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” 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: 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 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!