New York Urban Portraits ~ Day 2 Part 2

Aug 6, 2009 | Flash, Location | 13 comments

Lit with 2 Speedlights. The blue in the blacks was added by Marko.

Lit with 2 Speedlights. The blue in the blacks was added by Marko.

On a serious note there was a great deal of head scratching being done when I was arranging these shoots. I had to consider US employment law, public liability insurance cover, US tax, UK tax, and VAT. We decided to take the common sense approach to all these things. Details beyond the jump

We took all monies in the form of a booking fee in UK pounds online in advance. This made it a UK transaction and liable to UK tax (even though the service was delivered outside the EU). This meant I was not technically employed in the US and I was certainly not taking the job of a US worker. So I traveled as a tourist. We were holidaying in New York for 8 days in total. I arranged insurance cover with Towergate/Camerasure Alliance our regular insurers. I booked Alex our model through Model Mayhem and paid her in dollars. I researched locations with the help of one of the delegates and Google Earth street view. We chose out of the way locations that were not going to be considered terrorist targets and we kept ourselves to ourselves

This dappled light shot was taken on the way back from lunch at an Italian restaurant on 9th Ave.

This dappled light shot was taken on the way back from lunch at an Italian restaurant on 9th Ave. It's not what you are looking at that matters on a shoot it's what you see that counts. I think all the delegates were seeing different shots here.

On Day 1 we were challenged for a permit to shoot in one of the parks and one of my delegates was a New Jersey Cop so a quick flash of his badge gave us some breathing space. The same would have happened in Hyde Park in London for instance. The shots were non commercial and not for sale so technically we didn’t need a permit anyway. If it had been a wedding shoot or a real client shoot that would have been a different matter. Anyway, the events all went smoothly and I’d do it again in an instant. A different city next time though. Just for a change.

A simple natural light shot that relies on repeating pattern and being taken on a long lens into the light.

A simple natural light shot that relies on repeating pattern and being taken on a long lens into the light.

This shot is taken with a single Speedlight fitted with a full orange gel. The white balance was set at 3200 Kelvin (tungsten setting).

This shot is taken with a single Speedlight fitted with a full orange gel. The white balance was set at 3200 Kelvin (tungsten setting).

Here I've added a kick light from the left. The Flash head that is in shot will be removed before printing. I kept it here for you to see the gel.

Here I've added a kick light from the left. The flash units that are in shot on the right will be removed prior to printing but I'm showing them so that you can see the full orange gel on the Honl Speed Grips.

We moved 10 yards down the building and used the same lighting set up.

We moved 10 yards down the building and used the same lighting set up.

This is one of my two favourite frames from this set up.

This is one of my two favourite frames from this set up.

And this is the other one.

And this is the other one.

All these shots have the Honl Speed Strap attached to my key Speedlight and a full orange filter fitted.

After a bit of a walk in the 30+ degree heat it was time for some high key shots.

After a bit of a walk in the 30+ degree heat it was time for some high key shots. This one is lit by direct sunlight.

This was taken in the same location as the first frame I showed from the day 1 shoot

This was taken using natural light in the same location as the first frame I showed from the day 1 shoot.

Another natural light shot showing two point lighting. The light here is very soft, created by large virtual softboxes.

Another natural light shot showing two point lighting. The light here is very soft, created by large virtual softboxes.

This is the same 2 point lighting technique but lit with punchy hard light sources

This is the same 2 point lighting technique but lit with punchy hard light sources. 2 Speedlights again on TTL.

The sun was our back light and a Speedlight was our key. f/16 was needed for this shot. It is the same techniquy as Louis Vuiton use in their advertising campaigns. Only they use soft boxes and Broncolor Mobil lighting no doubt.

The sun was our back light and a Speedlight was our key. f/16 was needed for this shot. It is the same lighting technique as Louis Vuiton use in their advertising campaigns. Only they use soft boxes and Broncolor Mobil lighting no doubt.

We had got so hot, we cooled off in a shady park for a few delicate frames before heading to the Brass Monkey pub for a few pints of locally brewed Summer Ale.

We had got so hot, we cooled off in a shady park for a few delicate frames before heading to the Brass Monkey pub for a few pints of locally brewed Summer Ale.

Please feel free to comment in the usual way.

13 Comments

  1. damien

    Hi Damian,

    It was great to see you and Charlotte in the big Apple. It was hot hot hot! Lets get together soon.

    Damien.

    Reply
  2. Damian Hall

    Hi Damien

    Just wanted to drop a note on here to say that the day was a superb experience and I’m just getting around to tweaking the images now.

