Category Archives Lighting

OK, I’m not the first one to come up with the idea for a Safari-themed fashion shoot. I’m probably about number 500, but I wanted to do something different and fun, and this seemed like it would both (and we could do it without breaking the bank).

Here’s how the shoot came about
I was working on a class on how to use the location strobe I’m using now, (the Profoto B1x), and I was going to do the whole thing in the studio because the class was about how to use the light and the wireless remote, but since the strobe is made for location shooting, I thought at the end of the course, I would go on location and actually do a shoot, so the photographers watching the course would see how easy and awesome they are to use in the field.

Kalebra is my art director for production shoots like this, and while she usually comes up with the concept for our shoots, I knew this time I wanted to try this Safari Fashion look and she was happy to help. I did some upfront research (on Pinterest, Google Images, and Instagram), and I compiled a list of what we would need to pull this off.

  1. A Luxury Safari tent. I found ones you could rent for $500 a day (yikes!), but that’s kinda outside our budget but then we found one that looked nearly as good that we could buy for $249 from Walmart — we would just have to cut a slit in the back so you can see through the tent to the field behind it (I wanted to have some depth behind it). As it turned out, I’m so glad we didn’t rent and bought the tent instead because the shoot was canceled three times due to rain. The rental house doesn’t care if you got rained out — you pay for the days you have it.
  2. A rug or two, for the floor of the tent, or for in front of the tent.
  3. Some steamers or luggage as props
  4. Some chairs (I originally wanted something nice Safari-looking chairs, until I saw the prices) so Amazon to the rescue with a director’s chair and HomeGoods came through with the other.
  5. And some side tables and props, many which we literally took on our sets at the office, and people’s desks, and well…we kind of borrowed them for the day

Kalebra went to work on getting the outfits, hair and make-up concepts, finding the right model, and figuring out the props; Christina (our super awesome in-house producer for our online courses) set about to find us an outdoor shooting location that didn’t look “Florida-ish” (it’s supposed to look Africa Safari-like), and a rental jeep (I thought it would be cool to have a jeep out of the focus in the background, but the jeep actually broke down on the way to shoot and never showed up, so scratch the jeep).

The biggest challenge was the cows. This was a cow-pasture in Plant City, Florida (about an hour from the KelbyOne HQ), and from time to time the cows would wander behind the tent and become part of the scene, and nothing says ‘this isn’t Africa’ like some dairy cows roaming behind your model.

Above: Here’s my first test-shot of our model Gabi on the set. The lighting looks pretty bad. The idea of this location shoot was to show how to mix your flash with the available light, and this looks way, way too “flashy” (looks like I used a big utility flashlight from Home Depot), but hey — we just set up the light; aimed it at her, and took a test shot. Hey, ya gotta start somewhere, right? Also, during this “setting the lights” stage I tell the model they don’t need to pose while I’m working on the lighting.

After all the work she had done, I felt bad that Kalebra couldn’t actually be at the live shoot, but she had a scheduling conflict, so we set everything up as best as we could, but we knew it didn’t look right, so we had Kalebra FaceTime in. That way she could see the tent, the props, and the outfits, then she worked directly with our make-up artist (whom we all adore and use every chance we get), the awesome Hendrickje Matthews to get everything right on set, and Christina and Rachel from our crew to get the set looking good, so I could focus on dialing in the lighting.

Above: Hendrickje (L) and Rachel work on tweaking the outfit after Kalebra FaceTimed into the shoot.

Above: The first thing Kalebra did was remove most of the junk (see above) we had piled in and around that tent. It was “over-accessorized.”

Above:  Once we started removing stuff per Kalebra’s guidance, the set was starting to look much better. The light still isn’t there, but at this point, we’re mostly focused on getting the set right, and the outfit, and stuff like that.

Above: Here’s a behind-the-scenes look at the set-up. Just one light (the Profoto B1x 500-watt battery-powered strobe). Special thanks to Kathy Porpukski and Erik Kuna for the behind-the-scenes shots. :)

Above: I take my tethering rig on location every chance I get — it makes that big a difference. Shoutout to the folks from Tethertools.com – they make awesome tethering gear!

Above: It’s every educator’s dream to teach standing in a cow pasture. 😂

Above: The glamour of shooting on location is real. Real smelly.

