Sunday, 17 January 2016

CamKart Photo Equipment Trolley



The ultimate and unique all terrain equipment trolley - designed by photographer Paul Slater Saban for photographers.

Once in a while I get truly excited about something, this is one such time. A well designed and unique rolling camera bag which really caters for  the needs of photographers who don't work in towns and cities with smooth pavements and sidewalks.

Paul has used the original prototype for six years in three continents proving that the product works.


If you're in England you can see the CamKart & meet Paul at Stand No M120 at the SWPP Convention Trade Show starting on the 22th January at The Hilton Metropole Hotel in London or at NEC The Photography Show in Birmingham on the 19th March 2016.

You may follow Paul on Twitter or visit the CamKarts Facebook page.

Good luck Paul Slater Saban, this product is worthy of success.

Image © Copyright Paul Saban 2016



Wednesday, 2 December 2015

Pixapro Portable Beauty Dish


Mark W Ratcliffe recently introduced me to the Pixapro brand of lighting and modifiers. Even though I'm a long standing Elinchrom fan & user, based on Mark's feedback I've taken delivery of a Pixapro 60 cm silver portable beauty dish.

Until now I've used a rigid Elinchrom 44cm beauty dish which I bought from The Flash Centre early  in the 1990s - it's still going strong with the interior being resprayed matt white periodically. I've not taken this on location much as it has a bulky fibre board transit case.

The Pixapro 60cm portable beauty dish was a revelation - it comes ready assembled in a clever carry case which includes a matt silver deflector, front diffuser with a circular black mask and a very effective fabric egg crate grid. For this image the beauty dish is effectively a circular soft box,with the front diffuser in place. The mask on the diffuser gives a perfect circular catchlight in the eyes. 

It is also a multi-modifier or 8-in-1 modifier:
1.  Beauty dish with either concave or convex deflector - I suspect I'll also use it with my Elinchrom Deflector Set!
2.  Beauty dish with either concave or convex deflector, with egg crate in place.
3.  Hard reflector without deflector in place.
4.  Hard reflector without deflector in place, with egg crate in place.
5.  Soft box with deflector.
6.  Soft box without deflector.
7.  Soft box with deflector, with egg crate in place.
8.  Soft box without deflector, with egg crate in place.

Location

I chose a rural barn location because of the ambient daylight which falls away quite sharply giving me control of the local light with my camera shutter allowing me to darken the background.


As you can see, it's a barn; bales of straw, old feeders and even a camper van. Where possible I now work on location with C-stands from Kupo Grip as they offer ease of use, versatility and most important stability. OK they're heavy, but plan your locations and transport carefully and you'll not have to carry them too far.

Exposure

To control the ambient light, which incidentally was heavy grey cloud and very diffuse, I increased my shutter speed by a couple of stops allowing the light from the flash to dominate the scene.  What it doesn't show here is how cold poor Lulu was!


The above frame shows the ambient exposure before the flash was added. The ambient light also provided fill to the shadows.



The overall feel to the frame was a little cool, I favour warm flesh tones so modified the colour temperature of the Quadra A head with a LEE Filters 206 1/4 CTO gel. This was held in place with nothing more exotic than a couple of wooden clothes pegs, also known by some of us as C47s!

For a portable beauty dish the Pixapro is of sturdy construction with hinged arms not dissimilar to those used by Elinchrom on their Rotalux range of modifiers.


Straight out of camera with only minor processing tweets in ACR, including white balance to 5300K. There are areas of the image which I dodged and burned in Photoshop, shown below.


Post-production notes:

1. Burned in to reduce detail.
2. Whites of eyes lightened, pupils and irises darkened along with eye lashes.
3. Skin gently smoothed with Nik Color Efex Pro 4 and layer opacity reduced.
4 & 8. Edge of hand & sleeve burned in as it was a paler tone than Lulu's face.
5. Left sleeve too bright for my taste so burned in.
6. & 7. Tones too bright, I wanted to concentrate more on Lulu, not straw bales so burned in by means of a layer which was under exposed by a stop or so and then masked through with a layer mask.
9. Distracting detail burned in via layer mask.

