This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
PIET VAN DEN EYNDE
Advanced Use of Off-Camera Flash
PIET VAN DEN EYNDE
i: Introduction 1.1: Going Beyond Sync Speed 1.2: Working With Multiple Flashes 2.1: Advanced Triggering Systems 2.2: More Modifiers 2.3: Thinking Outside the Softbox 2.4: More Useful Stuff 2.5: Outgrowing Your Small Flashes 3: Ten Case Studies 4: Four Interviews 5: Conclusion
In Making Light, the first part of this two-part eBook, we introduced off-camera flash, using typical hotshoe flashes, as a way of improving not only the quantity of light but, more importantly, the quality. In this second eBook, we’ll dive a little deeper into the matter: we’ll cover some more advanced techniques and introduce you to some extra modifiers. We’ll add more flashes to our setup, either bundling them for power or setting them up in different places for added effect. We’ll still be working mainly with Speedlights, Speedlites, or other brand hotshoe flashes (just more of
Off-camera flash may look complicated and intimidating at first, but it needn’t be: you just need some basic technique, some gear, and some vision, just like in any other discipline of photography (and any art, for that matter).
them), but we’ll also touch upon some alternative portable flash systems. The focus will be on location lighting and portraiture, because after all, that’s where these little wonders… shine.
Ten new case studies will show you how In the technique department, we discussed the main characteristics of light, and the important physics formulas that all light, including flash light, is governed by. But it’s the final part that may very well be the In the gear chapters of the first eBook, we introduced a couple of ways to trigger an off-camera flash and introduced you to a couple of modifiers. most interesting. In the last chapter, we’ll let you look into the minds, portfolios, and camera bags of four Belgian photographers, some of which are known worldwide for their work with Finally, in the last part, we discussed nine setups that were all taken with a basic offcamera flash set, consisting of one remote flash, an umbrella, and a small softbox. off-camera flash. I hope you’ll find these four interviews as refreshing and stimulating as I did. these new concepts can be added to the ones we discussed in the first eBook to take reallife shoots to the proverbial next level.
A shutter speed of 1/500 was used to freeze this dancer in midair. His left side is exposed by the sun. On his right side, just out of frame, is a Westcott 28-inch softbox with three SB-900s at full power. Setup shot © Serge Van Cauwenbergh (www. sergevancauwenbergh.com). I love the poetry of the setup shot almost more than the actual result.
If only your camera were capable of synchronizing at 1/500 (i. The ambient exposure would This example also shows a second reason why higher sync speeds can be interesting: the higher your sync speed. 1/320 and 1/500 of a second. But these apertures require fast shutter speeds.8 or wider will give you that. the more wide open your aperture can be for any given scene. Because. If you’re doing a portrait outdoors. but if you know you won’t be needing that part of your image anyway. the non-manual modes of your camera will normally prevent you from accidentally going beyond your sync speed when using flash. Wide open apertures such as f/2. higher sync speeds mean your flash effectively becomes more powerful in relation to the ambient sunlight. firing a flash at speeds higher than the camera’s sync speed will cause a part of the frame to be blacked out. the aperture controls the flash. this is an unwanted effect. don’t want the background to be too distracting. High-Speed Sync Every camera has a sync speed (sometimes referred to as X-sync or synchro-X): it’s the fastest shutter speed that will allow you to effectively trigger a flash without running the risk that part of your picture is not exposed by that flash. as we know from volume square law to your advantage. you very often This is one reason why a camera like the Nikon D70. but the photons from your flash could now travel through a wider aperture. there are times when you’d want to have a faster speed. From left to right: flash fired at 1/200.e. Let’s assume that you have a scene at 1/250 @ f/11 and that in order to light your subject in this environment.1. one stop faster). both curtains of your shutter travel together over the sensor. 1. Going Beyond Sync Speed 1. For most modern DSLRs.1. For this reason. your flash is already at full power and you still don’t get enough light out of it. because the flash is hitting the already closing shutter instead of the sensor. there’s some good news: many of the new cameras and flashes can work in what’s called high-speed sync. this sync speed varies between 1/200 and 1/250 of a second.1. using the infamous inverse Yet. or… your scene will already be overexposed by the ambient light only. Your first move might be to move the flash in closer. ‘overclocking’ your sync speed like this can be a way to achieve faster shutter speeds without having to resort to High Speed Sync. so it would effectively become twice as powerful. the shutter speed controls the ambient.1 More Advanced Techniques 1. with its “mere” six megapixels is still hot with off-camera flash shooters: it’s got a sync speed of 1/500. you’d be able to open up your aperture one more stop. For one. Using faster shutter speeds in combination with flash will give you a black feathered stroke across one edge of your exposure. Now let’s say that this is not possible. Traditionally. revealing only a slit of the sensor at a time. Now. ^ . Without getting into details: at faster shutter speeds. before you all rush over to eBay and drive up the prices of used D70s even further. right? be the same. Normally.
there’s no such thing as a free lunch— high-speed sync will cost you twice: first of all. These can also allow you to open up your aperture without getting over 1/250th of a second.1. it’s the fast shutter speed that will be your primary interest. A flash at full power in high-speed sync will produce less light than at or below sync speed. The Nikon and Canon infrared wireless flash system we discussed in Making Light allows for high-speed sync.1 1 More Advanced Techniques 1. flash-lit exposures of up to 1/8000 are possible! When photographing fast action. Check your camera manual. you could also obtain that by putting a neutral density filter (a light stopping filter) or.1. this is what gets you the black banding. too. Again. a polarizer on your lens. too. so each slit of sensor that the two moving shutter curtains reveal will not only receive ambient exposure. in a pinch.1. This way. that’s what we’ll call it from here on in. Some manufacturers have high-speed sync turned off Unfortunately. Simply put. you’ll need a more expensive brand (or brand-compatible) flash and your camera has to support the feature. I always enable it on my cameras. even if the camera itself allows it. it is a fantastic feature to have and allows for truly unleashed flash creativity. this does not matter. Case 2 in chapter 3 shows an example of a dancer splashing up water. Just know that it eats a lot of power and that if your flash doesn’t give you the output you’d expect from it. high-speed sync does the following: instead of firing one big flash pulse. Nikon calls this technique Auto FP High Speed Sync. maybe inadvertently—working beyond sync speed. your flash will pulsate repeatedly. Still. The ability to go into high-speed sync could be a reason for you to favour certain brand flashes over their manual counterparts. After all. but also the right dose of flash exposure. there’s a big chance you were— High-speed sync isn’t only interesting for shallow depth of field photos. Going Beyond Sync Speed 1. Because that’s less of a mouthful. . high-speed sync is the answer. Secondly. but when you throw flash into the equation. such as certain sports or the typical ice cube falling into a glass of water. so you might need more flashes to get to the same exposure. Canon refers to it as High-Speed Sync. by default on their cameras. where a shutter speed of 1/2000 was used to freeze the water drops. where the fast shutter speed is the by-product of the large aperture you were after. High-Speed Sync – continued To build up your ambient exposure. high-speed sync also costs you in terms of total flash output.
8 at f/11 is actually a lot like driving a Porsche on a supermarket parking lot. The subject is backlit and the face underexposed.4 or 1. and. but the background now becomes distractingly bright and the green loses a lot of its pleasing colour saturation. highspeed sync was used. High-Speed Sync – This One Goes To 1/8000! Ambient-only exposure against the sun. driving the shutter speed to a staggering 1/4000. Luckily.8 @ 1/4000s | ISO 200 2 extra stops added in Lightroom Virtually the same overall ambient level. . On the first day of sales.41. But there’s something else missing in this portrait: catchlights.4G | 85mm | f/11 @ 1/250s 1 SB-900 fired through a white umbrella Opening up the exposure (as simulated here in Lightroom) by two stops would make the face look better. a relatively stopped down aperture of f/11 was needed on this 85 mm 1.4G | 85mm f/2.4G | 85mm f/2. Thanks to the wonders of High Speed Sync the background now is dreamy and blurry.4G | 85mm | f/2. provides extra separation of the subject. Nikon D700 | 85mm f/1.1. but notice how the small aperture makes the background busy and distracting. Nikon D700 | 85mm f/1. On a Saturday. Nikon D700 | 85mm f/1. In order to avoid overexposure. Nikon D700 | 85mm f/1. a very willing and patient Van den Eynde Sr. The aperture was opened up to f/2. along with the backlit hair.8. otherwise the face would have been even darker. noon on a sunny day. the umbrella that happened to be standing by for the three following shots acted as a reflector. only this time. The umbrella puts a nice catchlight in the eyes.8 @ 1/4000s | ISO 200 Lit with an umbrella’d flash at the traditional sync speed. Going Beyond Sync Speed 1.1 1 More Advanced Techniques 1.1.8 @ 1/4000s 1 SB-900 fired through a white umbrella at full manual power in highspeed sync modefired through a white umbrella 1 Using an 85 mm 1.1.
1 1 More Advanced Techniques 1. ^ If you think this was shot into the setting sun.2. a second flash comes in handy. Say you have a model in you want it to be at.com/inspirations/technology/hypersync_fpsync/ or as a fill light. you’ll generally learn to work with three studio strobes: one as a main or key light. Then add the first flash and adjust its power until it adds what you want to the scene.1. when the sun itself acted as the main light. In these cases. a second one as a hair light and a third one as a background light. ever: you might also decide to use a flash as a fill light. In order to separate her better from the background. dark clothes in front of a dark background. This is not written in stone. you could use an extra light source to light the background separately or light her from behind (so-called rim lighting). like we explained in volume 1: start with the ambient and set it to the level Adding flashes enhances your options and lets you put more depth into your images. In those cases. which we’ll discuss in the gear chapter. quickly head over to case 5. Case 9 in volume 1 even showed you how to use the setting sun as a separation light. is also compatible with Canon’s and Nikon’s high-speed sync. For more information on this revolutionary feature. Even better. Making Light. Working with Multiple Flashes 1. mostly as a main light http://www. check out the PocketWizard website (hyperlink:) All the examples in part 1 of this eBook. consisting of the MiniTT1 transmitter & FlexTT5 transceiver. I’d also advise you to build up your set one flash at a time. sometimes a reflector will be used to reflect some light into the shadowed areas the key light is causing. 1.2. Only then add the second flash and repeat the procedure.1. howMake sure you’re comfortable using one off-camera flash before adding a second and a third. PocketWizard has come up with a technology called HyperSync (not to be confused with “normal” high-speed sync). used just one flash. Another plus is that this technology can allow manual non-brand flashes and bigger studio strobes to be used at higher than normal sync speeds. Still.1.2. .pocketwizard. albeit at the cost of reduced flash output. even when you’re working outside. A first advantage of this proprietary technology is that it allows you to increase the sync speed of many cameras from 1/250 to 1/500 (or even slightly above) with less power loss than typical high-speed sync induces. HyperSync The new PocketWizard ControlTL system. Multiple Flashes for More Control In classical studio portrait lighting. you’ll not always have a setting sun handy to serve as a separation light. Going Beyond Sync Speed 1.
1. fitted with a Honl grid. Working with Multiple Flashes 1. one rim light (B). too: three lights is a typical studio setup. Multiple Flashes for More Control – continued The Anatomy of a Multi-Flash Setup There’s a reason why Nikon and Canon allow for up to three different groups in their infrared triggering systems and why the new PocketWizard ControlTL system does so. There are countless other variations on this theme. attached to a LumiQuest SB III softbox. I’ve used a small softbox because I wanted the lighting to be soft but dramatic.1 1 More Advanced Techniques 1.k.2. A typical three-light setup: one main light (A). and one background light (C). you can change their power remotely from your camera. we’ve replicated this setup using small flashes: one main light. high-key look. By assigning these three lights to separate groups in your triggering system. or even turn some of the lights off altogether. key light (A). .a. You could of course use a larger modifier and crank up the power of the flash for a more open. one hair light (B). equipped with a Rogue Grid from ExpoImaging. In this example. a.2. and one background light (C).
^ A rim light gives shine to the hair and some definition to the head of the model. ^ Finally. . Rim light at 1/64 power.2. The light was feathered away (i. ^ The main light was fired through a LumiQuest SB III softbox placed relatively close. Working with Multiple Flashes 1. the ambient exposure did not contribute. 1/250s. Adding a grid makes for a natural vignette. adding a background light allows you to lighten up the background to taste.2. directed not straight towards but turned slightly away from the model). Main light at quarter power. f/14.1. making it stand out from the background. Background light at half power. Multiple Flashes for More Control – continued ^ In this image. ISO 200.e. giving soft but dramatic shadow contrast.1 1 More Advanced Techniques 1.
