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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

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Danique June 17 2016 3408

Santa Cruz here we come….

Teaching workshops on location is one of the most challenging and exciting things, not only for me but also for the attendees of these workshops.
On July 15th I’ll be visiting Santa Cruz for a one day workshop in cooperation with our friends of Expoimaging with the theme “The magic of the small flash”.

In this workshop I’ll teach the group a lot of techniques for the use of speed lights in many different situations ranging from inside to outside, fill in flash and fighting the sun (day to night).

This is a small group workshop and at the moment we only have 3 seats left, so head on over to Watsonville Santa Cruz workshop July 15th 2016 on the site to book your seat and find more information.

Tip : The most simple location can be awesome

Often I hear photographers complain about the lack of great locations…
I always tell them “the best locations are in your head, and often right in front of you”.
Somehow it sometimes seems that if there isn’t a great location the creativity is gone, or is it just that……

In my opinion every location is great to photograph, but I often do look for certain extras like contrast, grunge (rough) and color, OR the lack of it. The more rough the better in all honesty, on the other hand something really static and modern can also be awesome, as you can see there is always something if you WANT to see it.

As I joke I sometimes say “put on your photographers eyes and hunt, don’t look for opportunities but try to find uses for what you see” this is a different mindset but often helps a lot.

Now if you add a little bit of styling to it (or a lot like in this case) you’re on the way to a great shot.
These shots were done during a workshop in Manchester with Nadine, a very simple light setup with one Elinchrom beauty dish with grid straight at Nadine. The wall didn’t look like much but I loved it, and seeing the responses from the attendees as soon as the images came in… they did too.

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Nadine June 8th 2016 Manchester  0289

Tip : Expression really can make a difference

I’ve said it several times on the blog and online, but expression can really make or break a shot.
When I do portfolio reviews in fact most of the shots I see are well lit, have good styling, have a great location but…. it’s often the expression that kills the shot, I sometimes even think “was she waiting for the bus?” yes it can be that bad 😀

During the shoot always push your models for that real cool expression, the look where they go “WOW, SLAMBAM THERE I AM” well you know what I mean. I sometimes tell the more “shy” models that 80% of the expression is blown away by the strobes so they really have to push it over the top, and this often helps.

No most of the time the models will respond a bit surprised when they see a real expressive shots, some will love it and you are on a rollercoaster from there one, and some will start to doubt themselves, so in my experience don’t ask the model “what do you think?” but just TELL her/him “WOW look at this, THIS is amazing, your rock girl/man” you will quickly see that this last line actually works wonders.

Now when I do my testshoots the first thing I try to figure out is if the model is expressive, I’ll run him/her through different expressions and coach a lot less than I normally do (I’m a real talker during the shoot) because I know that if they do fine without coaching they will rock with.

Some models really surprise me during their testshoots and those are the models you often also see a lot during the workshops I teach :D, one of them is actually Poeka, and today some expression shots we did with Poeka during a recent small flash workshop.

 

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Poeka May 28  2016 0335 Natural looking pop

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Poeka May 28  2016 0313