Category Archives: Lighting

One Light

You can do so much with just one light.  One £30 YN460-II for example.  There really is no excuse for not having at least one flash 🙂

Robert Harrington gave a great presentation at the B&H theatre on getting many looks out of one light – and you can watch it here.  I thought this would make a great live demo for the camera club I belong to and worked out 10 or so looks to present within a 2 hour slot.   I ran through them in a practice session with some fellow photographers and we got it done in 1:45.  It was going to take longer on the night as I’d be waffling on about the light as we went – and hopefully, there would be questions!

Here’s my pick of the looks we did on the night with model Paris Spencer, who always does a great job on these shoots.  For all of these shots, the camera is in manual exposure at 1/160th at F/8 and ISO 64 to 640.  The flash is in manual, and when off the camera, is triggered by using the pop-up in commander mode.   The popup does not fire during the exposure, it’s just used to send data and commands to the remote SB900.

We started with the flash on the camera – left, and the first shot is direct flash.  When should you use this?  Well, probably never unless it’s a bit of fill but as a main light, it sucks.  I wanted to show just how bad flash lighting could be, so we took the mugshot, on the left.  Paris looks like she just got arrested…

 

_DSC5067-Website _DSC5075-Edit-Website

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Also posted in Equipment, How Its made, Model Shoots, Workshops

The Missing Piece of the Lightblaster kit.

IMG_1879-WebsiteI love the Lightblaster, but as a Nikon shooter I don’t have any Canon EOS mount lenses lying about.  Lightblaster will sell you an EOS to F-mount adapter, but quite frankly (do I owe Frank D a fee  every time I use that phrase now? 😛 ) that thing is dangerous:  it has no release lever and you have to practically prise it off your lens.

You could try trawling eBay for old Canon lenses, but here’s the thing:  Canon changed their lens mount in the 1980’s to get AF working properly way before Nikon,  and well anybody tbh – that’s why every sports shooter IMG_1881-Websiteon the planet still shoots Canon today, but the consequence is that there are no old Canon EOS lenses  (ie old enough to be bought at junk prices).

Plus, you really need a wide aperture lens to use with the Lightblaster – or you’ll just lose most of the light.

These Yongnuo 50mm f/1.8 lenses are £35 – or around $50.  and they have AF!  I have no idea what the image quality is like, and I never will as I don’t own any EOS bodies, but for £35 I’m happy for it to hang off the Lightblaster, and it weighs nothing.

Go check out Lightblaster:-

In the USA:  http://www.light-blaster.com/
In the EU at Frank Doorhof’s shop:  http://www.frankdoorhof.com/store/images/lightblaster-2.html
..and in the UK at Inspired PhotoGear http://inspiredphotog.com/light-blaster/

Also posted in Equipment, Model Shoots

Smoke part 2: smoking bulbs

_OHL3876-Edit-WebsiteHaving sorted the general lighting and approach to shooting some smoke, here’s the next phase in my smoke project – tungsten bulbs.   The tungsten filaments in these bulbs can glow white hot and not just burn up because the bulb is filled with an inert gas, such as Argon, Krypton or Xenon.  The so-called “noble gases”do not interact with incandescent material, and so the filament can carry on glowing at near melting point for thousands of hours.  If you turn it on in regular air however….

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Also posted in Equipment, How Its made

Smoke

_OHL1632-with-pad-2

There are some photo ideas that have been done so much that I will probably never do them, unless I think I can build on them to produce something a little bit different.   This one has been on my photographic to-do list for some time, and I’m not done with it just yet, however I thought I’d share the journey so far.

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Also posted in Equipment, How Its made

LIGHTS, CAMERA, ER.. FOG! ACTION!

_DSC2534-Edit-Purple-PortEmilia Gaza contacted me recently to ask if I’d be interested in shooting some dance/burlesque with her.  Her portfolio notes over on PurplePort are filled with such enthusiasm and passion for dance and to create images of it I immediately said yes! Continue reading »

Also posted in Equipment, How Its made, Model Shoots

Aperture Controls Flash

I started to write this one up as the next “photography myths” post and had planned some demo shots, however Neil Van Niekerk explained it all brilliantly on his blog here: Tangents back in 2009.   Go there now and read it!  Neil’s blog is full of great articles on using flash, and a whole boatload of other photographic technique.   Here’s my summary, but for more detail – read Neil’s blog!

The next “myth and misdirection” you will come across as a photographer learning how to use flash, especially with natural/ambient light is this phrase:-

“Shutter speed controls ambient, aperture controls flash only”

Which is nonsense.  If you stop down your aperture, it affects all light in the scene – there’s no special “back door” for the ambient light.  The whole picture will get darker.

For manual controlled flash power within normal x-sync range of shutter speeds:-

  • Shutter speed controls ambient light
  • Aperture controls flash and ambient light
  • ISO controls flash and ambient light
  • The flash power adjustment buttons on your light, control…. flash!

For TTL automatic flash exposure systems (camera on manual, flash on TTL ) the flash exposure is constant, as long as it is within the bounds of the flash gun to supply enough light, and the camera and subject remain reasonably still in relation to each other.  Close down the aperture?  The flash puts out more light so the flash exposure is the same.  Raise the ISO?  The flashgun reduces the power so the flash exposure remains the same.  Move the light?  The flashgun adjusts and the flash exposure remains constant.  The ambient light doesn’t react to these changes in shutter speed and aperture though, so ambient light exposure continues to change as before.  Stop down the aperture?  The ambient light exposure reduces – flash exposure stays the same.

