Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Still Life with Orbis Ring Flash & Rogue Modifiers

This is something I shot on wet English Sunday afternoon, when really I should have been doing other things!

Normally I'd shoot something like this with Elinchrom studio flash, but decided to opt for 3 Canon Speedlites fired with Yong Nuo RF 602 radio triggers. Before anyone asks, I didn't keep a record of the flash settings but can tell you all were set to manual and I doubt if the highest power setting exceeded 1/8th.

This was created as a specific step-by-step studio lighting exercise with Speedlites and modifiers "how to".

I've broken the image down light by light so you can see how the lighting design builds. At the end there will be a BTS (Behind The Scenes) shot showing everything in place.

Background light

I built the lighting for this image in stages lighting the mid-grey paper backdrop with a combination of Red & Orange gels from the Rosco Strobist Collection held in place with a Gel Clip and the light controlled with the aid of a Rogue Flash Bender Small Positionable Reflector. I wanted to ensure there was minimal spill from the background light onto the wire chicken. I suspect in the final image I increased the flash power by a stop or so.

Back light

I needed to emphasise the shape of the wire chicken so decided to use my Orbis Ring Flash as a controlled soft back 3/4 light. To add some warmth I placed two layers of one of my favourite warming gels Rosco 302 Pale Bastard Amber held in place with a large plastic A clamp, which also retained a 12" Photoflex black light disk acting as a flag to control any light spill pollution onto the background.

Our friend and The LIGHT Side member Rick Friedman used the Orbis Ring Flash to photograph Della Maylan recently after the SWWP Convention in London. Bookmark The Light Side, there's a rumour Rick may contribute soon!

Key light 1

Although this key light may be acceptable, if you look to camera right there is light spill which will degrade the saturation of the background colour.

Key light 2

I decided to move the key light higher to eliminate the spill onto the mid-grey background paper. It's a little bright on the fence rail (seasoned wooden plank), but it looks good on the bird! The over light on the wood was burnt-in during post-production.

Behind The Scenes (BTS)
The whole set-up

  1. Wire chicken, the object of this exercise.
  2. Mid grey (ish) Colorama background paper roll.
  3. Canon 550 EX Speedlite. Still going strong since the EOS 3 film camera era (c.1998 - 2007).
  4. Rogue Flash Benders Small Positionable Reflector.
  5. Rosco Strobist Collection Roscolux #23 Orange & Roscolux #26 Light Red split roughly by half across a Gel Clip gel adaptor.
  6. Orbis Ring Flash.
  7. 2 x layers Rosco 302 Pale Bastard Amber gel for subtle warmth. 
  8. Canon 580 EXII Speedlite.
  9. Rogue 45ยบ Grid to give beam and direction to the Speedlite, zoomed to 105mm.
  10. 1 x layer Rosco 302 Pale Bastard Amber gel to maintain warm theme.
  11. Avenger D200 Grip Head with 16mm or 5/8th inch ali tube (metric or Imperial dependant on your side of The Pond!). Also look at KUPO KCP-200P equivalent! Speedlite as atatched with a Manfrotto 275 Spring Clamp aka the Justin Clamp.
  12. 3" x 2" rough wooden plank held in place by an early version (think 25 years ago) of the Gaffer Grip.
  13. Manfrotto 026 Baby female Swivelling multi-Adapter.
  14. Attached to a Manfrotto Floor Stand.

In the final image above, I used a piece of crinkled/screwed-up aluminium foil to add a highlight to the tail.

It should be noted that all of my Speedlites are ONLY attached to the various bits of lighting grip gear by the proven and trusted Frio Cold Shoe Adaptor, from Enlight Photo who also supply the awesome Orbis Ring Flash.

In addition to this list, I used 4 x Manfrotto Autopoles, background paper holder, background paper hooks, which fit into Super Clamps - the must-have for any serious lighting photographer and extension arms which also fit into the Super Clamps etc. 

Once you get serious with your lighting, you'll realise that there's much kit which is essential in order to position your lights accurately!

Food for thought and Happy Snapping :)


Monday, 27 January 2014

USA Landscape Photographer of the Year Competition 2014

LEE Filters is a proud sponsor of the USA Landscape Photographer of the Year Competition.

In this video, landscape photographer and organiser of the contest, Charlie Waite, discusses the details of this year’s competition, open to any photographer in the world, to photograph the beauty of America’s landscapes.

For more information, contest rules, and your chance to enter, visit


Competition closes on April 17th. Good luck!

Tuesday, 7 January 2014


I've recently been given the opportunity to test a new LED light in the studio. It's a beast of a light both in terms of output and weight (8.9kg). The SGM P5-TW is primarily intended for architectural, TV & stage use as a wash light, one used to illuminate large areas of walls or backgrounds. I'm going to stick my neck and say that it also has the potential to be a very useful stills and video photography light.

Meet 'arry. Don't ask where his arms are, it's a long story.
SGM P5-TW a very nice light indeed.
Note the jaggy shadows as a result of the 44 surface mount multiple LEDs in the light, not an issue with diffusion.

For those of you interested, camera settings based on an incident meter reading directed at the light and not the camera: f/8, 1/30th, ISO 160 with the light 1700mm (63 inches) from 'arry.

Jaggy shadows are not the end of the world, the addition of some 3032 Light Grid Cloth softens the shadows nicely!

There are 2 features which attract me to this light, the MASSIVE output 30,000 Lumens (yes, this is not a typo) which can be dimmed to a gnats whisker above zero, the colour can be tuned to taste from 2200K to 5600K - basically candle light to daylight in one package and without colour correction gels! Giving you the chance to add some warmth to your key light.

Warmth may be dialled into taste, just like seasoning your food. Here I've added around 40% 3200K to 100% 5600K.

As the P5-TW is designed for architecture, TV & theatre, control is not as simple as a couple of knobs. It uses the DMX standard for remote control meaning we had to connect it to a PC to run it as we don't own a DMX control console! There is a 4 way arrow controlled menu on the unit which in practice when you're tired or in a hurry is just plain cumbersome.

One thing the P5-TW can do is flash just light a studio flash, in this case at 30,000 Lumens when on full power - so I guess there's a possibility that with some modification/reprogramming the P5-TW could be a very desirable colour tunable continuous and discontinuous light source all in one unit!

In the current form this light is designed for static use not mobility. Mounting to a heavy duty studio light stand required a whole load of Super Clamps and spigots.

Thank you to Matt Wiseman of SGM for bringing this not so little beauty to my attention.