Gear « Jurgen Doom

Ranger Quadra – first impressions

18 October 2011 om 11:13 door Jürgen geplaatst in de categorie Commercial,corporate photography,Flashlight,Gear,Ranger Quadra,Uncategorized

For a very long time I’ve been wondering whether I would buy a Ranger Quadra, Elinchrom’s portable flash set.

I’m known for my ability to pull of almost any type of lighting at any type of location.  OK, there are limitations to what I can do and often those limitations are often due to the maximum amount of power of my flashes.  Since I’ve always got 5 SB900 Nikon flashes in my bag, I’m not that often confronted with aforementioned power limitations.  By adding another flash I can often solve the problem instantly.  Furthermore, with Nikon’s ability for high-speed sync, which allows one to photograph beyond the flash sync speed and use large apertures, I wasn’t really convinced that an additional flash set that hasn’t got these abilities, such as the Ranger Quadra, would add much extra value to my gear (and ultimately my photography).  Lastly, when I knew I would need a lot of power, I would simply take my studio lights (Elinchrom as well) on location.

And that is just what sometimes created problems, as not all locations would have a “mains” to plug in my studio flash set.  In adition, lugging around with 3 flash heads and stands is not always possible/desirable.  Have you ever tried boarding a plane with a studio flash set?  I wouldn’t want to dream of trying to do this.

So, enter the Ranger Quadra.  I had a first good look at it at Photokina in Cologne last year (September 2010) and decided against it.  Too big to be small, too small to be big was my impression.  But somehow the Ranger kept coming back in my mind, especially when I was out there, photographing in bright daylight ….

Eventually I decided to bite the bullet and give in to what I should have done a long time ago and bought a set consisting of two flash heads, two batteries, two stands and two flash adaptors (so I can use my studio soft boxes, snoots and grids on the Ranger as well).  I was also adviced by the people at Servix, where I bought the Ranger, to buy two extension chords of 5 meter, in order to be able to put both flashes as far as 10m apart from each other.

I started experimenting with the Ranger at home, in studio, which is a safe environment.  I photographed a few friends who where so kind to sit for me for a portrait session.

 

portrait with Ranger Quadra Elinchrom by Jürgen Doom

portrait with Ranger Quadra Elinchrom by Jürgen Doom

portrait with Ranger Quadra Elinchrom by Jürgen Doom

 

I then started using the Ranger Quadra for commercial assignments.  When I started out taking these images, I quickly realised how easy it was to use the Quadra on location and how powerful they are.  Really loved to work with it.  Images were made for a construction company (Suerickx group, consisting of Icopan, Cosenco and Building Services).

 

Corporate shoot with Ranger Quadra Elinchrom by Jürgen Doom

Corporate shoot with Ranger Quadra Elinchrom by Jürgen Doom

Corporate shoot with Ranger Quadra Elinchrom by Jürgen Doom

Thanks to the Ranger I was able to fully control the lighting and keep the contrast in perfect balance.

 

Lastly, I’d like to share an image taken for a accountancy firm Moore Stephens Verschelden.  I had to photograph the CEO in a setting of containers.  The brief was to photograph the person in the environment, with the environment prominent in the photograph.  The CEO was lit by 1 flash head.

Corporate shoot with Ranger Quadra Elinchrom by Jürgen Doom

 

Could I have done these shots with my Nikons SB900?  Probably yes.  Was it easier to photograph them with my Ranger Quadra?  Maybe, maybe not.  Was it comfortable to photograph this with the power of a Ranger Quadra?  Absolutely yes!

So, in brief, the bottom line is that from now on I don’t leave the house without a small case, consisting of two flash heads and a bag of stands, which allows me to work very comfortably on location. And comfort comes at a price, which I’m happy to pay for when it comes to lighting …

 

Corporate portrait photography for MBS

7 March 2011 om 14:52 door Jürgen geplaatst in de categorie advertising,Commercial,Flashlight,Gear,Photography,Portrait

As a corporate photographer, operating in Belgium and in particular in the Brussels area, I’m often confronted with different types of locations and surrounding in which I have to come up with images.  For the Manpower Business Solutions shoot, this was also the case.  We had agreed to meet up with the “models” – the staff at MBS – in a house near Overijse in order to create corporate portraits of them that were to be used on their brochures, flyers and advertising material.  I would bring all the necessary elements such as backdrops, studio lighting and gear to create the photographs and had asked my make-up artist Ans Brugmans to do the make-up on the models.

But what I hadn’t “budgeted” for was my health. The night before the shoot I became ill, even in such a way that in the morning – the photo shoot was planned in the afternoon – I phoned my colleague Evi and asked her if she could assist me and perhaps take on the shoot herself (with me directing a bit).

Luckily, during the course of the day I recovered somewhat so that I eventually managed to do all the photography myself, but I was more than happy to having Evi, my last-minute assistant, to lug around with gear and stuff …. Hey, that’s called “emancipation” ….

So what we did was basically a few corporate portraits, a group photograph and an outdoor group photograph of the whole team.  For the image I took inside, I set up a white studio background and used my studio lighting (Elinchrome RX600) with 2 softboxes and a gridded backlight. For the image outside I only used my Nikon SB900 strobes, triggered by Pocket Wizards.  The portraits were photographed on a Nikon D3s, the group shot on a Nikon D3x.

Despite me not being 100% – although I gave it all – we came up with some interesting photographs and I have just been sent the pdf’s of the publication in which the photographs are being used.

Portrait photography for MBS

Portrait photography for MBS

Portrait photography for MBS

Portrait photography for MBS

Portrait photography for MBS

Portrait photography for MBS

The outside group shot looked like this.  Because of in-house decisions, the images had to be delivered in black and white (as with the above images).

Portrait photography for MBS

Portrait photography for MBS

Portrait photography for MBS

Portrait photography for MBS

Model photography – shooting with Sylviane Alliet part 3

1 February 2011 om 11:10 door Jürgen geplaatst in de categorie Flashlight,fotografie,Gear,Photography,Portrait

Being able to shoot a professional model such as Sylviane is always a lot of fun for a photographer. By working with someone who knows how photography works and how to behave in front of the lens, the photographer shouldn’t ecnounter too many difficulties any more in order to make good images.

This is of course partly true, because for the setup for our third part of the shooting session I was still a looking for atmosphere, lighting, composition and artistic interpretation. The “Yogaposes” that we had in mind were not so simple to implement, and many artistic and technical constraints made this - certainly for me - the hardest of the four setups that we’ve done.

The images were created with 3 or 4 flashes (in Sylviane’s living room), which in our first series of images were positioned so that I wanted to create a a dark and intimate atmosphere. But as Roeland on his blog a while back so well put it, the result was ultimately not entirely as I wanted and I did not immediately see many solutions to  quickly improve things. Frustrating!

yoga, wellness & zenn
yoga, wellness & zenn

Therefore we decided to change the whole look and feel of the image by turning everything around (angle, orientation, lightin, mood, etc  ….).  Hey, it’s our party and we cry if we want to!

yoga, wellness & zenn
yoga, wellness & zenn
yoga, wellness & zenn
yoga, wellness & zenn
yoga, wellness & zenn
yoga, wellness & zenn
yoga, wellness & zenn
yoga, wellness & zenn

The result was much more pleasing and we ultimately got some interesting and good shots out of it.

But watch this space, for our last series of shots we’ll go “down and dirty”!

Model photography – model shoot with Sylviane Alliet part 2.1

24 January 2011 om 11:01 door Jürgen geplaatst in de categorie advertising,Camera,Commercial,Flashlight,fotografie,Gear,Photography,Portrait,Software

In the previous blog post about the shoot with Sylviane Alliet, I talked about the images we made in the doctor / dentist / assistant / medical sphere.

Because we don’t  take pictures with a model and the right attributes every day to (especially in the medical field), we decided to quickly do a few shots of Sylviane against a different background. That way we could get some extra mileage out of the attributes.  We did this by simply moving the flashlights to another location (right around the corner from our previous shots), with as a result a set of pictures which breathed a totally different atmosphere.

The pictures were taken with 2 Nikon SB900 flashes in slave mode, triggered by a Nikon SB900 on camera - the Nikon CLS system. One flash was standing outside, behind the door, the other stood between between the photographer and Sylviane, but aimed at a corner in the room. In other words, the light was “bounced” or reflected by the white walls and ceiling, so to get an even lighting over Sylviane.

All photos were taken with a Nikon 85mm prime on f2 (because I simply liked to workon f2. Nah).

The result looks like this (images post-processed in Lightroom 3.3).

Shoot with Sylviane - medical

Shoot with Sylviane - medical theme

Shoot with Sylviane - medical theme

Shoot with Sylviane - medical theme

From here on I added some warmth to the image by placing a full cut CTO gel over the outside flash.  Hence the impression of sunlight coming through the door and the warm atmosphere.

