Singapore Urban Portraits ~ Pictures and techniques

Sep 27, 2013 | Continuous Lighting, Flash, Location | 6 comments

One of the favourite pastimes in Singapore is shopping, so we headed off to a shopping mall to shoot some urban portraits of Gabrielle from Basic Models Management. Air conditioned and largely empty during the working day shopping malls make great locations to shoot in.

01. Gabrielle

01. Gabrielle on the stairs lit with a single bare faced Speedlight on a Lovegrove Flash Bracket. Crisp clean light from a Speedlight is far more punchy and exciting than softened light that comes from using a soft box.

Our workshop was planned and arranged by Karen from Baobab. She did a fabulous job of arranging the permissions and other challenging tasks. Here are 36 of the pictures from our day…

Camera: Fujifilm X-Pro1 with 14mm f/2.8 and 35mm f/1.4 prime lenses plus 18-55mm and 55-200mm zoom lenses.
Lighting: 2 Canon 580EX2 Speedlights with stands. Unbranded radio triggers from Ebay.
Post Production: A whizz through Lightroom 5 at 60 seconds per frame.

02. Our session started with a simple one Speedlight set up. I taught the group how to balance the ambient exposure with that of the flash. We used manual exposure and flash settings to ensure consistent results every shot.

02. Our session started with a simple one Speedlight set up. I taught the group how to balance the ambient exposure with that of the flash. We used manual exposure and flash settings to ensure consistent results with every shot.

03. Soon I was drawn to Gucci. We avoided shooting the brand names and logos while in the shopping mall for copyright reasons.

03. Soon I was drawn to Gucci. We avoided shooting the brand names and logos while in the shopping mall for copyright reasons.

Sing_UP_04

04. The two point lighting created by the alignment of windows was perfect for lesson one in finding and using great natural light.

05. My time was spent ensuring each of the delegates was creating striking images with a sence of balance and good composition.

05. My time was spent ensuring each of the delegates was creating striking images with a sense of balance and good composition.

06. I found a really textured wall to give us a backdrop for a Lovegrove two point creation using symetrical Speedlights.

06. I found a really textured wall made of rusty steel plate to give us a backdrop for a Lovegrove two point creation using symmetrical Speedlights.

07. This close up shows you how a Speedlight wraps around cheek bones to define and slim down a face.

07. This close up shows you how a Speedlight wraps around cheek bones to define and slim down a face. Not that Gabrielle’s face needed slimming down. Soft light widens faces and hard light narrows them.

08. Exactly the same lighting was used for this square on portrait.

08. Exactly the same lighting was used for this square on portrait.

09. There is no shortage of colourful backgrounds in a shopping mall.

09. There is no shortage of colourful backgrounds in a shopping mall.

10. I adjusted the black and white mix in Lightroom to get this gritty convertion. Gabrielle is in the same spot as she was in shot 9 above.

10. I adjusted the black and white mix in Lightroom to get this gritty conversion. Gabrielle is in the same spot as she was in shot 9 above.

11. These natural light shots were at the limit of light that can be used to get great images. Fast prime lenses and monopods came in handy here. I always chalenge a group to use dark spaces as well as bight ones in full sun if we can get it. Sometimes the most magical light lurks in dark places.

11. These natural light shots were at the limit of light that can be used to get great images. Fast prime lenses and monopods came in handy here. I always challenge a group to use dark spaces as well as bight ones in full sun if we can get it. Sometimes the most magical light lurks in dark places.

12. The 55-200mm zoom was perfect for this headshot.

12. The 55-200mm zoom was perfect for this head shot.

13. Even the mannequins in Singapore look fantastic.

13. Even the mannequins in Singapore look fantastic. This was just a grab shot taken on the fly.

14. The area of the mall that we were in was almost deserted. Evenenings and weekends are another matter of course.

14. The area of the mall that we were in was almost deserted. Evenings and weekends are another matter of course.

15. Channel had created a fab place for us to shoot.

15. Channel had created a fabulous place for us to shoot.

16. I love to isolate and simplify backgrounds.

16. I love to isolate and simplify backgrounds.

17. Both vertical and horizontal compositions are easy to shoot as required in places like this.

17. Both vertical and horizontal compositions are easy to shoot as required in places like this.

18. The same place as above given the Speedlight treatment.

18. The same place as above given the Speedlight treatment.

19. Striking portraits and fashion shots can be created with minimal lighting kit with the right know how.

19. Striking portraits and fashion shots can be created with minimal lighting kit with the right know how.

20. A marble floor in full sun posed it's own problems and gave us something to work with.

20. A marble floor in full sun posed it’s own problems and gave us something to work with.

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23. Lighting is all about direction and control. I love hard light like this.