So for TTL flash with normal x-sync:-

  • Shutter speed controls ambient light
  • Aperture controls ambient light
  • ISO controls ambient light
  • Flash exposure compensation controls – flash.

and finally, for “high speed sync” flash where the flash pulses to cover the entire shutter operation, the flash effectively becomes a continuous light so:-

  • Shutter speed controls ambient light and “flash”
  • Aperture controls ambient light and “flash”
  • ISO controls ambient light and “flash”
  • Flash power controls – “flash”.
Also posted in How Its made, Photography Myths

White Background Head Shots

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Here’s a selection of corp head-shots I’ve done:-
http://owenlloydphotography.com/?page_id=2033

…and here’s how I do em:-

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Also posted in Equipment, How Its made

Macro – some results

_OHL6749

Using the setup I described in the last post  (sigma 105mm macro on 3 extension tubes with electrical connection pass-through.  Lighting from one on-camera SB900 with Rogue Flashbender XL II softbox), I captured a few insect shots including this one of two ants farming some aphids on a foxglove.  The ants stroke the aphids to encourage them to release a sweet liquid commonly referred to as “honeydew”.   They defend them from predators (ladybirds mostly) and even carry them to greener pastures when the food is exhausted.  Getting the head in focus took probably about 15 shots on a stepladder.  All the light here is from the flash, firing on TTL at –0.3 EV. Continue reading »

Also posted in Equipment, How Its made

ISO: does it really matter?

I watched Tony Northrup’s video on how to interpret the test scores on DxOMark (click here to watch this).   Tony and Chelsea’s videos are always well researched and I recommend them as a source of objective information.  Moreover – Tony takes a scientific approach to the research.   What does this mean?  Well, science is all about fact and evidence, and if you find evidence that contravenes your hypothesis, you need a new, or least modified hypothesis.  Tony does this – if he finds evidence that what he thought before was wrong, he changes what he says.     Not everybody can grasp this as can be seen in the comments below his videos 😛

In this video he observed from DxO’s test charts that especially for the sensors in Nikon bodies, there was almost a 1:1 trade off in dynamic range for every stop you gained in sensitivity – so in theory, you were not really gaining anything.  E.g., if you shoot at ISO 100, and then same thing again at ISO 200, you gained a stop of exposure, but lost a stop of dynamic range.  The extra dynamic range in the ISO 100 shot, allows you to bring it up a stop in post to match the exposure of the ISO 200 shot, with pretty much the same results.

I have a bunch of Nikon bodies so I thought I’d test this.  I used my D810 for these test shots.  I took 3 shots in manual exposure.  One at 1/320th of a second, f/8 and ISO 3200.  Then I took the same shot but at ISO 100, and added 5 stop of exposure to it in Lightroom.  As a reference I then kept it at ISO 100 and dialled in 5 stops of exposure time to get a clean shot at 1/10th of a second, f/8 and ISO 100.  Here they are:-

_OHL66031-320 sec at f - 8.0 ISO 3200_OHL66041-320 sec at f - 8.0 ISO 100_OHL66051-10 sec at f - 8.0 ISO 100

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Also posted in Equipment, News, Photography Myths

Testing Macro Solutions

Fancy doing some insect macro out in the wild and I’ve been trying out various lens solutions and lighting.   Last time I did any of this I just brought the flies into the studio and this works well.   See here.   This time I wanted  portable rig for capturing the flies in their natural environment.  Here’s the first rig.  A Sigma 105mm Macro with some passive extension tubes on it to give more magnification, IMG_1169but with the loss of auto-aperture control.  Normally, with modern automatic cameras, the aperture diaphragm is wide open when you are looking through the finder, and only stops down to the aperture you dialled in when you take the shot.   This means there is plenty of light to see and focus the subject by.   Without auto-aperture control, you either have to open up and stop down the aperture using the aperture ring manually (and in doing this you’re mess up your focus) or you need to look into the darkness and attempt to focus the subject with the aperture stopped down.  As you can imagine, the success rate isn’t high :-/

DSC_0230For the light I jammed on a small soft box, which has enough surface visible to the subject to cast some light on it.  Most of the light is lost though, and it’s a bit harsh.   I’ve switched out the soft box for the Rogue Flash bender XL with the soft box attachment.  This gives a good wrap around light and the best bit is that of course, you can bend it, so if you want more light on the right or left you can bend the appropriate side down, or bend the far edge down for some more backlight etc.   The subjects will be around 40mm from the front of the lens (or back of the lens in this pic as it’s reversed :P) so from that position it’s a really nice soft light.

I’m just using the flash on TTL, with the camera in manual exposure, 1/250th of a second at around f/8 to f/16.  I’ve left auto ISO on for these as well.   As you’ll see below, this means more or less ambient in the scene depending on the magnification, with an almost black background for the higher magnification shots, as the ratio of distance to camera (and the light) between subject and background increases (and so the light falloff is more pronounced).

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Also posted in Equipment, Macro, News