Plant close-up photography outside with Elinchrom ELB500 TTL flash

Today is the Spring equinox so I'm celebrating with images of new growth in our semi-rural Sussex garden.

Prunus Incisa Kojo No Mai
Photographed in our back garden using a black plastic bin as the backdrop!
For many years I've photographed plants & gardens for the likes of HTA (Horticultural Trades Association) and Teleflorist. Working with portable battery flash opens so many opportunities which previously have proved logistically tricky because of the bulk of some gear and the need for mains leads!

Acer palmatum 'Ornatum'
Both of the above images were shot with a Canon L Series 100mm ƒ/2.8 macro lens and lit with Elinchrom ELB500 TTL supplied by The Flash Centre. Camera shutter speed and aperture were set to manual, with the flash set to TTL and the flash exposure adjusted by using the flash power exposure compensation on the Skyport Pro trigger.

There is one difference in the lighting - for the Prunus image I chose to use at the Elinchrom solid 44cm white beauty dish with white deflector in place and the white diffuser known as a shower cap.

Elinchrom Portalite 56cm Octa packs away roughly 10"x8" and about 4" thick, less without the Q mount

For the Acer image I used the Elinchrom Portalite 56cm Octa, custom white liner (something I designed and made), white deflector and front diffuser. This gives me a modifier/shaper which folds down small - about the size of a 10"x8" print & about 4" thick including the dedicated 26340 Q mount adaptor, which incidentally can be used with both the 56 cm Octa & 66cm square Portalite soft box. This also means there's no need to carry a EL Q mount to EL adaptor.

The light from the 44cm white beauty dish and 56cm Octa with the white liner are identical.

 Using the same set-up, this is early growth of Thalictrum 'Black Stockings'. This frame is the light with no fill to lighten the shadows. Image straight out of camera (SOOC) with basic processing in Adobe Camera Raw (ACR).

This is the set-up including my Manfrotto carbon fibre tripod with the centre column in boom configuration. Notice the ELB500 TTL power pack providing ballast for the light stand.

Closer in - the card on the light boom is a mini v-flat I used to reflect light back into the shadows.

This boom set-up allows me the versatility of a C-stand without the weight. The working weight of the ELB500 TTL flash head & 56cm Octa is around 815g making a hefty C-stand & sand bag unnecessary. Read more here and here about the boom set-up. The SPIG on the end of the boom is used as handle allowing me to twist the boom, making it easier to position the light.

Side view showing relative position of each item of kit. 

The 5-in-1 pop-up reflector is a popular choice with many photographers. The black side is useful for blocking of flagging light, but not providing contrast or as a backdrop as the nylon material is surprisingly reflective. Here I've used a piece of black polyester fleece from the local fabric shop to give me a denser backdrop. Black velvet is also a option, but 5-10 times more expensive!

The pop-up reflector is attached to the light stand with a Manfrotto 175 Justin Clamp.

Fill card to camera right, white side angled to maintain modelling - see darker area on the left of the stem.

Fill card to camera right, bright aluminium foil side angled to maintain modelling & open shadow area more than white.

When using a fill card or reflector it's worth shooting variations - white, silver or even gold zebra which will give warmer (red/yellow) shadows.

That's is for now, questions and feedback are always welcome.

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.

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