    Just looking at the images now and re-thinking through the techniques we used.

    For anyone thinking whether they should invest in one of Damien’s workshop then simply get on with it and get your technique muscles flexing.

    Thanks again Damien. I think I’ve just stopped sweating!

    Reply
  3. Stuart

    It makes sense sure :) Thanks

    Reply
  4. DT

    Damien – thanks for the answer about the STE2.

    I agree with your comments about NY.

    As it happens, I am coming to one of your workshops in Bristol in September. I hope to be able to learn enough about the off camera flash techniques so that I can use this style of shooting wherever I happen to be. That could be in my own back yard (so to speak) or when I am travelling abroad.

    It’s not the fact the workshop is in Bristol, which actually, is quite a distance away for me, but the techniques being taught. Having seen you in action at Focus, and read your blog for quite a while I am confident that I am going to really benefit from your tuition.

    Reply
  5. Nick

    Completely agree with Damien’s comment above, what I took away from my workshop with him, I apply to ever shoot, whether this is on the beach, in open fields or in the city of London.

    Nice to hear Alex was dedicated to come out for a second full day at short notice too, good on her.

    Reply
  6. damien

    Hi Stuart,

    You raise an interesting point and one I always spend time thinking about before selecting locations. The events were not tourist shoots, they were my Urban Portraits workshops that happened to have taken place in New York.

    If you see my other Urban Portraits workshops from Melbourne, Sydney, Perth, Brisbane, Dublin, Edinburgh, Bristol, Cork and Manchester to name a few you will see no ‘landmarks’ in the pictures. All the shots are taken in locations that could be found in any of the cities where the delegates live.

    My New York delegates would not be interested to shoot a model under the Brooklyn Bridge for instance as everyone already does that. And anyway it’s not my style. What I taught were universal techniques for the delegates to use in their own towns and nearby cities that might not have a Brooklyn Bridge.

    The devil is in the detail. All the small elements that make up my backgrounds like water hydrants and adverts etc give clues to the locations without the locations themselves becoming the subject.

    On your other point about models. I always shoot just one model on a workshop like this because adding another model increases the delegate costs considerably and after all it is a training exercise and not a commercial shoot. The delegates are encouraged and free to revisit the locations in their own time with different models to build their unique portfolios using the techniques they have learned.

    I had a different model booked for day 2 but she was ill and couldn’t make it, and as Alex was my standby for the second day she stood in. Otherwise you would have been looking at more variety.

    I hope this makes sense.

    Damien.

    Reply
  7. Stuart

    My first thought is these could have been taken anywhere in this country (UK) which I feel is a shame and on the surface looks like a missed opportunity? There is nothing obvious to me that these were taken in New York :/ I take it there are many restrictions what and where you can shoot? For example can’t you shoot a yellow cab? Despite this they are great shots and a shame there wasn’t a few other models during the workshops.

    Reply
  8. damien

    Hi guys, Thanks for your kind words. Terrence, you got the rain pictures and they are the best ;-) so don’t be jealous.

    Dave, I have found the TTL output bang on every time with no consistency issues. Using the Speedlights on manual is not an option if you shoot the way I shoot. I select my flash ambient balance using the lens aperture and I work very fast. I do use manual flash control with my Bron kit but I’m then shooting at 1/4 of the speed that I can with Speedlights.

    You need to wait until the Speedlights are flashing at you after each frame to ensure they have fully recycled. They can be set up to deliver a reduced flash if they are not recycled fully and this may be your problem. Also make sure you are using matrix metering with the centre zone only selected.

    I hope this helps. Damien.

    Reply
  9. DT

    Damien,

    I love these shots. I really like the mixture of gelled CTO with tungsten WB . Inspirational stuff.

    When using the STE2- I know you can use ratio settings to control the key and kicklight. But if you left ithe STE2 at 1:1 could you set the flashes to manual and alter the power on the individual units.?

    I was wondering if that would give more consistent expousre bewtween shots but allow the flashes to triggered with the STE2.

    Oh, and thank you for the information you posted about the insurance and permit issue; very useful.

    Dave

    Reply
  10. Terrence bibb

    Okay, i’m a little jealous the wardrobe and locations are just a little better than day one. However the skill sets learned from this workshop will take my photography to new heights.

    Reply
  11. Paul Hurst

    All striking images again. High key white background and pink dress is my fav from this set.

    Reply
  12. Nick

    OMG outstanding!!!!

    That blue using the orange gel is a bit special!!

    Love these Damien.

    Reply

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