Monday, December 28, 2009

Let The Sun Shine

Here's another example of artificial sunlight demonstrated during the San Diego, Nikonian's lighting workshop. In an outside patio near the hotel pool, we had our model Amira stand near a wall where I was able to project interesting shadows on.

Here's a photo of the set up for this shot. I placed a Nikon SB-800 fitted with a full cut CTO gel in the pool area for this shot. The fence around the pool provided a nice pattern on the wall as well as the flooring.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

The Grand Mosque Abu Dhabi

At the end of my 4 days of teaching at the GPP in Dubai, I had the opportunity to visit the Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi. What a fantastic structure to photograph!

As a westerner who had never been to the middle east, I thought Dubai was going to have all those cultural things one thinks of when thinking of the "Middle East". Dubai is as modern or more so than New York or Chicago. Dubai has fancy buildings, large highways, and modern transit. Certainly not what I had envisioned prior to my arrival, I was hoping for more of a cultural experience.

After the 4 days of teaching at the GPP, I had the opportunity to visit the Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi. Abu Dhabi is a nearby emirate close to Dubai, it took about an hour and a half to drive there. Abu Dhabi is home to the third larges mosque in the world, the actual name of the mosque is the Shaikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan Mosque.

I had the opportunity to photograph the mosque in late afternoon light all the way to sundown. I also had the opportunity to photograph inside mosque after sundown. Here are some images taken on the outside of the Mosque.

Before entering the Grand Mosque we entered a sort of foyer which was grand in it's own right. This foyer had a beautiful chandelier hanging in the center of the room and marble flowers and vines on the walls. Just as I entered the foyer, a loud speaker crackled to life with the chanting of prayer. I'm including a short video here which shows that foyer and also captures the prayer being broadcast over the PA system. When I heard the prayer being broadcast, I knew I was in the middle east, I just love this.

Below are a few view of the interior of the Mosque, absolutely stunning!

Here are a few facts about this wonderful place. The mosque has 4 minarets, 7 chandeliers (cost 30 million AED), 1048 columns in the courtyard, The main dome is the largest in the world, 82 domes in the mosque, The Iranian carpet in the main hall was woven by about 1200 Iranian women, is 5000 sq meters and is the largest hand woven carpet in the world, made out of 35 tons of wool and cotton! Total cost about 2.1 billion AED.

Monday, December 21, 2009

If imitation is the highest form of flattery, I'm not interested.

Tradename infringement: Use of an identical or confusingly similar version of a tradename for identical or related goods or services.

This weekend it was brought to my attention that there's a photographer out there who is trying to capitalize on my Small Strobes/Big Results popularity and success.

My first reaction was anger. I've spent better than two years developing and presenting my Small Strobes lighting workshops to share what I've worked hard to perfect. I had a unique idea that I pursued and have used it to help other photographers improve the quality of their work. To think that another photographer would try to capitalize on my hard work by presenting his workshops with a name extremely similar to my workshops-- well, it was just beyond comprehension.

I visited his blog. Hmmm. Interestingly enough he chose the same template as mine. I'm seeing a pattern here.

Once the anger wore off, I started to question what kind of person would copy another's unique idea and present it as his own. Two answers came quickly to mind. One, the person could just be a common thief, stealing intellectual property for his own gain. The other, the person could lack the self confidence or motivation to develop his own unique idea.

Whatever the reason, I just want you all to know that I am NOT affiliated with any other small strobe workshops other than my own and the ones I present for legitimate teaching institutions such as Santa Fe Workshops, Nikonians, Maine Media Workshops, The Mentor Series, Light & Shadow, and others.

Enough said. You know who you are. Comments would be appreciated.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

I Just Love Bounce

Like many photographers, I carry a variety of light modifiers in my lighting kit. I carry everything from umbrellas, softboxes, grids and snoots. The largest modifier I carry is a 60" umbrella, when I need something larger I resort to a bounce.

Learning how to create an effective bounce is key when working on location. One of the most important aspect to a good bounce is flagging your strobe and preventing any direct light from reaching your subject. The only light reaching your subject should be from the bounced surface.

