Aaaahhhh. Saviour of-my-photograph!
Ahem. Sorry. Won’t happen again. Okay as promised this is the write up of the quick overview on flash I did recently for Holmes Chapel CC. We talked about why we use flash guns – i.e. why do they flash, why are they not just on all the time so you can see what the light will look like? There are couple of reasons, however the main one is the power of the light. In daylight, even a 500watt work lamp would struggle to make much impact. We need a way to get a lot of light out in a very short space of time, so we can use a reasonable shutter speed (~1/160th) to control the ambient light.
Often, in a studio situation, we want to remove the ambient light altogether by stopping the lens down to a small aperture – say f/8 to f/16. We then need a really powerful light to have it show up at all on the image – and deliver most of it within the window of time that the shutter is fully open.
The website for some very interesting new flashguns from MagneFlash mentions more than once that it outputs more light at faster shutter speeds than regular studio lights. Now, conventional wisdom is that a run of the mill studio strobe takes about 1/900th of a second to output its light, and so as long as the shutter speed is longer than this, you should get all the light right? I posted comment to this effect on LightingRumours. This measurement is to “t.01” or the point at which the output is 1/10th of the peak output. You need some sort of agreed point to make the measurement to compare lights. Continue reading
Wow! We sold out another workshop in Feb, so we’re putting on a 3rd date in March. Sunday 16th at 11am at Body Couture Studios in Congleton. The content will be more or less the same as the feb workshop – it’s all about learning the basics of lighting, and moving towards adding drama and impact using light and other elements, such as movement, fog, styling….. See below for details!
New 5 hour workshop on lighting techniques with Body Couture Studios in Congleton. Unlike the half and half lighting/photoshop workshop on the 19th Jan (which is now sold out), this is a pure lighting and shooting workshop. Sunday 9th Feb from 11am to 4pm, I’ll be covering from simple, one light portraits up to incorporating movement. From good light, to dramatic light, using gels, fog and fabric; softboxes, reflectors and grids. Places are limited to 8 at £45 so call Becky at the studio quick if you want to reserve a place – the workshop on the 19th Jan is now sold out! (see flyer below for details). Visit http://bodycouturestudios.co.uk/ for location details.
I’m very excited to be running another workshop with Body Couture Studios and Mark Edmondson over in Congleton in January. Mark’s a very talented and highly published glamour, boudoir and performance art shooter and he’ll be running a Photoshop essentials class – while I go through using movement in your shots! We’ll have 2 groups on the day, and Mark and I will run our classes simultaneously – and then swap groups at half time. This way we can get smaller groups and a full day of content. Shame I won’t be able to listen in on Mark’s class though…
We have a *lot* to pack in in the 2.5 hours per session and it I’m really looking forward to this – and it’s really great value at £45 for a total of 5 hours of workshop time, plus break. If you’d like to learn about essential Photoshop techniques for finishing your studio shots, and spend some time learning how to get movement into your images, call Becky at the Studio to book your place now as spaces are strictly limited to 8 per group. All you’ll need is your camera and tripod – see flyer for details.
Our subject for the movement class is the very talented Ellie Anderson. I’ve worked with Ellie a few times now and she a fantastic model – and dance teacher.
Had a fabulous time down at the BBC. Media City, in Salford last Thursday at the finals of the Barclays/BBC University Technology Challenge. My team from Edge Hill University put on a fantastic presentation of their solution, full cost model, business case and project plan which was the product of many, many hours of hard work. Sadly they didn’t win, however I’m extremely proud to have worked with them and I know they’ll go on to even bigger and better things. Our hosts down at Media City were brilliant, and as it was well after breakfast, let us use this sofa for the team shot :)
The buildings and approach to their work at the BBC is an eye opener – I always assumed they had big dedicated studios for everything with big red lights on the doors. What I saw though was lots of content being created with the minimum of kit, set and fuss, more or less in the office – in clearings inside the desk forest. There are no “offices” as such, everyone sits out at a regular desk, and programmes are being made all over the place. The furniture is lovely, creating little rooms within each floor. Now, they do have some “proper” studios over in the building helpfully labelled “Studios” and there are a couple of more dedicated spaces for the sports reporting. Couldn’t resist a quick shot in there so here’s one of my friend Julie in the chair. I used the Nikon 28-300mm again for all of these shots.
