Sunday, February 21, 2010
A few more from CURE Thrift Shop. Wanted to do something more moody and less bright than the rest of the shoot. Found this little area with the dresser, mirror, and a big warm lamp and tried out something new.
Wanted to make it look like the lamp was the main light source and not like it was an artifically "lit" scene. Used the big softbox as an all-over fill light for the whole scene just to have enough light to make an exposure. Then used a flash on a stand with two CTO gels stacked to make a very warm light source which would act as the main light for our model. Put a grid spot over the flash to keep the beam focused and not allow the warm key light to fly all over the place and contaminate the whole scene. Mallory struck a few poses and that was that. Shoot was over!
Above is the setup shot if you're interested. Just click on the picture for more info!
Well that is it for the new shoots. You have seen it all. This winter weather is killing my motivation! I need to book some new shoots, think of some new concepts, and maybe even go shopping for a new camera...gotta run...'till next time!
Saturday, February 13, 2010
Hey, I understand. You don’t have any fancy camera gear. All you have is a camera and a flash. You stick the flash on top of the camera and that’s your lighting setup. Wait, you don’t even have a flash? You do have a camera, right? OK, good. But no flash. Well I guess you can shoot with just sunlight. Or just go buy a flash already! It will instantly make your pictures better, and will allow you to start doing some creative stuff with lighting. And no, the pop-up flash on top of your camera doesn’t count…you can’t aim it anywhere but right at your subject. Yuck. I am talking about a speedlight that mounts on the hotshoe on top of your camera.
Bouncing flash is one of the most basic techniques you can use. It is the quickest and easiest way to make a small flash act like a big light source, provided there is something to bounce it off of. How “soft” a light looks depends on the relative size of the light source in relation to the subject (wrote a little more about softness here). So that tiny flash on top of your camera puts out hard light, but when you bounce it off a big white wall it becomes a much bigger light source, and gives much softer light. How big depends on how close the flash is to the surface you’re using to bounce.
Light spreads out as it travels (unless you’re shooting with a ”LASER”). So let’s take a big white wall that’s off to your right side for example. Move in close and bounce the flash off it, and the light makes a three foot square impression on the wall. Move a few feet away and now the light makes a six foot square impression on the wall. The wall becomes the light source that is illuminating your subject, so the further you are from the wall, the bigger the impression on the wall, and the softer the light bouncing off it becomes. Of course, the further you move from the wall, the less powerful your light becomes. There is always a trade off between power and distance…so to overcome this, just increase the power of the flash.
This works with the flash you just bought and stuck on your camera just as well as it does with the fancy off-camera stuff that I am using. Hey, it’s the exact same flash! And if instead of a wall, you bounce the flash off say, a white garbage truck, you will get the images above and below. You can bounce off the ceiling, a wall, a big tent at an outdoor wedding, a truck, a door, a building, anything that is flat and white will work. Light picks up the color of the surfaces it bounces off of, so don’t use a green wall to bounce unless you want your subject to look like a Martian. And dark surfaces absorb light (that’s why they are dark!) so they don’t make good bounce surfaces either.
So bouncing light is a simple technique you can use in all types of situations. You don’t need much equipment, and your pictures will have some soft directional light that you have control over! (As usual, click on the pictures for the technical details.)
This is the last post from the video…and that’s because the video contest ends at the end of this month! So if you haven’t watched it yet, you can do so here. If you have watched it, send it to some friends to watch. Or sign in and leave a comment or a rating. Or leave a comment here. I like comments, if you couldn’t tell!
Sunday, February 7, 2010
Chris is a drummer from NJ. He was in need of some portraits to use for a new website and some self promotion—and as luck would have it, I was looking for a musician to make said portraits of! So we picked a day and a place and…
…it snowed! And not just a little bit either, something like a foot or so. Some people would have cancelled the shoot, citing such logic as “it’s too cold out” or “there’s friggin’ snow all over the place!” Not us. Both of us being manly men and all, we said “whatever” and did the shoot anyway.
I am glad that we did. Chris was a cool guy and we had a lot of laughs. I also had never shot portraits in the snow before, so I learned a few things. First thing I learned: fingerless gloves are a lifesaver. I’ve tried shooting in the winter without gloves and my fingers get so cold I can’t move them. I’ve tried wearing regular gloves and while my hands stay warm, I can’t press the camera buttons and feel clumsy. So get some fingerless gloves. You can tell your friends you’re into the whole boho thing, or that you are moving to the Lower East Side. Whatever you need to do, just keep those hands warm!
The second thing I learned is that the snow is really white. Like really, really white. Well, I kind of knew that already. All that white input to your camera’s built-in light meter makes the whole scene look really white. Your camera does what it is supposed to do; it sets the exposure so that the whole scene averages out to 18% grey. It takes that beautiful white snow and turns it grey and dark. How to fix it? Overexpose the scene by a stop or two. Shoot in manual mode or set the exposure compensation in aperture-priority mode to +1 or 2 stops. Take a shot and look at the histogram (that graph thing on the LCD). There should be a big bar all the way to the right representing the snow. As far to the right as you can safely get it without going off the chart, which would represent “blown” or “clipped” highlights. If you blow the highlights there will also be some blinking parts of the image on the LCD telling you that there is no data in those areas of the frame—just nuked pixels that will look like holes in the image. Now if you do this right, the snow stays bright and white and the person is exposed perfectly. Added bonus: The snow works like a giant softbox, adding soft light everywhere!
If the subject is still underexposed, a flash or a reflector will work to add some light. Now, if you want to recover some detail in the sky and have it look deep blue, only a flash will do.
The third thing I learned is just have fun. Shoot with cool people and you’ll get some cool shots. It’s almost a guarantee! I also tried some other techniques with the lighting. If you’re interested, click on the pictures to see the details in flickr. I don’t want to fill up the blog with all those boring photography details!