Here I used some bamboo leaves from my garden. the AC3 ZoneController is a great (and at $79/€79. With some experimentation. but only as an ordinary white background. . as opposed to diving into the menu of a commander flash. Some studio photographers have dedicated (and expensive) spots that allow them to project different patterns onto a background in order to make it look more organic. It works very fast and efficiently. You can choose matching or contrasting colours. f/14. The closer you put your flash to this so-called gobo (from ‘go-between’). Firing your background flash through a plant can make for interesting organic shadow patterns on the background. you can do something similar much cheaper: by placing any object in between your background flash and the background. You start with any ambient exposure you want to be present in the scene (in this case.2. From left to right: Steel Green. it’s good to tackle a multi-light setup one by one. Multiple Flashes for More Control – continued As described before. at 1/250 of a second.1 1 More Advanced Techniques 1. A focusing system allows for a choice between a soft or clearly outlined pattern.3) and by dedicating a separate background flash to it. without firing flashes into it as it’s supposed to be used and will be shown in paragraph 2. chosen to match the sweater. if necessary). relatively affordable) accessory: it allows you to change the power settings of up to three groups of flashes by turning a rotary wheel.1.2. there was no ambient light recorded in the picture. The ZoneController fits on top of the MiniTT1 transmitter and lets you quickly switch the settings of up to three groups from off (0) to manual (M) or TTL (A).e. Putting a colour gel in front of the background light can totally change the look of your picture. It’s a good thing to be consistent in your groups: I always use group A for the key light.2. By working with a white background (I’ve used the Lastolite HiLite here. the more diffuse the shadows will be. you can achieve similar results. i. If you’re working with the PocketWizard ControlTL system. Working with Multiple Flashes 1. and ISO 100. we can make the background anywhere from pure white to pure black by varying the flash output (and the shutter speed. Follies Pink and Oklahoma Yellow from the Rogue Grid filter line. It’s also easy to change the atmosphere of the picture by adding a colour gel to the background light. B for the rim light and C for the background light. The three rotary clickwheels then allow you to dial in the manual output or the desired TTL flash exposure compensation.
2. 1.Nikon D700 | 24-70mm f/2.8G | 26mm | f/22 @ 1/250s | 3 SB900s at full power triggered by a PocketWizard Plus II on a Lastolite TriFlash Sync.2. .
If you have no choice. to four and even eight small flashes. F/22 is a pretty small aperture for a flash to put 1. Going from one full-power flash to two full-power flashes will give you one extra stop of light. but even when you don’t need it. Are you seeing a pattern here? its photons through! So I lined up three flashes on a light stand to camera left. 2. 8. you get faster recycle times because two flashes only have to work half as hard to give the same output as one flash does! PocketWizards (or any of the standard cheap radio triggers that don’t allow for higher sync speeds) meant that I was limited to a sync speed of 1/250. Adding flashes to your lighting setup is one thing. A plethora of options exist. try to put them as closely together as possible or prepare for some Photoshop overtime! Another challenge is to get all these flashes triggered simultaneously. You might think you need as many triggers as you have flashes. but there are workarounds – stay tuned. set to full power. hard flash..6. not just one. putting the total to eight. you have to double the number of flashes for every extra stop of light you want. but you also have to find a way of physically managing them. 4.2. Working with Multiple Flashes 1. To add another full stop. i. which would in turn severely limit the effect of my flash. ^ Watch out with dual or triple undiffused flashes: even the toughest skater would become afraid of his own shadow when he suddenly appears to have four arms and four legs! .e. holding any number from two or three. I used a PocketWizard Plus II to trigger my three remote flashes.1 1 More Advanced Techniques 1. Going from two to three flashes only adds half an extra stop. In other words: it will allow you to go from The idea for this shot was to underexpose the ambient light and then bring up the dancer with a straight. or from f/16 to f/22. 16. you’d need to add two more.. Multiple Flashes for More Power Another reason for adding more flashes to your light setup might be to combine them into one more powerful light source.. Want to add yet another stop of light? You’ll need an extra four. When your flash is at full power and you still need more light.. We’ll look at some options in the ‘Gear’ section. This meant in turn that my aperture would have to be really small (f/22) to overpower the ambient light. even at full power. as I feared the optical way of triggering might be unreliable in bright sunlight. watch out for ugly multiple cast shadows. you’ll be able to expose your subject the same. and so on. Using the “old” f/4 to f/5. Doing so gives you a higher total light output of course. Noon on a sunny day is the most challenging time for off-camera flash.2. bringing the total to four.2. at least when you don’t just want to fill in the shadows but really want to overpower the ambient sunlight. whilst taking the ambient exposure one stop further down. 32. If you stack up multiple flashes to function as one stronger light source and you don’t use a diffuser of sorts.
but those are beyond the scope of this eBook. ^ The Elinchrom Ranger Quadra manages to pack 400 watt seconds (about the equivalent of four SB900s or 580 EX IIs) into a small and lightweight package. such as the Elinchrom Ranger Quadra or one of the other systems we mention in 2.2.2. Size can become an important characteristic for choosing a flash when you start to work with more than one: there’s a big difference between packing four SB 900s versus four SB 700s. saving battery life. . If you often find yourself in scenarios like this.1 1 More Advanced Techniques 1.5 ‘Outgroing your small flashes’. and preventing overheating. especially if you work with brand flashes like Speedlights or Speedlites. Multiple Flashes for More Power – continued Even when you’re not yet working at full power. increasing recycle time. For many photographers that start out with small flashes. Adding up flashes like this does become costly after a while.2. this kit is the next step up. If you want even more power. it might be the time to invest in a portable strobe set with a battery pack. for example. adding more flashes to create a more powerful light source can be a good idea: dividing the workload among several flashes will make it easier on each individual flash. almost every manufacturer of studio strobes has a battery pack. Working with Multiple Flashes 1.
and an umbrella. the extra money may buy you some extra picture quality but mostly. Radio triggering. use the tilting and swivelling capabilities of your flash head and your umbrella adapter to position both adequately.1. The good news is that you can do an awful lot with such a small kit. on the other hand. a flash bracket. I’ll limit myself to the PocketWizard system as it’s the one I am using myself. 2. Also. we saw that a complete off-camera starter flash set can cost as little as $250. One is called RadioPopper and another is the PocketWizard MiniTT1 & FlexTT5 system. some of which is more expensive. you always have to make sure that the infrared receiver points towards the commander unit. worked in manual mode only. requiring you to walk over to every Now. creased triggering and reliability radio offers. which we discussed earlier. Advanced Triggering Systems When working with the optical infrared triggering systems like Nikon’s CLS or Canon’s Wireless Flash System. The PocketWizard MiniTT1 transmitter and FlexTT5 transceiver (which can act as a receiver as well as a transmitter). which we discussed in Volume 1. including a manual flash. FlexTT5 & AC3 ZoneController In 2009. introduced their MiniTT1 and FlexTT5. which are compatible with TTL and high-speed sync.2 Gear In volume 1. Each system has its fair share of users. it also buys you the ability to shoot things like fast action you just could not do before. the industry standard in manual radio flash triggers. In this eBook. up until recently. respectively a commander and a commander/receiver unit. . remote flash again and again to change its power setting. In some cases. In this chapter. allows you to put your flashes behind walls and at distances of over 100 meters. as with the high-speed sync enabled triggers. PocketWizard. PocketWizard MiniTT1. it buys you reliability and flexibility. there are a growing number of technologies that allow you to combine the advantages of remote manual or even TTL control and high-speed sync with the inA big advantage of this system is that it allows for high-speed sync. These units translate the optical signal of a commander or master flash into radio signals whilst maintaining all the power settings and TTL and high-speed sync information. If necessary. we’ll cover some more gear.1. no radio triggers supported high-speed sync. As is often the case in photography. but up until a couple of years ago.1. 2.
especially if you have multiple . It can even be set to disregard the preflash that Nikon and Canon use in their proprietary TTL flash systems. somewhat cheaper alternative for Canon: the Odin flash trigger also offers remote Manual control. FlexTT5 & AC3 ZoneController – continued An optional AC3 ZoneController even eliminates the need to use a commander altogether and enables you to control the power with a set of intuitive old-school (but very high-tech) buttons and dials. which in turn slides into the hotshoe of the DSLR. They’re priced only slightly higher than the original PocketWizards and offer far more flexibility. ^ An AC3 ZoneController sits on top of the TT1 transmitter. Finally. On the other hand.1. unless your optical slave can account for TTL pre-flashes. like the LumoPro At the time of writing. They are firmware-upgradeable through USB and also programmable to some extent. radiopopper. flashes (see also the next paragraph for a great tip.com | pocketwizard. I’d advise you to change the standby mode to never: my flashes stay on until I turn them off. Therefore. LP160 does. however. by the way). you may be able to get a second-hand bargain on the old ones. Don’t forget they are but a link in the total chain: don’t break the bank on triggers alone. if your flashes allow for this.2.2 1 Gear 2. in those cases where you also want to add some fill flash coming from your camera position.com | phottix. but to a much simpler way of triggering: simply setting up the remote flash as a “slave” that will fire from the moment it sees another flash. one of the criteria is whether the flash can be slaved. Originally only available for Canon. Changing Your Flash’s Standby Timing Most flashes are programmed to go into standby mode after some amount of time. your slaves will fire when The LumoPro LP160 is a relatively cheap.com 2.1. so it only fires when it should. leave some room for modifiers because they’re also important influencers of the final look of your picture. which can be quite a nuisance with remote flashes. it’s evident that this type of triggering does not work at all during weddings or other events where people are happily snapping away with their own cameras and little built-in flashes! they see the pre-flash).3. you’ll have to work all manual on the rest of your flashes.1. Note. If you have more flashes than you have triggers. Advanced Triggering Systems 2. too (otherwise. setting up a compatible flash this way is an alternative to buying more triggers.1. PocketWizard MiniTT1.1. there’s now also a Nikon version. Getting them out of standby usually requires pushing one of the buttons. Also. These new triggering systems allow for unprecedented ease of use and creativity through higher than normal shutter speeds but can easily set you back hundreds of dollars. Optically Slaving a Remote Flash In the Flash Buying 101 section of Volume 1. The AC3 setup is less bulky than using a flash as a commander on top of a TT1. Hong Kong-based Phottix had just announced a similar. that you’ll have to set the power on your flash manually and. 2. slaving a flash excludes using High Speed Sync. The new PocketWizards are sometimes referred to as the ControlTL system. using an actual flash as a commander instead of the AC3 can be an alternative. TTL and High Speed Sync. This does not refer to the infrared proprietary Nikon and Canon triggering systems. As lots of photographers are trading in their “old” PocketWizard Plus IIs for these new units. manual-only flash that offers slave functionality.
we discussed an incredibly useful. For the money. bare flash to a person (e. Which ones you’ll want will depend on your style and budget.2 1 Gear 2.000 parabolic ones—there are modifiers for every taste and budget and we can’t even begin to list them all here.2. At 8 x 9 inches. I’ll introduce you to four more I often use. A grid or egg crate. which not only draws power but also means the exposure of the rest of the environment is less easy to control. the LumiQuest SB III. So I will just introduce you to some that I’ve been using myself to my satisfaction. Because of their size. The next step up is a Lastolite Ezybox (the 54 x 54 cm version) (4).2. 2. hard light source. the most important of which are spill and control—light can easily go past the umbrella or bounce around. for portraiture). The graph shows the softboxes in scale. it can’t be beat.4. But when you’re stuck for cash.1. it’s generally not the flashes that break the bank. for all their qualities. The yellow oval (number 3) is an average human head. More Modifiers In flash photography. a groom’s shirt. They exist in all sizes and even the big PLMs (parabolic light modifiers). and cheap light modifier: an umbrella. bed sheets. They are also softening modifiers. The 30-inch FourSquare (6) is part of a complete multi-flash bracket system and will be discussed in paragraph 2. This control can even be enhanced by adding a so-called grid or egg crate that creates soft yet highly directional light. this little softbox really becomes a soft light source. but they don’t have the spill umbrellas have. just read the white-on-blue advice at the right and then skip straight to chapter 3! Anything that’s reflective or translucent can be a light modifier when you fire a flash at or through it: that includes shower curtains. Then we have the 28-inch Westcott Apollo (5) and its big brother. lamp shades. it’s the modifiers that suck away most of your precious cash. are still relatively affordable. the 50-inch Westcott Apollo (7). it’ll always be a small. in Volume 1. enough. a piece of paper. Softening Modifiers: Softboxes In volume 1.g. so they offer you more control in terms of directing their soft light. The little square on the left (1) is a bare flash head. We already discussed a highly interesting little softbox. the LumiQuest SB III (2) is still a small softbox in absolute terms. but it’s 20 times bigger than a bare flash and about the size of a human head. there are some disadvantages to umbrellas. Shown here is the one for the Lastolite Ezybox. When placed close 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 . which can have diameters of more than 80 inches (two meters). Here. It’s easy to see that no matter how close you put your Yet. light. PLMs are great for group shots or filling in shadows over a broad area. From the affordable $20 beginner’s umbrellas to the $5. the white back of a poster.2. A logical next step is to use softboxes.
in a pinch. you can remove the front diffuser if you want an edgier look or if you simply want to maximize your light output. you’ll want a radio trigger that is capable of remotely controlling power.2. yet set up like a softbox. I’ll occasionally use a 50-inch Westcott Apollo.2. It closes like an umbrella and can be attached to almost any umbrella adapter. The advantage of having the flash inside is that you can put multiple flashes on a multi-flash bracket. I use this softbox a lot when photographing babies. and children. waist-up portraits. which means you really should use a radio trigger (although. toddlers. The flash is placed inside. it’s a good system if you use optical triggering or manual radio triggers that require you to change output power on the flash. used inside. Also. Since it can only be used with one flash. it’s best used away from heavy sunlight. ^ The Lastolite Ezybox exists in three sizes. Of course. The picture in case 4 was lit this way. be tilted much on a normal light stand without using a so-called boom arm. It sets up and folds down very easily into a ball-shaped package (once you get the hang of it). One of my favourite modifiers is the 28-inch Westcott Apollo (5). you can ask an assistant to tilt it for you if necessary. If you want to avoid having to open the front diffuser each time you want to change the output power. it produces a big zone of relatively consistent and soft light so my subjects can move around a bit (as they tend to do) and still be in the lit zone.1. It’s a very polyvalent modifier that you can use for headshots and. ^ I’ve attached two small pieces of “male” Velcro to both sides of my Westcott so I can flip the front diffuser backwards and keep it from flapping around in the wind. As the flash controls remain accessible. it might be possible to trigger it even with an optical signal). ^ The Westcott Apollo softboxes are different in that they fold like an umbrella. It shares not only its name with the lunar module but almost its size as well! It produces extremely soft light. Unfortunately. . Because of its size. as the flashes face the silver reflective surface. such as the latest PocketWizards or RadioPoppers. it cannot Lastly.
