Adventures in Lighting: London Workshop

Hello there adventurers


I’m winding down for the year and preparing myself for the Long Haul back to the UK next week where I shall be for the festive period. I just wanted to let you guys know about a very special workshop I shall be running in London on the 7th January in my old stomping ground. There are only 6 spaces available and at the time of writing only 3 remain. If you want in on the action shoot me an email at info at weareadventurers dot com. Details below.



Have a Merry Christmas gang and stay safe. 2011 gonna be splendid.


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Pro Pix Workshops- Refreshed



Hi gang,

We have just launched a fresh new version of our Pro Pix Workshops site along with a revised workshop structure. We received a lot of feedback requesting more subject-specific and cost effective workshops, so thats exactly what we have done! We also noticed our previous site was getting a bit cluttered and hard to navigate, so we took this as an ideal opportunity for a complete overhaul and fresh new look!

As well as being both affordable and inspiring, these workshops have limited numbers ensuring plenty of one-on-one time with both the instructors. In addition, they are an absolute blast!

Che and I will be hitting the Gold Coast with our first newly designed workshops on the 25th and 26th September so if you are in the area you should definitely sign up for one of our workshops! There are still some tickets for all 4 workshops but they are selling out-dont delay!

For further details and bookings head over to www.propixworkshops.com

I look forward to seeing some of you at the workshops!

Stu

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Sorrow





Here are a few selects from a recent editorial I shot. All just natural light with a reflector- easy! We shot a bit with strobes also but they just didn't cut it. If you are used to completely controlling you're lighting environment its good to just let go sometimes and see what happens;)

Model: Anna N, Hair/Makeup: Sara Baxter, Photography & retouching by weareadventurers

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Wotcha Take That Flash Off The Camera For?

I've received several questions and comments recently regarding lighting techniques used in my images and rather than repeating myself responding to people individually, I thought id lay some insight out on the table here. By the way guys, please feel free to direct any other questions this way and I will surely try to answer them when I can. So, lighting...


‘Get the light off the camera’. Sound familiar? It's a common belief that in order to make great light this is what you must do. Well, generally this is correct. However under certain circumstances keeping your flash ON the camera is exactly the thing to do.


I’ve been really loving using on camera flash recently. Sure, I’ve taken the ‘safe shots’ using the usual off camera techniques, but once they are in the bag and the client is happy, I’ve enjoyed seeing how much I can push on camera flash. And its quite often these ‘badly light’ shots that work best. One legendary photographer who has made an incredible career out of the compact camera flash style is Terry Richardson



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Evan Rachel Wood by Terry Richardson for GQ magazine


Sure, lighting beautiful young models badly is pretty hard to do. They can take it all(Especially when you have amazing styling and makeup involved like Terry). With the right subject matter however the harsh qualities of direct flash can really make a photo pop. In my experience i've found the problems generally  occur when you rotate your camera into portrait orientation, with the flash off to the side of the lens which can create undesirable shadows.



In order to overcome this, I find holding a flash directly over the lens, being fired via a radio trigger or sync cable works just great. Technically I guess you could say this is off camera flash, but if it makes a great photo who fives a f*$£k but it allows you to switch orientation easily while maintaining the same look and shadows.


So next time you are shooting and you think it's a wrap, just go slap on your speedlite and see what you can do with it- you might be surprised!


Stay tuned...


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Gold Coast Shoot & BTS

Just got back this week from a 4 day shoot on Australia's Gold Coast with my buddy and fellow photog Chemc. I like to be shooting all the time when I can, and so we managed to put this gig together on the back end of the Christmas holiday when we would have been doing very little otherwise. The shoot was just for ourselves, and the great thing about that is we get to do exactly what we want. It was an opportunity for us to feed off each others knowledge and push ourselves to develop and refine our photographic vision.

Having a good team for these projects always helps, and having spent several weeks casting and planning, we had some awesome talent working with us. Some stats:
14 models, 3 MUAs, 1 designer, 1 Stylist, 2000+ images, 30GB+ of data.

We shoot a variety of concepts, from beach lifestyle to jungle fashion. And it was a freakin' blast.

Heres a few finished images ive retouched so far. Lighting is pretty much all natural, with one or 2 reflectors. Im totally loving this new style of shooting, something that cant often be done back in London. It also makes travelling a lot easier with less gear. Obviously I wasnt going to leave my trusty speedlights at home tho. We had a helluva lot of fun rocking those little babies also (see BTS shots below) In fact, we shot quite a lot of high speed sync, shooting at 1/8000 @ f2.8. Sweet as.

Enjoy the pics...more tc.

fashion

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Further Adventures with Speedlights...

Had a fun time yesterday shooting a couple of models based here in Melbourne. Thought we would see how a bit of experimenting went down...here goes...Havnt properly processed them yet other than a quick fiddle in Aperture. Big thanks go out to Airdrie for providing styling, and Lysha for her hair & make up skills.

