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AMBER GRAY + LIGHTPIPE = <3 FOREVER

letter

Dear Lightpipe,

I just wanted to take a moment to tell you how this past year, since you came into my life…you’ve changed everything.   Sometimes, when I think back, about what I dealt with before you came around..the bland softboxes,  awkward beadboards, and bulky fluorescents …well it breaks my heart.

You are something special, and I just want you to know.

I don’t know if you remember this….but remember that time when we shot Courtney Love, and she was literally running all over the set, and you were there for me…for us…you were the only one, actually.  I can always depend on you…I’ve put you in some tough spots, and you have always come through…and really “shone” for me.

It reminds me of that time when we were shooting that beauty video for Marie Claire, and the model’s skin was..well..you remember. The smooth even glow you gave her saved me a huge amount in post, to say nothing of the exquisite catchlights you added to her eyes.

You are always so bright and versatile….you amaze me. Even when  you are not the star, and you are just providing “fill” you always manage to make things better.

You are flattering, and lightweight….you are quick to assemble and smartly packaged. I can’t think of one bad thing to say about you.

XOXO

Amber

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Shooting broncolor ads with lighting expert Urs Recher

Urs Recher is the head photographer and consultant at broncolor Switzerland. His experience working with broncolor lights is world renowned. At least three months a year, he travels around the globe giving seminars and workshops, assisting shoots and supporting students, amateurs and professionals in their daily work and questions with light. He published his book “Light Architecture” which explains characteristics of light from a photographic point of view, showcasing 50 lighting set-ups with end results and describing the uniqueness of each broncolor light modifier. Below, Urs deconstructs a recent ad campaign and explains how to achieve certain results using broncolor light shapers.

“I recently shot a broncolor Scoro campaign and poster. The agency’s briefing requested a dynamic perspective and dramatic lighting. Two Scoro power packs, a 3200S and a 1600E were going to be combined in one shot – however, I decided to illuminate and shoot them one by one and mount the two photos in Photoshop.

My medium format camera with a 35mm lens created the powerful perspective. Surprisingly, I did not have to work with different focus layers – the 35 – 90mm lens at f22 was precise enough to make it all in one exposure.

In the following, I will describe my lighting one-by-one:

From seeing early shots of the Scoro power packs, I noticed that the carbon surface requires a hard main light to show the structure nicely. Softer lights would only show a boring grey side panel. I got the effect that I was looking for with the P70 normal reflector and narrow honeycomb grids.

The second light was a Striplite 60 illuminating only the left rubber protector. This light was placed vertically and was equipped with honeycomb grids to make sure that the nice structure I got on the carbon was being displayed accurately.

To finish the light on the front, I added a Picolite with grids in the right low corner to guarantee a good separation of the back rubber on the black velvet-covered table.

On the right side of the pack I was also facing the problem that the black material did not properly separate from the black background. A general fill-in light would have been a bad choice, as it would have destroyed the high contrast lighting and also the nice appearance of the carbon. To avoid this, I worked with an accent light from the back: a Litestick, simply lying on the table behind the problematic area.

To illuminate the front panel I chose a Pulsoflex EM 30 x 110 cm from the back. It was very difficult to find the right position for this light.

Too far: The shadows of the handle become too hard.

Too close: The light falls off too quickly.

To high: All the displays reflect the softbox and become “blind”.

Too low: No light on the front panel.

This is where it ended up:

The left side was still almost completely black. I put a Boxlite 40 next to the Scoro and got a very even light. So I directed the Boxlite upwards to create a gradation. The angle defined the height of the fall off and the distance to the pack, the contrast.

Now my shot looks like this:

Finally I wanted the Scoro to be “on.” So I tuned all my flashes off, but my “model” on. 3 sec at f22 was the correct exposure.

To shoot the smaller Scoro 1600E I simply mirrored the set up and illuminated everything more or less the same way. I only had to make some minor adjustments with the main light from the P70 as the carbon of the Scoro E is darker and shinier.

I spent about 5 hours in the studio (including a coffe break) to shoot the basic raw material (2 packs and 2 illuminated front panels). Another 3 hours (and 2 more coffees) later, the final result was on my screen:

 

via Shooting broncolor ads – with broncolor.

 

Join Urs Recher for his Lighting Seminars tour of the West Coast!

Urs will focus on defining the photographer’s toolbox – the characteristics of several broncolor light shapers, the quality of the light they produce, and how to mold and adapt to different subjects and environments. He will show several applications with examples of broncolor lighting modifiers for both still life and beauty sets, using the new broncolor Move 1200L and Scoro power packs, the fastest mobile and studio power pack, respectively.

This seminar leaves room for exploration and creativity while enhancing your photography skillset.

