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Author Archive

Bounce flash photography and dark ceilings

With the tutorials here on how to bounce flash, the questions inevitably come up – what if there is nothing to bounce your flash off? What if there are dark ceilings? Well, these limitations do affect how I use flash at events – but I still work according to a few set guidelines that give me the best results with bounce flash.

I bounce my flash into the direction that I want to come from, regardless of whether there is a white wall or ceiling. It really is all about the Direction of Light.

I also shy away from using any of the on-camera plastic diffusers or flash modifiers. I rarely use any other light modifier than the Black Foamie Thing.

These are topics we have discussed before:
– Bounce flash off a dark ceiling
– Wedding reception lighting with one flash

Now, there are times when I have to resort to off-camera flash to help augment the on-camera flash, and sometimes when I have to rely on just the off-camera flashes to be able to capture the event. Difficult venues where on-camera bounce flash just isn’t plausible.

This recent wedding took place in a venue with a wooden ceiling – but worse than that, there were wooden beams which really didn’t reflect much light … and still, my first approach is to see how on-camera bounce flash would work.

You can see how the beams here would create deeper areas where the light just isn’t reflected when you bounce flash. In the background, and to the right, you can see that there were strips of white areas to the ceiling. This just complicated things.

With times like these, I revert to manual bounce flash, rather than the customary way of using TTL bounce flash. The TTL exposure is too erratic in this scenario – I suspect that so little of the pre-flash is returned (that the camera uses to determine TTL flash exposure), that the camera just can’t give a proper TTL exposure. It was the case here with the Profoto A1 flash (B&H / Amazon) that I was using.

I ended up using full manual power on the flash to be able to get f/3.2 – f/3.5 @ 3200 ISO here when bouncing off the wooden part of the ceiling. When I moved to where the flash would bounce off the white part of the ceiling, the exposure would then completely blow out. There TTL flash would make it easier again.

This is where the Profoto A1 flash (B&H / Amazon) came in really handy. Not only does it have a bit more power than the regular top-end speedlights, what helped me was how easy it is to flip between manual flash and TTL flash. Just the slider switch on the side. No need to go into the menu to toggle the setting. Just slide the switch up or down to either TTL or manual flash, depending on where I was in the reception room.

This did mean that I had to continually check where I was bouncing my flash – but this has become second nature, since I am always considering the direction my light has to come from.

The Profoto A1 is also superb in allowing me to repeatedly fire full bursts of flash without the flash overheating.

Here are a few more of the results:

I did use the  Black Foamie Thing here as my on-camera flash modifier. Not so much because it would control the direction of my flash, but to not blitz people in the eyes with such a strong beam of light.

 

Photo gear used during this photo session

 


On-Camera Flash Photography

On-Camera Flash Photography – revised edition

This book is explains a cohesive and thorough approach to getting the best from your on-camera speedlight.

Particular care was taken to present it all with a logical flow that will help any photographer attain a better understanding of flash photography.

You can either purchase a copy via Amazon USA and Amazon UK, or can be ordered through Barnes & Nobles and other bookstores. The book is also available on the Apple iBook Store, as well as Amazon Kindle. Also check out the Amazon Kindle store.

Learn more about how the cover image was shot.


 

Summary

In a sense there is nothing new here about bouncing your flash – rather it is an affirmation that keeping to specific ways of approaching lighting, gives a look that is consistent with the style of photography that clients see on my website. That becomes important – creating a look that clients can expect when I photograph their events. Also, bounce flash photograph is really easy – and give superb results if applied with some thought … even when it seems near-impossible.

 

Related articles

 

Video tutorials to help you with flash photography

If you like learning by seeing best, then these video tutorials will help you with understanding flash photography techniques and concepts. While not quite hands-on, this is as close as we can get to personal instruction. Check out these and other video tutorials and online photography workshops.


 

The post Bounce flash photography and dark ceilings appeared first on Tangents.

Nikon D850 medium RAW files soft?

In the review of the Nikon D850 camera, I noted that this near-perfect camera had one major flaw for me – the medium RAW files appear soft. For event work or any kind of volume work, the massive full RAW file is just too much overhead, whether in storage or processing time. I need a RAW file in the 20-24 megapixel range. The medium RAW file of the Nikon D850 (B&H / Amazon) would have been ideal – allowing me to shoot the majority of work as medium RAW, and occasionally flipping over to full-size RAW.

I have had several photographers contact me to say they just don’t see the same results as I had. One of the things that I take pride in with the Tangents blog is that I want everything that I show and explain, to be real and stand up to scrutiny. That’s one of the motives behind this website – with the Flash Photography Tutorials, I wanted to be able to show the results from the techniques, and not just make big claims or grand-stand, as you often see on photography forums or in Facebook groups. I want the material to show in consequent way, what the flash photography techniques can achieve. The same goes for everything throughout the site.

In testing resolution of a lens, I am mostly guided by how sharp a person’s eyelashes are rendered. That helps me decide if something is really sharp … or just adequate. It works for me, but it isn’t exactly a neutral, scientific test.

The idea that I might be propagating a false idea that I found the Nikon D850 medium RAW files to be soft, pushed me to finally buy a lens resolution chart – this one. It is made by AbelCine. More about it on their FAQ. There’s still a learning curve for me in properly interpreting the info to be gleaned from it. But at least, there is now a less subjective way of comparing results. (That thing is expensive, so expect to see it more often here on this site!)

