Good Morning West Coasters; Good Afternoon East Coasters,
We had a great day at my pre-conference wedding shootout yesterday. I feel honored that my shootout books up quickly at Photoshop World. It also seems that the number of attendees keep getting larger and larger. LaDawn did a quick headcount yesterday and reported we had 56 in the room. That's quite a crowd for a location shoot but, it was a great group of photographers and I think they really enjoyed the six-hour session.
At the shootouts, my approach is not so much to have the bride and groom run through a series of poses. It's more about teaching the lighting techniques and the demonstrating the elements of compositional elements I like to bring to my photography. Another thing I pointed out to the group was the fact that each session is different from the previous session because of the evolution and new techniques I might be bringing to my shooting routines.
Yesterday was no exception. Since I've been working with Canon's new 600EX-RT speedlights, they figured heavily in the yesterday's demonstration. Don't get me wrong – I'm not saying you need to rush out and buy new strobes. As you know, I've been a BIG fan of Quantum strobes for a number of years and certainly plan to keep the Quantum strobes in my lighting arsenal.
But, the wonderful portability and flexibility of the new Canon speed lights allows for a very easy on-location set up, especially at a class like my shootout. So, that being said all the images that I will be featuring today could've been produced with any other number of strobes. But, as I’ve said, all these images were produced with the three Canon's 600EX-RT speedlights that I had in my camera bag. Let's move through a few of my favorites from yesterday session.
Take a look at the image below. It's a very soft, gentle image of the bride and groom enjoying a moment together. You can clearly see the direction of light on this image. But, this image was illuminated with my on-camera flash. To get the direction the light I was seeking, I rotated the flash head to the left and bounced it’s light off my Sunspotz silver reflector which was being held by one of the classmates.
The photons from the flash traveled to the reflector, illuminating it and making it my new light source. Now the photons were coming from an off-camera direction which gave me the wonderful dimensional lighting that I'm always seeking.
I love this simple, elegant photograph the bride standing in the front of the church. I used my super wide Sigma 12 – 24 mm lens for this image. The wonderful architecture of the sanctuary in this church really lends itself to wide-angle lenses.
Lighting was achieved by firing my off-camera flash through my Zumbrella. I balanced the ambient light with the flash exposure to get the total balance I wanted in this photograph. Once again, because of the wonderful direction the light on the scene, we get those beautiful highlights resting next to the shadows to give us the detail, depth, and dimension that only using an off-camera flash can achieve.
Although this image below is a variation on the theme of the photograph above, it is still one of my favorite photographs from yesterday’s pre-con session. The beautiful profile view sadly is mostly lost on today’s photographers. But, I think it still adds a very interesting, dramatic look to any wedding coverage.
Look how the light caresses the subject's face and, since is coming in from slightly behind the subject, it also illuminates the veil that the bride is wearing. Also, since the light is coming from slightly behind the bride, the lighting does a great job to separate her from the background and emphasizes her figure even more emphatically in the composition. Once again – a classic and beautiful photograph of our bride.
As we were working in the church throughout the afternoon, I noticed that the sunlight coming through the stained-glass windows began illuminating the mosaic in the front of the sanctuary. The soft colors were quite intriguing to me and I thought they would offer a beautiful background for a simple portrait of my bride.
I used a long lens – 200mm - to really magnify the space behind the bride and the colors being cast by the stained-glass window. Firing a single Canon's 600EX-RT speed light through my Zumbrella, I was able to illuminate the bride beautifully balancing the soft textures, tones, and colors in the background against her gorgeous figure.
About 4:30 PM we had to wrap our shooting inside the church and move outside into that wonderful Las Vegas near 100 degree desert sun. The church is located across the street for Mandalay Bay which means that Mandalay Bay can serve as a unique background for the image below. Again, by using a long lens – 200mm – I was able to really magnify the size of the Mandalay Bay in the background, in proportion to my subject in the foreground.
When working outdoors, the problem we are always faced with is the fact that if I want to use a larger aperture I also need to use a very fast shutter speed. But, since a native sync speed of my Canon 5D Mark III is only a 200th of a second, using a faster shutter speed generally is not an option. But, in this case that was no problem. Since I was using the Canon speed lights I was able to engage the hi speed flash sync option on the strobe unit. That meant that I now had the option of using any shutter speed I wanted to make my exposure. This image was taken at 1/400th of a second, well above the native sync speed of the Canon 5D Mark III.