The photo above illustrate that point clearly. I used a foam flag attached to the strobe on the subject side of the flash. You can see the shadow on the carpet in the hallway, indicating that the strobe flag is preventing light from reaching our subject directly. The size of the bounce determines the quality of the light on our subject. The size of the bounce is certainly larger than the 60" umbrella I carry. I can light a wall to what ever size I choose. It's just not practical to carry a 12' X 12' modifier in my small lighting kit.

To round out the rest of the lighting, I added a slight hair light and a background blue gelled light down the hall.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

FourSquare™ Double Bounce Softness

During the recent San Diego, Nikonian's workshop, I demonstrated a wonderful feature of the popular FourSquare™. The hub of the system is the Square block that the 4 flashes attach to. One of the features of this block is that it has two umbrella shift holes to hold two umbrellas. Why two? Super Soft Light!

In the set-up shown above, I have one strobe on the FourSquare™ pointed into the 43" convertible umbrella that bounces the light back into a 60" shoot through umbrella. This is a very soft and wrapping light that I just love.

Here is a sample image of our model Amira from MM.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Brando Accessories Kit

For sometime now, I've been using an accessory kit for my speedlights made by This kit comes with a variety of modifiers to help you shape your light. The kit comes with a snoot, grids for snoots, large grid, 360* globe, barndoors, softbox and a reflector.

There are several pieces of this kit I like and other I could do without. I've been using the large grid quite-a-bit as well as the snoot with it's grids. You may remember the photo below from an earlier post, this photo was created using the larger grid from the Brando kit.
In this photo, you can see the flash and grid fastened to the ceiling.

Here is another photo taken last week in San Diego where students used the grid to light their subject.

I've used the 360* globe successfully to light a background that I wanted to knock out pure white.

The system is build around a fitted device which holds all of the modifiers in the kit. This collar fits snugly on the flash head, collars are made for all sorts of flash manufactures and you need to specify which flash you own when ordering.

Here is a photo showing all the modifiers shipped in the kit. I've found the softbox a bit hard to assemble with the small wands provide. The softbox also comes with several color front panels, blue, orange, red, green, and of course white.

The barndoors are a bit small and lame, I just use the one I have listed on my wish list at B&H. As a matter of fact, I have a complete list of items I like using listed HERE.

I haven't worked with the reflector yet, I'll let you know my thoughts about that later. Update: I went to JoAnn's and bought some fabric to put over the reflector and it seems to improve the quality of light. This complete kit costs about $85 bucks. If your looking for some cleaver light modifiers, you just might want to check this out. DT

Friday, December 04, 2009

Returning to Indianapolis, IN

Small Strobes, Big Results will be returning to Indianapolis, IN in 2010! Back in November of 2008 we had a fantastic workshop there, hosted by Paulina Osherov at the beautiful Stutz building in downtown Indy. This is a fantastic location, one of my favorites location to shoot at. Endless hallways, antique cars, dining and other unusual areas to photograph throughout the building. Here are a few images from our past workshop in Indy.

We've scheduled the workshop for March 11th & 12th. This will be a special 2 day Small Strobes, Big Results workshop. Besides the usual shooting with small strobes, I'll also be discussing solid business practices marketing and work flow methods that will keep you organized.

The last time we were in Indianapolis we sold out, leaving several people on a waiting list. Please don't let that happen to you, reserve your spot early. This two day workshop is priced at $625, put a 50% deposit down before Dec. 31st and your price will drop to $600. The balance is due by Feb 15th, 2010. If you're interested in attending, please contact me directly.

I am also setting aside up to 5 one-on-one portfolio reviews for an additional cost of $50 each. These will be a assigned on a first come first serve.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Dubai and Drive By Shooting

I have just completed my first visit to Dubai. I was teaching lighting and Corporate and Industrial workshops for Gulf Photo Plus, GPP. I want to thank Mohamed and his entire staff at the GPP for making me feel so welcomed. It was an honor and a pleasure to work with 4 other fine instructors I now know as friends. Bobbi Lane, Robin Nichols, Chris Hurtt and David Nightingale. This guy David Nightingale knows what his is doing when it comes to post processing! He has a wonderful blog that I would recommend visiting. I managed to squeeze in a few days of site seeing. One of those days was just driving around town to see the sites.

