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Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Items for sale

Every now and then I sell some of my gear, it is always in pristine condition. This week I went through my equipment cabinet and pulled a few items. If you see something you would like to purchase send an email to dweckphoto@gmail.com.

Berlbach wood tripod leg set with centering column, reviewed 3/20/13 $249, shipped









Gura Gear Chobe expandable bag. This is a wonderful, versatile bag. click Chobe bag at B&H to see details. Price new is $329.00, I'm selling mine for $249.00





 




Manfrotto Lino Pro V messenger bag. This is a large bag, reviewed here 6/20/13. I've used this for my Leica S2 kit, but with a fourth large lens have outgrown it and need to get a rolling case for the kit. Taken out of the studio about 6 times, this bag is in great shape, almost as new. It's been discontinued but still sells for $299 at Optics Planet, buy mine for $149.00 shipped. 










I also have a Gura Gear Kiboko 22L backpack - no pictures yet, click Kiboko details. Sells at $349, buy mine, lightly used for $229.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Using the Cheetah beauty dish with grid


Assignment: Shoot tight shots of craft coffees in a small shop, in a space way too small for standard studio lighting. The solution? Bring in the Cheetah CL-180 bare bulb flashes with light modifiers. I would estimate that I use rectangular or octa shape soft boxes for 90% of my work. This was a perfect opportunity to use the 12" beauty dish with the clip on grid. It's easy to set up, the beauty dish reflector slides into the Cheetah CL-180 and is secured with the locking knob. The grid then clips onto the lip of the reflector. 

The coffee shop has white walls, stainless steel sinks, marble counters and large picture winters, elements that conspire to throw unwanted spectral highlights onto the set if the light isn't well controlled. Barn doors and gobos are good for blocking light but they do not affect the beam. Grids define the beam of the light which means you can put the light exactly where you want it, ideal in this situation. 

In this first shot I positioned the beauty dish high, behind and slightly to the left of the set. I softened the shadows with a soft box on the second Cheetah light in the opposite position but lower.  


I was also shooting sandwiches in tight to better show the ingredients and the texture of the baguette. Here I brought the beauty dish/grid to a lower position and rotated the position around to the left a bit more. The narrow beam of the grid allows me to come in close and wrap the light around the sandwich. 


Grids come in a variety of forms and with different beam angles from a very narrow 5 to a somewhat softer 50 degrees. The density of the grid also affects its price, sometimes dramatically. 

Blazelle, on Flickr, has a slide show tutorial on making a grid for speed lights (click here to view ). It can probably be modified for larger applications.

Next week - a review of the Profoto B1 lithium battery strobes

Friday, June 20, 2014

The idea is to make it look easy

Image
Mixed lighting sources are always a challenge in architectural assignments. In film days we wrapped light sources in gels and used multiple exposures to get the right color balance. Photoshop allows us to achieve the same result using layering, adjusting color channels and a myriad of other techniques. With interior assignments in particular, post-processing time can equal shooting time.
This photo of a cafe lounge has halogen, LED, florescent and natural light sources, not to mention mirrors to be dealt with. The base of the image is seven layers, each one f-stop apart, the difference between readable shadows and highlights from light sources that can burn out. Highlight sources have to be individually selected and built into layers gradually for a natural look. There are two more layers for lights positioned in the photo to illuminate the dark sofas. There is a layer for the live models. This technique is called compositing. This is an example of a layer where elements from the other images are brought into play. In this case, the sections of the sofas, the women in at the bistro table, properly exposed lighting in the ceiling and some adjustments for windows. This gives you just a hint of the amount of time that goes into a final image.


Input from my assistant Ben and the client made this a successful project. Ben is a specialist in post-processing needed for architecture, so we are able to anticipate what he will need at post when we shoot brackets and supplement the existing light.  We shoot tethered and the three of us review the first set shot on a 13" laptop screen to consider any ideas or issues. This is how I know I am getting the client exactly what is needed as well as a couple of alternate images. The last stage in post addresses items in the shot that the client wants removed like red exit signs, access panels or marks on baseboard. When the final images are delivered the client feels fully vested in the work and that is always good thing.