 

 

I took photos of this in the studio, using 4 cameras:

  • 45 mpx; 25mpx …  Nikon D850  (B&H / Amazon)
    The example shown below is with the camera set to medium RAW, and processed with ACR.
  • 20mpx …  Nikon D5  (B&H / Amazon)
    The example shown here is with the 20 mpx image rezzed up to 25mpx so that the size is the same.
  • 24 mpx … Nikon D750  (B&H / Amazon)
  • 36 mpx as 25mpx … Nikon D810  (B&H / Amazon)
    I shot with the D810 in the 1.2x crop mode, which brings the 36 mpx down to a more manageable 25mpx which we can then compare. I had to move the camera slightly back to get the same framing.

All these were shot in the studio using studio lighting, with a Nikon 105mm f/2.8 micro lens set to f/8.  That lens at f/8 is really, really sharp. I shot this at a distance of around 12 ft to the board.

Here are 100% crops of approximately the same area of the processed JPGs of the RAW files.  I tried to match the framing as closely as possible.

What I looked at – the sharpness of the lettering, as well as the sharpness of the two areas marked 9.5 – the softness might not be dramatic, but it is there.

Now specifically look at the larger area with concentric circles marked as 7.5 – the D850 medium RAW file doesn’t show this as perfectly concentric. There is some weird artifacting happening that will affect detail. The other three cameras don’t show that.

To my eye, the Nikon D750 looked sharper than the Nikon D850 medium RAW file. The 25mpx crop of the Nikon D810 looks sharper than the medium D850 file. The uprezzed Nikon D5 file still looks a touch sharper to me than the medium D850. With the superior focusing of the Nikon D5, and the superb high-ISO noise, this is till my first choice as a workhorse camera.

 

 

 

 

Summary

There are the results in a more tightly comparable format. Whether the differences are enough to swing you either way, is personal choice. I wanted to be wrong about this – in so many respects the Nikon D850 (B&H / Amazon) is as perfect a camera as you can possibly get. But there it is. As mentioned in my original review of the Nikon D850, it convinced me that I needed another Nikon D5  (B&H / Amazon).

 

Related articles

 

The post Nikon D850 medium RAW files soft? appeared first on Tangents.

Flash Photography workshops NJ NYC

Photography Workshops in NJ / NYC  (2018)

Here are the dates for the group photography workshops for 2018.
There is the regular workshop on flash photography with speedlights, and two workshops on studio lighting.
Then there are the 3 dates where we will do the Photo Walks in New York again.

As always, there is the possibility for personal workshops and tutoring sessions which can be tailored to your needs and to your schedule.


Flash Photography Workshop with Speedlites

The fee for the full-day workshop is $600 and the workshop is from 9am to 8pm. Lunch and refreshments are included!

The workshops are limited to 6 people, so that I will be able to attend to everyone. There will be two models with us. The workshops will be held at my studio in Little Falls, NJ. The tempo is relaxed – I want to make sure everyone benefits, and will be a stronger photographer at the end of the day.

The flash photography workshop for 2018 will take place on:

  • July 15, 2018  (Sunday)  –  NJ

For more details and to book a spot: Flash Photography Workshops.

 

Photo Walks in NYC

With the NYC Photo Walks, we will photograph a model around a colorful, interesting parts of New York City. The group will be limited to just 4 photographers, so it won’t be crowded. We will also work at a relaxed tempo, so that I can attend to everyone and help everyone get amazing images. There will be an assistant to carry and hold the light for us. We just get to shoot and have fun! Here is a recap of a previous photo walk which took place along Brooklyn’s East River waterfront.

I will provide the Profoto B1 flash, and will have enough Nikon, Canon and Sony wireless TTL triggers for the Profoto flash so that everyone can shoot individually.

The $200 fee for the 2-hour photo walk is due at the time of registration.

  • May 27, 2018  (Sunday)  4-6pm  – Brooklyn Waterfront
  • August 26, 2018  (Sunday)  4-6pm – Brooklyn Waterfront
  • October 28, 2018  (Sunday)  4-6pm  –  Brooklyn Waterfront

For more details and to book a spot: Photo walks in NYC 

 

Studio Lighting Workshop

If you’ve been curious about getting to know more about studio lighting for portraits, but it all seems too daunting or technical, then this Studio Lighting Workshop is for you. The program is aimed at being is a learning experience where you get to use studio lights and light modifiers. After this workshop, I want you to feel comfortable next time you step into a studio, knowing you have a solid place to start from, and have the confidence to experiment further.

The workshops will be held at my studio space in NJ, and it has a wide range of studio lighting gear! It is easily accessible from New York as well, and we can fetch you from the local bus terminal. There is also free parking at the studio.

  • April 22, 2018  (Sunday)
  • November 18, 2018  (Sunday)

For more details and to book a spot: Studio Lighting Workshops.

 

Personal workshops & tutoring sessions

If you would like an individual workshop, or a personal tutoring session, those are available as well throughout the year, depending on both of our schedules. The studio is only 17 miles from Manhattan. Just a short hop from New York and quite accessible by bus. Oh, and there’s parking at the studio. Free parking.

If you are limited in how far you can travel, there are Skype sessions and also video tutorials to help you get a much better understanding of photography and lighting techniques.

 

 

The post Photography workshops (2018) appeared first on Tangents.

How to set up wireless flash with the pop-up flash

In starting to use off-camera flash, there are some minimum pieces of gear we need. Such as this gear list – starting out with off-camera flash. We don’t necessarily need to buy radio triggers immediately. Many new cameras with a pop-up flash, has the ability to have the pop-up flash be a master to optically trigger a slave flash. This is especially helpful if you are on a budget. Later on, when the limitations of optical slaves start to hamper us, can we look at buying radio triggers.

Radio controlled wireless triggering of a flash allows the photographer to not be concerned with line-of-sight between the camera and the remote flash. So that is the ideal. However, using the camera’s pop-up flash as an optical trigger is a useful intermediate step for us. And it also works in a pinch, even if you have radio triggers.

