Category Archives Behind-The-Scenes

Happy Monday everybody. I’m sharing one of my favorite portrait lighting set-ups – one that creates lots of drama and shadows yet it’s super easy to set-up.

Above: We’re using just one light — an Elinchrom ELC 500 strobe (but this technique will also work, or course, with a Canon, Nikon, Phottix, etc. flash as well), with an  Elinchrom Rotalux “Deep Octa” softbox here (but you can do this technique with whichever softbox you have). It’s not so much the type of softbox — it’s how you position it. The key to this technique is putting your softbox way up high — a bit in front of your subject, and aiming down at your subject at a really steep angle, almost like it’s a shower head.

Why does the background look black?
You can see there’s a 5′ wide roll of gray seamless paper behind her — so why does the background look black? It’s because there’s no light hitting that background at all. The light is literally aiming down at the floor, and since she’s not too close to the background, no light makes it back there at all, and the background turns solid black.

Above: When you have this light way over to one side like this, you’ll have to remember to tell your subject to “play towards that light.” If they turn the other way, you’ll get a really well-lit shot of their ear. You can see the position of the light pretty well in this example, and how I’ve had our subject turn toward her body toward the light.

Camera Settings
As far as camera settings go: I’m in Manual mode (as always when shooting flash), with my Shutter Speed at my standard 1/125 of a second, my ISO at 100 (I always try and use my lowest native ISO when shooting flash to get the cleanest shots possible), and my f/stop was f/6.3. I’m using my go-to lens for portraits, a Canon 70-200mm f/2.8, and I stand back and zoom in tight to take full advantage of the lens compression (I feel it’s much more flattering for portraits).

Above: Here’s another view of the set-up, just so you can clearly see the placement.

Well, there ya have it. I hope you give this one a try. :)

Got 30-seconds?
If you want to really dig in further on this type of lighting, (including adding a 2nd light, and some really helpful accessories) I did an entire course on this type of dramatic lighting – but using a regular rectangular softbox (I’m putting the official trailer below – it’s just 30-seconds – hope you’ll give it a quick look).

Here’s a direct link to the class (you can watch it right now, free – just take the 10-day free trial and start learning immeidately).

That’s it for today. I’ve got a cool little Photoshop Camera Raw tip for ya tomorrow. :)

Best,

-Scott

Hi everybody and happy Friday. I was taping a segment to a new class I’m doing — a follow-up to my “Just One Flash” called (wait for it…wait for it…) “Just one more flash.”

Anyway, when the taping was over, I wanted to try something a little different portrait wise (well for me anyway), so I did a very simple portrait where the goal was to try and give it a window light look, and I thought I’d share the final image, some behind-the-scenes shots, and talk a little about camera settings and post processing. I’ll do that all in the captions below.

Above: Here’s the final image. 

Above: Here’s an over the shoulder view of my shooting rig. I’m using a Canon 5D Mark III with a 70-200mm f/2.8 lens (my go-to lens for portraits). My camera is tethered into Lightroom CC on my laptop using a 15′ TetherPro USB cable from Tethertools. It’s supported on a Really Right Stuff tripod with a Tethertools Rock Solid Tripod Crossbar; an Aero Table, and the strap that keeps my laptop from sliding around is an “Aero Secure Strap” and you can’t see it in this photo, but my tripod is on a rolling rig that is designed to let you easily roll the whole thing called a Rock Solid Tripod Roller.

Above: Here’s a clean view of the lighting set-up. I used just one Elinchrom ELC 500, and put it close enough to the cloth backdrop that some of the light would spill onto the backdrop. I didn’t want a bunch of light because I wanted kind of a dramatic portrait, but I needed a little spill. You can see from the shot above that my subject is seated way at the back of the softbox (a technique called feathering where your subject is far away from the hotspot in the center of the light).

Above: The softbox I used was an Elinchrom 53″ midi-octa, which is kind of my go-to big octa for portraits (and it’s not too expensive considering how awesome it is. B&H Photo has ’em for $324).

SETTINGS:
I had the power of the Strobe pretty low because it was so close to my subject (less than 18-inches and at times less a foot). My camera was in Manual mode, with my shutter speed at that nice happy 1/125 of a second; my f/stop was f/9; and my ISO at 100 (the cleanest native ISO for my camera). Just one single light, and some simple very repeatable settings for a set-up like this.

Above: I started in Photoshop doing some standard portrait retouching stuff (removing blemishes, some skin work, a little work on the whites of her eyes and her iris – pretty minor stuff overall).

I’m embarrassed to tell you how easy the rest was — I opened MacPhun’s Luminar plug-in; I went to their Presets (I have my own set-up presets you can get from MacPhun), but I actually wound up going with one of their built-in Portrait Presets called Smooth Portrait. I like the glow and the color grading it gave, but once I applied the preset, I backed off the amount to 48% strength. I also pulled back the highlights a bit and increased the amount of edge vignetting. That’s it. Easy peasy. I clicked OK, and that’s what you see at the top of the page as the final image.