Above: The awesome Julio Agular assisting me on the shoot. Look how small that strobe is. Sa-weet!

Above: Here’s the overhead view from our drone. A cow pasture in the middle of nowhere is about the only place you can still actually fly a drone.

Above: Here’s what it looks like with the light off, and just the available light.

Above: Here’s what it looks like when your flash is too bright.

Above: Here’s the final image, with the light from the flash balanced with the natural light.

The lighting is supposed to look natural, not too bright, not too flashy. The goal is to make it look like natural light. It shouldn’t be obvious you used a flash. It’s a dance between adjusting the shutter speed (which controls now much natural light you’re letting in – the slower the shutter speed, the more natural light you get), and the power of the flash (which I try to get looking natural by not overdoing the power of the flash). Believe it or not, it just takes a couple of minutes to dial it in and get it looking right. We also feathered the softbox (so it’s not aiming directly at the subject) to create an even softer more flattering light. As much as I already loved the B1x, I feel even deeper in love during the shoots for this class. It’s such a brilliantly designed light — I’m thrilled to finally get to use them.

Also, I wanted to make the grass in the background look more “Safari-like” so in Lightroom I desaturated the greens quite a bit (using the HSL panel). You can also see the addition of the prop binoculars and the hat over her back (both Kalebra’s tweaks via watching the shoot via FaceTime).

Here’s the trailer for the full online course (in case you want to check it out)
I start in the studio and go through how the light works, and how the remote works with it (it’s super simple), and then we head out for the location shoot. I also added a bonus lesson which is a quick-start guide, so if you watched the class, and later want a quick recap when you’re out on a shoot, you’d be able to just watch that one lesson as a refresher.

Here’s a link to the class.

I hope you found this behind-the-scenes stuff helpful. In just a few weeks I’ll be recording a Part 2 of this class, where the entire class is all location shoots (based on feedback from the class – folks wanted more of the live shoots, so I’m happy to add another three shoots to the mix).

Here’s to a great week. Hope you’re staying warm (wherever you are) and see ya here tomorrow for Travel Tuesday’s with Dave. :)

Thanks,

-Scott

Last Friday I got a chance to go on location and try out my new Profoto B1x in a fashion shoot on location at the Rialto Theatre in Tampa. Kalebra was the Creative Director for the shoot and she came up with a really fun, intriguing story for us to create (we have such a blast on these shoots). Anyway, our video crew was there and put together this short behind-the-scenes video (below) so you can see what it was like.

After the video, please check out my Adobe Spark with the full story, more BTS images, and finals (link below the video).

The shoot as told on Adobe Spark
If you’ve got a sec, I hope you’ll check out the finals and story over on Adobe Spark Page.

Here’s the link. 

I always do a course on whatever gear I’m using (software or hardware), and in a little, over two weeks I’ll be doing a class on how I use the Profoto B1x’s for location shoots. We’ll start in the studio by going over all the gear, and then we’ll out in the field for the shoot. Can’t wait to share it with you as soon as it’s ready for release.

Here’s wishing you all an awesome, restful, fun, battery-recharging, creative weekend. :)

Best,

-Scott

P.S. Check back here Monday for some really fun news! :)

Yeah, ya do! We’re partnering with ProfotoUSA on this awesome giveaway, and all you have to do to enter is….enter.

Here’s what you get if you win:

  1. A Profoto B1X (I have one, they are the best!)
  2. Profoto Air Remote (you get one that works with your brand of camera)
  3. Profoto Softlight Reflector

The whole package is right around $2,800 and you could win it — but you can’t win if you don’t enter in it.

Here’s the link. Go enter right now (while you’re thinking about it). Hey, ya never know it?

We pick a winner at random on July 30th, 2018.

Have a great weekend everybody – see ya back here on Monday!

Best,

-Scott

P.S. I hope you win! :) 

…you’re using TTL (Thru The Lens metering).

I know, I know, all the flash manufacturers love to talk about TTL in their marketing pieces, and it’s touted as a miracle fix-all for new flash users. But in my honest opinion, I think it’s probably the single biggest reason new flash users struggle with their flash or even hate their flash, and it’s because of TTLs total inconsistency or flat-looking results when it does work.

