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Outside fashion shot for sunglasses with extreme styling and flash Part IV : let’s talk backgrounds and angles

Wow that’s a different…

This is one of the most heard comments when we use extreme differences in the background, especially when the model wears something more eye-catching, or dark/bright.

Chasing the perfect background on location is one of my favourite things. And it’s not always that the most interesting looking background is also the best. It’s great to have a cool background but we don’t always want them to compete with each other. I always try to choose a background that will help my model to pop-out, or disappear into.

This is the 4th part of this blog series and I highly recommend first reading the previous ones.
Let’s talk about the flash
Let’s talk about gear
Let’s talk about storytelling

The forest/beach

One of the things I love about the area we live is the diversity for photography.
Although you see totally different images in this series they are all shot in walking distance from each other, or right next to our studio. And trust me, I’m pretty sure you will have loads of interesting locations near your home, you just have to look with your “photographers-eyes” 🙂

In this case Nadine was wearing a non reflective black outfit (thank you very much) and some cool Sparks red sunglasses.
I didn’t tell you this yet, but during this workshop we also shot some images for our friends from Sparks sunglasses, a cool trendy brand of sunglasses for which we also did the introduction shoot for their new collection. Most of the time I also ask some sample to use during workshops and give our client some extra material which can promote their brand, my work but also the models. A win-win situation.

Anyway.
Because Nadine was wearing black it made it a challenge to shoot against the overcast sky, or against the dark forest.
One could say it’s impossible because you will blow out the sky, or block up the shadows, and with a dark forest the model will disappear.
yes, that could be one way to look at it.
OR….
You use exactly that “problem” and use it to your advantage.

 

The shoot

Here is the setup of the shoot.
I’m using the same Geekoto GT200 with a large reflector.
I love this location for the strong leading lines and the way the model can pose with the bridge parts. Also the two totally different backgrounds by just changing your angle makes this one of my favourite locations to use for workshops and shoots.

I love to shoot from more extreme angles on this location and using a more wider angle gives that really nice “distortion” in the image that draws the viewer towards our models face. I also use this a lot in the studio. Wide angles can be terrible for portraits or even full body shots, but if you use them carefully they can be awesome.

Because the clothing was so dark, Nadine’s legs were getting a lot of light/attention, so when you find yourself in a situation like this, use a grid on your strobe or make the model cover part of the legs, you do want to see some, but not too much light areas in the darker areas of the shot. hope that makes sense.

I decided to actually embrace the dark clothing and use it create some really nice edgy contrast in the shots, add the red sunglasses and some cool poses, and you have a very simple lightsetup, an ok location but some killer shots.

Model/Styling : Nadine
Sunglasses : Sparks

www.fotografie-workshops.nl for the Dutch workshops
www.frankdoorhof.com/shop for my gear

 

Outside fashion shot for sunglasses with extreme styling and flash Part III : let’s talk storytelling

This is it

I think we can all agree that gear, lighting, styling, location etc. are all important for a successful shoot. Although during this workshop series we already saw that the location can be transformed quite easily from ok to wow by choosing the right angles and lighting/styling etc.

If you missed the previous ones you can read them here (highly recommended)
Let’s talk about the flash
Let’s talk about gear

Ok so now it’s about story telling, and what do I mean with story telling.

When we look back into history, even as far as the cavemen, the main reason to create “art” was to tell stories. Ranging from one man killing a Bison in the caves to whole paintings containing scenes from the Bible, and everything in between. Now of course there are also still lives and landscapes but I hope you know what I mean 🙂

When we look at what we see online today it’s a boatload of selfies, photos of food or things I can’t mention here. We are bombarded with a huge amount of images every single day. But when is the last time you really stopped to look at something? or when was the last time you were really impressed with an image?

Most of them probably have have the same element

And that’s story telling.
Now story telling can be done in just one image, but also in a series.

During the workshop on location in Emmeloord we find locations that are not immediately awesome, but I show the attendees how, together with an awesome model and styling in this case, you can transform those locations to something great with choosing the right lighting and shooting angles.

