photo session with a model

camera & flash settings: what do you want to achieve?  (model: Ulorin Vex)

In one of the multitude of photography groups on Facebook, I saw a newcomer to off-camera flash say that she bought an Alien-Bee set, but she has no idea what to set it to. My reply was that she needed a light-meter. My thinking is that then she’d know what the specific output of the flash or strobe would be, and then be able to set her camera to it. But then, thinking about it some more, I realized if there is hesitation there or confusion, it is about what specific camera settings (mostly aperture) should be in the first place.

I think this is the baffling part of using off-camera lighting or studio gear on location for the first time – where do you start? What should your camera and flash settings be?

Well, if you shoot on location, your settings are usually decided for you by your available light …

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lingerie photo session

studio photography – lingerie photo shoot

Aiming for a sensual mood somewhere between Lingerie, Fashion and Art, I tried various lighting setups in the studio to get to the feel and look that I envisioned. I’ve worked with Carly Erin on other personal photo shoots before, and knew her playful and bold personality would help a lot with this photo session.

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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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mimicking window light with off-camera bounce flash  (model: Ulorin Vex)

Continuing the photo session with Ulorin, we worked inside the hotel room for the next part. The photo above is a candid shot of Ulorin fixing her hair between changes in clothing. Ulorin’s next outfit shown in this article, was more revealing than the previous outfits during the photo session. (Just a heads-up for the Tangents readers who are surfing from their workplace.)

Photographing inside the room, I initially tried to work with just the window-light, but hit a small snag. The indirect light through the window kept changing on me as clouds moved in and out. Instead of changing my settings continually to match the light, I decided to revert to using flash to mimic the window light. This would give me consistent light.

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off-camera flash – change the light by changing your own position

Ulorin Vex was one of the two models that we used in the recent workshops in San Francisco. Having seen Ulorin Vex’s personal site and portfolio on Model Mayhem, I jumped at the chance of working with her again with a photo session the day after the workshops. Working with a model as professional and striking-looking as Ulorin, was an experience.

The photographs shown in this article was from a sequence we did in the passage outside my hotel room. The lighting was surprisingly simple, but I had to improvise with the limited space we had.

Interestingly enough, the two photos shown above had exactly the same lighting. And this brings us to a key concept with light. This idea is true whether you use available light or off-camera flash … or even when you control the direction of your bounce flash.

With those two photos, Ulorin remained in the same spot. But she did change her pose towards the camera as I moved. Why the light is so dramatically different, is that *I* changed my position … and that in turn, changed the direction of light entirely.

It seems obvious stated like that, but I think this idea is something that really is brought home again when two images can look so different. And all that changed was the photographer’s position.

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