Saturday, May 30, 2009

5/30/2009 - Combining Ambient and Flash

This set of portraits of my beautiful nieces was taken at a family bbq. Yes, I am an opportunist. I found a flowering Dogwood and placed my subject in front of a branch that was about chest height. For the lighting, the late afternoon sun was being filtered through haze from camera left and about 45 degrees in front of my subject. I supplemented this with a flash shot through a white umbrella to camera right but just outside of the frame of the image. This was about 2 feet in front of the subject to create a nice soft light.

I shot ETTL with a master flash on-camera, but not firing. The slave flash was set between -2 and -3 depending on the subject.

Friday, May 29, 2009

5/29/09 - A Weekend in the White Mountains, NH

The following images were taken during a camping/photography weekend in the White Mountains of New Hampshire with my friend Erick and Bob.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

5/10/2009 - Portraits w/ Remote TTL Flash

Using remote slaves is a nice way to have a portable lighting studio. The downside of slaves is that all your flash exposure needs to be done manually (unless you have the new TTL-capable triggers from PocketWizard. However, both Canon and Nikon have remote capabilities built into their flashes (i.e. their flashes can talk to other flashes of the same brand and compatible models).

These pictures were taken with one remote 580ex as the mainlight, and a 580ex II in the hotshoe for fill. The mainlight is on a stand to camera right and is unfiltered. The fill on the camera is bounced into the corner of the ceiling and wall behind the camera.

The fill is programmed as the master flash and defaults to group A. The main is set as a slave and programmed to group B. Using this method, I am then able to control flash exposure compensation of both flashes from the master on the camera. Even better, I can set a flash exposure ratio difference between the master and the slave. In both cases, the ratio of master (fill) to slave (main) was 1:8.

My makeshift studio on this day was in my screenroom. I exposed so that the background ambient light outside was underexposed. There was little light inside, so my subjects are being lit primarily by my lighting setup

Saturday, May 9, 2009

5/9/2009 - Portraits w/ reflected light

What is one to do when your own kids have had quite enough of playing model... well, borrow the neighbors kids, of course!!!

It had been a while since I had done some portrait work using just natural light and as I was finishing up the yard work, I noticed that the light in the yard was perfect. I decided it was a perfect opportunity to get some nice pictures of my daughters. Nothing doing. Apparently, riding scooters is much more fun than standing around takng directions from you dad while he tries to figure out where that perfect light is... go figure.

But, all was not lost. As I was about to sulk back into the house, dragging my gear behind me with that dejected look on my face (yes, I'm not above a little guilt technique), my neighbor Timmy asked, "Mr Roberts, what are you doing?".

Aha!!!! "Timmy, come on over buddy, and I'll show you"

Interesting how all of a sudden my own kids became more interested in what I was doing at this point, also. There is something to be said for peer pressure, afterall. With a little hounding I was able to convince my oldest to hold the reflector.

The trick to using a reflector is to skim the light onto your subject to create a nice feathered light. If you bounce the light back at 180 degrees from the light source, it will look harsh... to say nothing of possibly blinding your model. Also, in most cases, the ideal lighting technique, for any lighting setup, is to give the feel that there is only one light source (i.e. shadows all in the same direction). Any additive light should be a fill and not as strong as the main lightsource.

However, in this case, my subject was in a shaded area and I was using my reflector for the main lightsource. The sun was about an hour from setting to camera right. However, Timmy was mostly blocked from the sun by the archway he was standing next to (to his right). I had my daughter hold the reflector at camera left, about 2 feet in front of my subject. The light was being reflected at Timmy's head at about a 45 degree angle.

The catchlight you see is from the reflector. You can see that it is at about 9:00 in relation to Timmy's pupils. If my daughter were taller, I would have liked the reflector to be higher so the light were more at 10:30. But, a dad can only ask for so much :)

Friday, May 8, 2009

5/8/09 - Remote Triggered Strobes

I've been messing around with lighting with remote triggered strobes. For flashes, I currently have two Canon speedlites (a 580ex and a 580ex II). I am triggering these using three Pocket Wizard Plus II Transceivers. One sits in the camera hotshoe and one for each flash connected via PC Sync cords (note that the 580ex does not have a PC port and therefore needs a special cord with a built-in hotshoe. The 580ex II has a PC port)

The Pocket Wizard Plus II does not support E-TTL, so must be used manually (Note: Pocket Wizard now has a fully E-TTL supported receiver and transmitter for Canon). The method I use for getting the appropriate flash exposure is to use my light meter. The one I have has a strobe mode where it will not take an ambient reading until the flash is fired. For the two sessions I did below, I was going for a 1:4 ratio.

The first session was done inside the old observatory on top of the Blue Hills in Milton, MA. Somehow I managed to convince some friend to get up early un a sunday morning. I was looking for something dramatic to take advantage of the stone walls and winding staircase. So, I told my models to, "think Scooby Doo!!!" as the descended the stairs. I setup my main light to camera right and a background light to camera left. This was no easy task since there wasn't much room to work in. In hindsight, I wish I had the strongest portion of light on Rebecca in the middle to even things out.

The next session was with my wife Lisa for her PanMass image (NOTE: PanMass is a two day 180 mile ride to support the Jimmy Fund). I was going for an edgy, badass look (no small feat considering my wife is just not the badass type).

For this, I had her and her bike about 3 feet in front of a brick wall. I put my main light 45 degrees to my model at camera right and a background light to camera left.