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! 😎
Finally got a chance to use the X100s in a real world scenario. My good friend Susan from Susan Hill Photography had a wedding gig lined up and I asked if I could tag along as second shooter to really try out the Fuji. She graciously obliged. Not only was I using the X100s, I also got to try it out with my new pocket wizard plus x triggers. I’m happy to report that everything worked amazingly well. 😀 I confess though, that I’m naturally a telephoto-eyed shooter. So, I couldn’t leave my D800 at home. I had it with my 85mm f/1.8 on a black rapid strap as well as the Fuji. It truly was a dynamic duo as you get a pretty nice 35mm equivalent FOV from the Fuji and decent telephoto from the 85mm. And, the Fuji is so nice as a second camera because it is super lightweight. You can carry it around all day and not get played out. So all in all, it was a sweet mix. I just swapped the pocket wizard trigger back and forth from camera to camera as I needed to. I was using a simple one speedlight rig in a Photoflex octodome NXT XS on an ultralight LumoPro stand. It was a perfect on the move, versatile lighting setup. 😎
I really wanted to push the Fuji on this gig. So I tried to use it as much as possible and it didn’t disappoint. Despite being a wide-ish angle lens, you can really get some nice subject isolation with it. The colour and skin tones are amazing. I shot everything in RAW and JPEG but the images on this blog entry are all JPEG – they are simply that good. And, they tweak very nicely in post.
Some stuff though is just made for telephoto and I did find myself swapping in the D800. I still believe that people look best shot with telephoto focal lengths. But the variety of having both cameras and not having to change lenses (hence lugging around WAY less kit) is pure awesome.
This wedding session was all formals with some candids with the big family at the end. We setup in the Carnduff golf course because after all, it’s May and there is still snow lying around… shudder. 🙄 But, we did our best. So we found this little tranquil spot and knew we could do something with it. When I got home and looked at the file, it struck me. This image looks fake! It looks like my 1985 kindergarten portrait studio backdrop! I think it’s attributed to the being able to nuke the sun with the deadly combo of the Fuji’s built in 3 stop ND filter and higher sync speed. This one was f/2.8 at 1/500 via Pocket Wizards. Sweet sassy! I’m gonna like that capability more and more me thinks.
The other killer thing with a small, lightweight camera is that you can hand hold slow shutter speed shots no problem. There were a metric tonne of kidlets around for the big family photo and I thought, lets get them buzzing around the bride. With the ND filter still on, I cranked the aperture up to f/11 and dialled the shutter down to 1/30s. The bride is sharp handheld, the kids are pleasantly blurred. My only regret is not popping a wee bit o’ flash on the bride. It would have made for a stellar image. But one gets caught up in the moment. 😳
All in all, it was a super fun 2 hours on duty with the Fuji. I love that it’s small, lightweight and ready for anything – like when all the kids in the family decide to start rolling down a goose crap encrusted golf course hill. 😆 It’s just there and ready to rock!
Laney has a heart of gold! And that sweetness of her personality flows out of her and looks tremendous on camera. 😎 This shoot was really enhanced because of that. I really liked being able to do some fiddle shots of Laney too. The location was really fitting for a western theme and added a lot to how the images worked over all. We setup in a big shed and the floor was perfectly full of fine dust that I knew would give some sweet texture to the shot – especially when you have people run through it and really stir it up! 😀 Light and dust/dirt/smoke/fog go together like peanut butter & chocolate!
And, last but not least was the barn. Again, some amazing textures in there. When you mix the sweetness of Laney and the roughness of the location, some cool lighting, it makes for some really dramatic portraits. 🙂
I finally got a minute to run out to the dam and try my new variable ND filter in a landscape scenario. But of course, the water at the Dam was nearly glass anyways. Just my luck… But I took the kids and did a few long exposure setups in an effort to really blur the water and make it look dreamy. Many of the photos were shot at f/22 and upwards of 6 seconds! Not too shabby. We’ll have to try it again on a day where there is mucho waves. Thinking ahead though, I threw a little flash setup into the truck last minute. Actually it was my beastly new C-Stand and Photoflex NXT Octodome – I love this new stand! I was able to put the light right over head of the kids and blast ’em without worry of the thing tipping over. It’s so sweet! Even though it was a bicep buster hauling it up and down the bank at the dam. My favourite image of the night is the one I put at the top of this blog post. Ethan was facing opposite to the light, but it captured the fun of the evening!
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!
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. 😉 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! 😀 (more…)
Yipee! I got a new light mod! I’ve wanted a soft box for a long time now and I finally pulled the trigger and got the Photoflex Octodome NXT XS. I got it as a kit from B&H that came with the soft box, speed ring, light stand and umbrella swivel head & all the coldshoe hardware for flashes. It’s the bomb! Plus, if I ever get/use studio lights, the speed ring is full-size to accommodate those lights too. It works just spiffy with speed lights though and it gives a super nice quality of light. I put it together when I first got it and did some quick test shots with the kids. It’s amazing light, soft wrapping and because it’s an octa, you get a round catchlight similar to a beauty dish. 8) Love it! I also used it on a recent family session shoot for a 3 month old baby and it worked wonderfully. I even used it for a small group shot and it was nice light, considering it’s only 15 inches or so in diameter! 😀 I’ll do a full review of the product soon.