I have seen a few photos around the internet taken in a studio with balloons but when looking at most of them I thought they only out in 50% effort and needed to fill more space with balloons. Last year I was photographing a wedding and one of the guests had a extremely large bunch of balloons, there was a few kids that kept hiding among the balloons and every now and then you would see a hand or a head sticking out. All I could think was..... "I have to do this in the studio". So we blew up 400 black and white balloons and started to shoot.
The lighting concept was to keep the shadows and contrast that separated all the objects in the photo. When you have a lot of items the same colour in your photos you need to control the angel of the lighting so that shadows still fall where you require them. What we didn't think of was how much static was involved, it played havoc with the models hair. Next time ill be a bit more prepared.
We only used 2 different lighting set-ups. But they couldn't have been more different. The first set up was a large octo-box from directly above the models pointing down, using the balloons to reflect light back up for a bit of fill light. The second set-up was 2 strip lights set horizontally on both sides of the studio, and set down at eye level.
And finally the world famous Making of/behind the screens video
Wir wollten 2012 mit etwas anderem beginnen. Dank RetroGames e.V. konnten wir das Studio in eine kleine Spielhalle verwandeln und oben drauf hatten wir noch 3 fantastische Models. Die Idee hinter dem Shooting war eine kontrollierte Beleuchtung mit Lichtformern und Wabenfiltern damit nur die Models und Spielautomaten beleuchtet werden. Zuletzt haben wir eine Nebelmaschine und Farbfilter hinzugefügt. Hier und da haben wir noch kleine Softboxen eingesetzt wenn an manchen Stellen etwas mehr Licht benötigt wurde.
Je später es wurde, um so aufwendiger wurde auch die Beleuchtung und um ehrlich zu sein, ich kann mich nicht mehr an jedes Set-up erinnern. Zumal die Set-ups sich sehr schnell änderten. Aber das Grund-Set-up für die meisten Bilder war ein 400w Bowens Blitz mit einem großen Reflektor und einem Wabenfilter auf einem kleinen Galgenstativ als Haar-Licht, ein 400w Bowens Blitz mit einem roten Farbfilter und eine Nebelmaschine in einem alten Space Invaders Spielautomaten. Das restliche Set-up änderte sich ständig während wir uns im Studio bewegten.
Einen großen Dank an alle Teilnehmer, ganz speziell an Missy Mantis für ihre Beratung.
Und zu guter Letzt noch das weltbekannte "Making of" Video, dass ihr normalerweise nur auf der Collectors Edition DVD zu sehen bekommen würdet
Styling: Missy Mantis - Mantissima
Back when we were choosing a flash system for the studio (way back in the good old days) we sat down and discussed
- What do we want?
- What do we need?
- How much can we afford?
- What experiences have we had with different equipment in different studios?
- What light modifiers are available and what do we want to use?
Between us we had used a few different rental studio with a variety of different brands so we all had a good idea of what direction we wanted to go. It was quickly clear that none of us wanted some cheap "No Name" or "made in China" flashes due to quality control and white balance issues. It was also clear that most of the "No Name" or "made in China" stuff was manufactured with a Bowens compatible bayonet (in fact we already had a lot of light formers with the Bowens bayonet). Although "Alien Bees" started off hight on the list the were soon dropped due to availability, power issues and availability of light modifiers (at the time in the EU). It was soon a clear what brand we would chose, there were only a few real quality manufacturers that made it through the selection. But only one offered real quality at an acceptable price.
Bowen 400/400 twin-head starter flash kit
The Bowens Gemini 400/400 twin-head starter flash kit is made to the same high standard as Bowens' professional equipment. It offers robust build quality, simple easy-to-use design and reliably consistent results. It can be the foundation of a growing studio system, while its portability and the versatility of optional battery power make it a good choice for outdoor location shooting. For your money you get two compact but powerful Gemini 400 flash heads, two aluminium 120-degree reflectors with umbrella mounts, two sturdy metal stands, two mains leads, a camera sync cable and two 90cm silver/white umbrellas with removable covers that can be used as either reflectors or diffusers. The kit comes in a large black holdall bag, and all included weighs approximately 12.5Kgs
We ordered 2 Bowens Gemini 400/400 twin-head starter kit giving us 4 x 400ws as a starting point. This way we could add larger and or smaller Ws flashes in the future if needed. In the last 12 month these flashes have severed our needs fantastic. The performance has not been compromised either with this petite power-house offering impressive flash-durations and recycle times. And precise light control over 5 stops of power using a single simple stepless dial which also controls the 250W proportional modelling lamp. Or you can simply press a switch for the modelling lamp and use it 100% or off . No complicated digital menu systems - 'simplicity' is the keyword here, the Gemini really is a plug-and-go system, that can suit the needs of every user from a first time studio user through to pro work.
