Posts Tagged ‘light’

Rene Smoothed BackgroundI recently read an awesome blog post done with a beauty dish, a giant soft box for fill, and a ring light. This was some edgy lighting used to light corporate men and women no less! To me that’s just awe-inspiring! I pretty much stick to the classic Rembrandt lighting technique when shooting such people. Maybe add an “edgy” hair light or rim. None the less, this got the juices flowing for me and encouraged me to try something different. Here is my first attempt at butterfly lighting. Not bad if I do say so myself. Now the next step is to get a boom stand so that I can get the pesky light stand out of the way and back up a bit. I was about 1 foot from Rene with the lens nudged up against the light stand to keep the stand from view.

 

Rene Bibaud ButterflyUnfortunately I have just 4 speedlites and I wasn’t willing to waste any on lighting my background, hence the wrinkled background in the photo to the left. Now that I think about it I probably could have backed her up and feathered a good amount on her and let the rest light the background for that nice high key shot. Maybe next time! Instead I used a little Photoshop post work to get the nice smooth background that you see in the first image.  Even added a little circular gradient behind her head for a little extra depth.  Next time I’m feathering and using a boom stand! If only I had a boom!

Advertisements

Still squeezing every ounce of mileage from my speedlites and was looking to purchase a beauty dish.  For those of you who don’t know a beauty dish is used a ton in high fashion photography and has also been picked up by strobists everywhere.  It gives a softer than barebulb light but harder than soft box light.  They are generally about 22″ or so and therefore are a small source of light depending on how close you are to your subject.  They are really made for models with perfect skin and even then it seems quite a bit of touch up work as to be done to the skin afterwards because it is quite a bit harder light transitioning into the shadows.

Low and behold my partner Rene, the love of my life has just brought home the dish I’ve been drooling over just about since I started this whole strobist thing.  Oh wait, she didn’t get a beauty dish at all.  It seems she spoke to some of the photographers at the store and decided to make an executive decision.  She doesn’t know all that much about the differences in light modifiers and the different quality of light they produce, therefore, she was much more open to suggestions than I would have been had I strolled down to Glazers myself.  Instead she came back with a 18″ Extra small Octodome specifically made for speedlites!!  It took me some time to wrap my brain around this slight change in plan.

Amazing Octodome mini Octobox2

You see, when I think of a soft box or octobox I think BIG!  Which is great but when you go big you need BIG Lights!  I had to rethink what I have come to understand a softbox is for.  This modifier is about the same size as a beauty dish, albeit quit a bit deeper.  It has silver lining to bounce the light, an internal baffle and a white translucent cover for yet another layer of diffusion.  This is basically a super soft version of a beauty dish and when I think about it this way, this thing is AWESOME!!!!!  Let’s face it, I’m not shooting super models with perfect skin.  With this box I can have the nice fast transition from light to shadow because of the apparent size of the octobox but keep the nice soft light for skin.  Nice job, hun!

Mom and Son with Octodome

Here’s two photos I retouched for fun using masks and posterize tools in photoshop.  Which edit do you like best?
More detailed of Amazing Artist Soft Poster of Amazing Arists Here’s the lighting diagram lighting-diagram

Nicholas1 I received a phone call, totally last minute, from Tila Real Estate company the a few days ago informing me they needed a local artist to display their work for the monthly ART WALK that takes place every second Thursday of the month in West Seattle.  I was immediately excited as it would be my second chance at this and I wanted things to work a little more smoothly this time.   I talked an employee named Anne pronounced as it’s spelled not (AN).  Awesome lady who helped both my setup as well as the tear down.  Since they are a Real Estate office they participate by covering the computers and placing table cloths on the tables to jazz up the place a little.  It’s a one day event which meant I couldn’t setup until the evening of the Art Walk.  Wine and chocolate were served and the atmosphere was over all great.

Along with myself there was another artist by the name of Nicholas Austin who showed his work as well.  His was of a musical kind and as he is a singer songwriter who plays acoustic guitar.  He brought out his beautiful Taylor guitar and started strumming away.  He was GOOD! Really good!  A sort of Jason Mraz meets Incubus.  The latter is one of my favorite bands of all times!  I noticed the Taylor guitar had knobs which means it was an acoustic/electric and could be plugged in.  I immediately asked if we would like an amp which excitedly agreed would help the overall sound.  I ran home and returned with amp and studio microphone.  Unfortunately the Tube pre for the mic wasn’t working properly but we had the guitar plugged in jammin in no time!

