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Case study: the 2 minute studio

Today’s case study is actually from an impromptu photoshoot for a new collection, but it was done so fast and easily that the techniques can be applied to a wedding as well.
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ISO 400; f8.0; 1/200 sec at 55mm

Two lights were used here: one was on the bride from left, bounced off an umbrella; the other was pointing at the background from the right.

I often bring a small light stand and a white umbrella for this kind of set up. Because of portability, strobes are the ultimate choice for getting the job done. You can essentially have a small studio like this quickly set up within two minutes if your assistant is familiar with your lighting gear.

In summary:

  1. have a small light stand and white umbrella on hand just in case. If time permits, you can have a studio set up in almost no time at all.
  2. train your assistant well, save yourself a lot of time and hassle.

 

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CASE STUDY – TTL Flash + CTO

 

This was an instant moment so I had to react quickly. I had a CTO (Color Temperature Orange) gel on my flash, which was attached to my camera via TTL sync cord and held slightly above camera right:

D3M3805web

I quickly exposed for the girl’s hair which gave me 2 full stops below current surrounding exposure — accentuating the sky and giving it a dramatic effect. The bonfire in this case almost serves as a backlight; highlighting our subject’s hair. There is a little mischievous play here with her expression and dark bon-fire lit environment.

 

Use of CTO on flash is very useful. It matches the environment of the scene like we see herel therefore giving a natural feel.

 

When using TTL don’t forget to set your focus point on something that is not totally black or white. It will prevent the flash from overexposing or underexposing.
TECH SPECS: ISO 800; f/6.0; 1/80 sec; 24mm

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Case Study: F8 + Walking back

I always say that the way I shoot and the resulting style depends on the couple in front of me. The couple in today’s case study is young and fashion oriented, therefore I shot with more of an editorial feel than a traditional e-session:

kssingcouple

Here, I’m slowly walking backwards to keep an ideal distance between the couple and I. My flash is attached to my sync cord as I extend my flash above my head and hold the camera below my waist under-exposing by 1 stop.

It sometimes pays off to walk with the subject and shoot simultaneously. This gives much more dynamics to the image when done properly.

Also, by using TTL flash on your main subject, you are free to experiment with depth of field. Here I shot at f/8 because I wasn’t looking to the viewfinder while I was walking backwards. At f/8 it assures that the image is in focus throughout most of the frame.

ISO 400; f/8.0; 1/25 sec at 24mm; Flash with an amber gel

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Lighting Aesthetics

Today I’ll discuss some images I captured a few seconds apart, shot in exactly the same corner. One of these images was shot with flash, the other two with available light. None of these images are worse or better, they are only different aesthetics.

I’ve said before that there is no bad light, only the light that tells your story. With one light you can tell your story one way, with another light you tell your story another way. It all comes down to what the message is and the desire of your client, so these things must be taken into consideration when choosing which light to use in your overall aesthetic.

These are the images I shot with available light:
available1

available2

And here is the one I shot with flash:

flashcolor

It is important to note that not much actually changed between the two sets of images except that when I used flash, I cut the ambient light completely by increasing my shutter speed so that the only light captured came from the flash itself. I used a gel on my flash to produce the yellow light, which adds another type of color to the scene and gives a sense of warmth that blends well with the colours in the background.

This case study demonstrates how completely we can take control of our final image so that light becomes a secondary issue and the message we aim to convey can be our primary concern.

Also, the images shot with flash were basically done instantaneously, with very little set-up. The first shots were done with available light, then my assistant held the flash. All I had to do was raise the shutter speed and then two seconds later I had a completely different image.

For my taste, I think the lighting with flash works a little bit better than available light because it gives it that manly look to our model, a sense of masculinity, harsh light…The light comes in from the side, and actually the shadow on the wall adds a little bit of a dimension. So in this particular case, I think it works a little bit better than the ones with available light, but then again, it depends on the client and what you want to show.

If this was some sort of a catalogue thing then the type of lighting achievable with available light would probably have been better. If it was a fashion shoot, then obviously the lighting with flash gives more energy.

Finally, have a look at the black and white version of this image:

flashbwbw

 

For me, most pictures shot with flash convert better to black and white. Flash gives it that extra pop. If we convert a similar image shot with available light into black and white, it might not look as interesting.

I have a few more other shots with moving light and different angles we can look at in a few days time.
See you then!

~Michael

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Bruce Gilden on Judging Photography

While I’ve only recently become acquainted with photographer Bruce Gilden, what I’ve seen has impressed me. If you haven’t heard of him, you’ll want to check him out.

Gilden is a photographer who uses off camera flash to do close up portraits of people on the streets and he is one of the edgiest street photographers I’ve yet to encounter.

I just found Gilden’s show on VICE where he does photo critiques and it is a very interesting parallel to how I judge and how we judge in the wedding industry.

When we judge at WPPI, our conversations are very much like “OK, look at this hand – where it is… Look at her posture – how she’s moving, where she looks… Look at the overexposed parts, look at the underexposed parts…” and paying special attention to these kinds of details.

Watching Gilden judge is refreshing because he doesn’t seem to pay attention to any of those things.

He talks about emotions, he talks about the message, the concept and not a single word about posing or exposure. He even gives the blurred image some thoughts and describes how it could work if it were in the context of 50 or 100 of similarly blurred images – that it could be a complete body of work, perhaps one that even a book could be made out of.

I’m linking the video here so you can see what I’m talking about:

YouTube Preview Image

What do you think?

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