The main problems with "No Name" or "made in China" studio flashes that I have seen so far is 2 fold.
- The Quality control leaves a lot to be desired.They pump out as many flashes as thy can as quick as they can and hope people won't return them.
- Irregular white balance. If your flashes have different colour temperatures or a large difference in the colour temperature you may end up with odd looking images or spending a long time in post production.
The Gemini range offers consistency, reliability and quality to ensure stunning results in any environment. As an optional extra there is a battery pack available that allows you to use the Gemini flash heads as a mobile unit. We dont have one yet but who knows what will happen in the future . We recently added one 200w Gemini flash head to the collection. This add more control over our lighting set-ups and depth of field in the studio, I am hoping we can add one more in the near future.
|Gemini 200||Gemini 400|
|Max Power (Ws||200Ws||400Ws|
|Guide Number (m/100 ISO)||54||76|
|Flash Duration (t=0.5)||0.7 Seks||1.2 Seks|
|Recycle Time (100%)||1/1200 Sek||1/1000 Sek|
|DialPowerRange||5 stops, 6Ws - 200Ws||5 stops, 12Ws - 400Ws|
|Modelling Control||Proportional with Power||Proportional with Power|
|Modelling Modes||Full, Off, Proportional||Full, Off, Proportional|
|Colour Temperature (+/- 300°K)||5600K||5600K|
|Voltage Stabilisation||bis 1%||to 1%|
|Flash Inhibit Circuit||Yes||Yes|
|Sync Voltage||5V DC||5V DC|
|Ready Indication||Ready Beep, Ready LED||Ready Beep, Ready LED|
|Operating Voltage||190-250V 50Hz||190-250V 50Hz|
|Built in Slave Cell||Yes||Yes|
|Switchable Slave Cell||Yes||Yes|
|EM Noise Suppression||Yes||Yes|
- Simple to use intuitive controls
- Five stops of power control
- Lightweight & compact
- Travelpak Battery compatible
- Auto Power-save mode
- Robust Metal Construction
- Proportional modelling control
- Recessed switches & sockets
- Huge range of Bowens and 3rd party accessories
- Fast Flash-Durations
- DSLR friendly Low Sync Voltage
A long time ago when I (Scott) first started to take photos I was convinced it was the camera that could make me a better photographer. As my passion for photography grew, I immersed myself in countless photographic magazines and books. I studied the work from photographers like William Albert Allard, Mary Ellen Mark, and Gordon Parks, looking for information for insight into what camera gear they had used. My mistake was in believing that I have to use the same equipment at what they had if I wanted to take great photos. But even with all that great gear I found myself always coming back to the same camera and lens setup (An old Minolta SLR with a handful of lenses).... Why? Because it was a set up the worked for me. Many years latter Chase Jarvis coined the phrase "the best camera is the one you have with you". So basically it isn't that important what camera you use, what is important is how you use it. That said lenses do play a very important role but that is a topic for another day.
If you are using a modern camera, when you look through the view finder and press the shutter release button half way down your camera will make an exposure reading (as well as start to focus). In short it will look how much light is there available, this is called the EV (exposure value) and will be the basis for your photo depending on how you set your camera. The camera I use the most has 3 basic metering modes, naturally not every one uses the same Cameras as what I have so please refer to your camera hand book.
Your camera is only measuring the light that it can see, and may be fooled into measuring incorrectly in a variety of different lighting situations. The EV that the camera measures is also only a guideline based on the decisions made my an engineer in a lab somewhere, and my not be the correct value for the image you want to make.
