Tuesday's Tips: "Throwing Colors at the Wall" with my new Rosco Location Lighting Kit

I'm excited to announce that Rosco is releasing the new version of the  "Rick Friedman Location Lighting Kit" at PhotoPlus Expo in NY this week. Lots of color gels, Toughspun & Cinefoil,  I'll be demonstrating the new kit at the Rosco booth on Friday 10/31.  Booth 165.  

If you look in my camera bag, you will  find a plastic bag of Rosco color gels, Toughspun and Cinefoil, in various sizes that I use for my assignments. I use the gels to color correct and create interesting light  while the Cinefoil helps me control the light and the Tough Spun helps softens the light.  All these fit in a small bag!  

The beauty of working with Rosco Cinefoil and color gels is you can make a boring background into interesting one!  The model is leaning against the brick wall outside the studio.  By adding the color gels shot through holes in the Cinefoil, I was able to project the colors on the wall.  Before the cover shoot we cut a pattern out of a sheet of Rosco Photofoil and taped pieces of different color gels over the holes in the Cinefoil.  My background light was a Nikon speedlight blown through the colored cut out to project interesting patterns on the bricks.   I used a speed light for my background because I wanted to have the pattern to come out clear: a smaller light source will gives you harder edge.  My main light was Dynalite Uni with a grid and Rosco Toughspun.  I used a sheet of Cinefoil to direct my main light to create the feeling of a spot light on my model.  The Uni strobe  was powered by a portable Jack Rabbit battery and both strobes were fired using PocketWizard Plus IIIs.

This is a strobe photograph, with no ambient light.  I used Sekonic 478 Lightmeter to read the strobe output.  My exposure for this shot was 1/250 second, f5 at ISO 80.


Equipment used for the cover shot are:
Lots of Rosco color gels
2 sheets of Rosco Cinefoil
Dynalite Uni with a grid and
Rosco Toughspun
Nikon Speedlight
PocketWizard Plus III
Sekonic Lightmeter 478
Nikon D800

Thank you Eve Eliseeva for being a wonderful model!


I will be doing a series of lectures and live demos throughout PhotoPlus 2014 Expo at Javtis Center in New York City. 

Thursday October 30
Noon-12:30 California SunBounce PhotoPlus Show Floor Theatre
1:30- 2:15 Unique Photo Booth #937

Friday Oct 31
ROSCO Booth #165

Saturday Nov 1
12:30 – 1:15 ExpoImaging Booth #134
2:30 – 3:15 Unique Photo Booth #937

I will discuss "how-to" on my lighting from my photo assignment, a lot of gear talk as well as fun behind the scenes stories. If you are planning to be there, come say hi!

Tuesday's Tips: Shooting Colorado!

A few weeks ago I traveled through Colorado from Denver to the Telluride Photo Festival.  I had the honor to teach two Location Lighting Workshops and presented two lectures; one on location lighting and one on my career as a photojournalist.  While in Denver, I went to the Denver Botanic Garden to view the Chihuly exhibit. It was amazing!  In Boulder, I stopped off at Chimera Lighting to see where my softboxes are created.  The next day, I headed to Colorado Springs to visit a great photographer and friend, Allison Ernest.  After Colorado Springs, I had an amazing drive across the beautiful state.  

Here are a few photographs from the trip:

Location Lighting Workshop attendee, Mark Burrows, modeling in front of a gray backdrop. This gray backdrop was colored using blue Rosco gels, with a pattern created by shooting the strobe through Rosco CineFoil with holes cut into the CineFoil.

The setup for the above photograph:  The main light is a Dynlite Uni 400 with Rosco ToughSpun over the strobe to soften the light.  The background light is a Nikon Speedlight SB900 with gels and Cinefoil.
I used a Sunbounce MicroMini reflector to bounce back some of the light.

Here, we have moved outside the studio and are using a Dynalite Baja strobe with a Chimera beauty dish as our light modifier.  In this photograph we are using the strobe and beauty dish to control the light on the model's face while initially exposing for the background.  Each of the students had a PocketWizard PlusIII on their camera to fire the strobe.  The Baja recycled fast enough for every student to work off one strobe.

Here is our set up at the beginning of Colorado Avenue in Telluride.  My friend, and an amazing photographer, Marla Meredith is modeling for us.  We are using the Dynlite Baja and the Chimera Beauty dish to light the model's face and balance the background light.


