This particular portrait shoot took place in the evening by which time it was completely dark but for the street lighting.
Now, working in such low light doesn’t normally cause a problem for the AF (Auto focus) on my Nikon D3 but when it does there’s an inexpensive piece of kit that’s always in my kit bag and comes to the rescue on more than one occasion…
At some point in the near future I’m going to put together a ‘What’s in my bag’ post showing what I typically carry with me on a shoot and also other lighting equipment that I use when in the studio but jumping the gun slightly here’s something I wouldn’t be without…
This pocket sized torch is called an LED Lenser and for it’s size packs a real punch and only costs around £10. If shooting on your own then there’s definitely a knack to holding it in your left hand and holding the camera with your right, then turning it on momentarily and aiming towards where you want to focus on your subject and finally pressing the shutter; but well worth the effort to save the frustration
Anyway back to the shoot and here’s a diagram to give you an idea of the lighting set up. (Note…All the photos of ‘Angelo’ were taken with him sat in the passenger seat of the car.)
It’s not uncommon during a location shoot for me to get comments/questions from passersby but the one I got on this particular evening definitely takes the 1st Prize slot for ‘Things not to say near a model’
Female Passerby: “Is it ok for to me pass by?”
Me: “Yes of course”
Female Passerby: “Oh good. I didn’t know if you were photographing a dead body or something.”
But then I guess looking back at what the set up must have looked like, she could be forgiven for thinking the worst.
From time to time I get questions asking how I get those ‘moody’ clouds in some of my photographs; is it all done ‘in camera’ or is down to Photoshop? …
The honest answer is that 99% of the time it’s all done ‘in camera’ at the time of the shoot, however there are those times when that just isn’t possible i.e. a beautiful crisp winters afternoon with clear blue skies. Now when there’s no clouds, there’s no clouds no matter what you do as was the case with a recent photo shoot; however all is not lost because that’s exactly where Photoshop can help you out…
One thing I’ve been doing for quite some time is building up a library of images for use in situations such as this. I have a number of folders on my hard drive with all kinds of photographs in that I’ve collected or taken whilst out and about; skies, textures, locations etc … and this is something I’m constantly adding to …
Below you can see an example of a ‘Before’ image with the crisp blue sky and not a cloud in sight and also an ‘After’ image where I’ve added in one of the skies I have on my hard drive. I actually quite like the original image with the clear, crisp blue sky but the brief before the shoot was to end up with moody/atmospheric pictures that would fit in with the look of the biker; all in black and on a black Harley Davidson …
As photographers I feel we should work hard to get our images as good as we possibly can ‘in camera’ and then use Photoshop as a tool to create the final look. However as in this case, there are times when Photoshop is needed that little bit more and if I was going to have a series of images with ‘moody’ clouds in the sky then I was going to have to add them during the editing/post production stage.
Lighting Set Up:
Lighting couldn’t have been much simpler; one Elinchrom Quadra and reflector just right of camera aimed at a certain point where the bike was set to pass …
Note:Lying down in the road isn’t big and isn’t clever…in fact some would say it was downright foolish…you can get filthy
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If you have any questions or comments about this particular shoot or maybe would like to see how some of the editing was done then as always please feel free to make use of the comments section below.
I’m really excited to tell you that this month’s Guest Photographer is Wisconsin, USA based Editorial & Portrait Photographer David E. Jackson…
I’ve been a huge fan of Dave and his work ever since I saw him featured over on Zack Arias‘ blog, so finally getting the chance to catch up and speak at length was a real privilege. We chatted for quite some time covering all manner of things from equipment, your style, the importance of personal projects and so much more…
Dave really is one of the good guys; a great photographer who believes in sharing his knowledge and expertise to help others and I just know you’re going to love what he shared during our chat.
In the mean time, here’s one of Dave’s ‘Behind the Scenes’ videos; some images from which I’m sure we’ll be including in his Guest Post.
There’s no question that with Scott Kelby introducing his Worldwide Photo Walk nearly 4 years ago, the whole concept of ‘street’ photography has been introduced into alot more photographers’ lives.
Just you and your camera walking at a leisurely pace and photographing the world as it goes by can be incredibly fulfilling but also as Photographer Scott Schuman shows in this short documentary, incredibly important to your craft.
