Being that I am a Pastor by day, Photographer by day off, I have a few connections with other Pastors and Churches. When the two worlds collide it’s a cool experience. I was up in Regina, Saskatchewan doing some photography for Mount Olive Lutheran Church. Such projects include building/grounds photos, portraits of staff & workers as well as a library of stock images that can be used on websites, e-publications, etc. It’s a lot of fun with lots of opportunities to be creative.
One of the other cool extras of this assignment was that Rev. Ted Giese, one of the pastors at Mount Olive along with Rev. Terry Defoe, is that Rev. Giese does movie reviews from a Christian perspective. He is regularly featured on an American Lutheran Radio program called Issues, etc. As such, I knew I wanted to do a movie-poster-inspired portrait of Ted that was a bit more edgy than the regular “nice light” I typically do for such a project.
So for this portrait I shifted the color spectrum into tungsten to give the photo a very cool and shadowy feel. The BTS photo below shows the location of this two light setup. By using an empty corner for the shot you get a free, nifty background location with varying degrees of light fall off shadows and gradients. I used a soft lighter on the floor with my Alien Bee 1600 for the fill light. It was just left in daylight white balance which was shifted blue by the tungsten control in camera. The key light was an SB-900 in a Lumiquest Softbox III that was gelled CTO taking it back to a daylight color. Had I done this shot over again, I would have thrown on an extra 1/2 cut of CTO to warm that key light up more and give it an extra color contrast. But the end result is a really cool feeling movie-reviewing-Reverend type look. 😀
Canadian Lutheran World Relief is running a campaign to collect sweaters for Syrian refugees. With winter quickly approaching, they will certainly be needed. Our church in Oxbow and the community at large participated and we gathered over 550 sweaters in 33 boxes for the cause. 😀 Some volunteers from St. Peter Lutheran in Oxbow worked together to box them all up and get them ready to make their voyage east. It is our heartfelt prayer that these sweaters do get to Syria and that they can be of some comfort to these people caught in the civil war. Lord have mercy!
One of my latest acquisitions is the Orbis Ring Flash. LOVE IT!!!! I’ve only used it for 10 minutes and it rocks the set. I love the quality of light! It’s unlike any other mod I’ve ever used and the catch lights are super cool. I can’t wait to try this out on some glam/wedding stuff. But I also wanna do the David Hobby signature look with an umbrella over head and ring light as fill. It’s gonna be awesome! 😎 My local, on site guinea pigs were handy to try out the new mod. Hanky and Ethan couldn’t wait to be my subjects. Ethan just finished a cup of hot chocolate, hence the gribbly jib. 😉 No time to edit!
Well shut my mouth! My new dynamic duo of LP180 flashes by LumoPro just arrived today. Shazam!! These flashes ROCK THE SET. This blog post will not be a lengthy review as the gurus and the wannabes have already put them up on YouTube. Here’s a cool vid from LumoPro!
I shoot Nikon CLS because it is convenient to us my SU-800 commander to control flash output from camera, and I won’t be leaving that system anytime soon. However, I wanted a couple more flashes. The problem is, Nikon CLS is an expensive premium to pay on every flash you buy. I thought about getting another SB-900 or 910, but they’re over $500 bones. The SB-700 is a good flash but still pricey at $350. And at most, I’d want the flashes to be accent lights or background lights or some such thing. But then LumoPro makes the best flash in the history of the world that you can quad sync (4 different ways), that comes with 2 sets of rocsco gels, that offers perfect, simple manual control, and I was totally sold . . . for $199 each! EACH! That’s awesome! It means that I bought 2 of these amazing flashes for less than one SB-910. Pure awesome! 😎
Here’s the best thing in the world about these flashes besides all the above mentioned awesomeness:
Uh huh. That’s right sports fans! That LP180 flash comes with a built in 1/4 x 20 mount on the side so you can just attach the flash directly to a stand and blast light right down the axis of the umbrella/light mod. THAT’S AWESOME!!!!! 😀 The light comes directly to the center of the mod instead of upright on a hot shoe, which is always precarious at best anyways. This system makes SO MUCH sense. I wish Nikon would add it to all their flashes.
