Saturday, December 31, 2011

Guitars at Long Island Photo Workshops

Back in August of 2011, I was teaching at the Long Island Photo Workshops. This is one of the many photos I took as demonstrations during the week. This was a three light setup with an additional bounce.

Let's take a look at the setup below to see how this shot was created.

As I mentioned, I used a total of 3 Speedlights for this photograph. The main or key was placed on a boom and the modifier is a Lumiquest Softbox LTp. I had my assistant Benny hold a 42" reflector to bounce additional light under the brim of the musicians hat. The other two Speedlights were wrapped with cinefoil or black wrap. The rear light was fitted with a full CTO and directed on the garage door just above the shoulder. This light not only adds some color to the image, but also acts as a separation light. The other Speedlight was directed to the tattoo on the arm.

Here is another photo from that same session.

Two Speedlights used here for this shot. On the left (Key Light) a straight hard light with no gel on the flash. I get a blue cast from this light because my white balance is set to Tungsten or Incandescent. On the right, another Speedlight place on the ground with a double CTO on the flash. A very cool shot with such little gear. Here is the setup shot for you to review.

By the way, if you would like to see a complete list of light gear it use you can see my public wish list at B&H HERE.

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

New SSBR Web Site

I'm excited to announce that I have redesigned my Small Strobes, Big Results web site. Actually, my wife Debbie is the one who did this for me.

You will also see that I am now selling my popular SSBR Umbrella Adapter Flash Mount on the site. For those of you that already own softboxes and are looking for a convenient way of mounting your flash, this will help.

Like a lot of you, I own several soft boxes and speed rings which fit my larger studio lights. I wanted to be able to use my existing boxes and speed rings with my small flashes without buying a new dedicated speedlight softbox. I use to use a Justin Clamp to mount my flash on my speed ring, this method added weight and was a bit clumsy.

The SSBR Umbrella Adapter Flash Mount is constructed of high grade extruded aluminum that has been anodized flat black and fitted with a high quality cold shoe. Mounting my speed ring on the top of my umbrella adapter allows me the ability to pitch my soft box for more controlled lighting. I find that this product works for about 99% of all flash and speedlight combinations. If you find your flash is too tall to fit into the center of the speed ring, you may need to pick up a taller stud to accommodate a proper alignment for your flash. Shown below are both the extended reversible stud height and the standard stud height. Like I said, I find the standard stud height that comes most umbrella adapters work 99% of the time.

I have also added 4 SSBR workshops on the calendar for 2012 here in Denver, If you would like to have a workshop in your area, feel free to contact me for more details.

Thursday, December 01, 2011

Which Direction Should I Light?

Ever ask yourself, "Which direction should I light from?" Paying attention to the existing light will give you your first clue. Lets take a look at the following photograph and I'll explain my process and choices for doing what I did. I have photographed in this same location several times, this time I remembered to shoot a set up to share with you.

When I look at the scene before me, I see a long bank of window which I can use as a out of focus as a design element as my backdrop. With the windows on the right side of the frame, it makes sense to me that I should light from the same direction. Doing so allows for a more natural looking light, basically duplicating the lighting pattern that exists.

Lighting choice are many here, I could place my subject in the hard light of an open window if that were the type of light I wanted. I could perhaps place a silk over the window and use the sun as my light source, the silk would act as a large softbox producing a soft quality light.

Space permitting, I could assemble a large softbox or just bounce my light. The day I was photographing, this company was having their board of directors meeting. There was a lot of traffic around the executive floor and the choice of a softbox would just impede movement through this narrow hallway. Bounce was the right choice, and as you can see, look quite natural.

In the photo below you can see the actual setup, I aimed the flash high on the wall about the same height I would have placed another modifier. Special notice should be taken when looking at this photograph. I have a flag or gobo on the far side of the flash, this prevents the light from the flash directly hitting the subject. I want all the light reaching my subject from the bounced subject. I bounced my light on a section of wall between two windows.

On this particular day, I had 3 additional lighting setups on the executive floor. You can see a small card taped to my flash reminding of the setting for this particular shot. I can walk over to the set, look at my note and set my camera to the proper setting.

The card actually serves two purposes, a note to keep me straight and it serves as a small flag preventing flare in my lens.

If you are interested in learning more about the world of corporate and annual report photography I have some great news. This summer, August 5-10th, 2012 I'll be teaching a workshop at the Santa Fe Photographic Workshops titled "Corporate Photography & The Annual Report". If you think you might be interested, contact the workshops at Santa Fe to secure a spot.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Nikon Video Shoot (Part 1)

I've got to be one of the luckiest persons on earth! Way back in June, I received a wonderful email from Nikon asking me if I would be interested in being involved with a project. I had was thrilled to have received that email, the project entailed me being video taped shooting 3 different scenarios for the Learn & Explore online training at Nikon USA website.