Back in the studio, this was lit using a a Speedlight and with a large Flashbender as the main light and Rogue Grid set as the hairline light.  Thank you Carin Somers for being a wonderful model!

The Chihuly exhibit at the Denver Botanic Garden in Denver.  This is amazing art and light.

Sunrise over Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs.  Yes, I really did get up early enough to photograph a sunrise!

Hanging out with Eileen Healy at Chimera in Boulder, where all my soft boxes are born!

Reflections over the Box Canyon in Telluride. This town is a photographer's playground!

Sunset over the hills above Telluride.

Star trails over Telluride.  The exposure on this image 1221 seconds at f16, ISO 100.  The light on the mountains and the forest is from an almost full moon.

 Telluride, CO

Telluride, CO

Time to leave Colorado and head for New York to PhotoPlus!

Leaving Telluride...  Next stop... New York for PhotoPlus. I'll be presenting my Location Lighting for Rosco, where we will be introducing my new Location Lighting Kit.  I will also be at Shoot NYC for SunBounce, at the ExpoImaging booth and at Unique Photo.  Hope to see you there!

PhotoPlus Schedule

Thursday  October 30
Noon-  California SunBounce #245
1:30- 2:15  Unique Photo Booth #937

Friday  Oct 31
ROSCO Booth #165

Saturday Nov 1
12:30 – 1:15  ExpoImaging Booth #134
2:30 – 3:15  Uniqu Photo Booth #937

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 Tips: Lighting up the Night!

Last night I had a chance to work with the brand new Dynalite Baja strobe, the newest addition to the Dynalite line.  The Baja is a self contained battery operated 400 watt second monolight with an internal battery.  I really like the quality of the light coming from the Baja. The recycling time was almost immediate, and the built in modeling light was great.  It's not heavy and easy to work with.

With the Baja strobe and Chimera Beautydish combination as my main light, I photographed a model, Eddy Twal in the front and back of my studio in South End's Boston.  I used a Sekonic L-478DR to read my light.  All strobes were triggered by PocketWizard Plus III.  My camera was set on manual and the color balance was set on daylight.  When working on location I use a Hoodman Loupe to view the images on LCD screen.

Shot 1

This was photographed at the same location as my last week's blog "Strobe on, Strobe off!"  Different strobes give you different looks. This image is a mixture of strobe and ambient light, with a hand held long exposure.  This is a single light photograph, using the Dynalite Baja strobe, Chimera medium beauty dish with an egg crate diffuser, held by my assistant with a 1420 VAL Spigot on painter's pole for the light stand. The VAL Spigot is produced by my friend Ian Pack in the UK.  This is a great adapter to add to your lighting kit.  My camera was set at an ISO 200, 1/4 second and F4.  The feeling of movement is created by shifting my camera from left top to down.  


Shot 2

In this photograph I used the Dynalite Baja strobe with Chimera medium beauty dish with an egg crate diffuser and Sunbounce 4'x6' zebra reflector.  This is also a single light photograph.  My camera was at ISO 250, 1/6 second and F4.5.  My shutter speed was determined by the ambient light, I wanted to have the yellow door lamp bright, but not overexposed.  I choose F4.5 for depth of field.



Shot 3

This photograph is taken behind my studio.  My main light was a Dynalite Baja Strobe with a Chimera medium beauty dish with an egg crate diffuser.  The backlight was a Dynalite Uni portable strobe with a Rosco CTO gel, to warm the color,  Rosco Toughspun to soften the light and Rosco Cinefoil to craft the light.  In the set up photograph, my assistant was holding black foam core against Chimera beautydish to shape the light, and produce the drop off of light in the lower right corner.  My camera was set at ISO 200, 1/2.5 second and F 4.5.  

Due to my training as a long time photojournalist,  I try to do it all in camera.   Less time spent in front of computer is better for my soul....!

I hope you can join me at one of my up coming "Location Lighting Workshops™" in Telluride, CO and at the Societies Photographic Convention in London, UK.  Please look at www.rickfriedman.com/workshops for a complete list of upcoming events.

September 29-October 1 at the Telluride Photo Festival, Telluride, CO

January 16-18, 2015 Societies Photographic Convention, London, UK

For another post on portraits in the dark, please look at my blog post on "Shooting at Twightlight in Costra Rica" 

All the Rosco products are included in Rick Friedman Rosco Location Lighting Kit!

