off-camera lighting for portraits

off-camera flash with a small softbox

Most of the images shot as part of the Sigma 35mm f/1.4 DG lens review, were with available light only. But for one sequence, I used off-camera flash. I didn’t intend carrying a lot of equipment, so I stripped it down to the minimum. That meant forgoing my usual softbox, the Lastolite Ezybox (24″x24″) (B&H). Instead, I opted for the much smaller  Lastolite 8.6″ Ezybox (B&H). And instead of a light-stand, Nicole’s friend, Andrew helped out on the day by holding the softbox and slave speedlight.

In getting to the final image, the thought-process was similar to that described in this article: off-camera flash for that extra bit of drama – (model: Olena)

So let’s run through the sequence of images …

Learn more inside…

{ 10 comments }

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 …

Learn more inside…

{ 14 comments }

photographing a model on-location: the progression of an idea

As often happens for me when working a model on location, the final photographs are the result of a progression of an idea, rather than a fully-formed idea from the start. That colorful background came to be because of how I gelled for the flash. It’s a technique I’ve shown a few times, and here it helped me in bringing a blah scenario up to something more eye-catching.

The idea is to create an interesting shift in the color balance between your subject and background. It works especially well if the background is not that colorful and you need to create a more dramatic photo. Let’s run through the thought-process with this sequence of images:

Learn more inside…

{ 10 comments }

Alvin & Lucia – their wedding in Central Park, New York

A groom holding up the softbox for me … as you may well guess, there’s a story here. Alvin and Lucia are from the UK, but decided to get married in Central Park. Of course, there’s a story here too.

Learn more inside…

{ 31 comments }

lighting for on-location photo sessions – pick your battles

When doing a photo session with a couple on location, I mix up the lighting often. With some photo sessions I may:
- shoot available light only;
- or I may decide with a photo session to use direct on-camera flash,
with some sequences available light only; or
- with some photo sessions I use off-camera flash with a softbox,
with some sequences just the available light.

Even in varying the way I may use the available light and flash, I still aim to have a consistent look to it all. My specific style has to be apparent. Or perhaps, in the way that I work, my style becomes apparent. The one way that I help make things easier for myself, and remain consistent, is that in working with the available light; or working with the available light and flash (both on-camera and off-camera) … I pick my battles. I don’t try and make *everything* work. Rather, I specifically choose where I pose a couple, or what I have as the background.  All of this in relation to the existing light and my flash.

Learn more inside…

{ 24 comments }

photographing in bright sunlight – find the shade!

Hard sunlight must be one of the most difficult lighting scenarios to work under. But with a bit of thought, we can work around it and still easily get photos that look great. It’s a topic that we’ve touched on a number of times on the Tangents blog, (see related articles at the end here). The simplest approach for me though, is where I can, is to just not deal with the hard sunlight. I find shade.

Learn more inside…

{ 23 comments }

camera settings: 1/50 @ f8 @ 800 ISO … lens zoomed to 35mm;  available light

shooting promotional photos for a band

Anyone who knows me well is probably very aware that my first true love is music. I live my life to a music soundtrack. There’s always music playing. Not the radio, but music of my own choice. I love music … however, my sense of rhythm isn’t all that it should’ve been for me to be a natural muso. But still, I love music. All of which meant that one few non-negotiable rules for my daughter was that she had to take music lessons. So she plays bari sax in the high-school’s Jazz band, and she’s also been taking guitar lessons for a few years now with a guitar teacher, Gerard.

All of which brings us to this photo session – promotional photos of Gerard’s band. That is Gerard (right) and Ed (center : piano) and Joe (left : guitar). I met up this weekend with them in Hoboken. Perfect for the urban feel to the photos. Hanging out with them for a few hours coming up with ideas and places for photos, was great fun. The camaraderie between them will be familiar to anyone who has ever played in a band. You connect. That all too short time I played tenor sax in a rock band back in South Africa circa 1999, just before we emigrated to the USA, was one of the best times in my life. But I digress. It was cool to hang out with these three musicians for the afternoon.

Here are some of my favorite images, with some details  …

Learn more inside…

{ 18 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 }

manual off-camera fill-flash, controlling the contrast   (model – Ulorin Vex)

In using a softbox outdoors on location, we easily get beautiful soft light. When we work indoors however, where the flash dominates, then the results can look very contrasty. The reason for this is that outdoors, the available light acts like a fill light.  This is especially true when we consider our available light in our overall result and balance our flash with the available light. With the softbox being the only light source, the light, while still soft, can be too contrasty for our liking. Still, that single softbox is a lot better than hard direct off-camera flash … but it can be improved with some fill light.

The photo above of  Ulorin, our model at the recent workshop in San Francisco, was lit with the 24×24 Lastolite Ezybox softbox. But we did lift the shadows with some more off-camera fill flash, bounced into the room.

Here’s the short explanation and a longer, thorough explanation of how we went about it …

Learn more inside…

{ 17 comments }

shooting in bright sunlight with off-camera fill-flash

This adorable kid looked at the camera briefly because I was singing to him.  Kids are devious little creatures. They know when you’re calling them and will purposely ignore you.  So you have to be crafty too in getting their attention. Of course, you have to be ready for the moment … and shoot a lot. Sometimes that Decisive Moment is to be found in the edit.

The photo session was from 12 noon to 1pm. So the sun was high overhead. We’re often told that the sun directly overhead isn’t the best time to take photographs.  While this isn’t as ideal as the fabled ‘Golden Hour’ – that time just before dusk and just after dawn – there are ways of working with hard sunlight and still get great images …

Learn more inside…

{ 27 comments }

12