Monday, November 16, 2009

Rachel's Photo Session

I got some new gear and was looking to test them out. I was lucky enough to finally get a hold of Rachel.
She offered a while back to model for me, but she's a busy girl and travel's quite a bit. So I was happy that I contacted her and she was available with such short notice.

I must say that I'm extremely pleased with the results from this shoot. I have too many that I like, that it took a while for me to narrow down a select few.

I started out shooting in available light, but quickly switched to the Wescott 28" Apollo Soft Box and 430EXII Flash.
Without getting too technical, here's a couple of samples of different styles of shooting, Natural Light & One Light. You can tell that the One Light makes a much more interesting image, which is why I prefer to shoot this way.
The images on the left were shot with Natural Light, the images on the right were shot with a Flash in the Wescott 28" Soft Box. The bottom right photo is one of my favorites. I actually could have moved the light a bit to the left so her left eye would be a bit lighter. I actually darkened the sky a bit in Lightroom. Because the sun is behind Rachel, her face is under exposed. If I opened up my aperture a 1 stop, Rachel's face would have been properly exposed, but in doing so, the blue sky would have gone to a lighter blue, maybe even white. The image on the right used the 430EXII at 1/2 power, providing that 1 extra stop of light and I still was able to keep the sky blue and enough detail to darken the sky in Lightroom.

I also like the image above. One of the rules in portrait shooting is to keep the head in a clean spot. I liked this industrial structure behind Rachel, but I had to adjust my angle to position her head in a clean spot. I like how the cross beams intersect behind her and draw your attention to her face.

This image was taken at the same spot as the previous location. I zoomed in with the 70-200mm 2.8L. I was zoomed in at 180mm shooting at f/3.5. With the shallow depth of field I was able to blur the background and narrow the field of view. The previous image was shot with the same settings except at 70mm.

Here are a couple more of my favorites.

Now onto some of the technical jargon.

I'm loving the 70-200mm f/2.8L. It's really sharp and I love that I can get the shallow depth of field and blur the background. It's a bit heavy compared to my other lenses. I never thought I would used this range for a portrait lens, but having talked to other shooters, this lens gives you different options. I was lucky enough to have the room to move back and get some distance between myself and Rachel and even between Rachel and the background.

As for the Wescott 28" Apollo Soft Box, I like the way it distributes and softens the light. I did find it getting into the shot occassionally. It works great for head shots, 3/4 length shots and you can even use it on full body shots. However, you will notice the drop off of light below the thighs. Not a bad thing, just need to know that it will drop off. I would use the 60" umbrella or go with a 50" Apollo Soft Box (on the wish list) if I wanted to make sure there was sufficient light to the ground.

I used the new Pocketwizard MiniTT1 & FlexTT5 to trigger the Flash. Overall they performed well. I started out using the 580EXII, but had to switch to the 430EXII. I was aware that the 580EXII has RF Noise and would not function properly over 23 feet when I tested previously. I was shooting from across the street (2 lane road) which would have been over that range. I switched to the 430EXII and shot from that range with no issues. However, I did have a couple shots where the flash did not fire. That could have been due to a slow recycle time of the Flash as the batteries wore down. I still have some testing to do on the High Speed Sync. I know it works, but I think my expectations were too high. Not any fault of the design, just a simple matter of laws of physics and how light travels. I want to test out further and get down some more specifics as to how many stops of light is lost when shooting at high shutter speeds.

I'd like to thank Rachel for being a wonderful model. Although she does not model professionally, she does watch America's Top Model, which gave her some ideas on poses.

There is a Strobist meet next Saturday, November 21st. If you're interested in modeling or photographing, send me a message and I'll provide you with details to the shoot. If you're not sure what a Strobist is, it's basically a photographer that uses lights to photograph, typically using wireless triggers. If you don't have any strobes/flashes or triggers, you can still come out. There will be extra available to share and demonstrate their use.

If you're looking for a portrait photographer in the Atlanta area, visit my portfolio.

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