Dubai is an incredible city to visit, modern in every way. The architecture in this city is remarkable, each building you look at is fancier then previous one. Dubai is also home to the worlds tallest building, The Burj Dubai. Like any big city, traffic is a problem as well as finding parking spaces.

On the day of my departure back to the states, my new friend Esam drove me around town to see some of the sites. While Esam drove, navigating our way through traffic I sat poised in the passenger seat with camera in hand.

With the congested roads in the city center and convenient round-a-bouts, I was able to crack off a few images I really like. I shoot this photo of the Emirates Towers in downtown Dubia while stopped in traffic. I used the leading edge of the convention center to frame the twin towers. One of the towers is a hotel and the other is an office building.

While driving around the financial center, and circling a round-a-bout I noticed light dancing on the surface or roof of a metro station near by. I had Esam drive around the round-a-bout several times until I was able to get the following shot. I took three revolutions to get something I was happy with. Stopping would have been easier, however, security is tight is this area and photography is generally not permitted without permits.

Architectural details are fun to shoot, I look for juxtaposition and strong design elements to frame. I look for reflections in glass and repeating patterns where possible. Of course I would prefer to shoot photos like these using a tripod, however, with a steady hand, fast shutter speeds and a talented driver you can get some pretty nice images.

We did manage to stop the car and shoot around the Burj Dubai at sundown. I'll save those images for a later post. I also had the pleasure to photograph the Shaikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan Mosque in Abu Dhabi. This Mosque is the third largest in the world, I'll also save those images for a later post.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Work It While You Have Lit!

Several weeks ago I was in Philadelphia teaching a lighting workshop for The Nikonian's Organization. During the course of the workshop, I try my best to demonstrate as many types of lighting that I can squeeze during the time allowed.

For the following photos in this post, I was demonstrating artificial sunlight. I set up two SB-800 outside on tall stands, both fitted with full cuts of CTO's as well as Radio Poppers. The strobes were well outside of line of site and quite far from my camera position.

I think it's very important that you explore as many variation of your shot as possible. Your lights are set, why not try as many different poses and position of your subject as possible. In the short amount of time we had in this one location, I moved Diamandi to various locations within the set. Giving us and her multiple choices at the end of the shoot.

Listen, you've taken the time to set up lights, explore and work your situation too it's fullest.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Philadelphia Mentor Series Trek

I've just completed my third Popular Photography/America PHOTO Mentor Series Trek held here in Philadelphia, PA. I had a wonderful time, we had a great group of trekker's learning how to light.

This was the first Master Series on lighting offered by the Mentor Series treks. The workshop focused on learning how to use your flash, on and off your camera. We had two wonderful locations to photograph at, we shot at Eastern State Penitentiary and the wonder Longwood Gardens. We also had a private Double Decker bus tour photographing the city with plenty of stops.

What I failed to mention, was that the Double Decker bus had an open top. The evening we took the bus out, we had a little rain. Actually, a lot of rain. Undaunted by the rain, trekker's trekked on and created some great wonderful images.

We also had time to do a nice walking tour in the old section of Philly. Walking down the oldest street in Philadelphia I spotted a door decoration I just had to light. Using a single SB-800, we shot this as a group. If you have not been on a Mentor Series Trek your missing out. They do a wonderful job in organizing the Treks and they have wonderful locations to boot!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Santa Fe Workshops "Small Strobes, Big Results"

I'm excited to be returning to The Santa Fe Workshops for another "Small Strobes, Big Results" workshop. The workshop is February 21-27, 2010. Last years workshop was sold out, and I understand 4 spots are already taken for this years workshop.

If your interested in getting a handle on using your small strobes, this workshop is for you. If you think your interested in attending, don't hesitate to long I'm sure it's going to sell out fast.

Monday, November 09, 2009

San Diego Workshop!

If your a Nikon user, this workshop is for you! We have a few spaces left for the two day workshop in beautiful San Diego, CA December 1 & 2, 2009. This workshop is all about using your Nikon CLS system to it's fullest. I'll be teaching you how to create studio quality lighting on location. For more information and booking a spot for this workshop, contact Nikonian's.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Philly Nikonian's Lighting Workshop Results

What a busy week! I've been in Philadelphia for a week now and I looking forward to getting home. I started the week teaching a Popular Photography/America PHOTO "Mentor Series Trek", and the last 2 days of the week teaching a Nikonian's lighting workshop.

