Assignment

Tuesday's Tips: Leaping for Light!

I had a recent assignment to photograph ultimate Frisbee Player Tulsa Douglas.  As with most of my magazine assignments the only info I was given was her name, contact info and why they are doing a story on her.  The rest is up to me to figure out.   I knew I wanted photograph her at dusk throwing and catching.  First challenge was the location, I knew I needed at large open space to shoot.  The second challenge was the lighting.  I knew the lighting on this shoot would be a mixture of strobe and ambient light. 

For strobes I used 2 Dynalite Bajas.  These are 400watt seconds self contained strobes. On the main light, I used a Dynaite Beauty Dish.  For a light modifier on the other Baja I used a Chimera strip light and a grid, to create rim light.   To determine my exposure I set my Nikon D810 on manual and using the in camera meter I take a meter reading off the sky and underexpose one stop to get deeper color.  Using my Sekonic light meter, I set my strobes to give me the same f stop as the reading off the sky.  As the ambient light drops, I slow my shutter to keep my exposure the same.  Tulsa would be silhouetted, without strobes. 

Check out the behind the scenes video below! 

Thank you, Colby Todisco for creating the video! 

 

 

  

Tuesday's Tips: What can you do with one light?

What can you do with one light?  The answer is: a lot!  I recently had a magazine assignment to photograph a graduate student who is working on Cape Cod.   The client requested portraits with the feeling of the Cape.   

The time of day and quality of light can make a huge difference when taking photographs. The clouds in the evening sky created a beautiful, warm background for the portraits. The ambient light of the sun is placed right behind the subject. This is what created the wonderful, warm hairline light seen in the portrait below. 

To create a photograph like this, set your camera on manual then using the in-camera meter take a reading off the sky.  Underexpose the sky to give you richer colors.  Set your strobe on TTL.  The exposure on the photo above was f5 1/200 second ISO160.

I shot these images with a Nikon D800 with a Nikon 17-35 zoom lens with a Vu circular polarizing filter and one Nikon SB-800 speed light with a  Rogue Flashbender.  The polarizing filter makes the clouds stand out, while the Flashbender gives a small portable soft box on your speedlight.

 

When the stobe was not used, the subject becomes a silhouette (picture below).   I underexposed the sky a bit more to create deeper, more vibrant colors.. The exposure for this image is f4 1/125 second ISO 160. 

 

Another fun trick to try is zooming the lens while the picture is being taken. The flash is fired and hits the subject, freezing her, and giving the blur/zoom effect to the rest of the image. Your shutter speed has to be slow enough to get the effect f the zoom.  The exposure was f4 1/25 second ISO 320. (picture below)

 

I hope you can join me at one of my upcoming Location Lighting Workshops

January 16
Hunts Photo Providence, RI

January 23
Hunts Photo Manchester, NH

February 27
Unique Photo Fairfield, NJ

March 1
Bedford Center for the Arts, Bedford, MA

March 7-9
WPPI, Las Vegas

March 29
South Shore Camera Club, Quincy, MA

April 5-6
New England Institute of Professional Photography, Hyannis, MA

April 9-10
CanAm Photo Expo  Buffalo, NY

April 15-19
Professional Photographers of Canada Convention, Alberta,

Tuesday's Tips: Lighting Science: 4 Situations, 2 Hours

Recently, I had an assignment to photograph Professor Joshua Sanes of Harvard University.  The client requested an environmental portrait. I alway try to give the client several choices.  This helps with layout and often leads to additional photographs being used in the story.   I had one hour to set up and one hour shooting time.

Set up1)
At 9am, I walked into his office to meet him. It was hard to not notice the incredible light being cast through the window shades, onto the bookshelf creating a cool pattern. This had to be the first photograph of the day and done quickly, as at this time of year the light coming through the window shade, at that angle would not last long.  

I wanted to keep the pattern on the background, but prevent it from hitting the professor.  To accomplish this I had my assistant hold a piece of black foam core blocking the light on the professor without blocking the light hitting the background.

My lighting was a Dynalite Baja 400w/s strobe with a small Chimera soft box with silver interior and a recessed front panel.  The Dynalite was triggered with a PocketWizard PlusIII. The softbox was aimed at the Professor so it would not to spill it onto the background.  The Baja was placed on the stage left, so the light from the strobe would be in the same direction as the pattern from the window. I used a Sunbounce silver reflector on a stand on the opposite side, to fill in the shadow area.  To determine the exposure I used a Sekonic 478 flashmeter to read both my ambient light coming through the window and match it to the strobe output. I exposed for the highlights coming in through the window and matched to store out to the ambient light. 

