The Evocative Portrait with Tom Bol

ben_v3ben_v3 Posts: 59Member
edited May 2013 in General Discussions
Today I had the excellent opportunity of taking a lighting class taught by Tom Bol. The first have of the day was lecture style talking about techniques and such and after lunch we headed outside to play. Tom brought lots of fun equipment to experiment with. Elenchrom Rangers and Quadras specifically and it was amazing to see what could be accomplished with those lights. They're definitely on my christmas list now. We also played with some SB's but it was mostly too bright out to use them.

Anyways, here are a couple of shots I got of the day and there are more on my Flickr page. :)

_INC6489.jpg

_INC6449.jpg

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_INC6589.jpg

They aren't perfect but Im pretty excited to keep using the new things I learned today.
D600 | AF-S 24-70mm 1:2.8G ED | AF 20mm 1:2.8 D | SB-800
http://www.flickr.com/photos/ben_v3/
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Comments

  • mikepmikep Posts: 280Member
    so whats the deal?

    is it so that you can darken backgrounds in bright daylight and normal flashes dont compensate enough?

    they are nice pictures, interesting lighting

    i dont know much about flash yet, going on a course next weekend, but i am sure i will start with cheap ones

  • MsmotoMsmoto Posts: 5,308Moderator
    edited May 2013
    One of the best ways to understand lighting is to examine the works of the Master's paintings and some of our the great portrait artists...Karsh, Steichen, etc. By simply discussing these with other photographers one can learn a lot.

    And, lighting is about understanding the quality of the source, the control of where one wants it to go, and the effect on the subject.

    One must have an idea about the final result prior to beginning the process.

    Here is a portrait...completely available light, but if done in the studio it would be a bit less hot on the subject's right cheek and it would have had a slight highlight on the subject's left side to pull it off the background.

    Cowboy at the Coffee House

    By critically looking at our own work we can improve the stuff we do...maybe...I need to listen to others to accomplish this...LOL
    Post edited by Msmoto on
    Msmoto, mod
  • DenverShooterDenverShooter Posts: 260Member
    Very Nice work.

    Denver Shooter
  • MikeGunterMikeGunter Posts: 536Member
    Hi all,

    @ben_v3 - Really good photos!

    You can use Speedlights outside effectively. Proximity helps. I'm sure you've read Joe McNally's books _The Moment it Clicks_ and _The Hot Shoe Diaries_, but if you haven't they are really good and useful. I find that with the sync at 1/250 you can get some 'humph' from the modern flashes - I use 3 to 5, but remember, doubling only gets 1 stop, so 4 only gets you 2. But a lot happens in two stops.

    @Msmoto - The masters were masters for reason. ;-)

    I would add that with lights come light modifiers. Diffusers, snoots, color gels, gobos, absorbers, stands, holders, the list goes on and on. Even cloths pins makes their way into the bag. My light kit is portable, but has a bunch of what is mostly, and kindly called junk in it.

    @mikep
    so whats the deal?
    Well it all makes for nice pictures, which seems to be the point.
    i dont know much about flash yet, going on a course next weekend, but i am sure i will start with cheap ones
    Cheap courses? Do you really want to do that? ;-)

    My best,

    Mike

  • MsmotoMsmoto Posts: 5,308Moderator
    @MikeGunter

    Yes, someone said "why do you have all that old cardboard and duct tape?" ALong with a half dozen stands to hold it all.

    In the 60's when I shot furniture room scenes I would sometimes have ten or more spots, each with the exact spot to balance out everything so the transparency would be "camera ready" for the separation folks.

    I think now, the post processing can do a lot of this stuff, but I still like to have as close to exactly what I want when i use studio lights...it is just easier to do it right the first time.....

    Incidentally, cheap lights may prove to be the most expensive you can buy. I have six Elinchrom 400 WS units and they are super. Not cheap, but they seem to work.
    Msmoto, mod
  • MikeGunterMikeGunter Posts: 536Member
    Hi all,

    @Msmoto - Yep, those were the old days, and I don't miss them at all. A little work in post does away with a mountain of what used to take a lot - but it still pays to figure it before the click.

    Oh, cheap 'flash'... Yeah, that pesky 'antecedent' thing. :-)

    I agree, generally good equipment gives good results.

    My best,

    Mike
  • mikepmikep Posts: 280Member
    edited May 2013
    well I mean why is so much power necessary ? will normal flashes not work in daylight ?

    can't a person just shoot at night / dusk and get similar results ?

