Eines der edelsten Bikes am Markt wird von Ducati gebaut – die Panigale 1299S. Ein brachialer Zweizylinder mit mehr PS, als man essen kann. Eine wunderschöne Maschine, bei welcher die Italiener mal wieder gezeigt haben, dass ihnen in Sachen Design keiner etwas vormacht. Diese Bilder haben eine etwas unschöne Geschichte (nein, dem Biker geht es gut so weit ich weiss). Ich habe lange überlegt, ob ich sie veröffentlichen soll. Die Fotos entstanden im Juni 2016, das Shooting hat viel Spaß gemacht und ich habe mich gut mit dem Biker verstanden. Monate später gab es leider Streit, weil der Fahrer ein Bild aus dem Shooting unter seinem Namen bei einem Wettbewerb einreichte und auch das Wasserzeichen entfernte, um die Herkunft der Fotos zu verschleiern. Damit war ich nicht einverstanden. Er hatte das Shooting kostenlos erhalten, und jetzt reicht er meine Arbeit unter seinem Namen ein. Es ging mir nicht darum, dass er etwas hätte gewinnen können, es war eine Frage des Urheberrechts und Respekts. Sich mit fremden Federn schmücken gehört sich nicht, Punkt. Zudem stand im Kleingedruckten des Wettbewerbs, dass der Veranstalter (ein Motorrad-Zubehörhändler) sämtliche Rechte am Bild erhält. Das Bild darf durch den Händler dann beliebig verändert, verkauft, verwendet werden. […]
During my shoot at the potash mine dump near Giesen I needed to focus the light from the flash. I only wanted to illuminate the bike and not its surroundings, so precise light control was necessary. The shooting setup is shown below. At first I tried zooming the flash to 120 mm, but that did not bring the expected result. I needed to focus/constrain the light beam even more. What I needed was a snoot, but I did not have one. So I improvised and used the lens hood of the 24-70 f2.8 and some duct tape. Some more duct tape was used to extend the tube of the snoot even more. This is what it looked like: And this is a quick comparison of how the light was contrained with just the flash / snoot / extended snoot. That’s my quick tip for today, maybe you might find it helpful !
Readers of my blog will remember the giant potash mine dump I used as a gorgeous backdrop in previous posts (location scouting and quick shooting). I returned to that location to take some more images. I’ve got that perfect image in my mind with a deep blue sky during magic hour, a shining white mine dump and a perfectly lit bike in front of it. Well, for that I would have needed a full moon to illuminate the mine heap, but it was a new moon. I started with some bike and biker portraits. The sun was setting off camera right, so there was a pink-ish sky. I placed camera and flash on the other side of the road and dialled in my settings. Again I was rider, photographer, lighting guy and the model (at least I was able to wear another jacket). This is the setup shot, nothing fancy. You see the remote trigger on the camera with the connector cable. Another trigger was mounted underneath the flash, the third trigger was in my hand to take the image. Using such a setup it was hilarious to experience every single passing car slowing down noticably once the outline of […]
You know what I said about noon. Harsh sunlight, not good for photography, go into the shade if you must take images in such conditinos. And don’t photograph against the sun, your subject will just be a dark silhouette against a blown-out sky. I chose to break with those „rules“ and went out for a test shooting. The goal: Taking decent images of my bike in direct, hard sunlight, photographing against the sun. I took two flashes with me a SB-700 and a SB-910. I drove to a small parking lot in the neighbourhood and set up my gear. I placed the flashes on the ground, refer to the attached sketch. The camera was set to 1/200, f/20 (to receive a decently lit sky) and ISO100. The flashes were set to TTL with EV +3 (full power against the sun).To prove my point I needed the sun to be in the shot. It was noon and the sun was at its highest point. To include it into the shot I needed to go really wide-angle, 14 mm in this case. Ready, aim, fire. Result see below. The sky is blue, the surroundings are well recognizable. The bike has been illuminated […]
I have photographed motorbikes excessively this year (Link1, Link2, Link3). All these shootings took place in the bike’s natural habitat: roads, streets and in one case an open field. These shootings are fairly easy concerning the logistical part – just take the bike somewhere at the right time of the day, bring a camera, maybe a tripod and flashguns, and off you go. But I wanted to knock it up a notch and go into a studio environment. Last year I conducted several photo sessions with sports cars in the studio… ok, _model_ sports cars (Ferrari FF, Lamborghini Aventador) and I particularly like the shots with light straight from above, illuminating the silhouette and some details on the cars. I had to use model sports cars because a.) I don’t own a Ferrari and b.) neither do I own a lighting rig large enough to illuminate the whole car (like this one). But I own two 80×120 cm softboxes with studio flashes – and that is big enough for a decent bike shoot. Setup I cleared the carport in front of your house of the trash can, bicycle and our car, sweeped the floor and started installing my equipment. I […]