Happy Lighting!

Tuesday's Tips: Strobe on, strobe off!

I was recently asked to demonstrate the difference between strobe on camera and strobe off camera. The examples below show how changing the position of the strobe, on and off camera, changes the lighting effect. I also factored in the available light which also affects both exposure and color. 

I started my exposure by reading the background and underexposing it by 1 stop.  The strobe was placed off to the side and fired using a pair of PocketWizard TT5s on the strobe and on the camera with an AC3 controller on the camera. The AC3 gives me the ability to dial up and down my exposure of my strobe from my camera.  The exposure on the background was controlled by the camera setting and the light on the model was controlled by my strobe output. The photographs were created using a Nikon camera and a Speedlight.

For my first test shot, my strobe which is daylight balanced, was much warmer in color, then my background.  (Picture 1) Thank you to my assistant Kalin Luong for modeling!

 Too blue for me!   (Picture 1)

Too blue for me!  (Picture 1)

To balance out the colors of my strobe and background, I put a Rosco half CTB filter over the strobe (CTB is Color Temperature Blue). Now that the color from the strobe and the color background were similar, I did a custom white balance off of my strobe light. (Picture 2)

 I put CTB on my strobe and set my camera for white balance the color off of the strobe.   (Picture 2)

I put CTB on my strobe and set my camera for white balance the color off of the strobe.  (Picture 2)

For using a strobe off camera: I made a snoot from Rosco Cinefoil and softened the light by crumpling up and placing some Rosco Tough Spun, a diffusion material, into the snoot. The Cinefoil controls the direction of light, the Tough Spun diffuses the light. 

For comparison, here is the same location, the same time and the same photograph with on camera flash!

 On Camera Flash

On Camera Flash

A larger light source gave us softer light.  One of my favorite portable light modifiers is the Chimera beauty dish!  As the daylight decreased, the predominant light source became the tungsten light on the building. We no longer needed a CTB because the blue available light went away. The CTB gel was removed from the strobe. I set my camera's white balance to daylight. 

The strobe produced the correct color on the model's face, while the buildings in the background had a warm color from the tungsten lights on the front of the buildings.

I hope you can join me at one of my up coming "Location Lighting Workshops™" in Telluride, CO

and at SWPP in London, UK.

September 29-Octoberr 1 at the Telluride Photo Festival, Telluride, CO
January 16-18, 2015 Societies Photographic Convention, London, UK

All Rosco products are included in Rick Friedman Rosco Location Lighting Kit!

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: Creating Backgrounds With Cinefoil, Gels And Scissors!

This week's Tuesday Tips is a series of photographs from my studio.  As a photojournalist and corporate photographer, I do the majority of my work on location, although I do shoot some assignments in my studio.  Quite often, I use my studio as my test kitchen, exploring new lighting techniques and testing new equipment.   We were working with the idea of creating unique patterns with color on a plain white backdrop using Rosco gels, and Cinefoil, which is black tinfoil.  What we were able to create, using similar lighting setups, and minor changes in the lighting, resulted in a totally different look in the background. 

Three lights were used with all three photographs below.  A main light on the model, a hairline light, and a backlight on the backdrop.  To create the pattern on the background, we cut holes in piece of Cinefoil and shot a strobe with a blue gel through it. The effect of lighting these images with Speedlights verses Dynalites are vastly different. 

The large light source will give you a softer light, while the speedlght, a smaller light source, will give you a harsher light effect.

Lighting setup and gear used:  
Nikon D800 camera
Nikon 70-200 f2.8 lens
3 strobes (Speedlights & Dynalite)
Rosco Cinefoil
Rosco CTO (orange gel)
Rosco blue gel
Rosco Tough Spun
 Pocket Wizard Plus III, TT5 
Light Meter (I use Sekonic 478 DR)
Chimera Softbox
Manfrotto light stands
Boom (to hang a piece of Cinefoil)

This diagram shows the basic setup.  I used different lights to achieve different visual effects on my images.  I used Sekonic 478 DR Lightmeter.  All strobes were fired using PocketWizard.  When adding colors to your photographs with gels, it is important that your white light does not hit the colored areas, as the white light will blow away your colors.

