Light is Everything!

Posts tagged “Flash Photography

Friends

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Hey sports fans! It’s been far too long since I’ve posted anything on the ol’ blog. Well neglected no longer, here’s a long over due post.

Some friends since Kindergarten graduated high school this year. They thought it would be cool to do a friends photoshoot before heading off to University. So we got together one evening at the old farm. We thought it would be cool to some nice casual stuff but also to get the money’s worth out of the grad dresses! What a riot it was!

20160831-3friends-011These girls are absolutely stunning! They all have gorgeous long hair that just screamed fashion lighting. We did some cool clamshell beauty stuff but as twilight came in, I wanted to push the envelope a bit. It was a typical Saskatchewan hurricane wind evening which made for a pretty slick wind machine. We got the girls on the road and drove an SUV up behind them with the high beams on to provide some continuous light for hair/dress motion blur. Then we froze the shot with flash at the end of the exposure. It makes for a pretty studio-esque photo shot on location!

Here’s a few more favs from the shoot. It was a total blast and we wish the girls all the best in University! 😎

 


Pro Neg Std.

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Another one of Fuji’s film simulations is the Pro Neg Std. This setting is described as being for portraits with soft gradations and skin tones. The Hi version of my last blog post has a bit more of a contrasty look. This article on Fuji vs. Fuji does a great job of comparing all the simulation modes. But suffice it to say, the skin tone rendering is really, really pleasing in both the Hi and Std. modes. Just look at these kids. They look at least 17% better shot with Fuji. LOL. I do want to do a side by side comparison to my Nikons and see how the JPEGs compare. I never shoot Nikon JPEGs so I really don’t know if there is much difference. I’ll check it out inΒ a future blog post.

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I shot these Black & White images in the Monochrome setting with a yellow filter. It gives little extra to the skin tonality I think.


2016: FujiFilm’s Year

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2016 is not only the year that Nikon got its mojo back, but it is FujiFilm’s year to shine! Since the release announcement of the X-Pro2, X-E2s, X-70 and sweet new telephoto lens, the interwebs have been a buzz with excitement. I’m no different. I’ve been with the X-System for 3 years now when I got the X100s – still a goto camera for me. It’s been an omnipresent companion on all my family trips and events because of the size/ergonomics and of course phenomenal image quality & colour rendition from a crop sensor. I still love that camera and will never sell it.

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I’m totally stoked for the X-Pro2. The first version was a fantastic camera with its own quirks and quickly rose to cult status – as did the whole X-System really. While other manufacturers continue to pump out updated models, FujiFilm takes their time. They make their current products better with firmware updates. That immediately garnered my respect. Sure, lots of manufacturers fix up bugs in their products with firmware updates, but seldom if ever do they add new features. Instead, you must buy the updated release version to get them. I love FujiFilm!

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The X-Pro2 caught my attention because it is the long awaited update to the classic first version. I knew that Fuji would take their time, gain input from photographers who know and love their products, and then produce an amazing camera that people can’t wait to purchase. They have not disappointed! There are already several amazing reviews/first impression blogs & videos up now. As I haven’t actually seen or used the camera in real life I have nothing of value to add to the discussion. However, the features I’m most interested in are as follows.

20130608-FujiFilm-003The first thing is that they’ve done a great job in making the camera weather resistant. The new Fujinon lenses will all be weather sealed too. This really puts the “Pro” in X-Pro2. I’m thinking of wedding photographers or landscape people or even travel documentary photographers. Having gear that can keep up to the elements is a must.

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Also hardware wise, I’m delighted to hear that it has dual SD card slots. This in my mind is another Pro feature. Whether for redundancy on critical wedding jobs or over flow or a JPEG/RAW workflow, this is an excellent feature to have. Glad they included a UHS-II slot too for fast data transfer. This will help immensely for buffer clearing, especially RAW files which will be bigger on the all new 24MP sensor. This is a welcome jump up from 16 in my books. FujiFilm colour and skin tones are absolutely incredible. And now with 24MP, you get more glorious pixels of both. And phenomenal high ISO performance as well. So exciting!

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Another feature I’m really excited about is the new ACROS black and white film simulation. I’m a huge fan of Fuji black and white straight out of camera. In fact, I almost never shoot my X100s in RAW. The JPEGs are so great and I love the colour so much I just go JPEG. Especially for black and white. But now to have a really punchy and contrasty black and white option in the ACROS film simulation, it’s all kicked up to notches unknown to mankind. I’m looking at you Leica Monochrom! It will be great to see how the new X-Trans sensor handles the B&W tonality.