The camera can be set up so that the pop-up flash acts as the master controller, and through a series of light pulses that we can’t distinguish with the human eye, control a slave flash. Normally we would set the pop-up flash to not add to the overall exposure, but just trigger the slave. The slave flash then is the one illuminating our subject, whether as direct flash, or used with an umbrella or softbox.

These three tutorials for various cameras show how we do it in the menu of the camera, and in this example, the Canon 580EX II flash. If you have a different camera and flash – and you most likely do – these tutorials can still help, since the setup remains quite similar for most cameras.

 

 

 


 

This video tutorial is one in a series that originally appeared on the Clickin’ Moms website in 2012, but licensing has now reverted back to me, and here we are – a tutorial that might be dated in terms of some of the gear used, but the principles remain the same. In conjunction with all the other articles about off-camera flash photography, these videos should make a good primer on the topic of off-camera flash.

For a more up-to-date list of gear for off-camera flash, start with this: Gear list – Starting out with off-camera flash

 


Off-Camera Flash Photography

Off-Camera Flash Photography

With this book, I wanted the material in the book to flow as a truly accessible introduction to off-camera flash. The techniques here are within the reach of everyone.

As always, the aim was for those aha! moments when things become clear and just makes sense. And then, hopefully, inspire the readers of the book to see how easily off-camera flash lighting can expand our photographic repertoire.

You can either purchase a copy via Amazon USA or Amazon UK. The book is available on the Apple iBook Store, and Amazon Kindle.


 

Video tutorials to help you with flash photography

If you like learning by seeing best, then these video tutorials will help you with understanding flash photography techniques and concepts. While not quite hands-on, this is as close as we can get to personal instruction. Check out these and other video tutorials and online photography workshops.

The post How to set up wireless flash with the pop-up flash appeared first on Tangents.

Video tutorial: Manual flash settings

One advantage that the larger speedlights have over the smaller speedlights – aside from more power – is that they show the distance the flash can reach for the specific settings. This video is a continuation of the off-camera flash tutorial series. What is described in this video is also written out in more detail in this article: Practical tutorial: Controls for manual flash exposure. If manual flash seems confusing, then I would recommend checking that article out as well, and then look at this video tutorial on manual flash settings again. It should all fall into place then.

The gist of this video, and this tutorial: Controls for manual flash exposure, is that the controls for flash exposure are all inter-linked. Manual flash is controlled by 4 things:  Power, Aperture, ISO, Distance.  (We can use the acronym ‘PAID’ to remember them.)

Now, if you have correct flash exposure, as you change one of those settings – Power, Aperture, ISO, Distance – you have to control one of the other settings to keep to correct exposure.

Or, the counterpoint to that is, if your exposure is under / over, then you can change one of those settings to affect the power to get correct exposure.

What this video explains is how the back of the speedlight tells you exactly what you need to know – how the change in power affects the distance (for a chosen aperture & ISO combination.)

If this doesn’t quite make sense yet, work through this video and that linked article on manual flash – while you have your camera in your hand! It definitely needs the practical hands-on visual to see how this is interconnected.

If you bounce flash though, then this all changes. The above is for the flash pointed directly at your subject.

 

This video tutorial is one in a series that originally appeared on the Clickin’ Moms website in 2012, but licensing has now reverted back to me, and here we are – a tutorial that might be dated in terms of some of the gear used, but the principles remain the same. In conjunction with all the other articles about off-camera flash photography, these videos should make a good primer on the topic of off-camera flash.

For a more up-to-date list of gear for off-camera flash, start with this: Gear list – Starting out with off-camera flash

 


Off-Camera Flash Photography

Off-Camera Flash Photography

With this book, I wanted the material in the book to flow as a truly accessible introduction to off-camera flash. The techniques here are within the reach of everyone.

As always, the aim was for those aha! moments when things become clear and just makes sense. And then, hopefully, inspire the readers of the book to see how easily off-camera flash lighting can expand our photographic repertoire.

You can either purchase a copy via Amazon USA or Amazon UK. The book is available on the Apple iBook Store, and Amazon Kindle.


 

Related articles

 

 

Video tutorials to help you with flash photography

If you like learning by seeing best, then these video tutorials will help you with understanding flash photography techniques and concepts. While not quite hands-on, this is as close as we can get to personal instruction. Check out these and other video tutorials and online photography workshops.

 

The post Video tutorial: Manual flash settings appeared first on Tangents.

Video tutorial: TTL fill-flash

 

This video tutorial on TTL fill-flash settings, is the visual counterpart to this article – Flash Exposure Compensation (FEC). Whether you use on-camera bounce flash, or off-camera TTL flash as in this off-camera flash tutorial, you will need to adjust your FEC to control the amount of TTL flash you get. Adjusting the FEC allows you varying degrees of fill-flash. This video and the article on flash exposure compensation explains a sequence where you get to compare how different levels of fill-flash affect your final photograph.

Also check out these related articles for concepts mentioned in this video:

  • Using the histogram to determine exposure
    Our initial exposure is based on metering off the white clothing. This gives us a baseline exposure where all the other tones fall into place accordingly.  This technique works for available light and for manual flash.

 

 

This video tutorial is one in a series that originally appeared on the Clickin’ Moms website in 2012, but licensing has now reverted back to me, and here we are – a tutorial that might be dated in terms of some of the gear used, but the principles remain the same. In conjunction with all the other articles about off-camera flash photography, these videos should make a good primer on the topic of off-camera flash.