Dynalite setup:
My main light was a Dynalite with a Chimera Softbox.  My hairline light was another Dynalite head with a grid and a Rosco full CTO gel.  The background light was shot through custom cut Cinefoil with a Rosco blue gel.

 set up

set up

Speedlights and softbox setup:
All lights for this setup were Speedlights.  The main light I used was a Nikon SB900 with Chimera Softbox as a light modifier.  The background light on the white backdrop was Nikon SB900 with Rosco blue gel with a custom cut Rosco Cinefoil.  For the hairline light, I used another Speedlight.  I put Cinefoil around the Speedlight to make a snoot, so that I can direct the light to only illuminate her hair.

Notice the drastic difference on the background pattern between the Speedlight setup and the Dynalite setup. This is because of the size of light source in relation to size of Cinefoil.  The smaller the light source, harder the edge of the shadow.  
I prefer to use a Chimera Softbox for the high quality of a light, for easy set up, and for its compact size for easy travel.

Speedlight and Cinefoil
You can create a very nice hard light with Rosco Tough Spun and Rosco Cinefoil.  This is an all Speedlight setup.  The main light on the model's face is a Speedlight with Cinefoil to control its direction, and Rosco Tough Spun to soften the light.  If you compare this light with the light through a Softbox, the edge of shadow is much harder.  I also rotated the sheet of Cinefoil to change the background pattern.


My assistant, Keiko, created this heart shaped pattern cut out of Cinefoil.  This is a Dynalite setup.  My main light on the model's face is a Dynalite with grid.


Thank you to Hyunah Jang, who is also a wonderful photographer, for being a model for this shoot!

The Gels, Tough Spun, and Cinefoil I use, are all included in the Rosco Rick Friedman's Location Lighting Kit available for purchase at my Location Lighting Store here.

To learn this lighting technique and many others, come join me for a three day Location Lighting Workshop at Telluride Photo Festival in beautiful Telluride, CO on September 29th - October 1st, 2014. It will be fall foliage time!  

A Day at the Asylum in London!  This will be a very fun workshop to be sure! I am teaching during the Societies Photographic Convention in London, UK on January 16th trough 18th, 2014. ( The Asylum workshop in on January 17th)

The workshops will cover use of Speedlights and Studio strobes with various light modifiers and gels.  We hope you can join us for one of the hands on workshops.  

Please visit my website for a complete list of upcoming workshops.

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's Tips: Making Gray Skies Blue

How do you create a dramatic photograph on rainy cloudy day?  Easy, Have a beautiful model with a red dress, a castle and a Rosco CTO gel on your strobe. This photograph was shot in Caerphilly, Wales,  during one of the 10 stops on my Location Lighting Workshop Tour of the UK sponsored by SWPP.   

In this week's "Tuesday Tips" I'm going to talk about cross filtering technique with strobes.  When this photo was taken, it was raining and the sky was muddy ( See the workshop group photo below). 

Have you ever set your camera on tungsten and gone outside to shoot?  What happens?    Your photograph turns out blue!  So use this to your advantage on a cloudy day.  Set your camera white balance to tungsten, and place a Rosco CTO orange filter over the flash.   A CTO filter is a color correction filter, converting your speed light, which is balanced for daylight, to tungsten.  You color correct the skin tones of your subject while your background turns blue.

The model is lit by a single speedlight with a Rosco CTO gel in front of it, shot through a 24x30 soft box on the right side, with a reflector on the left.   Now the output of my speedlight is tungsten, which matches my camera setting. Because of this, the model has proper skin tones and the background is now blue.   This filter is available as part of the Rick Friedman Location Lighting Kit .  Fun fact, my favorite soft box brand is Chimera Lighting, it makes beautiful light!

To determine your exposure, use your camera meter to read the "Element you cannot control":  In this case it is the ambient light on background.  My strobe is set on TTL and fired with a PocketWizard and if you want your background darker blue, under expose the sky.


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!

Tuesday's Tips: Shooting at F Nothing!

I love shooting twilight on a warm evening.  A few weeks ago on my Blog "Controlling the Sun",  I talked about ways to deal with harsh sunlight during a summer mid-day shoot.  This week's "Tuesday's Tips"  is about shooting at dusk, when you are at about f-nothing!  One of my favorites times to shoot!  All these photographs were taken at the same spot.  How do you use light, composition, and a bit of camera movement to achieve very different effect in each photograph?  These images were shot with the last few seconds of light on the horizon during a workshop I taught with my friend Rolando Gomez in Costa Rica.  

