Thursday, April 19, 2007

Workshop at the Ranch

This project was inspired by Dave Black’s Photography whom I admire most for his unselfish effort of educating us with his lighting techniques and experiments on exploring the capabilities of Nikon Speedlights more particularly the SB800. Last April 7, 2007, I had a chance to apply what I’ve read and learned from his site and put into action my SB800 and a friend’s SB600.

Night shooting is the perfect occasion to do some experimentation on strobe lighting and how a different placement of the lights would change the mood of an image. By arranging the speedlights and adjusting their flash intensities, one can see dramatic changes on the image being produced. Just take a shot then look at your LCD display and do the adjustments right in your camera’s menu until you like what you’ve been seeing. That’s how Nikon makes life easier with its advance wireless i-TTL flash system. One is spared from going to each individual speedlights to do the adjustments.

Most of the sample photos posted here were the product of the classic three lights set-up - one speedlight on each side of the subject while a fill-in light from the built-in flash of the D200 was fired to further clean up the shadows.

The photo on the right was taken with the SB800 mounted on a deflector umbrella and was positioned on the right side about 50 degrees from the model. The SB600, fitted with a Stoffen diffuser was placed on the left side and beamed towards the model. The third light source came from the built-in flash of the D200 which was fired to fill-in some light. All of the lights' flash intensity settings were configured in TTL using the Commander Mode of the D200 and were triggered wirelessly in CLS fashion.

The photo on the left was taken on the poolside with Alyssa and Ylla posing together. Due to prevailing low light condition on the poolside, the ISO setting was pushed to ISO 640 to increase sensitivity. Shot in the Manual Mode, the focal length was 75mm, the shutter speed was set to 1/50 sec. and the aperture was f/6.3. The same three lights set-up was employed with the SB800 mounted on a deflector umbrella being placed on the right side while the SB600 with Stoffen diffuser was placed on the left directly beamed at the models. A fill-in flash from the D200 was also deemed necessary.

The photo on the right is a classic example of lighting the background to improve contrast and separation of colors. The placement of the lights being the same, the ISO was set to ISO400 but the flash intensities of both speedlights were increased. At 35mm focal length, the aperture was set at f/5.6 while the shutter speed remains constant at 1/50 sec. Since I was shooting with the VR on, a slower shutter speed can be safely selected to capture more light from the background.

With Alyssa sitting on the step of a steel ladder, a colored beach ball instantly became a good accessory for this shot. The lights placement being the same, the focal length was noticed at 56mm. The two Speedlights were in the Remote mode and are mounted to lightstands. Each of the speedlights are located approximately 12-15 feet away from the subject. With slight variation, the photo below utilized only one SB800 mounted on a deflector umbrella placed on the right side and slightly angled to light up the back of the model. With a fill-in light coming from the D200's built-in flash, a moody image of Ylla was captured sitting in front of colorful playpen as an interesting backdrop.

I would like to thank Lissa Co for being a gracious host and for inviting us over at their farm house in Lipa City, Batangas. Modelling credits goes to Alyssa and Ylla while make-up and styling was provided by Myca. To my other companions in this shoot namely Igor and Airic - thanks guys!!

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