In Category: ‘For photographers’

Simultaneous hugs between couples are pretty rare during weddings. Hugs usually occur between the couples just a few seconds apart. It would make my life a lot easier if all my couples practiced their timing…but then what would make them so hard to capture and rare to witness right? Well try doing a four image panorama on one. Yup! This is a 4-image panorama of a “Double-Hug.”

With a D3s + 35mm f/1.4 at the waist, I had a fast 85mm f/1.4 in my hand as this was happening. I knew there was no way for me to switch cameras in time to catch this, so I dared to grab four images, and it was successful. More to come from this phenomenal and emotional wedding of Shaula and Philippe’s.

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Hugs The Fleeting Double Hugs

Nikon D700, 85mm f/1.4 @ f/2,  1/125, ISO 2000

So I’ve photographed on this roof plenty of times before and this time around I wanted to force myself to think outside the box to create an image that was different and would never give off the impression that it was shot in the same area. With all the hoopla over the Mad Men series and recent season premiere, I could only think of a grunge-type-look that would suit his outfit.

Portrait 2 Personal Project: Creating light and a little grunge

So the idea was to put my newly attained Pocket Wizard Flex tt1 mini and Flex tt5 to the test and utilize my SB-900s to create my own light in an image. We wandered into the stairwell where the sunlight was pouring in.

0004NazCig Personal Project: Creating light and a little grunge

I placed one speed light through one of the skylights to create a spotlight effect. I wanted to eliminate the ambient light so that the light of my speed light is all that’s shown, so the shutter was set to 1/2000 and high-speed sync came into play.

0001NazCig Personal Project: Creating light and a little grunge

0005NazCig Personal Project: Creating light and a little grunge

Then I introduced a speed light attached with a honeycomb grid to light the smoke. When life gives you lemons, you make lemonades, right? Well i know I wanted to have the smoke stand out and contrast the image, so I wanted give it a cool color since the majority of the image has a slight warm tone. I don’t own a set of colored gels (time to get some now), so I placed a blue see through credit card to emulate the desired effect. The image below was the final image achieved.

0003NazCig Personal Project: Creating light and a little grunge

 

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

 

First off, I will say this isn’t a review, just my opinion on this particular lens after using it for the first time this past weekend. If you are looking for a trustworthy review with full details, information, comparison and images you should check out Ryan Brenizer’s review. I trust his expertise and knowledge and his review was one of the main reasons I pulled the trigger on this purchase.

However, if you choose to stick around a few extra minutes and read on, thanks. I will say I am madly in love with this lens. The Nikon 35 f/1.4G is majestic, godly, and heaven sent! I am very upset that I didn’t make this purchase a long time ago, although I can’t be too hard on myself; it carries a very steep price tag.

The lenses that stay on my body 99.9% of the time are the Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8G ED and the Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8G ED VR II because they are very versatile and both are work horse lenses. In fact, you can definitely shoot certain weddings with the 24-70 alone. So I basically had focal lengths from 24mm (wide enough for huge group photos) to 200mm (long enough so I can be a creeper without people knowing) icon smile What do I think about the Nikon 35 f/1.4G?

After owning these two lenses for almost 8 months now, and reading great reviews about the Nikon 35 f/1.4G, I got to thinking, “Can I shoot with a Prime lens on my body and rely on my feet to zoom?”. Well only one way to find out.

BUY IT. Sure, I could rent it, then decide, but I was convinced just by images from various other photographers, that it was going to be a great lens.

Well, after using it for the first time this past Sunday, I had no problem handling the extra two stops of light intake between f/2.8 and f/1.4. It is just amazing! The only problem I had with the lens, is that its focusing speed was not so great, and that comes only after using the 24-70 so often (which rules in auto focusing speed in low lit situations). The lens focused slow, but accurately and the images were sharp even at f/1.4.

The lens feels solid but compared to Nikon AF-S Nikkor 35mm f/1.8G DX lens, it is much more bulkier and definitely not convenient as a walk around lens. I own the 35 f/1.8 for the simple purpose of walking around, vignette or not.
WARNING: The Nikon AF-S Nikkor 35mm f/1.8G DX lens does create heavy vignetting on FX bodies.

Here’s a a photo so you can see the size difference between the 24-70 f/2.8 G, 35 f/1.4 G, and 35 f/1.8 DX. (Left to Right)
DSC9726 2 What do I think about the Nikon 35 f/1.4G?
Image shot with Nikkor 70-200 VR II. SB-900 bounced of reflector behind me.

I intend on doing away with the 24-70 f/2.8 and having it as a backup. Until then, this lens along with my 70-200mm f/2.8 VR II will be on 99.9% of the time…until I find a replacement (which is highly unlikely, but who knows).

The image below was shot this past weekend in pitch black, and this baby did not hunt. It locked on and was on point. Shot at f/1.4.

Congrats Maqsood and Naila!

MaqsoodReview1 What do I think about the Nikon 35 f/1.4G?

Here’s what I was able to capture within 10 seconds of using this particular gear(s). Brownie points for anyone who can guess what was used to capture the image below. Full review coming after I use these bad boys on the field pretty soon. Enjoy!

Hint: See catch lights in the eyes .

storyboard 12 Gear Review: Sneak peek

June 30, 2011 Portrait Panorama

My first (successful) attempt at a portrait panorama, aka “The Brenizer Method”. This is a 40 frames 56 megapixel image. Shot with a Nikon D700 and a Nikkor 70-200 VRII at f/2.8.

For those of you who don’t know what this is or why do this, Ryan Brenizer explains this perfectly:

“So, there was this crazy technique I came up with and streamlined a few years ago to use the effects of a multi-layer panorama, combined with fast lenses shot wide-open, to achieve depth-of-field impossible with current lenses.”

There you have it. With the Nikkor 70-200 VRII there is no way I would be able to get this wide field of view because everything through this lens is really compressed. But that’s only one of the beauties of using this method for a photo. The other, is to achieve depth of field that is impossible with current lense, which would have been more obvious if it was done with a faster lens.

For the sake of making the effect more obvious, I’ll use a faster lens next time. More images from this engagement session coming soon.

storyboard 171 Portrait Panorama

“This place is boring”
“This room is too small”
“There’s no windows”
…SO on and so forth…

So we’ve all been there…you know, when you’re limited to almost nothing in terms of composing a great image. Photographer or not, if you’re holding a camera and want something more than just a decent image, you must learn to utilize light and make it your best friend.

This isn’t a “How to” lighting tutorial. There are plenty of great DVD’s, books, and sites, that can offer more help. Visit strobist for a wide variety of useful tips.

This is my post about making the best of a boring situation.

NazBlog1 Making something out of nothing

I was able to add some definition to my friend and create a more interesting portrait as opposed to direct flash or bouncing off the ceiling.

Truth is, I had 2 feet of space (in a very crowded kitchen), and my pal here was against a bland beige wall next to a refrigerator. All I did was bounce the SB-900 off the refrigerator which created a more diffused and attractive light.