Thursday, July 2, 2009

Raven's Photo Session

A couple of weeks ago, I worked with another photographer that needed some head shots of her own. She's currently a student majoring in graphic design and does some acting as well. We talked a bit about what she wanted, nothing too formal, something casual that would show off her personality.We met at a local park around noon. Not the best conditions. The sun at this point can create some harsh and unflattering shadows. This was the best time we could meet due to both our schedules, so we tried to make the best out of it. I could've tried to beat the sun and do a Joe McNalley type of shoot using 8 or 9 flashes, but unfortunately I don't have that many. I only had 3 to work with. My best option was to look for some shade and control the ambient light. There wasn't a whole lot of shade but there was enough in one area by a lake that we could work with.I was going to go with a couple of setups. I had 3 particular ones in mind that I wanted to try out. The first was a simple 2 light setup with umbrellas. Key light was camera left high and a back light camera right behind a tree.

The next setup was a beauty setup. Key camera left just to the left of camera and a fill directly under the camera.

The 3rd setup was a key camera left and my fill coming from a DIY ringlight. This is where I ran into a bit of a problem. I still got a great result but I'm trying to figure out why I couldn't get
the key light to fire. The ring light really softened the shadows and gave a nice twinkle in the eyes as you can see. I'm happy with the end result, but struggling to figure out why the other strobes wouldn't fire.

I've tried duplicating the setup and still no fix. I've sent a note to PocketWizard and maybe they can help. At this point I don't know if it's a bug or if it's something that's not supported. Here are the details to my problem. I'm using 2 PW PlusIIs, 1 MiniTT1, 1-430EX, 1-430EXII & 1-580EXII. The MiniTT1 is mounted on the camera as a receiver. The 430EXII & 580EXII are being triggered with with the PlusIIs. All PW are on channel 1. At this point everything is working and flashes are firing. I then hook up a 430EX via an OC-E3 cord to the MiniTT1. The 430EX is attached to my DIY ring light. Should work great with the rest of my setup. Except the ring light goes off, but the PlusII don't. I couldn't figure it out. I spent today, trying to replicate it. I tried different combinations and came up with one that worked. The 580EXII connected via an OC-E3 cord to the MiniTT1 would fire the PlusIIs. I don't know why, but I'm hoping PocketWizard will get back to me and tell my why. As soon as I get an answer, I'll post on this site.

Anyway here are samples from the shoot.

Beside the technical issues, the shoot went great.
I got some great images and Raven was very pleased with the results, so was I. Raven is a natural light photographer and has tried setting some lights up as well in her DIY studio, but is working with a continuous light (tungsten) setup. After I showed her the images, she could notice how the use of lights could dramatically improve the quality of a photo. As I worked on the lighting, I would explain to her what I was doing and why. As a photographer, she understood what I was doing. But I was able to keep her involved in the process. This is something I've learned from watching other good photographers. You need to keep your subject engaged. You can't be so focused on the technical aspects that you leave your subject unattended and feeling a bit neglected. Most people are uncomfortable when posing for pictures, so talking to them gets their mind off the subject. It's something I've learned to do, even if it's talking about the weather or last nights game, keep the subject involved. Even though I was having some technical difficulties, I kept my cool and proceed with the shoot working around the issue. Yes, it would have been better to have an additional light along with the ring light, but a lot of great images have been made using just one light. Zack Arias made a career using just one light.

At some other time, I'll break down the lighting setup and specific details from camera specs and light ratios and all that, but I want to keep the posts simple for now. If you're interested in learning about lighting, you need to check out the Strobist. It's where I get my information and where I'm learning to use light to create great images.

In the meantime, enjoy your 4th of July weekend, I'll post something new next week.


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