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Archive for March, 2009

Fashion and Lingerie

Posted in gear, shoots on March 22nd, 2009 by gregr

Here’s a shot from a fashion-lingerie shoot a few weeks ago:


Shot with natural light coming in the window.

This was also the first actual shoot I’ve done with the Nikon D3x. As compared with the D3 (a fine camera in its own right), the images I’m getting from this camera are simply stunning; the detail is amazing (24.5MP), and the contrast and color qualities, while hard to describe, are by far the best of any Nikon camera I’ve used. The files (at base ISO) are amazingly noise-free – you really have to see them to believe it. And all that combined with the handling characteristics of the D3, makes for an excellent combination for fashion shooting either in studio or on location…much more convenient, IMHO, than medium format rigs, if the 75MB (8 bit) or 150MB (16 bit) files are sufficient.

Model Melissa, makeup by Heathyrre.

Elinchrom RX and BX strobes

Posted in gear, lighting, products, strobe on March 7th, 2009 by gregr

Ages ago, I posted about my first studio strobes, and in that post I said I would write again about what I switched to. Well, just over two years later, I’m getting that post done. :-)

Right now I’m using the following:

These address all of the shortcomings I complained about in my previous post; the accessory mount is solid, they have a switchable ready-beep and won’t fire when partially charged, they have digital controls, and I’ve found the shot-to-shot consistency to be rock-solid.

At first, I hated the accessory mount…but then I realized it was the speedrings I was using that I hated. I have some Photoflex speedrings, and they don’t have a rotation-locking mechanism (short of getting out a screwdriver and tightening them up); so in some cases it’s hard to tell if the speedring is completely locked onto the strobe mount. I’ve had softboxes fall right off the strobe because of this. 

Then I discovered other rings; for example, the ones that come with Elinchrom’s own softboxes. These have a much more secure (and easy to adjust) anti-rotation mechanisms, so it’s quite clear when the mount is locked in. Seriously – it’s like night and day.

Breaking plates – behind the scenes

Posted in lighting, shoots on March 5th, 2009 by gregr

A couple of days ago, I posted the following shot from my dangerous kitchen series:


I thought it might be fun to show some shots of how the plate-breaking part of all this actually went. :-)

I shot the plates in a studio; the setup looked something like this:


The plate was suspended from two A-clamps, which were hanging from a overhead bar, going diagonally across the set. There’s a black v-flat behind the plate, and also one to the left (in the direction of impact); the former to provide a near-black background, and the latter to stop the pieces of the plate from flying too far around the studio.

For lighting, I used two Nikon SB-800s; one on a stand you can see on the left, peeking over the black flat, and then another over to camera right. Both were positioned to mimic the direction and ratio of the lighting used for the model, already shot in a kitchen. I used pocket wizards for triggering them. I shot a single frame per plate, using a Nikon D3.

This shot shows the detail of how the plate was hit:


My assistant used the flat head of a hammer to strike the plate, and had his arm covered with a black towel.

There were laser and sound triggers available, but I started out clicking the shutter manually. The whole process turned out to be highly addictive (can’t tell you how much fun it is to break plates like this!), so I never ended up stopping to set up an automatic trigger. In retrospect, I probably should have, but in the end I ended up with a shot I could use. Out of the 14 plates, I missed one completely, and the rest you can see below (click for larger):

I had a total of 14 plates; 10 fairly heavy dinner plates from a restaurant supply house (top 3 rows in pic below), and 4 cheap Correlle plates from Walmart (bottom rows). As you can see, they broke in very different ways.

The Correlle plates took me off guard – both because I happened to catch two shots where the plate has just shattered but still in the shape of a plate, and also because of how violently they shatter. The mess in the studio was pretty well contained at first, but once we got to these last 4 plates, we had little shards of plate everywhere!

All the shots were at 70mm (to match perspective with the shot of the model), at f/11. It was even one of those rare moments when I used a protective filter on my lens, hoping to protect it from flying pieces of plate. :-)

Anyway, hope this is interesting for some folks!

(note – some of you reading this via RSS may have seen this post before the referenced photo was posted…sorry about that, WordPress user error. :-)

Dangerous Kitchen – part 2

Posted in shoots on March 3rd, 2009 by gregr

Following on the previous post, here is the second of the two-shot story:


I’m planning on a follow-up post in the next few days with a behind the scenes look at the making of this shot.

Model Andrea, styling by Anita.

Dangerous Kitchen – part 1

Posted in shoots on March 1st, 2009 by gregr

Here’s the first shot from a short two-shot story, about life in a “dangerous kitchen.”

Second half coming up!
For those curious about such things, the main light was to camera right, close to the brick wall. Fill light from near camera position. The flying celery was added from a combination of three shots of it flying in this same location.
Model Andrea, styling by Anita.