Hope you found some of that helpful. :)

Have a great weekend everybody! I’ll be working on my new book all weekend — almost done (a brand new one!).

Best,

-Scott

P.S. Next Friday I’m in Minneapolis with my Lightroom On Tour full-day seminar. Hope you can come join me if you’re up that way. :)

Happy Monday everybody! I’m out doing my Lightroom seminar tour this year (I’ll be in Chicago and the Detroit area with my seminar next Monday and Tuesday respectively), and I get lots of questions about the tethering rig I use, so I thought I’d share a few Behind-the-Scenes shots from a studio shoot I did a few weeks ago (shots for an upcoming book), where I can break down the set-up (and the lighting while we’re there, right?).

Here’s the basic set-up:

The Cable:
The long orange cable is the essential thing you need to connect your DSLR to your computer (and into Lightroom). It’s from a company called Tethertools, and their entire company is dedicated to making stuff for tethering (so, with the exception of the tripod and ballhead and lights, all of which I mention shortly, all the tethering gear itself is from Tethertools (btw: great company, great people behind it, great products, and awesome customer service – I totally dig them!). Anyway, the cables come in different lengths and different connectors to fit your particular make and model of camera (USB 2.0, USB 3, Firewire, Micro-B, Mini-B, etc.). The bright orange color is to help you see the cable in a dark studio environment so you don’t trip on it. Prices vary based on length and ends chosen, but figure around $32 to $55.

The Bar:
It’s all sitting on a tripod (in this case, it’s a heavy duty Really Right Stuff tripod I believe), and the crossbar attached to it is the ‘Rock Solid Tripod Cross Bar’ from Tethertools (it holds a laptop table on the right, and my Really Right Stuff BH-55 Ballhead on the left, which gives me a place to put my camera between frames, while I’m tweaking the lights, or looking at the images in Lightroom). It’s $129.95 at B&H Photo.

The Laptop stand (and safety strap):
It’s called the Tethertools ‘Aero Table’. NOTE: If you get this Aero Table, I would strongly (in the strongest most strongly of strong terms) suggest that you get the optional SecureStrap that keeps your Laptop from sliding off the table, which is most likely to happen when you and a friend/assistant pick up the rig to move it). It has saved me countless times. Get the strap. It’s a must. It’s optional, but shouldn’t be. It’s strap time. Strap it on.  The Aero Table is $195 for a 15″ MacBookPro, and the SecureStrap is around $18 (btw: all the prices shown are what they’re selling for today at B&H Photo).

External Hard Drive Holder:
The little box under the right the side (seen more clearly in the shot above, taken from another shoot that same day), which is currently holding the “brick” for my Apple charging cable, usually is holding an external hard drive (that’s what it’s really designed for). That little external drive holder is called the ‘Aero XDC‘ and they make ones that hold one drive or two drives. Super handy because if you don’t have one, then your hard drive is just kinda sitting there leaning against your computer, waiting to fall off during the shoot (said from experience). Around $54.

 

 

Rolling Base For Your Tripod
The accessory to this system that I just started using in the past few months, and one in which I have deeply fallen in love with is their Rock Solid Tripod Roller, (seen above) which lets you easily roll the entire rig around, rather than having two people pick it up and carefully move it around the studio, which I often have to do a dozen or so times during a shoot. This way, your tripod sits right in special mounts on the roller, and it just glides around. Much safer, faster, and you don’t need a 2nd person to wheel it around (nor do you have to worry about your laptop falling off when it’s just gliding across the floor, much like Belle in Beauty and the Beast. But I digress). It’s around $79. Can’t recommend it enough.

Not Seen, But Felt…
You can’t see it in this photo, but it’s super awesome is their optional Aero Cup Holder accessory, which slides under the Aero Table and you slide-it-out when you need it. It can hold a water bottle, coffee cup, but it’s also awesome for holding your phone during the shoot, or extra batteries, or whatever you need handy during the shoot. It’s $29.95. Totally worth it.

My Entire Kit
The folks at Tethertools are putting together an entire kit of all the stuff I use, and doing a bundle deal for all of it. I don’t have all the specifics, but one day, it will be available, somewhere, somehow. How’s that for specific info? ;-) BTW: When it does come out, I don’t get a commission or kickback (sadly), it’s just for the convenience of folks who come to my seminar and want the same rig. I’ll share the details here on the blog when it’s available. 

Now, let’s look at the lighting
Since we brought all this up, we have to take a quick look at the lighting, right? It’s simple Clamshell lighting with both lights directly in front of our subject. The top light is an Elinchrom 17″ beauty dish (no diffuser — you can get away without using a diffuser if your subject has really clear skin), and the bottom light is a 24″ square Elinchrom Rotalux softbox. Both strobes are Elinchrom ELC 500-watt strobes, and I’m triggering them with a Skyport Transmitter sitting in my camera’s hot shoe.

