My little guy got his Gold Belt in Karate the other day. He was super pumped! He’s a very serious and dedicated kid when it comes to pretty much everything, but especially Karate. I had the vision for this photo in my mind before I set out to capture it. Here’s the process involved.
Step 1: Lighting. There was still a good deal of ambient even though the sun was setting. I didn’t want to mess around with small flash so I grabbed my Alien Bee 1600 and fired it through a small Photoflex octobox. I had my lovely assistant Phoebe hold the light for me. We bolted it to the time-tested “Gandalf-Stick” – a collapsible paint pole with an adaptor end on it. Works like a charm for moving quickly. The lighting pattern was a simple cross light setup. Subject back to the sun as always for a sweet golden rim light.
Step 2: Work the posing. Just watch how two simple things drastically change the photo.
A) Nice photo but boring. We needed to convey Karate power in this image. Have me shoot down or even eye level doesn’t do that. We need to shoot up.
B) Getting there, now Ethan looks bigger and more powerful. In the photo. All we had to do drop to the ground. Also, I wanted a wide-ish angle shot so I’m using my Nikon 24mm f1.8G lens on the Nikon D800 for maximum mega-pretzels.
C) For the final image we needed the pose to actually have energy. I got Ethan to shout out the Karate attack word for “kill” as he did his kick. It got him laughing a bit which gave me a legit smile. The photo I had in my mind came to life and his posing was perfect. The wide angle lens adds to the over all feeling of power as it optically makes his foot look huge. The flash will always freeze the motion for you even at the relatively slow sync speed of 1/250 while adding a bit of motion blur which I think looks cool.
So there you have it. Great lighting combined with getting low and wide makes for a butt kickin’ shot that I will definitely be making into a giant print! 😎
I’ve always wanted a long telephoto lens for the Fuji X system because I love love love the skin tones & nuanced colour that Fuji produces. I saw the K&F Concept lens adapter for Nikon G/AI lenses to the X mount for a mind blowing $30 bones on Amazon. I didn’t have any high hopes at all about the quality or usability of the adaptor but for the cheap price, how wrong could a guy go? So I got one shipped out.
I opened the box and was blown away. The whole thing is metal. It has a built in aperture control for Nikon’s new G lenses that don’t have an aperture ring. And it works to keep the lens wide open, stopped all the way down and a couple of in between settings that are largely guesses. None of the settings register with the camera because there is no communication between camera and lens. It’s just a simple adaptor. So it’s manual everything. But Fuji’s focus peaking even at 1.8 is a snap. Works great!
I slapped on the 70-200 f/4 which balances decently with the small camera body. You could shoot wildlife with it gaining the extra reach of the crop sensor but manual focus on fast moving subjects requires ninja like reflexes that I no longer possess.
But for portrait stuff………
I’d say it works just fine. These two sample images are straight out of camera other than my resize for web lightroom setting. Here’s a 100% crop of Phoebe’s eye:
It is tack sharp! This is wide open too. You’ll see from the included info that the camera only records the shutter speed & ISO settings. Aperture is not and for some reason it defaults to a 50mm lens. But the results are awesome. The skin tones are so, so great. And it’s sharp! Did I say that already? So this image is 200mm 1/180 ISO 200 handheld JPEG shot with a Nikon SB-900 through a Lumiquest Softbox III triggered with Phottix Ares triggers! How’s that a for a FrankenSetup!? lol
I love Fuji lenses and they rock the set. But for 30 bucks, you can’t go wrong with the K&F Concept adaptor. Highly recommend picking one up!
So I got some new flash triggers to try out. The Phottix Ares triggers are excellent! They are a simple, no frills, no TTL, no HSS “dumb” trigger that is perfect for manually controlled off camera flash. They are simple, reliable and best thing is: no sync cords! They are shoe mounted so no more flopping around. I made a YouTube video to review them:
They’re been great performers for me and they are highly recommended, especially for people just getting started with Off Camera Flash work. But even for seasoned flash veterans, they are a welcome addition to the bag to replace those flopping Pocket Wizard Plus X sync-cable-ridden triggers.
They are a great price in the US. In Canada not so much. I had mine shipped from Amazon.com and saved a bundle.
Here’s a couple of test shots with the Phottix Ares triggers.
This is a total Photo Nerd Post. If that applies to you, please read on :cool:.
So I was doing an advertising campaign shoot yesterday and I decided it was high time to try out my new LumoPro LP180 flashes on a real job. I was shooting a high key setup that required 4 flashes to do. I setup my Nikon SBs as key and backlights and I wanted to use the LP180 as a kicker.
So I set it up and took some test shots. Nothing worked. It was like the LP180 was killing all the other flashes’ signals. So I turned it off, everything worked perfectly. Weird. 😈 Then I remember that I must have the slave mode in the wrong setting. So I changed it and still the setup wouldn’t work. I was totally buffaloed. I was able to borrow an SB-910 to help me finish the shoot but when I got home, I had to figure out what the heck was going on. I setup the flashes and started running through the slave mode settings on the LP-180. When I got to S2-3, thats when the magic happened. Everything was working perfectly and my two LP180s were triggering just fine within the Nikon CLS. I was using my SU-800 commander remote which I love, but I tested it also with the pop up flash on camera. Worked perfectly. So, if you shoot Nikon CLS and want to use the awesome LumoPro LP180 flash alongside your Nikon kit, fear not! It works flawlessly in the S2-3 slave configuration. Cheers! 😎
On Thursday, May 9th we celebrated the Good Lord Jesus’ Ascension back to heaven. And to do so, we had a concert with a couple of Angel voices! Jennifer Jade Kerr and Kelti Malone blessed our congregation in Oxbow with a sweet concert. They are AMAZINGLY talented singer songwriter types. I highly recommend you check ’em out and buy all their records. 😀 As if that wasn’t good enough, we sweetened the whole deal and had an ice cream buffet afterwards. We had a really great turn out with lots of community members attending.