One advantage of shooting on a white background is that you can make composite pictures like these. you can just leave your flash power as it is. that’s a guaranteed recipe for extra post-processing work—cloning out a light stand that suddenly grows out of the subject’s head.com | lastolite. I triggered the flash behind me with a PocketWizard Plus II.2.3. I just try to make sure the area immediately surrounding my subject is white. so there’s no need to open the cover of the softbox a lot. If you don’t move your flash and your subject all that much. where you have less control. In non-studio cases such as this. (The walls were grey.2. With a moving subject however. In a pinch.1. That way I can easily clean up the rest of the background in Photoshop or even Lightroom without having to make complex selections around the hair and clothes. to be at the same height as the child). but you’ll find countless others online with new ones added on a weekly basis. The Apollo was behind me and slightly above my head (I was kneeling as well..) I could have made the grey wall white with just the power of the two flashes as discussed in “Another Brick in the Wall” in chapter 2. it was done at a friend’s house.2. ^ This was shot with the 50-inch Apollo. I could have used just one flash on the background. or fool people into thinking that your friends are blessed with quadruplets! ^ The setup shot shows that you don’t need a studio and studio lights to get studioquality output. No doubt there is one to suit your own budget and size requirements.com | lightwaredirect. I’ve only listed the softboxes I’ve been satisfactorily using myself.com | lumiquest. Although it looks like a studio shot. hiding it behind my subject. but I decided to gaffer-tape a white sheet to the wall to make life (and recycling times) easier on my flashes. without that white reflecting too much onto the back of my subject. fjwestcott.com (FourSquare) . Two additional flashes were used to make the background white.
2. and flags. all that soft light magic does become boring after a while. Post-processing took less than a minute in Lightroom. Grids are another way to concentrate your light. More Modifiers 2. Snoots. especially when working outside. using just a straight flash can create very dramatic portraits. . Restricting Modifiers: Grids.com and some sweeps with a local adjustment brush. Sometimes.2 1 Gear 2. snoots. Zooming your flash to its maximum zoom setting will create a spotlight effect.2.2. using one of my favourite presets from X-Equals. triggered in full-power high-speed sync mode at 1/5000 of a second. you can use grids. Flags and More As noted in Volume 1. Snoots are cone-shaped modifiers that allow you to focus the light even tighter. The raw power of a zoomed flash. your effective flash power will increase with your zoom setting. Those modifiers also eat up a lot of precious flash power. If you want to control the beam of your light even more. As an added bonus.
glue.2. Snoots.2. and snoots. I would use the same grid left and right) separate him from the background. but if you’ve got two left hands like me. a pair of scissors. The small softbox gives some frontal fill light and puts the oh-so-important catchlight in the eyes. allowing you to bend them into different light shaping tools: flags. ^ A grid (shown here from Honl Photo). ExpoImaging also produces some interesting modifiers: the Rogue FlashBender system consists of panels of different sizes that are white on one side and black on the other. Eliminating the clutter brings the focus on the child. Two gridded rim lights (ideally.2 1 Gear 2. Most of this stuff is pretty easy to make yourself (black gaffer tape. reflectors (more useful for on-camera flash). . you just get them ready-made. David Honl is a well-known supplier of lighting modifiers for small flashes. Use the tilting and swivelling capacities of your flash and adapter to make the orientation of the grid match the orientation of the subject you want to rim-light.2. More Modifiers 2. Restricting Modifiers: Grids. ^ Two grids and one small softbox held by an assistant were used to create this intimate portrait in what was a very crowded living room. cardboard boxes or tubes and black straws are really all you need). avoiding flare. The grids not only concentrate the light but also help to keep it out of the lens. They have metallic inserts in them. Flags and More – continued Grids are great for rim-lighting people to separate them from the background.
25-.com (gels) lumodi.2. 14-. available in 11-. coming from the camera) fill light.com (small flash grids. godfather of the whole off-camera small flash movement and founder of the highly informative www. is known for using a ring flash as an on-axis (i. Beauty dishes are another favourite modifier of fashion and portrait photographers worldwide. and 18-inch sizes. ever more modifiers abound.2. an ingenious three-in-one grid that lets you to turn your flash into a 16-. honlphoto. the flash can see them: it’s a two-way street. More Modifiers 2. or 45-degree spot. I have no personal experience with them but David Hobby.com (small flash ringflash) . all you have to do is have your subject look at the flash from their position and ask them if they can see the actual white of the flash head through the grid. With off-camera flash becoming more popular. A beauty dish for small flash.2. If you want to see whether the light of a restricting modifier will reach your subject.com (Rogue FlashBender line of flash grids.e. Ray Flash ringflash) rosco. Snoots. Restricting Modifiers: Grids. So. If they can see the flash.com website.com (small flash beauty dishes) Inversely. and gels) expoimaging. snoots. They used to exist only for big studio flashes but are now being developed in versions that are adapted to small flashes. snoots.strobist. which are—in their expensive big flash version—very popular with fashion photographers. Did I mention these are exciting times to be a small-flash photographer? orbisflash. manufacturers of big studio modifiers are also starting to offer adapters that allow you to attach your small flash to these bigger modifiers. Flags and More – continued ExpoImaging also produces the Rogue Grid. Shown here are the ones from Lumodi. flags. and ring flashes. barn doors. some of which are adaptations of modifiers typically found on bigger studio flash systems. gels. When working with these restricting modifiers.2 1 Gear 2. flags. now there are miniature Speedlight versions of reflectors. correct placement of your flash is paramount. It’s really a game of inches and degrees: tilting your flash five degrees to the wrong side may result in it missing the subject completely.
It’s about one foot wide. to avoid hotspots). simplifying high-key portraiture work on location (see also the inset “Another Brick in the Wall” on the next page). thinking slightly outside the box reveals some other applications: when you place it to the side of or at a 45-degree angle towards your subject. It’s a 6-by-7foot squarish structure that’s translucent on one side and pops up like a reflector (and folds back the same way2). This is a modifier that’s in a category of its own. Portable High-key Background Is it a background? Is it a portable white wall? No. but you’ll save a couple of hundred dollars. . it becomes a gigantic softbox. it’s the Lastolite HiLite. Of course. See the “100-Dollar Studio” paragraph in the interview with Bert Stephani at the end of this book. This turns it into a portable white background.2. You’ll lose some of the evenness of the light. The Lastolite HiLite is a collapsible. but to the white reflective surface on the inside back. you can also make a DIY version of this by just using a shower curtain on a framework (or in a doorway) and putting your flashes behind that. More Modifiers 2.2. which not only allows it to stand on itself when there’s no wind.3. but folding back into place takes some practice: lastolite. and you might look slightly less professional. Interesting for group shots. But.2 1 Gear 2. selfstanding background into which you can fire one or preferably two flashes to make a pure white background. 2 Setting up is straightforward. Just do a search on “Lastolite HiLite folding” and you’ll find all the advice you need. imitating a huge window.com fortunately. YouTube’s your friend with a couple of great videos. but also allows for two flashes to be fired into it from each of its sides (don’t point the flashes to the front.
every office has a white wall somewhere. After all. I needed to dial my flashes higher still to turn the even darker cement between the blocks into white! Power issues aside. put inside it. in cases like this. and cheekbones. If I had that. I knew that I could turn the outer parts of the frame to white in Photoshop. I now carry a HiLite with me on those assignments where I don’t Wrong! There wasn’t a white background to be spotted in this whole building (a pretty big one at that).” zackarias. creates the risk of flare. photographed on a white background. The assignment was a very typical one: a law firm needed portraits of its senior partners. I had to turn my flashes much higher in power than I would have had to with a white wall. the trick is to put your subject far enough from the wall (if possible) and try white. for instance). with a minimum of power. if you haven’t brought your own white background. Moreover. so that you can light the wall and the subject separately and give each the amount of power that’s needed for the job at hand: overexposing the grey wall into white and correctly exposing Normally. As the flash heads are So I put up two flashes to “nuke” the medium-grey background into white. Using flashes and remembering the fundamentals allowed me to pull this one off. This complicates the rest of your lighting setup. the subject was lit by a Lastolite Ezybox to camera left and a reflector to camera right. know what kind of walls will be closing in on me! The HiLite allows me to create white walls whenever I like. the real concern in cases like this is that the higher you have to dial your flashes. to avoid direct spill light coming from your background flash(es) (using flags. All the walls were made out of big. The definitive internet resource for that is Zack Arias’ three-part “White Seamless Tutorial. for use on their website. either. In this case. you just position your subject in front of the brightest wall in the office and then use a dash of flash to turn that background into pure white. without having to make complex selections. A cheaper way is to work with a (portable) white seamless background. right? the subject. hair.com (there’s a link to the White Seamless Tutorial from the Popular Posts section). Another Brick in the Wall… This job taught me never to assume anything when setting out for a location shoot. and possibly even makes your subject’s back too bright. .3. medium-grey concrete blocks. the more light will bounce back onto the back of your subject and the rest of the room.3 But.2. leading to washed-out shoulders. 3 In this case I made sure that the background area immediately surrounding my subject was Remembering the inverse square law.2. there’s no risk of unwanted spill. and the sides can be closed with zippers. In doing so.
you know I prefer umbrellas for portability. for pure quality of light and the shape of the catchlights. you’re better off doing this inside—outside you normally need all the power you can get… a highly portable mini white background for tight portraits. I. Its use needn’t be confined to just a main light: cover up the left and right third with black cloth and you have an instant so called striplight. because of the butterfly-shaped shadows it casts under the nose. as illustrated below. Thinking Outside the Softbox If you’ve looked at the images in Volume 1. and ease of setup. . That’s why I always take one with me. like many other photographers. great for rim-lighting people. you can use a medium to large softbox as You can also experiment with the position of your light source and use a technique called feathering: let the bulk of the light pass by your subject and work with the “edges” of the light. prefer a softbox. Gaffer-tape a cross onto the face of your softbox and it mimics the antique windows you find in old mansions. something I picked up from Bert Stephani’s Motivational Light DVD and already mentioned in passing in Volume 1: cut out a figure or a number from a piece of black Styrofoam that’s the size of your softbox and use that to create original catchlights.2 1 Gear 2. But there’s more: just like you can use the HiLite as a gigantic softbox instead of the background it’s actually designed to be. Or. Needless to say. Who says the biggest modifier always has to be the main light? Here I used a 50-inch Westcott Apollo as a background light and the (by comparison) tiny LumiQuest SB III as a main light. and the model is standing very close to it. even when I’m travelling light. is called butterfly lighting. where the light falloff is more pronounced and dramatic.3. You can also see I’ve put some gaffer tape on the softbox to minimize hotspots on the forehead and the bridge of the nose. This lighting style. However. where the light is above your model. We’re working in the falloff zone of the light here. affordability. Don’t let the wide-angle setup shot fool you: the main light is pointing down. but not under it.
com | rosco. be careful not to melt the gels. where we put a CTO filter (colour temperature orange) on a flash to make it match the colour temperature of ambient light such as a household light bulb. he can stack two quarter CTOs together to make a half CTO.2 1 Gear 2. The lower flash does not have a gel applied to it. there’s a wide choice available commercially. to them so they are compatible with the Honl Speed Strap (or any flash onto which you’ve put (female) Velcro). too.1. one generic and one for use with their Rogue Grid. as they’re also called) in Volume 1. Featured photographer Jürgen Doom.com | expoimaging. Colour Gels We already covered the basic use of gels (or filters. one of the photographers interviewed in chapter 4. Rosco. If you’re not of the DIY variety. as case 7 in chapter 3 of this book points out.” so those working manually know immediately by how much they have to crank up their flash. typically a supplier of large gels for studio and cinematographic use. often creatively uses gels in his work. That way. I’ll quickly point out some other things that might come in handy. When you use flashes with gels at high-power settings. you can also use gels for creative effects. have a so-called Strobist Collection. 2. He cuts the gels for his Speedlights out of bigger sheets. However. as your flash head can become quite hot. A nice touch is that each gel has a mention of how many f-stops of power it “eats up. These gels have (male) Velcro attached honlphoto. and attaches Velcro to the ends. He does so at the front side and the reverse side.4.4. Rogue FlashBenders also have two series of gels.com (Rogue Gels) Gels can be used to alter the colour temperature of your flash. More Useful Stuff If you’re not bankrupt by now or you have a birthday wish list to write. Put on a CTO gel as I did in the top flash and you can have it pass as the setting sun! . Honl Photo has different sets of gels ranging from purely practical to moody.