Focussing in low light situations can be tricky. As light becomes scarce eventually even cameras with a high-end focussing system will struggle and finally wave the white flag. But there is a simple measure to counter this problem. It’s in the standard repertoire of your equipment but you might not have thought of it until now. Most flashes have an autofocus assist-light. Ever wondered what the red plastic window at the front of the flash is for ? It houses sensors and stuff, but also th AF assist light. When the camera signals „Yup, it’s too dark, some help please !“ the AF assist light is activated and projects a pattern onto the subject, thus helping the camera to focus. Then the shutter button is pressed the light is switched off and the flash fires, giving you a perfectly focussed image. So far every photographer should know that this function exists. Now comes the part less photographers might be aware of. Sometimes using a flash is not an option since it would destroy the atmosphere. What now ? Well, most flashes can activate the AF assist light and suppress the flash. Your flash unit becomes an autofocus assist-unit. The function […]
There are people whose eyes are closed or half-closed on every single picture when they are photographed using a flash. Getting a decent portrait of such a person is difficult. Today I want to explain the background to that circumstance and show two ways of avoiding closed eyes. Blinking is a natural reflex. The average human blinks every 4-6 seconds with a duration of around 300-400 ms per blink (source: wikipedia). You automatically do it so that your eyes won’t dry out. It is also a protection reflex against foreign object or intense light. It is that protection reflex, in combination with TTL mode, that ruins your photos. What happens in TTL mode In TTL mode the flash fires a short test burst (pre-flash). The reflected light enters the lens and is measured (thus the name TTL: „Through the lens“). Now the camera knows the flash power A of the pre-flash and the amount of reflected light B which is captured by the camera. By using that ratio the camera can determine how strong the main burst must be in order to get a decent exposure. Now the main burst fires and the image is taken. The whole process is so quick […]
Following the positive response on my Ferrari FF post I got hold of another RC model car and took it into my studio. Again a red car, but this time it’s an Audi R8. In the studio I used a black backdrop, placing the model on a table which is also covered by the backdrop material. To separate the model from the background as much as possible (light from above illuminates the black cloth, thus revealing the texture of the fabric and ruining the illusion) I slid a box underneath the car. The less fabric is directly around the car, the less work in post to black out the background. The shots were made with my D800 and the 70-200 f2.8 lens. I shot at 200 mm and f20 / f22 to receive maximum depth of field. During the shoot I moved the lights around a lot, since getting a pleasing reflection on the car is tricky and requires some try and error. I have not distilled golden rules from my experiences (yet), so you just have to try out and see what looks good. If you are using studio lighting you will have a modeling light. This is pretty […]
The son of our neighbors next doors is seven years old and collects minerals („treasures of the soil“ as he calls them). When we visited them a while ago I suggested to photograph his treasures along with some of his Lego figurines. The idea was very welcome and so I packed my Lowepro photo trolley and rolled it over to their place. I chose a simple tabletop lighting setup, photographing the minerals on the dining table surface. To create an interesting background I applied a technique called „El Bokeh wall“ by photographer Laya Gerlock from the Philippines. The idea is very simple – take a sheet of aluminum foil, crumple it into a ball, fold it out again it and tape the crumpled aluminum sheet to the wall. When lit by a flash the crumpled surface throws back countless tiny reflections, which, out of focus, result in a pleasing pattern of bokeh rings. But why blabla when images can tell the story: The setup requires two flash units. One flash unit illuminates the background, the main light illuminates the mineral and the Lego figurine (the main purpose of the Lego figurine is to act as a reference for the size […]
When I made the shots of the D610 for my „purchase decision post“ I did not have the time (and patience) to make a proper studio setup. So I decided to go for a quick’n’dirty solution. To my amazement the results were far better than expected. I placed the D610 on the box it came in and put both in front of a 24 inch display which was switched off. With the D800 and a SB-910 flash unit I took the images at eye-level of the subject. The flash was angled 60° towards the ceiling with the white bounce card pulled out. Here is the setup: The setup results in a nicely lit background (note that this might not work with glossy screens). The bounce card is responsible for the reflection on the surface of the TFT screen. The subject itself is also lit quite well. To bring out the details in the subject I raised the dark areas, cloned away the dust (gee, it’s everywhere and I unboxed the camera only a day ago before the shoot), cropped the image, applied a slight vignette and violà ! It is a good result in my opinion considering this very simple setup.
