Fascinated by The Light

Last Saturday was a day of firsts and surprises. I was shooting a 5-month-old and his parents. And I invited a photography intern to join me for this session. That was a first for me, a solo photographer for 10 years. The intern’s employer has an Omicron Chromatically Correct LED Ringlight and he sent it along with his intern to use at the session. Let the surprises begin!

This is the most awesome light! I was fascinated from the moment I saw it and it just kept getting better. The light is big enough to hold lots of LEDs, so it’s bright, yet it’s not heavy. It’s “continuous on” is perfect for the way I like to shoot. We weren’t using a tripod with it, and hand held it takes a bit to get used to the balance. The results are worth the effort! I’m hoping that future development might include a padded hand hold of sorts. Back to the light. The color of the light really matched my sunlight tuned continuous cold lights, so no color competition, just an extra glow of beautiful, “natural” looking light. The additional light gave us faster shutter speeds which is an important element in capturing sharp images of squirming, wiggling babies.

Then there are the perfect round little catch-lights in the baby’s eyes. Love the effect! And unlike flash which can be difficult to control with the delicate skin of a baby, this is a soft gentle light. How it can be both very bright and gentle is for the scientists to describe. For the artist it’s just wonderful, and that’s enough for me.

As a shooter of a mirrorless camera system that creates outstanding video, the continuous light source is critical. I was able to capture a couple of video clips and the light really helps them look their best. Not having to have one light source for video and another for stills is very important to the flow and enjoyment of the session. This light does it all and beautifully!

If getting to see and use the light wasn’t enough of a first and wonderful surprise, the light held one more delight for us. The baby could not take his eyes off of it! He was fascinated by the light, which made getting him to look where we wanted a lot easier than rattling, squeaking and all the other funny stuff that we do to get babies to look.

Saturday was really fun, the images are wonderful and now I must add that light to my kit. Hats off to Quantum for being innovative and doing it so well!

A little about me and my studio:
After 20+ years in a computer tech job, I am enjoying a second and more fulfilling career as a portrait and sports photographer in suburban Milwaukee. For portraits I work on location and from my cozy residential studio.

I have met with some personal challenges and needed to reduce the physical strain from carrying heavy pro cameras and lenses around. I jumped into the mirrorless world with both feet and no safety net. As of April 2012 I have retired my big DSLR’s and picked up a couple of small, light mirrorless cameras and now use them on every shoot. I’m evolving from a still photo only photographer into a photo+video+audio hybrid image maker.

Carol Schlintz
Artist; Photographer; Owner

Wings of a Butterfly

Wings of a Butterfly by Connie Gudino

Nothing makes me more excited about my photography work than when I’m asked to undertake unique portraiture.

Most recently, I have been busy working on conceptual photography.  I was super excited when close friends of mine expressed they were wanting to have their daughter’s portraits taken because she was turning fifteen.  My teen client wanted portraits of herself that would be “different and fun”.  Images that she could look back on and remember herself at this age.  An age when a young lady is developing her self identity.  So, I didn’t have to give it much thought and turned to the concept of the butterfly effect and the metamorphosis into womanhood.

With conceptual photography, color is very important to the depiction of an image and  it’s message.  I asked her to wear a red and black simple dress and had her wear butterfly wings with the same color combination.  Red is a color of strength, power, determination, passion and love.  Black is the unknown (ones future).  It’s also concealing, thus it represents a form of protection.  Moreover, many people wear it because of it’s simple elegance.  Also, the red rose plant is a symbol of love, sincerity and respect. It’s the change that occurs within time that makes one a beautiful individual during our constant growth, as we embrace life and all it has to offer.  Indeed, a simple portrait can convey a much deeper meaning.

Click to enlarge.

To seize the right expression of my clients, I tend to keep the setup simple as to not have the environment feel overwhelming.  I use combination lighting because it has been my finding that my clients are more at ease when there is not a lot of gear and lights that are surrounding them.  Instead, I use a simple combination lighting that consists of my Quantum Qflash Trio and natural window lighting.

My setup is simple and easy to assemble.  I start with a 10‘x9‘x20’ cloth background on stands and have the natural window light on the right hand side of the subject.  The Qflash and a shoot-through umbrella is placed on the left side of the subject to the right and in front of the camera at a 45 degree angle towards the subject’s face.  I may use reflectors at times to bounce the light for different shoots.  Pocket wizards are used to alleviate the usage of any cords which can be messy and intrusive in a session.  The Quantum Qflash works with a Turbo 3 battery pack and provides excellent recycling times.  Having dependable, friendly to use lighting equipment allows me to put my focus on the creative part of portraiture.