I must say, the Nikonian's workshops are a blast, we had a great group of people who left the workshop in full command of their flashes. During a two day workshop, you too can learn to master your flash!

I want to send a special thanks our model for the day, Diamandi! Thanks so much for your time and efforts during the workshop, you were a true delight.

The photo at the top of the post was the last image of the day. I used a small boom with a 43" shoot through umbrella with one SB-800. The background light was created using another SB-800 on a Justin Clamp and aimed at the back wall. You might think that I had a blue gel on this strobe in order to get the blue light on the background. Keep reading.

This photograph was taken way down in the basement of a fantastic studio in Philadelphia. I rented the Power Plant Productions Studios for the workshop, and if you ever need a studio in this past of the country give Jim Graham a call.

Rather then carrying all my gear down to the basement, we hand carried what we thought needed for the few shots we were doing. As I mentioned above, the main light was a 43" inch umbrella boomed over Diamandi. This flash had a full cut CTO gel placed over the flash head and my white balance was set to 3030* Kalvin (a bit lower than incandescent). With this combination, the light coming from the main light has a natural balanced look.

In order to get the blue cast on the wall, the strobe behind Diamandi had no gel on the strobe and therefore, turned blue due to the White Balance setting on the camera. One of the things that we did not carry down to the basement was a grid or some other light shaping tool for the background.

Out of pure desperation, I took the lens shade off of my 80-200 mm zoom lens, and placed it over the flash in order to shape the light on the back wall. You do what you need to do in order to make a shot.

Diamandi brought candles with here and they made for a nice effect in the photo. One of the students in the workshop, Roberta, took out here iPhone and played some music to set the mood. Here is a photo of the lens shade over the flash aimed at the back wall.

I'll post more from this workshop as well as from the Mentor Series portion of my week in the next several days. I have a busy schedule over the next few weeks and I will do my best to keep up the blog.... hang in there please. DT

Monday, October 26, 2009

More "We Deliver" Images

I've been working on an annual report which has the message "We Deliver" as it's theme. I mentioned this project several posts back, the one shooting the agricultural images from the San Luis Valley in Southern Colorado.

The annual report design calls for 4 specific full page spreads at the front of the annual. The size of the annual report is 8 1/2" X 11", and the cover is only about 7 1/2" inches wide. Under the this shortened cover are these 4 specific images each progressively getting larger by a 1/2" inch until the last image reaches the final size of the book of 8 1/2" inches. Here is a pdf of the design to help grasp the idea.

Each of these 4 spreads reveal a half inch of the right side of the image, the graphic designer and I had several discussions regarding how to handle that 1/2" inch reveal. During the design phase of the annual report, the designer had no idea what subject matter was going to make up these first 4 pages. We wanted the revealed area of each photo to be clean, lacking any distracting elements. I didn't want to cut someones face in half in the reveal or some other sort of distracting element, you know what I mean.

You can see from the example layout above the images that are revealed seem busy. My job is to smooth them out. As you open the cover to the annual, you are still able to view the additional 3 spreads.

And in the photo below you see the final image of the comp that was provided.

One of the images recently taken and discussed on this blog was the wheat field image. I believe that image, the one shown below will be the last spread of the 4 spread set. I just pasted in the text from the layout to give you the sense of what it would look like.

Part of this assignment took us to the small mountain community of Ouray, Colorado. Ouray is also known as the Little Switzerland of America. The town of Ouray recently changed all of it's street lights to LED lights, saving the town thousands of dollars of energy costs. Erik and I flew down to Montrose in the companies private plane and shot both the evening we arrived as well as pre-sunrise. Here is my favorite image from that shoot and how it might look in context.

The image below was shot last week in Taos, NM. This is a solar plant that provides power to a school next to the solar plant. I have other shots earlier in the morning I prefer, however, I think the client will opt for the one shown here with people in the photo. The two people in the photo are the local energy CoOp and a representative of the school.

I'm not exactly certain what the final image is going to be, perhaps a stock image I've previously taken at one of their many facilities.

I'll be in NY for the Photo East Expo, if you see me wondering around the floor on Thursday please say hello. DT