One strobe and the new Canon 5D Mark III

16 04 2012


Hey,

Last week-end, I went to my parent’s for the easter holiday. I know a really cool place there where I used to go bouldering when I was in high school. I knew it would be a perfect spot to do a few trail running photos. It would also be a very good opportunity to test my brand new Canon 5D Mark III in a real shooting situation.

My lovely light stand ūüėČ

So I brought with me the 5D III, a few lenses and my Profoto AcuteB2 AirS kit with a 60 inch shoot thru umbrella. This is the exact same setup that in this other post, but the umbrella is bigger and it made a big difference in the final images. How? because it lit the entire scene, thanks to the very wide beam spread of the shoot thru umbrella. Here’s a good example in the next photo. The trees and the subject all ¬†received the light they needed and were adjusted in post.


Even if the 5D Mark III has a maximum sync speed of 1/200 sec and the flash duration of the Profoto Acute B2 is not short enough to ”catch” a runner. I think it did a very good job showing just enough motion to be great.

I used a combination of Pocket Wizard Mini tt1, Flex tt5 and Profoto Air sync trigger. The Pocket Wizard were used to trigger the camera while the Profoto Air Sync fired the flash. (I was the runner, so I had to use a remote solution).

In this case, the ambiant was about 2 stops under the main flash, giving just enough fill light to complete the shot.

In this photo, the ambiant was probably about 2/3 stops under.

Thanks for reading. You can find my images on my iStockphoto portfolio by cliking on the banner below.

www.profoto.com

www.Pocketwizard.com





Lifestyle shot with one flash

11 02 2012

Hey,

Two weeks ago, I decided to bring some gear outside to try something I had on my mind for quite some time. There’s a great demand right now for lifestyle images that look natural. By natural, you need to understand that buyers don’t want to feel the flashes in the photographs. I put feel in bold because natural looking images don’t necessarily means natural light. It is ok (and essential in my opinion) to use flash in most shoots to be able to control your images.

Knowing that, I started to think of a way to create technically great images with flashes in a natural way. I started thinking of a way to get a very diffuse light as a starting point. The best tool I could come up with was the shoot thru umbrella. It gives a very soft light and is all over the place. That should do it for my main/fill light. I also wanted a kicker light to give depth to the images. As I wanted to go light on this shoot, I decided to use the cheapest light that I have, the sun. That’s it. One light setup and I was good to go.

For this shoot, I wanted to use very shallow depth of field with my 50mm F/1.4 and I wanted a nice background. I found a spot fairly close to the parking lot, so I didn’t have to carry all the gear to far.

I began with a reading of the available light and adjusted it at about 1/400 sec @ F/2 (I used a polarizing filter to bring the shutter speed down by two stop) I already knew that my camera was able to sync to the Profoto Acute B2 at 1/400sec without too much banding. I then adjust the Acute B2 to match my F/2 aperture. It was easy enough because the pack can go down to 9 watts. Combined with the shoot thru umbrella and a small distance, it was perfect.

I used myself as a model because it was easier. That means I needed a way to trigger the camera. I used two pocketwizards, one on the camera and one in my hand. With the autofocus on, that worked  pretty well. To trigger the flash, I decided to use a traditional sync cord because I felt it was more reliable than the auto relay mode of the pocketwizards and also because my other TT5 radio have some issues right now.

You can see the approximate setup in the following pictures (except for the pocketwizard).

As it was winter, I used the second setup to be sure to protect the head and the pack if the snow started to fall of simply to protect from snow that fall from trees. You’re never to ¬†careful when you use expensive gear. You can also see that I used a hook to hold the pack. That way, it prevents to carry sand bags and it also helps a lot with the radios when they’re used. Pocketwizards don’t like to be close to the ground. Also, when it is possible to carry a c-stand instead of a normal tripod, this is the best thing to do, especially on the snow. Normal tripods have a hard time with packed snow and it is difficult to have a solid base because of the swing in the tripod legs.

So, finally, here are a few of the images. You can see the rest on my iStockphoto portfolio at:

Thanks for reading!

 





As simple as it can be

11 02 2012

Hey,

Last week I decided to bring my gear with me at a xc ski training. After the (tough) training, I grabbed a friend and his girlfriend and brought them near the lake to do a quick, run & gun style stock shooting.

In winter, it is always difficult for the photographer to keep the model active. You don’t want them to freeze by not moving, so you have to work quickly. A great way to do this is to let the flashes home and work only with natural light. It is tough to let it go (the flashes) but it also feel liberating to carry only a a camera and a few lenses. You just need to choose the exposure carefully and you’re good to go.

In this particular shoot, it wasn’t the best time of day to use natural light (noon), but if you expose for the skin tones, it give the shot a very stockish look because of the slightly overexposed background. ¬†You only have to work the shadows a little bit in Lightroom and you’re good.

Overall, it took about 20 to 30 minutes to get 9 great shots. I first did a few portraits, then some lifestyle shots and finally some action shots. The great thing with natural light is that your shutter speed and frame rate are not a limitation anymore. I was able to work at 8fps and 1/1250 sec. Reminded me when I was shooting sports for an agency and about 1000 to 2000 images a day ūüôā I used a Canon 7D with a 17-40mm F/4, a 50mm F/1.4 and a 70-200mm F/2.8 IS.

Finally, I must that I used a speedlight on my camera to fill the shadows a little bit, but it wasn’t powerful enough, so the difference between shots with flash and without flash is not visible.