Ears can also be problematic due to translucence or even being pale and creating a paler area which draws the eyes away from the point of interest.

When I dodge and burn I tend to do so much as I used to when printing in a darkroom, only now I use a 50% grey adjustment layer with the Blending Mode set to Soft Light. This suits my style of image processing as I can lighten (dodge) or darken (burn) at will, non-destructively and even create subtle vignettes and draw attention to the model.





A we moved the light we met with uneven ground which is where the C-stand with a sliding leg allowed me to keep the riser vertical stable. I favour 20" C-stands as the short riser gives a low centre of gravity when my Quadra pack is suspended from the thumb bolt by a couple of lengths of paracord!


Thoughts

85mm ƒ/1.8 at ƒ/2.8 on a Canon 5DMk2 full frame sensor. Creating a dark or black background is something trained and experienced professional photographers have done for ages. All that's needed is an understanding of exposure, the Inverse Square Law and the right location or backdrop. Creating an image is not about camera settings or copying a technique plugged by another photographer but practicing the right skills, over and over again and adding your uniqueness to your images. Adapting the locations and lighting to the model, subjects or requirements of a client. This comes with practice over time.

Supplier List

These suppliers are known and trusted. I would not list or recommend otherwise.

Pixapro lighting, studio equipment and modifiers
Yang Wu is the man.

The Flash Centre - Elinchrom flash & more
Brian Collier at the Birmingham UK branch is a top man, as is Simon Burfoot.

LEE Filters - lighting gels and camera lens filters

Kupo Grip - lighting grip C-stands and more
Nick Allen-Miles is the man!

That's it for now and don't forget if you really enjoy lighting to visit and join The LIGHT Side - a place to learn, be mentored, nurtured and learn about lighting, lighting and photography, whatever your level or experience.






Tuesday, 20 October 2015

Rogue FlashBender XL Softbox Mk2 on location

Working light and in tight space could mean compromise with lighting, not if you have a Rogue FlashBender XL Soft Box mk2 in your bag or pocket.


Chris Foss, Head of Wine Dept, Plumpton College

For this assignment I needed a head shot in a working winery with no more than about 6 feet between the rows of fermenting vessels. This precluded my using and umbrella or soft box which would be too deep at around 24"-36" - Rogue FlashBender XL Soft Box mk2 and a Canon 580 EXII Speedlite is ideal in this situation.


Cr4ppy Lighting Sketch (CLS)

Av 160 ISO, 1/60 ƒ/2.5 WB daylight

Surprisingly the ambient light level was relatively high at Av 160 ISO, 1/60 ƒ/2.5  WB daylight - the strip tube lights suspended in the ceiling were about 12 feet above head height and had recently been upgraded to Phillips LED fluorescent tube replacements, which still emit a cool light, some say blue, some green - I don't have a colour meter or time to measure and test so decide to improvise.

Av minus one stop WB daylight, shutter speed 1/125th sec

I dropped the camera exposure by one stop using the exposure compensation dial as I was shooting in Av, aperture priority mode. Av maintains a constant aperture and adjusts the shutter speed to control exposure. Av was selected as I wanted a shallow DoF (Depth of Field) look to the image.

To warm the background and complement the blue of Chris' jacket & shirt I placed ½ CTB gel (LEE Filters 202, Rosco 3204) in front of the flash using one of my Gel Clip accessories.Why a blue gel?

½ CTB gel over flash, Rogue Flashbender XL Softbox mk2, Xrite Color Checker Passport 


By taking a colour reference frame and ensuring I'm recording RAW files the colour is adjusted during RAW processing to neutralise the blue skin tone - as orange is opposite blue on the colour wheel the blue cast is neutralised. As the ambient light isn't lit with blue it becomes orange and warm which many prefer to cool blue.


