Photo Of The Week – Jen

Photo Of The Week – Jen

A couple of years ago I got the opportunity shoot in a local cinema’s luxury screening room. As testament to my recent post about when working for free works I shot some images of the cinema foyer while it was bustling for the management and in return my “payment” was a days access when it was quiet. No money, but a no brainier!

On to the image.

Jen at the cinema

Quite a simple lighting setup here, just 2 Elinchom Quadra heads with standard reflectors and 30 degree grids. One firing directly at Jen, the other at the seats further down along the row.

exitLooking at the EXIF data, you can see I was at ISO320 and down to 1/50th for my shutter speed the let some ambient light in to the shadows. My aperture was at f8 for no reason other than that’s what power my lights were set at from the last set up and we didn’t have long before the next film showing!

This shot was taken back in 2011 and (fortunately!) I’ve learnt a lot since then. I didn’t notice at the time, but now when I look at this image all I can see is the wooden table from the seat behind sticking out of Jen’s head.

Close Up

It would have been so easy to correct in camera. I could have ducked slightly to hide it behind the seat next to Jen, I could have moved to the right slightly to hide it behind her head or I could have even angled my lights down to keep the next row in darkness.

Annoying, but lesson learnt!

Quadra ECO Ring Flash – First Impressions

Quadra ECO Ring Flash – First Impressions

Focus On Imaging is the biggest photography trade show in the UK – think of it as our version of Photokina or Photo Plus. While it’s not as large, you still get a few product launches there and this year I was particularly interested in The Flash Centre‘s launch of the ECO Ring Flash for the Elinchrom Ranger Quadra system. If you have followed my blog for a while, you’ll know I’m a big fan of the Quadra pack and head system and I’ve been hankering after a ring flash for quite some time.

I’d looked at the Orbis and Rayflash gadgets that attach to a standard hotshoe flash and bounce the light around a series of light pipes but wasn’t impressed. They seemed a little fragile, are expensive enough to not be an impulse purchase and they eat up a load of power (around 2 stops in fact).

Let’s be generous and say a 580EXII is kicking out about 100w/s at full power. Drop that by 2 stops and you are down to 25w/s – that’s the minimum a Quadra pack can put out on it’s A channel. With such little power, you’re not going to get the prominent halo shadow that’s the signature of a ring flash and working outdoors you will need to work very close to get any effect at all.

The Quadra ECO ring flash, kicking out 400w/s at a few metres away, is a total different proposition. Plenty of power to create that halo shadow and enough to tame bright sunlight at a reasonable working distance. The Fast Show is coming up and I plan on seeing how it copes in daylight then, so stay tuned.

So, first impressions then?

It’s a solidly built bit of kit! The brackets that hold the flash to the camera attach to the tripod mount and are very adjustable to allow for a range of cameras and lenses. There also a tripod mount on the base.

The flash itself is all metal, except for the clear acrylic cover on the front to protect the flash tube. There is also a clip on translucent cover to diffuse the light slightly and hold any gels to may want to add.

The power lead that connects you to the pack is 2m (slightly shorter than the 2.5m leads that come with the Quadra A and S heads) so you can just sling the pack over your shoulder.

With it mounted to a 5D with battery grip and a 25-105mm lens I had no trouble reaching the zoom ring or shutter buttons and while its by no means small, it is lightweight and doesn’t get in the way. I did find the flash illuminated the specks of dust on the front element of my lens at certain focal lengths but that’s more than likely down to me fitting the ring too close to the body.

What’s that? A sample photo you say? Well, OK then! Thanks to Helen for being my guinea pig… again!

Light Painting A Car

Light Painting A Car

I’m lucky enough to have access to what can loosely be called some studio space (a huge empty room, large enough to get a car in that gives me completely control of the ambient light) so last night I tried a little automotive light painting.

So armed with nothing more than a camera, tripod and an Elinchrom Quadra with the modelling light on although any constant light source would do though.

I’d like to say that was all done in camera but it’s not. There are 3 individual shots that have been composited to make that final shot. Firstly, because of their brightness relative to the Quadra’s LED modelling light, I shot the headlights.

Then it was time to light the car. After a few tests with various softboxes I found the most even coverage came from simply walking around the car with just the Quadra head and 18cm reflector. A 13 second exposure at f/8 gave me time to walk fairly slowly around the car. The first shot below is a lap with the light held fairly low to get light onto the doors and the second was as high as I could reach to bounce some light of the car roof.

For this pass (another 13 second exposure) the light was held higher to thrown light onto the roof of the car.

Once in Photoshop, I layered the 3 images in Lighten mode and did a little burning to darken down the walls in the background. I also added and masked a desaturation layer to remove the slight yellow tinge from the fog lights and remove a colour cast from the wheels and floor. The result:

For a first attempt a light painting a car I am pleased, although looking at the final image, I see a few things I’ll look out for next time.

What The Heck Is “Beauty Dish Mode”?

What The Heck Is “Beauty Dish Mode”?

I’ve had a few questions on Twitter about just what I mean when I say I use my 70cm Elinchrom Deep Octa in “beauty dish mode”, so this quick post is to show what I mean.


This is the way you’d typically use a soft box with both layers of diffusion material in place for maximum softness.

Elinchrom 70cm Deep Octa - Fully Diffused

However you can remove the outer baffle and let the light be a little harder and more specular.

Elinchrom 70cm Deep Octa - Only internal diffuser

But the way I have been using it for portraiture recently is with all the diffusion material removed and the small round reflector inserted about 15cm in front of the flash tube. This stops the majority of the light firing forwards and instead sends it out towards the reflective inside of the Octabox, very like a beauty dish (hence my cunning nickname for it!). The light is still flattering, but it’s punchier and more ‘contrasty’.


Beauty Dish Mode

You’ll find some images created by using the Deep Octa like this in the recent post entitled Death of a Cover Car.

Death of a Cover Car

Death of a Cover Car

Ash Manton’s Type R Civic has been part of the UK modified car scene for several seasons and keeps coming back with a fresh look each year. It’s current stripped out, carbon clad, airbrushed look has just won it the cover feature in Max Power.

As it’s had the Max photo shoot treatment, I wanted to try something different. Enter Georgia Graham, Ash’s girlfriend, showing that hell really does hath no fury like a woman scorned!

The plan here was to go for a dark and moody look so out came the Quadras again to enable me to stop down far enough at my max sync speed to take the daylight – f/9 at 1/200th did the job. One bare, CTO gelled strobe was positioned camera left adding a rim light to both Georgia and the car to separate them from the dark background and a second strobe, in a 70cm Deep Octa in “beauty dish mode”, as the main light.

Enough talk, on to the pictures!