This photograph was lit with a portable 1200WS strobe made by Hensel,  through a Chimera Beauty Dish, on the right side of the frame.  This beauty dish folds up small enough to fit in your camera bag. The strobe was fired with a PocketWizard Plus lll on the camera and a second PocketWizard connected to the strobe.  Start your exposure with "element you can not control," (I say this a lot) in this case, it is the ambient light on the horizon.  Use your camera meter to determine this exposure and then underexpose the image by 1 stop, to give you deeper colors in the background.  I use a Sekonic 478 flash meter to match my strobe output to the ambient light.  If you are creating this type of image using studio strobes or speed lights, make sure your camera is on manual.  My color balance is daylight.  

When composing the photograph, pay attention to all elements you can incorporate into to your photograph.  I like reflections, use it to your advantage!  This photograph was shot with a Nikon D800 with a with Nikon 70-200 f2.8 lens at ISO 400, F4.5 & shutter speed 1/5, hand held.

This is one of my favorite tricks in low light photography: Swirling images.  This is all done in camera, not in photoshop!   This is a single light photograph with the Hensel strobe & Chimera beauty dish.  This image was shot ISO 200 F4.5 and Shutterspeed 1/2.  To add a swirling effect to the image,  I rotated the camera clockwise at the end of exposure.

I do this sometimes for portrait assignments, wedding receptions and events where I'm looking for a different feel to the image. (I will do another blog post on this: How to swirl images!) 

Last, I want to finish with this image.  In this case I didn't use a strobe, because I wanted the silhouette of the model.  I love the feel of the gold light bouncing off the water in the foreground, to pull you into the image.  This photograph is shot with ISO 200, F3.5 & shutter speed 1/100.  You can create a such a different feel in the same location by changing how you use the light.

Thank you to our great models Heather Carden and Candice Marie.

Tuesday's Tips: Musical Genius

 Randy Newman playing Piano during the PEN New England Awards with Elvis Costello, Lyle Lovett and Allen Toussain at JFK Library in Boston, MA.  

Randy Newman playing Piano during the PEN New England Awards with Elvis Costello, Lyle Lovett and Allen Toussain at JFK Library in Boston, MA.  

Yesterday, I had the honor of photographing the PEN New England Song Lyrics Awards ceremony at the John F. Kennedy Library in Boston, MA.   The awards celebrate the work of singer/songwriters Kris Kristofferson and Randy Newman.  Elvis Costello was the master of ceremonies. Other music greats present were Lyle Lovett, T Bone Burnett, Rosanne Cash, Allen Toussain and Peter Wolf.

The challenge in covering an event like this is that you are faced with variety of locations and a mixture of lighting with no time to set up lights and no time to do custom white balances.  In one room, I was dealing with daylight and florescent light, in another room daylight and tungsten light.  I had to constantly analyze the available light and change my color balance and exposure.  The stage was lit with tungsten, so the camera white balance was tungsten, while the audience was mixture of tungsten and daylight . I went to the auto white balance as my setting.  Backstage was a mixture of florescent and daylight.  Here I was able to shoot using bounce flash on camera.  In all these situations, my camera is set on manual, and I am shooting in raw.

 Lyle Lovett, Randy Newman Elvis Costello, and Kris Kristofferson at JFK Library in Boston, MA.

Lyle Lovett, Randy Newman Elvis Costello, and Kris Kristofferson at JFK Library in Boston, MA.

An event like this moves quickly and one has very little control over what is happening.  Backstage you need to get your photographs without interfering with the performers.  That said, this was one of the nicest group of people I have worked with.  It was absolutely wonderful to be able to talk with Randy Newman and Kris Kristofferson.

Another day of "I love my job!"

 T Bone Burnett and Kris Kristofferson at JFK Library in Boston, MA

T Bone Burnett and Kris Kristofferson at JFK Library in Boston, MA

 Rosanne Cash and Elvis Castello

Rosanne Cash and Elvis Castello

Whether it's legends of Rock and Roll,  covering the President ,a wedding reception, or a business meeting, the principals of covering events are similar.  It is important to capture the moments, read the light, be able to carry your gear and move around quickly.  

