About technique and more.

Working with alternative lighting, much more fun than you expect

One of the things that you hear a lot is “I can’t do that because…..”
and now just fill in anything you like.
There is always and excuse why something doesn’t work.
My motto is slightly different….there is always something to make great images with.

Now of course I love using strobes, and we have quite a setup in our studio, if I may say 🙂
But in all honesty when I shoot without strobes I’m always feeling that little bit of extra motivation, now don’t get me wrong… I’m more than motivated when I shoot with strobes, but when you are limiting yourself…. well…. it’s just a bigger challenge let me put it that way.

Now I strongly believe that you can always make great images whatever you use, being it a smartphone, filmcamera, old DSLR of the newest Sony cameras (or Canon, Nikon, Fuji etc.) So that’s why I actually started the workshop “alternative lighting” a few months ago, and it was a huge success. People loved to see what they can do with the most simple lightsources like torches, tungsten bulbs, smartphone flashlights, lume cubes etc.

In fact I even made a complete video on the subject called “Mastering the model shoot : Any light will do” you can get that one here.

So today it was time for the workshop.
Now let’s see what we did with what.

First setup we kept really simple.
Just a simple torch.

Now of course you can also ask the model to hold the light.

 

Don’t ask me what this is….. I have no clue but it did also work.
Although there was very little light coming from it….. hold it very close to the model and it will work.

For the next setup it was time for the chandelier.
You can get these really cheap on second hand sites, and sometimes they are even gifted for free.
But you can have a lot of fun with them.

And of course….NEVER forget the lower angles.

Next up another chandelier and we decided to choose a lower pose.
Also more relaxed for the model.

Now this is nice…
But what about adding a small lumecube (on a selfie stick) for some extra light.
And add some smoke.
The cool thing about mixing lightsources is to NOT color match them, just play with those colors for some really cool effects.

 

And finally
Why not use two lume cubes as the whole lighting setup.
Both on selfie sticks, and one with a grid.
The lensflare makes the image for me 😀

Love these shots?
Want to work with this yourself?
Don’t forget to order the “Mastering the model shoot : Any light will do” video at www.frankdoorhof.com/videos

Thanks to Nadine for being the model and her awesome styling.

All images where shot with the Sony A7RIII with the Arttech convertor and vintage lenses. Including the Takamur 55mm and Takamur 35mm and Pentagon 50mm

The passion for photography itself

We all know that photography is cool.
We all know that taking images is one of the best things.
And we all know that downloading that card and looking at the great shots you took (after selecting) is incredibly satisfying…. but…. what if you do that day in and day out… does it still motivate you? does it still make you go WOW?

Well if I can answer that for myself… yes it does.
But what is it that really pushes me forward, what is that thing that makes me enjoy photography even more.

Let’s start at the beginning.
Good gear is great, I shoot with the Sony A7RIII and mostly Sony lenses in the Gmaster series, and I can tell you those lenses are absolutely awesome, razor sharp, “perfect” colors and it’s just…. well almost perfection, the AF is amazingly fast, and you hardly miss a shot. And because the zooms are that good you don’t really need primes anymore… remember it’s all about the shot. So we have the “perfect” gear, but is that enough?

Believe it or not… it’s not
This might come as a shock for you guys, but having the “perfect” gear makes it easy to get the shot… you could almost say… “it’s boring”. Now don’t get me wrong, when I don’t have to think about my gear and I know everything will do what I want it to do I can focus for the full 100% on making the shot. This is what I do commercially, take the shot and take the best possible, without having to say “well ok… you know… this one is perfect… but…. well it’s out of focus, but this one is almost as good and that one is in focus” NO you don’t want that right?

However when it comes to free work, I change… a lot.

RZ67ProII
Man oh man…
I always told people that if I had to select one camera in the world to give the label “the PERFECT” studio camera it’s without a doubt the RZ67ProII. I sometimes make the joke that when I’m depressed I go to the studio, grab the RZ and just cock the shutter and let it go, cock the shutter and let it go…. do this 5 times and your day will be bright again….. and trust me it’s true. This camera is a beast. Focusing is done via a bellows focus (so make sure you check this when buying) and the 6×7 medium format frame size is breathtaking, same goes for when you look through the viewfinder… pfffff one minute I have to grab it again

Ok back to reality.
You can get these cameras pretty cheap on ebay but don’t expect anything below let’s say $700.00 that you can actually use.
Preferred way of shooting is with 120 color positive film or high ASA black and white, it’s a dream. The lenses are so sharp and 3D that even with a digital back (I use the Credo60) the images stand up next to the most modern cameras with the best lenses. If you want to go crazy try to get a polaroid back for it, you will be hooked (yes it’s that good). For portraits I would not know of a better camera. For the studio… these cameras are not for the people without muscles to take outside or even handheld shooting (even I use a tripod).