 

Connie Gudino
 

Showers of Love

Forevermore Photos - Showers of Love

Forevermore Photos – Showers of Love

I am a big David Ziser fan. After reading David’s book, “Captured By the Light” I decided it was time for me to make the move to off camera flash. Unfortunately, my local camera shop talked me out of getting Quantum lighting equipment and encouraged me to buy another popular wireless controller and regular speedlights instead.

A year and a half of frustration followed. My brand new speedlights would over heat and stop working. I couldn’t wait the recommended ten minutes to use them again, so I tried replacing the batteries to help them cool off. This caused me a lot of stress and frustration. I was spending a fortune on batteries and missing shots!

Finally, I took the plunge and made a serious investment in a Trio, a Qflash T5dR and two Turbo 3 batteries. (Insert the sound of angel harps here!) The Qflashes are always ready to fire. They never overheat and the Turbo 3’s still have power at the end of my 10-hour days!

My “Showers of Love” umbrella shots are usually done at the end of the night, so it’s nice and dark out. The camera is mounted on a tripod, set to bulb exposure and second sync flash. My T5dR is under the umbrella, controlled by my on-camera Trio with its flash set very low, just for a little extra fill light. I hold the shutter open for a little while to let the ambient light in and the flash fires when I release the shutter.

My investment has practically paid for itself in savings on AA batteries. I was using as many as 24 AA batteries for each wedding. The time I saved by not stressing about AA batteries and overheated speedlight allowed me to focus on what I love best about my job… being creative.

If you are looking for reliable, beautiful lighting I highly recommend going with Quantum!

Barbara Zlotnik, Owner/Photographer
Forevermore Photos
Hatboro, PA

It’s All A Matter of Balance

Our Friend Luke Pickerill joins us today with this especially thorough post on balancing flash & available light. Luke shares his thoughts on choosing equipment, camera settings, positioning lights.

If you appreciate this kind of detailed instruction you can find more like it at Luke’s website  www.ExpertPhotoTraining.com. Be sure to watch his “Workshop” page for your opportunity to train in a small class, where each student can receive Luke’s personal attention. Current workshop dates are September 16th in L.A. and September 21st in Central Florida.

It’s All A Matter of Balance.

Today I want to walk you through an image and show you step by step how we set it up, what we we’re thinking and how you can get these kinds of shots with your Quantum gear!

Image 1
Camera:  Nikon D3s Lens:  Nikon 70-200mm Why:  Because I love this lens. The depth of field it can produce is awesome! Plus, it’s pretty sharp when used at it’s widest aperture.

Camera Settings:  1/160 – f/3.2 – ISO1000

Aperture:  f/3.2 Why: Because I wanted maximum depth of field. The lowest aperture I could have used would be 2.8 since that’s the lowest the 70-200 lens can do.  However at 2.8 it can be just a little soft. Stopped down to 3.2 the lens is tack sharp.  To summarize, maximum foreground and background blur while still staying sharp all the way through.

Shutter Speed + ISO: 1/160 + ISO: 1000?Why:  I am putting shutter and ISO together because I used them as a team for 2 reasons:
1.  I wanted to keep my shutter speed as high as possible to minimize camera shake. A Nikon D3s has a max sync speed of 1/250th of a second. So, I started there and then opened up just a little to allow the window light just out of frame left to add a little highlight to our bride.
2.  The Window just out of frame right was throwing a nice highlight onto our bride. We know that our aperture is controlling our flash and our shutter speed is controlling the amount of available light. Adjusting the shutter speed will let more or less available light in.  In this case by lowering my shutter speed we are letting more available light in, which will produce a more visible highlight.

So, setting my ISO to 1000 allowed me to set my shutter speed to 1/160 and get the amount of highlight I wanted.

Image 2
Lighting:  Quantum QFlash with a shoot through umbrella. Why:  My Quantum QFlash is always with me on weddings and is one of my go to lights. It is battery powered, so it’s super portable but much more powerful than a standard speedlight. This is nice when shooting in bright sun or when you need more power.

How To Get This Kind Of Shot:

1.  Meter for the available light: Below is the test shot I took before bringing my bride into the frame. As you can see my assistant is really dark which is exactly what we want. Remember we’re going to be using flash, so we only care about the highlight being cast by the window just out of frame right.
First, I set my Aperture (The why is above) Second, I set my camera to Spot Meterting Third, I metered for the highlight on my assistant. Fourth, I am in the ballpark with where I want to be with my shutter speed (Reasoning above)

Image 3

That’s it. One test shot, looks good, let’s bring our bride in and get the shot.

PRO TIP:  If you’re unsure test the setups with your assistant prior to testing on your bride. Let her sit down or rest, get the shot all set up, then bring her in and shoot.

