Thursday, October 30, 2008

The Learning Curve

Sometimes you think you have the shot, you look at the LCD screen quickly to check but you really don't pay too much attention because you get caught up in getting more poses and more shots. Well, this is a perfect example of a shot that had the right lighting but a hard shadow ruined the whole thing. The hard shadow thrown across her neck came from the pose and I didn't notice it until I opened the file in Lightroom (aren't you happy when that happens?). Anyways, at least it gives the model an nice decapitated look :-) Have a happy Halloween everyone!

Lora at High Park 4

Friday, October 24, 2008

Think Post Processing First

If you read through internet forums as well as trade mags such as DPP (Digital Photo Pro), pros relying heavily on post processing for their trademark look seem to agree on one thing, you have to see the end result in your head first before you can even touch the camera. Having a pretty good idea of your concept and how you want to execute it will help you a great deal in setting up lighting and directing your subject. Going into a photoshoot with no particular aim or idea has proven quite fruitless for me and more often than not I end up scrambling for different post processing techniques trying to bring a dull image to life by the miracle of Photoshop.

This is one such example, I went through 50+ shots after this photo shoot and this was the only image that caught my attention. From there, I realized the lighting was ideal for a certain PP technique and that was it. Needless to say the models never made final selects out of the proofs, which tells me that they weren't very happy with what I shot. Live and learn.
Sietzka and Jussi

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

On Location - High Park. Toronto, Canada

On Saturday, fellow photographer and Strobist, Neil ( had arranged a photo shoot with Lora ( from Model Mayhem. Finding a suitable location was a bit of a challenge as there were plenty of people everywhere due to the nice, sunny weather. We ended up at High Park, hoping to get some fall colors. The setup was pretty simple, an AB1600 on a 22" beauty dish as main light powered by a Vagabond II portable battery and a Speedotron head powered by a Speedotron battery pack as fill. The AB1600 was placed at camera right and in front of the model, while the Speedotron was placed to camera left slightly behind the model.

1. This shot was one of the first test shots we did, without the fill light.
Lighting Test with Neil

2. This one incorporated the Speedotron as fill light.

Bundle up, it's getting colder up here.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Alien Bees and Speedlights Comparison

Yesterday (Tuesday, October 14th 2008) fellow strobist Shelley and I embarked on a little test of lighting and props on the lake shore of Toronto. We started out using an AB1600 on a medium octabox and tried to balance the ambient light but the problem was that the light was fading rapidly and the AB became to powerful (even at its lowest setting) so the highlights were constantly being blown out. The obvious option was to stand further away from the light, but as you can see in this example Shelley was not standing in the best of terrains and it just got plain dangerous as you tried to step further away from the octabox:

Dr. Doom is coming for your - Part 2
In this sample, the WB was set to Flash and the ISO was at 2000 in order to capture the ambient light without a tripod. The picture control was set to landscape (I had left it that way from a previous outing the day before)

As you can see, in the sample above, we were not quite capturing that dark gloomy mood we were looking for, so we decided to switch over to SB-800s triggered via Nikon CLS. To get the bluish color on the ambient, we dropped the WB to around 2600K (temp) and put on a daylight balance gel on the off-camera SB-800. The power output on the off-camera flash was 1/64th. Note: bring a flash light with you to find a focus point, otherwise use a cellphone as shown in this pic.
Dr. Doom looking to hook up this Halloween
Looking back on the shot, we should've set up a second flash to light the upper body but I still like the way this one came out.

Friday, October 10, 2008

TGIF - Strobing Thursday

I was a little sick of spending the evenings at home watching TV so I decided to go out last night for a street shooting session, which later evolved into a Strobist session. I called fellow strobist Shelley ( see if she wanted to join me in my excursion. The night was kind of a bust because it was windy and the umbrellas kept getting knocked over, to the point we gave up on them and tried to go with bare flashes. However, the bigger problem was the lack of planning on my part so we were just aimlessly scouting locations and trying to shoot at the same time. Lesson learned for the day: SCOUT YOUR LOCATION FIRST!

Testing Nikon's CLS  Part 2 - Taken by Shelley
This shot was taken by Shelley and it was probably one of the best ones of the night. The technical setup is as follows: ISO pumped up to 2000 and WB set to 3700K while using a CTO gel on the SB-800 positioned at camera left and set to 1/128 power with the diffuser cap on. We tried using umbrellas but the wind kept knocking them down.

I was so frustrated with the lack of results for the night that I proceeded to walk back to Dundas Square (Toronto, Canada) and shoot a crew of break dancers that I had seen earlier. No strobes this time, I just relied on the amazing high ISO capabilities of the Nikon D3. All shots were taken at ISO 3200

V for Vreak Dancing 2009 - Part 16

Have a happy thanksgiving! (Canada)

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

No Pictures for you today!


Well, I had my mind set on a photowalk around the downtown core today and figured the rain wouldn't be that bad. Boy, was I wrong! By 5pm it was very clear that I was going to have to cancel my plans and wait until tomorrow. I took this shot before leaving the parking lot of my office. About an hour and half later I made it home. Tomorrow will be another day and hopefully better pictures will accompany my post.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Nuit Blanche 2008

I had never been to this event before so I thought it would be a great opportunity to take a lot of pictures. I even envisioned running short on memory cards but by the end of the night (or morning) I had only taken less than a hundred shots. I think it's time to get back to Strobism and leave street shooting to those that are actually good at at it. I'm looking forward to October 18th, when I'll get together with fellow strobist Neil () for a photo shoot with a model. I think it's time to start pushing the envelope of creativity and lighting possibilities and I hope it will show in my next post. Having said that, here are a few shots from Saturday night at Scotiabank's Nuit Blanche 2008:

1. Stairs to Heaven

2. Anatomy of Kink

3. The Classic C

4. City Hall

5. Ice Cream Blues

6. Dancer on a streetcar window
Dancer on Streetcar window