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 ­čśë

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 ┬áreceived 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

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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 ┬ácareful 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. ┬áYou 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 ­čÖé 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 ┬źski┬╗, 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┬áAcuteb2 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 ┬źsimulate┬╗ snow.

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

www.pocketwizard.com

www.profoto.com

www.paulcbuff.com