Leica R4
This is my camera for outside work.
When I travel it’s this camera, or the Yashica Mat (later more).
What can I say, it’s a workhorse, the meter is very accurate, loading film is a breeze, it’s rock solid and the viewfinder is awesome, although I would prefer a softer eyecup (still trying to find one….. help?). Now Leica of course is well known for their lenses (and the fabulous M series, which I can’t afford, but would love to shoot one day), and the R lenses are great. I own the 50mm, 28mm, 135mm and recently bought a 100mm macro f4 (not the F2.8), these lenses render great wide open and have a great color rendition, which is awesome when you shoot film that loves reds and oranges, I recently shot some film in China Town in NY and absolutely loved the outcome (will post some next week, when the BW is also done).

You can get these cameras relatively cheap, think about $500.00 for a complete starter kit with the R4 and 50mm f2.0 which would be the one I would start with. But beware…. some people ask ridiculous prices for Leica glass, so make sure you do your home work, for the R4 for example you don’t need the latest version of the lenses, but you can actually get the much cheaper older versions (cam versions they are called).

Yashica Mat 124
Now we are going back in time.
I always call this camera my ice breaker.
It’s the Leica R4 or the Yashica I travel with, it’s a shame my light meter doesn’t work anymore otherwise I would have been using the Yashica a lot more on the street.

The Mat 124 is a twin reflex camera meaning you have two lenses, one you look through and one you take the shot with, it’s pretty simple but beware that is a slight change, so don’t crop to tight… yeah made that mistake sometimes myself. The outcome might surprise you. When scanned properly you end up with a USABLE resolution of anywhere between 40-50MP, if you have a good scanner and good film that is.

So why the icebreaker?
Well, when you want to shoot someone on the street and you aproach them with this camera, they will hardly ever say “no” in fact they will start the conversation and that’s a good start for a great photo.

Polaroid
I still have one of these.
You can fold it up and take it with you and shoot some cool polaroids…. if you’re into that.
In all honesty I still have a lot of film, but when I’m through with it… I won’t buy more, I love shooting film but polaroid somehow gives me a lot of headaches, the film I have often sticks together, I have to keep in my pocket to develop and well…. it’s just not worth it I think. Sorry if I offended some polaroid lovers, I didn’t mean it like that, it’s still cool but it’s also pretty expensive.

rrem

The Techart module
Ok… now this might sound weird in this list, but this one gave me SO much fun in my photography again.
I LOVE old lenses, Leica R, M42, Pentax, Minolta they all have unique looks, and don’t even start about how the lenses themselves look, it’s so cool. Now all these lenses are manual focus lenses, and let’s be honest modern cameras are not build for manual focus lenses, I remember how frustrated I was when I tried a lens baby for the first time on my Canon, using live view did help, but when the cameras with EVF appeared and got peaking this is when it got really handy and easy. Before that I had to change my focusscreen to a screen that was designed for manual focus, and that…. needed a correction in exposure… long story short… it worked but it was a bit of work.

With the Sony using manual focus is a breeze, you can zoom in, you have peaking, it’s pretty awesome… but it’s still manual focus. Enter the Techart (btw thanks to cameraland.nl for lending me one) with this module you can make almost any manual focus able lens—-auto focus. It’s actually quite simple, they just use the adapter to move the lens forward and backward, creating a perfectly focus able lens. Up to 50mm you don’t have to do anything, above 50 you have to pre focus a little bit and than just leave it there. Now you can use those cool lenses on your new camera, and it doesn’t only look cool (I love the Zebra lenses) but the images are stunning to say the least, especially if you like lens-flares and light-fall off and wonky colors and weird bokeh (or gorgeous bokeh, depending on the lens)

I did a whole video on the Techart, which you can find here.

 

Conclusion
Photography is incredibly cool and loads of fun, but sometimes it can be incredibly handy to stop, take a step back and ask yourself “what do you REALLY like about photography?” is it just taking the images? or is it also the fun of working with the gear, for me it always has been about a combination, as far back as I can remember I always wanted to try new things, sometimes people ask me how I keep myself motivated… well that’s it, I always try new things. When tethering was hardly done….. I just the video out of my camera to hook it up to a monitor, and when we got tethering solutions I tried the wifi grip (which I returned because it was SOOOO slow).

