July 7, 2009

New York photo session – Sarah & Mark

I have already posted several images from the extended photo session with Sarah and Mark – but here is the epic video.   The intention with these photo sessions was to expand Sarah’s portfolio as much as we could.

We started off at Coney Island, doing a session with Sarah and Mark at the edge of the beach with Sarah in swimwear .. and from there it went into more of a lifestyle shoot with the two of them on the boardwalk.  Later on we had Sarah run towards the camera in sportswear.  But we rained out with a massive thunderstorm rolling in over New York.  We picked up the photo session again in Battery Park.  Much of this session and onwards weren’t caught on video since the-other-Neil, who assisted me, had to stay with the van and drive around looking for parking while we continued with the shoot.  There is a short section though, showing some of the Battery Park session.  From there we moved up to Times Square to photograph a very glamorous looking Sarah in evening wear in Times Square.

Hopefully all of this will be a great view of the approach during a photo session, and how there is no single static way of doing things.  Various techniques are used; the lighting too is varied; all to give a wide range to the look of the final images ..

For the photos in swimwear, I used the the Profoto AcuteB 600R lighting kit (B&H) with 2×3 Profoto softbox, as mentioned in the previous post.  For the rest of the day I used a Q-flash in a softbox, which was either held up on a monopod, or placed on a lightstand.  Some of the images were with only available light.  So it was a mix of lighting equipment, and a mix of techniques.

Oh, in the video clip where I mention the test shot, that is without flash so I have an idea of what my basic ambient exposure would look like. And that is the image that appears on the video – the test shot without flash.

From the swimwear sequence:
First the retouched image, and then the original image.  As you can see, I removed all the people in the background, and the rocks and jetty.  All too simplify the photograph to give it a bit more impact.  I also had to retouch the uneven shadows on Mark’s chest where the combination of shadows from the sun and from the flash created a weird pattern.

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Sarah, from the sequence posted in a previous article.
1/250th @ f3.5 @ 200 ISO
The background is the approaching storm.  Lighting is with the Q-flash in a softbox off to my right, held up high by my assistant.  And some Photoshop fairy dust to make the image pop even more.

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With the next image of Sarah running towards the camera, the lighting had to be even more mobile. As you could see in the video clip, Mark was running alongside Sarah, holding up the Q-flash in the softbox.  Quite a feat!  He more or less matched her pace, but any change in distance, was mostly compensated for with it being TTL flash.  TTL flash should, in theory at least, take into account the change in distance.  With Manual flash, any change in distance between the light and the subject would affect the exposure.
1/250th @ 5.6 @ 800 ISO

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Here I wanted to show an out-take.  One of the test shots so that you can see the position of the softbox (on a light-stand), relative to Sarah.  Here the flash was manual again since she remained static in relation to the light source.  Manual flash just makes more sense then for consistency of exposure.  My settings:  1/250th @ f4 @ 800 ISO.   The settings were chosen to expose for the background in a way that I felt retained the mood perfectly of the city scene just after a rain storm in the early evening.  I pulled the flash power down to give me just enough light in comparison to that.

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As the sun set, the entire city was bathed in an orange glow.  Really beautiful to see.   1/125th@ f3.5 @ 800 ISO was just right in my estimation based on my camera’s meter reading and the LCD preview.   Instead of manual flash though (which would make more sense), I decided on TTL flash because I suspected the security guards in the area would chase us off the moment they became aware of us.  (Turns out I was right.)  Shooting with TTL allows me to set up faster than with manual flash.  Less consistency between exposures, but the speed of setting up helped me more.   It is whatever technique is more appropriate at the time, rather than sticking to a dogmatic manual-flash-in-a-softbox approach only.

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Driving around the corner, I saw the entire street scene just bathed in that soft light – a perfect backdrop against which to place Sarah.  But in post-processing the image, I ended up preferring this version over the more natural version.  My settings: 1/40th @ f2.8 @ 1600 ISO, handheld.  My tripod was in the car, but I couldn’t set it up in the middle of the (quiet) street.  So I used the machine-gun technique to make sure I did get images which were crisply sharp.

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And finally we hit Times Square in Manhattan.  Here is Sarah  in evening dress, still looking strikingly glamorous after a long, long day.

1/250th @ f4 @ 800 ISO // Nikon D3, Nikon 70-200mm f2.8 AF-S
The lighting was with a Quantum T5d-R in a softbox;  TTL flash controlled by Quantum FreeWire system. (When the FreeWire works it is great, when it doesn’t … it just doesn’t.)

Sarah and Mark, the two of you were just fantastic to work with.  Thank you!

More articles on off-camera flash …

 

 

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{ 41 comments. } Add a Comment

1 Tom K. July 8, 2009 at 12:13 am

The first thing this video made me do was smile. A genuine smile. Truly outstanding work on this Neil. The images are gorgeous and the video is really well done. I am learning so much from you.