My first contact with Nikon came back about 14 years ago. I was in NY visiting clients and decided to make an appointment to show my work to Nikon. From that meeting 14 years ago, I've had minimal contact with Nikon. I was once featured on their website with a article about my work. Two years ago, I took part in a video interview with fellow photographer Steve Vaccariello while visiting Photo Plus in NY.

This project involved 3 separate photographic techniques; bounce, day for night and artificial sunlight.

The first photograph I'll discuss here will be the Saxophone player. This photo was taken on a street corner in NY in the middle of the afternoon in open shade. I was given several choices of doorways to select from, the production team of John Sepe was absolutely super. I selected these doors because of the color and the fact that they would be in open shade at 1:30 PM. I knew this because I use a software program (TPE) which tracks the sun movement.

In this first photo you can see the ambient exposure, this was what the camera metering thought was a correct exposure. As I tell my student when I teach, your camera is only a light meter, the exposure meter is between your ears. When I look at the indicated "correct" exposure the camera gives, I think to myself... this doesn't look like night.

I than drive down the exposure using both shutter speed and aperture to what I would consider an under exposed image looking more like night. I'm not moving my shutter speed above my native sync speed of 1/250 of a second, because I want full efficiency from my speedlights. If I move into high speed sync, I loose a tremendous amount of power from the speedlights.

Needless to say, I'm delighted to appear on Nikon's radar screen once again. This was a substantial project for me, one with high visibility for me and I hope it leads to more projects with them down the road.

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

It's a Matter of Security

Back in the summer while teaching at the Santa Fe Photographic Workshops, I was contacted by the President of Securitas Energy Service to shoot some new photography for them. After several weeks of moving dates around the calendar we shot the project.

Securitas is a huge security company, one of the largest in the world. I was shooting for only one of several divisions they have, I was shooting for the energy division. Securitas provides security for highly sensitive facilities like Nuclear Power Plants.

My assignment took me to Pittsburgh, PA and Sacramento, CA to photograph to nuclear plants. The Pittsburgh facility was an active plant and the Sacramento facility was a commissioned plant where fuel rods are still stored. It was my first time shooting at such a facility, it was fascinating to see let alone photograph.

The photo at the top of the blog was taken at the Sacramento facility, I noticed the strong graphic shape of the structure suports of the old cooling towers. I placed an employee in the triangle shape and had him walk, stand and various other things that I thought might work.

The photo just above was taken at the Pittsburgh facility. I positioned an employee alone the fence line on patrol. I also made several shots with him looking through a pair of binoculars and talking on the radio.

The photo below was taken at the commissioned plant in Sacramento. I liked the diamond shaped opening in the second story floor. I had John, my assistant hold an SB-800 directed at the security guard. You can see a very slight shadow of the employee against the wall from the flash.

I have several other photos from this assignment I'll be sharing in the weeks to come, many of which show some behind the scenes lighting done on location. I hope you'll come back for those. DT

Thursday, October 27, 2011

The Executive Portrait

I've been a corporate annual report photographer for a long time now. When you shoot corporate assignments, you need to feel comfortable shooting a variety of subject matter, you need to be versatile.

The photograph above was shot for a new client of mine. They had seen some portraits I did for another client of mine which appeared in an annual report.

When it comes to the executive portrait, I'm looking for a location that denotes a sense of power and confidence. Some of the corporate offices I visit are really nice and finding a location to photograph is not difficult. There are also times where the locations are a bit harder to find, as was the case with the photo above.

The location for this photo was in a realistically small conference room, there was bank of windows on the right side of the room. The conference table was a simple glass table with chrome and leather chairs spaced around the table.

I positioned myself at eye level with the table and arranged the chairs height and position in such a way as to guide the views eye to the subject. The light coming in through the banks of window on the right looked great and I felt that no other lighting would be needed for this portrait.

I've been on the road for about 4 weeks, shooting assignments as well as teaching. Over the next several posts I share some of those assignments with you. I will tell you that on of those assignments was shooting for Nikon. I spent 2 days shooting in NY for Nikon's Learn & Explore web site. I was video taped shooting 3 different photos, I'm looking forward to showing those to you soon.

I leave for Hawaii next Thursday for Popular Photography's Mentor Series. With the recent snow here in Denver, I can tell you that I'm looking forward to some nice warm weather. DT

Saturday, October 08, 2011

LED Camcorder Light

For the past several years, I've been carrying around an LED light in my photo bag. I actually own several, the lest expensive I've found has come from Gadget Brando. These are wonderful little lights that have a good amount of power to them. One nice feature is that these lights have an adjustable knob on them which allows you to dim light without shifting the White Balance.