For a more up-to-date list of gear for off-camera flash, start with this: Gear list – Starting out with off-camera flash

 


On-Camera Flash Photography

On-Camera Flash Photography – revised edition

This book is explains a cohesive and thorough approach to getting the best from your on-camera speedlight.

Particular care was taken to present it all with a logical flow that will help any photographer attain a better understanding of flash photography.

You can either purchase a copy via Amazon USA and Amazon UK, or can be ordered through Barnes & Nobles and other bookstores. The book is also available on the Apple iBook Store, as well as Amazon Kindle. Also check out the Amazon Kindle store.

Learn more about how the cover image was shot.


 

Video tutorials to help you with flash photography

If you like learning by seeing best, then these video tutorials will help you with understanding flash photography techniques and concepts. While not quite hands-on, this is as close as we can get to personal instruction. Check out these and other video tutorials and online photography workshops.

 

The post Video tutorial: TTL fill-flash appeared first on Tangents.

Off-camera flash tutorial – Off-camera flash on location

Continuing on from the previous off-camera flash tutorial, we explore balancing ambient light with off-camera flash. With this video tutorial, we use a speedlight in a softbox, and we look at using TTL flash. There is a certain simplicity when we work with TTL flash in a non-static situation – we allow the technology to help us get to proper flash exposure quickly. More about this in the article on Manual flash vs TTL flash.

We start off just using the available light for a few headshots of our model, Anelisa. The next step would be to control how bright our background appears in relation to our subject, using off-camera flash. In TTL mode we do this with our camera settings for the ambient light … and our TTL flash follows that. We can of course adjust the brightness of our TTL flash with Flash exposure compensation.

We also look at how a longer focal length allows us to compress the perspective and minimize the visual clutter of a busy background.

 

This video tutorial is one in a series that originally appeared on the Clickin’ Moms website in 2012, but licensing has now reverted back to me, and here we are – a tutorial that might be dated in terms of some of the gear used, but the principles remain the same. In conjunction with all the other articles about off-camera flash photography, these videos should make a good primer on the topic of off-camera flash.

For a more up-to-date list of gear for off-camera flash, start with this: Gear list – Starting out with off-camera flash

 


Direction & Quality Of Light

Direction & Quality of Light

I wanted to distill the essence of what we, as photographers, work with – light! Before we can truly grasp on-camera flash and off-camera flash, and really, any kind of photography, we have to be aware of the direction and quality of light. We need to observe the light that we have, and then decide how best to use it, or enhance it.

With this book, I try my best to share those “aha!” moments with you, and I do believe this book can make a difference to your photography.

The book is available on Amazon USA and Amazon UK, or can be ordered through Barnes & Nobles and other bookstores. The book is also available on the Apple iBook Store, as well as Amazon Kindle.


 

Video tutorials to help you with flash photography

If you like learning by seeing best, then these video tutorials will help you with understanding flash photography techniques and concepts. While not quite hands-on, this is as close as we can get to personal instruction. Check out these and other video tutorials and online photography workshops.

 

The post Off-camera flash tutorial – Off-camera flash on location appeared first on Tangents.

Off-camera flash tutorial – Balancing flash with ambient light

In the previous off-camera flash tutorial, we started at the elemental level where we did not have to consider ambient light. This helped us in understanding a few of the basics. Ultimately though, where off-camera flash will be used most, is on location where you have to consider the ambient light as well. With this tutorial video, we look at how we would go about balancing flash with ambient light.

With this segment, we cover the essentials such as:
·  Using maximum flash sync speed.
·  Flash exposure compensation when using TTL flash.
·   Manual flash vs. TTL flash
·   Using a hand-held light meter to determine (manual) flash exposure.
·   Adjusting your speedlight’s power according to the light-meter, to get correct flash exposure.
·   And always, that acronym, PAID: Power, Aperture, ISO, Distance.

 

This video tutorial is one in a series that originally appeared on the Clickin’ Moms website in 2012, but licensing has now reverted back to me, and here we are – a tutorial that might be dated in terms of some of the gear used, but the principles remain the same. In conjunction with all the other articles about off-camera flash photography, these videos should make a good primer on the topic of off-camera flash.

For a more up-to-date list of gear for off-camera flash, start with this: Gear list – Starting out with off-camera flash

 


Off-Camera Flash Photography

Off-Camera Flash Photography

With this book, I wanted the material in the book to flow as a truly accessible introduction to off-camera flash. The techniques here are within the reach of everyone.

As always, the aim was for those aha! moments when things become clear and just makes sense. And then, hopefully, inspire the readers of the book to see how easily off-camera flash lighting can expand our photographic repertoire.

You can either purchase a copy via Amazon USA or Amazon UK. The book is available on the Apple iBook Store, and Amazon Kindle.


 

Video tutorials to help you with flash photography

If you like learning by seeing best, then these video tutorials will help you with understanding flash photography techniques and concepts. While not quite hands-on, this is as close as we can get to personal instruction. Check out these and other video tutorials and online photography workshops.

 

The post Off-camera flash tutorial – Balancing flash with ambient light appeared first on Tangents.

Off-camera flash tutorial – Flash with no ambient light

This tutorial about off-camera flash, is one of the segments in a series on how to use off-camera flash in a simple scenario – where there is no ambient light. This is a good introduction to the topic. In the next tutorial video, we will consider how we go about adding off-camera flash when we work with ambient light.

With this introduction, we cover the essentials such as:
·  Basic gear you would need for off-camera flash.
·  How we decide on our settings – in this case, it is really easy. We decide what aperture and ISO we want to use, because we don’t have to take ambient light into account.
·  Flash exposure is controlled by 4 factors:  PAID = Power, Aperture, ISO, Distance.

