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Monday, July 11, 2011

Long Shutter using strobe lighting in the foreground

My love is fashion photography. Nothing beats it. Well, except for the no hassle, no flakes, no deposits, permits, designers, cliques, etc, etc world of landscape photography. A few camera adjustments, take aim and fire away and move on to the next subject. That was until I decided to incorporate the wonderful world of modeling into the unique world of night photography. Not that I am the first to do it, but I like to think that nobody does the dew like Bluestill. I always attempt to exceed my own expectation, and as I promised when I first began shooting the long-shutter series, I would include how I shoot with a strobe to light up the always seemingly dark foreground when shooting long-shutter. All the equipment needed is the same as I explain in the first of this series, except for now, I add a very beautiful and willing model. I had her dress in relatively dark clothing for a particular reason, and that reason being so that I could exaggerate how that once very dark foreground is so well lit, that even dark clothing is defined without having an affect on the light from the background. So how is it done you ask? I start by setting my camera again on the same settings as I used for the long-shutter shoots (see previous blog: Long Shutter Night Photography [series 1]). As stated earlier, all the same equipment and add

1. strobe or speedlight and stand.

2. power source (vegabond, generator, etc)

3. light modifier (grids, softbox, beauty dish, etc) to assentuate the model's beauty.

4. model or subject to stand in all that beautiful light you are now creating.

Hook up your lighting equipment, and make adjustments for settings. I personally like to stop my strobe down to its lowest setting because it doesn't take a lot of light to light the subject or you would notice a lot of blowout in the finished product. If your camera is capable of being placed in the rear shutter sequence for flash, use this setting. Why? Because it allows the least amount of interference between the metered background light and the fidgety subject wondering why there was no flash when you clicked the shutter button. It helps to explain the process to the model, and make them aware that they can move without causing too much blur, but they might want to be in position once the countdown to the shutter speed setting reaches about half way (example: shutter speed is set for 10 seconds of duration. Upon the shutter closing the flash will be triggered as the rear door of the shutter closes, so your subject just may want to strike the pose as the countdown reaches about 5 seconds). Small movements beforehand will not cause ghosting of the subject as long a a strobe/speedlight is used. The strobe flash will freeze movements when it fires. I have attached two photos that I processed from the shoot. Again, some small post edit work might be necessary or desired, but not necessary. Only you know your own post edit capabilities. I suggest you grab your camera, strobe and a willing model and go give it a try and see what you come up with. Practice makes perfect and nothing is set in stone about the settings you will use except for some general ballpark figures that are necessary for long shutter photography. Good luck, give it a try and tell me what you think by commenting, and let me see your results. Again, thank you for following this series.