The optical slaves work awesome, I tried triggering them with my D800 and SU-800 and they work perfectly. Which means they can be triggered by the infrared commander I use for my normal lighting setups. Which means they will seamlessly integrate into my workflow, other than having to be adjusted manually for power output. Big whoop! I’ll walk the extra 5 feet for what I saved in not buying Nikon CLS speedlights.
Most of the time we tend to think of photography studios as huge places of sprawling, ginormous, north facing window light. It’s luxurious and lovely. For full time working pros, it might even be a necessity. But for enthusiast types like me, I can’t justify the expense. I wanted to try and see if I could achieve studio results in a really, really small space. These photos were taken in my 9×10 office. A cheap black sheet for background, some inexpensive lighting setups and you’re good to go. The best thing is that this small little studio space is portable. I can take it with me so there’s literally no place I can’t achieve similar results. Here’s a location setup of the small studio. Move some furniture and you’re golden! 😎
It’s been a busy little while these past days, mainly spent shovelling snow and fighting off depression from this never ending winter. It’s truly like in the Chronicles of Narnia where it’s always winter and never Christmas. Except that we know Christmas has already passed. MONTHS ago. And we are still stuck in the mad grips of winter. Oodles of snow, cold temperatures. I’m on the edge! 😉 But I will prevail. Lots of fruit and green veggies. Lots of photos…
Speaking of which, I’ve got a combo blog post here from a couple of recent shoots. I’ve really struggled lately with just posting clients’ photos for the sake of posting. I’ll leave that up to them to decide how much they want to share with family and friends. I’m going to concentrate more on the techniques used for the shots and a bit about why these images have been made the way they are (click on the images below for the info). I find that aspect lacking in many blog posts from famous photogs. There is an amazing one by the legendary Greg Heisler where he photographed Yasser Arafat for Time. He lit it all with a simple soft box and black velvet background. But why? I watched the video wondering why he chose to light the image that way. [Speculation about being shot??? Gotta be fast! ;)]
I’m very excited to make available an Off Camera Flash Lighting Workshop I’m doing in South East Saskatchewan on October 13th, 2012 in Roche Percee. It will cover the basics: fundamentals of lighting, getting started with Off Camera Flash techniques and knowledge, familiarization with gear and hands on opportunities to shoot a model on location. It’s going to be a lot of fun! 😎 There are a couple of spots still available so if you are interested, contact me. The cost is $100.00 each and the workshop will start at 1PM.
Prepare to get your photo-geek on and see if you can keep up to this post. 😎 I just got some new toys that I’m stoked about. For the longest time I’ve wanted a variable ND filter. Neutral Density is pretty much sunglasses for your lenses and especially useful for landscape photography, especially water shots where you want a long/slow shutter speed to get those cool blurred water effects. But additionally, you can use them for flash photography and strobist work. ND filters help you kill ambient light, like in the full bright sunshine (it can bring a shutter speed down from 1/8000s to 1/250 to get full power flash sync speeds!) Or, you can use it in available light too. Here’s the scenario. The kids are ripping around the back yard being cute as usual. It’s super bright out – the old “Sunny 16” rule. With loads of sunlight everywhere, your camera lens has to stop-down to f/8, 11 or 16 to control how much light is getting into the camera as to no blow out an exposure. However, taking portraits/candids at such a small f/stop sucks. Everything is in focus and it’s not bokelicious or appealing. Say I want to get crazy and shoot at f/1.4 in full sunlight. How can I do it? It’s impossible without an ND filter. So I slapped on the Genus 2-8 Stop Variable ND and away we go! Check it out – these next 4 shots are all shot with my 50mm f/1.4 lens at 1.4 1/250 in full sun!!! 😎 It’s pure awesome and totally impossible without an ND filter.
