Tag Archive for: mixing

Using colortubes to spice up your shot

It’s no secret that I love to take my images a few steps further than just a portrait, don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with standard portraits, but for me the real challenge is more into creating something more surreal, and one of the things I love to do is combine coloured gels with a bit of smoke and maybe throw in some lens flares here and there.

During a recent live stream we decided to use the led tubes as my main light source and play with the different options, and today I’ll show you some of the results.

Our model during the live stream was Lois.
I’m using two small Nanlite led tubes and one large Nanlite led tube.
The nice thing about these tubes is that they not only are able to show almost every color imaginable but also output more than enough light to actually use them in professional photography. I absolutely love those tubes.

But enough talk, let’s take a look at the setup I was using.
I do have to add that the glow is achieved by using the amazing Black Mist filter from K&F concept, I can’t tell you guys enough how much I love using that filter, in fact you can now even buy it from our webshop at frankdoorhof.com/shop

Here you can clearly see the two lights on the side and the large tube Lois is holding. With this setup I just started to experiment during the live stream and came up with the following results.

But you don’t have to use all the lights at once of course.
So whenever you do a photoshoot, always try to experiment with different ways of lighting your model, move around your model and of course turn off certain light sources, you will be surprised how many different options you get from your lighting setups if you just dare to move around and move your lights a bit more than you normally do.

Now loads of images will fail, but always remember, there are no fails/mistakes, you only fail when you stop. So all the things that not work (and will drive you nuts) are just steps towards understanding and learning to visualise your setups.

For the next images I played mostly with the larger led tube and asked Lois to keep it really close to her face. When you are shooting on aperture priority mode or any other auto setting, you will have to adjust your exposure compensation because otherwise the face will blow out due to the fact that the metering of your camera will be thrown off by the large dynamic range in shots like this. It can help if you use spot metering in your camera as meting mode, but even than… I strongly advise to shoot things like this on full manual mode and use the EVF or Live View of your camera to check lighting. Plus of course when you shoot tethered (which I also highly advise as you all know) you can check the final results on a large screen and already do some tweaking in your RAW convertor (Lightroom, C1, Luminar etc.)

Playing with led tubes is very challenging but a boat load of fun, but do beware… it’s incredibly addictive, but also a great way to learn and understand your lighting.

You can see the whole live stream for free on our YouTube channel (we would love a subscribe).
Digital classroom mixing strobes and leds

Mixing ambient/available with strobes

A situation most photographers encounter many times is mixing ambient/available light with strobes.
There is however a pretty simple rule you can always use to remember how to influence the look of a scene.

Shutter speed controls the available light
Aperture is the flash
ISO stays the same

If you change the ISO you have to change the aperture (because this is fixed pulse from the strobe).
By changing the shutter speed you can let in more or less ambient/available light.
This way you can make a background outside darker (faster shutter speed) or lighter (slower shutter speed) while the exposure on your model (the flash) stays the same. Do remember this is of course with manual flash with ETTL this works slightly differently.

Also remember that there is a point where the ambient/available light can actually over power the strobe, especially outside when working with fill-in flash this can happen quite easily, that’s why I always advise to setup your strobes on full power first and lower the output by counting (if your system has 1/10th or 1/3rd digital settings and is reliable). If you change the shutter speed you have to remember that if you double or halve the shutter speed this is ONE full f-stop so if you know your aperture and the combination of ambient and flash you actually can very quickly calculate when the ambient is higher that the flash. If for example the setup is f11 on the model on 1/125 and you overpower the ambient with 2 stops, you know that when you shoot on f11 1/60 you are now overpowering the ambient with just 1 stop.

This comes in very handy when you start adding constant lighting to your scene like in these examples.
You can actually (to a certain level) control how much the lightbulbs emit, or how far they blow out.
I love using the Elinchrom ELCs for this because they can go down REALLY low in power, and that’s awesome for mixing them with this kind of light.

For this setup we used one strobe on the model and one blue gelled strobe on the back for the smoke effect. The chandelier was powered by 230V 😀

Mixing light sources can be incredibly fun but also a bit difficult at first. Also take into account that some light sources have a different color temperature (to be exact EVERY light source has a different color temperature, that’s why we use the X-Rite color checkers), you can solve this by gelling the strobes, or…. just leave it and play with it like I did in these shots, I love the cool hues you can get this way.

As a rule of thumb:
Outside light : no correction
Tungsten : Amber colored gels
Fluorescent : Green colored gels

Or find the proper CTO gels, you can of course also stack gels, I always advise to by them not to heavy and get two, this way you can stack them together if necessary.

Model : Danique
Dresses (black) by Sinister

Danique June 17 2016 2441

Danique June 17 2016 3408

Many different looks from one setup

Often I’m asked what kind of setups I use and what kind of modifiers.
What people often don’t realize is that with only one modifier you can chance a lot just by playing with the angles and controlling the contrast/lightfall off. In fact placing a light closer or further away also makes a huge impact on the image look, add to this the option to feather a light source (using the sides of the light) and you know that there is a lot possible with one modifier and light.


It gets even more interesting when you are combining two strobes and for example add a gel to one of them.
During the workshop this weekend I made a setup like this with our model Lennaa and decided it would be a cool thing to share on the blog.


I started out with one strobe with a red gel.

Lenaa Juli 25 20142025

To get a bit more “punch” in the image I added another strobe without gel under the same angle to mix the two.

Lenaa Juli 25 20142035 Read more

Mixing strobes with tungsten

There will be that moment where you have to mix two different light sources in a scene.
Now normally it’s common to gel the strobes to match the color temperature of the other light source, but sometimes it can be very interesting to keep the color temperature different.


In this shot (shot during a glamour workshop) I shot our model Lenaa on the chair and lit her with the 70cm deep octa and a custom grid from Honeycombgrids the tungsten lights on the back are in fact 100W bulbs. I made sure that the light sources didn’t really “overlap” but that the tungsten had free play on the background, this way the tungsten lights look really nice and warm and it gives a nice glow to the background. The suitcases gives the shot some extra dimension.


When shooting something like this, do make sure that you put the strobes on the LOWEST possible power setting, this way you can actually see the tungsten lights. If you meter everything on 1/125 you can still open up more to let in more of the tungsten bulbs (1/60 or even 1/30). Always remember that the aperture in these cases control the strobe and the shutter speed the tungsten lights.

Lenaa Juni 20 2014 38 1

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