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Another upgrade that may not seem like much is the sync speed for flash bumping up to 1/250s. This is awesome! I love using my X100s for flash stuff because of the leaf shutter and syncing capabilities it has. But to get that extra wee smidgeon of ambient killing power from 250 instead of 180 does help quite a bit. I’m dying to shoot the new X-Pro2 with some telephoto glass for portrait work. So far I’ve only ever shot the 23mm/35mm lens on the X100s. But if I could get the 90mm f/2 or the 56mm 1.2, I’d be a happy portraitist indeed.

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There’s a zillion other features about the X-Pro2 that others have already commented on and will continue to do in the weeks to come. The stuff I listed just scratches the surface of what will undoubtedly become another classic camera for Fuji.

If you want one, get on the pre-order list ASAP. If you order from The Camera Store, they have a promo discount on the new 35mm f/2 lens as well.

Congratulations FujiFilm! 2016 is your year to shine!

Top 10 X-Pro2 reviews


8

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Mine baby is 8 years old today! That’s insane & unbelievable. It seems like just yesterday we were going to the hospital to have her. She’s the sweetest, most caring and compassionate person I have ever met. And she’s ridiculously cute!

I busted out the ol’ photo mill (Nikon Df, 50mm & 85mm 1.8G) for some birthday pics. We used 1 light (Nikon SB-900 flash triggered by a SU-800 commander) with 3 different modifiers used in 4 different ways.

The first setup was the good old shoot through umbrella. It produces winning light all the time. It’s soft. It’s directional. It’s fool proof, quick goto lighting. It’s also pretty boring. Good thing Phoebe is cute. I said that already though. 😎

Next, was a small soft box. The LumiQuest Softbox III to be specific. It introduces more shadow tonality. A bit more depth and interest to the shots. It’s pretty cool light, especially when used in close to the subject.

Then it was a Honl grid. Deep shadows. Much more intrigue and edginess, almost teenaged light. But she’s only 8 so we had to back it off and bring the shadows up a notch.

So viola! We went back to the umbrella but this time I bounced the light off the white ceiling and back down through the umbrella that she was holding as a prop. It gives a double defused ultra soft giant look to the light. Shadows are very, very soft and silky smooth.

 


Fun with Grids

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I had to order something from B&H a while ago and to get free shipping to Canada, I needed to bump up my order. So I ordered a grid for my Photoflex Medium Litedom soft box. Grids are ridiculously expensive for softboxes, leading one to believe they are made of Unicorn Tears and Saskatchewan seal skin bindings. OrΒ some such other mystical material. So I ordered the Impact brand 24×32 grid. It works and fits like a charm for the Photoflex box. I should have had a grid on that soft box from forever ago. They are so perfect for controlling light spill and adding amazing direction to the light. I hadn’t had a chance to even try it out much so I grabbed Ethan and some gear and we went outside to cash in on the amazing hoarfrost that stuck around all day.

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In the really blue shots, I was playing with color temperature and gels. I went with a tungsten balance to shift the image to blue, then double CTO gelled my flash to bring the light back to a really nice warm temp. It’s a very interesting contrast in the light colours. For the other shots I used a simple overcast warmer temperature of around 6300K with a 1/4 CTO gel to give a bit warmer skin tone. The control that the grid gives is superb. There is no spill around the subject to illuminate everything. If you want to keep an image interesting, then pay close attention to what isn’t lit.

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Our neighbour came home and I made her step into the set for a shot or two. It worked out well! I was using the FujiFilm X100s for these shots with the 3 stop ND filter engaged. This helped knock down the ambient light which would have been too much for a single LumoPro LP180 flash that I was using blasting through two gels, two layers of diffusion and the grid. These exposures were in the neighbourhood of f/2 1/250 ISO 200 plus or minus. And they are all JPEG images too. I seldom ever shoot my Fuji in RAW because the JPEGs are soooooooo great. Not so my Nikons. They live in RAW all the time. But Fuji has such incredible and captivating colour and skin tones. So, it’s JPEG for this Fuji slinging flashgun cowboy. So if you have a light, slap a grid on there and leave it there. You’ll be glad you did! 😎


Miss Maria & Her Sunset Horse

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Barrel racing is one of those things that runs in the blood, like farming or hunting or so many other things that exist in a symbiotic relationship with people and animals. My friend Maria wanted some photos of her and her horse Honey. So we picked one of the coldest days of the year when the light was falling fast! LOL 😎 Β The cloud cover was thick and it was quite dark. We were able to do a bunch of natural light stuff rather quickly but then the sky burst forth a wee silver of gold for us. We had a good 5-7 minutes to work the light before it completely faded into blue. We had to work quickly but we managed to hammer out a bunch of different looks using flash and ambient. The EXIF of the top image was 1/8 of a second at f/7.1. I was trying to drag the shutter as much as possible to get adequate ambient exposure and then use flash for the subject exposure. This relatively longer shutter speed allowed both Maria hair and Honey’s mane to motion blur in the wind but the flash exposure keeps them sharp. Handheld at 1/8 is no sweat with my 16-35mm f/4 Nikkor with VR.