As if that wasn’t enough, I also finally broke down and bought a C-Stand. I wish I would have bought it when I first started getting interested in flash photography. It’s basically a big-bad-heavy light stand with an extendable arm which allows you to hang a light up over someone. It’s the bomb! Plus, I got some sand bags for it and filled them with pea gravel and now, it’s super strong enough to stand up in the fiercest of Saskatchewan wind. I used it the other day to nab one of the shots of FlowerPot. It’s super secure and with all that weight in the bags, it ain’t goin’ nowheres.
Just as one last aside, take a look at the difference flash makes, especially off-camera flash. Here’s two shots of Phoebe taken right after each other. The first is natural open shade light, the second is with flash from the C-Stand setup above. It’s such a better result to me. There’s pop and contrast and great light! This is why I keep sinking money into lighting gear. If your light is right, your photos will be awesome 9 times out of 10. 🙂
Ok Photo Geeks, here’s one for ya! My long overdue video review of the Photoflex Octodome NXT XS soft box. This thing is the bomb! It’s a really well made, super sweet portrait soft box that gives awesome octagon/round catchlights in the eyes. Gotta love that! Check out the vid and the samples below where it was used on photo shoots.
PS: I also added a new page at the top of the blog for gear reviews. The page has links to all the gear reviews and recommendations I’ve done on the blog, including books, lenses, lighting gear, organizing gear and D.I.Y. gear projects. 😎
Samples of the Octodome in action!
Happy New Year! Another year of photos is ahead of us and that is an exciting prospect. I can’t wait to see what lies through the lens in 2012. Christmas was good for us and we had great visits with family who loved us much and spoiled us more. When Ma & Pa came down for a visit we of course got to talking about photos. Dad, being an avid nature & wildlife photographer, was showing me what he and his photo pals had been up to lately. Winter wildlife can be some of the most interesting stuff! While most guys are sitting around watching sports, these guys are outside watching the epic battle of survival unfold! Check out these amazing snowy owl photos! These aren’t photoshopped! 😎 Just chuck a mouse out onto the snow and watch as white winged warriors wrathfully wreak havoc on unsuspecting rodentia! The main course is served! Hence, dish one.
(Jealous that dad missed out on snows, we went out and nabbed this short eared owl. Still a magnificent specimen!)
Now for those who can’t handle this much excitement, there’s beauty dishes. (Hence, dish 2). 😆 For Christmas dad got a wee beauty dish. It’s actually an Opus mini reflector. It’s basically a miniaturized beauty dish that gives you a punchy, light that is one notch off of bare flash. It’s a really cool light for, yes, you guessed it, beauty and glam shots as it gives the light a very contrasty feel. I wanted to see how this little guy compared to my DIY beauty dish that I made. It’s basically the same design idea. Light comes from the flash and bounces into a surface in front of the light, then into a reflector dish and then out onto the subject. A little bit of ping pong action is involved and it makes the light slightly more diffused but still has loads of punch.
Automatically you notice the size difference. And with lighting, unlike other areas of life, size matters. 😉 The bigger the better. The small guy produces a much sharper/contrasty light while the bigger the light, the softer the light. It’s the same reason why natural light photographers want huge windows. Loads of big light nice and close to the subject = soft and glorious! Here’s an example of what each light produced on our subject Sven (he’s from IKEA). 😀
So, after a quick peak, you notice the difference. The little Opus dish is much smaller and makes a more focused, contrasty light. It also fits into a gear bag much more conveniently. The bigger DIY dish gives similar contrast and punch, but is more wrapping because it is much bigger. Could you replace the big one with the Opus? Perhaps, depending on the look you wanted. It sure would make hauling it around easier!
But then again, if beauty light isn’t your thing and you don’t care about f-stops & shutter speeds, you can always try Coyote hunting. It’s hours of fun and only about 1/3 the cost of photography! 😉