 

This video tutorial is one in a series that originally appeared on the Clickin’ Moms website in 2012, but licensing has now reverted back to me, and here we are – a tutorial that might be dated in terms of some of the gear used, but the principles remain the same. In conjunction with all the other articles about off-camera flash photography, these videos should make a good primer on the topic of off-camera flash.

For a more up-to-date list of gear for off-camera flash, start with this: Gear list – Starting out with off-camera flash

 


Off-Camera Flash Photography

Off-Camera Flash Photography

With this book, I wanted the material in the book to flow as a truly accessible introduction to off-camera flash. The techniques here are within the reach of everyone.

As always, the aim was for those aha! moments when things become clear and just makes sense. And then, hopefully, inspire the readers of the book to see how easily off-camera flash lighting can expand our photographic repertoire.

You can either purchase a copy via Amazon USA or Amazon UK. The book is available on the Apple iBook Store, and Amazon Kindle.


 

Video tutorials to help you with flash photography

If you like learning by seeing best, then these video tutorials will help you with understanding flash photography techniques and concepts. While not quite hands-on, this is as close as we can get to personal instruction. Check out these and other video tutorials and online photography workshops.

 

The post Off-camera flash tutorial – Flash with no ambient light appeared first on Tangents.

recap: Studio photography workshop NJ / NYC

A small group of people met up with Anelisa and myself in my studio for what turned out to be the first Studio Lighting Workshop of the year. On the drive home afterwards, I decided to add another 2nd date this year, for a workshop on Nov 18th. The format of the workshop depends on it being a small group of people – everyone gets time to photograph our model. But more importantly, everyone gets time to hands-on, adjust the studio lights.

In the morning we go through the building blocks of lighting. Short Lighting & Broad Lighting. The main lighting patterns that we’ll end up using – Loop Lighting; Butterfly Lighting; Rembrandt Lighting. We look at large light sources and smaller, harder light sources as we use a variety of studio lighting gear. If you are curious about the range of lighting gear that we can use, here is the listing in the Studio rental page. A huge selection.

In the afternoon, we look at various images that I have compiled from an inspiration folder of work from other photographers – and then we figure out how to reverse-engineer the lighting. Analyzing photographs like this is a great exercise in figuring out what we can do with studio lighting gear.

 


 

 

The main photo at the very top is one of the results we came up with, in using a hard light source – a bare studio flash. We flagged this with a black board to create that hard line for effect, splitting the light on our subject into a lit area and a dark area.

Here are the pull-back shots to show the set-up. There is a Profoto B1 flash  (B&H / Amazon), that is flagged by two pieces of black paper to make it an even smaller light source. And then we have the hard, dividing line created by the larger black board that is hanging from the C-stands.

There is a Profoto D1 studio light (affiliate) with a large Profoto RFi 3’x4? softbox (affiliate),  that is lighting the white paper backdrop. You can see the bottom part of the softbox in this photo below.

 


 

 

In another segment of the workshop, we played with gelled flash, similar to how it was described in this article – Using gelled flash in the studio.

One aspect I like to accentuate, is how our position as a photographer, also influences the way the light plays on our subject. In these two photographs we go to a Chiaroscuro effect (on the 2nd image), simply by stepping to our left.

Two Profoto B1 flashes (affiliate) were used here. The one on the left was gelled with turquoise gel. The flash on the right had the large Profoto 1’x6’ gridded strip-box (affiliate), which controlled the way the light fell.

 


 

Photography workshops

 

 

Related articles

 

The post recap: Studio photography workshop NJ / NYC appeared first on Tangents.

One Perfect Moment – wedding photography

I have opinions. This time, wedding photography. Greg Riccardi, one of the top wedding and event videographers in north Jersey, asked me a few questions in this interview – my start in photography, as well as what a bride and groom should look for in wedding photographers. He also asked me about trends I may have noticed in wedding photography.

My business name is One Perfect Moment for specific reasons. The name is derived from Henri-Cartier Bresson’s ideal of the decisive moment. That slice of time when everything just comes together perfectly for an image that resonates with the viewer. The other reason, as you can see from the video titles, is that everyone struggles to spell my name correctly. ‘One Perfect Moment’ is so much easier.

I want to expand a little bit on my off-the-cuff replies. I mentioned that there is a trend away again from details-heavy coverage. This isn’t something that affected my own style or approach. It is an observation on the influence of wedding blogs and wedding magazines, which tended to feature detail heavy coverage in their articles. This is because these magazines and blogs act as idea-reservoirs for their audience – the prospective brides. I have noticed a trend with photographers where there is a kind of push-back against this – that it is more important to capture people and moments which help relive the emotions of the day, rather than focus so much on the wedding reception details.

The part of the wedding day that I enjoy the most as the photographer, are the romantic portraits with the bride and groom. I feel this is one aspect of the wedding where the photographer can really show a distinctive style.

I also try to look for sequences of images. This especially helps us connect as the story-tellers of the day.

An easy example would be this sequence from Tressa & Tyler’s wedding. I made the road trip up to Wisconsin to photograph their wedding, and the best way to describe this is to say that the entire bridal party were characters! So much laughter from everyone there. This sequence is from the toasts at the reception where Tyler’s other brother took over, regaling everyone with anecdotes. Tressa’s expression says it all.

 

Related articles

 

The post One Perfect Moment – wedding photography appeared first on Tangents.

Best fill-flash settings

The best fill-flash settings can be summarized with this one idea – we want to better expose our shadow areas. While this will depend on the situation and also personal taste, we are going to walk through some scenarios and get to a wider understanding hopefully of what we want to achieve with our fill-flash. But essentially, that is it – we want to lift our shadow areas to approximately the rest of our subject … or scene. There is some wriggle room in interpreting that idea of ‘correct exposure’, but in this article we will get to a better of understanding of what we want to do, and how to get there.