That's it, a one light portrait with a single Speedlite, simple modifier and a cut of lighting correction gel. The Speedlite was mounted to a Kupo Grip 055 Handy Stand, by means of a metal clamp type Cold Shoe Adaptor & Umbrella Swivel.

Kupo Grip is available from www.ipt.world in UK and Mac Group in US

If you're a member of The LIGHT Side Facebook group contact www.ipt.world and speak to one of the team who I know will look after you!

The Expo Imaging Rogue FlashBender XL mk2 is available from Colour Confidence in UK and direct from Expo Imaging and other fine came stores in US.

If you're serious about your photographic lighting then maybe The LIGHT Side Facebook group https://www.facebook.com/groups/thelightsidegroup/ will interest you. It's about all things to do with light and lighting. TLS is a closed group so someone will need to add you or you'll need to send a request to be added. It's a friendly group, with a degree of humour and some great photographers willing to share and contribute.







Tuesday, 21 July 2015

Window Light Still Life - Garlic



Window light has to be my favourite light source, although sometimes tricky to work with unless you understand how to control it.



This image was quick and simple in execution. Two locally grown garlic bulbs hanging from garden string tied to a short articulated arm. Window light from camera left, 18 inches from the white net curtain. The sky was light grey cloud so diffusion the sun like light Grid Cloth. Backdrop a reclaimed grey Welsh slate roof tile supported by two A clamps. Separation from the shadow area of the garlic to camera right by means of a homemade V-flat reflector bright silver side, positioned to reflect light back from the window. Camera Fujifilm X30, handheld with my elbows resting on the bench top.

If you're serious about your photographic lighting then maybe The LIGHT Side Facebook group https://www.facebook.com/groups/thelightsidegroup/ will interest you. It's about all things to do with light and lighting. TLS is a closed group so someone will need to add you or you'll need to send a request to be added. It's a friendly group, with a degree of humour and some great photographers willing to share and contribute.


Monday, 13 July 2015

Choosing Your Wedding Photographer - 20 Hints and Tips




For anyone choosing to get married one of the most important decisions they have to make when planning their special day is their choice of wedding photographer. For some photography is essential for others it's seen as an intrusion and unnecessary expense.

With advent of the affordable high quality digital single lens reflex cameras (DSLRs) just about anyone can call themselves a professional photographer; they don't need training or experience, just a website, business cards and a pile of impressive looking camera equipment.

As most people do not have any experience of working with photographers or buying photography services the task of finding a wedding photographer can be somewhat daunting. You can ask a friend, look in the local free newspaper or search the Internet.

20 things you should be looking for or asking when choosing your wedding photographer:

  1. Ask friends, work collegues and family for recommendations.
  2. How many weddings has the person photographed and how long have they been photographing weddings for payment?
  3. What training has the person received or have they worked with another photographer as an assistant or second photographer?
  4. Is the person a qualified member of a professional organisation such as the BIPP (British Institute of Professional Photography, GoP (Guild of Photographers), MPA (Master Photographers Association), SWPP (Society of Wedding & Portrait Photographers), NPS (National Photographic Society) and is the qualification for wedding photography or a non-related subject? A degree in photography does not mean the person is a fit wedding photographer, just that they have studied for and met the criteria of that degree.
  5. Does the person carry both Public Liability and Professional Indemnity insurances? If they employ a second photographer or assistant, by law they must have Employers Liability insurance.
  6. Are they familiar with the health and safety requirements of the venue(s) where they will be working?
  7. Do they have back up equipment?
  8. Do they have their own transport?
  9. Many photographers claiming to be "professional" actually only photograph the odd wedding here and there to get some extra money. No law against that, but how committed will they be to delivering quality products and service? When photography has to pay your mortgage and put food on the table, your whole focus is on making your clients happy, which will not be the case when photographing weddings is nothing more than a hobby and your day job pays the mortgage. 
  10. Do they advertise their address? If they do not or only offer a PO Box number, ask where they live before booking? If something should go wrong, how do you contact them after the event?
  11. Do they have a comprehensive booking form with clearly laid out terms and conditions and contact information?
  12. Is the person you are speaking to the person who will photograph your wedding day? If not, ask to meet the photographer and see examples of their work before making a booking or entering into a contract.
  13. Are the images you have seen original images created by the photographer of real weddings? Some photographers will work with models to create a wedding portfolio or attend one of the many portfolio builder workshops available to novices.
  14. Ask to see images from a whole wedding or preferably weddings. Photographers will show you what they consider their best images, which may not be those you would like to see.
  15. Some photographers will tell you that they only work by available light as flash or supplementary lighting will spoil they atmosphere of your wedding. In all probability that person has no experience of working with other light sources, so what are they going to do when they get into a situation where there is little or no available light. Used correctly, some of the best and most creative images from a wedding can be created with flash.
  16. Many photographers advertise themselves as photo-reportage or fly on the wall photographers. Some photographers are brilliant at this style as they trained and worked as photo-journalists or for newspapers, some are just naturals. Others will merely be snappers who do not have an eye for an image and will only give you a collection of random images of questionable quality.
  17. You get what you pay for, well most of the time. In majority of cases if you have a friend or relative with a DSLR camera and ask them to photograph your wedding to save money they may say yes, but you have none of the comeback when something goes wrong. The photographer needs to have professional detachment in order to get the best images. 
  18. Ask what they will do in the event that they are unable to photograph your wedding? Can they provide a named photographer of equal or better ability to take their place?
  19. Do they only provide a DVD of unprocessed images straight from the camera? If so, it is doubtful if they have any post-production or image processing skills.
  20. Don't believe that it can be fixed in Photoshop. Image retouching and manipulation is a skill that has to be learnt over many years. There are no quick fixes. People new to photography do not realise this. Much of the time images need to be created with post-production or Photoshop in mind. Photoshop is merely another tool in a photographers tool box. Some will use it to better effect than others.

Ian Pack is a photographer, with over 25 years experience in the photography and media industries. He was featured in PhotoPlus magazine in May 2011 as their expert wedding photographer. During his career Ian has photographed in excess of 600 weddings.


© Copyright 2011 Ian Pack
Reproduction in whole or part without permission of the author strictly prohibited.

Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Lastolite Skylite Rapid 1x1 Scrim Frame

Any form of sunlight in Sussex is a novelty, which is why I and many others ironically refer to our home county as Sunny Sussex!


Most normal people would look at the above image and say "yeah, OK, bright sun, nice", NOT! It's contrasty and even not flattering.

After the inside shoot today we ventured to the beach on the way home. The sun was direct giving hard edges to the shadows as there were no clouds to diffuse and soften the light. I could have chosen to compete with the sun by using flash, but decided to opt for an easier option, a scrim frame with a light silk in place, or in this case a 1m x 1m Lastolite Skylite Rapid frame with a 0.75 stop diffuser.


 With the Lastolite Skylite Rapid held in place an able assistant aka VAL (Voice Activated Light stand) I was able to control and often the light whilst retaining shadow definition. I could have chosen a heavier scrim but that would have softened the light too much for this image.


In the past I have been an advocate of the California Sunbounce range of reflectors and diffusers due to their build quality and efficiency. Recently I saw the new Lastolite products at a couple of trade shows and decided to give them a try - all I can say is simple to use and quite cost effective, in other words less expensive than similar Sunbouce products.

Using the 0.75 silk diffuser the Lastolite Skylite 1m x 1m becomes the light source
when placed between the sun and subject

Here the VAL is using a painters extension pole as a boom with a grip head holding the Skylite Rapid in place, in turn attached to a 1420 VAL Spigot which even in a breeze of around 10 kts moved very little due to the rigid frame. I attempted to use a Lastolite Trigrip which in the conditions proved useless as it distorted with the breeze. 

