Saturday, August 2, 2008

Beach portraits


This past few weeks I've been in the US, specifically to the Outer Banks in North Carolina. I took my camera and lighting gear with me, and managed not to take any scenery photos, but lots of portraits. I loved how the fading sun gave me lots of interesting texture in the clouds, and we had a wrap around porch on the 3rd floor, which gave me a vantage point to get plenty of sky and a bit of beach houses.

I wanted to do some full body portraits, showing the beach setting, the cloudy sky, and provide a bit of falloff to the light so that everything wasn't lit evenly. It was also just a chance to experiment more with lighting and using my new flash equipment (Honl honeycomb grid).

2 Vivitar 285hv
Main set to full power,
at telephoto zoom setting (to keep the light only on the subject)
Rim set to 1/4 power,
through 1/2 CTBlue gel,
through Dave-Honl 1/8" grid-spot,
Full zoom setting
Main light stand was at 2.5 meters height, rim was set on the balcony rail (about 1.2 meters high)
Main light was even with camera to the left of the subject, just outside of the frame
Rim was even with subject, 2 meters to the right of subject,
Rim light was aimed at his head, main light aimed directly at the subject.

Click through this setup shot to see notes over the flash heads.


I started originally with a sunset red gel over the flash, but it proved to be too strong, so I removed it. In hindsight, I wish I'd put on a 1/4 CTOrange gel on the main flash to warm everything a bit. Notice how in the setup shot, you can see how using the telephoto setting keeps the light only on the subject and feathers nicely off into the wooden balcony? I like the setting, but next time I'll aim up a bit more so that it feathers his body a bit. On all the subjects, the lower body received too much flash and removed focus from the face. Aiming the flash up a bit would give me more natural feathering of the light.

One thing I really liked was the Honl Honeycomb grid. I'm not a fanatic about keeping my strobe clean from velcro, so I forewent the speed strap, and just attached two velcro strips to my flash head. This cut down on the cost of the grid. The grid allows me to keep the light in a very tight, laser beam like area. In these portraits it was used to keep the 1/4 powered blue fill on just the face. Click through to the larger version to see it in detail.


This shoot however has convinced me that I need a small softbox for when I want to soften the light just a bit, or for times when an umbrella would blow over for sure (a real problem in Iceland where it's always windy).

Full beach portrait set
A few more examples:

thug_sarah peetree

My next post will show my new DIY umbrella mod. I'm building a white diffuser for my silver bounce umbrella. It's inspired by the 60" softliter that I purchased. The softliter is far too heavy and bulky for my taste, so it sits back in the states in my dad's lighting kit. The best part about it was the flat white surface. It's the best of both a silver and white umbrella.

Also, a request. Will anyone who knows of a university that teaches all in English, has a 3d art and photography degree, and is not located in the US, or the UK, please contact me via email?

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