Light is Everything!

Posts tagged “Off Camera Flash

Shooting Cameras

This is just a quick blog post showing how I was shooting some macro shots of my favourite cameras this evening.

This behind the scenes iPhone shot shows the exceedingly crude setup. Main light is an AlienBee 1600 through a gridded Photoflex soft box. I setup my home made scrim as a big reflector and did a simple blue gelled flash pointed at the back wall to give a bit of colour. Very simple setup with a decent result. 

I also shot the good ol’ Nikon Df with an old 28mm manual focus lens from 19 diggity 5. I took more of a macro approach with this shot and used that same blue flash to add that hint of glancing colour to the shadow side. The blue sets it off just that extra little bit. 

I shot the same kind of angle of the X-Pro2 but it doesn’t work as well to me. The X-Pro2 is more minimalistic in its design, lending to a more covert external appearance anyways (which I like). There’s just not as much going on for the accent light to bring attention too. Anyways, just a fun little shoot for something to do. 

Here’s a link to the Nikon photoย in 4K resolution. I shot all these files with the Nikon D800 RAW so there’s resolution to burn. ๐Ÿ˜Ž๐Ÿ‘

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Lighting for Lent

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First of all, Christ is Risen! He is Risen Indeed! Alleluia! A blessed Easter season to everyone! As is my tradition, every year I give up shaving for Lent. My Lenten beard is both legendary as well as epic (LOL). I also usually try to do a collection of beards as I shave the beard off, taking some photos as I go as a joke.

My setup was in the garage. I had my ratty grey backdrop and 3 speed lights to do these photos. The background light was a LumoPro 180 gelled with 2 cuts of various colours. The kicker light was my SB-900 (which has a broken locking mechanism -BOO!) also gelled. And the key was another LumoPro 180 gelled 1/2 CTO in a gridded softbox. Everything was triggered with one Phottix Ares trigger, the other two flashes on slave mode.

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This shot was just the softbox alone. Very moody light with deep shadows. The grid helps focus the light in one area.

20180331-LentBeards-228This next shot (which will be my avatar for 2018) is using the three light setup. 2 cuts of drama blue on the background. 2 cuts of CTO for the kicker. 1/2 CTO in the softbox. I held a reflector out front for some fill & sunglass highlights.

20180331-LentBeards-342The final shot was basically the same, I simply changed the gels and moved the background light in closer to the background for quicker fall off.

It’s a really simple and effective way to do a headshot. The real special sauce though was using the XPRO2 and the 50mm WR lens โ€“ basically a 76mm equivalent. It’s an excellent length for headshots and very versatile. The best part though was being able to control the camera from my cellphone app. That’s awesome. I could focus the camera and take the photo super easy. Makes such tasks really fast. And, because you can see the image as you are making it, it means very little editing. Like maybe a vignette. Thats it. It’s soooo efficient. ย Love Fuji!

As the weather (hopefully) will be warming up soon, I’ll have more frequent blog posts. Have a wonderful Easter season and see you soon!


Gold Belt Gold!

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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. ย 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.20170509-YellowBelt-004

Step 2: Work the posing. Just watch how two simple things drastically change the photo.

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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.

20170509-YellowBelt-017B) 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.

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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! ๐Ÿ˜Ž


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! ๐Ÿ˜Ž

 


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


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. Orย 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! ๐Ÿ˜Ž


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 ๐Ÿ˜Ž ย 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! ๐Ÿ˜Ž


LumoPro LP180

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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! ๐Ÿ˜Ž

Here’s the best thing in the world about these flashes besides all the above mentioned awesomeness:

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LumoPro LP180 flash mounted directly to stand on axis through the mod, triggered by a Nikon SC-29 cable shot on a Fuji X100s. How’s that for multi-camera-cultural?

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!!!!! ๐Ÿ˜€ 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.

And lastly, the awesome attention to detail in the packaging. Pure awesome! LumoPro, you’ve made a dandy product! ๐Ÿ˜Ž20130720-LP180-003

 


OCF and the X100s

20130429G-15Not 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. ๐Ÿ˜ˆ 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!!! ๐Ÿ™„ย 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… ๐Ÿ˜Ž I heightened the structure of the clouds in post, but I love the drama of the B&W.

20130429G-5I did a similar one using Nik Software’s Color Efex Pro ย and kept the colour, but on this, I prefer the black and white.

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Winter Wedding

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Ah, winter. We live in it the majority of our lives in Canada. Why not get married in it?! ๐Ÿ˜Ž No reason not too, other than heinous blizzards, sketchy travel conditions and . . . it’s cold. Usually. But not February 9th of this year! It was an incredibly beautiful day. Blue sky, frost covered trees, mild temperatures, no wind! I was truly blessed to be part of a winter wedding with some amazing folks from the Alida area.

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And not only was doing a winter wedding a new thing for me, so was being a second shooter. My awesome photog friendย Susan Hillย from Carievale found herself in a last minute health bind and needed an extra lens on the wedding. I was glad that I was available to help.

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It was a metric tonne of fun to watch how another photographer handles a wedding but also to see how truly complimentary it was to get two perspectives on the same moments and events. By both of us taking pictures, it was actually less stressful overall. I knew that whatever I wasn’t getting, Susan was, and vice versa. What the client ends up with is double coverage of the event and double the amount of stellar images from the big day. What’s not to love?! ๐Ÿ˜‰

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I thoroughly enjoyed the experience โ€“ even though I don’t normally shoot weddings. ๐Ÿ˜‰ I got to shoot some off camera flash stuff which I love. Strobist skills came in handy as the sanctuary where we did the formals was very, very dark. Dark wood ceiling and brick walls and dark flooring chewed up the light. We through up 3 speedlights in umbrellas which made an impromptu studio. Bouncing the light would have been nicer, but it wasn’t an option. Solving problems on the fly is mandatory stuff for wedding photogs. Having another photographer there made it less scary and easy to deal with as Susan has a tremendous eye and great compositional skills. She lined the families up, got everyone ready and all I did was press the shutter.

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The snow was FEET deep back by the grotto, but we braved the soaked socks and frozen feet to get the shots. We nearly killed the poor bride and groom, but they were amazing! They went full speed ahead for all the shots and didn’t tell us to go jump in the frozen lake! ๐Ÿ˜€

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We wound up the night at the reception which was one of the best I’ve ever attended. It was heartfelt and more importantly, didn’t drag on forever! ๐Ÿ˜‰ It was truly a blessing to help capture a young couple’s memories of the big day. Susan and I had a blast and I certainly hope to be able to work with her again on future projects. If she can put up with me… ๐Ÿ˜Ž

Susan gets the Rembrandt, I'll take the split!

Susan gets the Rembrandt, I’ll take the split!