Dynalite

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! 

 

 

  

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: Let the Campaign Begin!

Happy Tuesday!  

One of my great passions throughout my career as a photojournalist has been photographing presidential campaigns, especially in the very early phases, which is where we are now.  Campaign 2016 is well underway!
Every 4 years, I photograph a lot of people who think they are qualified to be president.  This is my 10th Presidential campaign.  I started doing this when Carter first ran.  My first great success was shooting the Newsweek cover when Ronald Reagan won the New Hampshire primary defeating George Bush.  I was on assignment for Newsweek covering George H.W. Bush in Manchester, NH.  After Bush gave his concession speech, I quickly left his campaign headquarters and drove from Machester to Concord to see if I could make it before Reagan gave his acceptance speech.  I made it in time and nicely pushed my way through the crowd to the third row behind two rows of fellow photojournalists and positioned my 50mm lens between the other photographers. Today, due to security this would never happen.   I sent off my film and would have been happy to have a photo in the magazine.  When my agent, Howard Chapnick of Black Star called on Thursday early evening and asked "how does it feel to have your first Newsweek cover?'  I respond with "how would I know".  That excitement of covering politics has never left me.  I still believe I have the best job in world. The person I am with could go on to become the president and today they are shaking hands with a few people in a drug store.

 

So far this campaign, I have photographed, Jeb Bush, Chris Christy, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, Scott Walker, Ben Carson and Rand Paul.  With in the next few weeks I will photograph at least a dozen people who think they are the one to lead our country.  It is an unique experience.  Whether or not you agree with them politically, it is fascinating to spend time with this amazing group of people and hear their political views.  

Over my 10 presidential campaigns I have learned a few things that have worked well for me covering the campaign trail.  

 

Dos & Dont's:

Do: play nice with others!

Get to know the candidate, they may become president!

Get to know their staff, they control access.  Get to know the national and local politicos.   And very important, get to know security.  Whether it's local police or Secret Service, be polite, understand their job.  You may want to make a photograph, but they have to protect the candidate.  I learned a long time ago, never challenge a person with badge and a gun.  You will not win.  If you are nice and you get to know them, you will get your shots.
 

 

 

Do: Play nice with fellow journalists!  They can make your job some much easier or much more difficult.

 

 

Do: Travel Light
Some times there is not much light and high ISO is the answer.  I would always rather use the native ISO of a camera.  If the stage is not lit, sometimes I will light it with my own strobes, my strobe of choice is a Dynalite Baja, set up in the back of the room.  I'll fire the Dynalite with a Pocket Wizard Plus III.  I can have nice light with direction and make portrait in a situation that is not optimal and have the flexibly to move around the room.  I was able to shoot Chris Christie at ISO 400!  You can read more detailed info on "how to" in my past blog post "Lighting Politics!"








Do: pay attention to color balance. All of my strobes have a Rosco CTO and 3304 fluorescent filter attached with Velcro to the top of the flash.  It's always there when I need it. 

This is me using my Rosco 3304 fluorescent filter, covering Ben Carson in NH.




Do: Keep an eye out for items that add to your photos.  If there is an American flag or a campaign sign, add to your photo.  Place your photograph, look for things that show the location of the event.

 

 

 

Be ready, the great photographs happen in a second.   Pay Attention for candidate's entrance and exit .

 

 

 

Do: Use negative space in your images.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

Don't:
Don't block other people's view.
Be award of the people you are working around.  Be respectful of the people whose lives and homes we invade.  A journalist who is inconsiderate makes us all look bad and makes our job harder.

Don't: carry too much equimpemet with you.   During a long campaign day, your equipment will feel like it gains weight as the day goes on.  
 

 

What I usually carry on the campaign trail:
2 Nikon cameras
Nikon 17-35 f2.8
Nikon 24-70 f2.8
Nikon 70-200 f2.8
2 Speedlights with Rosco CTO and green filters.
ThinkTank Retrospective bag.

Things I sometimes carry:
Nikon 16mm Fisheye
Nikon 105mm Macro lens (great for portraits)
Nikon 300mm f2.8
Dynalie Baja 400WS Strobe
PocketWizard Plus III
Chimera 22" beauty dish
Induro tripod.

When I need my 300mm and my computer at an event,  I carry a ThinkTank Street Walker backpack.  

 

One last do:  Enjoy this amazing experience!

Here is a list of my upcoming workshops! Hope you can join us!

April 25
Miami Photography Workshops, Miami, FL

May 7
B&H Photo, New York, NY

May 16-17
Hunts Photo, Melrose, MA

Happy Shooting!!

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.

_DSC9292.jpg

 

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!