I quickly moved from ambient to flash and back to ambient again to nab the amazing sky for silhouettes. The color was so juicy and rich that it made for the perfect background! You can’t sunset shots. They are like peanut butter and chocolate! The veritable Reese’s Pieces of the photographic world. They make for great photos & happy clients . . . and happy Photographers! 😎


Vacation Maternity

Whilst on vacation in the Cypress Hills, my good friends the Teschke clan wanted to do some maternity/family shots. It was super fun and we had a blast! The lighting was absolutely glorious. Just before sunset, the warm golden light was streaming around us. We went to the lodgepole forest and did some setups. I had brought a small lighting kit with me which was super handy. Also, I was able to make use of a lighting assistant. 😎 Thanks again Orion! You’ve got a new line to add to your resumΓ©. πŸ˜‰


A Tale of 2 Dishes

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.

Photo Credit: Jim Kroshus

(Jealous that dad missed out on snows, we went out and nabbed this short eared owl. Still a magnificent specimen!)

Photo Credit: Bob Schultz

Now for those who can’t handle this much excitement, there’s beauty dishes. (Hence, dish 2). πŸ˜† For Christmas dad got a wee beauty dish. It’s actually an Opus mini reflector.Β 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. πŸ˜‰ 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). πŸ˜€

Opus Mini Reflector Light Mod

Contrasty Light & Harsh Shadows

DIY Beauty Dish

Still got shadows but much softer and more wrapping

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! πŸ˜‰

Photo Credit: Bob Schultz


Alexys B

Moir Dr. welcomed our newest resident just recently! All the little princesses on the crescent were glad to welcome one more precious little girl in Alexys. Ethan doesn’t know what to think as the pink army seems to keep getting bigger and bigger. He may have to seek friendship elsewhere. He’s starting to think wearing a tutu is a great thing! Thankfully Uncle bought him a metric tonne of tonka trucks for Christmas. πŸ˜‰ But I digress. It was a riot to take some photos for Jenn & Brock of their newest addition and a few of big sister Kennedy too. I love how newborns can sleep through anything and Alexys was a great model for us, putting up with pretty much any pose! Can’t beat that! 😎

Read on for Photo Geek info! πŸ˜€ (more…)


Touchdown for Dreams

If you haven’t heard yet, my good neighbour Megan was selected as the inaugural recipient of a wish with the Saskatchewan Roughriders Touchdown for Dreams. πŸ˜€ Totally awesome stuff!! She gets to go to Las Vegas and see a Garth Brooks concert, which is super exiting. There was also a really slick press conference which you can check out here on YouTube. They got super fly pink jerseys and rider shirts for cancer awareness as well. πŸ™‚ I asked Jimmy if I could nab a photo of him today dressed in the mad pinkness and he agreed. I didn’t want a simple snapshot. I wanted an epic photo with freaky awesome details. Here’s what I did to build the photo from the ground up.

Step 1: compose the shot. I really wanted the menacing clouds in the background to set the mood of the photo (hope in the midst of troubled times). So I crouched down and framed the shot to make Jimmy look larger than life. This first shot is pure ambient light. Waaay under exposed which is what I wanted. 1/250 at f/14

Step 2: Add some light. In this case a warmed up flash to throw some hard rim light on his right side. When layering your lighting it helps to follow this guideline: Ambient Fill Key Accent (AFKA). In this case the rim light was also acting somewhat like a fill light too. 1/250 f/14 SB-600 on 1/8 power gelled warm with 1/2 CTO.

Step 3: Add the Key light. I used an umbrella as the key light. It’s a sweet sassy wrapping light. It’ works good most times. It was warmed with 1/4 CTO gel. I needed to adjust my aperture a bit and I opened it to f/10.

Step 4: Crank the Freaky Awesome Details. I wanted an almost HDR appearance as the final image. I like the edgy light and the cranked up definition of the finished image. I used Aperture 3 to crank the definition, then brushed some away from Jimmy’s face so he didn’t look to crazy. Then I used Viveza 2 to crank the cloud detail and contrast way up. 8)

So there you go! Lighting in layers. It’s not all that difficult and this is a really simple 2 light setup. We went from start to finish in 15 minutes. Big thanks to Jimmy & Livy my extra light stand holder girl. πŸ˜‰


One Light & Glasses

Taking flash photos of people with glasses is a nightmare. Even if they have the magical unicorn-horn anti-glare nano-crystal-coatings, there is always gonna be some reflection or glare. So, if you have an umbrella setup as a light modifier, it’s going to reflect in the glasses. Same with reflectors. There’s only 3 options. 1) You get the person to take their glasses off. But, if they always wear them, they won’t look like themselves. So this one is out for me. 2) Photoshop the heck out of the glare. This is time consuming and a real nightmare trying to rebuild people’s eyes. 3) Turn the person the opposite direction from the light. DING DING DING! How easy is that?! The light comes from behind the person and wraps around them, all without glaring their glasses. Slap in a reflector for fill on the opposite side of the main light and you’re in business. Just make sure that the reflector doesn’t show up in the glasses on the other side. 😎

Edgar needed a high res portrait for a Western Ag Labs conference so I Β had Kirby stand in for me while I tried the setup. It worked! It took a bit of tweaking to make sure we didn’t get any glare showing up, but it came together quickly.

