Posts Tagged ‘Umbrellas’

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!

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.

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!

 

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!