If you add the cheapest manual third-party flashes (like the Yongnuo ones). having a couple of Manfrotto Justin Clamps. you’ll need a bracket that can hold them all.2. Just remember that you’ll also have to trigger all these flashes in some way. Multi-Flash Brackets and Clamps If you want to combine multiple flashes into a single. you can set up just one flash with a trigger and fire the others as slaves. Sports photographer Dave Black (daveblackphotography.95 kit that includes a proprietary 30inch softbox as well. the cost increases fivefold. Super Clamps.(and wallet-)blowing total of eight. or Magic Arms can come in really handy. or the FourSquare. watch out for ugly double. ^ The Lastolite TriFlash holds three flashes. 18-inch carrying pouch. In these cases.2 1 Gear 2. the more popular option is a $269.com) uses this high-end setup a lot when photographing fast-paced action. of this when working in plain sunlight. and so on… .4. The FourSquare block itself costs about $100. The most versatile (but also most expensive) way is to equip each flash with its own trigger. Shown here is the Sync version (lastolite. ^ The Lovegrove Gemini from well-known UK off-camera flash photographer and workshop leader Damien Lovegrove is a sturdy bracket that accommodates two flashes (lovegroveconsulting.com). The whole setup breaks down nicely into a 1 kg. triple.2. When using any of these multi-bracket setups bare. As it’s paramount that your infrared signal can be picked up by the remote flash. although in that case you If high-speed sync is important and you don’t want to fork out the money for as many triggers as you have flashes. a branch of a tree. you can be all set for about $600. the back of which can be opened to allow the infrared signal to pass) are more suitable than others. if they support this (see 2.1. A Manfrotto clamp that allows you to attach a flash to a door.4. the TriFlash exists in a more expensive TriFlash Sync version that lets you trigger three flashes with just one trigger. there’s just no place to put the traditional bracket/light stand combo. We talked about this in depth in Volume 1 and also discussed the limitations Alternatively. and can be used with an umbrella. not including any triggers. If you want to use high-speed sync and thus need topof-the-line brand flashes. More economically. you can use Nikon’s or Canon’s own infrared triggering system to trigger remote flashes.com) lose that fancy high-speed sync option! The FourSquare holds—you guessed it—four flashes and there’s even an add-on piece that allows you to add four more to a mind. more powerful light source. some modifiers (such as umbrellas Sometimes. More Useful Stuff 2. However. or quadruple cast shadows! albeit in manual-only mode (and also without high-speed sync). Below are but a few of a huge offering.). which isn’t bad for so much portable power (lightwaredirect.com).
a polarizing filter will also work to cut down your shutter speed.g. (Variable) Neutral Density Filter Neutral density filters allow you to block light.com 2. from two to eight stops. when you’re using a non-high-speedsync compatible flash or triggering system. Still.com lightcraftworkshop. especially in remote places. They’re handy when you want to work with wide open apertures in bright sunlight or when you want to use slower shutter speeds. e. but your histogram won’t tell you if your flash hit the right part of your image. That’s where the Hoodman Loupe with its builtin diopter adjustment comes in handy. More Useful Stuff 2.4.com polaroid.2 1 Gear 2. To that effect. to picture movement as a flow. I carry a Polaroid Pogo printer with me. I owe many of my pictures to the ice-breaking qualities of this printer.4. it’s always nice if you can give an immediate thank you to your impromptu models. you know how difficult it is to inspect your LCD. Portable Printer Why on earth do I mention a portable printer in the gear section of a book on off-camera flash? Well: if you’re into photographing people.5. but other options exist. Hoodman Loupe 2. just by turning the filter ring. In a pinch. can be interesting for keeping your shutter speed below sync speed. No more broken promises of emailing or sending pictures. they If you often shoot outdoors in bright sun. I’d advise you to evaluate your pictures on a bigger screen as soon as possible. Sure enough. e. even with a Hoodman Loupe.4.g. I use the Fader ND MK II by Light Craft Workshop because it’s relatively affordable. The advantage of the variable filters is that they can block a range of light.4. With regards to off-camera flash.4. Have a look at case 9 and try to find the Pogo print playing hide and seek in the image! . most of the time you can check your histogram even if the sun’s too bright to check the actual picture. hoodmanusa.3.
Pencils & Pens.outside (not shown): Lumiquest LT SoftBox. Rogue Flashbenders.inside (not shown): Airport TakeOff Rain Cover. I showed you my minimalist travel setup. Miscellaneous Small Items Cover lid . Packing It All Since off-camera flash is very much about portability. such as the rooftop terrace that was the location of the picture featured in case 5. Here you can see the setup I use for commercial assignments.com Cover lid . Speedlight Stands & Rogue Gels. 13 inch MacBook Pro. Spare Batteries. In Volume 1. My photo gear then gets packed in the Speed Racer waist belt.4. More Useful Stuff 2. I chose the Airport TakeOff because it combines the comfort of a rolling bag with the ability to use it as an impromptu backpack for those harder-to-reach locations.6. I want my entire outfit to be as transportable as possible. Backdrop Cloth .4. Honl Gels Honl Speed Strap SB 900 x 2 Lastolite Triflash Sync PocketWizard TT5 Flex (x 3) Umbrella Bracket Manfrotto Nano Light Stand (x 2) Gaffer Tape PocketWizard TT1 + Zone Controller AC3 Westcott Apollo 28 inch (strapped to the side. All my portable flash gear fits nicely into this ThinkTank Airport TakeOff. not shown) Honl Speed Grids (x 2) SB 900 (x 2) SB 700 PocketWizard Plus II (not shown) Manfrotto Justin Clamp Westcott Collapsible Reversible Umbrella thinktankphoto.2 1 Gear 2.
the price tag runs up quickly. I just want to mention a couple of systems that seem interesting from a price. the more you’ll demand of yourself and your small flashes. and portability standpoint and therefore seem well-suited as a logical next step for someone looking for a little more. Catch 22! Once you leave the realm of small hotshoe flashes and start looking for affordable. performance. but they eat up part of the light you were looking to add when adding more than one flash in the first place. you’ll find an overwhelming choice and you’ll notice that the concept of portability and affordability varies greatly from one manufacturer to another. You can of course use dedicated However.5. This is something you obviously can’t do with one big strobe. but might also damage your flash or at least trigger its thermal protection. Going into detail falls beyond the scope of this eBook. studio strobes. portable one small flash has a size and weight advantage over a studio strobe. like overpowering sunlight outdoors. and there are specific reasons why that may be more interesting than using a single studio strobe with a battery pack. you can break that multi-Speedlight rig back down into individual flashes that you can use separately. The first is that you can use (any number of) compatible small flashes in high-speed sync. there are some inconveniences. Continuous full power use will not only drain your batteries very quickly.2 1 Gear 2. Soon. you’ll likely use them at full power. • There are a number of other practical issues as well: at four batteries per flash. It’s not funny watching your flash go into The second is that when you’re done. . We’ve looked at various tools and brackets that allow you to combine multiple flashes into a more powerful light source. which allows for sync speeds up to 1/8000. too. the number of batteries you have to carry and recharge adds up quickly. Weight also becomes an issue: • There’s the multiple shadow problem when the flashes are used bare. • If you use these setups to overpower the sunlight. but three or more don’t. but that in turn adds to the overall price tag. Outgrowing Your Small Flashes The more you evolve in your use of off-camera flash. too… battery packs. you’ll want to use them for things they weren’t really designed for. On the next page. • Unless you’re using cheaper manual flashes or second-hand ones. It’s better to use modifiers. a 10-minute R&R in the middle of a shoot.
It consists of a very small and lightweight (smaller and lighter than a hotshoe flash. And it needn’t be an either/or proposition.com | paulcbuff.5. this architecture allows for two flashes to be fired at different power levels by The second is the 640 Ws Einstein flash head from Paul C. the same battery. This can be inconvenient when your flash is up high on a light stand and you need to change its power frequently. Buff with a Vagabond Mini battery pack.com | photoflex. there is not one tool that will be right for all jobs. Power levels can be remotely set through the custom Elinchrom Skyport triggers and there are ways to integrate the Quadra into a small flash setup. but the battery itself is smaller and lighter. One thing I like about this system is the fact that—using an optional PocketWizard PowerMC2 receiver—its power can also be remotely set and it can be used together with hotshoe flashes in a PocketWizard MiniTT1. The two together weigh in at less than four kg. in fact) flash head rated at 400 watt seconds and a relatively lightweight battery pack. elinchrom. While it can be triggered remotely without cables. It packs a 300 Ws head and a long-life rechargeable lithium battery into a lightweight 5 lb package. and AC3 triggering environment.com . Outgrowing Your Small Flashes – continued The first is the Elinchrom Ranger Quadra. Just remember. Another recent addition to the realm of portable lightweight flash systems is the TritonFlash Lithium Strobe Kit from Photoflex. Both these systems offer ways of integrating any small flashes you already own into your setup as additional light sources. FlexTT5. On the other hand. the power has to be set on the flash head. making the total weight about the same. The flash head is bigger and heavier than the Ranger Quadra.2 1 Gear 2.
3 Ten Case Studies .
When One Light Just Won’t Do: Sunburst at Noon Nikon D700 | VR 16-35mm f/4G | 16mm | f/22 @ 1/320s | Manual | Two SB-900s at full power .3.1.
The lower end of Aperture Priority Lane. because I thought the soft umbrella light would contrast nicely with the sun and the subject. leading to the picture of case 4. the better the star pattern would show. As a photographer. Shooting at f/22 on a sunny day stresses your flash a lot. to be more precise. and saves those precious batteries. It’s shot into the sun. avoids overheating. The general idea for this picture is similar to the one in case 9 of Volume 1.3 Ten Case Studies 3.e. In order to achieve the starburst effect. occasionally. which requires a higher aperture and/or a faster shutter speed) really stresses your flash. I also underexposed the ambient light to get more detail in the sky. Overpowering the sun (remember. The more underexposed. I’ll move to the upper end of Aperture Priority Lane. I love playing with depth of field and as a consequence. Especially when you’re working in high-speed sync mode. I did bring one with me to experiment one week later. higher f-stop). as I needed that aperture for the starburst. adding a second flash can come in handy because it cuts your recycle time in half. I mostly live on Aperture Priority Lane. Unfortunately. f/22 territory. also at full power. (I couldn’t offset it by opening up the lens. which also became the cover picture of Volume 1. have paid more than a fair share of money for so-called fast lenses. If I had wanted to freeze him completely. offset by an increase in ISO. but here I really wanted the sun in the picture. Then I manually set the power of my flash. I actually wanted to light the skater with an umbrella first. Yet.) The picture isn’t completely sharp (there’s a typical blur frozen by flash around his legs) but I don’t find this a problem here: it adds to the feeling of speed. I could have used a faster shutter speed. In these cases a second or even third flash comes in handy. you have to use an aperture of f/16 or smaller (i. When One Light Just Won’t Do: Sunburst at Noon Let’s start this chapter with the bonus picture we ended Volume 1 with.1. Even when it’s not necessary (as it was for this photo). . I even had to add another flash. we’re not working at the normal ambient exposure the camera suggests. The LCD on my camera helped me to figure out the ambient settings. but going darker than that. the umbrella wasted too much precious flash power and I didn’t have a softbox with me. like I did here at 1/320 of a second.
urban environment is just screaming for a gritty post-processing. The heavy lifting was done in Lightroom with a preset. I then added a Silver Efex Pro black and white conversion layer on top of the colour layer and changed its blending mode to Soft Light. the preset was too heavy for my liking so I applied it to a virtual copy instead of to the original. selectively lightening and darkening areas of the picture. as Layers in Photoshop command. Changing the opacity of the top layer allowed me to blend the two versions to my liking.3 Ten Case Studies 3. but more flexible. When One Light Just Won’t Do: Sunburst at Noon – continued This kind of photography really departs from reality: the wide angle exaggerates perspective.1. As you can see from the screenshot. This gives the slightly desaturated look. If you don’t have Silver Efex Pro. As I was in Photoshop anyway. and the concrete. the flash and the underexposed background add a surreal aspect. I decided to do my dodging and burning there (a very important part of any post-processing). a Photoshop B&W adjustment layer will also work. I then sent the original and the virtual copy over to Photoshop via the Photo > Edit In > Open And so I allow myself to post-process these pictures slightly more dramatically than I would a typical wedding or portrait. It’s heavier. As often. I like to keep everything on separate layers. . Make your post-processing complement your lighting: graphic pictures can take graphic post-processing. I also added midtone contrast to increase the texture of the concrete.