I used one of these lights in the photo above. My assistant John was in the back seat in this mining tug next to my subject. John simply held the light as we were driving through the dark mine. I thought it to be a very useful light source as it provide a means for me to focus as well as enough power to shoot with. DT

Monday, September 26, 2011

Looking Into The Sun

Shooting into the sun can produce some very dramatic effects and present some difficult exposures for you. I use the sun as a design element, which plays an important part in the overall composition of the image.

An exposure from an image like the one shown above would most likely be something like, 1/250th @ f/22.0 at ISO 100. I really like getting that star effect off the sun, the only way to get this effect is to use a steep or deep aperture like f/22.0, f/16.0, or f/11.0. The steep or deeper the f-stop, the more the star effect.

The EXIF data on this image says that I shot this photo at 1/160th @ f/22.0. I used an SB-800 to lite my subject, and the flash way just outside of the frame of the image. If I am not mistaken, I think the flash was set to about 1/2 or 1/4 + 2/3. The flash had no modifier on it so it was a direct flash.

In the image above, my assistant John was on an adjacent tank on top with an SB-800. I used a Radio Popper to trigger the flash as I was not in line of sight of the flash. Often when shooting is strong sunlight, the CLS system falls short and a third party system is called for.

In the above photo, I had John stand next to me with a monopod extended in the air above the bent pipe with an SB-800 on it. From this position, I was able to use the Nikon CLS system to trigger my strobes.

I'm leaving for Europe today, I'll be giving 4 workshops in Austria and I also have a speaking engagement in Vienna for Nikon. I'm looking forward to this trip and I will try to post while on the road. Good shooting. DT

Monday, September 19, 2011

A Busy Few Weeks Ahead

I've been on the road quite a bit these past few weeks, and I have more travel ahead of me. I've been in East shooting stills and video for a new Oil & Gas client. This past week I was shooting in Pennsylvania, West Virgina, and Kentucky.

I was photographing various gas processing plants for my client, I visited 5 different plants on this trip. Shooting video is new to me, I was shooting mostly B-roll material with out sound. I actually had fun doing it, however I have no plans on developing it any further then the basics.

Here are a few images from this recent trip.

I'll be leaving for Austria next Monday, I have 4 workshops and a speaking engagement in Vienna for Nikon. I am very excited to be speaking to a large group of photography enthusiasts, let alone in Vienna. As I mentioned, I'll be holding 4 Small Strobes, Big Results workshops in Austria. You can find out more information about these workshop HERE.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Bay Area Nikon CLS Lighting Workshop Oct. 22&23

For those of you Nikon shooter, I'll be teaching a two day CLS lighting workshop in the Oakland bay area. I only teach a few of these workshops annually, and this one will be held on October 22 & 23rd, 2011.

I taught this workshop at the same location last year, we'll be shooting at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Union City/Oakland, CA. This is a great location to hold a workshop, we had a wonderful group of students and a super model for the two day workshop. Here are some of those images from our workshop last year.

We have a few spaces available at this workshop. For more information regarding this workshop and booking a spot for yourself, visit the Nikonian web site.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Cleaning Out The Cabinet

I'm cleaning out my lens cabinet and selling the lens that I no longer use. I have several well used lenses to select from, two of which are prime manual focus lens. I also have two AF lenses worth considering.

Here is a list of the lenses I'm selling, if your interested in any of these, send me a message. I'll be happy to forward a price and photo of said lenses.

Nikon 180mm f/2.8 ED manual focus lens

Nikon 85mm f/2.0 manual focus lens

Nikon 35-70mm f/2.8 AF lens

Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8 G ED AF-S lens

Sunday, August 28, 2011

SpyderCube-Not just your normal gray card

In my earlier post regarding DataColor Calibration, I discussed their product The Spyder LenCal™ Today I'd like to show you their SpyderCube™. The SpyderCube™ accelerates RAW processing in providing references to set the white balance, exposure, black level and brightness right from the start.

As the name suggests, it is indeed a cube. At the base of the cube there is a 1/4-20 thread or tripod mount and on the top, is a chrome ball with an elastic string for hanging it. With these to mounting options you should have no trouble placing it within your photo for a reference shot. I usually just have my subject hold it when shooting a portrait or I place it on an available level surface. The cube is made of a resin that is very durable, it's fade resist and the colors are not painted on but rather the actual color of the plastic itself all the way through. On each of the sides of the cube, you have all the relevant light information for the RAW adjustments. White Faces to define the highlights, Chrome Ball to measure catch light to analyse overexposed areas, Spectrally neutral 18% Grey Faces to measure color temperature and mid-tones in all lighting conditions. Black Face to define the shadows and the Black Trap to define absolute black. This is a wonderful reference tool to achieve accurate colors without trail and error in RAW processing.

I use Lightroom for all my RAW processing. I open my image in Lightroom and activate my warning buttons for under and over exposure, shown here in the red circles.

