We made it up to Edmonton for their amazing winter Ice Castles event. It was really a cool event, except that it wasn’t cool. It was melting! Ridiculously warm temperatures were reducing the ice castles to slush condos! Despite the melting mayhem, it was still a very, very great event to take in. We focused our time mainly on the castles. Periodic releases of fireworks added to the ice and lights quite nicely, as did the fire dancers. Very slick!
I used this venue to really try out my new 24mm 1.8G lens. I shot it alone on the Nikon Df. What a combo! Really fast glass with great high ISO performance on the Df made for a great all round experience. The wide open performance of the lens is tremendous and even better when stopped down a smidgeon to f/2 or 2.2.
But it was very challenging conditions. You had the lights illuminating the ice castles from within which was cool but then total darkness. So there was mucho dynamic range difference. If you could have shot from a tripod and maybe layered the images you could really do well with the venue. But I was shooting hand held. I threw in an old SB-600 small flash to use occasionally too but more often than not just shooting the ambient was more desirable.
The ice castles are a must see event! Be sure to check them out. Click here for more info. Take a look at a few extra pics! 😎
UPDATE: April 11, 2017
I’ve still got the 2 SB-600s up for grabs as well as the mini soft box. Everything else is sold!
It’s all in Oxbow, SK Canada and shipping can be arranged. Drop me a line if you’re interested.
Next I’ve got a couple of SB-600 flashes. They are a perfect starter flash for someone new to photography & may not want to spend a pile of money. They are in really good shape, a few scuffs and dings. They come with original box, all manuals, stand, protective bag. They do TTL and manual control and work with Nikon’s Creative Lighting System (CLS). Asking $200 each but will accept reasonable offers. (As they are discontinued now, they are going for around $250 on eBay. Manufacturer Info Here.
I’ve also got an Aurora LiteBank mini softbox for a speedlite. I’ll throw it in for free if you buy an SB-600. Or it can be yours for the low low price of $15 bones.
Rider Pride, Nation Wide. That’s our motto and our mantra. From the moment of conception, all Saskatchewan residents are born Rider Fans. Some more crazy than others. To support our team headed to the 101st Grey Cup on Sunday, I wanted to do a little photo shoot. I had the idea in my mind and wanted to try out some cool lighting that is along the lines of Heisler-esque. I was stoked with how the interplay of colour took place in this image. I’ve included a BTS photo to explain how I made this shot come together.
Well, as you can see, it’s shot in my car hold. It’s a total of 4 lights. Black sheet background clamped onto some cupboard doors. The key light is an SB-600 in a soft box overhead via a C-Stand. It’s got 1/2 CTO on it which really makes this image. Two rim lights behind me on left and right. The camera left rim is pointing up at me and the right is coming down. It really chisels the outline with thick green theatrical gels on 2 LP180s. And the last light was a special for the banjo. The SB-900 was simply put on the floor in an Orbis ring light to circle the drum of the banjo. I couldn’t have made a light mod match a subject better! I had originally set it up as on axis fill but on the ground worked so much better and added to the overall dramatic feel. It was a fun way to spend an hour or so. 😎
So cheer on the Saskatchewan Roughriders to Grey Cup victory on Sunday! Green is the colour, football is the game!
