neil vN June 11, 2012 at 1:24 am

Sometimes a blog post is just a recap. Or an announcement. In this cae, it is both.

I can’t maintain epically informative articles, day-in & day-out.

And ultimately, this is why I called this blog “Tangents”. It can be whatever I want it to be. And today, it’s just a recap. And an announcement of an upcoming event.

Neil vN


8 John June 11, 2012 at 3:00 am

Neil, I meant those photographs were distractingly good that I sub-consciously missed seeing any info, but they actually are there! ;)


9 Neil vN June 11, 2012 at 4:35 am

aaaah. Sorry if I sounded testy. It’s all these late nights & long hours working on my next book, along with a full workload! : )

Neil vN


10 Jake June 11, 2012 at 1:02 pm

Neil, always amazed that you can do a full-time photographer job, write a book, and find time at 4:35 a.m. to apologize to your fans for sounding testy….dang, you force me to up my game! ha ha. No need to reply, put that time towards your book or a new Tangents article… :-) Your fan near Andrews Air Force Base, MD, Jake


11 Winston Mattis June 12, 2012 at 3:35 am

Neil, those shots of Haylie with theD4 are sharper than your D3S


12 Mike June 12, 2012 at 6:25 pm

Great looking models and great lighting Neil! Hoping we can do some of these setups in our 1-1 next Tuesday in NY city.


13 Teresa September 7, 2012 at 3:55 pm

Would you happen to know what company is the backdrop in the first 2 photos are from? Teresa


14 Neil vN September 7, 2012 at 9:24 pm

The backdrops are by Silver Lake.

Neil vN


15 Neil vN May 6, 2013 at 5:34 pm

For those who asked about the Eyelighter, here is instructions on making your own Eyelighter.


16 Suzanne Young May 21, 2013 at 9:42 am

Hi Neil, for the last shots of Halie, your settings indicate 1/1250 @ f3.2 @ 1250 ISO. Meaning you’re shooting in high speed flash sync I just wondered why you didn’t bring down your ISO which would bring down shutter speed & everything else including flash power? I.e what governed your initial selection. By the way – your a legend! Just watched your direction of light vid on Utube which brought a few “ooooooohhh!” moments. Not to mention Tangents being the finest learning resource on the net. THANK YOU!


17 Neil vN May 22, 2013 at 3:45 am

Oops, the 1/1250 was a typo. It is actually a shutter speed of 1/125
I have fixed it now to avoid confusion.

And thank you for the kind words. If you liked the Youtube presentation, then I am sure you will like my book on which the presentation was based – Direction and Quality of Light.


Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: