Elinchrom « 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 …

 

on how to take a group photograph …

9 March 2011 om 18:03 door Jürgen geplaatst in de categorie Flashlight,Group photograph,Photography,Portrait,Studio

Remember my previous post? I talked about portrait photography for MBS but also mentioned we photographed a the whole team as a group inside the house in which we photographed the individual portraits.  Well, I didn’t include the making of the group photographt in the previous post as I wanted to keep it for a seperate post.

The group photograph we took of the staff at MBS was done in a living room.  They had seen a group photograph of a father and his 4 sons I did a while ago and they wanted something along those lines for their formal group photograph.  Therefore, we set up a mobile studio containing a background system with white background paper and 3 Elinchrome strobes (RX600).  I used 1 large Chimera softbox on the strobe facing the group and two gridded strobes aimed at the background in order to illuminate the white background (as to render it as white as possible without blowing it out too much).  The grids I used in order to reduce the spill on to the people in the group, coming strait out of the strobes.  This is something I wouldn’t need to do in studio, but on location, where space comes at a premium, this was necessary.

You can see part of the setup in this image, which I took as part of my test images to judge the lighting and position of the people in the group.

group photograph

group photograph

Notice also the white curtain I had to use in order to get the group positioned against a white backdrop.  As the group photograph was to be cleaned-up afterwards in post production, it didn’t bother me too much.

So this is what it finally looked like.  I positioned myself a bit higher up in order to create more depth in the image, which was liked very much by the group (and myself …).  Image photographer on a Nikon D3x.  Flashes triggered with Elinchrome Skyport.

group photograph

group photograph

Group photographs are sometimes a nightmare for photographers, as there are so many things that can go wrong …. but on this one, it was almost plain sailing!

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

Corporate photography – or how to make photos to meet your clients needs

4 March 2011 om 14:47 door Jürgen geplaatst in de categorie advertising,Commercial,corporate photography,Flashlight,photographer,Photography

As a corporate photographer, specialising in business to business photography, you need to be able to produce photographs that meet your clients needs.

In this particular case, the people at bakker asked me to come up with a series of photos for their new website.  They had photographs on their old website, but those were stock images bought from an image bank.  They wanted the same look and feel of what they had on their old site, but instead of “generic” photos of models, they wanted to use their own people (in fact, the staff and partners).

So what the client basically wanted was to have images that were fairly evenly lit, with relatively clean backgrounds that breath professionalism.  All the shots were to be made at their offices in Antwerp.

I had Ans Brugmans with me as my make-up artist and Jasmijn assisted me with the photography and lighting.

During the course of the day, we did about 8 completely different setups, having to change the lighting each and every time. Within each setup there was often room to move around and play with different compositions.

I used my studio lighting (Elinchrom RX600) in conjunction with my small portable Nikon SB900 strobes in order to create the look we wanted.  All images are photographed on a Nikon D3s.  During the day I only used 2 prime lenses.  One was a Nikon 50mm f/1.4 lens and the other was a Nikon 85mm f/1.4 lens).  I prefer to work with prime lenses over zoom lenses because it is sharper, has a higher contrast and is generally much lighter than have zooms.  On an assignement like this there is no need to work with zoom lenses as you have both your lighting and setup under control.  Framing the image is just a matter of moving forwards or backwards in order to compose your image.

Of course, all images were photographer in the RAW format and post processed through Adobe Lightroom.

The images are now used on their site, which looks like this (at www.bakker.be) and which looks stunning (see screenshots below).  Website made by Van Katoen (Damien Dubois).

Corporate photography for bakker.be

Corporate photography for bakker.be

Corporate photography for bakker.be

Corporate photography for bakker.be

Corporate photography for bakker.be

Corporate photography for bakker.be

Corporate photography for bakker.be

Corporate photography for bakker.be

Corporate photography for bakker.be

Corporate photography for bakker.be

Studio lighting for portraits

26 May 2009 om 10:40 door Jürgen geplaatst in de categorie Flashlight,Portrait,Studio

Recently I did a studio portrait session with a pregnant couple.  The lady was about 36 weeks so it was a “now or never” shoot.

A studio session usually takes about an hour.  Sometimes a little more, sometimes a little less.  During such a session, I use different types of lighting, which means that I can go from very soft, elegant light on a white background to hard, contrasty light on a black background – within minutes.  

A good example to illustrate this are the shots of the aforementioned portrait session of the pregnant couple.  The first image shows a typical example of relatively hard lighting by using 1 strobe (Elinchrom Style 600RX) fitted with a gridded spot.  The spot naturally throws a restricted beam of light and the grid channels it even more.  The result is an image with very directional light, hard shadow, a lot of contrast but also with a lot of emotion and mood.  Also, because of the restricted light, the background doesn’t receive any light and stays black (although a light grey background had been used).

valerietim-195-2

The image has had post-production in Lightroom where I opted for a sepia look.  In my opinion, sepia works very well as skin tones (most of the times better than black and white), hence my choice for sepia.

On the other end of the lighting spectrum we have a lighting setup consisting of 3 Elinchrom strobes.  Two strobes were placed on either side of the couple and were fitted with large Chimera sofboxes.  These softboxes make for large and soft light sources, allowing for the light to wrap around the subject and thus creating soft shadows.  The 3rd strobe was used to illuminate the background, which was exactly the same grey background as in the previous image.  This time, by over exposing the background, it is rendered as pure white.  I balanced the two soft light sources in the front against the background in such a way that the couple was also a little overexposed, in order to get the desired image.  Post production in Lightroom (sepia toning).

 

valerietim-240-2

These two photographs, taken within a few minutes from each other, illustrate the fact that lighting – and not the camera  - does most of the job in a photograph.  It’s the photographers’ task to postion its lighting in such a way that he or she obtains the desired effect.  And this skill is still the reason why photographers exist, because no camera can do this for you.

Jürgen Doom