Here are a few of the images. You can see the rest on iStockphoto at my personal page:

One last thing. If you ever shoot cross-country skiing, try as hard as you can to find skis that are not Fischer. As much as I liked those skis to actually ¬ęski¬Ľ, they are horrible when you need to remove logos and brand. (But they are amazingly good on the snow :))

Thanks!





Another quick behind the scenes of a simple studio product shot

15 01 2012

Hey all,

Here’s another really quick post about the setup I used to make a few editorial product shots for iStockphoto. At the beginning, this was just a lightning test, so the shots are not that creatives, but I tried to add a little something for the last one. First, Here’s the studio setup.

I used 4 strobes. the key light is a Profoto Acuteb2 AirS 600 with a umbrella. The kicker is a AlienBees B800 with a small square Lastolite Easy box. The fill is a Einstein E640 in a 64 inch silver PLM with front diffuser fabric, overhead. Finally, the background is illuminated with a Canon Speedlight 430EXII with a blue gel. I used a Canon EOS 7D with a Canon 70-200mm 2.8 IS. The flashes were triggered with Pocket Wizards Mini TT1, Flex TT5, Zone controller AC3, Power MC2 or simply by optical slave for the AB800.

And here’s the shots:

For the last one, I decided to try the shortest flash duration of the Profoto¬†Acuteb2 AirS 600 which is supposed to be around 1/6800 at t 0.5. I replaced the AB800 by the Einstein as the kicker and set the Profoto to -4 and Max (fastest flash duration setting). I removed the overhead fill. I’m pretty satisfied with the results. At 100%, the flash tail is still visible, but it is very usable if the subject isn’t moving too fast. For this shot, I used old gliding wax scrapes to ¬ęsimulate¬Ľ snow.

So here it is, your comments and questions are always welcome.

www.pocketwizard.com

www.profoto.com

www.paulcbuff.com





Behind the scenes of a simple cross-country ski studio shot.

10 12 2011

Hey,

I’ve been away from the blog for a loooooong time, but decided today to post a short behind the scene article on a simple studio shot that I made for microstock photography.

Since there are not a lot of photos out there about cross-country ski and even less about wax preparation, I decided to do some tests in studio and it turned out pretty well.

It is a really simple setup with 3 strobes. First, here’s the final image.

And here’s the studio setup:

The main light is a Paul C. Buff Einstein E640 in a PLM umbrella with a front diffuser (I Love this umbrella, especially for portrait). Second light is a backlight. Alien Bees AB800 with a 10 degree grid. I had to put a ND 0.3 gel in front because I wanted a pretty small depth of field.

Finally, the background light was a Canon Speedlight 430EX II zoomed at 24mm with a blue gel to give the nice cold color. A small white foamcore was used to bounce some light in the front.

All flashes ecxept the AB800 were triggered with Pocket Wizard radios. On the camera, I had a Mini TT1 + AC3. The Einstein had his own MC2 and the Canon was on a Flex TT5. The AB800 was triggered with its own slave.

The camera was a Canon 7D with a Canon 50mm F/1.4 attached.

Settings:

ISO 100
1/125 sec
F/3.2

Thanks and see you soon with a few more behind the scenes.

www.paulcbuff.com
www.pocketwizard.com





Fitness photos with Canon and Pocket Wizards.

29 04 2010

Hey everyone,

Today, I’m posting two photographs I made last sunday on the Mount-Royal, in Montreal.

The two photos were taken with a Canon EOS 1D MARK II N and a Canon 50mm f/1.4. I used to hate this lens and came very close to sell it because it gave me crappy results wide open at F/ 1.4. I got used to the Zeiss 50mm Planar F2 on my Leica M8 and I can say that this lens beat the Canon by far for the sharpness wide open (for me, the Canon is unusable at 1.4). HOWEVER, I now realize that the Canon 50mm has a wonderful bokeh in comparison to the Zeiss. I sort of figured out that the best way to use this lens is by starting it at F2. That way, I can get decent sharpness AND a really beautiful bokeh.

By the way, those two shots were taken using the Pocket Wizard Mini TT1 and Flex TT5 with a Canon Speedlite 580EX. I first got some range problems with the radio remote. I’ll have to test it to find out if my problems were caused bye the noise emitted bye the 580EX or simply because my radios were to low, close to the ground.

Here are the photographs.

Thanks

PL





Some thoughts about the Pocket Wizard’s Mini TT1 and Flex TT5

17 04 2010

Hey!

Today, I’m posting some thoughts about the Pocket Wizard’s Mini TT1 and Flex TT5 for Canon. I bought them 2 weeks ago because I have been so frustrated with the Canon own wireless system. The Canon STE-2 worked fine indoor for studio like shots, but as soon as I brought it outside, what a pain….!!! To be honest, you just can’t rely on infrared outside and I’m sure a lot of you reading this already know that. Solution? Mini and Flex. I really need to do more testing outside with those, but so far, it is pretty awsome!

Another great thing about those Pocket Wizards is that I can use my very old 540 EZ Canon flash that I still own because nobody wants to buy it! It works just fine with my Canon EOS 1D MARK II N. Of course, TTL is not working, but it can be used as a hairlight or a background light. It even works fine in manual mode, mixed  with my 580 EX in TTL mode.

Here’s a studio shot I did today ¬†with this setup. The 540EZ pointed on the white background with a Flex TT5 attached to it. The main light was a 580EX in slave TTL mode. On the camera, a Canon STE-2 was mounted on a Mini TT1. The STE-2 for the 580 and the Mini for the 540.

Thanks for watching!

PL