Friday, March 28, 2014

Three Point Lighting

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 I wrote a guest blog for Dan Hostettler's Studio Prague Blog+ about Three Point Lighting. Heck. I even put together some lighting diagrams for it and that's something I almost never do for my own blog! It's my small way of maintaining and improving good foreign relations.

I touched on 3-Point or Triangular lighting in a recent blog update about my "go-to" glamour lighting setup here, on the Pretty Girl Shooter blog. For my friend Dan, I went into it in more depth. Again, foreign relations and that stuff.

If you have a few moments and would like to learn more about 3-Point lighting,  >CLICK HERE<  and, through the magic of the internet, you'll be instantly transported to the Czech Republic where you can read the blog post. I wrote it in English because I definitely don't speak or write Czech or whatever language they communicate with in that far off place.  Leastwise, it's far off from where I'm at in Southern California. So, enjoy the diagrams and more. You can also browse around Dan's web site after checking out the article I wrote. He's a terrific photographer specializing in shooting beautiful women wearing little to nothing.

By the way, Dan is a Swiss guy living in Prague so I don't know what all he speaks, although I do know he speaks most excellent English and I assume he's pretty good at speaking Swiss. Wait. Do Swiss people speak Swiss or do they speak German? Now I'm confused. (Like that's something new.)


Besides the diagrams, for your added enjoyment and educational development there's even a behind-the-scenes photo of a very pretty model surrounded by lights to underscore the text. Plus, there's another shot of an equally pretty model in all her naked beauty snapped with 3-Point lighting because I'm a sharing, caring, 3-Point lighting, kind of guy that way.

The photo at the top -- one that features 15 pretty young women who would soon all be naked, as well as two dwarves little people -- has nothing to do with 3-Point lighting. Don't ask why there are pool-side little people in the photo. I was sworn to secrecy. I'll only say it turned into a pretty wild pool party and those two little guys were exceptionally cool guys, both of them professional actors. It's a good example of one of those days when I really and truly love my job as a pretty girl shooter.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Shooting with an HMI

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Every once in a while I get to play around with less common lighting instruments, leastwise less common to still photography. Shooting with an HMI is one such example.

For those unfamiliar with HMI instruments, the letters stand for Hydrargyrum Medium-arc Iodide. That explains everything, right?

Just kidding.

An HMI lamp uses mercury vapor mixed with metal halides in a quartz-glass envelope with two tungsten electrodes of medium arc separation. Still not sure what an HMI actually is? Yeah. I wouldn't be either. Especially, if I'd never worked with HMIs. (Which I have, many times, but mostly for video production.)

In a nutshell, an HMI is an arc light, one that requires a ballast to ignite it and keep it lit. (HMIs need  extra voltage to operate, hence the ballast.) HMIs throw bright, intense, powerful light with the color temperature of sunlight. (About 6000K.)  HMIs are often used for daylight film and video production since the light they produce successfully competes with daylight in terms of brightness and color temp.

Most HMI instruments come with a selection of lenses to mount in front of their lamps, you know, like a Fresnel lens as an example. Often, the lenses are used to control the spread of the light. Besides their use in daylight, HMIs are also used for interior lighting along with other, more common, continuous lighting instruments like tungsten lamps. When they are mixed in with tungsten, they often need to be converted to a much lower color temp via a filter placed in front of the lamp. (Unless, of course, daylight color temp is what you want, even in an interior location.) HMIs would likely be used more often by photographers if they weren't so expensive. A good HMI can cost quite a few thousands of dollars.

The photo at the top is one I captured with an HMI. There was also plenty of sunshine coming through the large bank of windows. (Which the HMI had no problem being equal to or brighter than.) I also employed a couple of reflectors to exploit the natural light.  The image below features the HMI as well as the reflectors. While many of you may never work with an HMI, and it's certainly true that, for my photography, I do so only rarely, I still think it's always good to learn about other ways to light even if the gear likely won't end up part of our production work-flows.