The photograph was shot with a Nikon D810 and a 105mm lens the shutter speed 1/160 sec at f3.2 at ISO 100.  I tend to shoot my portraits with a shallow depth of field. 

Set up 2)
We moved to a staircase near his office, one side has a wooden wall and the other a wonderful grey stone wall.  Two different backgrounds in one location.  Opposite the camera in both images is a floor to ceiling window.  The side with the wooden wall, had a shadow pattern from the stairs.  I asked the professor to stand in the shade and used my Dynalite to match the highlights in the background with the light on the professors face. Similar to the last setup.

 

Set up 3)
We then moved to the other side of the stairs for a totally different look.  3 portraits done in a short period of time.

 

Set up 4)
For the last photograph of the shoot we went to his lab for a completely different photograph.   It was dark white room with bare walls.  To make it more interesting, I projected one of the professor's research images on the wall.

My lighting of the professor consisted of two Nikon SB-800 speedlights with Rogue grids, one from the right side and the other from left side.  I added Rosco Cinefoil to one of the speedlights to help prevent light from spilling onto the foreground.  I used the speedlights, because of tight space.  

For the background, the projector was set up with the professor's image.  An important note on projecting images on a background:  make sure no light from any of your light sources hits the projected image. White light hitting your projected image or added colors will diminish the vibrance to the projection.  I added a Dynalite Roadmax 800w/s strobe with Rosco blue gel to fill in the background.  All the strobe were fired with Pocket Wizard Plus IIIs.

I had to balance my exposure from 5 different light sources. 3 strobes and the available light from the microscope and the projected image.  The exposure was 1.3 second f5.6  ISO250.  During long exposure it is essential to turn off or block all ambient light.  I shot this on a Nikon 17-35mm f2.8 lens at 17mm an Induro tripod with a cable release.  Even though the exposure was quite long, the subject is sharp because there was no light on the professor.


Here is a list of my workshops, please come and join us!

December 5
Hunt's Location Lighting Workshop, Melrose. MA

December 11-13
Unique Photo Show Fairfield, NJ

2016 Schedule

January 9
Hunts Photo Providence, RI

January 16
Hunts Photo Manchester, NH

March 1
Bedford Center for the Arts, Bedford, MA

April 5-6
New England Institute of Professional Photography, Hyannis, MA

April 9-10
CanAm Photo Expo  Buffalo, NY

April 15-19
Professional Photographers of Canada Convention, Alberta,






Tueday's Tips: Lighting Science!

Recently I had the honor of photographing Professor Jeff Lichtman of Harvard University for the third time.  In each shoot, I have photographed Professor Lichtman with a microscope. I wanted to continue the theme on this assignment.  His current microscope is one of a kind microscope that produces the most amazing images of the human brain.  However, it looks like a large refrigerator.  To make image more interesting and include a visual of his work, I projected one of his images on his microscope.  

We had 2 hours including set up time to produce three situations requested by the client.  I knew the one with the microscope would be the most difficult. I always start a shoot with the most difficult shot.  The other 2 portraits requested were one in his office and another on the stairs.  

I had the Professor show me his lab and we discussed ideas for the photographs.  I told him we needed about 20  minutes set up time, and suggested he might want to go back to his office to work.  There is no reason for the subject to watch you light.   People have a limited amount of time set aside to be photographed.  The less of their time I tie up, the happier they are in the photographs.

As I constructed the photograph, I had my assistant stand-in for the subject.   The first few test frames were shot available light using a 17-35mm lens at 17mm ISO: 3200 F8 & 1/40.

 When lighting a photograph like this I, add 1 light at a time.  To light my subject  I used 2  Dynalite Baja 400WS strobes. One on his face and one as the hairline light.  The hairline light also gave me separation from my background.  The Baja has a build in battery and no cables for me to trip on!  Both strobes had a 10 degree grids to control where the light was aimed.   To further control my light, I put Rosco FotoFoil on the side of the strobe closest to the background to prevent light spilling on the microscope.

 

To create the background, I attached a projector with a wide angle lens to a computer and projected one of the Professors slides.  The key to projecting images on a background is not having any light from your strobes or any other light source hit the area with the projection.  When I do a photograph like this, I always turn off the overhead lights.  The room was dark when I was shooting.  I had to use the flashlight on my phone to focus.  Make sure your modeling lights are turned off.  

We moved projector and adjusted its hight to project the Professor's research on his large white microscope.  The projector was placed to the right of the Professor, 2 ft off of the floor.

To determine exposure for the background I used the in-camera meter.  With the camera set on manual I set the aperture to the same f stop as the strobe reading and lowered my shutter speed until the exposure from the strobes in the foreground and the ambient light from the projector were the same exposure. The strobe f stop was determined with a Sekonic 478 meter.  The final exposure was 2.5 seconds shot at f11.  Jeff was lit for duration of the flash, while the background burned in.  The image was shot on a Nikon D810, a Nikon 24-120 lens on an Induro tripod and Nikon cable release.  

Equipment Used for the shoot:
Nikon D810
Lens: 24-120mm
Rosco Rick Friedman Location Lighting Kit
2 Daynalite Bajas Portarble Strobes with 10 degree grids
Induro Tripod
Nikon cable release
2 Light stands
Sekonic Lightmeter 478
Projector
Extention code for the projector 

I love photographing academics.  I find it fascinating to work with some of the world's greatest minds!

Upcoming Workshop Schedule: Hope you can join us!
September19 & 20
Hunts Photo, Providence RI

October 10, 
Hunts Photo, Manchester, NH

October 17 & 18
Hunts Photo Portland, ME

October 22-14
PhotoPlus, New York

November 18 
Adorama sponsored by Dynalite

Tuesday's Tips: A One Day Assignment

Happy Summer Shooting!

I  recently worked on a wonderful assignment  shooting photographs to promote a new upscale seniors condo project  located on the water, north of Boston. The main challenge with this project was that  the complex has yet to be built.  My job was to sell a development that didn't exist yet.  How do you do this? You sell a life style.  I had one scouting day and one shooting day to produce the photographs.  The scouting day was spent with the client to determine locations and discuss concepts, create a timeline the shoot and work with a model agency to select models for the projects and shoot.  Most of my work is editorial, this is not!

I shot 14 situations in a  day using a total of 15 models. On a shoot like this, everything has to be scripted.  There is only a limited amount of time for each situation and you try not to keep the models overtime.   It is essential, you move quickly and your lightings has to be extremely mobile as well as produce the look of light you are after.   I worked with a self contained 400WS Dynalite Baja strobe and a Chimera softbox.  The combination is very portable, being hand held most of the time while  giving me beautiful light with a fast recycling time.  On those mid day shots, this combination is perfect for over powering hash summer light. ( you can also read on how to deal with harsh sunlight on my blog; Controlling the Sun!)

When mixing strobe and ambient light, I set my camera on manual and expose for "the element you cannot control" which was often the sky.  I used the in-camera meter to determine my ambient reading and Sekonic 478R Light Meter to determine the strobe output.  I could use the Sekonic to read the ambient light, I just didn't.  I also used a polarizing filter to bring out the sky and an ND filter, to control my choice of Fstop.

 

Be spontaneous! We did not plan for a dog!

 

 

 

During  the final shoot of the day, a cocktail party, we were after the feel of late afternoon light.
The problem here was the back of the house was in shade.  To get the effect of warm light, 
I used a Rosco full CTO (color temperature orange) filter over the two Baja strobes used to light the photograph. I used a 30 degree grid to control the light.  The Rosco CTO filter is one of 26 filters in my "Rosco Location Lighting Kit by Rick Friedman

For 1 day shooting, it is difficult to produce 14 situations and one has to be very efficient and move quickly.  Know your equipment, and travel light. It's a lot of work, but a great way to spend a summer's day.   I got to ride on a boat to celebrate a great shoot and work with wonderful people.  Happy Summer Shooting!

Upcoming Location Lighting Workshop Schedule.  Hope you can join us!

August 8-9
Unique Photo, Fairfield, NJ

September19 & 20
Hunts Photo, Providence RI

September 27-29
Berkshires Workshop, North Adams, MA ( Please email me for registration and more info)

October 17 & 18
Hunts Photo Portland, ME

Tuesday's Tips: Gronk Assignment for Sports Illustrated!

I had a great assignment on New Year's day photographing Rob Gronkowski of the New England Patriots for Sports Illustrated at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts.

 

As I arrived at the stadium, there were still some question about where the shoot would take place.  What I did know was that  I was  going to have about 15 minutes to photograph Gronk and it was going to be somewhere at the facility.   We were hoping to photograph him in a weight room and with the help of the Patriots communications department, that's the space we were given. My assistant and I started moving equipment to the weight room.  Once in the room I had to quickly determine what I wanted for my photographs, remembering the 15 minutes allotted for  the shoot.   I determined I could get 4 different photographs in my 15 minutes.  That meant less than 4 minutes per shot, including any adjustments of lights or make up.  The key to getting this done, is preset all the lights, test them, then re-test them.  We did 2 different lighting setups.  One on the weight machine and the mirror and another compete set of lights for the photographs on a backdrop.  When we moved from the weight machine and mirror photographs to the backdrop, no lights had to be moved.  Both Nikon cameras and all 4 Dynalite strobes had PocketWizards connected, all on the same channel.  You want minimize any chance of anything going wrong.  On a shoot like this I always have back up equipment, I don't need it, but it's there, just in case.  All of the lighting tests had been done ahead of time using my assistant, who is about 1/3 Gronk's size as the stand in.  We rehearsed how the shoot was going to flow.  I put small pieces of tape on the floor as a mark for Rob to stand on.  
 

 After the standing and sitting shots at the weight machine, while I explained to Rob what I wanted for the shot with the mirror, my assistant moved the Chimera strip light on the left back 2 feet and turned the strip light on the right about 20 degrees toward the mirror.  The beauty dish never moved from the first setup to the mirror setup and we lost no time during the quick change from one photograph to another and lost no time when we moved from the weight machine to the backdrop.  When working with mirrors, watch for your reflection and the reflection of the strobes.  This was shot on a Nikon D800 with a Nikon 24-70 f2.8 lens at 55mm ISO 100 at 1/200 f5.6.

How this was lit:

The lighting on the standing and sitting shots were a Dynalite Baja 400WS battery operated strobe  with a 30" Chimera Octa Beauty Dish with an Egg Crate at a 45 degree angle for the front light.  For the back lights I used a Dynalite Uni 400WS strobe with a medium Chimera Strip light on camera left.  This is first soft box I owned and have had ifor over 30 years.  I think I've  gotten my money's worth out it.  On the right side I used a second Dynalite Uni with a small Chimera Strip Bank.  I had a PocketWizard Plus III on camera and on each strobe.  The 4th light in this photograph was a Nikon SB 900 Flash with a Rosco #83 Medium Blue gel, behind Gronk on the bench, pointed at him.  This flash was set on manual and fired using the SU-4 setting in the custom functions. 

For the shot of Gronk in the mirror:  the strip light on the left was moved towards the wall so it became the back light.  The small trip light was turned about 20 degrees towards the mirror and the beauty dish and the beauty dish was not moved.  All of my settings remained the same.  This was shot with a Nikon 17-35mm lens set at 17mm.

The lighting on this photograph was a Dynalite Roadmax 800 power pack with 2 heads.  The front light was a Chimera 5' Octaplus light bank on a Dynalite head.  Opposite my main light is a Sunbounce Sunmover silver and gold zebra pattern reflector.   The hairline light was a Dynalite head  with an extension tube, a grid holder with a 20 degree grid and a Rosco 1/2 CTO filter to warm up the light.  This was shot with Nikon D800 with a Nikon 70-200 f2.8 lens at 1/250 of a second, f5, ISO 100. I used a Sekonic L-478DR light meter to determine exposures and a Hoodman Loupe to check my focus.  All the equipment was moved in ThinkTank cases.  I recently got a ThinkTank Production Manager case.  It is perfect for this type of shoot. 

 

Last,  but not the least,  when you have a shoot like this, be nice to everyone.  not just your subject, but the publicist and PR people.  When I am working on creating a portrait, once I have an image I like, I will show it to the subject and ask "what do you think of the photograph we are creating?"  The subject and I are creating the photograph together, I can't do it without them.  The subject now feels more involved in the photograph, often makes suggestions and quite often give me a few more minutes to create the image.   I gained an additional 5 minutes to my 15 minutes shoot,  because it was a pleasant  experience,  Many may not see this, but it is very important!

Thank you SI for the wonderful assignment to kick off my year!  I love my job!

Tuesday's Tips: Chasing Shadows!

Happy Tuesday!


For the past two weeks I've discussed how to add color to your background using Rosco gels and Cinefoil from my Location Lighting Kit.  For this week's Tuesday Tips, I want to show you another way to accent your photographs, by adding shadows!  The key to creating shadows where you want them is to have your strobe off camera.  Remember, the smaller your light source the harder the edge.  The angle of your light and the distance your subject is from the background will effect how the shadow is projected.


1 speedlight :
In the photo below, shot at a Manhattan costume party, I placed a single speedlight to the left of the camera, lower than the subjects, and shot it through a small Rogue Flashbender fired with a PocketWizard TT-5.  This sent the shadow up and behind the subjects while lighting the subjects with soft light.   I can control where the shadow goes by moving my strobe.  

 

2 speedlights:
In this photograph for Harvard University of Professor Robert Lue, I wanted to show the Professor's research on his computer.  The challenge was making an interesting photograph when the only background available was his computer monitor.  The starting point is to read the ambient off the computer, this gives you your base exposure.  When lighting a photograph like this, it is essential that no light from your strobes hits the computer monitor.  This photograph was lit with two Speedlights both with Rogue Grids to control the light on the professors face, while not allowing any strobe light to hit the monitor.   The Speedlight on the right is the main light to light his face:  one stop brighter, (step2).   The Speedlight on the left cast the shadow on the monitor and open up the shadow of his face.   To make sure no light from the strobe hits the monitor, or the shadow I have just created, the strobe on the right has a snoot created out of Rosco Cinefoil.

 

 

3 strobes:  Two Dynalites and a Speedlight
The challenge for this shoot was to recreate a photograph that was previously shot in early March, when the sunlight was low on the horizon and casting the shadow on the wall.  The problem was this photograph was shot in July, when the light was totally different.  

The solution: recreate the original light by placing a Dynalite outside of the door.  To control the direction of the light from the Dynalite strobe, I put a grid over the strobe and added a Rosco 1/2 CTO to warm it.  The strobes were fired through the walls using a PocketWizard Plus lll.   Inside I had a second Dyanlite to light her face, also with a grid and a Speedlight aimed at the dark side of her face.

I will be traveling next week, so Tuesday's Tips may take the week off.  I hope everyone will have a great Thanksgiving! 

I hope to see you at one of my upcoming workshops.  The next two stops for my Location Lighting Workshops Tour are at Hunts Photo on December 6th and at the Societies' Photographic Convention in London in January.  I'll be teaching my Location Lighting Workshop "A Day at Asylum with Rick Friedman" (love the title!).  Hope you can join us!  

Thank you Rick Sammon and Juan Pons for having me on this edition of Digital Photo Experience! Hope everyone can tune in and listen!

Our friends at Hunts Photo and Video are giving out 20 % discount on Rogue flash benders SM and LG, to our readers, Thank you Hunts!

“Tuesday’s Tips” Running out of Light, Let’s Make More!

This week’s “Tuesday’s Tips” features an architectural shoot we did yesterday. Our client was Mark Connor, the architect who designed the Callahan building on the campus of Endicott College, just north of Boston.  Connor requested photographs that were different from the traditional architectural photographs.

For photographs of building exteriors, the answer was to shoot long exposures during blue hour.  During sunset I started to see wonderful colors behind the building.  As the sun sets earlier this time of year, the blue hour is really the blue half hour. Although the sky was looking great at blue hour, the front of the building was going dark. The solution was to use a couple of Dynalite portable strobes. The blue hour was fading fast, no time for light stands…

Quick!! Put a PocketWizard Plus III on each strobe and one on the camera.  My intern, Kalin, held a Dynalite Baja strobe over head, my assistant Keiko, ran across the street, laid on the grass and aimed a Dynalite Uni at the building while I stood on a rock with my Nikon D800 with a 14-24 lens on a tripod.  The two strobes filled in just enough of the building to make the brick stand out. The light on the foreground was enough draw your attention to the building.  I waited for a car to drive by to get the effect of the headlights and taillights to come out as streaks.  The exposure was six seconds, f13 at ISO 400.  Don’t forget to use your cable release on long exposures.

 With strobes

With strobes

 Without strobes

Without strobes

Keiko is holdlng Dynalite Uni to light the building, and Nikon Speedlight set on SU4 to light herself.

My next 2 stops for my Location Lighting Workshops are Hunts Photo on December 6th and at the Societies Photographic Convention in London in January.  I'll be teaching my Location Lighting Workshop "A Day at Asylum with Rick Friedman" (love the title!).  Hope you can join us!

Tuesday's Tips: Making great light with your strobe sitting on the camera!

What can we do with flash on camera?  The answer is A LOT!  

I like using my Speedlights off camera whenever I can, but there are a lot of times as a photojournalist when I don't have time, or space to set up off camera strobes.  Like when covering news events, catching spontaneous moments with politicians and celebrities, and making quick portraits.

I often bounce the strobe off a white wall or ceiling to direct my light.  I change my shutterspeed to achieve good lighting balance and to add or freeze motion.  The Speedlight is a small harsh light source, by bouncing the light off a wall, the ceiling, or using a light modifier you can take a small harsh light source and make it a much larger and softer light source.  By using one of a few small light modifiers like a Rogue Flashbender or a SunBounce Bounce-Wall with your strobe light, you can greatly improve your speedlight on camera.  I use the Flashbender at events and the Bounce-Wall for quick beautiful portraits.  

My rule for Speedlight photography (on and off camera) is: set the camera on manual, and the strobe on TTL.   I use a Hoodman Loupe, to study my LCD screen.  It's worth the money investment, especially under bright sunlight!


I photographed Keith Richards, Chuck Berry and Leonard Cohen at the PEN Literary Awards at the John F Kennedy Library.  In a situation like this always start your exposure with the element you can not control.  In this case it is the blue sky outside the window.   My camera was set on manual and my strobe was on TTL.   I used my camera's light meter to read the sky outside the window, then I used my strobe to fill in my subjects.  My shutterspeed was 1/250 at f7.1.
I used a small Rogue Flashbender on my Speedlight to soften the light. The Flashbender is a small soft box you put on top of your strobe, that fits in your camera bag for on camera strobe!

When photographing in a room with windows you have be mindful of your strobe hitting the window (reflective surface). Either make sure the reflection of the strobe is behind your subject or move to the left or right, so you do not see the reflection.  At this event the only gear I had with me due to the size of the room was a Nikon D-800 with a 17-35 zoom, a Speedlight SB-900 and the Flashbender.  The rest of the gear was outside in the hall.


I shot this during Presidential campaign in NH.  I was behind the bar with President Obama and the Secret Service was standing right behind me.  There was no time for planning, it happened quickly and as a photojournalist you need to capture the moment.   You never know when you are going to be told by the Secret Service to leave the room, so work fast!  My shutter speed needed to be fast enough so that I could capture the President sharp, but slow enough that I would have ambient light in background.  My shutter speed was 1/40 at ISO200 & F 4.5.  I used a dome for this.

 

I shot this during Chinese New Year at a neighborhood community center.  Strobe was on camera with a small Flashbender.  My shutter speed was slow enough so there is a feeling of motion in the scarf, but fast enough to freeze the dancers, who were standing still as they moved the scarf.  My shutterspeed was 1/5 at ISO 200 & F 6.3 hand held.

 

Adventurer and author Guy Grieve, was photographed at Walden Pond, in Concord, MA for The Gurdian. This photograph is completely back lit, giving me the highlights on the water on  his hat and jacket as well as preventing a harsh light on his face.  I used a Speedlight on camera to fill in the light in his face.   My camera was set on manual and my strobe on TTL.   I used the light meter in my camera to read the water to give me my ambient exposure.  My shutterspeed was 1/250 at ISO 100 & F10.

 

 

The light on the model in this photograph is from a Speedlight on camera bounced off one of my favorites light modifiers, The Sunbounce Bounce-Wall.  The background light is available light.   I started my exposure with the element I could not control which was the background and I used the Speedlight to fill in the light on the model.   My shutterspeed was 1/320 at ISO 200 & F4.  I wanted shallow depth of field, so my background was out of focus.

I shot this photograph in the lobby of a convention center before my presentation for Professional Photographers Association in Atlanta.  There was no pre-planning for the photograph.  We saw the backlight and created the image within a few minutes.   You can see my shoot with Bounce-Wall at Hasselblad Blog!


 

 I shot this photograph in Watertown, MA after the Boston Bombings suspect was captured.  There were large crowds, many photographers and  many police officers.  I shot this photo with a strobe on camera, bouncing it off of a white satellite TV truck parked behind me.  This gave me a large reflector to bounce my strobe off of.  You want to bounce your light off of a white surface.  You will have a color change if you bounce your light off anything other than a neutral color.  My exposure for this was shutterspeed 1/50, ISO2500 & F2.8.

 

When you walk into a bar and they are hosting a drag bingo, and you only have a camera and a strobe, what do you do?  
This is a 2.5 second exposure (@ F8, ISO 640),  hand held, while zooming the lens. The strobe only fired for about a 10,000th of a second, so some of this photograph is strobe and some of it is ambient light. The camera is on rear curtain synch (this is a topic for another blog).

I have many workshops and lectures coming up.  I'll be at the Hasselblad, Rosco, ExpoImaging and Unique Photo booths at Photoplus Expo in New York,  October 29-November 1
Come stop by and say hi!

To see a complete list of my upcoming workshop, please visit my workshop page!


Happy Lighting!

 

Tuesday's Tips: To Light, or not to Light

I had an assignment to photograph author Nicolson Baker using a Kindle in Boston.  For a location we chose the front of the Boston Public Library. It was a grey day with even light on his face. I did not have to light it, however, my sky would have been blown out and just muddy.  By exposing for the sky and using my strobe to match the light on his face, I was able to produce this photograph with 1 Speedlight, 1 small soft box and a reflector.

 Nicholson Baker with light

Nicholson Baker with light

 Nicolson Baker without light 

Nicolson Baker without light 

 My camera was set on manual and my strobe was on TTL. I took a meter reading off the sky, using the camera meter and underexposed it slightly to get a darker background. The strobe on TTL lit Baker's face from the right side and the reflector on the left bounced some of the strobe back on to his face, to give more even lighting. I needed enough depth of field so both  Baker and the Kindle were in focus. My exposure was at ISO 320, F8, and Shutterspeed 1/80.  I used a small Chimera softbox with a Speedlight ring.  The Speedlight was triggered by a set of PocketWizard TT5s.  In positioning the Kindle, I had to make sure that there was no glare on the screen from my strobe.  This photograph was shot with a Nikon.

The timing also worked out. This photo shoot was done at the end of the day, because Baker had a book signing at the nearby bookstore after the photoshoot.  If it was at a different time of the day, I would have come up with a different picture, as the Kindle and underexposed sky could not be matched for the exposure under bright sunlight.  As a photojournalist,  you don't always control certain aspects of your photo shoot, but you can always be prepared. It is important to see the photograph in the environment that is assigned to you and come out with a unique image each time.  One of the elements I enjoy about photography is lighting and teaching other photographers about lighting.  A lit photograph tends to have a lot more jump and snap to it and I get to choose where the light is coming from!

Come join us at one of my upcoming Location Lighting Workshops in Telluride & London
September 29-Octoberr 1 at the Telluride Photo Festival, Telluride, CO
January 16-18, 2015 Societies Photographic Convention, London, UK 

Happy Lighting, everyone!

Tuesday's Tips: Lighting the Parade

For this week's "Tuesday Tips",  I photographed the Betances 2014 Puerto Rican Festival Parade in Boston's South End, in close proximity to where my studio is located.  I have photographed the parade numerous times over the years and this year I wanted to do something different, so I lit the images.  In the photo below I asked Keiko Hiromi, whom I work with, to  stand on the opposite side of the car and hold a Nikon Speedlight with a PocketWizard TT5 to light the beauty queens.  I underexposed the ambient light by a stop.  There was still plenty of available light, while the strobe gave the light direction and pulled the viewer into the image.

Gear Used to cover the event:
Nikon D800 camera
Lens:  Nikkor 24-120 
Nikon Speedlight SB 800 
2 PocketWizard TT5

My camera was set on manual and the Speedlight was  set on TTL.  The photograph was shot at  ISO 200, at F 5.6 & Shutterspeed 1/250.  The Speedlight was fired using a Pocket Wizard TT5 on the camera and a second TT5 on the flash.  
The flash compensation was dialed up 1/3 of a stop, to give it a bit more light on the subjects.

Tuesday's Tips: Lighting Glasses!

 

This week's "Tuesday's Tips" is from an assignment I shot at the MIT Media Lab in Cambridge, MA.  The MIT Media Lab is a hub for innovative creations and one of my favorite places to photograph.  I was at the Media Lab looking for interesting projects to photograph when I met   Thad Starner who was working on wearable computing. Starner is now a professor at Georgia Tech.  The idea for this shoot came about when Starner showed me a pair of glasses that had a computer monitor in the center of one lens, which he connected to a small computer in his pocket.  With no preplanning, this is what I came up with.

Little did I know this was the beginning of "Google Glass".

The lighting on this photograph is 2 strobes and 2 computer monitors.  I had to match the brightness of the two computer screens to detemine my exposure, matching the brightness of the large monitor in the background and the small computer screen embedded in his glasses. To obtain the exposure I used the meter in my camera.  I needed a lot of depth of field for this shot, so that glasses and my subject were in focus.  My focal point was Starner, seen through the glasses.  The glasses were clamped to a light stand with a Manfrotto Superclamp.  The main light was Dynalite 800 power pack and a Dynalite head with an extension tube, a grid holder on the end of the extension tube, a 10 degree grid and a sheet of Rosco Tough Spun over the grid to soften the light.  I really needed to control my light on the subject, so there was no light spilled on the glasses or the screen behind the subject.   Just off set, on the right side, I set up a speedlight with Rosco yellow gel and a snoot made of Cinefoil to outline the frame of glasses with color.  The Cinefoil snoot was brought down so it was about a 1 degree opening.  When making snoots out of Cinefoil, which is black tin foil, you have flexibility to make it any shape you want with any size opening, giving you great control over your light.  To determine the exposure of both the speedlight and the Dynalite, I used a Sekonic lightmeter.  If you are mixing speedlights and studio strobes, your speedlight needs to be on the manual setting (NOT TTL).   

Cinefoil, gels, and Tough Spun are included in the Rosco Rick Friedman Location Lighting Kit.

I hope to see you at one of my upcoming Location Lighting Workshops at the Telluride Photo Festival in Telluride, CO. or at the Societies Photographic Convention in London.

Happy Shooting, everyone!  


 

Tuesday Tips: Mixing Strobe and Ambient Light

I had this wonderful assignment to photograph a French Musician, Lulu Gainsboro, in Boston.  The assignment was to photograph "his day in Boston".  At the end of the day of reportage,  I did a portrait of him in front of Boston skyline at dusk.

The lighting in this image is a mixture of ambient light and a single Nikon SB900 Speedlight with Chimera small soft box, fired with a PocketWizard TT5.  My camera was set on manual. To determine my exposure, I read the light on "the element I cannot control".  In this image I used the camera meter to expose for the sky.  I underexposed the sky to get it to be deeper blue. I used a Speedlight to light my subject.  The placement of the strobe and Chimera softbox gave me different effects with my light.  It was early summer in Boston, around 8 o'clock.   My exposure was ISO 640, f4.5 and Shutterspeed 1/8 second.

In photograph 1 (above), I placed my light on the far side of his face so the light drops off on the near side of the camera. In photograph 2, my light was placed closer to my camera position so the near side of his face is lit.

Which lighting style you like, is subjective.  I prefer the lighting style in the first photograph.  Having the light drop off on the near side of the face is more dramatic.  There are many stylistic choices to light your subject. Play around, place your light source at different angles, in relation to your subject to see the different effect.  

Happy Lighting!

Christopher Kimball for NYT Sunday Review

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On a recent assignment to photograph Christopher Kimball, host of America’s Test Kitchen for The New York Times Sunday Review, I ran into an interesting challenge. The requirement for the assignment was a full length portrait on a white background. The problem was there was almost no place to put the backdrop in Kimball’s test kitchen. I ended up setting up the backdrop behind some of counters and then rolled out the backdrop between 2 other counters and had to cut it to fit in the isle. I just barely had enough room to make it work.

To light the image I used a Dynalite Roadmax 800 power supply with 2 heads. The main light was a Chimera 36x48 Medium Lightbank, on the right side of the camera. The fill light was a Chimera 24x32 Small Lightbank, placed above the camera and slightly to the left. The hairline light was a Dynalite Uni-400 strobe with a 20 degree grid spot. To help eliminate the shadow on the backdrop, I placed a Nikon SB-900 strobe on the floor shooting back at Chris’s feet. All the strobes were fired with Pocket Wizard Plus III’s. The reflector, a Sunbounce Sun Mover ended up on a light stand on the counter, because there was so little space. The other challenge was the set up and shoot had to be completed in 45 minutes. This photographs was shot with Nikon D800 and 24-70, F2.8 Nikon lens.

Just throw an apple and an orange and you have the photograph.

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