Had quite the run of family portraits this past holiday season which is great for the old bottom line because things tend to slow down around here as the year comes to a close. When networking in late fall, I always try to mention how the holidays are a great time to get the family and extended family together for holiday family portraits especially when folks are coming into Portland from out-of-town or out-of-country like two of my families were this season. Whether coming into the studio or having the shoot at your home, the holidays are a great time for family portraits!
Like a kid with a new toy on Christmas morning I just had to try out the new Lastolite Triflash Bracket I picked up this morning from Pro Photo Supply. I also wanted to test how quickly I could shoot with three flashes rather than one and how good (or bad) the Canon ST-E2 Transmitter would work outside. Granted the light this afternoon was pretty flat and low with lots of medium gray clouds so the transmitter worked fairly well. I was shooting about three feet away with the flashes to my left on a lightweight Westcott stand. Camera was a Canon 5D, ISO 200, 1/200 @ f/2.8.
I didn’t do any posing with the kiddos obviously because they were so giddy with playing and it being Friday after all, that I just wanted to shoot quickly and put the flashes through their paces and keep the energy level high. It does strike me how much $ in flashes you can hang on the thing, where one Alien Bee 1600 monobloc will only run you about $360 so I do suggest a sandbag or gym weights in a sling when shooting with a white shoot-through umbrella as I was here. I can’t wait to use this ungainly thing more often!
On a rainy Saturday this past weekend I headed up to rural La Center, Washington in Clark County to shoot these senior portraits. About an hour north of Portland and originally known as a business center and depot along the Lewis River in the 1800’s, today La Center is mostly known for its legalized gambling in four casinos in the center of town but the city is still dominated by wide open spaces, farms and beautiful horse ranches.
We had originally planned to take advantage of the spectacular fall color but scheduling conflicts made it impossible to catch the peak weekend. The report on Saturday was early morning fog so we pushed back the shoot an hour to let the fog lift and give us some visibility of the beautiful views of the low-lying hills surrounding the families ranch. As the rain increased while I made my way up there on I-5, I started formulating Plan B. The family had recently built brand new stalls to shelter their several horses and they afforded many cool locations for some good pictures. I jazzed some of them up with a few Canon Speedlites and some colored gels to add some pop.
Detailed coverage of Canon’s four speedlite-580EX II, 430 EX II, 220 EX and the new 270 EX-built exclusively for Canon DSLRs.
If you use a digital SLR camera, then you understand just how critical it is to have a capable flash. Canon Speedlite shines a whole new light on taking photos with a Canon DSLR. This full-color, in-depth guide takes you beyond the standard manual that accompanies the Speedlite and shows you the types of settings you can use on your camera when working with the Speedlite.
You’ll explore the possibilities of wireless lighting with multiple speedlites as well as the creative effects you can achieve. Author and professional photographer Brian McLernon demystifies setting up the speedlite, synchronizing the speedlite equipment, and determining lighting ratios.
- Canon DSLRs are only growing in popularity and the Speedlite system is a must-have accessory for exploring a new world of digital photo possibilities
- Shows you how to create an inexpensive and portable wireless studio lighting system that can go where you go
- Demystifies setting up the speedlite, synchronizing the equipment, and figuring out lighting ratios
- Covers other Canon lighting system components, such as the ST-E2 Speedlite Transmitter, Macro Ring Lite, and Macro Twin Lite
Real-world information on using these speedlites illustrated by full-color examples and untangles the complexities of using the Canon Speedlite system.
OK, so the books are out and it’s been wild getting feedback and emails about them from readers all over the world! We’re currently in discussion about another book that I am very excited about if it gets final approval. I can’t say much about it right now but suffice to say it is a subject very near and dear to my photographic heart.
Since the pace has eased up a bit around here I thought I would post some of the images either used or shot for the books and provide a little backstory on each one. First up is this shot of my neighbor Damien for a story on urban farmers and for the Canon Speedlite System DFG. With little daylight left I wanted to explore the whole warm/cool visual tension with Speedlites. The Canon 5D Mark II was set to an indoor tungsten balance to turn the background a deep blue and the foliage behind Damien was lit with one ungelled Speedlite at around 1/8th power. Since the camera was set to tungsten white balance and the flash produces daylight white balance without a gel, the whole background goes blue or very cool tones.
A second Speedlite @ about 1/16th power and mounted on a stand with an FJ Westcott umbrella-style Apollo softbox was used as the main light. I taped on two full CTOs (color temperature orange) gels and shot about 12 frames. Set-up and tear down took about 15 minutes.
In post production I decided I way overdid it with the CTO’s and backed off the saturation for less intensity of the colors. I now have a full kit of 1/4, 1/2, and full CTO’s for next time. I like the visual tension between the two different color families. What do you think?
Mimi the Clown came to the studio recently for some promo shots and to help me out with a few images for my new book on Canon Speedlites. After she got into costume we did various poses showing a range of her expressions. The original plan was to do some shots outside in the fading light, then move into the studio once night fell. Unfortunately, the light faded quickly to black but we moved outside anyway.
As Mimi danced and mimed in what little ambient light there was, I set up two Speedlites on either side of her, one on the left zoomed all the way to 105mm undiffused, and one on the right in a Westcott softbox. I like this shot because after fiddling with the settings on the Speedlite, I forgot to zip the softbox back up and a tiny sliver of light escaped from the bottom that lined up perfectly with her fooot and the shadows from her legs. A mistake that added to the overall image. Mimi thought it gave the shot a “highwire” look!
Afterwards, we moved back into the studio for the top shot and the rest of the shoot. When Mimi was done, we shot some portraits of the real person and I think she cleaned up nice!