Bristol ‘Urban Portraits 2’ – Pictures

Oct 8, 2008 | Flash, News | 24 comments

Here is a small selection of the pictures I shot in Bristol on Tuesday’s Urban Portrait workshop. My workshops are limited to just 4 delegates so we all have the opportunity to shoot each frame.

After the heavy rain throughout the day the skies broke to reveal a welcome patch of blue.

After the heavy rain throughout the day the skies broke to reveal a welcome patch of blue. Lit with a zoomed in Speedlight mounted on a stand. Canon 5D, ISO 250, f/22 at 1/160th sec, 45mm focal length, manual exposure.

Taken while sheltering from the horizontal rain.

Taken while sheltering from the horizontal rain. Canon 5D, ISO 800, f/4, 1/50th sec, 160mm lens, manual exposure mode. The camera was on a monopod.

Exposure settings as above.

Exposure settings as above.

I used Photoshop to add the blue tinge to the blacks and the subtle complimentary golden tone to the highlights.

I used Photoshop to add the blue tinge to the blacks and the subtle complementary golden tone to the highlights. Canon 5D, ISO 250, f/8, 1/60th sec, program exposure with minus 2 stops of exposure compensation. Lit with a zoomed in 580 EX2 Speedlight on a stand.

A typical Lovegrove shot taken under a tree canopy in a bank car park.

A typical Lovegrove shot taken under a tree canopy in a bank car park. Canon 5D, ISO 400, f/4, 1/250th sec, aperture priority mode with plus .7 stops exposure compensation. Lit with natural light.

We sheltered from the rain in the Bristol Pitcher and Piano bar. This shot was taken using natral light from distant windows. Note the low light level.

We sheltered from the rain in the Bristol Pitcher and Piano bar. This shot was taken using natural light from distant windows. Note the low light level - ISO 800, f/4, 1/50th sec, 180mm lens.

Polly our model has a fantastic smile. Exposure is the same as the shot above.

Polly our model has a fantastic smile. Exposure is the same as the shot above.

Another low light picture taken in the bar.

Another low light picture taken in the bar. This time at 1/30th sec, f/3.5, and with ISO 800. I used 130mm setting on my 70 - 200 lens.

I really like this shot. It was plagued by a modecombe of flair and that give it a bit of soul.

I really like this shot. It was plagued by a modicum of flare and that gives it a bit of soul. ISO 800, f/2.8, 1/30th sec, 115mm lens setting.

This reflection on a black granite column was captured in camera. There is no Photoshop trikery here - honest.

This reflection on a black granite column was captured in camera. There is no Photoshop trickery here - honest. ISO 500, f/2.8, 1/1250th sec, minus .3 stops of exposure compensation in aperture priority mode.

The green in the blacks is the result of a Photoshop tweak. The kick back from the flash is by design and is aided by using a telephoto lens.

The green in the blacks is the result of a Photoshop tweak. The kick back from the flash is by design and is aided by using a telephoto lens. ISO 200, f/16, 1/200th sec, manual mode with the equivalent of minus 3 stops of exposure compensation.

I've kept the flash stand in this shot to show how I lit it. It would take just a few seconds to remove it in Photoshop.

I've kept the lighting stand in this shot to show how it was lit. A few deft strokes of the Wacom pen in Photoshop and it was removed from the print file. ISO 100, f/16, 1/200th sec, manual exposure mode, 17mm setting on my 16-35mk2 lens. The flash was triggered by an STE2 transmitter.

Well there you have it. A different set of pictures taken in different circumstances from the previous day. I won’t let rain spoil the day as I have secured a few wet weather contingencies and some covered places to shoot in. The light and cold however is a problem if you want a full day taking pictures on the street. That is why the next Urban Portrait events available for booking are in April. Thanks go to Polly our model and my fellow photographers for not complaining about being battered with the wet stuff.

24 Comments

  1. damien

    Hi Chris,

    I’ve just posted my system for big flash portraits. This may well help with the train of thought needed to establish exposure etc.

    I ran an Urban Portrait session from the Hoxton Hotel in Shoreditch earlier this year. I may well run one next year too from the same location ;-)

    Kind regards,

    Damien.

    Reply
  2. Chris

    Hello Damien, thank you. That has made it a lot clearer.

    Get the desired ambient exposure by compensation or manual settings, then add the flash, take a meter reading (if off camera) and so on.

    In theory that should work in reverse shouldn’t it?,
    Start with the flash reading, then adjusting the ambient light with the compensation settings/ shutter speed.

    Chris

    One last question. Are any of your Urban Portraits seminars based in London?

    Reply
  3. damien

    Hi Chris & Tim,

    Nearly every brand of camera uses TTL flash exposure systems in a unique way. The basis of my system of image making is to consider the exposure without the flash. I make it as dark as I want using either an automatic mode and exposure compensation or manual exposure mode. Then I add flash to taste either using TTL and flash exposure compensation or using manual flash power settings.

    It takes my delegates about a day of shooting with me to really grasp the rudiments of independent flash and ambient control within one exposure. We usually get on to using multiple flashes with variable ratios.

    Once you have discovered the secret of flash control in your pictures you will feel liberated.

    Damien.

    Reply
  4. Chris

    I agree, I wouldn’t mind getting myself on to one of your courses myself.

    I think Tim was trying to ask how do you balance flash with daylight in your portraits?

    Chris

    Reply
  5. damien

    Hi Tim,

    Now I’m confused. The aperture you use varies depending upon the quantity of available light. I suggest you get yourself on an Urban Portraits workshop :)

    Kindest regards,

    Damien.

    Reply
  6. Tim

    Hello Damien, that helps a bit as I’m new to this location shooting. Not sure that I worded that correctly.

