Posts Tagged ‘Speedlites’

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!


Red Cup Espresso Owner Tricia I’ve gotten ahead of my photos and it’s time to start back up where I left off. This is Tricia; Mother, Wicked Awesome Barista, and owner of Red Cup Espresso.

….The coffee is AWESOME!!! I’ve recently slowed down my Java intake but when I want a good espresso, this is where I go for sure! Their coffee is organically-grown coffee roasted by Roast House. It’s located on California Ave in West Seattle just north of SW Oregon st. Another Cool note is it runs on solar power!!!! from panels on the roof. These guys are like Broccoli green(without the attitude)! Their cups are from recycled material and for while(they still may be) if you brought in your own to-go mug they knock 25 cents off an already sweet deal!

For this shot I brought my brand new nxt photoflex octodome. Took me few minutes to get the lights up and ready. Always amazes people the amount of time it takes to set up vs the amount of time to shoot. The actual taking pictures doesn’t take more than a couple of minutes but the setup still can take me a little while. I read a blog once encouraging strobists to setup and break down 100 times. Much the same way a marine tearsdown and rebuilds his weapon. Once set up I had the Octodome mostly centered and above for fill. I used the ambient light shooting at 1/50 iso 200 and f4.5 for my key(the shop has large windows running along the northern wall). I used a gridded Speedlite to light her hair from the right. Later in post I posterized the photo on a separate layer and painted the background(non processed) layer back in.

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

HDR vs Multiple Speedlites  When I used to shoot Real Estate photography, all I cared about was speed.  I wanted to get in and get out because that’s what most of my real estate agents wanted.  However, that’s not what their clients wanted, I’m sure.  The sellers want the best representation of their house looking it’s cleanest.  Sure it helps if you can make the photos really pop and attract attention to them vs some other boring shots.

If you can make a home look absolutely pristine, comfortable, and clean, this equates to a fresh blank slate when it comes to thinking about moving in and starting another chapter of your life, or your clients life.  Grungy, Dirty looking walls with ultra colorful furniture might stand out but it’s not gonna help sell the house!

Now, when I go to a real estate shoot I really try and think my shots through.  I try and figure out where I want the light.  Where should I bounce it and where don’t I want it to go(windows, mirrors, etc.)  I use four speedlites for my real estate shoots with large umbrellas to help create a large source of light.  This helps the light wrap around objects in the room to help diminish harsh shadows.  Just take a look at the fan in the top photograph compared to the bottom.  The words “natural light” sure sound nice when they fall off the tongue but the truth is that it’s generally coming from one direction or two at best.  This means that light will not be reaching the corners of rooms or where the ceiling meets the walls etc.  This ends up looking dirty and unpleasant.

Take a look at the walls in the bottom photograph.  Nice, clean, white, the way they actually look when I’m standing in the room.  The way your clients want their homes to look as well.  Take a look at the fan in the bottom photograph and more importantly, behind the fan.  No harsh shadows of the fan.  Nice evenly lit ceiling. Beautiful Kitchen

Lastly, color casting.  HDR is full of it!  I had to work 15 minutes just on the color cast of the HDR photograph on the top.  There were greens and blue all over the walls.  Even after the correction, they just don’t look clean.  The bottom shot had to be balanced with a gray card and then I was done.  This is a one step process.  It takes far longer to shoot a house this way but the benefits are plain to see.  Furthermore, Once the shoot is over my turn around is extremely quick as I don’t have nearly as much work to do when I need to edit these photos for my client.  Score one for the speedlites!