Hope you found that helpful. :)

Pop Quiz: what happens one week from today?
I’m in Chicago with my brand new Lightroom OnTour full-day seminar. Guess what happens the next day? That’s right — I’m in the Detroit area (Livonia, Michigan to be exact) with the same seminar. Two days. Two seminars. What could go wrong? ;-)  – Hope you can come out and spend the day with me (you can still grab a ticket right here).

Hope today is the start of a great week for you, and we’ll catch ya here tomorrow for a slick little Photoshop tip I’ve got fer ya! :)

Best,

-Scott

ptf

Well, at least it is on the KelbyOne Facebook page, where each Friday, we post a quick photography, Lightroom or Photoshop tip (either from me, or one from some of our awesome instructors), and they’re all just 1-minute each (or less). Well, at least thats’s the goal.

If you missed any from the previous few Fridays, you can check ’em out on the KelbyOne YouTube page (ya know, you should subscribe to our YouTube page).

cannonbeach

Greetings from Portland, Oregon
I’ve spent the past few days out in Oregon taping some classes on Essential Techniques for Landscape photographers, and Essential Post-Processing techniques for Landscape photographers, and we just wrapped up today, and then we drove to Portland last night for my seminar here today (hope I’ll get to meet you in person here today).

Yesterday Brad posted about my new class on simple Fashion lighting, but we didn’t have the class trailer. Now we do, and it’s right there above (it’s just a minute, so I hope you’ll check it out).

OK, that’s it from here in chilly Portland. Hope you all have a great weekend!

Best,

-Scott

P.S. Did you see the awesome team of instructors we have lined up for the Lightroom training tracks at the Photoshop World 2016 conference this summer in Vegas? Check ’em out below.

instructors1

 

If you follow me on Twitter or Facebook, you probably saw a post or two of mine looking for a cool car to shoot after my seminar in Phoenix. Well I found one. Actually, two.

Last year, I got to shoot a classic Cobra and a brand new Corvette at photographer Paul Markow’s studio in Phoenix (a super-nice guy with a killer studio — big enough to shoot a car no problem, and a cove roof to bounce the lights off). This year I wound up shooting a Maserati GranTurismo — seen above (believe it or not, I rented it from Enterprise rent-a-car in Phoenix for a song), and then Adam Thaler, a photographer who follows me on Facebook, saw my search for an exotic car and brought over a red Ferrari California — so the shoot was on!

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If you’ve been following me on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, you’ve probably seen me posting some shots from a class I’ve been working on about my location lighting set-up. I had four different location shoots planned for the class (we wrapped up taping last week), but the day before Photoshop World we did the first shoot out on a dry lake bed just outside Vegas.

fashiond

Here’s one of the shots from the shoot. It’s lit with just one flash and it’s the replacement for what has been my go-to kit for years now — the Elinchrom Ranger Quadra — the new model is the ELB 400, and it’s got a slew of new features over the old kit (I go over all that stuff in the class, but mostly the class is about lighting tips and techniques and ideas for location lighting. The ELB is pretty awesome, though!). The dress is from DreamShootRentals.com

The softbox was my go-to softbox (been using this for years); it’s my Elinchrom Rotalux 53″ Midi Octa. I just love that softbox (and it’s not too crazy expensive for being fairly big — it’s $329 at B&H Photo).

TIP: August may not be the ideal time to shoot in the desert
I knew I’d already be there; my video crew would already be there for Photoshop World starting the next day; and Kalebra would be there with me to do the Art Direction (she rocks!), so I thought this would be a perfect opportunity to pull off a shoot like this. Ya know, except for the whole shooting in the desert in the August heat thing.

One thing that made it a bit complex is that we were kinda out in the middle of nowhere. We were going to need a restroom on the scene, and a place for the model to get hair/makeup and to change outfits. We had a large crew:  our video crew and producer (this is part of a KelbyOne class), Brad, my assistant Lynn and a second photo assistant. We had a location scout, and Kalebra and I working on the direction and shooting, so we wound up renting this production trailer, which is what they would normally use on a movie or TV production, but it worked out really well (as long as we didn’t run all four air conditioners, which would blow a fuse). Check out the video below for more on the production trailer.

Above: Here’s a little iPhone BTS video we shot so you could see the set-up, and we went in the production trailer for a quick tour, too. It’s pretty short. Worth checking out. 

 

Above: Here’s a gallery of some behind the scenes shots. Click to see a larger version. 

I can’t wait until the whole class is done
I really was able to cover a lot of stuff — four different shoots and an entire section just about the gear to start it all off. I’ll let you know as soon as it’s ready.

fashiond2

Above: Here’s some thumbnails from some of the other finals from that shoot. More to share in the class. 

Hope you all have an awesome Monday (well, we can only try, right?), and we’ll see ya back here tomorrow. :)

Best,

-Scott

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