The 3 aspects (settings) of your exposure are all in your control and changing any one will not only have effect the final image but also one or both of the other two settings e.g. I like to shoot with my cameras in A mode. I set the f/ (aperture) to the d.o.f that I want and I chose the ISO to match the lighting conditions (dependant on approximately what speed I want to shoot at) . If I adjust my f/ and leave the ISO where it was my camera will automatically compensate by adjusting the shutter speed. Remember you are taking the photo not the camera.
There are two great tools built into your camera to help you check and adjust your EV, the Histogram and the EV compensation both of which if used correctly will save you a lot of time latter when you are correcting/editing your images. Using the histogram can be overwhelming at first but is something that every photographer should understand to get the best results from their camera (and we will cover it at a later date)
Portrait photography is the primary roll of a studio photographer. The aim is to show the personality and the mood of the subject. There are so many different tricks, tips and ideas out there I (Scott) thought we could start gathering a few these ideas together.
This blog thread has an idea behind it that will need your input. It will hopefully become a long ongoing thread based of your ideas and feedback. Simply post your suggestion in the comments below and when we have enough new portrait tips we will post them in the next part of this blog thread.
1. Customize your view: Most portraits are taken with the camera at approximately eye level of the subject. This makes sense, but completely changing the angle that you shoot from can give your portrait a real WOW factor. And convey a totally different message. Get crazy with the pose and positioning. Not only with the poses, but also with your own positioning shoot from different angles to achieve different impacts.
2. Eye Contact: The direction of your subject’s eyes will have a huge impact an image. Most portraits have the subject looking down the lens, this can create a real connection between a subject and the person viewing your image. But there are a couple of other things to try:
Lookingout of the frame: Have your subject focus their attention on something unseen and outside the photo. This can create a feeling of candidness and also create a little intrigue and interest as the viewer of the shot wonders what they are looking at. This intrigue is particularly drawn about when the subject is showing some kind of emotion (e.g “what are they laughing at?” or “why are they surprised?”). But don’t forget that when you have a subject looking out of frame that you can also draw the eye of the viewer to the edge of the image, taking them away from the point of interest.
Looking within the frame: Alternatively you can have your subject looking at someone (or something) within the frame e.g. Mother looking at her new baby, a man looking at his watch, a child looking toy etc…. When you give your subject something to look at that is inside the frame you create a second point of interest and a relationship develops between it and your primary subject. It also helps create ’story’ within the image.
3. Break the Rules: One of the first things you read about when you start to take photos is the “Rule of thirds”. It’s not a real hard and fast rule but more a guideline, which is there to be broken. Place your subject(s) on the edge(s) or in the middle or in the corner.
4. Lighting: There are a number of ways you can use the light in your portraits. Don’t be afraid to experiment a bit. Use more light, less light, different light formers, backlighting, whatever works for you after all it’s your photo.
5. Move the person out of their comfort zone Make them do something fun and freaky, like the jump. These shots would be fantastic and unusual, unique. This wont work for everyone but it can be a lot of fun. And you will need to get your timing right.
6. Image Manipulation (AKA "Shopped"): If you’re good with post-processing and manipulations, use it to your advantage. Use your imagination, try some new Photoshop techniques. Even the most basic adjustments like exposure correction and cropping can totally change your image.
7. Texture: If texture is a big part of your subject, make it stand out and make it obvious e.g the wrinkles on an elderly persons face, or the long red hair.
8. Exposure: Blowing out the highlights can make a nice soft portrait with kind of a light airy feeling. Another advantage of “high-key” photos is that the smaller details and defects are blown away, making the image look much smoother. Or a dominantly dark or low-key image will naturally draw your eyes to the lighter parts. These tend to have a grittier and harder look to them than the high-key images.
9. Props: Adding a prop of some kind into your shots and you create another point of interest that can enhance your shot. But it should also be appropriate for the photo you want to take e.g. give a singer a microphone.
10. Culture: Capture the local culture, what’s mundane to you is exotic to us. Culture is everywhere, even in your own town. Just image you’re visiting from a different country, what things would then seem more interesting to you?