The the girls were kind enough to indulge my photo addiction and do some portraits with the D800. Musicians deserve moody lighting, at least, I think they do. 😎 I wanted to try some anyways so here’s what I came up with.
For Jennifer, I envisioned her glorious red hair and decided that warm tones would be the ticket. I wanted to go with short lighting too for the utmost of flattery. Then I had the idea to put some candles in the bokeh to further play off the red/warm feel of the overall image. I also wanted a bit of guitar in the image, but not to let it dominate the scene. I was pleased because it turned out how I envisioned it. 🙂
Kelti has a way cool violin! I knew that I wanted to do some edgy stuff with it. So we did a pretty dramatic portrait of Kelti with some way cool profile lighting. And then, we decided to just shoot the violin – because it’s so darn cool! 😎
Here’s some shots from the concert all taken with the FujiFilm X100s.
So I’m really liking the Fuji X100s. Leaf shutters are amazing creations, like hydraulics and GPS. Basically, it allows you to sync a flash at any speed. You don’t have to worry about 1/250 or 1/200. You can rock out at 1/1000s at f/2 in full sunshine and still sync a flash – at 1/8 power!!! 😈 It’s crazy! The flash photo options available with this camera are nearly limitless! 😎 I took a 1 light setup outside yesterday to try and see how the X100s does in full sunshine. I locked on the internal 3 stop ND filter and was able to underexpose the ambient at ISO 200, 1/1000s at f/2. That’s pure sweetness! In contrast, to do this with a DSLR, you’d need to drop your sync speed to 1/250 and crank your aperture to f/5.6 to get the same exposure (before an ND filter). But the Fuji nails the sweet bokehlicious backgrounds and, I can overpower the sun with a speedlight on 1/8th power!!!!!!! Like, what’s not to love?! 😀
Here’s the results (JPEGs shot in Astia simulation mode)
Not many people can say that they still get winter storms on the 30th of April. It’s because many more (sane) people don’t live in Saskatchewan. 😈 This winter just . . . won’t . . . die! But before the snow came, we had these amazing clouds and lots of rain. I grabbed my X100s, my sister in law, a black umbrella, my SB-900 and brand new Pocket Wizard Plus X triggers and headed out for some dramatic environmental portraits! When we found a cool spot with lots of great cloud structure, I got setup. It was then I realized that I forgot the PC cable for the Plus X. DOH!!! 🙄 I have a lot to learn about radio triggers! So, rather than go back and risk missing the sky, I put the SB-900 into SU-4 mode and triggered it optically from the Fuji’s built in flash. It worked in a pinch, even though I wanted to try the Pocket Wizards out. Heheheh… 😎 I heightened the structure of the clouds in post, but I love the drama of the B&W.
Another new first for me today! Our pals Dane & Lexi turned 1 not too long ago and, what better way to celebrate one year or life on earth than to smash a big ol’ chocolate cake into oblivion in a high key lighting setup?! I can’t think of any better way. 😎 It turns out that both kids were somewhat terrified of cold chocolate cake. Reactions didn’t go as expected. I think we parents, knowing our kids, think that when encountered by a ginormous cake will dive right in with both hands and eat like its going out of style! We tried this with Ethan and he barely mashed into his cake too. Oh well! It was still loads of fun and contributed wonderfully to the laundry situation. 😀
I also borrowed Regan’s Nikon V1 (again) and did a time-lapse of the whole event! Well, technically, not the whole event. Math never was a strong point of mine and I screwed up the first part of it while we were setting up the lights. hehehehe… 😳 I got it figured out though and put this vid together from still images taken every 10 seconds for the duration of the event. In one of the frames the flashes synced with the V1! Pretty awesome coincidence. It was a bona fide metric tonne of fun!
Phew! We snuck in one more family session before the full on winter onslaught started to ravage the land. Even though they had snow on the ground in Torquay, we managed to find a ‘greenish’ spot that gave the impression there was still some life left in the prairies. 🙂 The Phillips kids were troopers to put up with the cold, but when it got to be too much, we took the party inside to nab the last of the shots. I love Saskatchewan, I really do, but having another month of fall would have been superb! Plus side? No woodticks! 😎
I got a phone call to go and do a headshot portrait of Alvin Scheresky. He is a retired farmer in Oxbow who has just won the “Organic Hero” award. Long before it was trendy and hip to be “organic,” Alvin was. A detailed write up on him has been published in the Encyclopedia of Saskatchewan. He is being honoured for a lifetime of commitment to organic farming development and principles. It was very interesting to visit with Alvin and gain some insight to the early years of his organic operation, but also to learn about his passion for soil health. It only makes sense that if you have rich, healthy soil chock full of needed nutrients, your yields will be better and input costs significantly lessened – read “more profit” for the farmer. I did one other quick portrait of Alvin too showing him with his farm. When spring rolls around, I told him I’d love to come to his farm where he continues to “garden” – growing test plots of organic grain – and get some proper environmental portraits for him. Might turn it into an “organic” series. 🙂