This is the second set of that workshop.
For this setup we went to the local beach, we chose a location with some trees behind Nadine and a slight rise.
Nadine brought a lot of Delfts blue we used as props spread around her.
Now the styling on it’s own already did a lot but when I saw that the umbrella was breaking down I decided to also use something else.

Manipulate the sun/ambient light

We talked about this technique a few times in the blog and during digital classroom episodes.
Dragging the shutter.
What I do outside to get the look I like :

  1. First I make sure my cameras EVF is in emulation mode
  2. I will set my camera to “manual” mode and the shutterspeed to 1/125 (when shooting without HSS) and the lowest ISO.
  3. Now I will look through the display and adjust the aperture till I think the scene looks like I want.
  4. Now I will set it ONE stop darker.
  5. Take the Aperture you see in camera for the look you like
  6. Use a lightmeter to meter the strobe at the aperture you liked
  7. start shooting with a shutter speed of 1/60 but with the set aperture

You might wonder why I shoot at 1/60
It’s very easy to explain luckily.
When shooting without HSS I can not shoot faster than 1/125 (sometimes 1/200) this means when I shoot with strobes and I think the background should be darker I have to adjust my strobes, or when I want to experiment I end up with different apertures, meaning different looks due to depth of field. This breaks the total look of a series and can sometimes work and sometimes not.

By adjusting the strobes one stop higher than I thought was perfect and lowering the shutter speed by 1 stop I’m getting the exact result I liked at the start with an added bonus. When I want the background darker I can raise my shutter speed to 1/125 or sometimes 1/200 and get a much darker background, but because I’m shooting with strobes I can also go as a low as 1/30 and sometimes even 1/15th this gives me a nice dynamic range to work with without breaking the look of the shot.

 

The weather

I’m nog just using this technique to adjust the look of the shot, but also to be able to react to changing lighting on location.
And in this case for story telling.
The following series was shot within 5 minutes, so the lighting didn’t really change, however because the umbrella was breaking down I decided to raise the shutter speed and make the whole scene look darker the more the umbrella broke down.

As you can see in the next series, changing the look of a scene by the shutter speed is fast and easy and has a huge impact on the photo. I love to use it.

Let’s first take a look at the gear used :

Annewiek is holding the lightstand on which the Geekoto GT200 is mounted with a large reflector aimed at the model.

And that’s all actually.
So let’s take a look at the results.

Model/Styling : Nadine
Sunglasses : Sparks

www.fotografie-workshops.nl for the Dutch workshops
www.frankdoorhof.com/shop for my gear

Outside fashion shot for sunglasses with extreme styling and flash Part II : let’s talk gear

Because size matters

Today Part II from the workshop “working on location in Emmeloord”
In this workshop the challenge is to use not so interesting locations and create awesome shots.
In the previous blogpost we showed set 1 and talked a bit about the gear, today we dive a little bit deeper in the deep reflector.

But first let’s take a look at the setup.
The third set we used during the workshop (set II will follow the next time) was a small house near the beach, this is an interesting location but in all honesty I had the most trouble with this one to create something interesting. But by using the lines in the location and changing my angles of shooting I think we got some interesting looks.

For the images I used our Geekoto GT200 and a large reflector

As you can see this is a pretty large reflector.
And that’s exactly the reason I love using those on location.
The thing is that even with a 200W strobe you are still not “killing” the sun from let’s say 3 meters distance, and when you love those Day2Night shots, or love to shoot HSS you will have to run almost constantly on full power, but even with fill in flash…. ok you get the idea without any reflectors even a 200W hybrid strobe with HSS is not perfect for all day Day2Night photography

However as soon as we start to add light shapers the story becomes different.
When we add a striplight like the Rogue flashbenders or any other brand of course we will actually lose lightoutput compared to the bare strobe.
But luckily we can also add light to the output.
You probably also know from studio use that reflectors can have a huge impact on the lightoutput of your strobes. And the same goes for outside. We are using a Bowens converter to hold our Geekoto and connect the reflector. The reason the reflector is so deep is that it will focus the light more the deeper the reflector (on average, it also depends on the material of course) in usage this can mean the difference between shooting a strobe on 1/3rd power instead of full power, and that is something you really notice.