3. 1 flash with LumiQuest SB III softbox camera right. Lord of the Glimmerings: Freezing Water with High-Speed Sync Nikon D700 | VR 16-35mm f/4G | 18mm | f/6. .2. PocketWizard FlexTT5 triggers.3 @ 1/2000s | ISO 400 | PocketWizard MiniTT1 & AC3 ZoneController on camera 1 flash camera left.
com) A variation on the same water theme. It’s only a small modifier but it does soften the light slightly and gives it a richer quality. The flash head was zoomed to its maximum setting to concentrate the light and avoid spill. a fantastic young dancer. In this example. The flashes were just used to bring out the body of the dancer even more. I was working in the shade at the time. The last thing you want is your light stands learning to fly and then make an emergency landing on water. I used two flashes: one was shot through my LumiQuest SB III softbox. (sergevancauwenbergh. Here. And given it was a windy day I didn’t want to use a bigger modifier. bare flash was added to rim-light the model. anyway. the idea of going into the water was the dancer’s.2. you can start experimenting with more. It’s always important to ask your models for input and ideas. . A second. which robs the flashes of a lot of their power. Also.3 Ten Case Studies 3. or multiple flashes acting as one more powerful light source.. Adding a second light source will unlock a new level of possibilities. There’s still a lot of ambient in the total exposure as well. Hats off to behind-the-scenes photographer Serge Van Cauwenbergh for timing his shot to mine so you can actually see the flashes firing. especially if they’re creative people themselves. a rim or separation light like this is used to draw attention to form (in this case muscle detail) and make a person stand out from his background. Fortunately. Generally.. I used a high shutter speed of 1/2000 to freeze the water drops. this picture isn’t lit entirely by flash. Lord of the Glimmerings: Freezing Water with High-Speed Sync Once you’re getting good at working with one flash. This meant I was working in high-speed sync mode.
5G @ 10mm | Ambient exposure f/10 @ 1/3s (underexposed by 1 stop) | ISO 200 | Off-camera flash at half power . Sometimes. Flash and Slow Shutter Speed: The Rickshaw Ride from Hell In the previous case. doing just the opposite will create even more impact.5-4. we used a very fast shutter speed to freeze action.3. Nikon D90 | 10-24mm f/3.3.
3. if you want to impress your friends with some FTT (flash tech talk): this technique of combining flash with a longer exI settled for half power on the flash. and this is where the flash came in. Oh.com) did in this image. I handheld it and fired a couple of pops at different power settings. Exposing for the outside left the interior of the rickshaw far too dark. TIP: When using flash. as Craft & Vision author Michael Frye (michaelfrye. but also helped to freeze our frenetic rickshaw lady. He combined two flash pops (one with an amber gelled flash from below. chimping at the LCD if adjustments were needed .” In post-production. but she drove with the testosterone of a thousand men. to record the star trails. you can combine even longer shutter speeds with flash. you can override this paternalistic behaviour in the custom settings of your camera menu.. Hats off! TIP: Unless you’re working in manual. I have mine set to its maximum of 30 seconds. You can see me in the left rear-view mirror. one with a blue gelled flash from above) with an ambient exposure of one hour.. If you add a tripod to your setup. The short burst of flash in this long exposure not only lightened up the interior. posure is called “dragging the shutter. I wanted to capture the frenzy of this ride. by the way. They do so to protect you from making blurry flash exposures. most cameras have a lower limit (such as 1/60) on the shutter speed when combined with flash. I also applied some Lightroom Clarity to the streaks of light surrounding this rocketpropelled death coffin to give them more pop. always choose Rear Curtain Sync. Flash and Slow Shutter Speed: The Rickshaw Ride from Hell Very few times in my life have I felt the adrenaline rushing like in this rickshaw ride from the Indian city of Tanjore’s magnificent Brihadeeswarar temple back to the hotel. Imagine a rollercoaster gone berserk and refusing to stop. Normally. And all of that using film. very much like how it felt. The apocalyptic ride took only five minutes. and also trying not to let the flash slip from my hand as the rickshaw bumped its way through the potholed road. which is rare enough in itself. but it seemed to last forever. This deals with the typical trails of movement that appear when a sharp (flashed) subject is mixed with motion blur from a longer ambient exposure. like this one. I lightened the rickshaw roof a little more to reveal some more of the pattern detail. I could have taken it out in Photoshop but I decided to let myself play a small cameo role in this Bollywood remake of The Fast and the Furious. I chose a slowish shutter speed of 1/3 of a second. you have a choice between Front and Rear Curtain Sync. Use your flash and your camera settings to help convey to your viewer the emotions you felt while you were at the scene. which would make the outside world like a blur. Unless you want your subject to appear to be moving backwards. The driver was a woman.3 Ten Case Studies 3.
4.8G | 70mm | f/18 @ 1/640s | ISO 400 | 3 SB-900s in a Westcott Apollo 28-inch softbox. Turn Three Flashes into One: You Cannot Turn One Flash into Three… Nikon D700 | VR 70-200mm f/2. .3.
Or faster recycle times (and therefore longer battery life). you don’t really need the TTL. Turn Three Flashes into One: You Cannot Turn One Flash into Three… When working in bright. you can get about three LP160s. in flash parlance: one and a half stops extra. this would set you back about $1800 with brand flashes. such as a softbox. see 2. In situations like this. especially when you want to overpower that light to get detail in the sky and you want to bring up the resulting dark foreground with flash. for relatively low power. But you cannot In these circumstances. three flashes were used on a Lastolite TriFlash adapter. However. And that’s a lot to have: it can mean the difference between being able to use a softbox or not.4. you’ll need even more power because the flashes have to go through that extra layer of diffusion.3 Ten Case Studies 3. In case 1. Yongnuo is another manufacturer of affordable manual flashes. But then again. Outgrowing Your Small Flashes. a full manual flash like the LumoPro LP160 can come in handy—for the price of one brand flash. . since you’ll probably be working at full power anyway. you can turn three flashes into one more powerful light source. you’ll quickly start running into the limitations of a one-flash setup. and you’d be better off buying a heavier studio flash with a portable battery. That means triple the power or. With thirdparty LumoPro flashes. In this setup. it would be about $750. ambient light. break up one big flash into three! For more on this topic.5. Some might argue that even $750 is a lot to pay If you want to run your flashes through a diffuser. two bare flashes were needed at full power to lighten up the skater. the bill can add up quickly when you’re using the brand flashes. Including this bracket and the Westcott Apollo 28-inch softbox.
Sunset at Noon
Nikon D700 | VR 16-35mm f/4G | 19mm | f/18 @ 1/250s | ISO 100 | Main Light: 3 SB-900s at full power in a Westcott Apollo 28-inch softbox without diffuser | Rim light: 1 SB-900 at full power
Ten Case Studies
3.5. Sunset at Noon
I love working with artistic people, such as musicians or dancers, for personal projects: they’re focused and always willing to stretch themselves (no pun intended) to get just the picture you’re after. This shot was taken at noon on a sunny day. What looks like the setting sun to the right is actually a flash on a cloned-out light stand.
The actual sunlight was coming from behind camera left. The ambient was underexposed and the dancers were lit by a softbox.
This “cross lighting” setup (main light and rim light on a diagonal line, at an angle towards the camera, with the subject in between main and rim light) is an efficient way of adding depth to your subjects.
Nikon D700 | 14-24mm f/2.8G | 14mm | f/10 @ 1/250s | ISO 200 | SB-900 at half power triggered by the D700’s built-in flash
Note to self: go easier on the Dutch Angling in the future! ^ Ruth is clearly less at ease in her new role as a skipper.3 Ten Case Studies 3. making it distractingly bright. Because of the hard light and the angle at which I handheld the flash. This underexposed my subject but I could bring him up using flash. I flagged the flash using a Honl flag because too much light was hitting the camera left oar. I could of course have darkened it in Photoshop afterwards. When you’ve got time to spare. in pictures like these the foreground that’s out of reach of the flash tends to go very dark and muddy. because they really draw the viewer into the scene. I wanted to show the nice nuances in the sky. but since we were on a boat the water nicely reflects the sky and there are far less dark patches in the frame. in Turkey. We even had time to do a behind-the-scenes shot and have Ruth and the fisherman swap jobs for a second. the fisherman’s eyes are invisible below the brim of his hat. working all manual will give you more consistent.6. but that doesn’t disturb me. P. the picture is more Since I knew we had about an hour before us. but getting it right in camera was much less of an effort. I worked in manual and built the picture up slowly. and repeatable results. . I love using wideangle lenses for environmental portraits. about the man and his natural surroundings. Using Flags This picture of a fisherman was shot late in the afternoon on beautiful lake Egirdir. With the eyes invisible.S. deciding on ambient first and then adding flash to my liking. so I made sure my exposure was set for that. whereas the fisherman in no time became a great photographer’s assistant. Expressly tilting your horizon like this is called Dutch Angling. Normally. the viewer’s eyes would be much more attracted to the fisherman. predictable. As you may have noticed by now. Had the eyes been visible.
3.8 @ 1/500s (Manual) ISO 200 | SB-900 with CTO gel fired through umbrella | Incandescent white balance .4D | 50mm | f/2. Gelling for Effect: Yogyakarta Blues Nikon D90 | 50mm f/1.7.
you have to move fast and check your ambient exposure regularly. the lighting setup was pretty simple: the gelled flash was the gelled flash and the underexposed background made for a much more dramatic blue sky than there actually was. The sky was turning blue but it wasn’t blue enough to my taste. the longer you’ll have to leave your shutter open to suck in enough ambient light to prevent the background from going completely black. I set my camera’s white balance to Incandescent. Take this image. When shooting at dusk like this. I could have spiced up the blues a little in post-production. The combination of I put a CTO (colour temperature orange) gel on the flash. There was still too much light around for this effect to work. Other than that. using Adobe Lightroom’s or Camera Raw’s HSL panel (one of my favourite panels. so all the colours match up nicely. This led the already blue sky to become a really mystical blue. . Sure. The image to the right was shot with the same ambient settings. Just don’t tell anyone! but also contrasted nicely with the rich yellow and red colours. in this case.7. only 18 minutes earlier. by the way). Underexposing a sky will make the colours appear more saturated. But why post-process when you can get it right in camera? I also underexposed the ambient light by two stops.3 Ten Case Studies 3. Sometimes. Blue. It was shot at dusk. shot through an umbrella attached to my Gitzo Traveler tripod which served as a makeshift light stand. we talked about putting a gel on your flash to make the colour of the flash blend in with the ambient light. ^ Time and timing is of the essence when shooting around sunset. Want a dramatically blue twilight sky? Add a CTO to your flash and shoot incandescent white balance. Doing this told my camera that it had to correct for that yellowish light. you may want to do just the opposite for effect. That changed the daylight-balanced light from my flash to incandescent (think of a typical yellowish electrical bulb. which not only added drama to the scene. because it really sinks like a stone and the longer you work. hence the symbol on your camera’s white balance selector). Gelling for Effect: Yogyakarta Blues In case 7 of Volume 1. though. And how does a camera correct for a certain colour cast? It adds the opposite colour.
3. High Key Baby: The Horizontal Clamshell NIKON D700 | 24-70mm f/2. one Speedlight underneath in group B.8G @ 48mm | f/9 @ 1/200s | ISO 100 | Left and right Speedlight in umbrella in group A.8. . Power tweaked manually.
and high-key images. Once the power of the flashes was right. ^ A typical clamshell lighting setup. An old thick glass refrigerator door was put on two small chairs (choose thick. with only a 10 cm gap between the two. In retrospect. Under this background. One flash underneath a (safe) glass door. Normally. I brought in the model and fired away. a (mental) note of what works and what doesn’t. I translated the concept to work with babies as well. You photograph your subject by sticking your lens through the 10 cm gap. but the left and right of my subject. The whole scene is lit with Speedlights. . Two flashes through an umbrella left and right. So. Just stick your lens through the opening in between the two umbrellas and soft portrait light welcomes you! ^ Detail of how the lower flash and umbrella can be attached to the same light stand using a so-called Manfrotto Justin Clamp. On top of that came a diffuser (the type that comes with a 5-in-1 reflector). So I practiced on a doll. upbeat. better yet. you don’t want to ruin whatever attention span the baby will allot to you. Camera fired through the two umbrellas. It would look more natural. Which is another tip by itself: always reevaluate your images after a shoot and make The only downside when you want to use the clamshell technique is that your model… has to be able to sit or stand up straight. It’s great for upbeat photographs. as far as dual umbrella catchlights ever do. Contrary to the normal clamshell setup. Normally. it probably would have been better to turn the baby clockwise 45 degrees so the catchlights would be in the top and bottom of the eye instead of left and right. zoomed all the way out to give broad coverage. This would serve as the background. the lower umbrella gets attached to the light stand with a clamp. The dual catchlights make a nice side effect.3 Ten Case Studies Even dolls have catchlights! 3. High Key Baby: The Horizontal Clamshell Clamshell lighting is a popular technique to bathe people in soft light. thick unbreakable Plexiglas when you do this yourself and have an assistant stand by so the baby does not roll off). diffused by a diffusion panel. pointing slightly up. The result is as if you’re shooting through a giant softbox: your subject is flooded by this big soft light source. hardened safety glass or. the results are very flattering.8. When setting this up and trying this out. here I put both flashes at the same power. The ambient light was completely eliminated at the settings chosen. and another one just below it. as they would not light the top and bottom. pointing down. The technique consists of putting two umbrellas on one light stand: one like you would do normally. the flash in the highest umbrella will be put slightly more powerful than the lower one (which acts more as a fill light). To the left and right of this setup I put two flashes in umbrellas. I put a flash. Pretty soon you’ll have a whole library of lighting techniques to pull ideas from. Which is not the case with the average six-month-old baby. If you add a white background to this setup.
