Shooting on location in the middle of the day can make controlling the sunlight very difficult. I have chosen my canon 5D mk iii. So if I want to shoot with flash off camera to control the bright sun I’m limited to a x sync of 1/200 of a second. This is going to make my aperture F16 and that is too much depth of field for my preference. I don’t like to use ND filters to open up my aperture because they make it difficult to see through the camera. I could use high-speed sync but this technique is flawed by the fact that the flash is at its lowest power as it pulses across the chip. Also, it would never give me enough power to overpower the sun in the middle of the day, so I only use this technique on cloudy days.
I decided to use with Pocket wizards HyperSync technology, which will allow my shutter speed to go all the way to 1/8000sec if I wanted. This allows me to shoot at wide-open apertures and achieve a shallow depth of field. Thanks to this technology I can use the sun as a backlight for our subject, expose for the background and pop off a strobe to light the model exactly how I want.
I used a Speedatron 1500-watt portable strobe system with a 103 head and a 24×36 soft box with a grid. This was placed at a distance between 6 and 12 feet from the subject. Up high and at a 45-degree angle to the model and set at full power. The grid is on the front of the soft box to better direct and feather the light (aim the light past center in order to get an even exposure on your subject – see difference in images). I use a 1500-watt pack because I like to use my strobes at 6-12 feet away. If I want to go 20 feet away I will use the 2400-watt pack. Basically your controlling the distance of your flash from the subject by how slow your flash duration is and how bright the strobe is flashing. There are many variables in this system: full frame vs. cropped sensor, flash duration, the brightness outside..etc.
In order to take advantage of PocketWizards HyperSync technology, we have to pay attention to what kind of strobes we are using. It only works with strobes that have a slow flash duration. Ideally right around 1/500th of a second.
To set your PocketWizard TT5 Flex properly you must go into the utility program on a computer and set the flash duration for your strobe and update the firmware, at this point you will be able to use fast shutter speeds with your flash and not have to worry about the curtain being caught in your frame.
On this particular shoot we are doing some lifestyle photographs for Chris Perry’s portfolio. We decided to go downtown Detroit and shoot the contrast of a suit against the ruggedness of urban decay and also get some sporty looking photos.
For this first image, I decided to use the Sigma 70-200mm F2.8 DG OS HSM to compress the background with a long lens and also shoot at 2.8 to throw the background out of focus. I didn’t need to use the image stabilizer because I was on a tripod, which helps me to compose the frame and focus on the little details. I can zoom in and make sure my subject is in focus. The great thing about this lens is that I can compress the background while also being about to stay in one spot with my tripod, getting a close up and also a full body shot in the matter of a second (I love my zoom lenses!)
We have a business style photo so now we needed to do a sport look. We didn’t want to get just the normal track shot or football field for him to stand in. We looked for the most dramatic scene that would grab everyone’s attention while keeping in mind we didn’t want to have to do any Photoshop work. After driving a few blocks we passed this burnt down house with thousands of bricks covering the ground. In this particular composition I decided to use the Sigma 24-105mm F4 lens. I placed my subject in the rule of thirds, shot from a low angle so his head came up above the ruins, and then turned his face away from the sun so that it was completely in shadow. The next thing I did was set my aperture to f4 aimed the camera at the sky and figured out the shutter speed (1/3200) to expose for the background. My subject is a silhouette now, which is perfect for me to sculpt the light on him exactly as I see fit.
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