Thursday, April 29, 2010

Meter Your Ambient First

When I use artificial lighting in my photos, the photo falls into one of two types of scenario's. Either a studio type scenario or an environmental scenario.

A studio scenario is when the photographer contributes "All" the light in the scene and if ambient light is present, it play not part in the exposure what so ever. If I'm on location and I want to negate any ambient light, I will set my ISO to my lowest setting, set my shutter speed to it's highest sync speed and than drop my aperture.

When shooting an environmental scenario, one where we use the existing ambient light as a part of the overall exposure, I meter the ambient light first. I place my ambient exposure and than turn on the flash or flashes.

Let's take a look at the following example: During a recent SSBR workshop in Denver, I photographed Andrea in a narrow hallway. Reflected behind her is the existing ambient daylight of an adjacent hallway.

I first select my lens and f/stop (depth of field) and than meter the ambient light using the built in meter on my Nikon D300. I use my shutter speed to control my ambient light as I have already made a creative choice for my DOF. I place the ambient where I think I like it, I say "Where I think I like it" because once I turn on my flash, I often change my mind.

Andrea was lit using one SB-800 in a FourSquare from overhead and a Tri-Grip reflector just out of frame from below. Once the proper power setting is set on the flash for my chosen f/stop, I run my shutter speed up and down to finalize my ambient exposure.

I want to see choices in my ambient exposure, there is nothing worse than only having one choice. Your there, she's there, why not give yourself and your client a choice in the ambient density, it just takes a few seconds. DT

Monday, April 26, 2010

SSBR Vienna & London Workshops

Photopress-productions will be hosting a series of SSBR workshops this summer in Europe! I'll be conducting workshops in Vienna, Austria and London, England. I'll be in Vienna teaching July 9th, 10th, & 11th and in London July 13th, 14th, & 15th.

I'm excited to share my lighting workshop Small Strobes, Big Results with the European Continent. From looking at my Google Analytics stats, I have quite the following across the pond. Here in the States, the majority of my workshop sell out quickly. I hope you will join me and I look forward to meeting you there. For more information regarding my up coming visit and booking a spot in one of these workshops contact Photopress Productions.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Dallas PPA Speaking Engagement & Workshop

I'll be in Dallas May 11th speaking to the Dallas chapter of the PPA and holding a special SSBR seminar & workshop on May 12th. If your in the Dallas area I would love to meet you and hope that you will have the opportunity to come to both events. For more information regarding my speaking engagement visit the PPA web site. To register for either the 1/2 day seminar or for the full day workshop click HERE.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Doorway Softbox

If you've attended a Small Strobes, Big Results workshop, you know that I carry a light modifier which is "light weight" and "inexpensive"and one that I feel is indispensable. It is a simple piece of ripstop nylon material that I can use in all sorts of cleaver ways.

I can tape this material on to a wall to achieve a more color neutral bounce, or I can place this nylon material over a window where RAW sunlight is pouring through a window, turning it into a soft light source. Another way I use this material is to tape it to a doorway and shoot a light through it.

I like using long hallway settings for shooting portraits, it allow me to throw the background out of focus which give a nice sense of depth to the photograph. A lot of times however, the hallways are to narrow to place a light modifier on a stand or perhaps placing an effective bounce for the lighting your subject. By taping my nylon sheet into the doorway and placing a strobe be hind it, I effectively have made a Doorway Softbox measuring 3 foot by 7 foot.

I bought my ripstop nylon at a local fabric store for less than $12 dollars, pretty cheap modifier if you ask me. Here is the final image shot for my client.

I wanted to draw you attention to a few up coming events I'll be attending. On May 11th, I'll be speaking to the Dallas Chapter of the Profession Photographers Association, and than follow up with a one day Small Strobes, Big Results Workshop on May 12th in Dallas, TX.

On May 14th & 15th, I'll be in the Bay Area, Oakland to be exact, teach a two day lighting workshop for the Nikonian's Organization. This workshop is for all those Nikon users that want to get the most of their CLS system. We'll be shooting at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Union City, CA.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Saudi Portrait

Over the past several days, I've been editing down all my images shot over the past few months. I started with my Costa Rica trip I did for the Mentor Series, and I've just about completed my images from Saudi Arabia.

The portrait shown above was shot on the first day of my SSBR workshop. This portrait ended up requiring 3 lights to complete. I used 3 SB-800 strobes, the key light was an Octabox (about 57") places close to the subject, camera left, a rim light (SB with a CTO gel, fitted with a set of barndoors) placed to the right rear of the set. The final strobe was laying on the ground aimed at the folding screen which we used as a background. Here is a setup diagram for you.

My EXIF data tells me that I shot this with my 85mm f/1.4 on my Nikon D300, 1/250th of a second at f/2.8. The photo below show a bit of a change, instead of using a soft light source, we used a wide grid as our key light. You can see the quality of the light is harder, and that the key light is coming from the front right side.

In a matter of moments, you can offer your client two different looks. This is one of the many benefits I like about using small strobes, the ease of changing things up on the fly! DT

Friday, April 02, 2010

Nice To Be Home

To sleep in your own bed and to take a shower in your own shower is heavenly! I've had several days to relax and re-introduce myself to my family. I'm also very happy to be blogging once again, kinda missed it. Since January 27th, I've slept in my own bed 13 days. I have a lot of catching up to do, one thing is to clean my basement/studio. It seems every time I get home, I drop things on the floor, re-pack and head out again.

I want to revisit my Saudi Arabian workshop experience in this post. I going to discuss the set up and the execution of the following photo.

This photograph was taken in the late afternoon, but by no means was it even the slightest bit dark. This photograph was taken at about 4 o'clock in the afternoon in open shade. My intent was to create a "day of night" type feel to the photography.

At the Safwa sports facility where my workshops were held, there is a large soccer field with stadium seating. I used the stadium seats which were in the shade, to demonstrate this technique. Let's take a look at the progression of photographs below.

The first image on the left was my base exposure, basically doing exactly what my camera told me to do. My exposure was 1/250th @ f/4.5. and my color temperature was set to daylight. In the second image, I set my color temperature to a custom kelvin temperature of 3030*k. with the same exposure settings. The third and final image above is a deliberate under exposure
in order to place my shadow value. 1/250th @ f/9.0. Remember, any daylight contained in the photo will turn cool when the WB on the camera is set to a lower kelvin temperature than the actual source.

Next, I bring in my voice activated light stand (VALS). I used a single SB-800 with a full cut CTO (color temperature orange) gel on the flash. This CTO gel will render a neutral "normal" color light. I simply set the flash power to give me the f/9.0 that I had set on my camera.

I teach this and many other techniques at my workshops, whether it's a Small Strobes, Big Results workshop or teaching for other organizations.

I'll be teaching a two day workshop in the Bay Area for the Nikonian's Organization on May 14th & 15th. This workshop is designed for the Nikon user, I'll be teaching advanced lighting techniques using the Nikon CLS system. The workshop is being held at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Union City/Oakland, CA. More more information about the workshop and reserving your spot to attend, contact Nikonian's.

I think I'm going to take another well deserved nap! DT