For example, you’re shooting a wedding; you’re getting decent results for the first few minutes; you turn to shoot a different part of the church/reception/whatever, and all of a sudden it looks horrible. You haven’t touched anything, you haven’t changed everything, but it now it looks awful. Now what?

The concept behind TTL is great — it meters the existing light in the scene, and theoretically it then sends just the right amount of light onto your subject. Sometimes it’s fairly right, but quite often it’s not at all, and you wind up with an image that looks like you were shooting a crime scene for law enforcement.

Now, I know what you’re thinking, “But Joe McNally uses TTL!” That’s true — but you’re not Joe McNally. He’s the magical unicorn of flash, and he could form a flash from a watch battery, a packet of soy sauce, and a can of Crisco and use it to light a portrait using TTL that would make Rembrandt reconsider using natural light.

Yes, there are pros who can tweak TTL to where it works for them — but that’s not who I’m talking about here. I’m not talking about people who have mastered TTL or overcome all the quirks of TTL, and they’ve made it work for what they do. I’m talking about everybody else. I’m talking about the thousands of people I taught during my Shoot Like a Pro seminar tour who were miserable with their flash. Sadly, so many had given up on flash altogether when all they had to do was switch off TTL and switch their flash to manual. Then if the flash doesn’t look bright enough in the shot, you just turn up the power of the flash. If it’s too bright, you turn it down.

Can it really be that simple? Absolutely!

I did something to help all those folks
I wrote a book called ‘The Flash Book,’ and in it, I tell folks to turn off TTL and start loving their flash. Of course, there’s way more in the book than just that (or it would be a 1-page book), but it’s a really great start because I teach a system that I know works from the hundreds of folks who’ve told me that now they finally love their flash.

There are more reasons why folks hate their flash, and I’ll cover some more here maybe next week, but this weekend, dust off your flash; turn off TTL, switch to Manual Mode, and start down the path of finally falling in love with your flash. It can change everything.

Here are the winners of my Flash Book give away:
Congrats to:

Teri Yearkey, Macomb Township, MI
Jose Mario Monia Sanchez, Spain
Gary Phillip, England

Still waiting to hear from the other two winners, but we’ll find ’em. :)

Have a great weekend everybody, and here’s to making better images with your flash!

Best,

-Scott

Big news – my brand new book “The Flash Book” comes out today! Starting today it’s available in eBook format, ready to download right now (the print edition is already on press).  My publisher (Rocky Nook Publishing) is celebrating today’s launch with an absolutely insane deal — just $15 for the eBook (it’s available for download right now!).

Here’s the link to their $15 eBook deal (and use the code below).

About the book:
I didn’t want to write yet another book that teaches you everything you can do with your flash. Instead, this book is for people who bought a flash, and they’re not loving it. They not getting the results they thought they would, so they’re really not using their flash, and that’s a huge shame because you’ve seen how awesome flash can be.

I really think I can change that for you.
I think I can make you fall hopefully and madly in love with your flash because you’re going to start getting those type of flash images you bought your flash for in the first place. You’re not going to “nerd out” and learn a bunch of tech stuff. Instead, you’re going to learn a super simple system — one I’ve been working on for years now, and I know it works because I’ve received hundreds of emails, comments, and love letters from people who have put this system to use and they’ve finally loving their flash. They’re head over heels (and you could be, too).

You can finally love your flash
…and you’ll see the results immediately (especially since a lot of this system flies right in the face of what the flash makers and marketeers have been telling folks to do). You’re this close to a real breakthrough with your flash, and Rocky Nook is making it so affordable that you’ve got to at least give it a serious look. It’s $15. You can’t buy lunch at Applebees for $15 (plus, this book is better than lunch at Applebees, but then…). ;-)

If you want to wait for the print book, here’s the link to it on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. (note: it’s not in print yet, but already the #1 bestselling book on flash photography on Amazon). You’ll dig it.

Have a great Wednesday everybody, and I hope I run into you at my seminar here in San Diego today. :)

Best,

-Scott
‘The Flash Book’ Guy

P.S. Please scroll down to catch Jesus Ramirez’s awesome Guest Post today. It’s about the importance of perspective in Photoshop and he’s got some killer compositing tips in there. Very well done!  

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

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