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.