CAMERA
Fujifilm X30 CSC - Compact System Camera

LIGHTING
All natural provided by a massive fireball in the sky. Modified with the aid of a 1m x 1m Lastolite Rapid scrim frame. All held in place with the aid of a grip head, a 1420 VAL Spigot and a decent painters extension pole in lieu of a light stand and/or boom!

Lastolite products are available worldwide. The 1420 VAL Spigot from me direct via http://www.packshots.biz/gelclip/

You may see more examples of the 1420 VAL Spigot in use from this blog or in the eBook available on ISSUU (for now) http://bit.ly/1420valspigot

If you're serious about your photographic lighting then maybe The LIGHT Side Facebook group https://www.facebook.com/groups/thelightsidegroup/ will interest you. It's about all things to do with light and lighting. TLS is a closed group so someone will need to add you or you'll need to send a request to be added. It's a friendly group, with a degree of humour and some great photographers willing to share and contribute.






Sunday, 5 April 2015

Rogue FlashBender 2 XL Pro Strip Grid for Close-Up Photography


Some wind-borne seeds of a typical English spring flower, the Primrose (Primula vulgaris) have germinated in a joint between paving slabs in our back yard, so I took the opportunity to get a quick frame or two using a Rogue FlashBender 2 XL Pro Strip Grid.


As you can see from the above behind the scenes (BTS) frame, not really the most inspiring location; I decided to get down to the level of the plant with the aid of a Steady Bag from Visual Departures in the US - this allowed me to position the camera with macro lens, Young Nuo trigger & cable remote release close to ground level. The cable remote release is essential when working close-up to prevent camera movement, a danger when pressing the shutter release.

Kit List

  1. Rogue FlashBender 2 XL Pro Strip Grid
  2. Primrose
  3. Spun diffusion sheet from LEE Filters (215 ½ Tough Spun) for a tad fill
  4. Speedlite
  5. Yong Nuo 622c transceiver attached to a Frio Cold Shoe
  6. Umbrella Swivel KS-101 from Kupo Grip
  7. Magic Arm from Manfrotto
  8. Floor stand/Back light base 003 from Manfrotto. Part of the Magic Arm kit
  9. Steady Bag from Visual Departures
  10. Camera with macro lens, right angle viewfinder accessory & YN622x TX TTL flash controller
  11. Cable remote release to reduce/prevent vibration & movement when releasing the shutter
Camera Settings

ISO 160
Shutter 1/160th
Aperture ƒ/16
White balance 5750K

Unlit snap, straight out of camera!


I said quick - it did take a little effort, but the results are worthwhile.


Feathering the Strip Grid toward the camera has created pool of light which creates contrast & emphasises the blooms. An improvement on the unlit snap!

Rogue FlashBenders are available worldwide. In the UK they are now available from Colour Confidence.

If you're serious about your photographic lighting then maybe The LIGHT Side Facebook group https://www.facebook.com/groups/thelightsidegroup/ will interest you. It's about all things to do with light and lighting. TLS is a closed group so someone will need to add you or you'll need to send a request to be added. It's a friendly group, with a degree of humour and some great photographers willing to share and contribute.






Sunday, 22 March 2015

Using a 5 in 1 Reflector as a Flash Bounce Panel

The Sunny Sussex seaside town of Bexhill is home to the iconic De La Warr Pavilion and photographer/artist Simon Newbury.

An improvement on the natural light!

Simon & I recently went out with Lulu Cole to see how useful a 5-in-1 pop-up disc reflector can be. I have a 30"/75cm in my go-bag with my Rogue Flash Benders as it serves a number of uses, warm and cool reflective, surfaces, black flag and contrast enhancing, white bounce & diffusion.

My 5-in-1 and Rogue Flash Benders fit snugly in the top of my go-bag. They also fit in the large outer pockets of my many Lowepro backpacks.

The core of the 5-in-1 reflector is a white translucent scrim which is primarily a diffuser for soften hard light, or even a white reflector. The black, silver, gold and solid white surfaces are a double-sided zip on cover, which can be a real pain to zip up when in a hurry.