"I pity the fool who don't have no crop health!"

For this last one, Β I screwed up the exposure and made it too dark/edgy for what Edgar needed. So I processed it to be highly detailed with desaturated tones that add to the edgy feel. It’s funny because it’s a Western Ag Labs portrait, but it makes Edgar look more like a hit man. hehehehehe… I told him he could send this pic to clients who won’t pay. πŸ˜†


Bridesmaid Zillas!!!

So the other night, the whackiest thing happened. 4 beautiful ladies showed up at my house, dressed in amazing dresses from weddings gone by and wanted me to take their picture, with my, (what else) Beauty Dish. Sure, says I! Who could resist 4 lovely ladies in beautiful dresses. Turns out they were headed to Carnduff to watch a movie about bridezillas or some such schlock girl movie and if they showed up in bridesmaid dresses they got to see the motion picture for free! Way to earn your thrift badge ladies! πŸ˜‰ bwahahahahahha……… Here’s the glorious outcome:

Photo Geek info: ISO 400 f/5 1/250 35mm. Strobist info: 3 SB speed lights. 1 thru a beauty dish centre, 2 silver reflectors below subjects for fill, 2 for rim lights on the outside edges.Β 


2 Light Madness

I got a second flash from my folks for an early birthday present! (LOVE YOU!!!) πŸ˜‰ And I’ve been putting it to good use. With just two lights you can create some pretty fun portraits. Throw in a set of Honl Gels and you’ve got a portable studio with you no matter where you go. And that’s what I like, having very simple and effective setups that can go anywhere and pretty much do anything. Versatile? You betcha! Person wants a shot, is wearing red and you only have a pink backdrop? Hmm. Unless you are going to a candy striping convention, it might be nicer to have something different back there. Now you can! A gelled second flash and a wall and away you go!

How can does this all work? Well it has to do with principle from physics called the inverse square law – which I’m not getting into here. Be it enough to say that light has depth of field and you can control it and use it to your advantage.. You can essentially light 2 different planes – one for the subject and one for the background. You’ve experienced this before. If you take a flash photo of someone close to your light, they’re super bright while the background is totally dark right? That’s why everyone hates “flash” photography. It looks crappy. BUT, you can use this law of light to your advantage. You can light subject and background independently of each other.

In all the portraits in this post, the subject is about 6 feet or so from a white wall. We put one gelled flash back near the wall and lit it up. We also made the flash shoot through objects to put the pattern up there. So you get color and pattern for the price of one. What a deal! Then, we used a shoot through umbrella with another flash to light the subject. It makes for a really cool, simple and effective portrait. You’re only limited to your imagination! Be sure to read more about this on the strobist blog, David Hobby rocks the set!

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Home Made Justin Clamps!

I made a quick video on how you can make your own DIY Justin Clamps. As I have mentioned, Photography is a ripoff. Everything with a photography brand costs 17% more than it’s worth. So, anytime you can cheat and save a few bucks, why not do it? I got the idea for making the clamps from the strobist, and for only $5.00, you can make these things. (To get legit ones, they cost upwards of $50.00 US bones!) πŸ™‚ There’s nothing to it! And, they are exceedingly useful and convenient. Now, you can put a flash almost anywhere. I’m thinking of real estate lighting or lighting up a rink/gym or wherever. Β These things are sweet! Check out the vid:


Joe McNally is my Hero

I love Joe McNally. He rocks the set. His knowledge and experience when it comes to lighting are some of the best in the business. I just got his book The Hot Shoe Diaries from the Library but I will be buying it in the future. It is incredible! πŸ˜€ For anyone wanting to learn more about small flashes and flash photography, this is the book for you – even better if you shoot Nikon like Joe and all the really good photographers do Β (but Canonites can learn from the principles) πŸ˜‰ The book takes you through various photos that Joe has made using creative lighting. He talks about all the tips and tricks used to get the shot which is really helpful for people just beginning. After reading the first half of the book, I decided I would to and try out some of his principles when it comes to off camera flash. I include here the sample image and a diagram of how I setup the shot.

Flash triggered by SU-800

Photo Geek Info: ISO 100, f/4.0, 1/4000, 16mm, Exposure Compensation -1 ev, Flash Output +3ev, i-TTL Mode with Auto FP enabled. Phew!