photographing a vintage motorbike on location, with Profoto lighting gear
I’m getting to meet so many people while photographing interesting subjects for my next book, 60 Portraits, that I was bound to meet some truly interesting characters. John collects vintage … oh, everything. His entire house filled with collectibles – it is like stepping out of a time-machine into a different era. I joked with him that the only two things in his house from the 21st century is his fridge and his dog!
Most impressive in a way, is John’s workshop where he maintains his two vintage era motorbikes and a Model A Ford. The tools in his workshop are all authentic to the era … and they work. The way John describes it, it actually makes sense in the way he maintains everything with hand-tools and lathes and such.
His one motorbike is from WW1 era, and the other is this 1928 German-built Triumph. The sidecar was made by Hindenburg Metalworks. Yup, the zeppelin guys. John’s friend, Barbara, frequently accompanies him to shows and rallies, and came along for this photo shoot. After all, there is a side-car!
I photographed a few sequences of John and Barbara with this motorbike, using different setups. I liked this dramatic series the most, with the light from behind casting a shadow in front of them. I wanted the light to etch the frame of the motorbike and side-car, without revealing too much detail – I wanted this to be a portrait of John and Barbara. However, I took a number of other images, where the motorbike is better lit. Just to have the variety. Such a unique opportunity doesn’t come along that often, so I had to make sure I got variety in the images.
Now, the techie details about the photograph:
camera settings were 1/250 @ f/14 @ 200 ISO
As always, the pull-back shot to show the lighting setup …
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photography workshops & seminars for 2013
New York workshop dates for 2013
The final full-day workshops on on-location lighting in New York, will be held on
Oct 22, 2013 (Tuesday) - NYC - 4 spots still open
This workshops will be limited to 10 people, and there will be two models available. I do want to give everyone as much individual attention, hence the limit in class size.
individual workshops & tutoring sessions
If this doesn’t suit your schedule, I do offer individual photography workshops in NJ and in NYC, as well as tutoring sessions which can be in person at my studio in NJ, or via Skype.
thoughts on using a beauty dish as a single light source
A beauty dish is one of those light modifiers that sound attractive just by name already. And when photographers start exploring other options than direct off-camera flash and umbrellas or a softbox, a beauty dish is usually one of the first alternate light modifiers that catches attention. Mine too. Right after I bought my first Profoto kit, I purchased a beauty dish for it and started exploring using a beauty dish.
A beauty dish is ideally used at a closer distance for portraits, with the light “focused” on the face, creating a gradient where the light rapidly falls off between the lighter and darker areas – yet looks soft where the light is focused. But there’s more to it than that – a beauty dish is best used with a grid to help control the light. Or used with a sock, but then the beauty dish acts very much like a round softbox, and some of its specific qualities are lost.
Quite a few of the softbox options for speedlights offer a way to create a beauty dish-like effect. An example is the Westcott Rapid Box Octa Softboxes (B&H), as mentioned in the review: Westcott Rapid Box 26″ Octa Softbox. You can take the front diffuser off, and add the Westcott 2030-DP Deflector Plate (B&H), turning it into a beauty dish of sorts. But the same limitations appear.
Looking at the portrait of David above, you’ll notice a semi-circular band of light to the left. This is because, even though the light from the beauty-dish-ified softbox focuses light on him, there is light that spills from the edge of the speedlight. The detail photo of the Westcott RapidBox will explain it better …
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on-location corporate headshots – aiming for efficiency and speed
That’s me, all set up for on-location corporate headshots last week. Five speed light & Softbox set ups, to be placed in a different area each, to efficiently give 5 different looks. My client wanted head-shots of a list of people, with varying backgrounds around their offices. And also with different sets of clothes. We decided that 5 different looks would work best, and give them variety.
I considered the options I had. Two of them amounted to too much disruption:
- dragging one light around, and setting it up every time for each person, or
- setting up in one spot, and then having everyone file past. And then setting up again, and having everyone file past me.
The best and most elegant option immediately seemed to be to set up lighting in 5 different spots, with pre-determined exposure settings and flash settings … and then walking each person to each spot. This sounds like a mission, until you realize that 3 of the spots were within 20 yards of each other in the main lobby area.
Instead of moving a light-stand around, I would walk up to the already set up light-stand & speedlight, and switch on the radio trigger for that spot. All setting up and testing done before-hand. Fast and efficient. Then, at 30 minute intervals, the next person would join us.
Here is a close-up shot of one of those setups:
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photo session: urban ballerina – Viktoria
Late afternoon in New York, with the sun-light glinting off the glass buildings – dramatic light for a ballerina in an urban setting. However, the sunlight that was reflecting off the buildings wasn’t consistent, and did not necessarily fall in a place where we could use it. So I created my own with an off-camera speedlight just out of the frame – but positioned so that it intentionally flared, and also gave beautiful rim-light on Viktoria.