I first set my white balance by clicking my white balance eye dropper on the gray section of the cube, I choose the brighter one as represents my primary light source. I next adjust my exposure slider so that none of the high values are clipped on the cube. I then use the brightness to recover any changes to the mid-tones during the exposure adjustment. Finally, I use the black slider to show the black trap as a solid black. I have a screen capture showing this below.

Video on how to use the SpyderCube™ can be found HERE

When shooting portraits using a bounce technique, this SpyderCube™ is worth it's weight in gold. I the photo below, you see the bounce off the wall as well as perhaps some of the green carpeting off the floor. Using a tool like the SpyderCube™ will help you with obtain actuate color.

There are similar products on the market which I have used and own. Many of those products are linear in nature, the SpyderCube is a 3D object that reflects the main light at an angle and I really like the Black Trap at the base for absolute black measurement.

I believe it costs about $49 dollars, it's small, lightweight and easy to use.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Light it!

Light It: Is the How-To Magazine for Studio Lighting and Off-Camera Flash is the first digital photography lighting magazine from Scott Kelby and made exclusively for the Apple iPad. It features the industry’s top experts on photography lighting, studio lighting, small camera flash, portrait lighting, location lighting and more.

Scott Kelby has done it again, "Light it" is a beautiful magazine and I'm delighted to have been featured in this premiere issue. Thanks Scott for the opportunity and I hope I can take part in future issues.

You can download this App from iTunes. The Light It app is free of charge and so is the premiere issue, which boasts more than 50 pages of articles - featuring stunning "pinch and zoom" photographs, videos, and web links for a whole new reader experience. Light It is published 8 times a year and future issues will be available via the Light It app for $2.99 each. No subscription is required. Users can choose the issues they wish to download and back issues can be obtained instantaneously.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Datacolor Calibration

I recently got my hands on several Datacolor products and I wanted to share my thoughts about them with you. Datacolor is the global leader in complete calibration systems for printers, monitors and lenses. One of the most exciting calibration tools to hit the market in recent years is the Spyder LensCal™.

Until I actually measured the focus performance of my camera and lens combinations, I excepted my images as being sharp. The Spyder LenCal™ provides a fast and reliable method of measuring the focus performance of your specific camera and lens combinations. It allows you to obtain razor-sharp focusing or just check to see that your lenses are working at their peak performance.

You'll need to be shooting with a camera that supports and stores autofocus adjustments. Here are a few common cameras with such support.

Canon (50D, 7D, 5DMkII, 1DMkIII, 1DMkIV, 1DsMkIII, 1DIV
Nikon (D7000, D300, D300s, D700, D3, D3s, D3x)
Sony (A850, A900)
Olympus (E-30, E-620)
Pentax (K20D, K7D)

This clever devise folds flat for easy storage and has a 1/4 20 thread for stand or tripod mounting. I have calibrated each of my lenses & cameras combinations and I now have confidence that I have the sharpest images possible. For the small cost of $59.00, you can't go wrong. A few of my lenses required no adjustment at all. Here is a link to a video on how it works.

Once you know you have sharp images, the next logical step is to insure proper color calibration of your camera sensor, your monitor and then printer. Datacolor has you covered on this front as well. I have the Spyder Checkr™ to calibrate my camera and the Spyder3Studio SR kit for calibrating my monitor and printer. More about these tools in my next post. DT

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

I'll Try To Catch Up

This summer is passing by fast, I've been extremely busy shooting assignments as well as teaching at various workshops. The corporate assignments are coming in faster then ever.

One of those assignments put me underground in a gold mine in Nevada. I was shooting for a South African based mining concern. There operation is entirely underground, not the most pleasant places to create photos. One of the photos my client wanted me to shoot was an image of miners walking out of the mine shaft and walking through the mine.

This first set up shot was a test to see how much light could be produced from one SB-800 behind the miners before they came to the surface. I could not decide if I wanted to light the wall behind the miners or shoot the strobe straight at their backs.

In the first example you see my assistant John holding the flash pointed straight at the camera.

In the next picture, I had John point the flash at the back wall.

Between the two, I preferred having the flash pointing at the miners back. The final image is shown here.

I also photographed miners walking through the mine. The best way to shoot this sort of thing is to back light them. I used a mine vehicle with it's headlights on for this purpose. I'm showing both variations, I can't make up my mind if I like it cool or warm, your thoughts?

I'll show you more from this assignment in the days ahead. I did want you to know that there are still spaces available at my Maine Media Workshop in Rockport. I'll be teaching a location lighting class Sept. 11-16th. For more information regarding that workshop check out the Maine Media Workshops Web Site.

A few more things to tell you about. I'm headed to Austria to visit a good friend as well as teach a series of SSBR workshops. If your interested in attending one of my Austrian workshops, please contact my friend Eric HERE