Sunday, January 25, 2009

Dobbs Ferry, Pt. 2

We all know Joe loves to use bunches of flash, but you know there is a real logic to it. Sometimes it is for shaping a subject, or crushing the sun, but more often than not it is to overcome the use of multiple layers of diffusion. You can see in the above image the we had 3 SB800s with diffuser caps firing into an umbrella then into a 3x3 Lastolite panel. Yeah, take that hard light triple diffusion! So how many stops of light are we loosing? My guess is somewhere around 3 as the umbrella was white not silver. So to maintain a nice working power and aperture we are looking at having to toss in more light.

Here he has the three SB800s mounted on the soon to be released Lastolite TriFlash

The thing I personally realized watching Joe work with all of his equipment is that to truly make images you need tools. I know everyone reading this blog is reading Strobist as well (and if you're not you need to). So it is easy to fall into always trying to use less or to make the tools ourselves. But after having an arsenal of tools on hand and at my disposal I'm now investing into more modifiers, accessories, and the like. If you are like me you hate spending money on this stuff. I don't know why I just do. I like toys that pop, are noticeable, and have that effect where you just sigh when you see them. You know, a new lens, a new body, a SB900. I mean when was the last time you got excited over a role of cinefoil or a reflector?

I guess the point of all this is to not over look our light shaping tools. And while we examine those think of the effect on the power of light you have. Do you have enough to triple diffuse your lights? If so do you have enough left over to hit your background or to kick in as some fill? I don't want this to seem like a call to buy more gear, but the right tool for the right job is key otherwise what you envision for your images will suffer in the long run. So invest your pennies wisely!

Monday, January 19, 2009

Dobbs Ferry, Pt. 1

What a fun day. Lot's of great people, and I can't speak highly enough of Joe and his entire staff. They know how to take care of their guests. So I'm going to spend the next couple of weeks digesting the mass of information that Joe was trying to cram into everyone's heads. The related posts, including this one, will not necessarily be CLS/AWLS oriented, but instead focus on the lessons of lighting learned. Which of course can translated into speedlights.

The above image of Jasmine was early in the day. The focus was the quality of light. And while this particular shot was using multiple Elinchrom units the issue of light quality has to be addressed regardless of source. What modifiers are you using, and more importantly why? We started with one umbrella, and worked it using reflectors for fill. It works, and works well when you put thought into how you are using that umbrella.

You have to think about your subject. Would you want to light a big tough biker in this light? Why not? What would you do differently?

On that note, I may start an assignment series a bit (OK alot) like Strobist. They will be more like thinking assignments. I'm not going to give you a step A, B, C, etc. I want you to develop your own solution. So keep an eye out for these over the next few months.

So to wrap up a long day I want to say thanks to the models with whom we would have to shoot Joe all day, Joe, his staff, Adorama for not just helping out today but for helping photographers everywhere (including Joe's Ground Zero collection) , and last but not least Bogen and Mark for some seriously cool toys (Mark I want a 3-way bracket!)

Thursday, January 15, 2009

On The Road....Almost

Traveling must be the theme for lighting blogs today. DH over on Strobist is heading out for Central America. Meanwhile back at the CLS cave I am heading out on the road tomorrow to NY for Joe McNally's Dobbs Ferry Workshop on Monday. Those of you who know me know that I am super stoked about this. I owe Joe a beer for judging the first CLS contest (And yes I am still disappointed in the turn out for that). So Joe, first one's on me. On to travel...

DH shows how to cram everything into a Domke F2 (I swear those things are magic)for a compact travel bag. Me, I'm driving and don't have to limit myself as much. So I am taking my normal case for speedlights and my backpack. Now any of you who are going to Dobbs Ferry got the same info as me which stated, "You may want to bring a small kit with a speedlight." Now I figure small is relative and since Joe owns more speedlights then the rest of the world combined, that this should suffice as small. I actually am not taking any stands or umbrellas. The folks at Adorama and Bogen have us covered and then some. But in the mean time if you are just getting into CLS or photography in general you need to give thought to how you are going to carry all of your stuff. And trust me you will get more stuff, followed by more stuff, and then not only more stuff but bigger stuff. So give it some thought and plan ahead.

As for Dobbs Ferry, I will diligently take notes, pictures, and report back next week. And if you are bored until then click the picture to see some notes on what all is in the case.

Friday, January 9, 2009

SB900 Unboxed, Finally

I had to wait, and the wait some more. But I finally purchased a SB-900. Now to just make some time to use it!


Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Gem Dandy!

I do have a day job, and so when the boss asks you to take photos of a 3.00ct sapphire what do you do? Well you have a reason to play with off camera lighting! I kept this real simple on purpose. However, I did come to the realization that I need a dedicated macro lens. Anyone want to chip in to the 105mm VR fund?

So this shot I used a piece of 8x10 glossy photo paper for the sweep. I decided to use just one light. A SB800 directly over the gem. I like the light fall of on the background, it adds a little interest and balances out the dark gem. So I shot at f/22 with not such a great lens for macro work. The flash was about 4 inches or so directly above the gem with the diffuser cap on. At f/22 ISO100 I had to set the SB800 to 1/32. Triggered with the D90's pop-up flash in commander mode set to "--". That easy. I could have added some white fill cards (More photo paper) on each side to bring up the edges. But I decided not to as the gem is actually very dark when you look at it in person, and it is going on E-bay. I just want it accurately represented.

So if you need a 3.00ct sapphire, keep an eye on E-bay over the next day or so!

Sunday, January 4, 2009

All Hail The Commander

Uh.....commander menu that is!

Gels Plus Filters Equals Cool

I like this image. It was pretty simple to get really. I had one strobe on a light stand with a blue gel off to the right. You can see the blue light. And another strobe with a full CTO from the same basic angle (maybe a little to the left) from where I was shooting. I had both on TTL. I used a Sigma 70-200 f/2.8 to get in tight. It is a great shot full of emotion and heart. But one cool thing I like to do when using this setup with different color gels is to apply some filters in post processing.

I use Capture NX2 along with Nik's Filter Efex Pro 3.0. I really like to convert images to black and white. I use the tonal compensation method. I simply slide the filter over to blue, adjust the brightness and contrast and you get something like this.

As you see it simply brings out the area where only the light coming through the blue gel hit. This is an easy way to get a nice back light or side light thing going. Give it a try sometime, sometime it's about what you don't light as well.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

CLS Basics, For the New User

The first installment of CLS video is for the new user. When I say new I mean way new. If you have stumbled upon this blog, and you are wondering what you need to make CLS work these videos are for you. I know these videos are really basic, but that was the point! I really want the folks who are still wondering what CLS is to have some basic information to arm themselves with when deciding on what to buy.

I hope these help the newbies out there. Welcome to CLS!

Lesson One:

Lesson Two: