Tuesday's Tip: Light it up Coach!

I had an assignment to photograph a high school baseball coach, Mike Schell at his college baseball field. 

A few things to consider, approaching this assignment. It was off season and we had an empty baseball field. 

I needed to convey the feeling of the man in charge of the team, even though the team was not there, and he was out of uniform.  I used the graphics of the base line and the feel of spot light to pull you into the image. It was a beautiful sunset, the sky and clouds were amazing but it was almost completely dark out  (f nothing!).   Mike was in the shadows, so we needed to match the light on Mike's face and the exposure of the sky.  Shooting him from a low angle and the direction of the light, portrait him a hero-like figure.  

This photograph was shot with a single Dynalite Uni plugged into a Jack Rabbit battery, with a 20 degree grid, to direct the light and have the drop off in the fore ground. The Dynalite was fired using a PocketWizard Plus III.  (one on the camera, one on the strobe).  The key to this photograph is: wait till the dusk, until there is almost no ambient light left.  Set your camera manual and  "Expose for the element you cannot control".  (Sky, in this case!)

The photograph was shot with Nikon D800 with a Nikon 17-35 zoom at  ISO 160, F 10 & Shutter Speed 1/200.

As a photographer, I constantly think about how to translate an idea to the image. Placement of the subject, choosing background and creating & capturing  the light are all important elements of the image.

Throughout this blog series,  I am sharing photographs from my real assignments.  Sometimes I am so wrapped up in the shoot, that I forget to make an overall set up photo for "Tuesday's Tips".  This photograph is the lighting setup I used.  This is a Dynalite Uni with a reflector with a 20degree grid powered by the Jack Rabbit battery with the PocketWizard Plus III.






Tuesday's Tips: Lighting Anonymous

I had an assignment from The Guardian to photograph Gregg Housh, a soft spoken family man, 30-something Boston native, who is the public face of the group Anonymous...  (Shhh... Don't tell anyone!)

The idea was to photograph Gregg in the inner city, to give the feeling of gritty.  This photograph was shot one building away from my studio at dusk.  This is a place I have walked by thousands of times, but never saw the picture frame until that evening.  The photograph was shot by bouncing one Nikon SB-900 speed light into a California Sunbounce Micro Mini.  To fire the strobe off camera, I used a PocketWizard TT-1 on camera and a PocketWizard TT-5 on the Speedlight.  To control the output of the strobe I used a PW AC-3 on top of my PW TT-5.    

The challenge with this assignment, as with most of my assignments was the lack of time.
Gregg only had a few minutes for us to create the images. The great thing about working with
the Speedlight is that when I bounce it off the Sunbounce MicroMini, it gives me great light, with the ability to move to several locations with almost no setup time.

The image was shot at 1/80 at f5 at ISO 640.  The ambient light was really at f... nothing (meaning it was really dark.)


Here is the set. Welcome to my neighborhood!

Tuesday's Tips: Lighting Politics

I had an assignment to cover former Senator Scott Brown's announcement that he is a candidate for Senate from New Hampshire.  Normally at a major political announcement, the campaign would set up lights for TV and stills.  Not in this case.  The announcement took place at a large conference room with a low ceiling in Portsmouth, NH.   If you have ever photographed at any conference rooms in hotels, you would know the ambient light in the room has yellow-green tint.  The announcement was set late evening, so no day light was coming in from the window.   I had a few options on covering the event:  1) bring the ISO way up and shoot available light,  2) shot strobe on camera (which I did, when he worked the crowd) or 3) add a good portable strobe, run it off a battery and shoot at very low ISO, which will give me very good quality.  I went with #3 during his speech.

I set up a Dynalite Uni portable strobe, powered by a Jackrabbit battery on the right side of the stage, triggered by a PocketWizard Plus III.  The strobe is 320 WS running off the battery on 1/2 power giving a recycle time of about 1 second.

Here are the results.

 Shot with Nikon D800.  ISO 200  F6.3 and 1/80 shutter speed. Nikon Lens 70-200.  (shot at 100)

Shot with Nikon D800.  ISO 200  F6.3 and 1/80 shutter speed. Nikon Lens 70-200.  (shot at 100)

 Shot with Nikon D800.  ISO 320  F5 and 1/100 shutter speed. Nikon Lens 17-35.  (shot at 17)

Shot with Nikon D800.  ISO 320  F5 and 1/100 shutter speed. Nikon Lens 17-35.  (shot at 17)

Here is another one, after the announcement.  This photograph was shot with a speed light on camera.

 Shot with Nikon D800.  ISO 400  F5.6 and 1/25 shutter speed. Nikon Lens 17-35.  (shot at 24)

Shot with Nikon D800.  ISO 400  F5.6 and 1/25 shutter speed. Nikon Lens 17-35.  (shot at 24)


Tuesday's Tips: Lighting Science at MIT

As a photojournalist based in Boston,  I spend a lot of my time at great colleges and universities photographing professors, scientists and doctors.  I find this genre of photography absolutely fascinating.  It feels like I have received my college education one hour at a time from the greatest minds in the world.  One of the challenges on each assignment is, how to make a unique photograph each time.  

When I was given this assignment to photograph Professor Alan Guth of the MIT Physics Department, as is the case with most assignments, I was given the subjects name and a very brief bit of information about the professor,  that was the only instruction I received from my editor. 

The rest is up to me to learn about my subject; what he/she does and to come up with the idea for the portrait.  Professor Guth was one of the physicists to hypothesize the theory of "Inflation," explaining how the universe was formed a spit second after the Big Bang.  How's that for a major discovery!  Much of the research done on his theory was conducted using a telescope at the South Pole, (which is just a bit too far from of the assignment location!) so we used a telescope on the MIT Campus as a symbol of his research. 

This photograph was on the cover of the International New York Times, in Der Spiegel Magazine and many others.  I also photographed his fellow scientist on the team, Professor John Kovac for Nature Magazine. (You can see how the photo of John Kovac was created on my previous blog post).

This photograph is a mixture of ambient light, strobe, long exposure and camera rotation.  The lighting was one Dynalite Uni strobe run off a battery held by my assistant on the left side of the image.  That was the only light I added to this photograph. The strobe was triggered with a Pocket Wizard Plus lll.  The image was shot with a Nikon D800, a 16mm Fisheye lens shot at f8 with a shutter speed of 1/13 of a second.  The camera is hand held, not on a tripod. I made the exposure slowly as I turned the camera to get the slight feeling of movement.

To determine my exposure, I started by using the camera meter to expose for the sky, slightly underexposing, so the blue sky will be a bit darker.  Once I have determined the f stop for the sky, I used a Sekonic L478 handheld light meter to get the corresponding f stop from my strobe.

On a photograph like this where you are mixing ambient light and strobe light, always start your exposure with the element of the exposure you can not control.  In this case it is the sky.  Other things to consider were how much depth of field do I want and what shutter speed do I need to get the movement effect.  

I love shooting in those last few seconds of daylight, just before we get to f nothing.





Tuesday's Tips: The Big Bang Theory, Lighting Science with Professor John Kovac

This image of Professor John Kovac of Harvard University is in the current issue of Nature Magazine.  Professor Kovac is one of the scientists who proved what happened a split second after the Big Bang occurred.

My assignment from Nature was to create a portrait of Professor Kovac.  As is normally the case, that was all the direction I was given.  My idea was to photograph the Professor with a telescope.  There were two telescopes on the roof of the Harvard Science Center, so I contacted the Science Center to make arrangements to have the photo shoot there.

The challenge was that the space was very small with very limited areas to place the strobes without them being in the image.  I opened the dome above the telescope and  laid on the ground at the entrance of the dome, shooting up to include as much dome and sky as possible.  

I used two Nikon SB 900 speedlights to light this image.  I placed one Speedlight directly behind the telescope.  The main light on him was tightly gridded using a Rogue Grid.  It was placed above me, slightly to the right of the entrance.  To get the dome and sky blue,  I set the camera on tungsten.  I put a Rosco CTO filter over the main speed light aimed at the Professor. The sky and my background light were day light balanced.  The main light was compensated to match my camera tungsten setting.  The speedslights were triggered by Pocket Wizards.  I shot this image at 1/200 f/7.1 & ISO 50 with a Nikon 16mm fisheye on a Nikon D800 camera.

 Telescope dome without my light

Telescope dome without my light

 Exterior of telescope dome

Exterior of telescope dome

 Smart Phone Picture of me, figuring out the right angle to shoot this photograph at the entrance of the dome. It was taken during set up time.   It's a glamorous life at times!

Smart Phone Picture of me, figuring out the right angle to shoot this photograph at the entrance of the dome. It was taken during set up time.   It's a glamorous life at times!

Tuesday's Tips: Lighting Science

On a recent assignment  I had the honor to photograph Professor Stephen Lippard, an  American bioinorganic chemist and the Arthur Amos Noyes Professor of Chemistry at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and 2014  winner of the Priestley Medal.   I had about 2 hours, including any set ups, to create a magazine cover, large lead photograph and photographs of him in his environment. 

On my way to meet the professor at his office on MIT campus, I came across a large glass block periodic table on the wall at the elevator hall in his building.   After meeting the professor  and photographing him in his office , I asked him to come down to the lobby to be photographed with the periodic table for the cover shot.  

To light the professor, I used a Dynalite Uni, a 400WS monolight with small Chimera soft box  as the main light, with black formcore as gobo to prevent the white light from spilling on to the background.  In the back, I set up a Dynalite Roadmax 800 power supply with 2 heads with Rosco blue gel on one side and and Rosco  yellow gels on the other side.   I  placed a Nikon SB-900 strobe with Rosco red gel on the floor shooting up at the periodic table.   All the strobes were fired with Pocket Wizard Plus III’s.  I placed the reflector on the same  light stand as the boom holding the model of a molecule, because there was so little space.  The model of the molecule was hung from the boom with fishing line. The other challenge was that 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.  This is a photograph of the set up and how it look like without the light on.


 For this assignment, as is the case with most of my assignments, I was not given any art direction and there was no location scouting time before the shoot.  My job was to come in, quickly asses my environment, create a photographs that magazine would love.  

Christopher Kimball for NYT Sunday Review


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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1 day of Photography

I started my day of October 30th, photographing President Obama's visit to Faneuil Hall in Boston and finished my day early morning of October 31st, photographing Red Sox Nation celebrating the Red Sox World Series victory over the St. Louis Cardinals at Fenway park.   1 day of Photography!


Shoot NYC & PhotoPlus

October 24th through October 26th is a busy time for photographers in New York with 2 major photo events going on at the same time.  I am honored to speak at both  ShootNYC  & PhotoPlus.   I will be at ShootNYC on Thursday Oct 24th and at PhotoPlus Oct 24th-26th.  My schedule is listed below.  Please come by and say hello.

Shoot NYC and the trade show floor of  PhotoPlus are both free events. My suggestion is that you pre-register for each event.  Both events cover wide range of photo information that is beneficial to all level of photographers.  

I look forward to seeing you in New York. 

Thursday  10/24/13

10:30AM-Noon  Shoot NYC  

All other events are at PhotoPlus at the Jacob Javits Center

1:30-2:15  PhotoPlus Unique Photo 

Friday  10/25/13

10:30AM-11:15  PhotoPlus Unique Photo

Noon-1pm  PhotoPlus Chimera Lighting

4pm-5pm  PhotoPlus ExpoImaging/Rogue

Saturday  10/26/13

10AM-11AM  PhotoPlus Chimera Lighting

1PM-2PM  PhotoPlus ExpoImaging/Rogue

2:30PM-3:15PM  PhotoPlus Unique Photo


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One Evening’s Photography.

A few weeks ago I did a blog post of “One Week’s Photography”.  The other day I went out shooting and created “One Evening’s Photography".  I left the studio at 5PM in the South End of Boston and headed to the Rose Kennedy Greenway and the Boston waterfront.  I made it back to the studio around midnight.  The shutter speeds ranged from 1/125 of a second to 100 seconds.  The  clouds were just amazing.  In the vertical photographs of the Customs House Tower, note the rainbow that appeared from the mist of the fountain and the long exposure.


 Boston waterfront

Boston waterfront

 Rose Kennedy Greenway Park

Rose Kennedy Greenway Park

 Christopher Columbus Park

Christopher Columbus Park

 Rose Kennedy Greenway Park

Rose Kennedy Greenway Park

 Rose Kennedy Greenway and Marriott's Custom House

Rose Kennedy Greenway and Marriott's Custom House

 Zakim Bridge

Zakim Bridge

 Boston South Station

Boston South Station

One Week's Photographs

The life of a photojournalist often affords one a diversity that few other professions can. This past week was the perfect example of why I love what I do! 

My week started on Saturday, which for most is their time off. I am not sure that "weekend off" is a term I ever use.

Saturday commenced with teaching a "Location Lighting Workshop" at my studio in Boston. It was a great group and we had fun. ( NB: no pink flamingos were harmed in the creation of this image).