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2 Neil July 8, 2009 at 12:44 am

Tom, I know how you feel. My job truly doesn’t suck. : )

Neil vN

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3 john July 8, 2009 at 3:12 am

Neil
This is some fantastic work with some great models.
In the battery park section, with sarah by the benches I strained my eyes looking for that flash shadow! and none to be found .
The ambiant looks like maybe 1/2 stop under? but on the flash did you keep chimping and bring the flash down so there was no shadow?
And on the time square did you hold the ambient under again with the same chimping the flash.
Again fantastic work thanks for the lessons.

John

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4 Neil July 8, 2009 at 3:25 am

John, the reason why you can’t discern any shadow, is more likely to be because the background is bright there from the reflection of the sun.

The softbox will also disperse the light enough that the shadow won’t be sharply defined.

I did chimp to get the exposure correct for the manual flash. (I had forgotten my flashmeter at home.)

Neil vN

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5 michael July 8, 2009 at 4:11 am

Hi Neil, Stunning stuff.

It amazes me how you use such a large aperture. What do you pictures look like
at 100% and how far are you standing when shooting at say F4.

Michael

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6 Neil July 8, 2009 at 5:43 am

Michael, these had better be sharp! They are Nikon optics. ;)

btw … I don’t quite think of f4 as being a large aperture. f2.8 or wider is a large aperture. At f4 most f2.8 zooms will be crisply sharp.

Here is a 100% crop of the one image above, at the default sharpening setting that ACR uses. So the sharpening is fairly low.

Neil vN

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7 Magnus July 8, 2009 at 6:08 am

your entries and blog is simply great! so much details. No holding back. Great stuff!

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8 tim wong July 8, 2009 at 6:56 am

neil, thanks for your video, one question, how can you mount the qflash with the softbox (24×32?)?

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9 Neil July 8, 2009 at 7:15 am

I use the Westcott Magic Slipper, (B&H).
It is pricey, but sturdy. (It comes with the speedring and also with an umbrella clamp.)

Neil vN

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10 Rehan July 8, 2009 at 7:18 am

Neil, great work, I am really hooked on your blog. Great stuff you are sharing with the community. Thanks

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11 Tyler Brown July 8, 2009 at 10:50 am

First off, I love these, it is great to see you would… if I could change one thing, I would mic you, and tone down the music. I would much rather hear your interactions with your models then the music.

Keep them coming.

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12 Neil July 8, 2009 at 11:17 am

Tyler, thanks for the note. I do intend making proper educational little clips as well, and there we will make sure that I am properly mic’d up. (I did purchase a set of Sennheiser wireless mics. The clips so far were more intended to be fun vignettes. Keep checking in. :)

Neil vN

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13 Thilo July 8, 2009 at 2:46 pm

Neil, i´ve been a quiet but admiring reader for about two years now.
Since you started posting videos i think you made a quantum leap in explaining your techniques since even I am able to understand (and sometimes even apply) them much better.
So i wish to really thank you!

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14 Mickey Howell July 8, 2009 at 3:46 pm

The skin tones are very warm. Did you have a gel on your strobe and what was your white balance setting?

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15 Neil July 8, 2009 at 4:50 pm

Mickey … no gels used this time. Most of the images were taken at either Daylight WB (when used with the Profoto or Q-flash), or Cloudy.

With the Daylight WB, I have the camera set to +1 for a touch more warmth.

A few of the images did have an AlienSkin Exposure 2 film type added to them, and that does warm up skin tones.

Neil vN

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16 Kim Nodurft July 8, 2009 at 9:29 pm

Wow! Excellent work! I can’t wait for the Denver workshop. Will I be shooting like this afterwards? :)

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17 Neil July 8, 2009 at 10:51 pm

Kim .. quite likely .. once you sign up. ;)

Neil vN

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18 Brian Daly July 9, 2009 at 7:35 am

Hi Neil,

Not directly related to this session, but how you place your signature on each picture?
I know you could use a brush or a pre-saved image of the signature, but do you have a quick way of automating the placement and sizing?

Thanks,
Brian

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19 Tim C. July 9, 2009 at 11:34 pm

Fantastic! Thanks for sharing…. great shots and models. I see you used the Profoto Acute, would you mind sharing some insight about how one sets up their camera and lighting equipment in compensating…. tall order, I know! Can be a later post!

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20 Neil July 10, 2009 at 6:56 pm

Brian, I manually place it for the first image I have edited and resized for web. Then I simply drag the border & log over onto other images. Sadly, no automation.

However, check out this post where I mention Watermark Creator, a new Photoshop extention for CS4.

Neil vN

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21 Terence Kearns July 12, 2009 at 1:41 pm

Thanks for this. Much appreciated.

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22 roger767 July 12, 2009 at 4:17 pm

what white balance did you use on the shot with the woman sitting on the low fence?

