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Amber vs The Bulb

Amber vs The Bulb

In a break from my normal location shooting, I spent a little time at Saracen House studio nera Milton Keynes last weekend. My subject was the very talented Amber Tutton and while it’s virtually impossible to take bad photo of her, I wanted a concept to make me images stand out. So, being known as a bit of lighting guy, I decided to take along a suitable prop: an over-sized, squirrel cage light bulb.

Most images were taken with a gridded beauty dish as key light, flying high halfway between me and Amber with a small softbox at ground level, 2 stops lower, for a little upward fill and to seperate her dark jeans form the black seamless.

While this worked well, as Joe McNally says “Don’t get satisfied with one view, and one good-looking frame! Shoot and move, shoot and move.” Changing your angle an composition is one thing but don’t forget you can change your lighting too. In this case, I shut off the strobes and modelling light, opened up my aperture and cranked my ISO.

Thanks to Andrew at Saracen House for making me feel so welcome, Amber for being awesome and Darren for the introduction.

And for the lighting and photo geeks, a little BTS video:

Shooting Sarah at Silvertone

Shooting Sarah at Silvertone

When you are at the World famous Silverstone circuit and you’ve got access to the pit lane, it’s just plain rude not to use it as a location. Especially when you’ve got the lovely Sarah and her equally lovely VW Polo as your subject. 

The plan here was twofold – firstly I wanted to get some good shots in the can for Sarah and secondly I wanted to find out just how well my new lighting rig coped in a typical car show situation. Fortunately, it passed with flying colours.

To work in this situation, a lighting rig, for me at least, needs to be;


Light enough to carry: No matter how close you can park, it’s always a distance to anywhere you would want to shoot. I’ve got both heads, both packs and all cabling in a Crumpler Company Gigolo 9500 bag. With my light stands, a few modifiers, and some grip equipment in a fishing rod bag, I am able to move the whole lot short distances on my own. Although this time I had help from Chris Wynne and Darren Skidmore.


Quick to set up: You’ve got to move quickly at a car show as you’ve likely borrowed the girls from a trade stand or a car from a Show n Shine area so time is limited.  Another box ticked by the Quadras. The heads are small enough for a Manfrotto Nano 001B stand to support with the pack hanging to add stability and the Elinchrom Deep Octa goes up swiftly. Cheaper eBay softboxes take a while to assemble though.


Power: I don’t always get to choose when a shoot is going to happen and areas in shade aren’t always the best looking locations, so I need some punch to overpower and control the ambient light. For this shoot the solution was to use 3 hot shoe flashes for example. At 400w/s the Quadra packs aren’t the most powerful, but still had plenty to tame the light spilling into the pit lane in this case. Although I’ve yet to try, I am certain 2 bare heads could handle full sun.


Enough talk, onto some images! Firstly to underexpose the pit lane enough to be able to add my own light I had to shoot at around f/18 at my max sync speed. I should probably take this opportunity to mention the Elinchrom Skyport Speed controller syncs withe the receivers in the Quadra packs at my max sync speed of 1/200th without trouble.

All I had to do now was bring in the lights. A simple, bare head setup for just the car and the Deep Octa softbox (in beauty dish mode) added to the camera right flash for the shots with Sarah.

And onto the results. Let me know what you think in the comments.