 Fun group picture from Boston Workshop

Fun group picture from Boston Workshop

Monday morning I departed for Martha's Vineyard. My assignment was to photograph a portion of President Obama's vacation. As part of The White House Pool I was there to document whatever events transpired. My first images were of the President golfing. The next day President Obama held a press conference in his driveway to discuss the events that had occurred in Egypt. During the course of my covering the President I had the opportunity to also photograph him cycling with his family and more golfing.

 Presidential press conference

Presidential press conference

 President Obama and daughter Malia bike riding on Martha's Vineyard

President Obama and daughter Malia bike riding on Martha's Vineyard

 The President playing golf during his vacation

The President playing golf during his vacation

When I was not in the pool I spent my downtime taking creative pictures and working more with long exposure photography. I am enjoying, as always finding new ways to improve and change my images.

Oak Bluffs002sm.jpg

Sunset in Menesha, Martha's Vineyard


As the week rolled to and end I headed back to Boston to cover an afternoon forum on the 50th anniversary of the "March to Washington" for The JFK Library. I had the opportunity to hear and photograph Congressman John Lewis who talked about speaking prior to Martin Luther King at this historic event.  

 Congressman John Lewis talking about the March on Washington at the John F. Kennedy Library.  An inspirational man. 

Congressman John Lewis talking about the March on Washington at the John F. Kennedy Library.  An inspirational man. 

All in all this last image sums up a week in my world.


 End of the summer firework on the Vineyard

End of the summer firework on the Vineyard

Martha's Vineyard

I am on the vineyard to cover President Obama's vacation this week. 

This was shot at for 53 seconds at F20 to get the flowing of the water,on a Nikon D800 with a 70-200 lens. 



Boston 1 day Location Lighting Workshop

I hosted 1 day  "Location Lighting Workshop" ™ at my studio in Boston on August 10, 2013.

Here is our fun workshop group photograph!

This was lit with 1 Dynalite Uni, a Chimera Lighting soft box, a ExpoImaging Flashbender, on a Nikon D-800,  triggered remotely using PocketWizard Plus lll.

*No pink flamingos were harmed in the creation of this photo.

Boston Workshop.jpg

I will be posting my upcoming workshop schedule on this blog and my facebook page Location Lighting Workshop.  Stay tuned, and hope you can join us at one of the locations!

Lighting Science: The Silk Pavilion

I had an assignment from Der Speigel Magazine to photograph the "Silk Pavilion" at  the  MIT Media Lab, in Cambridge, MA.    

 "Inspired by the way silkworms weave delicate cocoons from a single strand of silk, the pavilion was created using a base of robot-woven threads wrapping a steel frame, completed by 6,500 live silkworms which were let loose upon this primary structure. Through a combination of careful design of the primary structure and the silkworms’ instinctive preference for darker areas of the pavilion’s surface, the pavilion’s mottled skin finds the mid-point between a scaled-up version of the insects’ own cocoons and a functional space for humans."  ( from website MIT Media Lab ArchDaily)

The Silk Pavilion, is a 2 story high, transparent structure hung by wires in the lobby of the MIT Media Lab

 This is what it looked like lit:


Silk Pavilion006.jpg

This is what it looked like when I arrived. 


The finished was created using 6 Dynalite heads, 4 Dynalite power packs, a roll of Rosco Cinifoil, Rosco Tough Spun and yellow, orange and blue gels. The strobes were triggered by PocketWizard Plus llls.

Here is the published article in Der Spiegel:


 My 2 wonderful assistants who helped me create this image! 
 (I am the guy on the left)  
 Keiko Hiromi (R)
Hyunah Jang (L)



NECCC 2013

Great weekend at the NECCC ( New England Camera Club Conference ) in Amherst, MA on July 12-14.  Thank you all for attending my Dynalite Inc. Location Lighting Workshop, theLensbaby and the ExpoImaging Rogue photo shoots. Thanks to my sponsors and the NECCC hosts. It was great to see old friends and meet new ones! 

 Dynalite Location Lighting Workshop

Dynalite Location Lighting Workshop

 Expoimaging Rogue Flashbender workshop

Expoimaging Rogue Flashbender workshop

 Lensbaby Workshop

Lensbaby Workshop

I am hosting 1 day Location Lighting Workshop at my studio in Boston on August 10, 2013. It will be a small hands on workshop, size limited to 8 photographers. (10am-5pm $199.) For registration and questions, please contact me! (rick(at)rickfriedman.com)