Kid photography is tough. They’re uncooperative. Combative. Scary! Now you know why kid photographers charge the mad scratch. 😉 hehheheehe…… I was trying to get some Christmas pictures of our kids the other day, which is always a gong show. It’s all my fault for breeding in the hatred of the camera to my kids. I’ve taken waaaay too many photos of them and now they won’t smile nice and look at the camera. Doh! But every once in a while, they will cooperate. This little shoot was an example of not! It was one ensuing comedy of errors after another. The other complicated thing was using a lighting setup. The kids have to be in a certain place for it to work, which simply doesn’t work super great with wiggly worm toddlers. Now you know why kid photographers use fast primes and shoot in natural light! hehheheeh……. 8)
The other night we did a super fun shoot on Moir in the glamour garage. It was a spur of the moment kind of thing after they found these way cool wigs. The girls grabbed their head bands from the Relay for Life too which drove home the point of the shoot: Cancer Sucks. Like anything in life, if you let stuff drag you down, it will. But, on the other hand, if you boldly face the trials with faith, hope and love in the big guy upstairs, you will conquer! Especially if you can laugh and have a good time! 8) So that’s what we did. The name of the game was fun, glamour-ish shots. Lots of lights, lots of attitude. However, the girls need to work on “sassy.” Bubbly & fun loving is down pat, but sassy? I need blue steel. I need magnum! I need le tigré! Where’s that at?! 😉
So I had this big idea that we should go out and do a family photo for the Christmas card before it was really really too late. It’s already too late to nab fall colours which would have been nice, so we decided to do some texture shots at the old stone house (before it falls over completely – it’s really become a cesspool of dilapidated iniquity!). Anyways, I had the vision for the family shot and it went well (look for it at Christmas time…) 8) But before going home, I decided to do an environmental portrait of just the three of us (Me, Regan and baby III). The sun was setting and approaching delicious golden light. The other two kids were screaming in the truck because it was too cold to be outside and they hated their lives in the car seats. But close the truck doors and viola! No more noise problem! 😉 tee hee…. Anyways, we did the setup and got the shot. All in all a pretty fun 45 minutes on the old timey prairie. Read on for photo photo geek disclosure…
Earlier this week I went down to Starr Liquor and Wine to buy a bottle of my favourite red wine: Angus The Bull (a delightful cabernet sauvignon from Australia). 8) It’s pure awesome! Big bold bull flavour. But alas, Starr didn’t have any in stock. 😦 But, lest my palette be dismayed, I caught a gander of a beautiful Scottish Lass! 🙂
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. 😀 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. 🙂 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. 😉
Studio?! We don’t need no stinkin’ studios!!!! 8) So tonight I finally had the chance to do some portraits using a 3 light configuration. I’ve been dying to try out the beauty dish in a studio setup and so I finally got to do so tonight. I even persuaded some models to work with me. 🙂
So in the first setup, we did a single speed light that had been gelled as the background light. This light is directly behind the subject and lights the back plane. Then, I put the beauty dish up on a stand and used a silver reflector for the classic “clamshell” beauty light combo. It’s used lots in fashion stuff, but does very well on wrinkly people if you want to minimize wrinkles. The beauty dish chucks light down and the reflector fills in any shadows. It’s cool light. So this was the first setup of the night. Only 2 lights.
OK, next, in setup 2, I added an additional light to the background. This helps bathe that back plane in color/light. For the colour background shots I blasted them each with a gel. For the super white blown out high-key background, the lights were fired straight up with no gels. The beauty dish and reflector fill remain unchanged.
So, finally, we switched things up again for another cool look, still using only 3 lights. This time, I lit the background with a single gelled speed light. I still used the beauty dish/silver reflector combo as the main & fill lights. But, I added a 1/8th spot gridded hair light to add more dimension to the light. It makes a sweet little highlight/rim light that adds another layer of loveliness to the light.
I also got to do a comparison shot between umbrella light and the beauty dish. This is really neat to be able to see the difference in the quality of light. The umbrella light is unquestionably softer. It wraps more and it is more fitting for these little people. The beauty dish has far more contrast and hard edges in the light. But it just depends on what you want to accomplish in your lighting. Jostens and other portrait people almost always use huge soft boxes because they are the softest light on the planet. But for brassier shots, the beauty dish has more punch. Also, the catch lights in the eyes are more pleasing from the beauty dish (they’re round…like the eye) 😉
So there you go. Three lights put to good use. We have lighting, colour, gesture, direction, depth, and mood. Just by moving a few lights, you can have a tremendous amount of versatility! Gotta love that!