White scrim pop-up with silver & black cover.

White scrim pop-up with white & gold/silver zebra stripe cover.

For convenience my 5-in-1 is stored with the black & gold/silver ready for action as either warm key or fill and black flag for light control.

Most people associate this kind of reflector with natural light, but with the addition of a simple bracket disc reflectors maybe used with a light stand or even on a handheld lighting boom.

Natural light, no fill. Say no more!

Bexhill seafront is open and lacking suitable reflective surfaces. The natural light on the day was poor, heavy grey overcast open sky and lacked character.

We could have used a hard direct Speedlite Off Camera Flash but really wanted something softer and more flattering for Lulu.

A relatively simple set-up using existing lighting grip gear.

Simon & I opted to use the white solid reflector panel of my 5-in-1 as Lulu has a good warm skin tone. The gold/silver would be too warm and in this case appear unnatural. We decided to under expose the ambient light a stop or so and shoot with a wide aperture to throw the grotty background out of focus.

Unexposed ambient light giving tone to the background.

The final result.

A lovely result from relatively simple kit - a bounce panel where there was no bounce panel before!

Kit List

My thanks to Simon Newbury and Lulu Cole for dodging heavy rain showers and strong gusts of wind. No pixels were harmed whilst creating this blog which cannot be guaranteed nut free!


In the UK Kupo Grip is available direct from Ianiro UK who also supply a wide range of seriously good lighting gear. 

Elinchrom flash is available from The Flash Centre. Email Simon Burfoot or call Brian Collier at the Birmingham branch.

If you're serious about your photographic lighting then maybe The LIGHT Side Facebook group https://www.facebook.com/groups/thelightsidegroup/ will interest you. It's about all things to do with light and lighting. TLS is a closed group so someone will need to add you or you'll need to send a request to be added. It's a friendly group, with a degree of humour and some great photographers willing to share and contribute.

Fixing a Lastolite Trigrip Difflector to a Lighting Stand

You don't actually need special kit to rig a Lastolite Trigrip to a light stand to use as either a reflector, diffuser or even a flag.

The Super or Convi Clamp should be owned by any photographer serious about their lighting, mine even have their own case I have so many! The Swivel Extension arm adds functionality to the clamp as it has a hex stud which provides a direct, non-twist fit into the Super/Convi Clamp and a ⅝" 16mm female receptor which will fit most standard lighting stands.


Click on image to view larger

Kit List
  1. Lastolite Trigrip 30" soft gold difflector.
  2. Super or Convi Clamp - Manfrotto call this a Super Clamp, Kupo Grip and others a Convi Clamp.
  3. Swivel Extension Arm KS-019 from Kupo Grip.
  4. C-stand as they're sturdy. An absolute necessity when working with large light modifiers outside and on location. The other alternative is to work with a VAL (Voice Activated Light stand) with the rig on a 1420/painters pole boom or other handheld lighting boom.
  5. 1420 VAL Spigot with ¼"20 to ⅜"16 thread adaptor. Just below the swivel on the Swivel Extension Arm is a ⅜" female thread. This can be used to convert the rig into a reflected or diffused light source.
  6. 16mm metal tube.
  7. Umbrella Swivel Bracket, Kupo Grip KS-101
  8. Frio Cold Shoe off camera flash adaptor. This also works with Elinchrom Quadra heads. Other portable battery flash heads are too heavy (in my opinion) for this rig.

Click on image to view larger


I guess I'm lucky, as a working commercial photographer over the years I've collected a wide range of grip gear, adapted and improvised in a variety of situations and locations. The majority of my lighting grip has to be multi-functional, not just single function. That way I carry less kit. You wouldn't think so if you see the back of my car prior to an assignment!


The 1420 VAL Spigot is available from selected retailers in the UK and direct from me for US or UK customers.


In the UK Kupo Grip is available direct from Ianiro UK who also supply a wide range of seriously good lighting gear. 

