Monday, May 30, 2011

Lux and Hani featuring Mid-Day Sun

Shot with my new (!!!) 5d Mark II (with 50mm f/1.4)
Click any image to see it larger
This week's project was a little last minute at Toronto's Harbourfront Centre with Lux and Hani. I arrived not expecting to shoot in mid-day sun and...wound up shooting in it anyway. On top of that the different skin tones between the two models made for some very difficult conditions to shoot in.

Read on for some creative solutions....

Exposed for subjects-dock (way) overexposed
Exposed for dock-everything else (way) underexposed

The solution was difficult to find. The silver reflector just wasn't bright enough and the speedlights are no competition for the sun. To try and overpower the sun a little, the only thing left to try was putting all 3 lights together in a bundle and firing them out of a reflective umbrella (try it and you'll find you lose less light than using your convertible umbrella as a shoot-through).

Quick test to make sure they're firing correctly-looking a little ridiculous, but otherwise good!
And we're good to start shooting! This was also the first time I got to really try out my brand new 5D Mark II!!! I know there's likely a Mark III around the corner, but...I couldn't help myself after finding a reasonable deal.

Anyway, using the umbrella with the bundled speedlights meant keeping the umbrella in nice and close (like about two feet - lucky Cristy was there to help!).

The eyes fell into dark shadows really easily so I tried as best I could to keep the eyes towards the light. I also saw quickly that the light source had to be physically closer to the darker skin tone to try and balance our shots. For more on balancing the ambient light with artificial light, see this post, this post or even this post.

The umbrella was so close that I had to remove the umb. shaft in post for this shot, I think....

Test shot: blown highlights & clipped shadows
Now let's back up a little - we actually started the day in a covered area and worked our way into the speedlight bundle.

The first thing was to check out the environment through the lens. Typical situation with blown highlights and clipped shadows as you can see here on the right.

Step one was then to find the exposure I wanted for the sky first while making sure to stay within the max. synch speed for my speedlights (as shown below).

That worked out to 1/250 sec. at f/11 ISO 100. Step two was to pull out the same reflective umbrella and get as much as possible before getting spotted by security. For this time of day in this weather I decided to leave the softbox at home.

Also with 2 people at f/11 this is where I first started thinking we should start bundling. We put 2 speedlights together, but only turned one on to start. (I know I've mentioned the Nikon SB-26 before, but that built-in optical trigger makes life really easy for around $100 off Ebay)

2 speedlights stacked, but only one on to test first
Both lights in 1 umbrella still needed to be moved in closer at full-power
Amazing the difference the light makes - here with and without for demonstration:

Here's what the scene looks like with no extra light besides ambient
Here with 2 speedlights in one reflective umbrella at full power just outside of the frame
And we're good to start shooting:

Now here's where we first ventured out into the sun (miraculously without getting kicked out of the theatre area first). And now it's 11:30am....

I mentioned before that I just couldn't get the reflector to do enough on the really bright dock. Maybe it was just difficult to even see my LCD screen in the bright light or maybe in was the dock, but I was quite surprised by how well it worked using the silver side of a 5-in-1 reflector kit on the brick.

Again take a look with and without:

With silver reflector
Without reflector - big difference! (click images to see them larger)
It was a little hard on the eyes to have the reflector on them continuously, but after posing, composing and getting the settings we were ok to hit them with the silver side to take a frame or two.

The sun is camera left slightly behind - filled with a silver reflector camera right

The Toronto International Circus Festival was going on at the Harbourfront Centre with Zero Gravity. Lucky for us, the characters walking by were really nice (and very photogenic!):

And finally to jump back to the end of the day (end of our shooting day at 2pm), Hani wrangled us a boat to take a few shots on! And out comes the reflector again:

Thanks Carson for letting us shoot on your beautiful boat!

Definitely another learning experience - we had a lot of fun,'s so much easier to shoot closer toward the end of the day (or the beginning) and you have so much more control. Lesson learned - save up for some big studio lights that can take on the sun!

And one final demonstration from Cristy on blowing up a balloon:


Tune in again next week for more unplanned mishaps!


Ardean said...

Great work! My fav:

I love how you are so analytical and breakdown your info. This encourages me to try a strobist outdoor shoot myself sometime!

@lv1nX said...

Nice, looks like your photoshoot turned out well for you :D

morzilla said...

I love you blog Shayne!!!! Excellent work. Can't wait to be there in Toronto.

shayne gray learns photography %$#! said...

Thanks for all the support and encouragement all!

Really appreciate it....

shayne gray learns photography

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