I’ve been a YouTube junky for a good long while now. And, I also like eating Barbecue. So when you put those things together, you get the Barbecue Pit Boys! I love these guys! Good ol’ fashioned rednecks cooking the finest, choicest cuts of meat over a charcoal grill. . . . Charcoal!? It sounds weird, but it’s true. In Canada, we cook with Propane and propane accessories. Maybe Natural Gas. But charcoal seems so old school. So old world. So . . . foreign. But it’s sooooo delicious! I bought a small kettle grill from Wal-Mart when it was on sale as a season close out for $35 bucks because I just had to see if it made any difference to the food. And boy howdy, does it ever! You actually taste fire in the food! Granted, even if you slow cooked stuff on a propane grill it would have the same effect, but there is something extra in the charcoal (and don’t say Volatile Organic Compounds) 😉 It’s pure delicious!
Fly. Dragonfly that is. 8) There were zillions out in the back yard the other night, taking care of our mosquito population. I grabbed the 105 macro and an SB-600 on camera to add some much needed fill as the light was low and making some sweet cross lighting setups. I love dragonflies. They will forever be on the payroll at my house! 😉
Challenge of the Day: Love.
Production Note: I had seen this kind of wedding photo before and I love how the shadow of the ring makes a heart in the spine of the book. A nice subtle touch for extra lovey-doveyness. 😛
For the record and the journal, I’m sick of rain. Thoroughly sick of it. As I’m sure all the farmers are too. But, it does provide some way cool macro opportunities. I grabbed my 105mm Macro and an SB-600 flash and went out in the rain, hunting drops and whatever I could find. The trickiest thing ever was the near hurricane force winds that were blowing everything around and drying up the raindrops at a rapid rate. I had to move quickly. As I was also using flash, I wanted to try some edgier light stuff. I dialled in Manual exposure of 250th at f/11-18 and then simply flicked the strobe at 64th power. A wee flick of light is all it took. I tried zooming the flash head too from 24mm to 85. I found that the wider swath created a nicer look. It would be sweet to have Nikon’s ring flash setup but it’s way too much cash. I think I will develop some ghetto form of a 2 flash setup for on the go macro stuff. I’ll put the order into the R&D department of Schultz Photographic… 😉
I’m now officially addicted to light modifiers. I can’t stand bare flash and I want to control and shape the light. Make it work for me. I’m open to just about any kind of solution and option available too. I don’t discriminate that much. 😉 Enter, the Gary Fong Lightsphere. It’s been around for a number of years now and had several updates and redesigns. The latest is the collapsible version. Before, you had to carry around an awkwardly sized tupperware bowl with you. They don’t fit well in your camera bag. They don’t fit well anywhere. So, the newest version remedied that problem. It collapses down to only an inch and a half in size. Pretty slick. That fits in the gear bag easily.
The general concept with the Lightsphere is to take the light from an external flash and make it bigger. Bigger light is softer light. More diffused light. More even light. Think of clouds in front of the sun. Light is softer and more diffused because the light source got bigger – instead of the 93,000,000 mile away sun (a huge light source, but so far away it’s small — like the light from a flash) – you have clouds becoming a giant soft box. The Lightsphere takes the small light and makes it bigger and spreads it out. That’s basically all it does, no magic. But it’s handy in SOME circumstances.
Hardcore strobists and professionals may poo poo the Lightsphere, calling it the “Fong-Dong” (due to its, *ahem*, Phallic design). And as a directional light shaping tool, it’s not that great. In fact, it’s downright poor. But, as a solution for on the move, candid “I need some soft diffused light and don’t have no time for off camera flash solutions” it rocks the set giving you really soft, flat, even,
boring, light. Plus the new version collapses down flat-ish so it fits in your bag nicer. Did I already mention that?! 😉
Don’s Photo sells this thing for $90 Canadian Bones. That’s a bloody ripoff for this thing. You can seriously get similar results by plopping a $3.00 tupperware bowl over your flash head. It’s not worth $90 bucks. B&H Photo sells it for $56.00. Any of my border folk friends reading this, have it shipped to Donna’s and save the mad cheddar on this. Even at $56 US bones, it’s still pricey. But then again, everything in photography is an overpriced ripoff.