Bear Images

Friday, April 12th, 10am-4pm,

196 Mississippi Street San Francisco, CA 94107

Tuesday, April 16th, 10am-4pm

Seattle, WA

Register Here

 

Samy’s Camera

Tuesday, April 9th, 7-10 PM

Edge Studio – 1388 S Longwood Ave, Los Angeles, CA

Register Here

Photographer’s Profile: David Perkins

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How did you become a photographer?  Describe your career development?

I truly started getting into photography a couple of years after High School.  In school I was always the “artsy guy” and was pretty well known for my work around the school and town.  But there was no photography in school, and it wasn’t until I started working on cars for a living in Indianapolis that I bought a digital camera and started focusing on photography.  About a year after that I applied for Savannah College of Art and Design for photography.

Once I graduated from SCAD, I immediately moved to NYC to begin an internship with Sarah Silver, a prominent fashion and beauty photographer in the city.  SCAD managed to teach me a lot about my own personal style and how to define myself as a photographer, but it was really my internship with Sarah that launched me into the industry guns blazing.  There are certain things that you simply cannot learn in a school; you must get real world experience, and working with Sarah really taught me a lot and set me up to succeed.David1

How do you learn your techniques?

Most of what I learned about technique and lighting I had originally taught myself.  Before SCAD and before my internship I would read a lot of books and forums about how things were done.  And a lot of it was simply screwing around and playing with what I had.  Any time I ran across something I didn’t understand, or wanted to know how it was done, I looked it up and I figured out how to do it myself.  So my first teacher in photography was Google.

Again, even at SCAD, most of my knowledge about lighting and technique came from asking questions and finding answers.  I taught myself most of it.  The courses were all starting points, of course, but they weren’t able to go in depth about all I wanted to know, so it was always really up to myself to learn it.

Now, when I started my internship, I was introduced to a couple of assistants and photographers who were nothing short of Rain Men of lighting and technique.  They were truly masters of the art, and they were all willing to share with me.  So I took full advantage of it and I asked them questions about everything.  Any time I didn’t understand something I asked them to explain it.  And then I tried to apply it to my own work.  The only way to truly learn something is to apply it.

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I still ask these guys questions all the time.  Just the other night I was out with one of them for a few drinks and found myself in awe as he explained several lighting ideas I had been curious about for some time.  I never stop learning, I never stop asking questions, and I never stop trying to figure out new ways of achieving things.  So to answer the question of how I learn?   I ask questions.

Who are your photo heroes?  Or who has inspired your career?

In the beginning, I think like most (at least male) photographers, I was blown away by the glitzy, glamorous fashion and beauty photos in magazines, with all of the amazingly beautiful models, and I wanted to do that.  I have always loved women (when I was younger I drew and painted them); now I was going to photograph them.  So my early idols were all the big amazing fashion photographers: Craig McDean, Steven Meisel, Steven Klein, David LaChapelle.  All of the big, flashy, sexy stuff.

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As I got more into photography, I stumbled into photographing dancers in college.  Almost overnight my interests changed from fashion and beauty to dance and movement.  Looking back it makes total sense.  My work, be it photographic or otherwise, has always been full of energy and movement.  I took an advertising course once and a friend mentioned that my graphic drawings were just as energetic and moving as my dance photographs.

So, once I found dance, I found dance photographers.  I think my earliest inspiration was Howard Schatz.  His work still blows my mind, but his work with dancers underwater fascinated me.  From there I found Andrew Eccles, who photographs for Alvin Ailey.  Lois Greenfield’s work…  pretty much anyone I could find that had ever shot a dancer I took in.  But I’d say Howard Schatz may have been the single biggest influence in my early dance work.

Nowadays it’s not so much “who” as it is “what.”  I don’t really pay too much attention to what other photographers are doing.   There are a few people I’ve discovered whose work intrigues me: Guy Aroch, Damian Loble, Richard Phibbs’ work is pretty amazing.   Also, Sarah Silver, the woman who I interned with – her work is constantly evolving and pushing limits which in turn always teaches me new things and constantly gives me new ideas for my own work.

But more importantly is the “what.”  I’m constantly seeing things around me that influence ideas for shoots and projects.  Everything from a plume of steam coming from the street to the way light is filling my apartment in the morning.  Things like that influence me much more than other photographers.  And my dancers are always inspiring me as well.

 

Learning from the Pro

www.davidperkinsphotography.com

What are we shooting today?

Today we are going to be doing a shoot involving mixed lighting sources.  I’ll be using both continuous and strobe to achieve a unique light trail effect.  This effect is really an amazing and fun thing to do with dancers.

How did you learn this technique?

