Bristol Urban Portraits 10 ~ Pictures and Technique

May 13, 2009 | Flash, Location | 8 comments

After Monday’s shoot how could I even get close? I’m sure the wind was stronger and the temperature had dropped a few degrees on Tuesday. Megan braved the cold and was as kind and patient with us as ever. Here are a few of my favourites from the session for your perusal.

HBOS provided the glass fronted building or did we the tax payer? Anyway the 12 stop scene contrast was dropped to just 3 stops by the time it had been reflected

The HBOS headquarters provided the glass fronted building, or did we, the tax payer? Anyway the 12 stops of contrast in the background scene was dropped to just 3 stops by the time it had been reflected. The aqua glass put the right finish on the shot as it is in the opposite colour spectrum to the fuchsia pink that Megan is wearing. I used a 200mm lens on my Canon 5D mk2 to capture this naturally lit frame. Manual exposure, ISO 200, f/4 at 1/125th second. The meter was showing a plus 1 exposure compensation in the viewfinder.

A single Speedlight as a key light and sunlight from behind Megan was the recepee for this frame.

A single Speedlight was used as a key light and sunlight from behind Megan was the backlight for this first frame of the day. We explored the mechanisms of controlling the background exposure independently to the flash exposure.

A blast of wind and my tunnel lighting in a dark space gave me the ingredients for this high key study.

A blast of wind and my tunnel lighting in a dark space gave me the ingredients for this high key study. Notice the delicate kick light glancing on Megan's nearside cheek. The benefit of shooting in the dark is the bright unsquinting eyes.

A big hair shot.

A big hair shot. The reflection in the brushed stainless steel column in front of Oceana night club on the water front added to Megan's curls. Getting the sight line right is important in a picture like this. I missed the shot here for that reason. Megan was looking slightly too far left for this picture as it gives her an inquisitive look. Too far to the right would have resulted in Megan having too much white in the eyes. It was less important that I get the shot than it was for the delegates to get the shot.

After lunck I did the cafe lighting demo using just what was there in the room.

After lunch I did the cafe lighting demo using just what was there in the room.

All these pictures in this cafe set are lit with just 2 windows.

All these pictures in this cafe set are lit with just 2 windows. Again, the low light level meant that Megan could open her eyes. Reflectors kill the bright eye look as it becomes hard to look towards a bright reflector and that is why I never use them.

This is the same light and position as the shot above. I've just moved round a bit to shoot into the backlight window. The exposure is identical too at 1/60th second, ISO 800, at f/4

This is the same light, position and exposure as the shot above. I took these frames at my favourite exposure setting of ISO 800, 1/60th second at f/4. I just came round further to the right to shoot into the backlight window. The flare was part of the picture design :)

Whod have thought that this shot is in the identical position and lighting as the two shots above?

Who'd have thought that this shot has Megan in the identical position and lighting as the two shots above? It just goes to show the relationships with light position and subject position plus the relationship with background and camera position. Same exposure as above.

Before we once again stepped outside into the wind and the sun I demonstrated how to pull in a reflection off a black surface.

Before we once again stepped outside into the wind and the sun I demonstrated how to pull in a reflection off a black surface.

A bit of good old flash and burn had us all filling up compact flash cards with test shot after test shot.

A bit of good old flash and burn had us all filling up compact flash cards with test shot after test shot. We all got there in the end and a new picture style was within the comfort zone of the delegates.

A gust of wind and a kick back from on camera flash give this shot the magic touch.

A gust of wind and a kick back from on camera flash give this shot the magic touch.

Here is a behind the scenes shot of one of my many set ups. It shows my key and kick technique being used at a range of over 10m in bright sunlight.

Here is a behind the scenes shot of one of my many set ups. It shows my key and kick technique being used at a range of over 10m in bright sunlight. Even the pop up flash on a Nikon D300 coped with the range. Pocket Wizard TTL units are coming to provide the radio controlled option but for now the ST-E2 and the SU-800 do just fine.

And here is the lighting rig in use. All be it with Megan sat and not standing.

And here is the lighting rig in use. All be it with Megan sat and not standing. By this time in the day every delegate had mastered how to control the ambient light level in the picture independently of the flash. With this kind of control it is easy to select the right kind of look for the picture from subtle to punchy.

Please feel free to comment on the pictures and ask questions in the usual way.

8 Comments

  1. damien

    Hi Fergus, Marko does indeed need recognition. Only, it was Luke who edited these pictures ;) Luke has been with us for quite a while now and has settled in to become part of our creative team.

    Once you have great captures you are half way there to getting fine prints. Marko is teaching more and more and Luke does quite a bit of our picture editing now under the masters guidance of course.

    I’ll pass on your thanks, Damien.

    Reply
  2. Fergus

    Another great set of images, as good as last year when I did the urban portraits day.
    Having just spent a day with Marko on photoshop maybe he deserves some recognition too. I learnt so much from him particularly about using lightroom. Many thanks Marko.
    Fergus

    Reply
  3. damien

    Hi Nick, #11 is one of the simplest frames to shoot in the set. Having complete control of your flash gun opens up so many picture making opportunities it gives you freedom to work in all lighting conditions. I think that frame is one of my favourites too. The 2 dimensional quality is so limiting and simplifying at the same time.
    Damien.

    Reply
  4. damien

    Hi Richie, The camera was on manual exposure. 1/200th second at f/16 with an ISO setting of 200. I chose 200 ISO because that is the lowest setting on the Nikon cameras without a compression of dynamic range. The flash guns were set to TTL with the left units set to group A and the right units set to group B so we could employ ratios on the Canon ST-E2 and make use of the Nikon SU-800 system control.

    Damien.

    Reply
  5. Nick

    Another great set of photos there Damien, thanks for sharing.

    Love #11 that is magic…

    Reply
  6. Richie Carter

    Love that you shared the “behind the scenes” photo. What were the setting on the flash and camera for the last shot?

    Reply
  7. damien

    Hi Dave, I’m using the ultra light Manfrotto MN051NB stands for this shoot. I weighed them down with bits and bobs of railway stuff. There are bolts, brackets and bits of iron all over the place at this location. You can use your camera bag as a ballast if you put a thin cord loop on the strap. My camera bag strap is too wide to go over the stand clamps. I had twice the weight and twice the wind resistance on the stands as you will need because I had a Nikon SB-900 and a Canon 580 EX2 rigged on a pair of the Lovegrove flash brackets for training purposes.

    I hope this helps. Damien.

    Reply
  8. Dave

    Damien,

    Another set of great images. What sort of stands are you using for the speedlights?

    As it was windy, do you have to weigh them down somehow?

    Thanks
    Dave

    Reply

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