    I meant that the flashes I will buy will be cheap (maybe yonguo), the course is unfortunately rather pricey :/
    Post edited by mikep on
  • MikeGunterMikeGunter Posts: 536Member
    Hi all,
    well I mean why is so much power necessary ? will normal flashes not work in daylight ?

    can't a person just shoot at night / dusk and get similar results ?
    Therein lies the problem of a professional (getting paid for a gig - scheduling your job on someone one else's time rather that on your time) and an amateur (doing work on your pace - even if your work is terrific).

    Even timing might not the job done. The elements not be right for the photo so, if it's a paying job, you might have to post process. That's where a pricey course pays for itself many times over.

    A word of caution about cheap equipment. You might be paying for it again and again, if it is truly cheap, it will be truly expensive; it will always let you down in failures, breakdowns and disappointments - it's usually cheap for a reason.

    My best,

    Mike
  • ben_v3ben_v3 Posts: 59Member
    @mikep We actually tried that first shot of Tom with 3 SB 900's and couldn't muster enough power to light it. I think combined those might conjure up 270 watts. Im not sure on that number though. Change to the Ranger that pumps out 1100 watts and BAM!
    D600 | AF-S 24-70mm 1:2.8G ED | AF 20mm 1:2.8 D | SB-800
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/ben_v3/
  • mikepmikep Posts: 280Member
    yes i agree with you mike, i would not do a job with cheap equipment, but i intend to buy some cheap ones for learning with

    having never used flash, i dont understand the limitations
  • mikepmikep Posts: 280Member
    so anyways, the point is that daylight is so bright that regular flashes cant overpower it to get the effect? have i got that right in my head?

    if so, what about those who use strobes in the studio? a studio is darker and certainly not daylight, so why do people need powerful lights for indoors stuff ?

  • MsmotoMsmoto Posts: 5,308Moderator
    @mikep

    You said, "having never used flash, i dont understand the limitations"

    If you have never used flash, my suggestion, take some type of photography course on flash prior to purchasing anything. Flash is a lighting source which has its advantages, and a host of problems. Used properly it can be a creative tool. Improperly, the photos look like garbage. But, please learn some stuff about flash before wasting your money.
    Msmoto, mod
  • mikepmikep Posts: 280Member
    yes i am going on a course this weekend, hopefully it will point me in the right direction
  • Rx4PhotoRx4Photo Posts: 1,188Member
    @msmoto,I'm still in awe of that photo.

    @mikep, using flash, and more specifically, off camera flash can be lots of fun and impart a creative edge to your images. The SB-900/910 can indeed be used to underexpose sunlight if used appropriately. Taking a course would be a good thing but after that just get out there and practice. There are several good You Tube videos out there as well that are helpful. Perhaps you can get a head start by viewing a few of those. I've never taken a course but I do practice A Lot.
    Here's one of my successes in off camera flash, slightly under exposing sunlight with a single SB-900 in a little Lumiquest soft box. As mentioned above, after you obtain your first flash you'll want to look into modifiers.

    Cheers,
    Rob

    T.R. 2012
    D800 | D7000 | Nikkor 14-24mm f/2.8 | 24-70mm f/2.8 | 70-200mm f/2.8 | 35mm f/1.8G | 85mm f/1.4G | Sigma 35mm f/1.4 Art | Sigma 50mm f/1.4 Art | Sigma 50mm f/1.4 EX DG HSM | Zeiss 100mm Makro-Planar ZF.2 | Flash controllers: Phottix Odin TTL

  • mikepmikep Posts: 280Member
    yeah it looks good, really separates the subject

    i have been looking forward to starting with flash for a few months, just one more week of university and then freedom
  • MikeGunterMikeGunter Posts: 536Member
    Hi all,
    i have been looking forward to starting with flash for a few months, just one more week of university and then freedom
    Then be prepared to know what enslavement really means.

    @ben_v3 - I like your photos, but my Speedlights seem to mellow the Sun's light well enough for the Speedlight to reduce the Sun well enough to control it, somewhat.

    Here are but three:

    image
    image
    image

    In all cases, they were shot in mid afternoon.

    I tend to use flash for both indoors and out and have for a long time. The higher shutter allowed by the digital cameras is great, although still not as good as the in lens shutters.

    I'm not intending to discourage your purchase of the lighting equipment. I'm sure it will do a terrific job for you, and I'm also delighted that you are energized by the workshop!

    My best,

    Mike
  • DXV_PhotoDXV_Photo Posts: 158Member
    @mikep - The below video might help you understand using flash in various outdoor lighting situations. The video is made by Sekonic so they are going to being pushing there meters a little throughout the video.