The photo above of our model, Scharmarie, is a good example. We had the sun setting to our left (with her back to the sun), and some low storm clouds rolling in. Her face would have been in shadow, and would have appeared too dark in a photograph without fill-flash.. So we had to lift the shadows to a level where it suited our intentions with the final photograph.

When we think about what might be our best fill-flash settings, we need to understand that there is a whole range of ratios in which we can balance available light with flash. We could range anywhere from correct ambient exposure with just a touch of fill-flash … all the way to where we under-expose the ambient light, and use flash to give us the correct exposure.

There are of course numerous possibilities inbetween those two scenarios. None of which are particularly more ‘correct’ than the other ways we match flash and available light. For simplicity of explanation though, it is easier to describe the two ‘extremes’, and hopefully this will make it easy for us to figure out the in-between scenarios … where we mix some flash with the available light, and still get good lighting and great exposure.

This range of scenarios we deal with, are discussed in this article – Balancing flash with ambient light.

Now, when we talk about ‘fill-flash’, we’re usually describing the scenario where our ambient exposure is correct, and we’re just lifting the shadows with a hint of fill-flash. Or maybe a little more. Just enough for our best choice for fill-flash.

At the extreme end of this, we need to know how to overpower bright sunlight with on-camera flash.

In previous articles we have discussed: on-camera TTL fill-flash. This article on Flash Exposure Compensation (FEC) is a step-by-step workbook on how to get to the best settings, depending on the look you want. If you’d like to know a short-cut setting, then FEC setting of -2 EV or -3EV should do it. But go through that article on FEC to get a better understanding.

That was for on-camera TTL flash. Going with off-camera flash, the thought-process would be very much the same. There are some crucial difference in using TTL flash vs Manual flash. The techniques are related, but there is some slight change in our approach with any of those choices.

We have covered off-camera TTL flash before, so with this article then, we are going to achieve our best fill-flash settings using manual off-camera flash.

 

The photo above, with fill-flash. The photo below, without.
Let’s have a look at how we got to our camera and flash settings:

For anyone who wants to know the best fill-flash settings, you have to think in terms of your ambient exposure first and foremost. That is your starting point – correct exposure for the available light. Then you can add flash to it. But just a touch of fill-flash. In other words, “best fill flash settings”, would revolve around your camera settings for correct (or close to correct), ambient exposure.  And then adding a touch of flash to even out the shadow areas or lift the contrast.

Using the camera’s built-in meter, and doing a test shot or two (without flash), I found that 1/180 @ f5.6 @ 100 ISO exposed the ocean and beach well. The tonal levels looked good. Scharmarie, our model, was in shade, so she was a bit under-exposed. This is where the off-camera fill-flash would step in.

The question then is, how did we get to the flash settings?
The better flashes on the market will tell you on the flash’s LCD screen what aperture you should set your flash, depending on the distance (and ISO and flash’s zoom setting.)

Set your flash to manual, and then select an output – perhaps 1/2 power? The flash should tell you what distance you need to have your subject for correct flash exposure. Now change your flash’s power setting to get to the correct distance that your flash is from your subject. Simple as that.

Let’s say that you find that for f/5.6 you need to set the flash power to 1/4 power (for that specific ISO and flash zoom setting.). Now, if you need less flash, change the power down by a stop to 1/8th power. Or 1/16th. That would be -1EV or -2EV “flash compensation” comparable to using TTL flash. Except that the manual flash is more consistent than TTL flash.

This article – getting the most power from your flash – discussed this from the point of view of figuring out what distance you need to be at with your flash at full power to get correct exposure in bright light. It is a similar thought-process for other scenarios too. If your flash doesn’t show you the power / distance relationship, then you will have to figure this out by using the guide number of your flash. Similarly, this article applies the same ideas: the Sunny 16 Rule & Flash Guide Number. These concepts are inter-related.

With this pull-back shot, you can see that we used bare flash, so the power setting shown on the back of the flash would have given us the proper settings. A softbox or any kind of modifier would change the effective power of our flash, making the readout on our flash useless … and we would have to rely then on other methods to get to correct flash exposure – perhaps the histogram, or better yet, a hand-held meter.

Oh, don’t be distracted by there being 3 flashes on that monopod – there were three photographers, and I rigged this so that all three of us could shoot simultaneously, without affecting the other.

Details & photo gear (or equivalents) used during this session

 


Off-Camera Flash Photography

Off-Camera Flash Photography

With this book, I wanted the material in the book to flow as a truly accessible introduction to off-camera flash. The techniques here are within the reach of everyone.

As always, the aim was for those aha! moments when things become clear and just makes sense. And then, hopefully, inspire the readers of the book to see how easily off-camera flash lighting can expand our photographic repertoire.

You can either purchase a copy via Amazon USA or Amazon UK. The book is available on the Apple iBook Store, and Amazon Kindle.


 

 

Summary

To make complete sense of this, you will have to sit with your camera, and your flash on your camera, and see how changing the aperture and ISO, will affect your flash output. And conversely, how changing the flash power will change the distance.

In finding that balance between aperture / ISO / distance / power, you will see that you can control your flash output as your ambient light changes. It is all easily under your control. Taking the flash off camera, is then the next easy step.

 

Related articles

 

Video tutorials to help you with flash photography

If you like learning by seeing best, then these video tutorials will help you with understanding flash photography techniques and concepts. While not quite hands-on, this is as close as we can get to personal instruction. Check out these and other video tutorials and online photography workshops.

