I decided to break out the soft box tonight while playing ball with Mela. I was fiddling around with all sorts of angles this evening, trying to get something a little bit different than I captured in the past with Mela and her ball. I really like how this shot came out. The catch light in Mela’s eye is perfect at making it look alive. My mind likes to predict Mela’s facial expression which is hidden behind the ball. Like the title of the photograph says, “Go on, I Dare Ya”!
Today my fiancee and her nephew made a ginger break house together. Upon coming home and seeing it on the dining room table, I knew it was going to be my subject for today. It was practically in the perfect place too, right in front of the tree. In order to get the star bursting effect on the tree lights, I knew I would need a small aperture and a long shutter speed.
I set the camera up on the tripod and placed an Apollo softbox at camera right. I then set up the white disc reflector on camera left to open up the shadows on the left side of the house. I took a few shots to determine the best flash power settings to light the ginger bread house. I quickly determined that I needed to modify the light from the flash with a CTO (color temperature orange) gel to more closely match the ambient light from the tree. After getting the ginger bread house lit to the way I wanted it to look, I started to slow down my shutter speed little by little until the exposure of the tree was spot on.
In hind sight, I should have corrected the white balance during post processing. It seems that there is an abundance of yellow in the final picture. My guess is that the 7D auto white balance chose a flash setting instead of a tungsten setting. I should have manually set the white balance to match the color of my gelled flash to avoiding having to make an adjustment during post.
Today I wanted to put the new gear to the real test. I decided to add a background and reflector to my gear so that I can use them to take corporate head shots for my company in February. I left myself plenty of lead time to iron out any kinks in the setup or my technique.
I set up the background and paced off eight feet to where I would be standing for the portrait. I placed one of my light stands on the spot to mark it for the time being. I then paced off eight more feed and set up the tripod. I used the light stand place holder as a focusing point. Next, I placed the background light on a small table a foot behind where I would be standing. The Apollo softbox was then placed at camera left and in close. The last piece of the puzzle was setup up the new reflector and stand. Once it was all hooked up and angled properly, the reflector was placed camera right and in close. (I have included a setup shot at the end of the post.)
For the first few frames, I had the circular reflector with its white side exposed to the softbox. The result from this setup was a heavy shadow on the subject’s left side. Mid-shoot, I flipped the reflector over to expose its silver side and reflect more light back into the shadows.
I like the way the final images came out of the camera. I did, however, open up the exposure a bit more in Lightroom during post processing. The next time I practice these shots, I have to remember to open up the exposure more in camera. What looked great on the back of the camera turned out to be a bit too dark on the computer screen.
I decided to try another self portrait today to see if I could apply some of the lessons I have learned since taking my last one. Two of the things I wanted to exercise were the camera to subject and subject to background distances as well as some posing techniques.
The first thing I did was measure eight feet from the wall in our dining/living room. I put one of my two light stands in this spot. I then paced off eight more feet away from the wall and from the spot I just marked. This is where I placed my camera. I popped the 70-200mm lens on the 7D so that I could compress the background as much as possible and get a really sharp imagine with my best piece of glass.
The next step was to set up the background light. I decided to go with a gridded flash. I wanted the effect of a circle of light on the brown wall in the background. I swapped in a pot holder with the light stand currently in the middle of the room. I lowered this stand as far as it would go and placed the gridded 430EX II strobe on it. I moved it to just behind the pot holder mark and pointed it up at forty-five degrees to the wall. I took my best guess as to where it needed to be aimed.
At this point, I took a couple of test shots with just the background light. I knew I wanted my aperture at f/4.0 and my ISO at 100, so I locked those in right away. I do not remember why I chose a shutter speed of 1/125 sec. Usually I shoot this type of shot at 1/250 to eliminate as much, if not all, of the ambient light as possible. The setting that I cared most about during these few test shots was the background flash power. Thanks to the 7D, I was able to adjust this setting very quickly in the flash menu on the camera.
Next, I set up the Apollo twenty-eight inch soft box on camera left. I brought it as close to my marked spot as possible without letting it get into the frame. I started with the soft box pointing at my mark and at a forty-five degree angle relative to the camera. However, as I got into the shooting, I slowly changed this angle to more of a thirty-five or forty degree angle and feathered the light across my face.
The posing technique that I was playing with was where to have the subject stare while taking the pictures. In this image, I was staring at the Canon emblem right above the lens of the camera. This method is said to open up the subject’s eyes for a more compelling portrait.