2.  Bring in The Flash: Start with the flash on a low power setting and raise up the power until you have the exposure you want. In this case I had my QFlash at 1/32 power.

I fired off a quick test shot not worrying about pose or expression or even focus. I just wanted to see that I was getting a good exposure with the flash.  I asked the brides maids to move because you can see their reflection in the mirror back there and we’re ready to get the shot.

Image 4

PRO TIP:  The more you do this kind of shoot the more you’ll get to know your gear. Eventually you won’t have to start at the lowest setting and bring your flash in you’ll already have a good idea where to start based on the settings you’ve chosen.

3. Compose Your Shot & Get a Good Expression. I liked the reflection in the bar and the reflection in the mirror so I wanted to use both. I was shooting at a focal length of 105mm and standing about 15 feet away from my bride.

Image 1

Final Thoughts: I took the first test shot of my Assistant at 12:31 pm and took the shot above at 12:34 pm.  So from start to finish it took us 3 minutes to get this shot.

Pro Tip:  Experiment with the framing. Once your all set up try some different angles and composition. Your light is already set, so don’t worry about looking at the back of your camera to check each frame. Just knock out some great images and move on.

Below: I quickly changed up the composition to get a great detail shot of our bride’s ring.?

Image 5

 

Luke Pickerill
Pickerill Creative
luke@pickerillcreative.com
(818) 391-9541
www.pickerillcreative.com
www.pickerillcreativeblog.com
www.ExpertPhotoTraining.com

 

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Environmantal Portraits

IBM Mainframe Magazine hired me to make an environmental portrait of Mike Giglio, a systems specialist with Shelter Insurance in their Columbia, MO headquarters for their July issue.  Mainframe’s style is to put the subject of their stories into context.  So in this case Shelter Insurance underwrites home and auto insurance.  They wanted a variety of poses and locations in a suburban setting with homes and cars out of focus in the background.  I consulted friend and colleague LG Patterson about locations in Columbia and he suggested one of the old brick streets, which was blocks away from the Shelter Insurance campus.

A two-day window was scheduled for the shoot with Mike and the threat of bad weather pushed us into the afternoon of the backup day.  His window of availability meant high overhead sun and hot.  I found an historic home on Greenwood St. that was surfaced in brick and had large oaks to shade Mike.  At the time I scouted there were cars in front but by the time I returned with my subject they were gone, of course.  Gear wise I used a Canon 5D MkII with a 24-70mm f2.8 zoom and two Quantum Trios as fill.  One with a 26 inch Quantum Octobox at left and a main light at right with a Lumodi Beauty Dish attached.  A Pilot on camera controlled things with a 2-1 ratio between the two lights. The exposure was set in shutter preferred automatic at 1/500th at f3.2.  I always leave my Trios set with high-speed sync enabled and love the ease at which you can control the ambient lighting.  This top photo was  the third frame shot at the first location.

The next day using the same technique I also shot a head and shoulders portrait  of a former colleague for use in her social media.  She liked the studio shots okay but thought a natural setting would be more her, so I set up two Quantum Trios as above and shot her portrait on a raised deck with back lit trees as a background.  The exposure was 1/1250th of a second at f2.8.

Most of my photography involves lighting things in a natural manner and working with regular people, not models.  The ease of use with the Trios means I could travel with my subject and set up quickly while keeping him engaged.  No assistant means less expenses so there is also a profit incentive.  Using Qttl in a ratio format means no meter reading or time wasting.  My subject is not sweaty and uncomfortable on a hot day.  I have four Trios and a Pilot so there is always a backup.

 

Kevin Manning
kevinmanningphotography.com

Going to the London Olympics?

FLAGHEAD
PHOTOGRAPHIC LIMITED

Quantum Product Support for Photographers covering the 2012 Olympic Games in London

The 2012 London Olympic Games will start with the opening ceremony on July 27, 2012 and thousands of photographers will be in London for this occasion. Quantum customers from all over the world will be in the UK to cover the games and all aspects of life surrounding the Olympics.

The UK & Ireland importer of Quantum products Flaghead Photographic Ltd have announced that extra support will be available to existing Quantum users and potential new ones.

The following central London based companies will carry extra stock of Quantum products for sale and rental:

Fixation www.fixationuk.com

Calumet www.calumetphoto.co.uk

The Flash Centre www.theflashcentre.com

For fast repair service, as well as rental & sales, contact:

Fixation www.fixationuk.com

For any inquiries on Quantum products, Rental and Services contact:

Hardy Haase

Flaghead Photographic Ltd
info@flaghead.co.uk
tel 01202 733 123
www.flaghead.co.uk