Thursday, March 17, 2011

Creative flash photography

On Monday I attended the Flash Bus Tour with my good friends Joe McNally and David Hobby. These two guys are the kings of flash photography and they inspired me to try new things with my camera and flash. So...what did I do when I got home from the all day session? Without even breaking stride, I walked in the door and went straight to the camera bag and cranked out one of my cameras and a couple of Canon 580EX II flash units. Time to play!


My friend, Bob (who is another photographer), was with me and I asked him if he would be my model for some shots. Now, what you have to realize is that Bob is a total ham and loves being in front of the camera. Perfect! I put a Lumiquest LTP softbox on one of my flashes and handed it to Bob. I set my camera to manual at 1/200 at f11(making everything black) and asked Bob to hold it out away from his body and pointed towards his face. After some experimenting, this is what we got. Very dramatic!

You can see that Bob's arm is reaching out with the flash and diffuser in his right hand. 

And then my son came home from school and, voila, we had a human activated light stand. :) Now Bob could use both hands and Connor could move the light around Bob's face with ease. We also added a second flash (gelled blue) behind Bob to add some separating light to the back of his head.

And then it was Connor's turn to get into the act. Bob was holding the flash unit and coaching Connor as I shot images. It is easier for you to see the blue light coming from the second flash in this image. Without the second flash, Connor's hooded sweatshirt would blend right into the black background.

This very directional light really creates a mood in the image. I took some shots of Connor smiling, but really liked the serious look for these shots. 

This is one of my favorites of the bunch. When I look at this image at full resolution on my 30" display, Bob's eyes just draw me into this image. I darkened the back of his head a little but left enough light to create separation. I also darkened his hand in the foreground and blurred it a bit. Needless to say, we had a lot of fun shooting these images, and I had an equal amount of fun in the editing process.


Bob Ray said...

One of the most interesting elements of this shoot is its location: in the middle of Jeff's living room; no studio.

Knowing how to control light - using his camera's highest sync' speed in tandem with the Inverse Square law [the closer the light to the subject, the quicker it falls off in the background] - gives these images their studio look.

Cameras don't take pictures.

People do. Like Jeff.

My thought is he could have used a better model for thia ahoot, though.

bob ray

Jason Potterfield said...

I really enjoyed going through your post. According to me photography is like a moment, an instance so its good to capture people when they are themselves. Photography is undoubtedly an art of observation.