FYI: If the reflector to the right of the model is one you're unfamiliar with, in gaffer parlance it's called a "shiny board." It's an efficient reflector (in terms of the amount and intensity of light it reflects) producing fairly hard specular light.

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Here's another from the set. It's SOOC (Straight Out of the Camera) except for resizing and just a touch of sharpening. Nothing else done to it in post. The HMI is lighting her face and upper torso. The shiny board is illuminating her lower stomach area and legs. Sunlight is providing highlights on her hair, left side, as well as the left side of her body.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Go-To Lighting Setups

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Do you have  a go-to lighting setup? One you employ more than others? I sure do. I have other lighting setups I sometimes employ, you know, other than my main, go-to, setup. But my go-to set-up is the one. The lighting set-up that trumps the other lighting set-ups I sometimes use in terms of frequency of use. Leastwise, when I'm shooting glam/tease. And it trumps all the others combined.

What set-up I use often depends on the environment I'm shooting in. (And other factors probably not worth mentioning.) More often than not, though, I'm going to go with my "go-to" for most of what I shoot.  It's quick to set up and I don't have to think much about it. I just set it up and shoot. That way, my focus and attention is mostly where it should be: on the model, from the beginning to the end of the shoot.

That probably sounds rather boring, shooting in the same ways, lighting-wise, most of the time. And it kind of is boring from that perspective. But the thing is, my clients expect consistency in my work. In fact, they rely on it. In other words, they rely on me to produce that consistency every time they hire me. That's why I generally rely on the same  (boring) consistently-used lighting setup... because I generally prefer being hired and paid... consistently.

Much of my work, the glam/tease/nude work I produce for clients, has me shooting models against a seamless.  For that stuff, my go-to setup is definitely "go-to."  Time is often a factor, lack of it that is, so I go to my go-to setup not only because it represents my general, consistent, overall lighting style, but also because I can get set up with my go-to set-up quite quickly, with little thought, and then be shooting, also rather quickly, when I employ it... my main go-to-lighting setup that is.

There's a behind-the-scenes image of my go-to lighting setup posted below, albeit it's not set up in front of a seamless background. It's in a grungy, dirty, nasty, impound garage we were shooting in.

As you can see, my go-to lighting setup involves three lights. It's sort of like the traditional 3-Point (or triangular) lighting setup that's been around since, well, since lighting set-ups have been around. The old-school, 3-Point, triangular lighting set-up is comprised of a main or key light, a fill light, and a back light. My go-to, modified, 3-point, triangular lighting setup features a main or key light, just like the traditional 3-point lighting set-up relies on, but the two other lights aren't a fill and a back light. Instead, they're both set as back lights. (Plus, I often set a reflector to fill-in for the missing fill light.)

By the way, I usually dial-up my two back lights to about 1/3 of a stop brighter than my main. Sometimes, I might crank them up to a half-stop brighter. It depends on the brightness of the background and/or whether I want the highlights a bit more tame or very obvious. Occasionally, I let them blow out. But that's a style thing. My main light for this image is a Photoflex 5' Octo. The two back lights are shoot-through umbrellas. They're either 2' or 30" in diameter. Images were snapped with a Canon 85mm f/1.8 prime on a classic Canon 5D. (ISO 100, f/7.1, 125th.)  Also, I'm a PocketWizard guy. That's how I trigger my lights.

As you can see, the image at the top is one from the set I snapped in that dirty garage (seen below) with my go-to, 3-Point, triangular lighting set-up. Personally, I think it works just peachy.

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Saturday, March 08, 2014

No Rest for the Weary

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Call me crazy. Call me determined. Call me whatever you want. I have rhino skin.  (Please note: I said "rhino" and not "RINO."  I'm not that second thing in name only or in any other way.)

 Politics aside -- after all, politics have nothing to do with this blog, although I am going to be photographing  campaign photos for a woman running for the California State Legislature in the not too distant future -- my skin is thick, very thick. It took quite a few years to grow and cultivate it to its present state of thickosity.  Heck. If it gets any thicker, I might have to become a Marvel Avenger. Bullets, arrows, and weaponized insults will bounce off me... metaphorically speaking, of course.

