May 7, 2013
photo session – Modern Gypsies – Silver Birds
Regular followers of Tangents, and everyone who has a copy of my book, off-camera flash, should be familiar with The Modern Gypsies. They are a performance group in Brooklyn and I count myself fortunate that I sometimes get to collaborate with them on promotional photos for them. It’s always exciting to work with inspiringly creative people. At the start of the month, we got together for another series of photo shoots, of which this is the first of the four. I’ll post the other sections in follow-up articles.
The theme here – Silver Birds. This silver-painted rooftop in Brooklyn, and the expansive blue sky seemed to work work well as complementary colors.
The sun is brutally bright, so I knew I’d need take along powerful off-camera flash. For ease of use, and for portability, I went with the usual Profoto Acute B2 600 W/s powerpack (B&H), and a
Profoto beauty dish (B&H) with a sock.
With that setup, I was able to easily pump out Sunny 16 kind of flash – 1/250 @ f11 @ 100 ISO. Those are the settings for all the images here. I varied the power of the AcuteB powerpack between full-power and half a stop down from full power for these images. The way the Profoto beauty dish clamps on, is super-easy. Fast.
April 29, 2013
For on-location work, I’ve been using the Profoto AcuteB2 600 AirS/R Power Pack (B&H), and it works like a charm:
- shooting wedding photos in the mid-day sun
- wedding photography – lighting large groups with a large light
The only downsides to the AcuteB2 600R is that it only has one output. For many situations where you use a simple lighting setup (ie, just one large light source), it is perfect. The battery of the AcuteB is rated to give 200 bursts at maximum power, Again, for most uses, that is plenty.
But I’ve been considering future shoots where I would like to use two lights. For that the Profoto BatPac portable battery (B&H) would be ideal, offering two AC outputs – enough juice to run two Profoto D1 500 Ws monolights for quite some time.
I’ve tried the BatPac out in the studio just to see how it works, and that it does indeed work. But that’s nowhere near as satisfying as using it on an actual photo session. For this part of an individual workshop at my studio, we didn’t really need more than just one light … but still, it felt good to take this puppy out and try it on an actual shoot.
April 25, 2013
finessing photographic composition – and using off-camera flash vs. available light
With this background, I liked the way the dots were repeated in Olena‘s dress in reverse – white dots on black, instead of black dots / holds on silver. I liked the repetition, and decided to work with the composition of this photograph a bit. For the final sequence of images – of which the image at the top is one – I asked Olena to really exaggerate the curve of her body to create an S-shaped, which in turn contrasted boldly with the rigid pattern of the background.
This article’s original title was going to be: Off-camera flash vs the snobbery of “available light is always better”. When you look at the available light photo of Olena, you’ll see that the available light was pretty sweet – soft and flattering. But it lacked punch. It needed just that little bit of drama to it. The available light shot just looked a touch too bland. Off-camera lighting to the rescue!
I had the flash in a soft box to create flattering, yet dynamic light on her. I wanted her shadow to be more defined and become part of the composition, but that would’ve meant a harder light source. Holding the Lastolite 24″x24″ Ezybox (B&H) fairly close to her was the compromise. This way her shadow added a subtle element to the composition.
April 17, 2013
I would like to remind everyone that the video tutorials – Off-Camera Flash Essentials – that were created for the ClickinMoms as a Break-Out Session, are still available for purchase.
It’s essentially a flash photography workshop - 90 minutes of video tutorials for $60.
The first section is a 45 minute video seminar where, with the help of images, the basics of flash photography and off-camera flash photography are explained. The final 45 minutes are divided into different sections, including a section where we work on-location.
April 16, 2013
photo session: adding off-camera flash to bright daylight
Someone emailed me to ask a few technical details about this family photo session. How did you expose for the family photos? Was a soft-box used? Or did you expose for the shadows and use fill flash? For those who regularly follow the Tangents blog, the thought-process here should be familiar. Let’s take a walk through the process.
As described in the article, controlling bright daylight w/ direct off-camera flash, when trying to over-power the sun with flash, the best algorithm is usually:
- maximum flash sync speed,
- lowest ISO,
- find the aperture for your brightest area that you want to expose correctly for,
at that specific shutter speed and ISO.
Because the sun was hard, and high up already, the best start was to have their backs to the sun. This ensured no one would be squinting, and that I’d have a fighting chance with the single Nikon SB-910 Speedlight (B&H) inside the Lastolite EZYBOX 24×24″ softbox (B&H) as the light-source I could directly control.