It’s very easy to get wrapped up in wanting the latest piece of electronic wizardry but when all is said and done…that is all it is; it’s the photographer’s vision and creativity that are ultimately responsible for making a great photograph.
In 2011 one of my ‘New Year Resolutions’ is to make time to get out more with just my camera and one lens and just walk and really take time to see what’s around me. I did this a few times last year in places like Brighton and Bournemouth and I was overwhelmed at how much I learned from doing it.
So what do you think…Is this kind of stuff important? Do you already make the time to get out on Photo Walks of your own? Sure the thought approaching a total stranger and asking to take their photograph can be quite daunting if not scary for some but there are ways to go about it and undoubtedly a common sense approach does play a big part.
It’d be great to ‘hear’ any thoughts you have on this subject and maybe even a few tips that you’ve picked up along the way for getting the most out of it, so please as always feel free to make use of the comments section below.
Incidentally, if you haven’t checked it out already I’d highly recommend that you head over to Scott Schuman’s Blog ‘The Sartorialist‘…Word of warning though…you may find you’re there for quite some time!
Regular readers of this blog will have noticed that I’ve been shooting in the studio alot more over the past couple of months and that’s been great for a whole host of reasons; not least being the fact that despite the weather the shoot always goes ahead plus there’s the added comfort factor.
Now although I thoroughly enjoy shooting in the studio and working with what is in effect a blank canvas, where I really get a kick is shooting ‘on location’. Working outside on location though does bring with it, it’s own challenges and as any photographer knows it’s very much hit or miss whether the shoot actually goes ahead because of the weather. However, that being said there’s nothing I like more than scouting out a location and then changing the feel / mood of it by the use of location lighting. In fact talking of the weather, Advertising Photographer of the Year Tim Wallace would tell you to embrace the bad weather when it happens; turn it into a positive and use it to your advantage to create some really quite dramatic images.
So, for a recent portfolio shoot I decided to step out of the studio and go out on location but at the same time for one of the shots have a bit of a play and make the outdoors look as though I was still in the studio.
What do I mean?
The intention of the photo at the beginning of this post was to make our male model look as though he was standing on a stage with lights/flashes going off behind him but rather than being shot in the studio it was taken in the middle of the day in the car park of a local supermarket as the iPhone Photo below shows (note: by the time I took this ‘Behind the Scenes’ shot with my iPhone the male model had gone through a wardrobe change)…
So how was it done? The principle behind this shot was exactly the same as a technique I call the ‘Invisible Black Backdrop‘ where you use the camera to set the scene i.e. make the location completely black and then once you’ve done that, introduce some light into the scene to light your subject. (You can read a complete walk-through of the Invisible Black Backdrop technique by clicking on this link).
Part 1: Lighting the subject The first part was to light our subject and knowing that in the final image I was going to be placing extra lights behind him, he would need to have a rim light hitting him which would give the impression that it came from those extra lights. Of course had I had a bag full of lights with me at the time then it’s likely I would have done this shot in one take but that would have required about 10 speedlights; and I only had half that amount with me.
Part 2: The Stage Lights/Flashes
To create the stage/flash lights I placed 3 speedlights on separate stands at varying heights and positions into the frame aimed back towards the camera and took a few shots with an aperture of around the f/11 mark; any wider and I wouldn’t have gotten the desired starbust look from the light, and this I did a couple of times…
Part 3: Putting it all together
Back at the computer, having edited the first shot of our model it was then a simple case of placing the extra lights that I’d shot around him. To do this meant that I had to ‘extend the canvas’ of the photo of our model because each time I shoot a portrait using the Invisible Black Backdrop technique I always do it with the camera in portrait orientation and virtually fill the frame with the subject. To explain the how and why, here’s a short Photoshop tutorial I recorded last year:
So, there you have it…an image that looks like it was possibly shot in a studio but was taken in the great outdoors; a free studio offering endless creative possibilities.
If you have any questions or comments then as always please feel free to make use of the comments section below. Oh and just for extra proof that we were in a car park here’s a final shot of our model sitting in what could possibly be the transport of the future; or at least it could be if fuel prices keep going up the way they are
And here’s an iPhone photo showing the lighting set up which couldn’t have been simpler; a single Nikon Speedlight and Shoot-Thru umbrella…