Setting Up a Portable Location Studio

Posted March 16th, 2015 by   |  Flash Photography, Photography  |  Permalink

This week I’m shooting about 250 portraits for Harbor Covenant Church. I’ll share more of the results of the photo shoot in a future blog post, but in the meantime, I wanted to show how I set up the studio with this time-lapse video. My goal for the photo shoot is to produce a bright white background for each of the portraits. To do this, I used a white muslin backdrop and lit it with four slave flashes in umbrellas. These background flashes are set to produce about 1.0 to 1.5 stops more light than the Profoto D1 monolights I’m using for the people in the foreground.

 

I’m triggering everything optically, which is another way to say that all the flashes are set to fire when they see a flash pulse from the main camera. For the Profoto D1 monolights, I’ve set them to trigger using the IR mode. For the Nikon flashes, they are all set to trigger in SU-4 mode. On my Nikon D800 camera, I’m triggering everything with a Nikon SB-700 flash set to manual output so that when it fires, everything else fires. All slave flashes are set for manual output and I metered everything using my trusty old Sekonic L-358 (no longer sold).

Location studio portraits

Some of the early shots from the location studio. Nice white backgrounds and lots of happy people!

Here’s all the gear I used to create the location studio.

Profoto D1 Monolights

Tether Tools Aero Tether Table for 15″ MacBook Pro

Gitzo GT3542L Mountaineer Carbon Fiber Tripod

Manfrotto and Creative Light light stands

Creative Light Back Light Stand

Nikon SB-910

Nikon SB-900

Nikon SB-700

Impact Background Studio Stand

White muslin backdrop 10’x24′

Apple MacBook Pro 15.4″ Retina

Adobe Lightroom 5

Location studio

An overview of the on-location studio I set up at Harbor Covenant Church using six flashes to produce a white background.





Sanne’s Art

Posted April 29th, 2011 by   |  Photography  |  Permalink

A few weeks ago I worked with local artist Sanne Beavin to photograph a series of artwork she created for Lent, Holy Week and Easter. The art depicts Jesus’ last week before crucifixion. The entire series of paintings is beautiful, yet powerful. Working with Sanne to take the photos was a great deal of fun and we were able to share these images with people all around the world.

Sanne preparing the art presentation.

Sanne preparing the art presentation.

Crucifixion

Crucifixion

Jesus' hands being nailed to the cross.

Jesus' hands being nailed to the cross.

Because this blog is all about photography, I thought I’d share a couple of quick photo tips and behind the scene shots.

The artwork was fairly large and required quite a bit of space to shoot properly. I brought my big muslin backdrop and stands, but in the end, it wasn’t big enough! I wish I had a 30′ wide by 30′ long muslin. Since I didn’t have a huge muslin, I had to shoot everything very tight.

Lighting equipment was simple and straight forward. I used two Photoflex umbrellas and two flashes. In this case, I used an SB-800 and an SB-900 remote. I used my SB-700 flash as a commander unit on my camera to trigger the remote flashes. I also set the flashes to fire with Manual output. One was set for 1/8 power and the other was set for 1/4 power.

I used a very simple lighting setup consisting of two strobes in umbrellas.

I used a very simple lighting setup consisting of two strobes in umbrellas.

Setting the power on the flashes to a consistent output (i.e. Manual 1/4 and 1/8 power) meant that I could shoot anything in the scene without worrying about TTL changing exposures from shot to shot. For example, the flowers below were shot at exactly the same settings (ISO, aperture, flash output) as the artwork above. Locking everything down in manual mode is frequently the best way to shoot large projects like this.

Flowers

Flowers

I used a Nikon D700 camera set for ISO 800. White balance was “flash” and my lens was the Nikon 24-70mm f2.8. Most of the photos were taken at an aperture of f5.6.

The most important piece of equipment was the tall ladder! Fortunately, the church had one in a back room so I didn’t have travel back to my office to pick one up. Since the artwork is so big, I needed to get into a higher vantage point in order to photograph the pieces and keep apparent distortion to a minimum. If I photographed from a low position, the art would have keystoned and looked a bit funny. Thank goodness for serendipity!

The ladder was essential to getting many of the photographs.

The ladder was essential to getting many of the photographs.

When photographing flat artwork, dealing with reflections is generally the hardest part. Often times, the solution to removing the reflection is to move the camera angle ever so slightly. The other solution is to move the position of the lights up, down, right, left, forward or backward. It can be a delicate balancing act in a complicated scene like this one because moving the lights for one piece of art will impact the light on the other piece of art.

You can see in the two photos below that changing the camera angle by a smidge will make a big difference in the amount of reflection in the image.

This image had a reflection on the upper right corner.

This image had a reflection on the upper right corner.

Changing the camera angle ever so slightly removed the reflection from the image.

Changing the camera angle ever so slightly removed the reflection from the image.

Check out these other links for more information on Sanne’s art and the story behind the story.

http://www.harborcovenant.org/lenten.html

Sanne’s Arwork You Tube Video

Tacoma News Tribune Newspaper

Kitsap Sun Newspaper Article

Sanne Beavin

Sanne Beavin - Artist





Holiday Event Photos from December GOAL Assignment

Posted December 29th, 2009 by   |  Photography  |  Permalink

For those of you who read our newsletter, this month’s GOAL (Get Out And Learn) assignment was to take some great holiday event photos. I promised I’d post some of my own for you all to see, so here goes!

Opening presents Christmas morning. Nikon D700, SB-600 wireless remote.

Opening presents Christmas morning. Nikon D700, SB-600 wireless remote.

Big Christmas party. Nikon D700, SB-600 wireless remote.

Big Christmas party. Nikon D700, SB-600 wireless remote.

Children peeking through the railing. Nikon D700, SB-600 wireless flash.

Children peeking through the railing. Nikon D700, SB-600 wireless flash.

A friend from Rwanda and his first time playing the Wii. Nikon D700, SB-600 wireless flash.

A friend from Rwanda and his first time playing Nintendo Wii. Nikon D700, SB-600 wireless flash.

Elise's new ears. White elephant gift exchange! Nikon D700, SB-600 wireless flash.

Elise's new ears. White elephant gift exchange! Nikon D700, SB-600 wireless flash.

Sharing and caring kids. I volunteered to take a couple hundred portraits of children who were donating toys to FISH (a local charity). They also held a great concert for the community shown in the pics below.

Sharing and caring kids. I volunteered to take a couple hundred portraits of children who were donating toys to FISH (a local charity). They also held a great concert for the community, shown in the pics below.

Concert for Sharing and Caring donation to FISH. Nikon D700, 70-200 f2.8, handheld.

Concert for Sharing and Caring donation to FISH. Nikon D700, 70-200 f2.8, handheld.

Excited kids at the Sharing and Caring concert for FISH. Nikon D700, 70-200 f2.8, handheld.

Excited kids at the Sharing and Caring concert for FISH. Nikon D700, 70-200 f2.8, handheld.

Children's Christmas play at Harbor Covenant Church. Nikon D700, 70-200 f2.8, handheld.

Children's Christmas play at Harbor Covenant Church. Nikon D700, 70-200 f2.8, handheld.

Children's Christmas play at Harbor Covenant Church. Nikon D700, 70-200 f2.8, handheld.

Children's Christmas play at Harbor Covenant Church. Nikon D700, 70-200 f2.8, handheld.





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