off-camera flash

getting the most power from your flash / speedlite / speedlight

This might be obvious, but the most power (or light) that you’re going to get from your flash, is at full output in manual. Then the flash dumps everything it has. Full power. You could of course zoom your flash-head a little tighter and get more power / range, but essentially, you’re at the limit.

This is useful to know when you’re balancing flash with bright sunlight. With this portrait of Shawna, out on the Las Vegas strip, I wanted that sun-flare look … but I also wanted to balance the super-bright background with flash.

Learn more inside…

{ 43 comments }

off-camera flash photography tip – find your background, then your settings

With flash photography on location, we nearly always start off by figuring out what we want to do in relation to our available light. We might just need fill-flash, or or flash might need to do the “heavy lifting” and expose correctly for our subject in relation to the available light.

When we have our subject in (relative) shade, and need to figure out our flash exposure, we also need to decide exactly what our background is. It usually works best to be specific about our background … and how we position ourselves and our subject in relation to that.

So let’s run through that thought-process, using the image at the top.  Alex was our delightful model today during an individual workshop in Manhattan.

Learn more inside…

{ 11 comments }

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.

Learn more inside…

{ 2 comments }

flash photography technique – turning day into night

During the photo session with a couple, Laura & Todd, I wanted to add some variety to the images from the urban setting we were in. The sky had been overcast, but started to clear later on, leaving wispy clouds. Just perfect for a dramatic sky as the background. Of course, it is impossible to get your subject AND a bright sky equally well exposed without resorting to graduated filters or additional lighting, ie, flash. The technique with off-camera flash is quite straight-forward …

Learn more inside…

{ 16 comments }

example: direct off-camera flash vs softbox (model: Ulorin Vex)

Ulorin Vex posing for us during part of the on-location session of the flash photography workshops which I presented in San Francisco earlier this year. Ulorin Vex is of course absolutely stunning, as always. While I often direct models how they should pose, this one is all her doing . Not even I can improve on that.

The image here at the top was shot with an off-camera softbox – my usual preferred Lastolite Ezybox softbox. The direction of the light here should immediately reveal the approximate position where the light was positioned. Just as comparison, we removed the two baffles of the Lastolite, to see how direct off-camera flash would compare. We kept the softbox hull in place, so it did help contain the spread of light a bit. As you’d expect, the results look more dramatic.

Learn more inside…

{ 10 comments }

off-camera flash for dramatic light

During this recent photo session with a couple, Ashley and Michael, we roamed around the campus grounds of the university where they had met. In the one part of the grounds, there was this clump of trees, planted in a small rectangle with two seats. Since it was so dark there under the trees, they wondered who’d ever go and sit there. It just didn’t look appetizing. Then I though … hmmm, with some off-camera flash from behind, we can really make this place look like something.

Learn more inside…

{ 26 comments }

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 …

Learn more inside…

{ 24 comments }

wedding photography – light, lighting, posing & direction  - making the decisions

The title of this article is quite ambitious. To cover all of that, it would be a 50,000 word book. But in editing this wedding at the moment, I noticed this photograph, and I love the look of it. So in the context of that one single image, let’s look how it all came together. While the photograph itself isn’t complicated, a lot of quick decisions went into making this image work … and easy to edit. A number of things had to be considered, but instead of being overwhelmed by juggling all the decisions and thought-processes simultaneously, there’s a way to break it all down to simple elements which will help the photo session come together naturally.

Now even if you’re not that interested in wedding photography per se, hang in for a while, for the thinking here is applicable to just about any other field of photography …

Learn more inside…

{ 44 comments }

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 …

Learn more inside…

{ 16 comments }

off-camera TTL flash

May 20, 2011

off-camera TTL flash

This image of Amy, one of our models at the Treehaven workshops, came up for discussion with the group of attendees. As a straight-forward on location portrait using off-camera flash, it is ideal for an overview again of how easy the ambient & flash exposure metering is.

The basic approach with this portrait was to expose for the ambient light in the background, making sure our subject is somewhat under-exposed … and then to add off-camera flash with a softbox. The first question that came up was – how did I meter for the ambient light?

Learn more inside…

{ 45 comments }