5-4. Scarcity is the mother of invention. Last One Turns Off the Lights : Mixing Flash and HDR On location.5G | 10mm | f/11 | ISO 100 | 3 image HDR + off-camera flash .3.9. Nikon D90 | 10-24mm f/3. don’t dwell on what you didn’t bring but make do with what you have.
two of the key elements in this picture are hardly noticeable. I also Another thing I’m not fond of with HDR is what it does to colour. I end wanted lots of detail and post-processing options. so I put the flash on its small plastic foot on a rock. I’d normally use my tripod as a light stand but I already needed that for technique number two (the HDR). not of the HDR variety that blatantly shouts in your face “Look at me. I had a moody. but were easy to bring out in postproduction. Unfortunately. Normally. in cases like this. + black & white conversion = . The temple guardian and the stairs. While I wanted dark and moody. I also lightened them to better lead the viewer’s eyes from the guardian (where the eye enters the frame) right down the stairs. Last One Turns Off the Lights: Mixing Flash and HDR I’m not a huge fan of HDR. At least. I’m an HDR picture”. I’d use a light stand or possibly even a softbox on a boom stand over my head. I used a combination of two techniques. I only fired my flash during the last exposure. boom Efex Pro and boosted the midtone sharpness of the stairs to make them look more textured.3 Ten Case Studies + ISO 200 f/11 @ 1/125s 3. I then converted the resulting HDR picture to black and white in Nik Software’s Silver To get there. I do appreciate the options HDR technology brings and I use its possibilities in what I’d call a less graphical and more photographical way. up converting many of my HDRs to black and white as shown in more detail in my Craft & Vision title The Power of Black & White in Adobe Lightroom & Beyond..9. The stairs could not be lit. As a result. ISO 200 f/11 @ 1/30s + ISO 200 | f/11 @ 1/8s SB-900 camera left. stands and softboxes don’t fit very well in bicycle panniers. The flash was just out of sight to camera left. set at half power = Without flash (top picture) all the attention goes to the sky. so I shot a bracketed series of three pictures that I knew I could turn into HDR. just outside of the frame on camera left. dark image in mind. Indonesia. The first was to use off-camera flash to light the temple guardian. This made sure the HDR software would not create “ghosts” around the guardian in case he had not sat comFor this beautiful water temple on the south cost of Bali. It’s all about leading the eye! pletely still during the three exposures.. I did light the guardian with a dash of flash (just out of sight to camera left) to make him stand out more.
3. Nikon D700 | VR 16-35mm f/4G | 19mm | f/6.3 flash exposure compensation .10.3 @ 1/5s (= TTL light metering. The Best Off-Camera Flash Set: It Is the One You Have with You One of my favourite photos of a two-week trip. 1 stop underexposed) | ISO 800 | SB-900 shot through umbrella in TTL mode. + 0. Taken during a short hike on which I almost hadn’t brought my camera.
And then I stumbled upon this family. Because I too need constant reminding to take my gear with me. when I suddenly couldn’t find my hat anymore. to my ThinkTank Speed Racer. it even becomes a drag (literally) and it becomes all too tempting not to take it with us when we go for a stroll… And of course. The border does a good job of keeping your eye “in the frame. right? But then I decided I’d take it with me anyway. an unnecessary hike up again and started my descent to the guesthouse. Strangely. It’d been with me all the time! I was quite displeased with what I thought of as I’m writing this one down as much for myself as I am doing it for you. We had already walked up a couple of hundred extra feet to the village monastery and had almost returned to the guesthouse. no photographs. I found the hat. Without a camera. it isn’t burned out. twice before doing so. for more info on that). The Best Off-Camera Flash Set: It Is the One You Have with You At the end of these case studies.000 feet. I was tempted… after all. Small note: if you look closely. There just wasn’t any that evening. you’ll see the baby holding a sheet of paper. the less we seem to want to carry it around. the more gear we accumulate as photographers. ^ The only thing that I regret in this picture is that the sky has little detail. so technically. as it often is. it’s then when the magic photo opportunities happen! Back at the temple. That’s why I’ve also got a version with a border around it. Sometimes. When magical moments like these spontaneously happen.. It just lacks some detail. you think Always carry (some of) your gear with you. which meant climbing back up again. at the bottom of my camera bag. That’s actually a small print from my equally indispensable Polaroid Pogo printer (see 2. I thought I had forgotten it at the monastery. It isn’t pure white. This photo was shot during a Lumen Dei workshop in the mountain village of Lamayuru.” The lighting itself is really simple. it’s a good idea to go back to the basics. which helps to make the picture.10. I love the soft light because it correctly portrays these wonderful people and it puts a nice catchlight in their eyes. ready to be put in the hands of a villager passing by..3 Ten Case Studies 3. The others kindly offered to take my gear back to the guesthouse while I returned looking for my hat. I’d already done the trip once with the camera.5. there’s no time (or need) to get into a three-light setup! I just used one flash and my Westcott collapsible reversible umbrella that’s always strapped .4. At 10.
Bonus Case: This One Goes to Eleven Bonus! .
11.4 = 1/4000 at f/2. This image of impromptu model Myrthe illustrates this well. switch to manual focus. you could also achieve this with a flash or triggers that are not capable of high-speed sync—just use a neutral density filter that makes the shutter speed drop below your sync speed. it might help to focus with the filter at its minimal setting. or both? In these cases high-speed sync really shines. and therefore high-speed sync.4. Correctly exposing for Myrthe makes the sky blow out completely. And from the looks on her face. the need for a fast shutter speed. . she doesn’t like that one bit! The exposure is 1/8000 of a second (the limit of my camera) at ISO 100 and f/1. I sometimes use a variable neutral density filter to that effect (see 2. turn the filter to its desired strength and then make the picture. As mentioned before. 4 Focusing through a neutral density filter can sometimes be difficult.4).8 = 1/1000 at f4 = 1/500 at f/5. your histogram will look the same. In some cases. If you have a variable filter.4. the ability to use highspeed sync is one of the main reasons why some photographers prefer to use (lots of) small Speedlights rather than bigger. So I need to add flash to correctly light her and maintain detail in the sky. Bonus Case: This One Goes to Eleven. makes Myrthe much too dark. So. Choosing f-stop and shutter speed combinations is one of the key choices you make as a photographer.4 But what if you want to freeze motion. Exposing for detail in the sky on the other hand. In a pinch.0 = 1/2000 at f/2. is merely the by-product of wanting to use a wide aperture. The disapproving look on her face told me it was time to shine some flashlight on her! 1/8000 at f/1.4 is equivalent to 1/250 at f/8 (see table below). but your picture won’t—the aesthetics will vary greatly.6 = 1/250 at f/8 ^ All these combinations will result in the same amount of light hitting your sensor. ^ Exposing to get detail in the sky and not using a flash leaves Myrthe’s face underexposed. taken at noon on an overcast but sunny day. more powerful studio strobes.3 Ten Case Studies 3. 1/8000 at f/1.
for more info). even with the four flashes. they had no trouble receiving the commander trigger signal. then I’d have to work at f/8 and 1/250. The commander being Apparently. But what if I don’t want to work at f/8? What if I want to use my fancy f/1. Since we were working in high-speed sync. ordinary radio triggers would not work. I programmed the commander to fire in full manual (high-speed sync) power. can allow you to fire up to four remote flashes (if they’re close enough) with one trigger. and they’re already in the FourSquare softbox. The most difficult part was the triggerAt 1/8000 of a second. Enter high-speed sync. check out Dave Black’s website daveblackphotography. triggering the four flashes in the Four- so close to the remotes. as I can direct that control signal a lot better by swivelling the flash’s head. and I don’t have an ND filter. ISO 100. still allowing me to trigger my flash “conventionally. one flash won’t be enough. Ouch!5 ing. but in bright ambient conditions the reliability of this setup isn’t 100%. High-speed sync reduces the effective output of your flash.com. so four times the power (or in f-stops: two f-stops more) than one flash will give you (see 2. era. By the way: if you’re a Canon user: using a Canon sync cable. where we’re overpowering the sunlight by a couple of stops. so in extreme situations like this. This image was lit with the FourSquare—it’s a combination of a softbox that can be disas- 2) I could have used Nikon’s optical triggering system. but an expensive one: I’d have needed one receiver for every flash plus a trigger on my camera. Square softbox as remotes with the built-in flash of my D700.4 at 1/250 of a second. and check the November 2010 entry in the “Workshop at the Ranch” section. but rather too little.” But what if I also want to freeze the motion of the flying hair? Then 1/250 won’t cut it.4 lens wide open? A five-stop ND filter would give me f/1.100 in triggers only. especially if you’re using a diffuser like a softbox.2. But I “only” have four of them. fellow photographer Jürgen. too much power.11. That’s a total of $1. Bonus Case: This One Goes to Eleven – continued If I don’t have high-speed sync.4. you could do the same thing! 3) A slightly better way would be to use a fifth SB-900 as a commander on my cam- The softbox was handheld at about one meter from Myrthe by her father. 1) The PocketWizard ControlTL system was an option. this is an extreme example of high-speed sync really stretching the system. which is also known to eat flash power for breakfast. For more info on this. combined with optional Fiber Optic Bundles by Michael Bass Designs. . as I knew the problem would not be having 5 sembled for transport and a piece of highly engineered aluminum that accommodates up to four flashes.3 Ten Case Studies 3. The other three were set up as remotes. So I thought through the options: 4) The solution came in the form of a good old SC-28 sync cord: I hooked it up to my camera and hooked up the other end to one of the four SB-900s that I set up as a commander. RadioPopper triggers.
business.4 Four Interviews We’ve saved what’s probably the best part of this eBook for last. you’ll find the results of four interviews I had with fellow Belgian photographers that make frequent use of off-camera flash. creativity and technique. . In the following pages. I hope you’ll find these interviews as interesting and refreshing as I did. We discuss inspiration.
Andy Van den Eynde: All Is Fair in Love and War Canon 5D Mk II | 24-70mm @ 24mm | f/8 @ 1/200s | 600 Ws Jinbei portable flash system bounced in umbrella.1.4. .
1. Andy Van den Eynde: All6 Is Fair in Love and War How does a thirty-something photographer end up with a colour image of a World War II battle scene that seems shot as if he was right there and yet has a very contemporary feel to it? The answer is that this picture wasn’t made 70 years ago. 6 Including the use of off-camera flash! . As you can see from the setup shot. as a photographer you should be equally serious when portraying them. I guess they wouldn’t use the fluorescent jackets in a real war. My eyes were immediately drawn to this picture when Andy was flipping through his iPad portfolio. the wide angle lens. Oh yes. where there’s more chance of having the dramatic kind of cloudy sky this type of picture yearns for. Belgian Photographer Andy Van den Eynde (only related to the author of this eBook by his love for photography) shot this as part of a personal project documenting re-enactments of historical battles.4 Four Interviews 4. and of course the use of off-camera flash. Time of capture was October. Life in the trenches. the drama was achieved by a combination of factors: the low and close vantage point. It’s full of drama and has a highly cinematographic feel to it: I wasn’t surprised to learn later on that Andy has a background in the broadcasting industry. when people are this serious about their hobby. The scene of the action isn’t Omaha Beach. AD 2009. but an exercise lot for people that learn to operate bulldozers and digging machines. The trench was “dug to order” and left for a couple of months to become overgrown. more like 70 weeks ago.
This gave the drama to the clouds. war-like tones and adding clarity to bring out even more depth. ^ The original unedited raw file. by the way) has an extra hotshoe connection where he can put an extra 580EX II with a small LumiQuest Mini Softbox.4 Four Interviews 4. Personal work is the key to growing both your craft and your business. He uses this setup for those moments when he wants to add a dash of fill light coming from the camera while at the same time firing remote flashes. his lighting toolbox now consists of a Profoto Acute B2 600 Ws portable monobloc flash unit with some modifiers that has come to replace his Jinbei. The flash-to-ambient contrast was nailed in the camera. He triggers his small flashes in manual mode using PocketWizard Plus IIs (which means the brand of the flash is not an issue) and recently got himself a new PocketWizard FlexTT5 to act as a commander. The FlexTT5 will fire the remote flashes.4.1.2. Post-processing was mainly focused on giving the colours more earthy. check out paragraph 2. He also uses California Sunbounce reflectors. let alone the fact he’d have to find a way to attach these five flashes onto one light stand. but he doesn’t like the hassle with batteries and recycle times this brings. As you can see from the original raw file. but will also allow him to fire the flash on top of his camera in This doesn’t mean he will not use small flashes. . The soldiers were completely lit by light coming from a 90 degree angle. on multi-flash brackets. Andy could have fired four or five small flashes into an umbrella to achieve a similar effect. on the contrary. this setup reveals a lot of depth and a nice interplay of light and shadow on their faces. Still.7 He likes the fact the FlexTT5 (and also the MiniTT1. TTL mode. He uses and combines the light sources and the modifiers he needs on a scene-by-scene basis. Andy’s looking to gradually replace his “old” Plus IIs with new FlexTT5 models. 7 Note: if you’re determined to work only with small flashes. much like in the film industry. In addition to the obvious available light. preset power setting. Andy Van den Eynde: All Is Fair in Love and War Andy needed all the power of his budget 600 watt seconds Jinbei flash shot into a reflective umbrella to tame the ambient light to three stops below normal exposure. triggered by PocketWizard Plus IIs at a manual. Since they’re facing the light source but not the camera. much was captured in-camera. Canon 430EX and 580EX II Speedlites and some Nikon SB-28 Speedlights.
