So 2015 huh? Happy New Year and all that.
In the spirit of resolutions I'm going to be resolute in posting a new blog each week. Hopefully a skilfully and beautifully shot photo-essay or portrait session that portrays the entire depth of human emotions succinctly. Either that or some random how-I-shot-it stuff like this.
A very quite New Years Eve saw me in Scotland for the bells, with an eclectic mix of folk and I immediately suggested a group photo. Quickly set-up two speedlites, one on each side at 45°, bare. Then convinced the only guy wearing a kilt to come outside and help me get some test shots. He set-up a fire. That's the first test shot above. 35mm. f/2.8. 1/60th sec. ISO 200. Flash at TTL (Radio triggers)
Shooting on TTL is so easy it's possibly cheating. But when you're trying to convince a group of celebratory Scots to stop partying and pose for a photo, outside in the Scottish winter at midnight, speed is of the essence.
So I knew I had the flash pretty much locked-in and looking good, a little harsh but I had no modifiers with me and this isn't going to be on the cover of Vogue (sorry Hamish). I wanted to lower the shutter speed (shutter-speed for ambient, aperture for strobes) and try to get some leaping flames from the fire to add some excitement to the photo so dropped it to 1/4 of a second.
I forgot that I'm terrible at hand-holding for 'long' exposures, so the first couple shots looked like the shaky fire you'd expect. Then I decided to play with that movement on purpose. Cool.
Above: 35mm. f/2.8. 1/4 sec. ISO 200.
Sweet, things are looking good. I added a third light for the shot above, back behind Hamish to give a little separation from that blackness that is the Scottish winter. Lowered the shutter even more to start adding more deliberate movement to the camera. Closed down the aperture a little to make sure everything was in focus and control some of the flash highlights.
Above: 35mm. f/4. 1.3 secs. ISO 200.
Time to add some more drunken folk to the mix:
Above: 35mm. f/4. 1.3 secs. ISO 200
So if you're wondering how all this is done. It's essentially light-painting done by moving the camera instead of the lights/fire. The long shutter speed means that I can whirl the camera around and the fire-trail will show up, nothing else is blurry or showing trails because the flash is bright enough and fast enough (about 10,000th of a second I think) to freeze them, or burn them into the film so to speak. Which is just as well because asking people to hold still on Hogmanay isn't particularly easy.
One more for good measure, let's get a little more complicated:
This kind of thing is fun to do because it makes people more willing to have their photo taken, showing people the screen on the back of the camera is always a blast.
More to come soon, and more regularly. I have a series of portraits in the works as well as a lot more aerial stuff.