  • mikepmikep Posts: 280Member
    yeah its quite an interesting watch, i have watched quite a few videos and am yet to be convinced by the need for a light meter :D perhaps the real world will show me the need, i will wait and see

    i forgot actually i did use flash once, we had a portrait day at university and had a very old studio strobe that we used. it gave pretty good results

    cant wait to get some flashes and modifiers to be honest, looks like so many possibilities. lots of experiments i want to do

  • AlfonsoAlfonso Posts: 15Member
    Look for strobist page. How to get great pictures with flash and not spending big cash

    Alfonso
  • jjdarlingjjdarling Posts: 59Member
    Yeah, @mikep, those Yongnuo flashes are great. Also, the whole adage about the cheapest equipment being the most expensive is how the rich justify their purchases. If you just want a simple, consistent, manual flash that will pop when necessary, you'll be happy with YN. Also, it has to break like 7 times before it was worth it to buy a Nikon (I'm still on my 1st).

    Don't get me wrong, if you want TTL and master/slave relationships etc etc, you have to spend money on a Nikon or something big, but if you just want a flash that you can control power/zoom and has an optical slave, the Yongnuo's are great.

    Also, don't believe the hype on Pocket Wizards. If you generally work indoors or in a small area outdoors, any 2.4GHz triggers (like the Yongnuo 603s) will work just fine. People are gonna get on here and say "but...but....if it breaks on site you'll be screwed!" Well, then, buy an extra of each. Still way cheaper than buying Nikon and/or PW (which, btw, can also break, although admittedly less likely).
    www.jjdarling.com
  • spraynprayspraynpray Posts: 5,351Moderator
    edited May 2013
    +1 jjdarling!

    I love it when a ray of common sense beams through the clouds of my despair over not having the money for expensive gear :(( :D
    Post edited by spraynpray on
    Always learning.
  • mikepmikep Posts: 280Member
    yes i am planning to experiment, i like to understand for myself

    i have a couple of expensively made pictures i am going to try and replicate cheaply, and if i find out i am unable i will understand why more expensive stuff is necessary

    the proof is in the pudding
  • Benji2505Benji2505 Posts: 511Member
    The flashes have more oomph than generally acknowledged. If the light source is yards away and the talent is lit for the "full length" than you have limitations. But how often do these limits really become relevant?

    I had no problem turning backgrounds dark during the regular daylight - I just turned up the shutter speed and opened the aperture.

    Sunflower
    One Nikon sb910, 1 full CTO. Manual setting at 1/1. Nikon auto FP high speed sync. Flash was placed to camera right, slightly lower and triggered via d700 on camera flash, Nikon cls trigger. On camera flash was off and in commander mode.
  • DJBee49DJBee49 Posts: 128Member
    Great tutorial on fill-flash!
    If you don't have a clever Sekonic that measures percentages of flash to ambient for you, you might find it easier to think in 'lighting ratios'. Personally I find the transition from percentages to stops a little confusing. I have always used lighting ratios and find them easier as they match directly with stops - but then I have never had one of those Sekonics to help out!
  • FlowtographyBerlinFlowtographyBerlin Posts: 477Member
    Here is a portrait...completely available light, but if done in the studio it would be a bit less hot on the subject's right cheek and it would have had a slight highlight on the subject's left side to pull it off the background.
    That's a beautiful portrait, and to be honest, I think you'd have destroyed the look of it had you put it into practice following your comments... I like it exactly for the non-boring, non-standard lighting, it makes the picture pop.
    Also, the whole adage about the cheapest equipment being the most expensive is how the rich justify their purchases. […] Also, it has to break like 7 times before it was worth it to buy a Nikon (I'm still on my 1st).

    Don't get me wrong, if you want TTL and master/slave relationships etc etc, you have to spend money on a Nikon or something big, but if you just want a flash that you can control power/zoom and has an optical slave, the Yongnuo's are great.

    Also, don't believe the hype on Pocket Wizards. If you generally work indoors or in a small area outdoors, any 2.4GHz triggers (like the Yongnuo 603s) will work just fine. People are gonna get on here and say "but...but....if it breaks on site you'll be screwed!" Well, then, buy an extra of each. Still way cheaper than buying Nikon and/or PW (which, btw, can also break, although admittedly less likely).
    +500 on this! I've been using a lot of cheap-priced stuff and it's working great and delivers as great results as more expensive brand stuff. And I've even been screwed by some expensive brand stuff breaking on an important shoot a couple of times.

    The only thing I can't stand is bad usability and haptics, at least for things I use frequently. But i.e. Yongnuo has gotten better and better and you can't really complain about the build quality anymore. (I don't use Yongnuo but I've checked it out.)

    I recently wrote did comparison of Profoto, Jinbei and another cheapo brand monolights, and put the results (color temperature consistency, output consistency, efficiency and the like) on my blog. Until now, the article is only in German, but I guess I'm gonna do an English version soon. I'll post the link here for those who are interested...
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