Archive for Feb 2012

So I started this project off after gaining huge inspiration to just experiment and push my flashes to their limits after reading Sketching Light: An Illustrated Tour of the Possibilities of Flash. If you missed Part 1, click here to catch up.

I wanted to challenge myself a bit more, so the following day, I asked my sister Aysha (also my assistant) to come out with me for some photos.

It was 2PM, high sun (which is generally a photographer’s worst nightmare), and well in the low 40s. This time, there was no thanking the beautiful sunset to add drama. In fact, there wasn’t a single cloud in the sky. Still, I was determined to keep the color of the sky while making my subject “pop” in the photo. I was up for the challenge.

Initially, I wanted to set up two SB-900 to allow my flashes to fire at lower powers to get faster recycling times. That was a no go, as both flashes had to be fired at full power. This was necessary with the sun beaming overhead and directly behind her. So the sun is adding the rim light here, while the two flashes are the key light.

 

AJ Lighting 1 copy Personal Project: Playing with small flashes to create interesting images Part II

 

As you can see the small sources of lights introduce some heavy unwanted shadows on the right side of her face. Now this makes for a great photo as is, however, I wanted something more soft, and something where my subject grabbed the attention. This called for the use of my Lumiquest Softbox III. Using this makeshift softbox caused me to lose a stop of light from that specific flash. So I moved one light as a kicker and the key light in as close to the subject as possible.

 

AJ Lighting 3 copy Personal Project: Playing with small flashes to create interesting images Part II

 

You may notice, I have no transmitters, receivers or any of that nonsense. I find Nikon’s CLS system to work amazing and so that was the route I took for both parts of this project. In both series I am shooting with high speed sync: 1/4000 for part 1 and 1/8000 for part 2. I’m also using my on board flash as the master to trigger two Sb-900. Keylight set to 1/2 power, and kicker light set to 1/4 power. So now I was getting the results I wanted. All that was left was… frame…compose…and DONE!

 

AJ Lighting 4 copy Personal Project: Playing with small flashes to create interesting images Part II

 

Now, in this case, I did have an extra set of hands. My younger sister Jenath, who decided to help out in exchange for some photos of herself, helped setup the shot in 3 Minutes!! That’s something exciting to look forward to this upcoming season!  Here’s a shot of her after her efforts. Setting wise, nothing has changed. I only altered the location of the flashes slightly.

 

AJ Lighting 5 copy Personal Project: Playing with small flashes to create interesting images Part II

 

Again, keep in mind, I wanted to work with what I could carry, so a studio strobe would’ve been great, but it just wasn’t feasible. I’m also considering applying these techniques to the busy schedules of a wedding day, where time is limited and more often than not, there’s barely any time. Plus, when lighting like this gets involved, you just have to Keep It Simple Stupid :). So in this case, it was just two speed-lights and two light stands. Which managed to do just the trick. Having an efficient way to provide a variety of interesting images is the goal. I’d say this project was a success!!!

Stay tuned for more personal projects like this where I will exercise the abilities of my tools and explore new techniques.

 

So I utilized this past winter to see how I can bring some extra flair to my images for my couples for the upcoming wedding season. I just finished reading Joe McNally’s Sketching Light: An Illustrated Tour of the Possibilities of Flash and it was a great way to familiarize myself with new techniques and brush up on older ones. Joe McNally is a master of light, and for any photographer out there who wants to increase their knowledge on flash and lighting in general, I highly suggest you read this book if not all of the one’s he’s written. FYI, I am not sponsored by Joe McNally or Amazon. This book is just amazing and Joe McNally is the man!

After reading the book, I was super inspired (to say the least) to head out and put some stuff to test. The goal of this experiment was to setup and create the images I envisioned within as little time as possible, because on a good wedding day, I’m given 15-20 minutes to photograph my couples. On any given wedding day, I like to travel with the most equipment I can possibly carry alone. This keeps all my gear in one place, my bag organized, and my load stays very light. So I had to create what I wanted with only two speed lights, no matter what constraints the ambient light put on my flash. Ultimately, I want to provide my couples a seamless experience while capturing beautiful images. So if I can create one or two dramatic images (like the ones shown below) within that 15-20 minutes, then it will be more of a self-accomplished goal while producing more interesting images for my couples.

So…the spur of inspiration caused me to call my friend Naz for a few shots on a Brooklyn Rooftop.

Now the image I wanted to create was to add drama to the background by bringing out the clouds and deepening blues in the skies, while keeping the interest and attention on my subject.

 

Naz Lighting 7copy Personal Project: Playing with small flashes to create interesting images

 

The only way to bring attention to my subject was by including some flashes in the image, otherwise, if I exposed for the background, my subject would be underexposed, and if I exposed for my subject, the drama I was seeking in the skies would be lost and washed out. So let’s break down the process and setup of the above image.

First thing I did was expose for the background, and I underexposed one stop as that was my desired effect. This was done through high-speed sync. The exact shutter speed of this series is 1/4000 sec. As you can see, the subject in this case becomes underexposed. So additional light sources had to be introduced, in this case, two SB-900.

 

Naz Lighting 5 Personal Project: Playing with small flashes to create interesting images

 

I placed the flash on the left (the keylight here) at 1/2 power and the flash on the right (to add as a kicker light to the upper portion of the body) at 1/64. Since the sun was setting, my flashes didn’t have to work too hard, so I got by without any battery packs. However, in the early afternoon or extremely sunny conditions, you would definitely need more flash power, or a bigger light source, and I’m not a fan of carrying strobes with me on location. It’s no fun… trust me. Below is the image with the flashes firing.

 

Naz Lighting 6 Personal Project: Playing with small flashes to create interesting images

 

This image above was one of the shots within a series. The original shot shown below, took about 5 minutes to set-up with out any help. I’m sure I can produce a better time with the help of a second set of hands icon smile Personal Project: Playing with small flashes to create interesting images The result was really satisfying, and so I decided to go for a few more photos altering the position slightly, but mainly composing different images.

The equipment used for this mini project consisted of:

 

Naz Lighting 2 Personal Project: Playing with small flashes to create interesting images

Naz Lighting 3 Personal Project: Playing with small flashes to create interesting images

Naz Lighting 9 Personal Project: Playing with small flashes to create interesting images

 

Here’s the low down on this awesome couple. They’re both fun and funny. Extremely easy going, and just plain and simply the best two people you could ever have in your life!!! When love like this has so much laughter and enthusiasm, I can only imagine a couple that will grow old and happy with laugh lines to tell stories to their grandchildren.

Now, being that we were in New York City, we were bound to run into a few obstacles. Although, I wouldn’t count the guy with a lamb helmet(?) an obstacle, as much as a weird and humorous encounter.

C’mon, say it with me people: Only in New York.

Traveling from The Standard Hotel to Rayuela should have been a 20 minute trip, but thanks to the traffic, the thought of getting their early was scratched off. Thanks to gridlock traffic, these two troopers walked the final few blocks to get the night started. They shared it with family and close friends to make it a truly intimate wedding. Congrats to the both of you!

Enjoy the images! Show some love!

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