 

The post Best fill-flash settings appeared first on Tangents.

Using gelled flash in the studio

Shooting in the studio with Brian and Anette to do promotional portraits of their band, Cut Like This, this one sequence was really fun to shoot. The images directly out of camera had impact already with the swath of blue light against the wall. The lighting is fairly simple – I used a gelled flash to get that color effect. The flash, a Profoto B1 flash  (B&H / Amazon), was bare, with just the turquoise gel taped over it. The main light (to camera right) was one I often use when I want that interesting combination of soft light that is still dramatic – a gridded stripbox.

Using a gridded stripbox as the main light is such a simple technique, but is also very flexible – depending on how you swivel or rotate the light, the light spills in completely different ways on your subject and background. It took just a few minutes to set this up, and the first test shots already showed we were on a winning idea again here. More about the lighting setup and technical details below.

One thing to note, is that the shutter speed used was quite slow for the studio: 1/30th. This slow shutter speedway chosen so that the LED lights on his guitar would register. It took a test exposure or two, to find the right balance where the light from the flashes blended nicely with the bright LED lights. Because these LED lights are continuous lights, the shutter speed will affect the exposure directly (white not affecting the flash exposure .) There will of course be some ambient smearing of these LED lights, but that doesn’t distract.

If you are interested in attending a workshop on Studio Lighting, there is one coming up this April, to be held at my studio in NJ.

Camera gear (or equivalents), and lighting gear used

This pull-back shot shows the placement of the two light sources. On the left, a bare Profoto B1 flash  (affiliate) with a turquoise gel. On the right, another Profoto B1 in a Profoto 1’x6’ gridded strip-box  (affiliate). The grid on this large stripbox helps control the light. The splash of light on the background behind Brian, is from the top of the gridded stripbox which was close to the wall.

 

A few more images of Brian and Anette with the same lighting setup. I left the final image with the lighting gear (and studio environment) as a kind of pull-back shot again to show where we were.

And finally, the Facebook banner image they created from this session:

 

Related articles

 

The post Using gelled flash in the studio  appeared first on Tangents.

An occasional muse

It is exactly 8 years today, March 21, since the first time I photographed Anelisa. She responded to a casting call for someone to model at one of my photography workshops. She had a magical quality and was supremely photogenic … and since then Anelisa has been my occasional muse. She is usually the first one that I contact when I need a model at a workshop. I posted photographs from that first session in this article – Effective on-location portraits. Over time I have worked with Anelisa numerous times, and she has also appeared on the cover of two of my books: Direction & Quality of Light, and the revised edition of On-Camera Flash Photography.

The photo at the top is one of my favorite photographs of her. It was taken during a photography workshop in New York. I was explaining Short Lighting vs Broad Lighting, and how this applies to available light photography, as well as studio lighting, as well as off-camera flash. The photo was taken using available light only, using an 85mm lens – my favorite portrait lens on location when you need to show some of the environment.

 


Direction & Quality Of Light

Direction & Quality of Light

I wanted to distill the essence of what we, as photographers, work with – light! Before we can truly grasp on-camera flash and off-camera flash, and really, any kind of photography, we have to be aware of the direction and quality of light. We need to observe the light that we have, and then decide how best to use it, or enhance it.

With this book, I try my best to share those “aha!” moments with you, and I do believe this book can make a difference to your photography.

The book is available on Amazon USA and Amazon UK, or can be ordered through Barnes & Nobles and other bookstores. The book is also available on the Apple iBook Store, as well as Amazon Kindle.


 

Being a great model, in my opinion, has less to do with unusual beauty, and more to do with personality. The indefinable spark. Being a great model relies on the person being able to project something. I think that the best models tend to be actors in some sense in that they project something into the photograph – a look, a feeling, some emotional gesture. Something that the viewer can connect with in some way.

For me, the best models that I have worked with, have one thing in common – they take direction very well. Even if their posing skills are on point, I might still want to micro-adjust a gesture, or a hand. Or rotate their body ever so slight. The best models can do this – slight changes, without changing the pose itself. I’ve experienced models that “do their own thing”, and keep moving. While this works in some situations where you might want something more fluid in movement, it most often is counter-productive. A model needs to know how to hold themselves … and then slightly change the pose if needed.

More details about this photo – Shutter speed, Aperture and ISO.

 


 

These two photos might well be my favorite photographs that I have taken of Anelisa. They were taken during one of the sequences for the review of the Profoto B2 flash. Part of what I love about this photo above is that, aside from very minor skin retouching, it is straight out of the camera. That’s the way it looked at the time. The unusual effect is simply due to the shallow depth-of-field of the Sigma 35mm f/1.4 DG lens (B&H / Amazon), used wide open.  And of course, the lighting is with the Profoto B2 flash  (B&H / Amazon).  You can see more photographs in that review article, as well as the BTS view of the Profoto B2 review photo session.

 

 


On-Camera Flash Photography

On-Camera Flash Photography – revised edition

This book is explains a cohesive and thorough approach to getting the best from your on-camera speedlight.

Particular care was taken to present it all with a logical flow that will help any photographer attain a better understanding of flash photography.

You can either purchase a copy via Amazon USA and Amazon UK, or can be ordered through Barnes & Nobles and other bookstores. The book is also available on the Apple iBook Store, as well as Amazon Kindle. Also check out the Amazon Kindle store.

Learn more about how the cover image was shot.


 

 

While this is slightly self-indulgent, I wanted to post this as a minor celebration of a long-term working relationship with a wonderful model and friend. And of course, I look forward to many more such photo sessions and workshop experiences with Anelisa. More to come!

  • Other articles on the Tangents blog with Anelisa.