    I was wondering what I should do once the shot has been setup & flash is ready to fire that test shot- does the available light make any difference to the flash power/ f-stop or vice versa?

    Is there a correct f-stop to use with outdoor portraits?

    that’s what I meant. sorry

    Tim

    Reply
  7. damien

    Hi Tim,

    It depends upon the look you want. I start with a 4:1 ratio of flash to ambient by using minus two stops of exposure compensation and end up adjusting to taste using the screen on the camera as a guide. I hope this helps,

    Damien.

    Reply
  8. Tim

    Hello Damien, I was wondering what ratio of flash to available light I should be using when shooting on location?

    thanks in advance

    Tim

    Reply
  9. damien

    Hi Chris, Your assumptions are right. You can indeed zoom a Speedlight just like a Maglite. You can set the flash to Auto zoom or manual zoom and in manual mode you can choose the setting you want. – Give it a go and if you have an SB 900 then you can zoom all the way to 200mm :)

    Damien

    Reply
  10. Chris L

    Thanks Damien, I did’nt know that if you zoomed the flash it created a focused pool of light ( correct me if I’m wrong )
    similar the focus on Fresnel studio lights.

    Am I right in thinking that the flashgun zoom & lens zoom don’t have to match, its a matter of personal taste?

    The more you zoom on the flash the more intense the pool of light will be & give greater fall off around it??

    Sorry to be such a pain

    Chris L

    Reply
  11. damien

    Hi Chris,

    Yep the camera is where I dial in exposure compensation. The flash is TTL with no compensation. The flash is zoomed in order to create a pool of intense light with an unlit area around it. You are right it helps to increase the power where it counts too.

    Damien.

    Reply
  12. damien

    Hi Andrew,

    Thanks for your kind words. I use a Manfrotto 684B monopod with a 486RC2 head. I use it because it is fast to use and because of that I actually use it. If it was only just a bit more fiddly I would never use it at all :-)

    If I used a D3, a D700 or a 5Dmk2 I might just leave the monopod at home and use ISO 3200 instead.

    Reply
  13. Chris L

    Hello Damien, Great Site.

    I was thinking about the exposure compensation answered earlier, just to clarify- its the camera where the adjustments are made otherwise the shot would be underexposed. Like you said

    Another question: Zoomed flash, why zoom the flash?
    To increase power I’m guessing.

    Why not leave it on the same setting all the time & move the light stand or am I missing something totally & being really lazy-

    Chris

    Reply
  14. Andrew Gosling

    Hi Damien,
    some more wonderful pictures.

    I notice from various blog postings and from your book that you use a monopod extensively. What model do you use and why? Do you have any tips on what to look for in a monopod?

    Thanks,
    Andrew

    Reply
  15. Roy Barnes

    Hi Damien
    thanks for a great time on this shoot – even the weather added to the whole experience.

    I learned so much on the day – I feel my creativity has just been given a massive kick up the proverbial – anyone thinking of booking on this course, just do it!

    I’ve had amazing reactions to the backbone shot – already saving the pennies for the next course!

    Thanks again Damien – not had chance to get out there and try out the new skills, (got a wedding this week) but will do soon.

    Roy

    Reply
  16. damien

    Don’t be embarrassed to ask. I should have made myself clearer. When I talk about minus 2 stops or minus 3 stops of exposure compensation I mean ambient exposure. So if the flash was not connected the picture would be very dark. I hope this helps.

    Damien.

    Reply
  17. Sheradon

    Hello Damien,

    I am embarrassed to even ask but here goes anyway:

    When you mention manual mode minus 2 or 3 stops exposure compensation, do you mean on the flashgun or the camera. Pics no.4 and no.11

    I’m guessing its the flashgun but I’d like to make sure

    Thanks, All the best

    S

    Reply
  18. Dave

    Hi Damien,

    Thanks for the information re the lighting setup. I look forward to seeing your post on how you set it all up.

    Dave.

    Reply
  19. damien

    Thanks for your kind words Pete. See you soon. D.

    Reply
  20. damien

    Hi Dave,

    I use bare flash for all the Speedlight shots because there just isn’t quite enough power to use anything else when working in bright daylight. With bigger flash systems you can use brollies and work at greater distances from flash to subject. This refinement has it’s uses in the advertising, editorial, beauty and fashion markets but is an unnecessary complication for simple social portraiture.

    I love working with my Broncolor Mobil kits because the final images have more polish and a higher value. At 25 times the power of a Speedlight the possibilities are endless.

    My lighting stand used on these urban shoots is far from substantial. It is an Arri stand from a Junior 300 kit. It is small and light. My preferred stand is a Lowell one I’ve had for nearly 20 years. It is heavier but goes twice the height and has a bigger spread at the base.

    I’ll post info on my cobbled together kit for attaching a flash unit to a stand as soon as I get a chance. It is not a ready made off the shelf solution.

    Damien.

    Reply
  21. Pete

    Thank you Damien for sharing your knowledge and offering your advice on Tuesdays shoot. Despite the weather it was a fantastic day and you elevated my photography skills and knowledge to new heights.

    Already looking forward to the next course…

    Pete

    Reply
  22. Dave

    Hi Damien,

    Are you using and sort of diffuser on the flash , or are they bare, as in the last image?

    Also, how are you attaching the flashguns to the lightstands? And, what make are they? They look fairly substantial.

    Dave

    Reply
  23. Brian

    Damien,

    Great images, and wonderful light.

    What sort of stand are you using to mount the flash and how do you attach the flash gun to it?

    The last image looks as though you may be using a bare flash, or is that a stofen attached?

    Thanks
    Brian

    Reply
  24. Raymond

    Love the first photo! Nice.

    Raymond

    Reply

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