Shoot with Sylviane - medical theme

Shoot with Sylviane - medical theme

Shoot with Sylviane - medical theme

Shoot with Sylviane - medical theme

Shoot with Sylviane - medical theme

Shoot with Sylviane - medical theme

Next blog post will be much more “zen” … promised!

Model photography – shoot with Sylviane – part 2

19 January 2011 om 21:19 door Jürgen geplaatst in de categorie advertising,Camera,Commercial,Flashlight,Gear,Photography,Portrait

In my previous blog post I talked about the shoot with Sylviane. The purpose of the shoot was to further the portfolio of both Sylviane and me with work that usually doesn’t fit in commercial work.

For the second set of photos, we moved to a dental and medical practice. Well, in our imagination anyway, because in reality it was in Sylviane’s kitchen. We made a series of photos taken in  an environment of a dentist, nurse and surgery and the atmosphere had to refer to a doctor / physician.

The photos are all taken with a Nikon D3s, a 50mm and 85mm (both f1.4) and 3Nikon SB900 flash, controlled via the Nikon CLS system (flash on the camera that controls the other flashes). Behind Sylviane you see a white box / cabinet with glassdoors, which could perfectly serve in a medical practice, especially when you photograph them with large aperture. The colors in the photographs are from color filters that are placed over the flash heads.

model fotografie
model fotografie
model fotografie
model fotografie
model fotografie
model fotografie
model fotografie
model fotografie
model fotografie
model fotografie
model fotografie
model fotografie
model fotografie
model fotografie
model fotografie
model fotografie
model fotografie
model fotografie
model fotografie
model fotografie
model fotografie
model fotografie

Model photography – shoot with Sylviane Alliet part 1

17 January 2011 om 22:58 door Jürgen geplaatst in de categorie advertising,Flashlight,Gear,Photography,Portrait

As a photographer you are occasionally contacted by models, aspiring models or make-up artists for TFCD shoots. This means that the photographer takes pictures in exchange for the time of the makeup artist or the model. The images are then exchanged by all parties and can be used at will, but usually only for their portfolios.

TFCD shoots can be interesting if all parties benefit from it and one can do things that are impossible within the framework of a commercial contract. You get a lot more freedom and there is room for some experimentation …

But if you’re not careful you can build an exciting career as a photographer doing TFCD, without ever being able to do paid assignments. Therefore I often kindly refuse.

Enter Sylviane Alliet. Sylviane is a model (also does voice-overs and acting) that already “tried and tested” in the art of modeling (dont take this expression literally).

Sylviane contacted me through facebook a while back asking for a TFCD shoot. She had quite a bit ideas that she wanted to develop and which she wanted to shoot to add to her portfolio.

Because it just would not be smart to ignore such an offer and because the subjects of these shoots me really interested, I of course wholeheartedly said yes. We then had to find a common date.

Recently, we gave it good horns (ed, not be taken literally) and we went to shoot one day at Sylviane’s home. In the next posts I will show some shots that we made.

The images are all made with “backpack material,” ie

Camera: Nikon D3s

Lenses: Nikon 50mm 1.4 and Nikon 80mm 1.4

2 or 3 Nikon Speedlight SB900

Attributes and a few accessories such as gels, umbrellas, tripods …..

All photos have been through post production in Lightroom3

The first series of pictures we made were to refer to a professional and ambitious young lady. A corridor with “outside light through roof windows (Velux type)a rear strobe and umbrella for the front head light with a kicker light for extra dimension. At the end of the series, we played with the color and atmosphere of the images.

Sylviane, model - young professional

Sylviane, model - young professional

Sylviane, model - young professional

Sylviane, model - young professional

Sylviane, model - young professional

Sylviane, model - young professional

Sylviane, model - young professional

Sylviane, model - young professional

Sylviane, model - young professional

Sylviane, model - young professional

Sylviane, model - young professional

Sylviane, model - young professional

Sylviane, model - young professional

Architectural photography, the strobist way.

18 November 2010 om 11:34 door Jürgen geplaatst in de categorie advertising,Architecture,Flashlight,Gear,Photography

As a photographer, you want to explore every possible solution to a problem.  While I was doing architectural photography – photographing the interior of a dormitory – I was confronted with rather drab lighting inside.  Also, the sun was shining outside (it was a hot summer day) but was at the “wrong” side of the building, so it didn’t shine into the room that I had to photograph.

A room with a view - using the strobist technique of off-camera flashes to light the inside of a room.

The solution that came to my mind was to light the room with small strobes (Nikon SB900 flash light) in order to create a type of lighting that was more appealing than the available light (or the light that comes from the artificial light in the room, eg light bulbs, fluorescent light, etc ….).