Elinchrom flash is available from The Flash Centre. Email Simon Burfoot or call Brian Collier at the Birmingham branch.

If you're serious about your photographic lighting then maybe The LIGHT Side Facebook group https://www.facebook.com/groups/thelightsidegroup/ will interest you. It's about all things to do with light and lighting. TLS is a closed group so someone will need to add you or you'll need to send a request to be added. It's a friendly group, with a degree of humour and some great photographers willing to share and contribute.

Wednesday, 11 March 2015

DIY Homemade V-Flat Reflector


The v-flat, whatever size is a very useful reflector for photographers working both in the studio and on location.

The v-flat in the image above is made from a single A1 (594 x 841mm / 23.4 x 33.1 inches) foam core mount board costing less than a tenner.

Care is needed when cutting the hinge

To make the hinge cut with a sharp blade through the card on one side and foam core, taking care not to cut the card outer on the opposite side. Fold the card to make the v-flat - simple.You could just use it like this, mine has three surfaces, native white, bright silver where I've covered one side with aluminium foil and then protected with transparency self adhesive plastic and a white/silver breakup where I've used 2 inch metal tape to create a random pattern.



White v-flat ideal as a fill when creating clam shell lighting in the studio. Also a useful flag for blocking light from parts of the set.


Bright silver reflector - hard and specular. very efficient, not very flattering for portraits. Can be used to create a spotlight effect.


Silver/white breakup - it's not silver, it's not white. Ideal when neither silver or white will do. The light source bounced from this will dictate the effect - hard light will give a dappled effect. A soft light a specular white.

To make the v-flat more durable I recommend reinforcing both the hinge and corners with white duct or gaffer tape.

Corner reinforced with white tape.

Reinforced hinge will lengthen the life of your v-flat.

If you're serious about your photographic lighting then maybe The LIGHT Side Facebook group https://www.facebook.com/groups/thelightsidegroup/ will interest you. It's about all things to do with light and lighting. TLS is a closed group so someone will need to add you or you'll need to send a request to be added. It's a friendly group, with a degree of humour and some great photographers willing to share and contribute.


Tuesday, 17 February 2015

50 Shades of GEL


Click on image to view bigger

Not wanting to be left out, here's a variation on a theme! 50 shades of colour from just 10 lighting gels. In this case picked from the LEE Filters Saturates Colour Magic 10" x 12" gel pack.

Colours used from left to right:
182 Light Red
027 Medium Red
105 Orange
135 Deep Golden Amber
101 Yellow
139 Primary Green
116 Medium Blue-Green
120 Deep Blue
181 Congo Blue
126 Mauve

Exposure was increased by 2/3rd stop for each frame going down the page, making the colours progressively less saturated and brighter. One or two of the colours have revealed some interesting effects.

A grey background paper was used as white tends to desaturate colours too much and black the effects can be just too subtle (dark requiring more power). Lighting a background whether in the studio opens new options including adding a sense of depth and dimension making the foreground stand out. Look at the work of Rick Friedman to see what I mean! The images on his blog were created at a location workshop in London were I assisted Rick, as part of the SWPP Convention.

It is also possible to reinforce the colour of a background by lighting it with a similar coloured gel giving a richer, more saturated colour.



The set-up was simple. Mid-grey background paper lit with an Elinchrom Background Reflector, which is in effect an uplighter. The effect of the Background Reflector will change based on distance and orientation.

Gels were positioned diagonally were held in place with a wooden clothes peg (UK), clothespin (US) aka C47.

LEE Filters are available from suppliers worldwide. In the UK I use Ianiro UK who specialise in lighting and grip. They're all friendly & approachable to deal with.

Elinchrom lighting is available worldwide. In the UK contact contact either Simon Burfoot or Brian Collier at TFC in Birmingham for more information, prices and availability.

If you're serious about your photographic lighting then maybe The LIGHT Side Facebook group https://www.facebook.com/groups/thelightsidegroup/ will interest you. It's about all things to do with light and lighting. TLS is a closed group so someone will need to add you or you'll need to send a request to be added. It's a friendly group, with a degree of humour and some great photographers willing to share and contribute.

