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.
Well today was the big first day for Phoebe and a truck load of other preschoolers. Hard to believe it’s true. I’m sure I’ll be a wreck when Kindergarten comes around the bend. 😯 So I got up early and made some pancakes as the special breakfast and then we tried to squeeze out some photos to remember the big day by. She’s become such a goofball when it comes to getting pics lately. Always got a crazy face instead of a nice smile. Can’t even bribe them out with treats and shows hardly anymore. So, we take what we can get and with a little luck, might nab a memory. 😆
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 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.
For this last one, 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. 😆
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’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.