Firstly, I used pocket wizards to trigger my flashes, as the Nikon Creative Lightings System (CLS) wouldn’t have worked well in this particular case.  You need a direct line of sight in order the flashes to trigger.

Secondly, I had my camera set at an exposure whereby I had a rather dark image (ISO 200, F/9 at 1/250 gives a grossly underexposed image) at the inside of the building, but it did match the ambiant light outside pretty well.

Thirdly, I positioned a flash (Nikon SB900) outside with a full cut CTO gell over it, in order to simulate the warm rays of a rising sun.  You can still see a bit of the flash at the far corner of the window, which adds to the feeling of a rising sun.  That flash casts the long shadow of the chair and table and is the key light to the image.

Lastly, I had to bring in extra light in order to lift the general feel to the image.  So I positioned an extra flash to get some light in the ceiling and some general fill to the entire frame.

The result is a double spread in the Sporta magazine , showing the viewers a room the invites to be staying over at their accomodation.

A room with a view - using the strobist technique of off-camera flashes to light the inside of a room.

A room with a view - using the strobist technique of off-camera flashes to light the inside of a room.

Using Nikon SB900 speedlights for creative photographic lighting

12 November 2010 om 13:16 door Jürgen geplaatst in de categorie advertising,Camera,Commercial,Flashlight,Gear,Photography,Sports,Uncategorized,workshop fotografie

As an advertising photographer, creating images for clients that will make their products look good, I try to be creative with my photography and my gear.  Let’s look at an example.

Image of a gymnast.

Image of a gymnast.

Imagine a huge indoor sports hall.  Imagine the yellow/green illumination these sports halls typically have and that cast an “ugly” type of light on the subjects (which you don’t want, you want your subject to look good).  Imagine the cluttered background one usually gets in such sport halls, which will destroy the impact of the image ……

Situation - available light.

Situation - available light.

As a photographer I try to overcome problems – let’ call them challenges – instead of creating them.

When I had to photograph a young sportster, doing all sorts of neck-braking, leg-twisting, arm-bending exercices on a gym device, I had to be creative to get a shot of it that could be used as a double spread in the brochure.

Firstly, I figured I wanted to eliminate the natural lighting of the sports hall.  Using a shutter speed of 1/250th at ISO 100 on a Nikon D3x (24Mpix) was good enough at f 4 to eliminate the ambiant light.  That means, if you would not use flash, you would end up with a dark (black) image at these settings.

Next step was to bring in the Nikon SB900 speedlights.  I used 3 of them.  The main flash comes from directly above me (on-axis with the lens) but shot through a softbox in order to soften the light.  It provides the main light for the subject, but because we are working very close to the subject and far away from the background, that light doesn’t reach the background, so it remains black (or under exposed).

The last step was to position two SB900 speedlights behind the subject, at either side of the girl, and aimed towards her.  Those light provide the rim lighting, which make her stand out from the background even more.

The image was ultimately used as a double spread in the SPORTA brochure as shown above.

All shots were taken on the Nikon D3x, using a 85mm f1.4 lens and using the Nikon CLS lighting system.

Alternative image of the gymnast.

Alternative image of the gymnast.

Nikon CLS system is a fantastic system to work on-location.  It’s versatile, works well, easy to handle and learn and enables a photographer to be very flexible in his work and quickly adapt to different situations and lighting conditions.  I use it all the time in my photography.

If you want to learn it as well, I run workshops on photography and flash photograph (also for users of other brands).

More to come,

Jürgen

Workshop flash photography

2 September 2010 om 10:56 door Jürgen geplaatst in de categorie Flashlight,Gear,Photography,Portrait,workshop

I’ve always wanted to pass on knowledge.

When I was a kid, I wanted to become a teacher.  Things turned out differently, as I studied engineering.  I ended up “consulting” in the building industry, which was mainly a “teaching” job.  After I switched to photography – something I’m so grateful for – I still had the urge to share my knowledge about photography with other people.

That’s how I started to do workshops in photography, with a special emphasis on flash photography (together with my partner in crime Piet Van den Eynde, who’s the benchmark when it comes down to teaching about Lightroom).

And that’s exactly why the “Nationale Vereniging van Beroepsfotografen” (National federation of professional photographers) contacted me to conduct a workshop for their members.

So I organised an afternoon of going through my recent portfolio, thereby explaining how I photographed the images and how the lighting was done.  An interesting exercice, both for me (because I sometimes had to reverse engineer my own images) as well as for the participants, providing enough questions to fill a book on flash photography.