Buy the Gary Fong Dong Lightsphere Collapsible if you: a) need a quick on-camera light solution b) don’t have time to do a much nicer off camera lighting setup c) have an extra $90 bones you don’t mind parting with.
Don’t buy the Gary Fong Dong Lightsphere Collapsible if you a) want/expect cool & nicer directional off camera lighting b) will lose sleep over losing $90 bucks.
In the gallery below are pictures of the Lightsphere Collapsible product itself, as well as sample shots from it being used in a real life lighting situation – candid shots from Ethan’s Birthday party. All those B-Day party shots are on camera in TTL mode. Finally there is a comparison shot of off-camera light modifiers using a bounce umbrella, shoot through umbrella, Lightsphere and a Soft Box, so you can take a look and see for yourself the quality of light that is produced.
I have been reading the Strobist blog non stop for the past few days. It’s the absolute best place to go on the net for learning how lighting works. So good, I made it a permanent banner link on the right side of my blog page. The information is incredibly useful, accurate and real life. I can’t recommend it enough! Bookmark it and visit often. It rocks the set.
I’ve been playing with strobe for the last couple of days and day dreaming of light ratios. I’ve still got the Lastolite Ezybox and so I started playing with it today to try to get pictures of Ethan’s new haircut. He’s so cute. But it’s tough because kids don’t sit still and they don’t want to stand in one place for you. So here I am, walking around the house with the Ezybox on a stick, trying to do flash photos of the wriggliest little worms on the planet. heheheheheh… it was nothing shy of a gong-show. But it was fun and I did manage to nab a couple of keepers.
I think that turns people off about flash photography – at first – is the terrible results that come from on camera/pop up flash. People see the harshness and think “Yuck! Turn that crap off! It’s terrible!” And it is. But off camera flash can produce some very cool results. It can go from edgy to soft and airy to a nice balance with just a flick of your exposure dial. Conceptualizing flash photography isn’t really all that hard. We worry about exposure, but it’s a simple matter of asking yourself, what do I want from this photo? Do I want a dark and edgy, noir look? Then you crank your shutter speed to 250 or more and dial your aperture down to f/11 or smaller. Do you want to balance the flash and make it not look like it was strobed much at all? Dial your shutter speed down to let in loads of ambient light. Want it airy fairy? Dial it way down and open your aperture really wide. It’s not all that hard really. It’s more of deciding what you want and then making the technology work for you. When you become a strobist, you become master of the universe! Why? Because you control light and make it rather than observing it and working around it. 🙂
My generous friend Kevin lent me yet another light diffusing toy today, an Ezybox from Lastolite. I’ve had my eye on these products for quite a while and I was tickled plum to death to get the chance to play with it today. I made another quick YouTube vid comparing the light quality from one SB-600 speedlight but modified through the Ezybox Softbox, bounced off of a white reflector, shot through a diffuser, shot with a Gary Fong lightsphere, bounce flash off the ceiling and finally for kicks, natural light. It’s 5 different modifications from one flash, with 5 different outcomes when it comes to light quality. Pick which one you like the best! I think if I had to pick, I’d go with the softbox followed by the bounce flash from the white reflector. 🙂
A quick video on the quality of light created by using small flash diffusers. I compare the Gary Fong lightsphere to a miniature soft box by Aurora. I think that the lightsphere wins in this competition. It definitely produces a soft, flat shadowless light, but only because I was in a low ceiling area, which creates a nice spread of bounce flash. Outside when I tried it, it didn’t have as nice of an effect as most of light is lost upwards. But inside, it creates a nice quality of light.
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! 😀 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 (but Canonites can learn from the principles) 😉 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.
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!
So tonight I was trying some way cool smoke tricks I saw on Gavin Hoey’s YouTube page. His tutorial is super cool and explains everything so I won’t repeat it all here. But it’s a fun technique that creates some really neat shots!
Then, you can get creative and go the next step further and do some colorizing in Photoshop (or in my case, GIMP). It also works pretty darn slick!