Nine times out of ten, I would rather shoot with natural light. But no matter how prepared I am or how keen I am on picking out the perfect moment, the reality is natural light sometimes needs a little assistance to capture the vision I have in my mind. It’s at times like these when I do my best to combine the best of both worlds: natural light and flash.
As someone who shoots on location a lot I’m often given a choice on what I like to call “popping” or “blending” a subject into a scene, in short this really as as simple as using your main light source to either complement the direction of a natural / embedded light source in a scene (a candle, window, lights etc) or contrasting it completely so that the subject “pops” out and suspends the belief that they are illuminated within the scene naturally.
Here’s what I mean:
I was recently at an interactive installation that had three theater lights – red green and blue shining on a white wall.
The kids were fascinated by this – especially with how the colors mixed and how they could make different colors by casting shadows on the wall.
This is a human scale representation of the red-green-blue (RGB) additive color model (the electronic screen you are looking at right now uses the exact same method to reproduce every color you’re looking at).
It also reminded me of some of the really cool applications to use photography gels to have fun with color.
So, this article is for stylish-or-so (mostly wedding) photographers on a budget; if you were looking for a DIY honeycomb speedlight grid that is sleek, easy to mount and efficient, to use on your strobes during balls, parties and any low light dynamic situations that you might face during your events, you might be interested in this tutorial.
As we know, shooting in harsh sunlight at midday is a portrait photographers nightmare! But, it can produce a very striking and edgy look thats fantastic. However this particular author lives and works in Northern Ireland – now, most will agree, this is a beautifully scenic part of the world unfortunately though we are not blessed with a lot of sunlight. In fact this year its hard to remember a day when its wasn’t raining!
Hence my project to create a wonderfully hard Mediterranean sunlight effect in the studio! In fact this is a fairly easy task and using the correct modifier can produce excellent results. For my first test I wanted to create a textured wall effect rather than use a seamless paper roll. I purchased a 4′ X 8′ sheet of plasterboard (Drywall) and produced a textured effect by liberally applying Spackling Paste to the board.
My first ever off-camera flash was a Nikon sb-24 speedlight (1988), which I got. After a while I bought my first ever Nikon speedlight an sb-600 (it was around $250 back then). I was very happy with it until I wanted to get a studio strobe. There weren’t many choices to pick from here in the Philippines; it’s either you get one that cost around $300 per strobe or you can buy a “kit” with 3 off brand studio lights, light stands and softboxes for around $220. I got the latter.
(As a reference, a 400WS Broncolor Siros 400 which is one fine branded strobe – yet one of the cheaper branded strobes – will set you back $1000. A Cowboystudio 400WS strobe will only cost $150. A Square Perfect 400W/S strobe will only set you back a $100 or so. Those 3 are obviously not comparable strobe)
CHEAP doesn’t always mean bad, I have used these lights for more than 6 years now, and I want to share with you the pros and cons of using cheap off brand lights.
Defining the problem: While shooting a portrait outdoors, I usually add a fill flash to eliminate any “racoon eyes” and dark shadows on the face. The fill flash is set set at 1.7 stops under exposed for a light touch. My setup is a Nikon D600 with Nikon SB700 flash (mounted on the camera’s hotshoe) using TTL metering at -1.7 EV. In the example the lighting on the face is good (soft & directional) but you can see a hard shadow on the right side of the subject.
We have options…
There are a few options available, and in this test case I wanted to compare them
One of the greatest dilemmas for photographers using off-camera lighting on location is achieving the balance of light output and portability. For those of us not wanting to break the bank, cost is a giant factor as well.
The LiteTrek 4.0 from Impact is a DC-powered portable lighting kit aimed at achieving all of the above and does so quite effectively.
Now, don’t get me wrong, this is by no means a Profoto setup, but, on the other hand, it’s not a cheap eBay kit that comes at $75 per strobe and breaks within 30 minutes. The LiteTrek can be purchased as a single – or double-strobe kit, the most expensive one currently coming in at just under $900 (regularly $1,149).
When it comes to portrait lighting, Joel Grimes abides by some basic principles to achieve just the look he is going for. But, while those principles are basic, they may not necessarily be obvious. Fortunately, Grimes is a great educator and has made this quick video tutorial to share some of his pro advice and deliver us with a very simple way to get several different lighting looks using just one strobe, a reflector, and an octobox. [Read more…]
I can’t believe that its late August and summer is almost over. It seems that every year I have a list of summer time photo sessions that I never get around to.
One thing I have had on my list for a while now is white water kayaking photos.
There is a world class white water course just down the road from one of the cottages we spend time at every summer, yet somehow I never end up with enough time to get out and photograph the kayakers.
Well, this summer I finally made time for it – and as it turns out, white water kayaking photos are surprisingly much more difficult than you might think!
In this article, I will share the thought process, camera settings and post production behind this series white water kayaking photos.