review: comparing various light modifiers for on-camera flash

Many of the tutorials and articles on the Tangents blog deals with getting the best from your on-camera flash. My approach has always been one of – what technique would give me the best light? Of course, there are so many different scenarios we could find ourselves in – so we have to adapt to where we are, and what we want to achieve.

With on-camera flash, I’ve always pushed back against the idea of there being a single do-everything device that will make your flash photography look better. Specifically with light and lighting, We need to be aware of where we are, and then adapt to get the best results. It really is up to us as creative photographers, to either take control or to adapt.

This is the main motif in my book, Direction and Quality of Light – once we understand and see this underlying principle of lighting – that it is all about the direction and quality of light – we have much more range in our abilities as photographers. And that has been my approach to using on-camera flash as well – I want good clean light.

Over time there has been many requests for a comparative review of the various on-camera flash modifiers on the market. So I decided to use a representative selection of them, and show the results from them in a very specific environment – bounce flash indoors. Keep in mind that I did not edit the photos of Adrienne, so that you’d have an idea of how much glare there is on her skin with some of the modifiers.

The focus of this video review is limited to just that scenario then. We don’t look at how these flash modifiers perform outdoors, or in venues where there isn’t much of anything to bounce flash off. The caveat of course is that we might just surprise ourselves when we find out how effective bare speedlight bounce flash is indoors in cavernous areas: high-ISO bounce flash photography.

Still, there is a huge amount of curiosity about how these flash modifiers compare and how well they fare against each other. Check out the video, and follow the linked articles for more.

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photo gear for sale

April 13, 2015

I have a few pieces of photo gear (and other items) available that I am selling.

I’m only selling in the continental USA, and the price includes UPS ground shipping.

Check the B&H and Amazon links for full details and spec on each item.
Learn more inside…

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scam: domain name registration / SEO service registration

As if the e-mail scams aren’t bad enough, they are now texting photographers with the same scam! But there is another scam that has been going around for years now – but it is so obvious that I doubt many people will fall for it. But just in case anyone has any doubt, or may be a touch too inattentive, this next one is also a scam – fake domain renewals / SEO service registration.

If you have a website – and this means everyone – then you have received these emails, warning you to renew your domain. There are also emails with instruction that you need to renew your search engine submission. I guess that this takes them out of the realm of outright fraud, since they will most likely add your website to Google?

It’s all purposely very vague, cloaked with mis-directing language. There’s even a warning about “failure to complete” resulting in making it difficult for clients to find you on the internet.

This important expiration notification notifies you about the expiration offer notice of your domain registration for search engine submission. The information in this expiration notification may contain confidential and/or legally privileged information from the notification processing department of the Domain SEO Service Registration to purchase our SEO Traffic Generator. This information is intended only for the use of the individual(s) named above.
If you fail to complete your domain name registration search engine service by the expiration date, may result in the cancellation of this domain name notification offer notice.

This scam – domain name registration / SEO service registration – is quite laughable and very obvious, but I wanted to add it to the list of scams that are out there.

 

related articles

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photography workshops

April 12, 2015

photography workshops for 2015

The group photography workshops are full-day events – and are a mixture of seminar presentation and practical shooting. The workshops will be held at my studio space in NJ. There is free parking, and it is easily reached from the main highways in the area. There is also regular bus transport from NYC. (We can fetch you from the bus terminal.)

The fee for the full-day workshop is $600 and the workshop is from 9am to 8pm. Lunch and refreshments are included!

The workshops are now limited to 6 people – and working within my own studio with more equipment readily at hand, gave the workshop a relaxed tempo. The material is always streamlined a little bit more, from workshop to workshop.

More info about the photography workshops.

The workshops for 2015 will take place on:

  • May 17, 2015  (Sunday)
  • July 19, 2015  (Sunday)
  • Sept 20, 2015  (Sunday)

Book a spot at one of the workshops.  Each class will be limited to 6 people.

(Recap of previous photography workshops.)

 

There is another forthcoming workshop: Feminine Portraiture / Boudoir workshop – May 31, 2015 – Albany, NY

 

If you would like an individual workshop, or a personal tutoring session, those are available as well throughout the year, depending on both of our schedules. The studio is only 17 miles from Manhattan. Just a short hop from New York and quite accessible by bus. Oh, and there’s parking at the studio. Free parking.

If you are limited in how far you can travel, there are Skype sessions and also video tutorials to help you get a much better understanding of photography and lighting techniques.

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dramatic studio lighting: using the beauty dish as a single light source

I love the forgiving nature of large light modifiers – you don’t have such precision with a huge softbox as you do with a smaller, more contrasty light modifier.  But you also have less opportunity for dramatic light, as you do with smaller light sources. In line with the idea that a smaller light = harder light = dramatic light, I wanted to create a series of portraits that had a darker, moodier feel.

Brian Calabrese, a New York portrait photographer friend of mine, met up with me in my studio, and through various iterations of how to position him, and how to place the light, we got to some stunning portraits of him.

In trying to use the beauty dish as a dual light – lighting up Brian’s features, and as spill light on the background – it took careful positioning of the light, and posing of Brian. The beauty dish was  on a Manfrotto 025BS boom (affiliate) that was on a light stand with casters. I kept the weight-end of the boom close to me so I could just reach out and adjust the light’s placement. (You can see this in the pull-back shot.)

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video clip: behind the scenes – Profoto B2 review photo shoot

For the review: Profoto B2 Off-Camera Flash, I had Erik Colonese shoot a behind-the-scenes video clip while I photographed Anelisa. It’s a fairly long clip because we decided to keep in a lot of my dialogue with Anelisa as I direct her. The video clip also expands on the review with some info on the Profoto B2 Flash (affiliate), and I also touch on camera settings and using the flash.