With my Canon speed light coming in from camera left at about the same position as inside the church, I was able to create the loop lighting which I love on my subjects and, because I was using the high speed flash sync function of the speed light, I was able to use a wider aperture than normal, F5.6 for this image. Careful adjusting of the shutter speed controlled the density of the Mandalay Bay Hotel in the background and gave me a very different, an almost fashion look, to this bridal portrait
Here's another one of my favorite photographs from yesterday pre-con session. Let's consider the situation. We’re working outdoors in the raw Las Vegas sun and we’re trying to create a beautiful bridal portraits in the middle of the desert in downtown Las Vegas.
The secret to making the city disappear is to establish a very low camera position for the photograph. I was actually laying on the ground my ear nearly on the pavement to get the vantage point I wanted for this photograph. From that very low vantage point many of the distractions in the background almost disappear. There was a construction crane on the right-hand side of the photograph which took me only two minutes to remedy and Photoshop. With a little more time I could easily clone the green shrubbery along the horizon line and eliminate all the distractions.
Although I could've used off-camera flash and hi speed flash sync to illuminate my bride for this image, I chose instead to use my inexpensive Sunspotz reflector to bounce the sun’s light back into the bride's face. Notice that the sun is backlighting the bride too. That means I can easily have one of my classmates grab my Sunspotz reflector, take up the same position as he would have if using my off-camera flash, and turn the reflector into a light source by grabbing the sun’s rays and bouncing them back onto the bride's face.
Remember, what I'm looking for in just about all my images is a beautiful loop lighting pattern on my subject’s face. Those illuminating photons can be coming from anything – an off-camera flash, a window, a studio strobe, my mini flashlights (Love Lightz) or any other light source. In this instance I chose my main light source to be a reflector full of the sun's rays directed back towards my subject. Since the photons have the same direction in all of these examples listed above, the lighting pattern on the subject's face is going to be the same regardless of light source used. Sure, the size of the light source comes into play but, when working with small head sizes like we have, even the size of a light source would not make a dramatic difference in the final result.
This is the last image I captured yesterday before we climbed aboard the bus and headed back to the hotel. I asked my class assistant to grab me one of the Canon speed lights. He grabbed the speed light, flipped it on, and quickly took up the proper position to give me the loop lighting pattern I wanted on the groom's face. Once again, notice that the sun is coming from the left side of the groom and also behind my subject.
The sun created a nice accent light on the back of my subject. The key light was created with my Canon 600EX-RT speedlight coming in from camera left. Once again, I was firing the strobe using a high-speed sync feature of the speed light. Remember, the class was on the bus waiting for me but I was able to pull off this photograph very quickly because of the versatility and functionality of these little lighting jewels.
Compositionally and using color as an compositional element I think this image works quite well for a quick photograph of the groom. We have the deep, rich blue sky behind our subject and we have the impact of the graphic lines of the superstructure above his head. Careful positioning of him between the two palm trees finishes the composition. It was a great wrap up image for yesterday shoot.
As I said earlier, my classes are not about trying to create as many different poses as possible. My classes always revolve around lighting and composition. I think those are two of the most important aspects, techniques and differentiating factors that we can bring to our photography. As I said yesterday there's too many photographers out there running and gunning to grab any photograph they can. The excitement and the challenge comes from knowing how to use your equipment and how to compose and light to enhance and flatter our subjects for the best photograph. It lets us take our photography to the next level because then it becomes a thinking person's game. And, having all those compositional elements and lighting techniques come together helps us create imagery that is far more striking for both ourselves and our clients. Remember… It is the Difference that makes a Difference!
p.s. - You can see a full listing of all the gear I used in yesterday’s session right here.
If you're here at Photoshop World, please come on up and say HI. I'll see what I can do to get another post up tomorrow. It might not be a Business Day Thursday post - it may be a quick update on what's been going on around here so please stay tuned. Have a great rest of the day and I hope to see you soon.