Namibia – Portraits

25 11 2011

Note: Please click on theses images to view them full-size… they go a bit fuzzy when reduced down.

On my trip to Namibia there were three genres that I wanted to photograph;

  1. Ruinscapes (Kolmanskop etc.)
  2. Landscapes (Deadvlei, Wolverdens etc.)
  3. Portraits

I was particularly excited at the prospect of spending five days living with and photographing the Himba tribes of NorthWest Namibia.  While I had seen plenty of natural light photography, I really wanted to try to make different types of portraits of these photogenic people.

Inspired by the incredible personal work of Joey Lawrence, I packed my trusty Paul Buff Einstein light and my two favorite modifiers (Paul Buff 64″ Silver PLM and Westcott Apollo softbox) and decided to really try and make some stylistic environmental portraits using off camera flash techniques.

I had a ball making these images and I’m pretty happy with the way they turned out.  The beauty of the Einstein is that it throws out plenty of light and I can easily overpower the sun.  When I combine it with the ultra-efficient Parabolic Light Modifier (PLM), then I can easily get well over f64 of light out of the light setup which allows you to do some interesting environmental portraits during bright daylight.

Here's our rig in action. Jimmy (our translator) is holding the monopod.

Sometimes we used the sock over the PLM, and other times we shot with the straight silver bounce.   Most of the time we had our light on a light stand, but occasionally we put it on a monopod (as in the photo above).  While this is a 240v light, I use the Paul Buff mini vagabond to provide 240v on location… It’s incredibly small and light.

I also used my neutral density filter with some of the shots to open up my aperture and reduce the depth of field…. again to create more of a stylistic image.   I hope you enjoy the images.

Advertisements




Off Camera Flash Workshop For Perth?

14 05 2011

Hey there Sand Gropers

I’m going to be visiting Perth for a few days of business in early June and was contemplating putting on a 1 day workshop for bringing models into your landscapes and shooting with Off Camera Flash.

I’ve been running this workshop over here now for about 8 months and it is very popular.  So if you would like to attend this workshop, just drop me an email at brentbat@gmail.com and express your interest.  If there is enough interest I will make it happen.

Not sure whether you guys just shoot “scapes” over there or what.  More information about the workshop can be found here.





Spaces Available for May Off Camera Flash Workshop

21 04 2011

Photo by Gavin Marchio

Hey there,  just a quick note to say that I still have spaces available for the next Off Camera Flash workshop that I am running on May 15th in Sydney.  One of our models for the day is going to be Daniel (the star in my recent Rockstar shoot).  He’s great to work with.

So if you have been thinking about making the leap with your photography into the world of Off Camera Flash, this workshop will teach you everything you need to know take control of your lighting on location.

More information can be found here.  Spaces are limited.. First come first served.

Brent





Rockstar Shoot Part 2 of 3 – Light Beam Tutorial

16 04 2011

For some shots adding beams of light can really create bring impact into your images.  The two images that you see here are examples where I felt that emphasising the light beams in Photoshop would be beneficial to the image.

In both images, when I was in the studio taking the shots, my eye could see the light beams better than the camera recorded them, so I felt it wasn’t really “cheating” to bring back what I experienced in the studio.

This tutorial utilises another of Calvin Hollywood’s techniques for “ray of light”.  I highly recommend his DVD tutorial called “Calvinize”.

The following tutorial shows how I post process this image of Daniel.  The emphasis is on how I process the background light with rays of light technique from Calvin.

This is a pretty advanced technique.  I hope you enjoy it.





My Rockstar Shoot Part 1 of 3 – Howd it turn out?

16 04 2011

All I can say is “What a hoot”…. we had a such a great time playing around with this shoot.  I was shooting with two other photographers, Michelle Playoust and Sue Robertson.  We also had Andrew Tiddy assisting.  Our Rockstar was Daniel Raphael.

We spent four hours in the studio playing around with lighting, lighting effex and a smoke machine and had an absolute blast.  I reckon I’m doing well on a shoot if I come away with 1 or 2 keepers, but on this shoot I got closer to 8 or 10 shots that I was really really happy with.  Here’s just a few of them along with lighting charts for each so you can see how we got the effex.

Our first setup

A simple 3 light setup.  In the back we had a continuous hard edge spot light that we had gelled with 2 cuts of CT Blue (it is a tungsten light source).

We had a 20″ white beauty dish as our key light (camera left) (thanks for the beauty dish Scott… I love it… you might not see it again).

We used a gridded backlight off to the right. to really throw some strong rimmed backlight onto Daniels hair and shoulders.

We were using a smoke machine to create atmosphere. We tried where we could to keep the smoke from the smoke machine behind Daniel and not between him and the lens.

With this setup we got the following shots.

Setup 2 Red Back Light

We then added a bit of colour to the setup by gelling the rear spot light with a red gel.

We kept the same key light (the beauty dish) but decided to kill the gridded back-light as it was washing out too much of the red colour.

The back-light was not a strobe, it was a tungsten balanced continuous 650w light, so for all intensive purposes this was like continuous ambient light.

The power of the continuous lights was not something we could alter so we had to balance all of our strobes to these continuous lights.

When we gelled the backlight red we probably lost 2 stops of light and were typically shooting around f2.8 or f4, @ 1/60s @ISO 400 So focus and depth of field were tricky.  The cameras also had a few problems focusing in the low light, so most of the time we were manually focusing.

We got some excellent atmospheric images with the red light.

This setup also worked well for black and white.

Setup 3 – Silouette Shot

For the next setup I really wanted to play with some almost total silouette lighting where the focus is on the shape of the rockstar against the light.