23. Lighting is all about direction and control. I love hard light like this. The shadows from the eyelashes are fabulous too.

24. This colour zone has directional natural light landing on it. I placed Gabrielle into the light and used her shadow in my composition.

24. This colour zone has directional natural light landing on it. I placed Gabrielle into the light and used her shadow in my composition.

25. Don't be blinded by colour though. I much prefer this monochrome version of the same image.

25. Don’t be blinded by colour though. I much prefer this monochrome version of the same image.

26. After lunch we braved the sauna like conditions that being on the equator delivers.

26. After lunch we went outside and braved the sauna like conditions that being on the equator delivers.

27. Gabrielle has a great natural flow and we had fun with spins.

27. Gabrielle has a great natural flow and we had fun with spins. The 55-200mm lens was perfect to compress the perspective in this shot.

28. It was hard to avoid the LV branding.

28. This was an exercise in composition. I showed how to line up intersecting angles into the bottom corners of the frame.

29. It was hard to avoid the LV branding here.

29. It was hard to avoid the LV branding here. 18mm end of the 18-55mm zoom on my Fuji X-Pro1

30. 14mm prime time.

30. 14mm prime time.

31. We used a pair of Speedlights on half power in the Gemini bracket to light Gabrielle. I used half power to speed up recycle times.

31. We used a pair of Speedlights on half power in the Gemini bracket to light Gabrielle. I used half power to speed up recycle times.

32. A more classic harbour view.

32. A more classic harbour view.

33. I then showed the group how to shift white balance to create striking colour contrasts.

33. I then showed the group how to shift white balance to create striking colour contrasts.

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35. Finally I showed how to use a silver umbrella with the Gemini bracket for a soft light finish.

35. Finally I showed how to use a small silver umbrella with the Gemini bracket for a soft light finish.

36. The sunset after glow was short lived but worth capturing before settling for a cool beer or two.

36. The sunset after glow was short lived but worth capturing before settling for a cool beer or two.

My thanks go to Karen for her excellent organising and for putting up with me. Please feel free to comment on the pictures or your experience if you were with us on the day.

6 Comments

  1. stefaan

    Dear Picture 14 with wich lens is this taken 55-200? I’m still doubting what i have to do. When i go to thailand i always bring my fuji xe1 + 18 mm + 35 mm + 60 mm with me.
    Do you suggest me to buy the 55-200 and leave the 35mm and 60 mm at home?

    Greetings Stefaan

    Reply
    • Damien

      Hi Stefaan,

      Thanks for your comments. Frame 14 was shot with the 18mm-55mm. I do use the long zoom a lot when I’m travelling. My wife, Julie has it with her in Africa at the moment. She went with the X-Pro1, 14mm, 18-55mm and 55-200mm lenses and has all bases covered. She has a tripod with her too for long exposures etc.

      I’ll be traveling with the E-X2, 14mm, 23mm, 35mm and 55-200mm lenses when I go off on my next adventure.

      So much choice.

      I hope this helps, Damien.

      Reply
  2. Thorsten

    I haven’t visited here in a bit; seems like I’ve missed a lot! Cracking images here as ever. Time to see what else I’ve missed. :)

    – Thorsten.

    Reply
    • Damien

      Thanks as ever Thorsten.

      I’ve got pictures from a new workshop called the Light still to post. In the meantime I’m upgrading all my sites and galleries. Stay tuned and I hope to see you again soon.

      Damien.

      Reply
  3. Bryan

    Stunning photography as always, you make great use of the 580 ex, fantastic lighting from such a compact but versatile light.
    the walkway in image 14 and the Louis Vuitton sign are so much like the walkway in Las Vegas.

    always an inspiration

    Reply
    • Damien

      Hi Bryan,

      Thank you for your kind words. I’ve not been to Vegas yet but I’m due to go in 2014. The 580 EX2 and the SB900 by Nikon are stellar performers.

      Kind regards, Damien.

      Reply

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