As is usual, I want the material on Tangents to be of wider interest, even when it is a review of a specific product. There’s something in the video for everyone, regardless of your specific interest in Profoto.

As regular followers of the Tangents blog know already, Anelisa is my favorite model – she has a sparkling personality and we have a great rhythm, but more than that, she knows how to switch it on instantly for the camera. You pretty much can’t take a bad photograph of her. Now, as consummately professional as she is, she can’t see what I am getting in the viewfinder, so it is still up to me to direct her. That’s something to keep in mind if you work with models – talk to them, and guide them. It really becomes a collaborative effort then. This BTS video clip shows some of that.

For the entire photo shoot with Anelisa in various spots in Manhattan, I wanted to shoot at f/1.4 to give a very specific look. It helps isolate your subject from the background. The wide aperture meant a high shutter speed … which meant that I used the Profoto B2 in high-speed flash sync (HSS), to get this look. For more technical info, check the review: Profoto B2 Off-Camera Flash.

Thank you to Erik for shooting and editing the clip; Anna Russell for patiently assisting; and Anelisa for fueling the creative spark, and for braving the cold.

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review: Profoto B2 Off-Camera Flash – photo shoot

Over the years I have used a variety of off-camera lights on location shoots and at weddings, and have worked my way up from Dynalite and Quantum flashes (and speedlights), to the Profoto B1. The Profoto B1 (affiliate) has made such a difference for me in the ease of use, the speed of setting up, and the sheer power of 500 W/s of light. I love my B1 flash. For example, here is how I used the Profoto B1 portable flash at a wedding.

Profoto has now released the Profoto B2 250 W/s Air TTL Flash, and it comes as two options:
Profoto B2 Location Kit with two flash heads (affiliate)
Profoto B2 To-Go Kit  with a single head (affiliate)

The Profoto B2 immediately intrigued me for a few reasons. As a quick summary, the B2 offers:
250 W/s power. (Half that of the B1)
High-speed flash sync and
TTL flash exposure metering, as well as a
Freeze Mode where the flash duration is cut down to 1/15,000 sec. at lower power settings.
– It is much lighter and compact than the B1 – but this comes with a few penalties.

Before we discuss the advantages and disadvantages of the Profoto B2 vs the B1, I have to mention that every review I’ve read so far, mentioned the B2 as a lower-cost alternative to the Profoto B1. However, I don’t see the Profoto B2 positioned like that – the single-flash unit is about the same price as the B1. So there’s no financial advantage there. Now, by the time you get to the 2-flash head Location kit, then the B2 kit is less expensive than two Profoto B1 heads … but still with certain disadvantages to it.

So really, I don’t think the Profoto B2 was meant to be a lower-cost option to the B1, but was meant to just be a different option to the B1. Just different. You have options. You get to choose what suits your needs best.

To test the Profoto B2, I met up with Anelisa and an assistant in Manhattan, to do a Fashion-styled shoot out on the streets. Exactly the kind of thing where the Profoto B2 is meant to excel – being a portable high-powered flash that offers high-speed flash sync, as well as TTL flash exposure metering.

The behind-the-scenes video clip adds more info about the Profoto B2. It’s a fairly long clip because we decided to keep in a lot of my dialogue with Anelisa as I direct her. That’s something to keep in mind if you work with models – talk to them, and guide them. It really becomes a collaborative effort then.

Learn more inside…

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portrait photography – allowing influences to inspire your own style

I keep a folder of Inspiration images to which I often add interesting photos shot by other photographers. This serves as an ideas folder. There are hundreds upon hundreds of images. I add to this Inspiration folder, and I also discard images over time as my own style and what I want to work towards, form better shape. I might browse through this and see what sticks in my mind. Sometimes it is the amalgamation of ideas that lead to something new. Even when I try to emulate the style and lighting of an image, there are always distinct differences that lead to new images with a different look for me.

Similarly, the photo above was loosely based on ideas I saw elsewhere … yet, by the time we were done, the  photos from this session didn’t look like the inspiration images. Different model; different lighting; different post-processing; different interpretation and a different photographer.

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The Lighting Notebook eBook now only $9.95

The Lighting Notebook, by Good Light! Magazine, is a PDF eBook that gives you easy access to all the lighting setups you might ever need.

– One-click jump to any setup from the visual index
– Categories: One light, Two light, Multi light and available light
– Copy and print the PDF without technical restrictions

New setups are added to The Lighting Notebook on a regular basis. All updates to future volumes are free of charge for you.

*** please note: This e-Book contains nudity in the examples. If you’re okay with that, then great. If not, then this book isn’t for you.

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flash photography: applying the Sunny 16 rule and the flash Guide Number

In essence, if you know the GN of your flash, then you could use (bare) off-camera flash to match the sunlight, without even metering!

There is a super-useful shortcut built into those two simple values: Sunny 16, and the Guide Number.

Now, I am pretty sure that when you hear mention of the Guide Number of a flash, you’re most likely switching off already, thinking that it is just an arcane list of numbers – different apertures against different power settings. But hang in there – this is very useful stuff to have a grip on.

And yes, since: GN  =  distance  *  f-stop
that is what the Guide Number tells you – the distance multiplied by the aperture is the GN.

But there is something immediately useful there in the Guide Number, which is hugely important. If you understand this, then you have an important key in your pocket about how to quickly match bright sunlight with your speedlight. It’s really simple:

Learn more inside…

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