This technique is actually a very fundamental manipulation of camera controls and lighting.  Essentially all I am doing is “dragging” my shutter speed (slowing it down) to allow ambient light in, and then using a strobe – the broncolor Scoro S – to freeze movement.  The fun thing about this idea is learning how to control and manipulate all three elements: hot lights, strobe, and camera, to achieve an interesting and unique feel to the imagery.

The real key to making this work is to keep your lights locked in place and move your camera while taking the shot.  This is what makes the HMI, in this instance the Kobold Lite Pipe, to blur and turn in to light trails, while the strobe will freeze any movement and give you a nice, clearly exposed shot. That last part is something I learned while interning with Sarah Silver, who uses this technique to great effect in both fashion and beauty, as well as dance and movement.

To do all of this I used broncolor Kobold 400s.  What I really love about the Kobolds is how small and easy to use they are.  When you are on location, unless you have a large budget, you will usually be using whatever power supply is running through the building.  That typically means your standard home power outlet.  Most continuous lighting sources often require large amounts of power to run.  They are big, heavy, get extremely hot, and need a very specific power supply.  The Kobolds are none of that.  They are super small and lightweight which allowed me to put them in very tight spaces, plug them straight into the wall, and not break into a nasty sweat while sitting underneath them for a few hours on end.  On top of that you can use the standard light modifier attachments on them, which for me is great, because I already own an arsenal of umbrellas, and umbrellas are fantastic for location shooting.  Small, lightweight, portable, and can deliver huge amounts of light.

Put all of that together and you have a very small, very powerful, and extremely versatile set of lights.  Absolutely perfect for location shooting.

www.davidperkinsphotography.com

How do you do it?

The key to pulling this technique off successfully is to make sure that your strobe exposure is correct.  The only thing that controls the exposure of a flash via the camera is your aperture.   Strobe fires so quickly that the shutter speed has no effect on it.  So once you have your proper ƒ stop to get your overall exposure, you can begin to adjust your continuous lighting.www.davidperkinsphotography.com

Slowing down your shutter speed will allow the light to enter the camera.  What you want to do is position your lights on to a certain part of the subject’s body.  It’s important that the body be somewhat reflective.  Bare skin, or something shiny on an outfit works great. (Essentially the “light trails” are the reflection of the light off the object)  You can move and adjust the light how ever you see fit, and even modify the light, shape it, flag it, what ever you want to make it hit the subject the way you want it to.  How and where this light hits the subject will determine what your light trails will look like.

At this point it is simply a matter of adjusting the shutter speed to get the intensity of light blurring you are after.

 

David Perkins Photography

Photographer’s Profile: Catherine Asanov

Photo courtesy of Catherine Asanov

How did you become a photographer? Describe your career development.

Becoming a photographer was part of the becoming an artist process to me. I placed myself in a box, and painted the walls different colors, then opened the box to let the air in.  When I was growing up in Moscow, my mother constantly surrounded me with all forms of art. In high school, I fell in love with the darkroom. My teacher, Mr. Lark not only showed me the technical side, but he challenged my creativity. I started on 8×10 film, then went down to medium format 4×5 and 120. The darkroom was a mystical and magical place for me…. and the whole process of photography captivated me right then and there.

 

Photo courtesy of Catherine Asanov

 

After winning Scholastic’s Art & Writing Award in 2005, a miracle of a scholarship was placed in my hands to Savannah College of Art & Design, where I developed technical skills and found my niche – fashion. I was constantly inspired by Gregory Crewdson, Richard Avedon, and Jerry Uelsmann. I love Crewdson’s drama and lighting, Avedon’s starkneess, and Uelsmann’s surreality.  The merge of my “photo heroes” helped me develop my own vision and style throughout my career. Graduating Valedictorian at SCAD Atlanta in 2009, and sitting next to Andre Leon Talley at graduation really changed my life a bit as well. It made me confident in myself and in the direction I was going with my career. Afterwards, I decided to move to Los Angeles and really kick things off. Now, I am thankful to wake up every day and love that I do. The best part of my career is the happiness I get in making a client happy. I get a kick out of creating something from nothing, and having an end result that is visually intriguing. My dream is to make other dreams come true, and photography has allowed me to accomplish not only my dreams, but my clients’ dreams and goals as well.

 

Learning from the Pro

 

Photo courtesy of Catherine Asanov

 

What are we going to shoot today?

Today we are shooting a fashion editorial at Smashbox Studios for Shoot-LA.

How did you learn how to do what you are about to show us?

Through trial and error, classes, the study of light, and an interest in creating something from nothing.

What tools are you using to make this image?

For lighting, we have 2 broncolor Pulso Heads with modifers: Para 88 & Beauty dish, and 2 Lightbar 120’s with gels. A total of 4 lights.