I work alone on this type assignment.   I carry a small Think Tank bag and work with this equipment:

2 Nikon D-800 camera bodies
Nikon 17-35 f2.8 lens
Nikon 24-70 f2.8 lens
Nikon 70-200 f2.8 lens
Nikon 16mm fisheye
2 Pocket Wizard TT5s
2 Nissin MG8000 Speedlights with sto-fen domes
Rogue small size flash bender
CTOrange Rosco filter
Green Rosco Fluorescent correcting Rosco filter
Rosco CTBlue Filter
Extra Camera Battery
Extra AA Batteries

 Kris Kristofferson and Randy Newman 

Kris Kristofferson and Randy Newman 

 Rosanne Cash hugs Kris Kristofferson after Elvis Costello finishes performing. T. Bone Burnett on right.

Rosanne Cash hugs Kris Kristofferson after Elvis Costello finishes performing. T. Bone Burnett on right.

 Kris  Kristofferson reacts as he is introduced.

Kris  Kristofferson reacts as he is introduced.






Tuesday's Tips: Controlling the Sun

I love summer.  It is one of my favorite seasons to photograph ouside, long days and warm weather.  However, it can also bring up interesting challenges, when you have a portrait assignment, the subject is only available during the mid day hours and the light is very harsh.  Shooting these portraits either early in the day or late in afternoon and early evening would be a better way to do this.  If this is not possible, here are a few ways to make beautiful light.

In all these situations you need to determine your basic exposure, using the in-camera meter for the background, or as I refer to it, "the element you can not control".  Use your strobe or a reflector to fill in the light on your subject's face.  If you are using manual strobes, a flash meter is the best way to determine your strobe exposure.  I use a Sekonic 478DR meter.  If you do not own a flash meter, you can use the screen on your camera to determine your exposure.  It will get you close.  Make sure you really see your screen.  For this I use a $90 item, called a "Hoodman Loupe"  It's money well spent.

The shots:
1. Set up your shot with the sun directly behind your subject.  This will give you a nice hairline light, and separation from the background.   The fill on this image was a speedlght on camera,
on TTL, dialed down 1 stop.

 Writer and adventurer Guy Grieve at Walden Pond in Concord, MA, for the Guardian UK.

Writer and adventurer Guy Grieve at Walden Pond in Concord, MA, for the Guardian UK.

2, Bring your subject into the shade, under a tree, or a large column.  The light on the subject's face was created by a Nikon Speedlight held by my assistant and bounced off a California Sunbouce Micromini reflector fired using a PocketWizard TT5.

 Rudy Dieudonne on the campus of MIT in Cambridge, MA, for Ebony Magazine.

Rudy Dieudonne on the campus of MIT in Cambridge, MA, for Ebony Magazine.

3  If you can't back light the subject, or there is no shaded area, due to your need for a specific background,  then, bring your own shade.   Place the subject under a translucent diffuser.  This will help knock out those ugly shadows and soften the light.  Then you can use your strobe to give your light direction.  The light in this photograph is a Dynalite Uni-400 strobe powered by a Jackrabbit battery and fired through a Chimera beauty dish.

  Nancy Taylor, Sr. Minister at South Church ( seen in back), photographed at Copley Sq in Boston, MA for Sports Illustrated. 

 Nancy Taylor, Sr. Minister at South Church ( seen in back), photographed at Copley Sq in Boston, MA for Sports Illustrated. 

4. Overpower the shadow.  (compare Mitt Romney & baby's faces and faces of others in background.)   Your light source must be fairly close to the subject.  If you are using speedlight, be prepare to adjust power output (+/-), to get the correct effect, even it is set to TTL.  ( in my case, I often find myself adjusting my speed light -1).  This is a speed light on camera, not my ideal way of shooting with a speedlight.   But as a photojournalist,  I have to go with what each situation allows me to do!

 Mitt Romney in NH for Corbis

Mitt Romney in NH for Corbis

These are some of my ways to deal the bright summer light.

May you control the bright summer light and enjoy outdoor shooting!


Tuesday's Tips: The Author and the Interview

A number of the assignments I have involve shooting the photographs while the reporter(s) are conducting their interview.  Creating portraits during the interview brings up some unique challenges.  In most portrait sessions the photographer can direct the subject.  When shooting during the interview, you cannot interrupt nor direct the subject in any way.  You are also limited to how many frames you can fire, as the shutter sound and the strobes may distract the subject or the reporter(s). 

The author John Updike was one of my favorite subjects that I had a pleasure of working with for numerous stories and publications. This image was taken during my last session with him for Der Spiegel Magazine at Nine Zero Hotel in downtown Boston.

