Small Strobes with Dramatic Results: Nashville Workshop Images

Small Strobes with Big Results: Nashville Workshop Images

I have had some great workshops over the past few weeks. This weekend it is Mexico, then some recharge time. Shooting a lot of workshop images and images for the book in Mexico as we are working on the workshop itself. I have Megan, Jerry and Evan going down for some extra shooters to cover the workshop and finalize the workbook.

Kansas City was awesome, as was Dallas. We are still collecting from those workshops. The Nashville workshop got some great images out to me right away so they are being posted now.

I am very proud of this workshop. It combines visual learning, lecture/demonstrations and hands-on, real world shooting. We are booking as we go on through the summer, so make sure you check back and see where we are going to be for the next few months.

If you are new to the site, you should check out the archive pages for lots and lots of posts on light and photographic lighting. Just hit the “Tag List” on the right side for a great introduction to the works here.

Look what is coming up:
May
Cleveland 30, 31

June
Omaha, Nebraska 6, 7
Missoula, Montana 20, 21
Chicago, Illinois 27, 28

July
El Paso , Texas, 10, 11
Memphis , Tennessee, 18, 19

Let’s look at a few images and deconstruct the lighting, shall we.

First Image is the group shot from the cover:
Small Strobes with Big Results: Nashville Workshop Image: Group Shot
Photo by Todd Hibbs.

This was the last shot of the day on Sunday. We had dealt with rain and wind and cold. But everyone was in great spirits so we took the four models for one more shot in the ‘ruins.’ We decided they looked like a rock band so that was kind of the theme.

An ambient light reading was made and shots were done at that setting to find out what the ambient looked like without any additional work. It was dull and lifeless, so we tried a few underexposed shots to get a feeling of that look ad settled on a 1.5 stop underexposure for the shot to have interesting color and sky.

I ‘sketch’ with the camera. Take a few shots at different exposures to see where the light falls at different exposures. Check out the DOF and the resulting color/contrast of the overall image.

We then positioned the models in a line that would allow us to light them with different speedlights. You can see the staggered line that lets us aim the lights and not cause any shadows to affect the models. We focused one of the strobes to give us a more tightly focused light on the third model from the left. We then added strobes all around the group aimed to not create any shadows. All are positioned with ‘carbon-based light stands’ and they were charged with keeping the lights focused on a straight axis of their noses. This keeps the faces from having shadows on them that would possibly detract from the overall look.

The photographers positioned themselves at a low angle to add interest to the background. Keeping the bricks and the little patch of sky gives the shot a reference point and keeps the lit models more dramatic.

Here’s a little lighting diagram to help you see how the lights played on the subjects.
A lighting diagram shot to show how the lights were placed on Lighting Essentials

Up next is a group shot by Martin Howard… same image, a different take.
Small Strobes with Big Results: Nashville Workshop Image: Group Shot

Martin decided on a more contrasty post, and a closer shot of the group. You can see how the same shot can look so totally different when cropped a little tighter. The darker image shows how beautifully the light plays on the highlights of the subjects jeans and faces.

Stormy Sky and Two Speedlights for a Dramatic portrait
Two on the Corner  by Todd Hibbs. Taken at the Lighting Essentials Workshop in Nashville, TN.
Photo by Todd Hibbs.

This shot was created to show off the incredibly stormy sky. Todd set his strobes to deliver the lit part at two stops brighter than the ambient and background. He knew that the sky would be very dramatically presented if it was dark and moody. We all loved the telephone pole and the lines as well – they gave it a gritty, urban look.

Shooting with strobes overpowering the ambient can sometimes be problematic in where the shadows fall. We used two speedlights here and they were very carefully aimed to not throw discernible shadows where they could be seen and possibly make the shot look “flash lit”.

Diagram for double portrait in Nashville. Lighting Essentials Workshop.

You can see that we kept the strobe to camera left high and aimed at the model on the left. This threw here shadow against the other model. She in turn was lit by a strobe to camera right and slightly off axis. This provided a smooth light on both women and the shadow from the camera right strobe got thrown beyond on the wall we cannot see.

There is a interesting psychological effect when we overpower the sun, and create a shot without it making sense to our intrinsic ideas of what light does. Dramatic lighting like this can be a wonderful way to mix it up a bit… but make sure the end image looks just as you want it to.

I think ‘comping’ or ‘sketching’ with the camera can really open your eyes to how the image is going to look. When Todd shot this initially without strobe we saw immediately that there would be a problem on the wall if a shadow was introduced too high in the image.

One more by Todd… Rees jumps in the middle of the street – and we make a pretty dramatic shot.
Dancer in the street. Rees - jumping in the light of the sun...

Wanting to do an editorial looking shot, we chose the middle of the street for a totally urban and mundane set and the dramatic sky for a background. Placing two speedlights on the same side of her – one on a boom and one hand held (both carbon-based units), we were able to show her leaping against the sun. Todd underexposed the sky with the shutter speed and used the speedlights to provide the correct exposure for Rees.

When shooting dancers it is important to remember to light where they will be and not where they are. Three steps into the leap and then 18″ or so above the spot where her head would be if she were simply standing. The guys with the lights worked very hard to keep the lights on her and she was amazingly precise leaping in the same spot so Todd could stay in the shadow of her head during the leap.

Lighting Diagram for Rees jumping against the sky.

A quick, and clearly precise trigger-finger is necessary. Dancers move really quickly. And DSLR’s have a slight, but noticeable shutter lag. You have to be ready for it when they leap. And – anticipate. It takes a while to get it right, but concentration makes it far less likely that the dancer will have to do it over and over to get it right for you. I don’t use a motor drive on these things… I cannot trust the motor to catch that precise moment.

I thank you for dropping by. Keep Lighting Essentials in your bookmarks and let others know about it.

Thanks for

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About 

I am in love with light.

Also known as Don Giannatti, photography has been the focus of my life for most of my adult years. I have written three books for Amherst Media (available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble: keyword 'don giannatti'. Lighting Essentials is my flagship blog and ezine with a slightly different slant than most photography related blogs. If you are interested in becoming a better photographer, check out www.project52.org. Thanks for visiting.

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