he doesn’t shy away from using a flash or two (or three. after whom the “Rembrandt light” in portrait photography was named. Although more and more digital photographers are resorting to their LCD as a post-factum light meter. shots without annoying colour casts or sudden over. giving him well-lit and three-dimensional shots. Regardless of where the couple is on the dance floor and of where he is in relation to them.1. which would allow you to fire them individually. who would otherwise be lost in the shadows.4. 8 Placing the flashes at the back of the room with a relatively wide setting on the zoom head (24 mm) also lightens up the room and gives some depth to the audience. This setup is not only handy for capturing the obligatory speeches. but also especially useful later in the evening.or underexposure. Andy Van den Eynde: All Is Fair in Love and War – continued When forced to pick a minimal lighting and lens kit. This is a common reaction I heard from the other interviewees as well: regular personal work is the key to growing both your craft and your business. ^ Andy will often set up three flashes during a wedding banquet. or all together. or four) either. Andy shoots commercial jobs as well as portraits and weddings. they also land Andy new jobs. All he has to do He has a great technique to share for getting better shots of what to get the rim light is make sure the couple is between him and one of the three flashes. Andy would go with his Sigma 50mm 1. a Sunbounce Mini reflector and a Speedlight. . Flash volumes are preset and they are all triggered simultaneously. Andy has the wedding couple ask the DJ to go easy on the lights and colour effects during the opening dance and so he manages to get great Speaking of business. Andy’s personal projects are not only vital for experimenting and unleashing creativity. there’s always some amount of frontal fill and rim light coming from the flash triangle. He’ll place three flashes in a triangular way across the room. there wasn’t much margin for error and chimping was a term used only in zoos. is dreaded by many a wedding photographer: the opening dance. in groups of two. 9 A Dutch painter from the seventeenth century. Andy swears by a real flash light meter—another thing he takes from his background working with analog film. Much like working with slide film.4 Four Interviews 4. This gives him both frontal fill light and rim light from whatever direction he decides to shoot the couple when they set off for the opening dance. With the new PocketWizard system you could even change power settings remotely and assign the flashes to three different groups. For the latter.
studying other photographers’ work and trying to reverse engineer it is an important part of improving as a photographer.1.com . I had the same DVD sitting in my laptop. we also share some of the same idols. he’ll often split up his invoice into sections for “labour” and “gear.com mikelarson. their friends. as Andy talked to me about this. Your portfolio should be your While Andy reads the occasional book and photo mag and follows the odd workshop. Apparently. and their families well during a job.com joeyl. getting great shots of them. ideas. Again. part of what he makes goes into keeping up with technology (and client’s demands).com hofferphotography. Andy Van den Eynde: All Is Fair in Love and War – continued Andy still recalls assignments from his studies where students had to photographically rebuild a scene from say. Andy talks about a DVD by Joey Lawrence he’s just watched (Faces of a Vanishing World) and says: “Maybe something in that style.4 Four Interviews 4. using a light meter. something influenced by the practices of the broadcasting industry. Finally. and build your own little lighting library in your mind. Andy also shares a couple of tips on the business side of things: for commercial shoots. They will if they’ve chosen you based on price. own advertising campaign and if you treat your clients. and doing something in return. This will be easier to achieve if you have a personal style you’re comfortable with. Not to slavishly copy. and ideals. Andy does not believe in paying for advertising. in addition to sharing the same family name.be Twitter: @andyvde Sites that Andy visits: creativelive.” assigning some amount of the total bill to the use (and depreciation) of When asked if there’s any new personal projects he’s contemplating. but to eclectically use elements you like and mix them into your own style. Also. This helps to show his clients that not every penny he invoices is pure profit and that a Even now. either live or online. Measuring your light is knowing it.” Oddly enough. Andy Van den Eynde Andy’s website: andyvandeneynde. Obviously not the same. a Rembrandt painting. I was halfway through it and had had similar ideas. he feels that ultimately the best way to progress as a photographer is to practice. his gear. but I like the idea of one day visiting foreign cultures. they’ll become your own account executives. learn from your mistakes. People won’t discuss money if they’ve chosen you for your style.
8 @ 1/2000s | Two Speedlights triggered in high-speed sync via Nikon CLS | ND filter . Tom Museeuw: Wanted: The Perfect Fill Flash NIKON D700 | 24-70mm f/2.4.8 | ISO200 | 24mm | f/2.2.
a reflector is like a snooker cue and light is the snooker ball: the cue is just a tool to get the ball where you want it. Tom used a variable neutral density filter from Light Craft Workshop (see 2.8 zoom. he’ll often use California Sunbounce reflectors. Consistency and workflow efficiency in his commercial work.” In three years’ time. When he needs more power than one Speedlight can deliver. Yet. but even during the (rare) slow moments of a commercial shoot. he’ll have the occasional last-minute “‘Guerrilla freestyle shoot. Tom knew he could fire his flash even at this speed using high-speed sync. which he sees as a way of literally bouncing less-than-ideal ambient light into better quality light. The two flash heads were zoomed all the way out and had the wide angle adapters on to give a very wide spread of light. at the same time he wanted the depth of field to be be photographed. Tom Museeuw: Wanted: The Perfect Fill Flash When Tom sent me a couple of images to prepare for our interview. On his wish list Tom used the wide end and the largest aperture of his 24-70mm f/2. Tom decided to explore a commercial career in photography on top of his daytime job as a youth counsellor. photographing abandoned places. fed by experimentation in his personal work. his signature lighting and post-processing style has landed him more clients than many fulltime photographers can dream of. he started experimenting with model photography. If that still doesn’t give him the look he’s after.2. He wanted to underexpose the background to make the clouds darker and more looming. is a gigantic 86-inch parabolic umbrella with fibre rods instead of the more fragile metal ones and a full-time assistant to prevent the thing from taking off mid-shoot. is the key to his success. On top of that. which to Tom is “70% about the subject. . it oozes the same professional quality of Tom’s commercial work. he attaches two of them to a Lovegrove Gemini flash bracket. using the basic physical laws of bouncing to your advantage. By almost accidentally photographing a young model in one of those grungy settings in 2007. Tom will often experiment with new setups or ideas. This necessitated a shutter speed that was faster than the maximum shutter speed of his camera. His lighting bag consists of four SB-900s and an Elinchrom A big part of Tom’s commercial work is photographing children’s and teen’s fashion.4. Tom took up photography in 2005 as a hobby and was very much into the urban exploring scene. he had to add an extra flash.4 Four Interviews 4. 30% about the camera. Although it’s obviously a personal picture. The skills he draws from this job come in handy when photographing teen models. So Tom often finds himself faced with “bad” ambient light. In 2008. And while they’re very knowledgeable about fashion.4) to bring the shutter speed “down” to 1/2000 of a second. As modifiers he uses the same collapsible reversible Westcott umbrella we discussed in Volume 1. His clients almost always choose the location in which the collections have to Ranger Quadra kit. To him. This was of course a dedicated personal shoot. He also uses the Westcott 28-inch softbox. giving the almost surreal out-of-focus quality to the clouds. Tom will add flash light. This was also the lighting setup that was used in the opening picture. as shallow as his lens allowed him to. the first one to catch my eye was this picture of his son Lennert.” where he rustles up a model and an assistant on Facebook or Twitter to try out new creative ideas. but to make up for the power loss high-speed sync causes. His Speedlights are triggered with either Nikon’s CLS system or the new PocketWizard ControlTL system. they’re less so about light in general and photographically pleasing light in particular. In these conditions.
make sure you know what drives them and what their world of interest is. ISO 200 | 50mm | f/2. successful experiments tend to trickle down from the former to the latter. ISO 200 | 50 mm | f/2. he took his original flash exposure compensation of +2 EV down to -1 EV. The result is the harmonious. Tom Museeuw: Wanted: The Perfect Fill Flash While his personal work is clearly more obviously flash-lit than his commercial work. washing out the windows. . it would only have brightened the entire image. The inset “In Search of the Perfect Fill Flash” shows this. This remote Speedlight was Tom looks at light as a continuum from ambient to flash. it also makes the subsequent colour correction easier. nor did Tom want to increase ISO. For his flash settings. In his commercial work. and even too much so. 100% ambient ‘perfect fill flash’ 100% flash In order to change both the quality and the quantity of light. Tom likes to work in manual or aperture priority for his ambient light settings. freed from these constraints. Here. he can use more dramatic flash-to-ambient ratios. set to commander. The image is now obviously flash-lit. Tom set up a Speedlight with an umbrella outside.4 Four Interviews In Search of the Perfect Fill Flash The light quality was all but flattering in this available light shot. triggered by another Speedlight on the camera.8 @ 1/60s TTL off-camera flash at -1 EV When photographing children and teens. ISO 200 | 50mm | f/2. he searches for the perfect balance between flash and natural light.8 @ 1/60s | Ambient only 4.2.8 @ 1/60s TTL off-camera flash at +2 EV In his personal work. perfectly balanced fresh-looking image he’s come to be known for. Lowering the shutter speed wasn’t advisable. And even had he done so. he is a big believer in working with iTTL and using flash exposure compensation. This not only brings out the detail in the clothes as realistically and pleasingly as possible.
Tom already has a plan for a new personal project that—unlike his guerrilla style last-minute flings—will Tom’s workshops & English blog: createthatlight. The advantage of the ColorChecker profile compared to the Adobe or camera-specific profiles is that the ColorChecker is all about maintaining relative colour accuracy among colours. your post-processing can also be done in a quick and consistent way. require more planning. For his own technical inspiration. Tom Museeuw: Wanted: The Perfect Fill Flash – continued The difference in Tom’s approach to personal versus commercial work can also be seen in his post-processing. Photoshop is mainly used for sharpening. he allows himself more leeway: a vignette was added. especially when shooting clothing: for commercial work. Tom Museeuw ISO400 | 50mm | f/2.2. he turns to sites such as Fstoppers and creativeLIVE. whose creative Speaking of creativity. he also came across the photography of Jeff Newsom. Tom uses a ColorChecker Passport from X-Rite at the start of the shoot and then uses XRite’s Lightroom plug-in to make a custom profile.8 @ 1/125s | 1 Speedlight through Westcott umbrella Tom’s post-processing workflow is highly streamlined: he uses a series of custom Lightroom presets that are lighting-specific. yet another for when he’s used a golden one.com . another for when he’s used a silver California Sunbounce.com When you shoot in a consistent way. Websites Tom visits: fstoppers. For personal work. such as the interview’s opening picture. colours were selectively tweaked using Lightroom’s HSL panel and a healthy dose of the Clarity slider was added to the gritty industrial environment in the foreground.4 Four Interviews 4. getting the colours of the clothes right is of the utmost importance.” Coming soon to a blog post near you. He only reveals that it “will have something to do with dancers.be Twitter: @fotofolio wedding photography incorporates techniques such as tilt-shift lenses and light painting.com creativelive. and abroad. Recently. Tom has a well-read blog and also gives lighting workshops in Belgium Tom’s website: fotofolio.com jeffnewsom. There’s one preset for when he uses flash.
.3.8 @ 24 mm | ISO 200 | f/2. functioning as a commander.4.10 @ 1/250s | 2 Remote SB-900s triggered by a third on-camera SB-900. Jürgen Doom: Traveling Light NIKON D3x | 24-70mm f/2.
During an internship at a newspaper. he showed up the same way he shows up for many of his commercial shoots: cycling on a foldable bike that he can take on board a train as carry-on luggage. where sunlight isn’t as quintessential as it is in Africa. depending on what the job calls for. Jürgen. Jürgen prefers to use prime lenses and triggers his Speedlights with the PocketWizard MiniTT1 & FlexTT5 system. who graduated as an engineer.3. combining techniques such as light painting with reflectors and scrims. That digital dinosaur is now collecting TTL proved to be a real blessing in the fastpaced newspaper assignment world. by the time Jürgen arrives home from a shoot by train.4 Four Interviews 4. Jürgen finds himself gravitating more and more towards corporate photography: shooting portraiture. his small flash kit is “as essential as his lens and camera body. For Jürgen. reviewed. a Nikon D100.” Jürgen recalls. Jürgen. “The only problem was it was on the other side of the building. reportage. Efficient because he avoids traffic jams and economical because it allows him to work on the way to and from a shoot. This experience with flash would serve him well upon his return to Belgium in 2004. he decided to make the switch from amateur to “pro. did incredible things with the abundant South African sunlight. After a trip to the breathtaking Kalahari desert. Alain In 2003. late afternoon ambient sunlight After a period of being a generalist. mood. who was still shooting film. creeping in was in fact mainly lit by flash: “There was sun alright. : Jürgen Doom: Traveling Light When I met Jürgen for this interview. which he finds necessary to find your true vocation as a photographer. He might even have done some editing already. Another SB-900 in the room opened up the shadows to camera left a little. and rated.” Since waiting for the real sun to shine through the window of this first-floor room was not an option. also discovered the wonders of bounced flash and off-camera flash triggered by a TTL cord. dust on his shelves and has made way for a Nikon D3s and a D3x. Most of the time. especially without the luxury of an LCD screen to chimp at.” It allows him to completely control the light. followed his wife to South Africa on her postgraduate scholarship. one of whom was Alain Proust. The use of a TTL cord meant he could trigger his flash remotely and Around the turn of the millennium. He laughs when I call him the “eco-photographer. The interior shot on the next page of a typical teen’s holiday camp dormitory is a nice example. and contrast of a scene. Jürgen bought his first DSLR. that day. He’s still thankful for the fact that the newspaper let him “waste” a couple of film rolls. . and architecture for business clients. Jürgen had an assistant outside hold an SB-900 with a CTO gel high up on a light stand and fire it through the window. his pictures are already imported into Lightroom. What appears to be a room lit with warm. it’s also economical and efficient.” He studied photography in Cape Town and did a couple of internships with local photographers. All of his photo gear and his laptop were tucked into one photo backpack. a photographer originally from France. working like that isn’t only ecological.” In fact.