However we didn’t want to go total silouette, so we used a 10degree grid to throw a hard light on the rockstars face (about 2 stops underexposed).

I think here we got some of the most dramatic shots.  The shot at the top of this blog post was taken with this setup.

The 10degree grid really threw out an interesting light.  It is the first time that I have used grid spots as key lights and I was really enjoying the effects they were giving me.

One of the goals of the day was to do some real creative experimentation… and we sure did that.

Final Setup – Coloured Par Cans

We added red and blue gels on 4 par cans and flooded our rock star from behind.  We used the beauty dish as our key light (similar position to setup 1 and 2).  And we got these shots with this setup.

I’ve almost finished editing a short “behind the scenes” video for anybody interested in seeing the setup and the shoot.   I’ll also do a tutorial on how I got the light beam effect in the top shot.

It was definitely a ton of fun.

Reminder Off Camera Flash Workshop:

I’m running an off camera flash workshop on 15th May 2011 in Sydney for anyone that wants to learn how to bring flash and models into your landscapes.  More information can be found here.

Brent





Faces Of Tanzania – Portraits

25 01 2011

So this morning I got back from Tanzania.  What an incredible trip!  I was doing some charity work for a school over there called St. Judes.  This school was started by an Australian lady called Gemma Siske and what she has built there is nothing short of astonishing.  She has built a school that rivals the best private schools in Australia.  She is offering world class education to over 1500 under privileged kids in Tanzania absolutely free.   The schools mission is “Fighting Poverty Through Education”.  My job there was to shoot some photos for the school and to shoot a video to help them with their fund raising.

While I was there I wanted to really focus on refining my portrait work, so here are some of the portraits that I took along with some information about the individuals and the lighting used.

I recommend you click on each image to see the image at a half decent size if you really want to critique lighting etc.

This is Jonathan Ungusie.  He is the father of one of the girls that goes to St Judes.  I went to his house (well mud hut actually) and interviewed him on video.  He is 58 years old and is the father of 8 kids.  He and his wife raise the 8 kids in the small mud hut behind him which is about the size of a single-car garage.  Jonathan broke his wrist in a bad fall at the flour mill and when it healed it did not set properly, so he has pretty much lost the use of his right hand and can’t work.

His wife works as a contractor at the flour mill and gets paid just under US$2/day.   And they have to feed 8 kids with that.

I shot this with a softbox just outside of frame on camera right.  My SB900 was on full power as I was trying to overpower the sun.  This is what has created the light on his face.   I like this portrait alot as I really feel it captures Jonathan.

This is Seone Silervo. She is a Masai and lives with her family in a traditional Masai hut in a traditional village.   They decorate the interior walls with newspaper.  These huts are very dark and only have light coming in from the small doorway.

To make this portrait I initially shot with natural light and a fast lens (f1.4), however I wasn’t getting enough of the background exposed with natural light, so I used a softbox with SB900 flash about about 1/64 power aiming at Seone.  This provided enough scattered light to create a good exposure on the background.

 

This was a grab shot, but I really like it because of the expression and grittiness of the image.  They boy and his friends were following us back to the car after shooting in their village.  The kids in the background were laughing and giggling but this little boy was really checking me out.  I grabbed my camera and fired a couple of quick frames before his expression changed.

This was shot using natural lighting and a wide aperture (f2.8)

It was very dusty in the Masai village which coated all the kids in a covering of dust, however they didn’t seem to mind it at all and were  quite happy.

 

This old lady is amazing.  We were doing a tour of the local village around one of the St. Jude campuses when the group of Year 7 girls took us up to one very small mud hut and asked if we’d like to meet the old lady of the village.

These school girls regularly take food to the villagers to help them out and they know the villagers very well.  They bought out this lovely old lady.  She’s not sure how old she is, but we met her 72 year old daughter a bit later on, so she must be somewhere between 90 and 100 years old which is incredible for Africa.

This is a natural light portrait of the lady.    One thing is clear after this visit.  Growing old in Tanzania is not an easy life.

 

 

One thing I have noticed about photographing in Africa is the amazing difference in the quality of the light.  I’m not sure whether this is due to the pollution or dust in the air, but the light seems so soft.  Lovely soft colours and incredible light whenever you are shooting indoors.

I’ve got some lovely prints from this trip that I will enjoy hanging on my wall.

I’m definitely heading back to Africa later this year.





Off To Tanzania

17 01 2011

I’m sitting at Dubai airport on my way to Tanzania for a week.  Our company supports a number of charitable causes in both Australia and Africa and I’m on my way to The School of St Judes in Arusha to produce a fund raising video and some photographs for them.

It’s great to be able to use photography in this way, helping a school for the underprivileged raise money.  It’s an amazing story.  This school was started by an Australian lady, and she has built it up to over 1500 students and is providing them with world-class education.   Each year thousands of kids try to go to this school, but to qualify, you must

  • Be from an incredibly poor family (ie. no electricity or running water in your house)
  • Have the academic potential to succeed.

I’m going to be spending quite a bit of time out in the poor villages interviewing and photographing the parents and siblings of the kids that have been accepted to St. Judes.

I’m taking a very lightweight strobist setup

  • 2 X SB900 speedlights
  • 1 umbrella adapter
  • 1 28″ Apollo softbox (I love the control, speed of setup and simplicity of this modifier)
  • 1 Monopod
  • Set of triggers
  • Grid, snoot, and coloured gels

And my 14 year old son Tim as my camera assistant / lighting grip.

Hopefully I’ll get some interesting environmental portraits that I’ll post to this blog from Tanzania.

More to come

BP