I don’t care if it’s new software, hardware, lenses or whatever I just love to experiment with things. And most of the time by experimenting with new gear it will give you new ideas. And let’s be honest if you’ve shot manual or primes for a week and you go back to full AF with super fast modern glass….. it becomes so easy to be faster than before. I sometimes compare it to an athlete, train under heavy circumstances and when the day is there you will have it much easier because you are used to much worse. So if you have to run 10K, train for 15K, if you run on sea level, train on above sea level. I never got faster times on my bike than when I returned from Mexico, I was so tired the first two days over there, we live below sea level and this was WAY above sea level, but man I was fast when I came back, any way… you get the general idea.

It’s not only fun and creative but you also train your skills. What more to wish for?

 

Scanning
Now when you shoot film you of course have to get the stuff into the computer.
In the past (1-2 years ago) I developed everything myself, C41, E6 and BW, but to be honest I’ve lost interest, chemicals have to be replaced and are pretty hard to get rid off and to get and when I compare the work to bringing the roll to the local “hema” which developes it for $2.50 well…. I will wait for a few days and know it’s done for me.

Scanner wise I can advise the following two solutions.

Epson V800
An amazing scanner, it’s fast and it does a pretty good job with negatives.
However this is a pretty expensive scanner, so also check out the V600 which does a good job too for little under $300.00 this is I think the best scanner to start with because it does everything and does a great job.

Reflecta MF5000
A real beast of a scanner, takes negatives and slides and also MF film. In all honesty if you want top notch quality without really breaking the bank this is the one. Now online the MF5000 is a bit hard to find, it’s an older scanner but it still works like a charm, there are some alternatives which are supposed to be just as good (or slightly better) from Plustek, so make sure to check them out.

 

 

 

Software
As with everything a scanner is “just” a scanner, although that’s not 100% true.
The software packaged with your scanner is often good enough, but if you want to really push the limits of what’s possible make sure to check out our friends from Silverfast. This is without a doubt the software I always go back to when I have to scan something, it’s incredibly flexible, it has a little bit of a learning curve, but when you take the time you will be stunned what it can bring out of your film.

Get Silverfast here and get a cool discount of 20% when you use SFdoorhof as coupon.
Get the Epson V600 here
Get the Epson V800 here
I can’t find the Reflecta MF5000 at Amazon, but this could be a good alternative 

 

Final thoughts
WOW you made it to the end, thanks man. (nothing on Netflix tonight) just kidding.
Challenging yourself is the best way to improve, so let me challenge you.
Send me your best images you shot on film, polaroid or whatever and in the next digital classroom I’ll do a whole section on film….. you know what…. I’ll dedicate a smaller episode all to film. Use the email address info@frankdoorhof.com for your images. Feel free to leave comments below.

Results from the workshop in Little Falls New Jersey

Today the results from the workshop I taught in Little Falls New Jersey with Nadine.

First set was pretty basic, just explaining the basics of light and angles.

After the first set it was time for some shots explaining angles and composition in a narrow walkway. Also a great set to show the differences between flash and available light and how to mix those. This was also a great location to talk about lenses and of course posing the model.

For the last set we used an old elevator, I just love this set, and already wanted to shoot it last year, but then we chose to go outside. In the elevator I started with only the available light.

Already loved this shot but of course there was more.
By adding strobes you can create your own reality and aim the light more.

Also here I explained how to get the ambient light in the way that you want. Often when people use strobes they loose control over the ambient, which is a shame because it can add so much to the shot.

For the next part it was time for some cool gels and lensflares.
I explained different options to use the gels, from side lighting, to lensflares and even a smokey effect.

And never forget the close up 🙂

 

We also filmed an episode of “Behind the closed DOORs” during this workshop, you can find that one here:
https://youtu.be/fR-Q_98x0_g

If you like these kind of results, visit one of my workshops. The workshop info is here : www.fotografie-workshops.nl and of course on this site for the workshops abroad or in English. But you can also get one of my instructional videos via www.frankdoorhof.com/videos

Backlight rocks

I love using backlights. Not only in the studio or with strobes but I’m Actually always looking for backlit situations. It just creates some of the most awesome shots.

Feel free to post your favorites.