November 28, 2012
studio photography – lingerie photo shoot
Aiming for a sensual mood somewhere between Lingerie, Fashion and Art, I tried various lighting setups in the studio to get to the feel and look that I envisioned. I’ve worked with Carly Erin on other personal photo shoots before, and knew her playful and bold personality would help a lot with this photo session.
October 22, 2012
controlling bright sunlight with direct off-camera flash
Working with Molly K as our model during an individual flash photography workshop in New York, we put in action the thought-process when using flash in very bright light. There’s a specific algorithm that gets us to optimal settings.
But, as usual, there’s more to a final image than just the numerical settings on the camera …
September 19, 2012
photo session with Ulorin Vex – behind the scenes video
The video clip is a behind-the-scenes view (with some techie info) of the photo session with Ulorin Vex. This photo session was also the first time I tried out the Nikon D800, and I also got to play with my Profoto D1 Air 500 W/s Studio Kit (B&H), for the first time. An exciting day.
September 18, 2012
low-key lighting in the studio – with Ulorin Vex
The mood and simplicity of low-key lighting make it especially effective. So when Ulorin Vex appeared out of the dressing room with this black dress, I knew it would work very well with a low-key set-up in the studio.
We had set up the darker background for previous outfits, but for this black dress, the simplified lighting – just a Profoto beauty dish (B&H) – worked especially well. There were two lights behind her to show off the curves against the dark background. The gridded softboxes are exactly the same as shown in a previous article: high-key studio lighting / portraits.
Here is the pull-back shot to show how the lights were positioned …
August 16, 2012
review: Westcott 7′ Parabolic Umbrella
Continuing the photo session with Ulorin Vex in the studio, I decided to swap out the big Profoto 4×3 softbox, for an even larger (but inexpensive) light modifier – the Westcott 7′ Parabolic Umbrella (White / Black) (B&H).
Two things that immediately struck me about the Westcot Parabolic Umbrella … it’s sheer size when folder open. 7 feet if measured across the span of the umbrella’s arc. And when it is folded up, it is surprisingly compact and light-weight. It collapses to a 43.6″ size, and fits snugly into a 3″ diameter carry bag.
The idea behind a parabolic reflector, is that the rays of light coming from it, are parallel. This makes the umbrella very efficient in directing the light to your subject. There are other parabolic reflectors which are actually focusable, but they are very spendy. Thousands of dollars spendy. This makes the parabolic umbrellas like the Westcott really good value for money at only $100, if you’re looking for a large light modifier in the studio. (I’m not sure how practical it would be on location.) The Westcott 7′ Parabolic Umbrella (B&H) appears to be quite sturdy. The ribs are made of fiberglass. It elegantly folds open and closes as easily.
I chose the white/black umbrella over the silver Parabolic Umbrella (B&H), because I wanted a light that would be less specular and contrasty than the silver umbrella was designed to be. Since the white material scatters light more than the silver umbrella, the White umbrella doesn’t really offer any advantage over a non-parabolic reflector. Still, it is a huge light modifier at an affordable price, and light to carry.
The lighting setup is exactly as was used in this article: high-key studio lighting / portraits (part 2) – with Ulorin Vex, except that the Profoto softbox was replaced with the Parabolic Umbrella.
August 6, 2012
high-key studio portraits (part 2) – with Ulorin Vex
Continuing the photo session with Ulorin Vex, doing high-key studio portraits in the studio, she changed into a different costume. I wanted a more interesting edge definition than just the light spilling back from the background, so I added two gridded softboxes to each side …
July 31, 2012
high-key studio portraits – with Ulorin Vex
One of the models that replied to my casting call for a model at my workshops in San Francsico in 2011, happened to be Ulorin Vex. I immediately recognized her, since I’ve seen photos of her in various portfolios. I was both surprised and very happy, since I regarded her as a bit of a superstar. I scheduled a photo session with her for the day after the two workshops in SF, and the images from those sessions appeared a few times on Tangents, and I’d consider them among the best work I had ever done. It helps to have an inspiring model!
Ulorin Vex was such a pleasure to photograph, and so professional, that when she let know me she was briefly visiting the New York area, I jumped at the chance of photographing her again. As I mentioned in my first impressions of the Nikon D800, I now have ready access to a large studio. I have acquired various lighting gear over time, but recently purchased the Profoto D1 Air 500 W/s Monolight Studio Kit (B&H).
So I was all set for the photo session – a wonderful model; superb gear; and a large studio where we could shoot. I shot about 8 different setups, which I intend posting here over the next few days. (So be prepared for a few more blog posts from this session.)
For the first set-up, I decided to keep it very simple with a white backdrop, and high-key lighting …
July 20, 2012
photography: video light and daylight
With the recent lighting workshop in New York, we again played with the use of video light … and then took it out to the street. The blue-ish tones of the shady side of the building here, contrasted beautifully with the warm glow of the video light.
As with the article, gelling your flash for effect, this is something that can work very well when we use light sources with different color balance, thereby attaining those complementary colors. The rapid fall-off in light also helped give the photograph a dramatic quality.
The photo above is a crop of the actual image which is also a pull-back shot then to show where the light was positioned:
June 21, 2012
lighting in photography – how complicated does it have to be?
During a lunch-time conversation, a friend told me that she felt intimidated by the on-location flash photography by other photographers. The way to use multiple-flash setups seemed impenetrable to grasp. How would one go about and where do you even start. This made me wonder – just how complicated should photography lighting be? I don’t think it has to be complicated. It just has to be enough.
With on-location photography, my starting point is usually where I consider if I can improve the existing light with flash (or video light). What do I need to add to make it just a little bit better? And does it need something more to make it even better? The final image needs to look good. This is an iterative thought process, rather than a compelling desire that I have to use every flash that I own.
This straight-forward portrait of Anelisa,was taken during an individual workshop in New York. It might be a good example where off-camera flash was used for the tiniest bit of sweetening of the light. A bit of rim-lighting to separate her from the black doorway.
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May 20, 2012
lighting for on-location photo sessions – pick your battles
When doing a photo session with a couple on location, I mix up the lighting often. With some photo sessions I may:
- shoot available light only;
- or I may decide with a photo session to use direct on-camera flash,
with some sequences available light only; or
- with some photo sessions I use off-camera flash with a softbox,
with some sequences just the available light.
Even in varying the way I may use the available light and flash, I still aim to have a consistent look to it all. My specific style has to be apparent. Or perhaps, in the way that I work, my style becomes apparent. The one way that I help make things easier for myself, and remain consistent, is that in working with the available light; or working with the available light and flash (both on-camera and off-camera) … I pick my battles. I don’t try and make *everything* work. Rather, I specifically choose where I pose a couple, or what I have as the background. All of this in relation to the existing light and my flash.
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