As an added bonus I love the look of these deeper reflectors, they are not as harsh as some smaller reflectors but they still give a tremendous deep shadow and high contrast. If you order one make sure you also order a grid if that’s available. I’m using a generic brand from AliExpress, if you are shooting with Hensel it’s called the 14″ reflector (which is even larger than this one) and for Elinchrom it’s called the MaxiLight or MaxiSpot. I highly recommend getting one for outside work.

 

The iPad solution

As you can see in the image I’m using an iPad on location.
I’ve been using MacBooks for years but the disadvantage of a MacBookPro is that they are very fragile on location, they can easily fall down, attract dust like crazy and have loads of opening to collect dirt. Plus they are very expensive to replace or repair.

The iPad on the other hand can be securely fastened to just one stand with the awesome Ulanzi holder (we got so many questions about it that we added it to our webshop).
The nice thing about the iPad is that it will run all day on one charge and the lightoutput is really nice for outside work, as long as there is no direct sunlight hitting the screen of course.

During this workshop I shot wireless to the iPad but in 99% of the cases I’m using an IQwire USBc-USBc 15meter tether cable to shoot to the iPad using CasCable. Ive been using this combination for a while now and it never disappointed me, if something goes wrong the advantage of the iPad is that you just close an app and start it again and it all works fine again. But to be complete I’ve experienced a super smooth workflow so far with little to no problems. This is also the main reason you see me using the iPad more and more during shows, especially with Adobe releasing great updates to their Lightroom and Photoshop apps which makes the iPad a real workstation now a days.

Especially on location you want gear you carry around easily and don’t have to be afraid that something falls down during the hike to the next location.

 

The results

Ok let’s take a look at the results from the third set during this workshop (next time set 2)

Model/Styling : Nadine
Sunglasses : Sparks
www.fotografie-workshops.nl for the Dutch workshops
www.frankdoorhof.com/shop for my gear

 

 

Outside fashion shot for sunglasses with extreme styling and flash Part I

Transform something not so cool to awesome

One of the more challenging workshops is without a doubt “on location in Emmeloord”
During this workshop I take the attendees with me to locations that at first sight might look incredibly boring. However by using the styling of the model and of course the choice of lighting and shooting angle it becomes clear pretty quickly that even locations that are not that interesting can transform into a great location for shoots.

The reason this workshop is very important is because during most workshops you are shooting in already great locations, or nice studio setups.
The thing is that in reality it hardly ever happens you shoot a client or wedding/event in a castle/urbex/etc location and also the light is not always perfect. Most of the time we are shooting in office buildings, outside in a forest/dune/city environment etc. Not really super inspiring locations.

And that’s the whole deal

In this workshop I show how easy it is to create interesting photos in not so interesting locations. Or let me rephrase that locations that look uninteresting at first sight.

During the workshop I also try to keep the gear as minimalistic as possible, I’m using one of our Geekoto GT200s and a large reflector plus the Rogue Flashbender (Frank Doorhof edition). In the past we had to carry around rather large battery packs and “large” heads and I had to shoot on 1/125 because HSS was not supported. Now we are using so called hybrid strobes which is the perfect marriage between a studio strobe and speedlight. This combination means I can shoot ETTL and HSS on location (or manual of course) with a nice shallow depth of field if I want it, or a deeper depth of field if that fits the photo, and shoot a full day with just one battery.  In fact thanks to the large reflector we had still 10% left in the battery after the whole workshop (5 locations 4 shooters).

By lowering the ambient light you can really make your model pop out, now lower your shooting angle and you can already get much more interesting shots.

In the next blog post I’ll explain a bit more about the large reflector.
For today let’s take a look at the first setup we did with Nadine. This is just a treeline next to our studio functioning as a border between our studio and the neighbours.

 

In this setup we also used the Rogue flashbender for a different look.

And the setup with the flashbender.
In the next blogpost I’ll show you the large reflector and explain why it’s awesome for location work.

Model/Styling : Nadine
Sunglasses : Sparks

www.fotografie-workshops.nl for the Dutch workshops
www.frankdoorhof.com/shop for my gear