available light photo session in the studio – Elle

During the same photo session with Elle where the aim was for Hollywood Glamor lighting style with video lights, I also wanted to change it up completely with an entirely different look and lighting – an available light photo series in the studio. With so much light flooding into the studio, it was just a matter of positioning Elle into the light. To get away from a blank wall, the background was a backdrop.

And yes, the studio needs more furniture. We’ll revisit this territory with future shoots. But even with such a minimalist setting, the photographs came out surprisingly well.

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creating Hollywood Glamor lighting with video lights

The old Hollywood masters such as George Hurrell, CS Bull and Laszlo Willinger had a dramatic way of lighting their portraits, with specific use of light and shade.

For my review of the Litepanels Sola 4 LED Fresnel Lights, I had Ulorin Vex as model. Her style and clothing are quite unique, and dramatic enough that these lights enhanced her look. I loved what we came up with.

In using these Litepanels Sola 4 LED Fresnel Lights (vendor) to specifically emulate Hollywood Glamor lighting, I called in another model, Elle Olins. Elle has that smoldering look to her that turned out to be perfect for this style of lighting.

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review: Litepanels Sola 4 LED Fresnel Light – (model: Ulorin Vex)

The dramatic look that video lights lend to photographs, is a regularly explored topic on Tangents. I also cover the use of video light in my book Direction and Quality of Light.

The video lights that I have been favoring, are the Lowel ID-Light (vendor), but like other halogen video lights, it tends to run hot. LED video lights, such as the Litepanels Croma LED video light (vendor), also tend to be under-powered for some uses. And since video lights tend to be small light sources, their light is quite contrasty. So there are some limitations.

So when I got to try out the Litepanels Sola 4 LED Fresnel Lights (vendor), I was quite keen. Especially because the arrival of these lights coincided with one of my favorite models, Ulorin Vex, visiting the East Coast for a few weeks. Ulorin Vex’s dramatic style and clothing would be very well suited to this kind of lighting.

Also check out the behind the scenes video clip about this 3-part photo session.

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photo session – Modern Gypsies – stilt-walking Showgirl

On the same day that we did the Silver Birds photo session with the Modern Gypsies, we did a few other setups, including this one where Irene was on stilts … as a showgirl. Since the photos are meant for their promotional material, we needed to make the images vibrant.

We scouted around a warehouse district of Brooklyn, looking for interesting backgrounds. I felt that this huge mural would make a colorful background compared to the bright white costume.

Still working with the usual Profoto Acute B2 600 W/s powerpack (vendor) with a Profoto beauty dish (vendor) for our lighting. Lots of juice in a very portable arrangement, and easy to set up.

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wedding photography – make those moments happen!

Anticipation and timing on the photographer’s part is essential to getting those key moments on the wedding day. Certain moments will happen, so we have to be ready for them.

This relies on your keen observation and you ability to recognize important moments. You have to know your cameras and equipment, and you have to know the fundamentals of photography. You have to be ready. And you can only be ready if you know your equipment well, and know the techniques. No excuses.

But there is no need to passively wait for moments – it is also possible to make them happen. And even though the photographer is guiding the process here, what is captured is still very true to the day’s events.

Here is an example of how I nudge things along to make sure I get a wonderful moment.

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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 (vendor) with a Profoto beauty dish (vendor) and a  22″ sock (vendor) over the beauty dish.

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.

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bounce flash comparison: with & without the black foamie thing

One of the presentations that I gave at the After Dark event in St Louis, was (perhaps inevitably by now), about bounce flash photography. Part of this was a sequence explaining how the direction that you bounce your flash into, will define the light pattern on your subject. The black foamie thing helps in directing the light from your flash, especially if you want short lighting on your subject.

And here is the comparison – with the black foamie thing, and without. Without flagging the flash, there is direct flash. Then the light is flat and specular and there is a distinct hard shadow that isn’t flattering.

camera settings for both images:  1/200 @ f/4 @ 800 ISO
I had our model stand close to a wall (with wooden trim). She was about 6 or 8 feet away from the wall.
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After Dark Photography Education – St Louis, MO – 2013

Anyone who regularly followed the Tangents blog during the past year or so, will know that I’ve raved about the After Dark events that I attended (and presented at). In my opinion, After Dark is the best (and most fun) learning experience that I’ve encountered.

If you want more details about After Dark:
After Dark Edu website for more info
After Dark on Facebook, if you want to closely follow discussions

The one After Dark event that was announced for 2013, was held in St Louis. As before, I did several presentations and I’d like to show some of the images that I shot while here.

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digital infra-red B&W photography

The ghostly beautiful infra-red B&W landscapes have always drawn me. Something ethereal and other-wordly about them.

So I’m not sure why it took me this long to pull the trigger on getting an infra-red converted digital camera. But I end up buying a used Canon 5D mark II that had been converted to infra-red. The conversion was been done by life pixel, adding a Deep B&W Infra-Red filter. They also adjusted the camera for ‘universal lens calibration’ to help with the focusing accuracy of the infra-red light.

Today was the first time I took the camera out for a proper spin, but instead of seeking out landscapes, I ventured in to Manhattan, to see what it looks like … and I’m blown away. I love this. I love this effect more than I had anticipated.

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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 EZYBOX 24×24″ softbox (vendor) fairly close to her was the compromise. This way her shadow added a subtle element to the composition.

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