The post An occasional muse appeared first on Tangents.

How to bounce flash

An elegant portrait of a delightful young woman, Supriya, taken at her Sweet 16 party. With events there isn’t always the opportunity to use involved lighting setups, and to keep the interest of your subject, you need to shoot fast. Yet the results need to look top-class. For this I most often revert to on-camera bounce flash. How to bounce flash – this is a topic we have covered thoroughly here with previous articles. This time I want to I want to highlight an aspect of that – the direction of bound flash – and this is best served by showing a correct and less-than correct examples for comparison. For more tutorials on the topic of bounce flash photography, check the links to related articles at the end of this article.

There are a few things which have to come together for successful portraits – the expression of your subject; the lighting, and the context (or background). This is very similar to the checklist for portrait photography on location. Some things just need to come together to predictably give you best results – and these are exactly the same three factors that were discussed there for great portraits on location … and they remain true for any aspect of portrait photography, whether indoors or outdoors. Or whether it is an event or a photo session with another intent.

When these factors come together – and they should, if you have any control over the photo session – then you are most likely going to get superb portraits. Predictably.  And that is important when you aim to have a recognizable style – you should be able to easily recreate a look and feel which is consistent with the greater body of your photography work.

That first element – your subject’s expression – might not be entirely under your control always, but there is much that depends on your demeanor and approach as a photographer. Some of that has been discussed in this article: People skills for portrait & wedding photographers

Now, about the lighting used here – I used on-camera bounce flash. It’s a simple technique which, when used correctly, can give you studio-quality lighting on location.

 


On-Camera Flash Photography

On-Camera Flash Photography – revised edition

This book is explains a cohesive and thorough approach to getting the best from your on-camera speedlight.

Particular care was taken to present it all with a logical flow that will help any photographer attain a better understanding of flash photography.

You can either purchase a copy via Amazon USA and Amazon UK, or can be ordered through Barnes & Nobles and other bookstores. The book is also available on the Apple iBook Store, as well as Amazon Kindle. Also check out the Amazon Kindle store.

Learn more about how the cover image was shot.


 

Most of you will already know that I eschew most of the on-camera light modifiers that are available on the market. The vast majority of them will work against you getting the best results that you are capable of. Just use simple bounce flash. But somehow people want to spend money to try and solve a lighting problem, instead of considering the underlying lighting principles – Direction & Quality of Light.

Here is a video comparison between various light modifiers for on-camera flash. It will go far in explaining why I avoid most light modifiers. In summary – I want to avoid any tell-tale signs that I used on-camera flash.

Here are two photos – the first one is one of my earlier shots of Supriya, but I had bounced my flash too high up. This caused too much contrast, and shaded her eyes. Not flattering. You can also see that the shadow of her nose blends with her lips. That’s not good either. The beauty of digital photography is that instant feedback which allows you to correct your lighting.

Lowering the angle at which I am bouncing my flash – probably about 30 degrees or so up from horizontal, allowed the light to come in from a more pleasing angle. I also turned the flash so it didn’t bounce at such an angle away from her. This more conservative way of bouncing the flash, gave much better results. And this is how we continued shooting the sequence of photos here.

That is essentially it – find the best direction in which to bounce your flash. You want to bounce your flash into the direction from which you want your light to come. Not necessarily the ceiling or a wall. You need to consider the direction which you want the light to come from. That is where you will bounce your flash into.

Here I might have used the infamous Black Foamie Thing, and probably had it on my flash, but it wouldn’t have had a specific effect here. I would have achieved the same results with bare bounce flash.

 

Photo gear used during this photo session

  • 1/80  @  f/2.8  @  100 ISO

 


 

About the specific background in the photograph at the top – obviously it is out-of-focus highlights or light-bulbs. But even then there is a specific course of thinking here. When I photograph these types of events, whether Sweet 16 parties or Bar / Bat Mitzvahs, or weddings, I have to get a few portraits before the event starts. I don’t often start with the longer lens. There is too much distance to my subject. It just works better if the first few sequences that I shoot, are with the 24-70mm lens (and usually around 50-70mm.) This shorter focal length make it easier to communicate with my subject, and quickly build up a rapport … as opposed to using a longer lens and being further away.

When I have a few good images, and I have shown my subject how good it looks, then I might start to use the 70-200mm lens. So here is one of the first images I took of Supriya with the 24-70mm lens. Also with bounce flash. It looks good, but I knew we could get better photographs of her.

I knew that if I worked at 200mm, the compression would make the background appear larger. That’s how it works … if you move your subject a little bit away to create separation, and then you zoom to your longest focal length … the background will appear much bigger in comparison … as opposed to how it appears with a wider focal length, and working closer to your subject.

I therefore purposefully zoomed to 200mm and stepped further back until I got the composition I wanted. Note, I didn’t stand in one spot and zoom to get my composition … instead, I moved back. This line of thought helped get the background I wanted, with those highlights much larger, and out of focus. It isn’t random. It was done with intent. Make your background appear larger (and more defocused), by zooming in to your longest focal length, and stepping back for your composition. Only when you can’t move further back should you zoom your lens. And no, you can’t “zoom with your feet”. That’s entirely impossible.

 

Summary

Applying a few straight-forward techniques will get you consistent results if you apply them with thought. Diligently onsidering your subject’s expression, and the lighting, and the background, is a recipe for getting good results every time.

 

Video tutorials to help you with flash photography

If you like learning by seeing best, then these video tutorials will help you with understanding flash photography techniques and concepts. While not quite hands-on, this is as close as we can get to personal instruction. Check out these and other video tutorials and online photography workshops.


 

Related articles

 

The post How to bounce flash appeared first on Tangents.