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 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.
April 8, 2013
advice for photographers from models – how to work with models
An article by UK model, Jen Brook, caught my eye. She wrote a long piece where she gives advice on how models would like to be treated during a photo shoot - Dear Photographer – kindest regards, Model. xxx
You’d think that this advice is just common sense, but from my own experience, I have realized that some photographers just lack people skills … or disregard models and don’t realize that a photo shoot really is a collaborative process.
This also reminds me of something that Ulorin Vex said about how a photographer that had booked her, wanted to not pay her for the time she spent prepping for a setup. I had to wonder how the photographer hoped to get amazing results from an unhappy model because of his antagonistic stance. You know, you’d think that it would be common sense. But, apparently it’s not.
I asked a few models that I’ve worked with, if they had anything to share with us, elaborating on the article by Jen Brook. Here’s what they had to say …
March 5, 2013
photographic composition, posing, light & lighting – when it all comes together
I just love this photograph of Anastasia Z, and want to share some of the through-process in how it came together.
To test the Canon EOS 6D camera (B&H) and the Canon 24-70mm f4.0L IS lens (B&H), I met up with Anastasia Z in New York. I scouted this area with my friend, Peter Salo, while we were waiting for Anastasia who was running a touch late. Just as well we scouted earlier on, because it was freezing outside.
I saw the way this building over the Highline in Manhattan was creating this jagged shape with strong lines. I also knew the staggered vertical lines would work well, silhouetted against the winter sky. When we met up with Anastasia, we discussed an approximate plan of where we’d shoot .. including somewhere inside eventually. But I wanted to try this one specific idea first – right here.
So, knowing more or less what I wanted, we walked towards this spot. On our way there, I did try out an idea, but it didn’t quite hang together, and I dropped it to get to this place where I knew the idea would work.
So here’s how this photograph came together with just three test images …
January 14, 2013
photography composition: working toward the final image
When I first immersed myself in photography way way back, it took me a while to realize that what I see in a magazine or book, isn’t necessarily the first image. Those incredible images that can inspire us, (or even make us just want to give up photography), most often are not fully-formed masterpieces. Most often, the photograph that we as the viewer are presented with, are but one of a series. One photograph that stood out, or where the elements in the photograph were controlled by the photographer. And even with the work of hardcore photo-journalists, what we see, have been “controlled” and “adjusted”, even if only in terms of lens choice and composition.
With that realization, I felt less intimidated by the great photographs that I saw. They had become more accessible in a way, and more attainable to me as a new photographer.
Photographs with impact or appeal could come to be because of serendipity or foresight and careful planning by the photographer. Quite often it’s just recognizing the potential of a scene, and working with it to finesse the elements, such as the composition or lighting or, with portraits, the pose.
So it is with this photograph of Jessica Joy, taken just before we started the photo-shoot mentioned in the article, colored gels with flash photography. The final result shown here, is a little bit of everything – a wonderful subject, an opportunity, and then over the course of several photographs, finessing it.
While I really like this image, and think of this as the final image that I want to present, it didn’t just “happen” as the first and only image. There was an entire sequence leading up to it. It is this first recognition of a potentially good photograph, and then the thought-process in the sequence, that I want to show here.
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 10, 2012
night-club photos – Modern Gypsies – mermaid
When the Modern Gypsies asked me to photograph their one performance piece in a night-club in Manhattan, I wasn’t sure what equipment to bring along. I tend to over-prepare and bring too much. You know, just in case. So I have a tendency to overload myself with gear at times. It’s a discipline thing then to strip it down to just the essentials … but still be flexible enough to accomodate a challenging situation.
The previous time I photographed them, I knew there would be a large prep room, so I could bring in extra gear such as light-stands and softboxes. It worked out quite well for the example I showed on the Tangents blog - Modern Gypsies – masked dancers, as well as other photos out on the street, where the off-camera flash helped.
This time, I suspected I might need to travel much lighter. Night clubs aren’t the placed to walk around loaded with gear. So while I did load off-camera lighting and such into my car, I left most of my gear in the car. In my shoulder bag – the Think Tank Retrospective 20 (B&H) – I kept only the one camera, three lenses, and two speedlights.
The photo at the top was taken with the Nikon D4 (B&H) and Nikon 35mm f/1.4G (B&H) using only the lights there in the night-club.
camera settings: 1/60 @ f/1.8 @ 3200 ISO
The available light looked great when it worked to my advantage, but I soon knew that I’d need to add a bit of fill-light from bounce flash …
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 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 …
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October 12, 2012
off-camera flash for a photo session with a Vintage look
Anyone who regularly follows the Tangents blog or has my 2nd book, off-camera flash photography, might recognize Sarah. When she told me she was visiting New York, I made sure that I squeezed in a photo session with her in my schedule. The weather on the day was grey and drizzly … enough reason to juice it up with some off-camera flash. And then play with the images in post-processing a bit …