After that we went outside for a  demonstration of flash photography in the field (that’s what one does during workshops on flash photography, not?).  We went to a nearby underpass (I have loads of them in the neighbourhood) were the light was rather dim, but where we had a bit of grafity.

We picked Carl as our ad-hoc model.  Carl is a fantastic photographer with loads of experience and a master in lighting.  I just count my blessings Carl lives about 2 hours drive out of where I live (and the fact that Carl mainly works in a studio environment also helps).

So, both myself and Carl were challenged.  Myself, because I had a master in photography in front of my camera and Carl, because he’s much more comfortable BEHIND the lens in stead of in front of it!

Nevertheless, I tried to explain to the participants the different stages in the lighting setup that one can go through.  So we started with a simple setup, which is an Nikon SB900 flash to camera left, on a stand and shot through a shoot-through umbrella providing the key on Carl’s face.  On camera right, behind Carl, is a bare flash (also Nikon SB900) with a full-cut CTO as a kicker light, enhancing the separation between Carl and the background.

Carl, during a workshop on flash photography, lit by 2 SB900 speedlights

Carl, during a workshop on flash photography, lit by 2 SB900 speedlights

By adding a third SB900 with a red filter, aimed at the background, we created a more dramatic portrait.

Carl, lit by 3 Nikon SB 900 flashes

Carl, lit by 3 Nikon SB 900 flashes

To demonstrate how to add another color into the mix, we aimed a fourth SB900, with a light green gel, on the the wall as well, opposite from the red spot.

Carl, lit by 4 Nikon SB 900 flashes

Carl, lit by 4 Nikon SB 900 flashes

We wanted to emphasise the green even more, so we replaced the light green by a dark green gel, which resulted in the next image.

Carl, lit by 4 Nikon SB 900 flashes

Carl, lit by 4 Nikon SB 900 flashes

In order to demonstrate the versatility of working with small flashes out in the field, I asked Carl to turn 90 degrees to his right.  I also switched positions, slightly adapted the direction of the flashlights and photographed Carl against a backdrop of houses and sky.

Carl, lit by 2 Nikon SB 900 flashes

Carl, lit by 2 Nikon SB 900 flashes

By readjusting the kicker light, coming from behind (camera left) you can create the illusion of a setting sun behind the subject.  This is what we wanted to demonstrate with this image.

Carl, lit by 2 Nikon SB 900 flashes

Carl, lit by 2 Nikon SB 900 flashes

Or, alternatively, changing the white balance of your camera in conjunction with the creative use of color gels creates this moody, late night atmosphere – a minute after the sunset image ….

Carl, lit by 2 Nikon SB 900 flashes

Carl, lit by 2 Nikon SB 900 flashes

To wrap up the workshop, I demonstrated  the difference between 1 flash and the use of 2 flashes, one of which was provided with a red gel.  The clue is that the red only (or predominantly) shows in the shadow areas, created by the main light on camera right.

Carl, lit by 1 Nikon SB 900 flash

Carl, lit by 1 Nikon SB 900 flash

Carl, lit by 2 Nikon SB 900 flashes

Carl, lit by 2 Nikon SB 900 flashes

I’ve always wanted to pass on and share my knowledge about photography, so if you’re interested in a workshop about photography or a workshop about flash photography, don’t hesitate to contact me.  I’m available for workshops and  teaching world wide.

The future in photography and video

26 August 2010 om 15:26 door Jürgen geplaatst in de categorie Camera,Gear,Movie

Things change. Gone are the days where we used gelatine based films to recored images or movies. We’ve all gone digital now.

With the arrival of the newest breed digital (still) camera’s such as the Canon 5d MKII and Nikon’s D3s (which I’m using most of the time) we’ve seen a new possibility with these camera’s, which is recording movies.

The biggest advantage of a 5D MK II and a D3s is the availability to record scenes with prime lenses (such as a 50mm f1.4) costing a fraction of the prime lenses of an expensive recording device. More over, the possibility of recording at an ISO rate of, say, 12800, makes it possible to record a movie with continuous, ambiant light without having to use expensive cinématographic lighting.

One of the drawbacks of using a DSLR for video recording is that one cannot view through the view finder as the view is blocked by the mirror when opened. One could look at the display at the back of the camera, but it makes it difficult for the (art) director to look at the frames being recorded, together with the cameraman.

Robert Benson, a USA based photographer (www.robertbenson.com), has come up with a solution for Canon users by using a wireless screen that uses the signal from a transmitter attached to the camera, to view live what’s being recorded.

Benson shows us the invention in this quick You Tube broadcast.

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