Saturday, February 17, 2018

Recreating a Sunset Using Flash

One of the problems we have as wedding and event photographers is that we usually don't have any control over the environment we are shooting in.  If the church uses their Kindergarten room as their bridal room, you can't ask for another room.  If the weather isn't to your liking, rescheduling the wedding for another day isn't an option!  You have to play the cards you are dealt, and still capture the day the way your bride wants to remember it.

Off-camera flash (OCF) can be a powerful tool in these situations.  You can use lighting to accent some things, and de-emphasize other things.  You can use both the intensity and color of lighting to create a specific mood for your photos.

Last year I was second-shooting a wedding the same weekend that the remnants of Hurricane Harvey blew through our area.  The sky was solid overcast, and I knew early on that there was no way we were going to get any sort of nice sunset.  The venue had a small pond with a dock that stuck out into it.  It was a great setting, but the bland available light wasn't going to do it justice.  Nothing that adding some flashes couldn't cure.

I put my most powerful flash (a Godox AD200) on the shore near the dock, facing the couple standing on the end of the dock.  This was going to be my "sun".  I didn't raise it up too high, because I wanted to mimic a low sun right before it dips below the horizon.  I put a Full CTO (Color Temperature Orange) gel on it to give a warm glow.  I had a second flash on my camera to provide  a little fill, so the side of the couple facing away from the "sun" wouldn't be in complete shadow.  I used a 1/4 CTO gel to warm it a little, but not as much as my "sun".

The resulting photo had a nice warm romantic feel to it, but the sky was still an ugly gray.  I lowered the white balance of the image from normal daylight (5500 degrees Kelvin) to 4000 degrees Kelvin.  This cut down the orange somewhat, but it added a wonderful blue tint to the sky and water.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Taylor's Night Shoot

Shooting portraits at night can be one of the most challenging assignments.  Lighting can be tricky, because you want to make sure your subject is properly lit, while still seeing lights and other details in the background.   But it can also be one of the most rewarding, providing a wonderful contrast between lights and the darkness.  I wanted to try shooting at night down at the Waterfront.  During the holidays their central square features a lot of lights and decorations, making it the ideal background for this type of shoot.  It was an interesting challenge trying to balance the light from my off-camera flashes with the Christmas decorations.

Taylor is a relatively new model going to school in the Pittsburgh area.  It was our first time working together, and I don't think it will be our last.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Sheldon's "Mommy and Me" Shopping Session

During the holiday season I scheduled a shoot with one of my favorite models, Sheldon, and her daughter Adalyn.  I wanted to try doing a "Mommy and Me" shopping shoot.  The Waterfront has some nice Christmas decorations in their central square, so that would be a convenient place to shoot.

We had an unexpectedly bright sunny day for our shoot.  My go-to setup for shooting in sunlight is to shoot with the sun behind the subject and having a flash in the front to fill in the shadows on the face.  I've literally used some variation of this for 40 years.  The sun makes a nice hairlight/rimlight on the subject.  But sometimes a regular flash struggles in this situation to have enough power to fill in the shadows.  Fortunately I had my Godox AD200 super-flash along, with three times the power of a standard on-camera flash.  Plenty of power to fill in the shadows, even at a distance.

Sheldon is also a photographer, in addition to being a model.  I think this gives her an edge and helps our sessions to flow easily.  Adalyn, meanwhile, is perfecting her "Diva Model" impression (which is actually pretty easy for a 2-year old).