Updike for blog.jpg

Things you need to know photographing interview:

1. Be prepared when you walk into the interview. 

2. Choose where you want you subject to sit, what will make a great background and foreground.  Once the interview starts, It is not professional nor possible to interrupt the interview to ask the subject to change seats.

3. Give your editors a choice of angels, expressions, long shots and wide shots.

4. Position yourself so you can make a great portrait and move a bit without disrupting the interview.  You may be in a small room, but you can be creative with your composition and how you frame the image.

5. Always make a good clean headshot.  It may be on the table of contents, but may be a cover. Leave some extra space to drop type around your subject, such as the title of the book or magazine.  My photographs were used in a recent biography of John Updike as the front and back covers.

 I really enjoy photographing during interviews. It presents different challenges than other portraits shoots and I get to listen to the interviews.   

The lighting on this photograph was 1 Nikon Speedlight to the right of the camera through a Chimera 24x30 softbox, held by my assistant.  As I moved, the assistant moved the strobe to keep the same lighting effect.  The strobe was fired using a Pocket Wizard. 

Updike with icon.jpg

Happy Shooting!


Interview room:

Tuesday's Tips: Finally Light Bulb

I had an assignment recently to photograph The Finally Light Bulb Company for the New York Times. The Finally Light Bulb Company came up with a completely new design for a light bulb.  I thought this would be a great topic to discuss in my lighting blog.

This photograph was created using two Nikon Speedlights; one Speedlight on camera and one Speedlight off camera inside the green sphere.  The strobe on camera, bounced off the ceiling, was used to illuminate the outside of the sphere. The other strobe was placed to illuminate the inside the sphere, turned up one stop, and pull the viewers eye toward the lightbulb.

Using the meter in the camera, I set the exposure for the ambient light from the light bulb, which is the focal point of the photograph.  I used my Nikon 16mm fisheye lens and positioned myself for and upshot from a low angle. Had I just shot this perspective with ambient light, the lightbulb and scientist would not have stood out. Sculpting with light within your composition means that you control your viewers perspective and create specific emotions that make your photograph memorable. This is why it is so important to recognize your existing light source, and learn to manipulate with additional light.

I used the Nikon Creative Lighting System (master-remote) to fire the Speedlight on camera, set as the master. The other Speedlight, inside the sphere was set on slave mode, and mounted with a Manfrotto Superclamp inside the sphere as illustrated below:





Tuesday's Tips: Lighting Kephenny!

I had a great time teaching my "Location Lighting Workshop™" at my studio in Boston this past weekend.  We had two wonderful models to work with, Kephenny and Rosangelina.   It was a weekend full of  of shooting, creativity, laughing and a lot of idea sharing.  

This week's "Tuesday's Tips" is from one of the lighting set ups from the workshop.  How do you make an interesting background out of a plain white backdrop?

I lit Kephenney with a Dynalite Uni strobe with a medium size Chimera Lightbank (48"x36") on the left side with Sunbounce MicroMini reflector on the right side.  Back ground was lit with a single Speedlight with Rosco Blue gel and Chimera Window pattern, placed in front of the gelled Speedlight.    All strobes were fired using  PocketWizard Plus IIIs. One on the camera and one on each strobe. When mixing studio strobes and Speedlites, make sure the Speedlight is set on manual.  I metered each light with Sekonic 478DR light meter.  

The key to this photograph is to control light from each strobe.  I used a large sheet of foam core as a gobo, on the left side of my soft box, to prevent the white light from the soft box from hitting the backdrop.  When adding colors to your photographs using color gels, it is important that no white light hit your color.   I used a speed light as my backlight with a gel,  because a small light source would give me more defined pattern on my back drop.


You can see more photographs from my workshops on my FB Location Lighting Workshop Page.

My next 2 day "Location Lighting Workshop™" is at the Hunts Photo in Melrose, MA, May 17 & 18.

Happy Shooting! & May all your colors be bright.  (if they are not, GEL THEM!!!)

Boston Location Lighting Workshop on May 3 & 4, 2014

Group photograph from our Boston studio & Location Lighting Workshops with Rick Friedman ! 
The back of the studio never looked so good!  Thank you everyone for making this workshop a great fun success!  To see more photos from the workshop, please visit my FB workshop Page "Location Lighting Workshop with Rick Friedman"!

Next stop for Location Lighting Workshops with Rick Friedman is Hunt's Photo and Video on May 17 & 18.
(Registration Link)