January 7, 2013
shooting solo with off-camera flash
Yup, that’s me all crouching tiger there with a camera and an off-camera flash setup. I had planned on photographing Jessica Joy in the studio while she was here, but since she’d never been to New York before, we had to make a trip in. I wanted to do a few sequences on location in Manhattan.
The ethos and approach of The Sartorialist, has fascinated me ever since I became aware of his blog. Working in a very simple way with just a camera and an 85mm lens, he captures people on the street, showing the way they decide to clothe themselves for public view. Anyone can be his subject, from the most Fashion conscious to blue-collar laborers. Here is the Youtube clip that tells you more about the way he works.
I’ve taken some of this in how I photograph models on location. Obviously more controlled and directed than approaching and photographing strangers on the street. Still, it’s been an influence on me.
Making a day-trip out of it to New York with Jessica, I thought I’d keep this way of shooting as a direction to myself. I also knew I’d like to use off-camera flash. It gets dark very quickly in wintertime, and the shaded side of buildings can be in a deep gloom. Off-camera flash would help! But the person who I had arranged with to come along and help, had an unforeseen crisis and contacted me the night before, to tell me he couldn’t make it. So I had to plan how I’d best go about this solo.
December 18, 2012
photo session in New York – model: Sarah R
I have already showed part of the photo session with Sarah Raley, in the article, vintage photo session w/ off-camera flash. It was part of a longer on-location photo session in New York. With four changes of clothing, we aimed for a diverse look during the photo session. I’d like to share some of them here, along with some of the lighting techniques, and post-processing.
Most of the photos were taken with the Canon 5D mark II (B&H), and two zooms:
the Canon 24-70mm f/2.8L II (B&H), and Canon 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II (B&H).
What made the photo session easier in terms of the lighting, was the built-in radio capability of the superb Canon 600EX-RT speedlights (B&H).
With a $400 rebate until Dec 31, the Canon 5D mark II (B&H) is available right now for an incredible $1,600 from B&H. Of course, with the release of the new Canon 6D (B&H) for $2,100 it is a tough decision. Then there is also the Canon 5D mark III (B&H), which is in my opinion the best value for awesomeness.
Onto the photographs …
December 3, 2012
New York photo session with Sarah & Mark – off-camera flash
Sarah and Mark were in New York, dressed to the nines, to attend the Rockettes show. And while they were dressed up, and with some time before the show they were attending, we did a photo session. You might remember them as the couple in my book, off-camera flash. I’ve also photographed Sarah on other occasions. I thought that the New York skyline at dusk would work as a perfect backdrop to how stylish they were dressed. (I did ask Mark if he felt like James Bond, all suited up like that in his tux.)
The lighting setup was straight-forward. The main light was a speedlight in the Lastolite Hot Shoe EZYBOX Softbox Kit (24″x24″) (B&H). The rim-light was another speedlight behind them, with the plastic diffuser cup on. Here is the pull-back shot …
October 31, 2012
multiple speedlite portrait setup using Rogue Flashbenders
The PDN Photo Plus Expo in New York took place last week. As always, it’s it’s always a bit of a head-rush walking around, overwhelmed by all the photography goodies and people. Of course, you’ll inevitably bump into old friends and catch up a bit. One of them, is Michael Corsentino who I met during the After Dark photo conventions. (Sadly, the After Dark events have been put on indefinite hold.)
Not only is Michael Corsentino a pre-eminent wedding photographer in San Francisco, but has also written a book – the Canon Speedlite System Digital Field Guide (Amazon). If you like his style, follow him on Twitter @corsentino
When I randomly saw this photograph later on on his FB feed, my reaction was … damn!
He had photographed Anelisa at the Rogue Flashbenders stand for a demo. So I was curious about the exact lighting setup, and asked him if I could repost it here, along with an explanation and the lighting diagram …
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October 29, 2012
photo shoot & off-camera flash – making the background count
I got a call from Michael Saab of the Modern Gypsies to let me know that they were performing in a night-club in Manhattan, and would I be interested in doing some promotional photos for them? Of course! Other photo sessions with the Modern Gypsies were all energizing experiences. (The Modern Gypsies also featured in my book, off-camera flash.) Working with creative people always fuels the creative spark.
At the night-club, I looked around for interesting areas I could shoot some portraits. I felt this curving passage-way could be a complementary background for this one outfit. But it took a few test-shots and adjustments to get where I wanted to be …