Monday, January 31, 2011

Lighting experiments

I've been conducting some lighting experiments for an upcoming photo club workshop. I wanted to see if I could reproduce an softbox look using a white piece of foam core board and a shoe mounted flash. I held the camera in the portrait mode with my 430 EX at a 45 degree angle. The camera a Canon 5D mk ii with a nifty fifty with following settings; ISO 100, WB flash, Manual, 1/125th, f-5.6. The flash was fired E-TTL with no compensation.
The white foam core board was about a meter away from the model's head, I also used a second piece of foam core board as a background and that was about a foot away from the back of the head. This is the result of that photo. I'd prefer to have a bit more light on the other side of the head.
Just for the sake of experimenting I added a white bookend to camera right to add fill light and lighten the face features. I was a little more pleased with the results of this photo. I think with a little more experimenting I could get a better result. As I was testing the feasibility of using just one Speedlight and control the light on the model's features I think I pretty much pulled this off. I did an experiment later using a Strobies beauty dish mounted on the camera. I shot this also with E-TTL with all the settings still the same. I did add to the beauty dish a small piece of opaque stencil plastic to diffuse the light a bit. I cut a 2" hole in the center of the plastic to allow a 'cone' of light to be a bit stronger in the center of the model. I ended up using a +1.5 compensation for that photo. I was able to see that this small beauty dish has some value in my bag. I just have to plan on using it for a shoot. Here is the photo I got with that .
That's if for today. I did just receive my new Cowboy Studio Photo 24x24 soft box as I was working on this. Hopefully in the next day or so I'll be able to post a photo or two taken with that. I just had to open it up and see how it was. I can say that it was easy to put together. I've read several of the reviews and I had no difficulty what ever putting all the pieces together. So far so good.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Workshop musing

I was silly enough to volunteer to give a lighting workshop for my photo club. Being a self taught photographer these many years could prove interesting to say the least. I've only really gotten into 'lighting' in the past few years. Like most people I follow people that have the same philosophy as I. I've attended one lighting seminar in the past year. I learned quite a bit from the seminar but at the time I was a bit frustrated. The acoustics was terrible, I have trouble hearing, and because of the large screen projectors the lights were dim. I have issues with night vision. Being as I am a Canon user and the lessons were about Nikon equipment I had some conversion issues there too.
After a couple of days I finally got my gear together and started trying to mimic some of the lessons taught. Surprise I actually managed to get my equipment to do some of the things taught. That is making progress. I've been sort of stumbling around for a few years experimenting with lighting. It has been sort of hit and miss in the results. I've gathered gear as recommended by Strobist and built some of my own gear and follow DIYPhotography. I modified my mono-light beauty dish to fit my Canon Speedlites. I really like that beauty dish. It isn't anything fancy but the way I modified it I am still able to use it on my mono-light or Speedlite. It did cost me a speed ring that I had to replace for my small soft box but that's water under the bridge.
I then came upon a couple e Books by Edward Verosky and Jimmy D and I have now found a couple of people that not only think like I do but share what they know to everyone. Yes, there is a price in purchasing the books but trust me there a cost in being very frustrated by not getting the results I am trying to achieve.
I've been in the 'studio,' that's actually my living room, getting acquainted with the techniques I've been reading about. As I'm on a budget I went to the local beauty supply house and bought a wig mannequin head. Maybe not the greatest model around but I don't have to worry about her not showing up or calling in sick.
I'm waiting for my new gear to arrive so I can put her back to work and post the results here.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

New Gear Ordered

I have decided to expand my light modifying gear. I've been working away from my mono-light studio set up. The main reason for this is that I know there will be no power at some of the locations I plan on shooting. I began studying my options. My first step was to sit down and do some internet research about what it would take to get me 'mobile' in terms of purchasing portable lighting equipment. I don't make my living doing photography so I really don't have much of a budget for going out and buying a $3000 power pack and head system. I realized that I could buy a small generator but that involved bringing gasoline and storing gasoline in my car. It took only a few seconds to say no to that idea for now. My last option came clear to me when I scored a couple of used Speed lights I bought locally using Craig's List. I also managed to score a couple of Pocket Wizard IIs the same way. I've been lucky using Craig's List to find equipment. I like the idea of being able to see and use equipment before I buy it. So I've managed to build up my photo resources this way.
I thought I was on my way to getting better results with my new equipment. It turns out that the equipment I had for my mono lights needed additional equipment to use with my Speed Lights. My learning curve turned out to be not as steep as I thought, thanks to Strobist.
So now I've gone and ordered some Speed light specific equipment that will do the same thing as my mono-light based system will.
I think I'm lucky in the fact that I've managed to come up with some very nice results using my off camera flashes. Do my off camera flashed perform as well as my mono-lights? The simple answer is yes. Do I still use my mono-lights? Yes. I'm a limited budget photographer. I have a room that I've turned into a 'studio'. When you set up background stands, a 2'x3' soft-box, a reflector with stands and a couple other 'needed' pieces of equipment along with my model and myself there is very little room inside my studio to move.
So this is me talking about my adventures in learning about 'studio' lighting. I'm self taught so I may find some interesting topics along the way. I've found several already. I'm going to go into more detail in the coming weeks.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

new year

I'm going to try and be more diligent about my posting on this. I've been experimenting with new lighting techniques and learning a lot more about a very simple lighting technique and equipment in the last few months. I'm going to gear this blog more towards that portion of what I'm doing lately.