Even the views out of the window are spectacular given the right sunset ! Thanks to Christine Bellamy and the team at the BBC for being such fantastic hosts.
Travel photography means variety. You shoot what you see. Well, the things you see that you like the look of anyway. To cater for this, I’ve always carried a bag full of lenses – mid range zoom (24-70mm), telephoto zoom (70-300mm), wide angle (14-24mm) and some low light, low DOF lenses (50mm, 85mm f/1.8). I’ve even carried a 105mm macro as well.
Oooohkaaayyy so Nikon has finally released their new “Df” camera. Whilst other manufacturers like Sony are advancing the art of the digital camera by removing legacy “features” left over from the days of film (flappy mirrors and shutters), Nikon has put a random collection of DSLR parts into an F3 film camera body and is asking Two Thousand, Seven Hundred and Forty Nine actual real pounds for it.
Arduino flash trigger prototype 1
Up until a few years ago, bolting bits of electronics together to do complex things was quite a steep learning curve. If you could do it all without any processing, you could connect individual logic gates together to make things happen. There is a lot to wrap your brain around to get things to work. Happily, now there are a number of small computers around that are focussed on input and output at a basic level – reading voltages, or on/off states and outputting them on other connections too.
I built an Arduino based robot kit from 4Tronix recently. It comes with 3 sensors: an ultrasonic range-finder, active infra-red obstacle detectors and a air of line followers (detects light or dark surface). The logic is in software – you write code saying things like “if this sensor says ‘Yes there’s summit there’ then send a signal out of this connector”. It’s really easy to learn (especially if you wrote code in C 20 years ago, the constructs for loops and blocks are identical, however all the complex bits are gone – we built 25 of these robots and got 13-14 year old school kids to program them. They all picked it up in about 10 minutes). In this way you could make the robot move in a certain way depending on what the sensors saw. This got me thinking: I know how the object sensors work, and I know now, having messed with Triggertrap mobile app, how to trigger my flash. Can I put the 2 together? Continue reading
Or, more importantly, the duration of the light really. I’m gearing up to do some motion freezing shots using flash. Now, why do this with flash? We could just use a really high shutter speed and yes, the shutter on my Nikon D800E will go to 1/8000th of a second, which is fast enough to freeze most action in the “medium sized world”. However, there are a couple of reasons why this is not a good idea.
First, for shots where we need to the camera to react to a noise, vibration or something breaking a detector beam, there may not be time for all of the mechanical gubbins inside the camera to lumber into action before the event is over: the mirror has to raise, the whole shutter has to start it’s operation etc. All of this can add as much as 50ms between the trigger event, and the exposure starting. The second reason has to do with the amount of light we have to work with: at 1/8000th of second, not a lot of light is going to get in.
Now, one of the best things about speedlights is that you can’t alter the power. Yep read that again Speedlights do not work in the same way as conventional studio lights. Whereas studio lights charge up their capacitors with just the right amount of energy for the light output you want, speedlights are always fully charged. You control the amount of light by altering the duration of the light. They have a tap inside – these days this is normally an Insulated Gate Bipolar Transistor or IGBT. So rather than a trigger voltage discharging the whole cap across the flash-tube, your speedlight can turn the flow of electrical energy to the tube on and off. The power of your speedlight btw, may amaze you. Power is the rate or flow of energy (the rate of “doing work” in generic terms). It is not the amount of energy delivered. Your average speedlight holds around 80 joules of energy in its capacitors. To empty them fully takes about 1/900th of a second. 1 watt is 1 joule per second, so dividing 80 by 1/900th gives us 72 kilowatts. That’s a pretty bright light – for just over a millisecond…. Continue reading