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23 Neil July 14, 2009 at 1:57 pm

Roger .. I checked my ACR settings for that RAW file, and it says ‘as shot”, which meant Daylight WB. No further adjustment to the WB in ACR / Bridge or Photoshop.

Neil vN

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24 Neil July 14, 2009 at 1:58 pm

And a thank you to everyone who has left a kind note here. It’s always heartening to hear those.

Neil vN

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25 Neil July 27, 2009 at 12:03 am

To my Russian friends discussing this thread on livejournal ..
no, I did not use any warming filters.
No warming filter on the lens, and no CTS or CTO gels on the flash either.

Neil vN

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26 Renee Rangel July 27, 2009 at 9:49 pm

May I ask what is photoshop fairy dust? Love your work!!

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27 Neil July 28, 2009 at 2:58 am

Renee … Photoshop fairy dust is my description for the combination of filters / add-ons / actions and things I do to an image to sweeten it a little bit.

I’ll post more about it with a future blog posting here.

Neil vN

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28 Jet Decena July 28, 2009 at 12:06 pm

Neil I really love this set of images..It was really a joy to watch and makes me want to go out and shoot!!! Thanks again and I didn’t say thanks for the workshop you had here in California..

Jet

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29 Artur Ocubaro December 8, 2009 at 11:57 am

Hi Neil!

I ve just watched the video of Sarah & Mark NYC photo session! Wonderful! Beautiful photos! And with all due respect she’s gorgeous! Congratulations!
Its kind of the perfect shot…..Nice places, beautiful couple, photogenic couple, perfect ambient…….and of course your magic touch! Bravo!!
In the amusement park did you use the softbox? They are splendid!
And the lenses that you were carrying were 24-70 and 70-200? And just to say…the music of this video is beautiful too! LIke I said, perfect!

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30 Neil December 12, 2009 at 4:37 am

Artur .. thanks!

Yes, I did use a 24×32 softbox in the amusement park, similar as described in this thread.

And the lenses I used where the 24-70 and 70-200, as mentioned elsewhere here.

Neil vN

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31 kwong December 26, 2009 at 12:30 am

Excellent work! It is nice to see an expert in the field to share! nice balance fill and great model you have to work with. Thanks

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32 Eric May 26, 2011 at 11:51 am

Questions about the logistics: how did your Sarah change the wardrobe during the shoot, in your car or somewhere else? They carried the wardrobe themselves (I don’t think so) when you changed the location or you have a second assistant who managed these stuff?

These questions really make me feel tied up. Give me some tips.

Thanks, you great Neil.

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33 Neil vN May 26, 2011 at 11:54 am

I have a big red soccer-dad van, and Sarah changed in the van as necessary.

My assistant on the day carried my lighting equipment and handled the video camera.

Neil vN

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34 Eric May 26, 2011 at 12:15 pm

Got it, thanks.

Here’s another two quick questions:
1.Do you provide recommendations for the wardrobe which models bring or it’s just up to the model?
2.For a chosen location, is it your call to decide the specific wardrobe or it’s also just up to the model?

Thanks.
Eric

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35 Neil vN May 26, 2011 at 12:20 pm

With this photo session, we wanted to expand Sarah’s portfolio – so I left it entirely up to her.

With clients’ photo sessions, I do give recommendations. Same when I use models, although I leave it up to them as well. Most models have a good selection of clothes.

For example, with these photo sessions of Ulorin Vex, I relied on her for her choice in clothing, since she has such an unusual wardrobe.

Neil vN

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36 Artur Ocubaro April 28, 2012 at 3:09 am

Hi, Neil!

Is that possible You telling me the name of this music and where do You get this kind of music? Thanks!

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37 Neil vN April 28, 2012 at 7:33 pm

The music is royalty-free music by Triple Scoop Music.
I don’t offhand recall the specific track’s name.

Neil vN

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38 Artur Ocubaro May 7, 2012 at 9:58 am

Hi, Neil!

Thanks for Your feedback. I went there but its a little pricey for me….60 dollars per music! But, Thanks anyway! I ve bought the Spinlight 360 but still did not use. Thanks for Your great work!

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39 Artur Ocubaro May 7, 2012 at 10:07 am

Hi, Neil!

Its me again! I do not intend to be a pain in the a…but is that possible to narrower the possibilities of that song…I cant find there, there are 8 choices for searching the song….and for paying 60 dollars….I just really need the best song…and that is one that I could pay that value. Of course, that song matched Your perfect shot and the beautiful couple, but I really loved that song. Is that possible? Thanks!

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40 Neil vN May 7, 2012 at 11:19 am

Faith Riviera – According To Me

Neil vN

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41 Artur Ocubaro May 7, 2012 at 11:48 am

Hi, Neil!

Yes! That´s it! Thank You!

Reply

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