30 minutes before Art Walk ended I decided to take some shots of him as I had my gear(I almost always do).  It’s easy to get excited about multiple lights and setups.  My brains starts to wander with all the possibilities.  I start to setup my lights sometime to find I’m not getting the overall photo I had envisioned in my head.  Most importantly I forget how sexy a one light setup can be!  The top photograph is exactly this!  One of my favorites from the quick 10 minute photo shoot.

Nicholas Next comes the fill light to his left to give me just a little more detail….Here is that image

NIcholas3Now here’s an added rim light behind the subject camera left in the image below.

Nicholas5

And Finally another rim light added subject right with a boost in the fill light to add more detail to the shadow areas.

I’m one to do a ton a research before investing in equipment.  I want to make sure my cash goes as far as it possibly can when purchasing new equipment.  To that end, I attempt to squeeze every ounce DeVaan45of performance from the equipment I currently own.  This holds true for computer parts I’ve bought, musical recording equipment, and of course photography.

There’s one piece of equipment in particular that I feel is starting to limit my ability to accurately control my light.   From the tittle of this post I’m sure you’ve already guessed that it’s my umbrellas.  They are, without a doubt, one of the easiest modifiers to, both, setup and use.  Pop it open just like any normal umbrella you might use in the rain (I’m from Seattle, and last I checked true Seattleites don’t use these things).  Push the shaft through my light stand adapter and away we go, easy peasy!

Umbrellas light quite efficiently in both bounce and shoot through form, albeit using as bounce (how I have been lately) I have definitely noticed some increases in specular highlights and hotspots on my subjects faces. A perfect example of shoot through vs bounce umbrella light can be found here. These can, of course be fixed in post, but as we all know, if you can fix it before it goes into the camera it will save you time and headaches!  Now for the bad…. these things spill light EVERYWHERE!

Lighting is all about control of that power.  You have to really understand how it reacts and reflects to understand how to use it properly.  I see time and time again people buying expensive and powerful strobes before they actually have learned how to harness the power of the lights.  Your light needs direction and a purpose.  This is why I urge any who  are just getting into off camera lighting to purchase an umbrella a light stand and small speedlite to start.  It doesn’t need all the bells and whistles.  Just good old manual control of its power.  The Nikon sb-28 is a great place to start.  I shoot all my photographs with these small speedlites.  Back to the point at hand here.  Once you have learned to use your umbrellas you will realize their inherent flaw.  They send light everywhere (which can be a good thing depending on the situation).

DeVaan66 I recently shot two sisters in a covered area since the weather was not cooperating (rainy day in Seattle surprise, surprise).  This was done on concrete with a similar wall as a background.  I have been experimenting with gels and really wanted to add some color to the wall.  I set my key, fill, and hair light as I normally do for these types of shots but this time I place another light with a blue gel behind the subject pointing to the wall she was in front of.  I began to shoot only to notice the blue was not showing up at all!  I couldn’t figure it out and this was not the time to be playing around with new ideas!  I turned the gel flash up and down to no avail.  I changed the ambient and still nothing.  Then I started to think about distance.  I was too close the wall!  The lights that were lighting my subject were spilling onto the wall behind her undoing my attempts to light with the blue gel pointed directly at the wall.  Thankfully I was outside and was able to scoot further back until much less of my light was spilling onto the wall, however I ran out of room and some light inevitably would reach the wall.  Even so I was able to come away with some pretty sweet shots.  But this lack of control with umbrellas is starting to get on my nerves!

The Catch 22 is that if I use, say, a nice big softbox, this modifier will eat up my already not very powerful light.  As I understand it, the flash bounces of the back of the softbox and then passes through not one but two defusers before reaching the subject.  This is great for nice soft light if you have the power to push it but I don’t think my little speedlites have enough to light outdoors the way I like to.  So if I get a softbox, I will more than likely need more powerful lights, which means I will need a battery to power these more powerful lights.  Powerful lights come with a price of poundage which means I will need a sturdier light stand to support the heavier light and softbox.  This in turn means I will need more counter weights to keep the light stand from tipping over!  Starting to see how expensive this can become very quickly?  I think I will just learn wield my machete like a Samurai sword for now!