Another gelled SB900. Nikon D3S | 24mm f/2. “It’s a small effort to do. Jürgen completely eliminated the ugly greenish light and the typical sports arena clutter by setting his exposure in such a way that he completely eliminated the ambient light. accentuating her figure. and it provides the layouter with a whole extra range of opportunities. 4. and then rebuilt the light to his liking with flash. ISO.4D | f/5. Different colours convey different moods. simply putting different gels on your background lights can give layout people some more flexibility. up in a bunk bed behind the camera provides some fill light in the room and evens out the exposure. Once you’ve nailed the overall setting and exposure. On a recent interior shoot assignment. : Jürgen Doom: Traveling Light – continued Working with colour gels has become a signature treat in Jürgen’s work and it is proof of his client-oriented thinking. Two bare Speedlights were set up to the left and right of the girl. and aperture were chosen to eliminate any ambient light. mimics the setting sun.4 Four Interviews The setting sun in this picture was in fact a Speedlight with a CTO gel. Jürgen simply decided to eliminate it.” Another nice example of how his “guerrilla backpack flash kit” allows him to completely control his light is the picture of the young gymnast on the balance beam.6 @ 1/250s | ISO 200 | Left and right flashes: SB-900s at quarter power. One SB-900 on a light stand. The shutter speed. held up high by an assistant. Jürgen used different colour gels on the background flashes. Triggered with Nikon CLS by a fourth SB-900 acting as commander. Frontal fill flash: SB-900 in a softbox at quarter power. basically turning the gym into a studio. . A flash in a Lastolite Ezybox provided some frontal fill. making her face legible. and then the image was lit by three flashes. Nikon D3S | 85mm f/1.8D | f/9 @ 1/250s ISO 200 | 2 Speedlights triggered by PocketWizard Plus IIs When confronted with this cluttered environment and all-but-pleasing light.3.
Now that he has the instant feedback of the camera LCD. you should still decide creatively if you want to freeze the motion completely or not. he’ll propose to his clients and models to try some different or new techniques or ideas. and the shots Jürgen was hired to do are already in the bag. crosslighting the speeds. Jürgen works mostly in manual mode. While the short Jürgen recognizes the importance of dedicated personal work. This is not really a problem. but time constraints often get in the way. 3 2 1 runner’s leg. Often these are the ones that wind up being used in the campaign. Working in manual ensured consistency in exposure throughout the different tries. the limit of the PocketWizards Plus IIs he was using back then. If there’s time left. The crosslight nicely defines the muscles.com/tangents (A highly interesting site by wedding and portrait photographer Neil Van Niekerk) . Two Speedlights were added. Even when your gear allows you to use faster shutter Websites JÜrgen visits: alainproust. The shutter speed was 1/250.4 Four Interviews 4. Jürgen Doom JÜrgen’s website: jurgendoom. The hardest thing was to precisely time the shot and the leg placement. In fact.3. on the contrary—everything needn’t be tack sharp if you want to convey motion. there’s still a slight blur around the edges of the leg. you can sometimes achieve more interesting and certainly more dramatic results when switching off the main light. The same manual method was used for the opening picture to this interview: the ambient exposure was underexposed by about one stop burst of the flash froze the runner’s leg. to give the clouds more detail and saturation. caused by the—in action terms—slowish shutter speed limit of 1/250. for setting both the flash as well as the ambient exposure. only the lights were at a 45-degree angle behind and no frontal fill was used.be Twitter: @jurgendoom ^ Lighting diagram for the opening image of this interview. That’s why he’ll often experiment with new lighting ideas towards the end of a commercial shoot.com neilvn. Just because you have a multi-light setup in place does not mean you have to use all your lights all of the time. : Jürgen Doom: Traveling Light – continued A similar setup was used in the athlete’s picture to the right.
4. Bert Stephani: Motivational Light .4.
4. Bert was one of the first to recognize this was more than just a passing fad. shop around for a carpet that’s normally used by movers—it makes for a great background. he tells me he mostly manages his social media during otherwise unproductive moments: when waiting for a shoot because he arrived early. Bedazzled by the gear section in chapter 2? Then this image is for you: it’s made with what Bert calls his “€70 ($100) studio”. and his training DVD Motivational Light. When working with powerful continuous light sources like these.4 Four Interviews 4. when stuck in a traffic jam. Bert Stephani: Motivational Light When the whole idea of off-camera flash (or “strobism. Bert not only illustrated the potential of using small flashes on location but also the importance of social media as a marketing medium for his photography.com) reached Europe. Off-camera flash is here and it looks like it’s here to stay. And while you’re there. and a huge social media following that many longer-term photographers can only wish for: over 3. though—these things get hot and any diffuser that’s placed too close could easily melt or… catch fire! . workshops. Bert has built an international reputation as a photographer and a teacher. as it did here. always beware of safety.000 Twitter followers and over a quarter million YouTube views of his “Confessions of a Photographer” behind-the-scenes videos. A shower curtain diffuses the light of two continuous light sources: two 350 watt halogen torches (the kind you get from Home Depot). Although he’s been into photography for only seven years. With his “Confessions of a Photographer” blog and behindthe-scenes videos on YouTube. named after David Hobby’s blog strobist. only five working professionally. He was one of the first Belgian photographers to acknowledge the power of social media. When I ask him how he pulls everything off time wise. or standing in line at the supermarket.” as it is called. waiting at the dentist.
in which you can often find him firing a Speedlite through a translucent $10 shower curtain gaffer-taped to a door opening. Being an accomplished diver. Bert Stephani: Motivational Light – continued Although Bert has a number of Canon Speedlites.” which means hauling more gear to a set than you need. an Elinchrom Ranger Quadra with a standard reflector at about half power gives the effect of the sunrays. the assistants walked away with their heads full of fresh knowledge. he’ll use the headlights of a car as rim lights. you have to “dress to impress.000. Bert is underwater of course. That is the story behind the opening picture to this interview. thanks to the joint efforts of different creative people. A couple of Facebook friends chimed in for logistic support. check out Corwin Hiebert’s Your Creative Mix on Craft & Vision. but ironically. The jewel designer has advertising grade pictures. and the knowhow to do this type of shoot again with bigger commercial clients that do have the budget. just to look more professional. and Bert now has a set of portfolio images. Bert acknowledges the importance of experimentation. and a portable Elinchrom Ranger Quadra. a INON Z-240 flash lights the model’s left side. and feel of a commercial shoot. Under water. jewels. the man in the picture is shooting the BTS video! Gear and technique used in the opening picture: Olympus E-PL1 in an Olympus PT-EP01 underwater housing | 14-42mm kit lens @ 14 mm | ISO 200 | f/9 @ 1/160s | Above the surface.4 Four Interviews 4. It’s a situation where everyone wins. as a photographer. More (expensive) gear doesn’t necessarily translate into better picture quality. Bert had been wanting to do something with underwater photography for a long time. Now.4. a set of triggers. The results have the look If you want to read more about this kind of creative interaction and what it can do for your photography business. the shoot is a fact. A local jewel designer with a need but no budget for killer shots arranged for the Unfortunately. the raw material for the first in an upcoming set of training videos. With the settings used. studio lights. He wanted to portray the sense of freedom. so the pictures would never have been made. there was no ambient light: everything you see is flash-lit. the sensation you get when you dive into a sea or a lake in a magical-realistic way. turning it into an instant 20 square foot softbox. the models. as he shows in his Motivational Light DVD. and other logistics such as the catering and the swimming pool. if this had been a commercial shoot. and a shoot-through umbrella. only without the budget. sometimes. Or. ^ Setup shot of the opening image. he prefers to team up with other creative people and work on a project that has all the characteristics of a commercial shoot (including a briefing). charged at commercial rates. he guesses that he could probably do 95% of his shoots to his client’s content with only one Speedlite. the budget would easily have exceeded $20. . It’s one of his mantras during his workshops and “Confessions of a Photographer” YouTube videos. but unlike doing “anything goes” or individual personal work.
there were quite a few hurdles to cross: the far wall of the pool was covered with black cloth. He gives the example of a professional photographer who makes all the pictures for the name badges of the employees of a local company. This picture oozes a cinematographic atmosphere that clearly reveals Bert’s background in this business. The sunburst in the water on the left is actually a Ranger Quadra. The light on the right is a flash in an underwater housing. Gear & technique: Canon 5D Mk II | 70-200mm 2. The other end of the cable was fitted to a drifting and waterproof OtterBox and aimed at a slave cell. which was in turn connected to a PocketWizard that triggered the Quadra.4 Four Interviews 4. set to slave mode. Bert came up with a fantastic idea: as his underwater housing could not accommodate a PocketWizard. The small aperture of f/20 on the Pen causes the starburst. No doubt. Triggered by PocketWizard Plus II . Bert shot this with an Olympus Pen. the company will just buy a camera and have the HR department take the pictures. In the last few years. Bert Stephani: Motivational Light – continued Technically.4. you have a choice between adapting to that changed environment or being overtaken by it. To trigger the Quadra. he attached a fibreglass cable to the housing in front of the built-in flash of the Pen. Bert has seen the industry change dramatically and as a photographer. The pro then has two choices: either whine about this sad evolution where “everyone and his dog have become a photographer” or be proactive and offer his services to train the HR department in making those pictures look their best and maybe even start to offer his training services to other companies with similar needs. The idea was to contrast the glamorous models with an environment you don’t get to see in the average Dubai promotional film—these streets are where the immigrant workers live. Bert had assistants ruffle up the dust on the street: it’s an old cinema trick to spread light—light hitting the dust gets reflected. ^ Shot during a workshop in Dubai.8L IS @ 200mm | ISO 50 | f/4 @ 1/160s | Two 580 EX II flashes at half power act as rim light. sooner or later. In between shots. as the underwater housings for this camera are relatively affordable. One 580 EX II at half power provides frontal fill light.
To be continued! images of completely different subjects in completely different surroundings.com Twitter: @bertstephani When your business environment moves outside the box.com Sites that Bert visits: jeanloupsieff. Bert Stephani: Motivational Light – continued Bert is a firm believer in working manually.4 Four Interviews 4.” Bert Stephani Bert’s website: bertstephani. a young American female photographer. For an upcoming “real” personal project. your strategic thinking has to follow. and it will be for some time to come. Bert’s “Confessions of a Photographer” BTS videos on YouTube: youtube.com (Sara Lee) . who used one flash and who managed to give a visual continuity to From using shower curtains to photographing jewels in a swimming pool to appreciating dom he likes to put in his own pictures. Bert finds the same freeWhen asked which other photographers’ work he admires. he wants to do “something with people that have a special bond with. with both his ambient and his flash settings.4. water. The second is Sara Lee.com vivantvie.. Bert points at two: Jeanloup Sieff. In her unconventional pictures of surfers. surfer’s pictures—water seems to be a theme in Bert’s work.. This allows him to fix one image in Lightroom and then sync the others with the same settings.com/bertstephani Bert’s DVD ‘Motivational Light’: motivationallight.
5.0 Conclusion .
I quickly set up shop again. In the French-speaking part of Belgium. To try out new techniques and experiment. and shot some of the best images of the day. unless noted otherwise. flash or no flash. to my fellow photographers for their insights. until I was inspired by the interview I did with Andy. Many thanks to all the models for their time and energy. there is a tradition of re-enacting the marches from Napoleonic times.be for logistical support and to Ruth for always being there. But most of all. I had just packed all my gear. It inspired me to do more personal work. Tom Museeuw.5 Conclusion I hope this eBook will inspire you not only on a technical but also on a creative level. it taught me all over again that. I sure know writing it and interviewing my colleagues inspired me. Some behind-the-scenes shots © Serge Van Cauwenbergh. the magic doesn’t happen if you don’t press the shutter. let alone bringing a flash. to the people of servix. I had never thought of going there to photograph. Images in the chapter 4 interviews copyright by the respective interviewees: Andy Van den Eynde. Jürgen Doom and Bert Stephani. to the great team at Craft & Vision for streamlining my meandering writing style. After a long and tiring day. All pictures (except for some manufacturer-supplied shots) in chapters 1 to 3 copyright Piet Van den Eynde. ready to return home when I noticed this scene. Hundreds of villagers from the villages “entre Sambre et Meuse” gather in these scenes. .
com Notice of Rights All rights reserved.com CraftAndVision. BC V6J 0A6 Canada info@craftandvision.If you liked this eBook. Exceptional Photography Education at Irresistible Prices .com Advanced Use of Off-Camera Flash PIET VAN DEN EYNDE craft & vision Pixelated Image Communications Inc. 29115 RPO South Granville Post Vancouver. you’ll love our library! Exceptional photography education for the ridiculous price of $5 at CraftAndVision. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form by any means without the prior written permission of the publisher.com Copyright © Piet Van den Eynde Editor & Publisher | David duChemin Production Editor & Manager | Corwin Hiebert Copy Editor | Susannah Rohloff Design & Layout | FiveGraphicDesign.
This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?