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First up was the incredibly patient Esh. Not wanting to fight a strong mid day sun out in the open, we found a nice shaded cloister where we could let some speedlights do their thing. One SB28 on a stand on about 1/2 power zoomed to 85mm to give a bit of a kick, softened slightly by a hand held diffuser just out of the frame.

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Next we moved inside to this old hallway. The light being cast through the window had a warm glow due to the orange panes of glass it was being projected through. I thought id try further accentuate this with a technique often favoured by Joe McNally- shooting through windows. One SB28 outside on a stand up high to align with the direction of the sun, full power 1 cut CTO.

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Esh's pal Tori also tagged along for the shoot. Still indoors, this one was with a 60" shoot through slightly above eye level to camera right just out of frame on about 1/4 power. 2nd SB28 on about 1/4 power in front of the camera bounced into a large silver reflector for some fill.

Thats all for now, im off to process the rest of these...

"Beauty Style" Lighting Setup

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Heres a quick and easy "beauty style" lighting technique which was used for the shot above. There are only 2 lights used for this look. Beauty dish above and directly in front of the model, aimed down at 45 degrees. Then place either a large softbox or an octo (used here) directly behind the model, aimed up towards the beauty dish at 45 degrees, so that the 2 lights are facing each other (see set up shot below). Lastly position a reflector just out of frame to fill in the shadows. Set the octo so it is about 1 stop below the beauty dish, just alter to your taste. This produces a nice blown out back light which wraps around the models face. Be careful not to set the power too high or you loose detail in the face. This technique can produce a little flare- in order to overcome this drag your blacks slider to the right to bring in the shadows. Try it out and let me know how you get on!

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Studio Strobes vs. Small Off-Camera Flashes

Scott Kelby just posted an interesting article comparing studio strobes with speedlites here .

Anyone that knows how I shoot knows I rate the speedlites (heck, ive even been in situations with top of the line Profoto gear to hand, and still I take out my wee SB26s!).


 


As Scott points out, light is light. Regardless of whether it is produced by a studio strobe, a speedlite or even the sun itself, its just light (if you don’t believe me check Scotts comparison examples and see if you can spot the difference!) Its what you do with it that makes the difference.


 


This is the main reason I will sometimes choose studio strobes over the little SBs- there simply is just more available to shape the light its pushing out. That said, with the rise in popularity of the strobists there is a great deal available nowadays to put on the end of your speedlite and take control of the light.


 


The other main advantage studio strobes have over speedlites is their modelling light. This really helps you see where the shadows fall on your subject, but its not essential. You just need to learn to predict how the light will fall, fire a few test shots to make sure you are in the ballpark, and just fine tune.


 


Sure studio strobes are a lot more powerfull, but with todays advances in acceptable ISO levels, to me at least its not such a big deal, unless you are attemting to overpower the sun at midday. That’s a job for the big guns!

Testing the Orbis ring flash

I’ve finally got around to testing the Orbis ring flash I got a few weeks ago. It’s essentially an adapter that fits onto your speedlight and evenly lights a subject in an almost 3D shadowless light. Used to be pretty big in the 90’s, especially with fashion togs. They are currently making a bit of a come-back with the likes of Jill Greenberg.


There are several of these adapters on the market; however there are a couple reasons that made the Orbis stand out for me: Firstly, it is not connected to the camera body via the hot shoe (this is also one of the downsides, more to come on that later). This should avoid your hot shoe snapping off, something that wont be cheap to get fixed back on. The second thing that drew me to the Orbis again is that it does not use the hot shoe. Why is this worth repeating? By not utilising the hot shoe to connect the ring flash means you can fix a trigger to the hot shoe instead, which then allows you to trigger both the ring flash and as many other lights as you like wirelessly (you could fire other lights with the ring flash on your hot shoe, but you would require either a line of sight or a sync cable- neither of which are methods I want to be limited by). This was a major thing to me when deciding to get the Orbis, as although I like images lit only by a ring flash, I wanted to be able to experiment creatively using the ring flash in addition to other lights.


So…on to the testing!


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Charlene against the perimeter of a concrete 1960’s car park in London. Ring flash on a Nikon speedlight, dragged shutter in addition to 2nd speedlight behind Charlene accounts for the heavy backlight.


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Nhuc in a covered garage. Ring flash up close to give those classic catch lights with a 2nd speedlight snooted and up high directly behind the model to give a slight rim light.



Pros:
Designed to fit (almost) any speedlight.
Beautiful authentic ring flash light.
Is well made.
Can also be effective used off-camera…more on that in a later post…

Cons:
The biggest downer is that it is pretty cumbersome and takes a bit of getting used to holding. I am led to believe however that the manufacturers are working on a bracket to connect it to your camera body.
If you are on 100 ISO your gonna need to be firing full power as the diffusion material takes at least a stop of light out. This is gonna increase your recycle time, which in turn will slow down your shooting speed.