Anyway, politics, thick skin, and metaphors aside, I'm not going to rest on the recent release of my newest ebook, Location Flash. It's doing quite well, by the way, sales-wise. It's even spawned additional sales of my previous ebook, Flash-Free Portrait Photography, that I released last July.  Gotta love when that happens.  I've already received some pretty good feedback from a number of buyers/readers of the new book. My ego just loves those little cyber-strokes!

A woman in Slovakia (Yes, Slovakia) emailed me to say how much she likes the ebook and to ask me a question: a clarification of something on the technical side that's in my latest book. I kind of chuckled. Not because of her kind words about the book or the question she asked. (She writes in English perfectly, I might add. How many English speakers could you say the same about for writing in Slovak or whatever they speak there?) I chuckled because I suddenly realized I'm a bookseller in Slovakia! Heck, I'm not sure I could pin-point Slovakia on a world map.  Yet, I'm a bookseller in that far off land! Cool, no?

Okay... Politics, my thick skin, metaphors, and Slovakian bookselling aside -- I never thought I'd write a sentence with those words in it -- I'm not resting on the release of my latest ebook just two days ago. I've already begun working on the next book and I hope to complete it within a few months or so. What's my next ebook? (Drum roll, please!) A follow up  to my very first ebook released three-and-a-half years ago: Guerrilla Glamour.   (You probably already figured that out because of the graphic at the top, but I like trying to build tension in my blog writing, whether I'm successful at doing so or not.) Three-and-a-half years! Damn! Time flies when you're authoring ebooks.

I've had a number of people over the past three years ask why I don't put together a follow-up to Guerrilla Glamour? Well, no reason other than I had other stuff to write. It's like a calling, you know?

I even came up with a really clever, catchy, title for this next one.  I'm going with  "Guerrilla Glamour 2."  (As you also already guessed, also from the graphic up top.) Wow! Cleverness, catchy-ness, and tension building! How's that for blogging skills?

Guerrilla Glamour 2 will build on what's in Guerrilla Glamour. As the sub-title says, it's all about kicking up your glamour photography a notch or two.  Who knows? Maybe more than one or two notches? Maybe three... or four!  Perhaps it will take people's photography to that "next level" less clever bloggers and ebook promoters like to say... again, and again, and again.  Anyway, I've already begun writing it. I have a whole two pages done!  And, as you can plainly see, I've also invested the time to slap together a temporary book cover for it. All that in two days!  Plus, playing the role of bean-counter watching my sales figures! Yeah. I can multi-task!

I'm on a roll, people. A freakin' roll!

The pretty girl featured on my interim GG2 cover is the beautiful and sensuous Penthouse Pet of the Month and Hustler cover girl, Celeste Star, who, I might add, is a heck of a lot of fun to work with!

Thursday, March 06, 2014

New "Location Flash" eBook Released!

I'm super excited to announce the official release of my newest eBook, "Location Flash: How to Shoot Awesome Portraits Combining Natural and Artificial Light."

I've put a lot of work into this book. It covers it all, flash-added-daylight-portrait-shooting-wise. Well, nearly all. Covering it all, that is ALL all, would take multiple volumes. But I think I've got the really important stuff covered.

If you're interested in elevating your skills when adding flash to your daylight portraits, and no matter what kinds of portraits you're shooting -- weddings and events, babies, kids, seniors, families, entertainers, models, business and professional people -- it's all the same when it comes to the lighting skills you need to possess and have comfortably at your disposal. 

To learn more about how this new eBook and how it will help you improve your flash-added daylight portraiture, please  CLICK HERE.

By the way, that's not the official cover for the book up top. It's an alternate cover. But since the actual cover for the book features a child, I didn't think it appropriate to post it on a glamour photography blog.  I was considering using the cover (above) as *the* cover for a while though. But like most things, things change.