We had a great time at our Saddleback workshop this last Saturday. Awesome group too! This was our third time at “The Refinery” a beautiful, rustic building within the Saddleback campus, with great brick walls and many other incredible features and backgrounds. A big THANK YOU to Jasmine and Travis, our terrific models, for their help, it’s so nice to have a great looking, “real” couple, to work with!
These images against the brick wall are in open shade. There is a high ceiling but it’s open and exposed to soft daylight. For all the images in this area, the diffused daylight worked as fill light. By itself it would be very flat lighting. Easy to expose and shoot in, but flat and uninteresting.
We used a variety of light sources and modifiers. We started with a Nikon SB910 speedlight in a large Westcott shoot through umbrella. It was triggered with PocketWizards Flex TT5 and Mini TT1 w/ an AC3 module. The AC3 module is the best feature of this system, in my opinion. It allows you to use your speedlight off camera on TTL or Manual mode. All the images were captured with a Nikon D3s and, except for the ring flash ones, with a 70-200 VRII 2.8 zoom. Mostly at around f3.2 to f 4. The images lit with the Profoto ring flash were captured with a 24-70 2.8 zoom at 70mm with an f 4 to 5.6 aperture. The shutter speed was around 180 to 200 and the ISO between 200 and 400.
The two images above were lit by a Profoto B1 with a medium Elinchrom Octa box. I prefer the larger Profoto Octa, but the Elinchrome boxes, with Profoto adapters, are a little smaller and much lighter. Well suited for location work when you don’t want to bring lots of weights and don’t have assistants.
Both these images were shot at about the same f stop, with a 70-200 mm lens. Notice that when you zoom in, and shoot tighter, the background renders more out of focus.
The two images above were lit with a “Mola Demi” Beauty dish on a Profoto B1. For the first image, with Travis’ shirt off, there was a “sock” on the beauty dish. It gave us softer light, for the image below of Travis with his shirt on, we removed the sock for more edgy light. We did a few of Jasmine (not shown) with the same set up, but with a silver reflector at the bottom for more fill. That’s called “Clamshell” lighting.
For the image above of Travis, we used the 5′ Octa with the Bi, on the left side, and a silver reflector on the right. For all these images on the brick wall, the outdoor light was coming directly to the front of the models (from the back of the photographer). The modifiers allowed us to place the main light where ever we wanted, adding direction and shadow for a more interesting image.
The two individual images above, and the 2 of both Jasmine and Travis below were lit with my newest toy; the Profoto Ring Flash. This is a fun tool, but like most professional gear, you have to work with it, and use it in the right environment, or background, to achieve specific results. The Profoto Ring Flash is rather expensive, the best always is, I’ve always wanted one, but couldn’t justify the expense. Especially when I don’t own Profoto Acute power packs.
As luck would have it, a photographer friend was selling this one at a very good price, but, it had been rigged to work with an old, off brand, battery pack. After doing some research with my Hollywood flash repair Guru, (email me if you want to know about this guy, he’s a genius!) I found out that it could be rewired to work with the Dynalite packs I already have… So, after making the conversion, adding a reflector and a new flash tube, the final cost was a fraction of a new one.
The best way to use a ring light is with your subject right against the background. It helps to have an interesting background of course. Since this is a completely manual flash, you have to set the power trough your power pack, in this case an 800 w pack. The least amount of power out of one head in that pack is about 25 w. About 1/2 the power of your average speedlight. You can affect the background exposure to a small degree with your shutter speed, and your subject’s exposure with ISO and aperture. Of course, you can also use an ND filter if you still have too much light output.
The signature look of a ring light is the harsh but even light and the ring shadow all-around your subjects. the further away from the background, the more noticeable the shadow. You have to work with it… In this case the reflector on the ring light made it a larger light source, that produced a softer shadow. And, the more ambient (fill) light, the less noticeable the shadow. It also helps to have your subject wear flatter make up than if you were using a less specular light source.
I made these images a little darker or lighter by changing my f stop slightly as I was shooting. And in post of course. Mirta did all the post on all the images in this post. I have to admit, she does a great job for us. I know the kind of image I’m going for, but don’t have the skills Mirta has to get it there and beyond. All the ring light images were made with a 24-70 @ 70mm on a D3s Nikon.
The three images below were done in open sun, with a cloudless sky. The first image shows the set up; first you take away the light you don’t want, in this case with a translucent panel, and then you add the light you do want. We’re using the Profoto B1 with the beauty dish, a very efficient modifier. This way you can balance the light on your subject perfectly with the background. Whether you want the building as the background or the sky. This was a teaching session, without much time for fine-tuning, a reflector or another softer light source on the lower right would have been nice, but I hope you get the idea…
One of the best features of the Profoto B1 is it’s ability to work on TTL. At first I didn’t think that was going to be very useful to me, but I’ve come to rely on it to get me in the ball park exposure I need, without too many test shots. And of course, being able to change the output of several B1’s from the camera is priceless, especially if they’re out of reach like this one is. The TTL exposure is incredibly accurate! I don’t know how they do that! I hear the same from Canon users.
The three images below were done against another great wall around The Refinery. Here we used a B1 with the Octa box, or a round 42″ silver reflector as the main light. We had great ambient fill off the concrete floor and the open shade. By now it was about noon. All three were shot with the 70-200 at around f 3.2 or f 3.5. The shallow depth of field, especially in the close ups, help separate the subjects from the background.
A big thanks to all that attended this class! I hope you enjoyed it… We’d love to know how you liked it, so feel free to leave us a comment. We’ll see you next time!