We are using the Hasselblad H4D-40 with HC 3.5/ 50-110mm, and tethering live to a Mac Pro.

Why did you choose these tools?

I am using the Para 88 as my main light and the beauty dish as a fill light to control the contrast and fall-off of lighting. Both of these modifiers provide light that has great shadows for contrast, while keeping an overall evenness to tonality and highlights. The Lightbars are providing me with nice rim-lights for separation and just that extra nice kick and flare to add some depth to the image.

What features of the equipment that you use make it easier to do your job?

I have fast recycling time with broncolor, spectacular image quality with Hasselblad, and I am able to instantly see results by tethering live.  These aspects are key to me when producing an image because I am able to work more efficiently and see where I need to tweak different elements of the shoot as I go.

Did you use competing products in the past?  What made you change?

Of course. Mainly, client demands make me change my gear. When I need a high-quality product, I use high-quality gear. I couldn’t imagine shooting a campaign nowadays without this setup.

 

Catherine Asanov Photography

Andre Rowe’s Take on: Broncolor P-Soft vs. Broncolor Beauty Dish

Andre Rowe, a professional photographer based out of Miami, Florida, and an avid broncolor user describes the difference between the broncolor P-Soft and the broncolor Beauty Dish:

“So, you’re about to purchase a white Beauty Dish and you pause a moment in debate as to whether to get it or a silver P-Soft. You’ve seen the broncolor P-Soft in the catalogs, and you’ve heard that some people use it; however, most people prefer a Beauty Dish. As a result, you are convinced that the Beauty Dish is the way to go. But is it really?

‘What is the difference between them, and why would I want to get the silver P-Soft instead of a more widely popular white Beauty Dish?’

Well my friend, the answer is simple…get both, and here’s why:

When you think about a modifier that creates a really nice and evenly spread soft light, you tend to be drawn more readily to softboxes and beauty dishes for that purpose. A beauty dish, with or without a front diffuser, will certainly satisfy your needs in the soft light department, of which there is no argument. Beauty dishes are friendly to handle, are easily portable, and can be used in most lighting set-ups with little conflict to the overall lighting concept. Beauty Dishes also live up to their names by producing the most flattering light on people bringing them closer to a state of ‘beauty.’

Photo courtesy of Andre Rowe

So, where does the broncolor P-Soft fit into the picture?

If I may start out this way, I’d enlighten you to the fact that the silver P-Soft is a sort of hybrid silver reflector (like the P70, P65, P45, etc.) crossed with a Beauty Dish. The P-Soft carries the EXACT same benefits as listed above especially when used with the optional diffuser. What makes the P-SOFT so special is that well above it’s similar traits to a Beauty Dish, the P-Soft can actually do more. Just as mentioned, it carries with it some of the traits of a silver reflector offering more textural detail on your subjects, crispness that fails to be harsh, a noticeable distinction in the character of light, and a natural ability to blend with sunlight. Now, the last point is worth discussing a little. I have used my share of Beauty Dishes on location, multiple Beauty Dishes in fact, and I have always come to the same conclusions:

1.) I positively LOVE the light and it’s soft edge and overall appearance on the skin of my subjects , however its look is not terribly “natural” looking in open sunlight.

2.) I have to use, what I believe to be, “far too much” power to get the working shutter speed/ f-stop combinations that I need.

3.) My “working distance” is somewhat compromised in most situations. Working distance is the relationship between the lampheads and the subject along with their placement in the scene. Ideally, one would prefer a wide separation of lights and subject so as to permit wider-angle shots to be possible.

4.) The further away that I place by Beauty Dish, the less effective it remains as a soft light source (in the outdoors).

With the broncolor P-Soft, I am able to address the above issues with greater confidence. The P-Soft has a more defined edge to the light that better mimics sunlight as it falls onto my subject (although not quite 100%). As a result, the transition of light between lamphead and sunlight seem noticeably more “natural.” With the P-Soft, I can use the lamphead further away from my subject, compared to a Beauty Dish, and achieve similar shutter speed/ f-stop combinations utilizing less power. Lastly, The P-Soft offers a wonderful sense of “realism” to a subject that isn’t readily achievable by a way of a Beauty Dish.”

 

Photo courtesy of Andre Rowe

 

More About Andre Rowe:

Andre is a local commercial photographer with over twenty years of experience that he wishes to share with and inspire novice, student and amateur photographers. Appleseed is the creation of Andre Rowe. The goal of Appleseed is to provide a work-ready space for photographers and videographers alike by presenting an environment for education, networking and the cultivation of new ideas and inspiration for other artists in the industry.

Andre is a workshop educator, and frequently gives seminars on photography, including broncolor lighting. For more information about Andre’s broncolor speaking engagements, contact info@bronimaging.com.

Andre Rowe Photography