Sometimes people ask how I learned photography. First of all, I have many friends who are as enthusiastic as I am about photography. I went out shooting with them and step by step I learned about my camera, the principles of composition and lighting. Also I read books and attended a handful of seminars on photography. But the main source from where I learned photography (besides taking photos myself) was and still is the internet. There are numerous excellent free learning resources available. You just have to know where to go and start sucking up the knowledge. I will present a few jewels today which I find helpful and entertaining. Of course there are endless other great photography sites, blogs, podcasts and so on besides from my list, but I will stick to naming only a handful. Google is always your friend in finding more Photofocus.com – A great blog and podcast on photography. Scott Bourne, Richard Harrington and many guest writers talk about all things related to being a photographer. The posts cover not only reviewed gear, lighting tips and shooting strategies but also „behind the scenes“ knowledge on how to successfully establish yourself as a commercial photographer. Updated […]
When I was reading the lighting 101 guide from strobist.com one product which was presented there struck me – the Lumiquest Softbox III. It is a flexible, lightweight and very flat packing softbox which is attached to your flash directly. Lumiquest offers a range of such light modifiers. I purchased two of those softboxes and in this video I make a mini review and show how to install them.
I’ve been reading a little on flash photography in the last weeks. I already wrote about the great book by Joe McNally, today I would like to present another pearl of „flash education“. US-based photographer David Hobby runs an excellent blog called Strobist. The blog’s tagline is „Learn how to light“ and that is what the strobist blog is all about. David dives into the wonders of flash photography and shares his experiences from assignments, reviews gear or answers questions from readers. As the name suggests the blog is centered on strobist setups, meaning using off-camera flashes. While the blog itself is highly recommended there is a learning section on the homepage called Lighting 101. Below you can see some screenshots. Lighting 101 is a compact course in flash photography, which takes you from the very basics to very advanced flash concepts. You learn how to trigger your flash, what equipment you need to get started, what different light modifiers do, how to mix ambient and flash light, what gels do on your flash…. Go there. Read it. Even if you are an experienced photographer it does not hurt to ingest the basics again. There is always something one can learn, […]
Today I would like to give a short review on a very educating book. „The Hot Shoe Diaries“ by Joe McNally is a very entertaining and also informative volume on flash photography. The name of the book gives the clue: It is about strobe flashes, not big studio flashes. Joe McNally has 30+ years of experience as a photographer and worked for Life and National Geographic. Also, he is a Nikon CLS freak, shooting mainly with Speedlight flashes. Joe selected photographic jewels he took in his career and explains on 3-4 pages how each image was taken and what lighting concept stands behind it. That is why the book is called a „diary“. There is no red line and the chapters do not necessarily build upon each other. But by explaining the creation process of the images and how particular flash concepts are applied, the reader is well educated on the use of fill flash, main flash, using gels to correct light, mixing available and flash light and and and. The images he presents are portraits only. Most stories behind the images are very amusing, although some stories are also very moving. For example Joe did a project called „Faces […]
During the photo shoot with my daughter in the studio I realized something odd. The D800 is supposed to have a minimum flash synchronization time of 1/250s. This is the fastest shutter speed at which the camera can still communicate in time, so that the flashes triggers when the sensor is fully exposed and not partially covered by one of the shutter blades (fast shutter speeds mean, that the second shutter blade is closing while the first shutter blade is still in motion, so that the sensor is never fully exposed. See this highspeed-video from 0 min 36 sec). With the flash sync time of 1/250 I set my camera to 1/250s and started shooting. And bummer, the bottom part of the image was black. Long story short – I investigated this issue a little further and made test shots, triggering the flashes both with the Yongnuo wireless units and the sync cable which came with my studio flashes. I have used different channels on the RF603 units to rule out interferences with other equipment and also used them on my Nikon Speedlights. Results see below. Sorry for the tasteless composition, I took what I could find in five seconds 🙂 In this image the flash was […]
I am very fortunate to have a large basement in our new home. Finally I got the chance to build a permanent studio in the basement. In this video you can see the creation of the studio. There was some painting and carpet laying required to make the room hospitable. The process took about three months, but it was not that much work. Due to other obligations I only could do a few hours per week. If I had concentrated on the project exclusively, I think it could have been finished within a week. Here is a list of the equipment I now have installed: background system with black/white/grey cloth two tripods with white umbrellas and Speedlight-mounts (strobist setup, this is what I used in the studio until now) two tripods with Quantuum R600+ digital studio flashes (600 Ws) two soft boxes 80×120 cm one 70 cm beauty dish four Yongnuo RF-603 wireless flash trigger units I got the studio flashes, soft boxes and the beauty dish from a Polish retailer (www.quantuum.pl). It is, by the way, the same company which also runs a webshop called www.foto-tip.pl. They are the guys who distribute the Samyang lenses (you might remember my […]