multiple off-camera flash

multiple speedlite portrait setup using Rogue Flashbenders

The PDN Photo Plus Expo in New York took place last week. As always, it’s it’s always a bit of a head-rush walking around, overwhelmed by all the photography goodies and people. Of course, you’ll inevitably bump into old friends and catch up a bit. One of them, is Michael Corsentino who I met during the After Dark photo conventions. (Sadly, the After Dark events have been put on indefinite hold.)

Not only is Michael Corsentino a pre-eminent wedding photographer in San Francisco, but has also written a book – the Canon Speedlite System Digital Field Guide (Amazon). If you like his style, follow him on Twitter @corsentino

When I randomly saw this photograph later on on his FB feed, my reaction was … damn!

He had photographed Anelisa at the Rogue Flashbenders stand for a demo. So I was curious about the exact lighting setup, and asked him if I could repost it here, along with an explanation and the lighting diagram …

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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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The Hudson Valley Click is a group of photographers in New York who arrange photo shoots for photographers who are interested in learning more or who would like to build their portfolios. I’ve mentioned them a few times in the past - photo shoot / haunted fashion / pin-up photography. With these photo sessions, they arrange for models and hair stylists and make-up artists, and for a small entry fee, you get to play. They are also pretty cool bunch of people to hang out with.

At the most recent shoot-out, the one organizer, Nuby DeLeon, showed me an image that he had set up, and my jaw dropped. With great pre-visualization of the intended shot, Nuby had set this dramatic scene up. Even the color image on the back of his camera looked perfect! Nuby was gracious enough to allow me to share this with everyone, including the lighting diagram …

Film Noir Fight Scene
by Nuby DeLeon
portrait, wedding & commercial photographer – New York

Recently, I’ve had the opportunity to explore dramatic lighting when Hudson Valley Click did their monthly themed shoot at Mountain View Manor in Glen Spey, NY. The theme for the month was Film Noir so having a beautiful Victorian mansion to shoot in was a treat. There were a number of models, all dressed in period costume.

My inspiration for the shot is Frank Miller. I wanted to match the dramatic lighting with some dramatic, almost over the top action.

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off-camera flash – creating separation with back-lighting

Another image from the photo session with Bethany, when I was in San Francisco earlier this year. This interesting background is part of the lobby area of a San Francisco night-club. I knew the wooden panelling and subdued incandescent lighting would make an interesting background because of the repetitive pattern and glow. A slow shutter speed brought the background light in … and then I used flash to light her. I didn’t gel my flash – specifically so that the background light would go that warm. The pull-back shot will show the simplicity of the lighting …

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multiple off-camera flash – adding some pop with back-lighting

Lea is a model I’ve worked with on previous occasions. With her striking looks and easy demeanor, she is just a pleasure to photograph. We spent some time this afternoon in down-town Manhattan, looking for interesting spots as backdrops. Jessica, (my infamous assistant with an attitude), spotted this dramatic gate and interesting glass front. It seemed like the perfect place to start the photo session, but it needed something extra to give the photos some drama.

The final image is shown here at the top, but let’s look at how we got there …

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multiple off-camera flash – gelling your flash for effect

All the light you see in this image here, is from two speedlights. The blue color in the background is because I gelled my one flash. While that might give you the idea that I gelled the background flash with a blue gel, what I actually did, was gel my main flash with two 1/2 CTS gels. That’s all I had with me, but I wanted those hard cold blue tones to the background.

A single 1/2 CTS gel would take the flash to 3700K. Adding a 2nd gel didn’t take it as far as a full CTS would’ve, but closer to 3350K, going by my settings with the RAW file.

By having my main speedlight (in a softbox) now at a color temperature of around 3350K, meant the background shifted towards blue in comparison. Intended effect achieved!

Now, about the placement of the speedlights, and to explain what the spectacular background actually is ….

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portrait session – Steinway pianist

I had the opportunity recently of photographing Robert Wyatt, a pianist affiliated with Steinway, at the Steinway offices in New York. This photo was taken as we were set to leave after the photo session was already done. I was immediately drawn to the symmetry of the architecture and the lavish foyer below. The pose and framing was deliberately centered.

For this lighting setup, I quickly pulled out the Lastolite softbox again, and used it as a single light source. It was all that was needed for a simple portrait here. But earlier on, for the actual photo session with Robert, I used multiple off-camera speedlights and different light modifiers to get portraits with impact …

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