The pull-back shot shows how the speedlight was set up, and my own position, low down on the ground, to get that perspective.
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workshop: wedding photography – posing the bride & groom
Sunday, Oct 20, 2013
10am – 2pm
This workshop is hosted by Unique Photo - more details & to book a spot.
The class will be limited to 15 people.
There’s real pressure on a wedding day to capture beautiful romantic portraits to show the couple at their best. You have to work fast and efficiently, and make the bride and groom look good! Combine great poses with off-camera flash, and you’re guaranteed to get great results.
With this hands-on practical workshop, you will not only be shown the poses that work, and how to adapt poses – you will get to work with the models (as bride and groom), and pose them yourself so you can learn. We will also work with off-camera lighting as part of creating dynamic images that your clients will love.
lighting a vintage styled boudoir photo session, using LED fresnel lights
Working with the ever-delightful Olena in my studio, we went for a mix of outfits and looks. We started off the photo session with straight-forward headshots, but then when Olena showed me this outfit, it just begged for something with a more vintage feel in lighting. So, drawing on the classic Hollywood glamor lighting for inspiration, I used the Litepanels Sola 4 LED Fresnel Lights to create that dramatic light on her, and on the background.
I’ve used the same lights before for Hollywood Glamor style portraits, and loved the effect. The lights, being a smaller light source than a softbox, need more careful placement, and more careful posing. So using lights like these, need to be more controlled. The end result though retains that air of mystery and that certain allure than boudoir photography needs to exude.
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I am looking for people to photograph!
I need your help! My publisher has asked me to write a book on portrait lighting, but with a specific theme in mind. They have a series they want to build up, called 60 Portraits. Over 150+ pages, each book will describe how different portrait photo sessions were set up, with emphasis on the lighting.
60 Portraits, and each one is devoted a 2-page spread with the main photo, a description, and supporting images, including a lighting diagram. Wonderful to just dip into for ideas; wonderful to read through more systematically.The first in the series is 75 Portraits, by Hernan Rodriguez. I was very impressed with the quality of his work, and how the material in the book is laid out.
What really caught my attention, was the variety that the author has in his book. These are mostly studio-based photos, but there are many on-location setups as well. He also describes how he arrived at some of the concepts. His subjects are varied, ranging from kids all the way to Mike Tyson!
So there’s the challenge – to write a book that might compare.
I don’t want to write a book with just 60 lighting diagrams. I want to write a book on Portrait photography that will show different approaches and different thought-processes. I want each portrait to reveal something to the photography enthusiast, whether it is about light, or working with your subject, or coming up with ideas. I want the book to be multi-faceted in its narrative about portrait photography.
But … I don’t have enough material yet. And this brings me to the topic here. I need interesting and photogenic subjects. I want to photograph you. Or your friends, or family or colleagues. I’m not necessarily looking for supermodel-perfect subjects. I want people that fascinate and intrigue. Characters. Musicians. Tattoos. Interesting jobs and locations. People with stories.
I want to shoot mostly on-location. But instead of shooting in familiar locations where I might fall into routine ways of photographing someone, I want to shoot in diverse places, and let each place and each person (or group) that I am photographing, trigger new ideas and new approaches to photographing people.
So here’s what I propose …
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Petra Herrmann, of Bella Boudoir, runs a successful boudoir photography business based in Kansas City. In my opinion, she’s one of the best boudoir photographers around. Her work is sexy in its simplicity, which I find quite appealing. Her use of interesting angles and composition first drew me in when I saw her work awhile back. Petra also has a series of workshops on boudoir photography that will hit various cities over the next year. Check out her website, Level Up Boudoir Master Class, for the schedule. (Some future dates will still be announced.)
The theme of Petra’s workshop is Shoot smart, shoot sexy, shoot to sell. I’m happy to feature Petra as a guest writer with advice on how to increase your sales in boudoir photography.
shoot details and sequences - increase your sales in boudoir photography!
by Petra Herrmann
shoot smart. shoot sexy. shoot to sell
When you present a woman with boudoir portraits that show her as romantic, bold, daring, fun and sassy (but hide her cellulite) she tends to buy more. When you capture aesthetically pleasing angles and perspectives of a woman’s body—especially those that are outside of the norm—she will buy more. When you capture images in a progression that tells a little story on an album spread, she will add those images to her album. And when you capture detail shots with a bit of mystery, she may just buy a canvas for her bedroom wall.
These statements may seem obvious. But until I put them into practice, my work looked just like everyone else’s and my business was mediocre. As I refined the statements into business practices, my boudoir studio has blossomed.
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