A pastor friend of mine says that we should always be ready to “preach, pray or die.” These are wise words and I think about them often. The statement implies that no matter where you are, you should always be ready to perform. He tells a story of a young American couple working for an NGO in India. They went to a church service there and the congregation asked them to lead the church in singing songs. Neither of the two Americans had ever led music before, but they just smiled and said yes. They were ready and willing!
Us photographers should also always be ready to give our 100% and produce excellent results at a moment’s notice. Here’s an example that happened to me a couple days ago where someone needed a photo job done ASAP.
On Monday of this week, I received a phone call at 12:30 pm from a friend, calling to see if I could take some head shots for her daughter. They were working with a talent agent to get a modeling job for a new product advertising campaign, and needed some images for her file.
The conversation went like this:
Mother, “Hi Mike, do you have time to take some head shots of my daughter?”
Me, “Of course. When?”
Mother, “Today about 2:45 pm.”
Me, “Umm … ok. I have a little bit of time this afternoon. What are they for?”
Mother, “They are for an advertising job that my daughter is trying out for. We need to create an 8×10 and send it to her agent.”
Me, “How quickly do you need the final images?”
Mother, “The agent needs the head shots by 3:30 pm.”
Me, “Ok. See you at 2:45!”
So, I quickly set up a studio in an open space of my home where we would shoot the images. I decided to use a Lightbox, umbrella, reflector, small diffusion box and a combination of black and white backgrounds. You can see the studio setup below. I used the Nikon Creative Lighting System, so simply set up Nikon SB flashes in each of the light modifiers. The Commander flash was a SB-900 and the remotes were SB-600, SB-700 and SB-800 flashes. I decided to use a Nikon D7000 with Nikon 24-70mm f2.8 for the portraits.
The mother and daughter arrived right at 2:45 pm and we talked quickly about what they needed for the photos. They said they were after simple backgrounds and just needed head shots, not full-body shots. We shot the first group of images with a white background and kept the daughter’s hair down.
A few minutes later, we changed the backdrop to black and had the daughter put her hair up for a different, more youthful look. In all, we took about 40 shots with the white background and 40 shots with the black background.
After shooting 80 pictures, we ran to my computer system to download the RAW files and make quick selections. I used Photo Mechanic for rating/selecting images and we all agreed on one image to send to the agent (we chose the image with her long hair and white background). Next, I brought the picture into Photoshop to quickly retouch her skin and face, then I cropped it as an 8×10 and sent it off via email at exactly 3:30 pm.
Whew! 45 minutes from start to finish. We made it just in time.
The May 2010 Out There Images, Inc. newsletter is posted over at the main site. Here’s the link:
This month, I’ve written articles on using wide angle lenses and also on creating catchlights in your subject’s eyes. There are a few more interesting tidbits in the newsletter as well. Enjoy!
Have you ever needed more power in your wireless flash setups? I do all the time. In fact, just the other day I was photographing a soccer team’s photos on a sunny day and found myself under-powered with only one SB-900 flash in my umbrella. I was shooting at 1/500 second (i.e. high speed sync) and I needed more power! Scotty?
So, to remedy the situation, I hooked up my new Photoflex Dual Shoe flash mount to my light stand and plunked down an additional SB-800 and viola! More power.
The new Photoflex Dual Flash mount is designed to be used with two flashes mounted side by side on the front of the t-bracket. If you use it with Pocket Wizards (or some other type of flash trigger), then then extra two cold shoes are for mounting the triggers while the front two are for mounting the strobes. If you are using your flashes in a wireless flash mode like the Nikon CLS or Canon wireless system, then the assembly will actually hold up to three flashes in an umbrella setup.
The kit includes a heavy duty metal swivel stand mount, an upper and lower umbrella mount and a tough T-shape adapter for the flashes. This T-adapter ships with a total of four cold shoes for mounting the strobes, Pocket Wizards, etc. The swivel mount will attach to any existing light stand out there, so you don’t necessarily have to have a Photoflex light stand to make it work. I mounted it on my Bogen stands and it worked just fine.
I found using the setup in the field was pretty simple and straight forward. I mounted my Nikon wireless flashes on the cold shoes, pointed them into the umbrella and started taking pictures in less than 5 minutes. That’s what I like. Simple design. Fast execution.
All the knobs and control levers are sized for easy access. The knobs are knurled and easy to turn. They also cinch down nice and tight, so you don’t have to worry about things randomly falling off of the rig.
Photoflex has also created an easy way for the Dual Flash Mount to fit into a soft box using a speed ring. This allows much more flexibility with your existing Photoflex products such as their Octodomes, soft boxes and light strips. I’ll be testing this piece of equipment out in the next week.
You can buy the Dual Show Flash Mounting Hardware at http://www.photoflex.com. They have a sale price on right now for a super blowout deal of $59.95 during October. Their regular MSRP is $159, so this is a steal.