Jonathan Fleming's Blog

A Photography Blog

Posts Tagged ‘strobist

Dolled Up

with 15 comments

Untitled_Panorama2-Edit-2

The wife and I recently met up again with Desirae, a good friend and blogger who specializes in vintage fashion. We spent some time strolling through Golden Gate Park with Suki in tow, chatting it up and shooting some photos.

Since this was a casual shoot, I decided to experiment a little more than usual. I shot most of these as either single frames or stitched bokeh panoramas using one of my favorite lenses, the Nikon 135mm f/2 DC. A single speedlight and a small reflector kept things light and portable while serving as an additional lighting option as the sun kept ducking behind scattered clouds.

Untitled_Panorama4

The other digital in the bag was Fuji’s new X100s. With its built-in neutral density filter and ability to sync with flash at ridiculously high shutter speeds, the camera works wonders with small flash in a bright environment. And those files…goodness. Single SB-910, gelled warm and zoomed to 200mm, firing into a small reflector behind me for these two. Taken at f/2, 1/1000:

DSCF0084-Edit

The gear:
Nikon D800E + Nikkor 135mm f/2 DC
Fuji X100s
Nikon SB-910, Pocketwizard Plus IIIs

Written by Jonathan

May 6, 2013 at 9:59 pm

Making the Sky Purple

with 11 comments


Fuji X100 | 1/240 sec, f/8, ISO 800

Recently I posted a photo of Suki on Flickr that made some wonder, “hey, how’d you get the sky so purple in that shot!?”

Some sort of post-processing trick perhaps? Or maybe the sky really WAS a surreal, deep purple that night? The answer is neither actually. It started with a simple white-balance adjustment in my camera.

Shooting RAW does allow you to make color corrections in post, but depending on your camera, you already have a ton of control over the color of your images while you’re actually shooting. Besides providing the typical white balance presets that can be selected at the camera depending on the situation (daylight, cloudy, shade, tungsten, flourescent etc), many cameras allow you to further customize white balance by shifting it along blue/amber, green/magenta axes. Below is an example of the white balance shift menus from Nikon (left) and Canon (right).


Want your selected white balance to be a bit warmer? Add some amber in this menu. Cooler? Add some blue. Greener or magentaer more magenta? You get the picture.

My Fuji X100 presents the white balance shift menu differently, along the red/cyan, blue/yellow axes.  So, to add amber warmth to a white balance setting in the x100’s menu, you have to add some +Red and -Yellow steps, instead of just simply adding amber like you can in Nikon and Canon DSLRs. Me no like.


See how purple the image at the top of the post appears? I achieved that look by shifting my auto-white balance as magenta as possible, which on my X100 was +9 Red and +9 Blue (or on Canon and Nikon, just shift on the magenta axis…come on, Fuji!!!)

Ok, so now daylight is thrown into magenta, but there’s a problem that comes with doing this. If you take a picture of someone with this white balance trim, they’re also going to come out purple! What to do?


Fuji X100 | 1/1,000 sec, f/2, ISO 200

Take a look at the two images above. It’s actually the same RAW file from my X100, converted in Lightroom 3. The one on the left is the output from my camera with the magenta bias and the one on the right is corrected. How? Simply by moving the hue slider in Lightroom towards green until the colors look more natural.  The green corrects the magenta cast, and vice versa.

So if green corrects magenta and you’re in a magenta-biased white balance, couldn’t you light your subject with a green light source to preserve a more natural skin tone? Yup:


Fuji X100 | 1/1,000 sec, f/4, ISO 200 (sb-900 bare camera left)

Notice that my happy volunteer here is lit with what appears to be much more natural looking color compared to the purple daylight you see behind her. This is the same magenta biased white balance set at the camera that I described above, with a bare strobe on camera left lighting my subject.  But here’s the important part: I stacked two green gels on the strobe to compensate for the magenta cast. It’s like correcting the white balance on JUST my subject. Without the green gels, I’d just be hitting my subject with more magenta light.

So now I have a surreal, magenta background with a color corrected subject. This was the method behind the shot I took of Suki at the dog park:


Fuji X100 | 1/1,000 sec, f/2, ISO 200

I started at sunset with an underexposed background, magenta biased white balance…


Fuji X100 | 1/250 sec, f/2, ISO 200

Add Suki in the mix, light her with the green gelled strobe…


Fuji X100 |  1/500 sec, f/2.8, ISO 200

…Wait for her to give me a better pose…


Fuji X100 | 1/250 sec, f/2.8, ISO 200

…Almost there…


Fuji X100 |  1/500 sec, f/2, ISO 200

Perfect! Now get out there and experiment with your color controls. Don’t forget to break rules while you’re at it!

Also, just an update on Suki’s health. She had a horrible day yesterday with her allergies but is doing much better today, She’s becoming more playful again which is a very good sign. Thanks for all your well wishes for Suki!

Written by Jonathan

June 29, 2011 at 1:19 pm

Fuji X100 – Super High Speed Sync!

with 82 comments

Today I discovered another of my new Fuji X100’s unique powers. Its leaf shutter has the ability to sync with a flash unit at an ambient-crushing 1/1000 of a second. My D700, by comparison, has a maximum sync speed of 1/250th (you can go higher, but it dramatically cuts your speedlight’s effective power).

With a sync speed so high, I can compete with noon day ambient with a single flash gun and use wider apertures for shallower depth of field, something I couldn’t possibly do with my D700 without much more powerful lights. I tested out this really cool feature today, connecting one of my SB-900 flashes to my X100 with a sync cable (above). For the shots below, however, not only was the SB-900 running light through its dome diffuser, but also through a softbox with two more layers of diffusion material. Despite the bright, harsh sunlight (we took these pictures at around high noon) and all that extra diffusion cutting the flash power, I was still getting my exposures the way I wanted them.

Notice the aperture settings below. To give me even more control over the ambient while using as wide an aperture as possible, I activated the X100’s built-in 3-stop neutral density filter:


Fuji X100 – 23mm 1/1,000 sec, f/2.8, ISO 200

Of course, there’s no TTL communication between the SB unit and the camera, so everything here is manually set. I pegged the shutter speed at 1/1000 to give me a wide aperture, and simply adjusted my flash power/distance to taste (flash output was between 1/8 and 1/1 power for these images).


Fuji X100 – 23mm 1/1,000 sec, f/2.8, ISO 200


Fuji X100 – 23mm 1/1,000 sec, f/5.6, ISO 200

Never thought I could saturate a noon-day sky so much at such wide apertures while using a single hotshoe flash (through several layers of diffusion!) to light my subject. The results are pretty surreal. Suki, however, is obviously not amused.


Fuji X100 – 23mm 1/1,000 sec, f/4, ISO 200

Sorry Suki.


Fuji X100 – 1/1,000 sec, f/2.8, ISO 200

Wow, I thought I loved the X100 before I discovered it can sync at such a high shutter speed. Now I’m utterly head over heels for this camera. =)

See more on Flickr!

Written by Jonathan

June 11, 2011 at 8:29 pm

Small Flashes Love Dreary Weather

with 22 comments

The wedding I shot this past weekend was a wild ride. Some unexpected circumstances arose that forced us to cancel our original plans for some on-location formals between the ceremony and reception. With the reception rapidly approaching, and no time to travel anywhere beyond a couple of minutes from the reception hall for some portraits, we scrambled to find a place that would work.

Fortunately, my wonderful wife located a small community park tucked away in a neighborhood a few blocks from the reception hall. We all headed there, not knowing what to expect. Gotta be ready for anything in this business!

As it turns out, the park didn’t look very promising, at least at first. As I entered, I was greeted by some rusted old fences, areas under construction, and a tattered restroom hut. But as I pushed a little further, I found a long stretch of grass with some nice trees far in the distance.  Good spot to hunker down and quickly work through the formals. Moving fast was key. The entire family was there along with the bridal party, and it was cold….and the reception was to start in like 20 minutes. Yikes!

The weather was bad at the park. The late afternoon was foggy, dark, cold, and the lighting was completely flat. Some in the group were concerned about how the scene would impact the pictures.  Indeed, it was easy to look down range at this field and just see a dark, dreary scene. As I pulled my SB units out of my bag, however, I saw an outdoor studio.

Hot shoe flashes thrive in dark, shaded areas.  I was able to shoot the top two images wide open on my 70-200 2.8, and the resulting shutter speed pushed the remote SB-900 flash that I was using as my main light into hi-speed sync. This dramatically cuts the unit’s power, which was already being cut by running the flash through an umbrella. But since I didn’t have a strong amount of ambient to compete with, the strobe didn’t struggle to give me adequate output. Sweet!

Three lights were in play for most of the shots: An on camera SB-900, used as a commander for two remote units and for on-camera fill, set to TTL. The main light is a single SB-900 through a 42″ translucent umbrella, also set to TTL. A third SB-900 is zoomed to 200mm and firing at my subjects from behind for some rim lighting, set to a different CLS group (Nikon speak, sorry if some of these acronyms are not making sense), firing manual at…hmm…I think it was 1/8th power or so. All of this lighting came together to give my final series of images the clarity, punch, and dimension that the scene wasn’t giving me on its own.

It was  all over in a flash (har-har), and it would have been great to work the location even more than we did, but we still came away with some great images for the family…images that I’ll be really busy processing over the next few weeks.

Congratulations to the beautiful newly weds, Michelle and Rodney!

See these images in high-resolution

_____________________________
Nikon D700 | Nikkor AFS 70-200mm f/2.8 VR II
www.jonathanflemingphotography.com