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

LEE Filters Gel Snap



There are a number of ways to fix lighting gels to flash heads and Speedlites. When using Speedlites with swatch size gels I favour the Gel Clip which lightweight, compact & inexpensive.

Larger cuts of gel can be problematic but LEE Filters have a solution which I discovered on a visit to B & H Photo in NYC, the Gel Snap.

Gel Snap is designed as a camera lens holder for mounted 100mm polyester gels. I don't think when LEE Filters introduced Gel Snap they realised it's also a perfect fit for Speedlites and hot shoe flash units!


LEE Filters Gel Snap mounted on a Canon Speedlite Magenta Minus Green colour correction filter

The Gel Snap kit I have contains the filter holder and four mounted polyester filters - Plus Green, Minus Green, 81A & a soft focus/softener/diffuser.

Plus Green is a particularly use filter in that it can be used on flash to add colour to insipid skies and boost sunsets for wedding and portrait photographers. As the filters are manufactured to tight spectral tolerances a white balance reference isn't always necessary!

How to change the colour of the sky in a portrait image



This image was shot outside of our studio which is based in an industrial unit in Sunny Sussex! Nice and soft light, but lacking modelling and drama. We'd just completed a shoot in the studio so decided to shoot some new images for Jamie's Book.

I decided to shoot with a single Canon 580 EXII Speedlite into a soft satin white reflective 30" Photoflex 2-way (shoot through/translucent) umbrella. To add interest and colour to the sky I added a Plus Green colour correction gel to the flash held in place with the LEE Filters Gel Snap.


This is the uncorrected image with the Plus Green filter in place. The area lit by the flash, i.e. the model, Jamie, is green, the rest of the image neutral as it's not lit by the flash.


In the above image you can see the colour correction applied in post, in this case Adobe Camera RAW. Shooting RAW files is essential for the success of this technique. Here you can see the colour correction influencing the ambient light and neutralising the flash reflected from Jamie's skin tone. There is influence of the ambient in the shadow areas of this test image.

Colour Wheel
To master this technique it helps to have a basic understanding of colour theory. The Colour Wheel is good starting point. On the Colour Wheel, colours opposite are complementary and will neutralise a colour cast or the opposite colour - hence the green filter to create a magenta/pink sky. You will need to experiment with your own particular filters to gain confidence and consistent results.



When shooting using this technique it's essential to shoot a white balance reference. My preference is to use a calibrated WhiBal card, Kodak Gray Card or Macbeth Color Checker.

If you prefer to see a colour corrected preview on your camera LCD screen, you can shoot a full frame correctly exposed white and/or grey balance card and set a custom white balance in camera. Personally, I just do it in post and add CC64M as a starting point when working with the Plus Green gel.



The final image. Canon 5D MkII, Av (Aperture Priority). Ambient light was under exposed by 2 stops in camera and the flash over exposed by 1.3 stops. Flash was eTTL triggered with Young Nuo YN622C transceiver & controller. The umbrella was positioned camera left 9 o'clock(ish), slightly above eye level and feathered away from Jamie, toward the camera to give better fall off on the shadow edge.


Rough sketch showing the lighting set-up. Sometimes simple and uncomplicated are best.

The lighting kit for this image is stored in a Giottos tripod bag, batteries charged and ready to grab & go!


Lousy iPhone snap, but you get the idea. Speedily and YN triggers removed from their protective cases for clarity.

What's in the bag?

The LEE Filters Gel Snap is available in UK from:

Worldwide LEE Filters dealers:


If you're serious about your photographic lighting then maybe The LIGHT Side Facebook group https://www.facebook.com/groups/thelightsidegroup/ will interest you. It's about all things to do with light and lighting. TLS is a closed group so someone will need to add you or you'll need to send a request to be added. It's a friendly group, with a degree of humour and some great photographers willing to share and contribute.