Archive for the ‘Gear’ Category

Lighting Workshop – A Success!

Wednesday, February 27th, 2013

I co-hosted a lighting workshop last weekend in Wakefield, RI for photographers looking to take their lighting game to the next level. It was hosted by fellow wedding photographer, Seth Jacobson (pictured above) and myself. It was more on studio lighting this time, where the last few times hadn’t really even touched on studio lighting. We had a group of really wonderful photographers who produced some incredible images from our day together! I didn’t shoot many images myself, but I did take a few of each setup that I really ended up liking.

Thanks so much to our models, the hair and makeup artists Lynda Williams and Jenn Hodge! Thanks also to Trevor Holden and Matt Jacobsen for some behind the scenes photography and assistance in setting up and breaking down the piles of gear we brought with us, as well as taking some participants under their wing as needed. Most of all, thank you to all of you who came out to learn and play with some new lighting techniques on Saturday!

This may not give you much of an idea of what the workshop was like, but this time lapse video is a good way to show you everything that went on during it.

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Before & After

Saturday, July 14th, 2012

Here’s an image I took of Heather, a recent bride, as she prepared to walk down the isle a few weeks ago. I wanted to do a little show and tell to demonstrate what a good edit can do to take an image to the next level. Above – I photographed Heather putting final touches on before her wedding ceremony in fluorescent light, from above, one of the least flattering light sources around. It also happened to be in a somewhat busy looking youth area of the church where she was getting married. Additionally, it was in the basement, which meant no natural light. I wasn’t sold on using this image right off the bat, as a matter of fact, it almost hit the archive immediately, until I decided to start tweaking it a bit.

I started by converting to black and white, then I removed the distracting elements in the background one by one. I increased the exposure a little bit and added in a little warm color to warm it up a bit. After that had been done, I realized I now had a band-new image in front of me. What do you think? Is it better the way it started or the way it finished?

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Lighting Workshop: Success!

Wednesday, March 28th, 2012

I co-hosted a lighting workshop in Providence last weekend, and I’m happy to say that was a big success!

We worked with 12 fantastic people who were all eager to learn and share. They traveled from as far away as New Hampshire for this workshop. We photographed 4 great models who sat through countless setups and lighting changes throughout the day. Lynda Williams and Jenn Hodge were behind the scenes doing a stellar job, as always, on hair and makeup.

The day started with a quick overview of the fundamentals, then we talked a bit about quality of light. I set up a shot live and in real time to illustrate how I go about lighting a scene. We broke off into groups after that;  everyone was able to try out new lighting setups, ask questions, and learn from each other at the same time. We took some time to look at a few images on the big screen, and we broke down each setup to try and determine how each image was lit. I’m truly blown away at some of the images these guys captured at the workshop!

It was a fun day – I think I was as tired as I am after weddings! Thanks to all the great people that helped made this happen: Seth, Jess Powers @ Fete, the models, Jenn, Lynda, and all the attendees that made their way to Fete for this workshop.

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Before & After

Tuesday, March 6th, 2012

Just a quick behind the scenes look at a shot I took at a recent engagement session. Thanks Dave, for being a great light stand!

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‘Light The Way’ Lighting Workshop

Thursday, February 9th, 2012

Photographers: Want to learn more about lighting techniques and posing in a dynamic, hands-on workshop?
Want to experiment with new equipment (or better understand the equipment you already own) in a fun, supportive environment?

Bring your camera and your lighting questions to Light The Way at Club Fête in Providence on March 24 from 10am – 3pm. Hosted by Brad Smith Photography & Seth Jacobson Photography, the program will include strategies for creating dynamic & dramatic lighting scenarios. There will also be an opportunity for peer feedback and review of your work. We believe in learning by doing, so this is not a lecture. This is an interactive program with a strong emphasis on play. We will have models and lighting gear on hand and participants will have the opportunity to immediately test and apply what they learn in a creative, supportive setting.

JOIN US!
The cost is $100 for the 4 hour workshop, and the registration deadline is March 10th. We will have a break for lunch (Wes’ Rib House is right next door!), but participants are welcome to bring a bag lunch and continue through lunch.

Please email workshop@smithbrad.com to secure your spot.

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Before & After

Wednesday, February 8th, 2012

(Straight out of camera above; edited version below)

There’s nothing too earth-shattering going on in this image of Katherine Quinn at The Fete Club in Providence, but I wanted point out the difference in a “straight out of camera” image and one that’s been touched up to be the best that it can be. The image straight out of camera is a well exposed image, a little cool color temperature-wise, but otherwise pretty good. I warmed up the white balance a bit in Lightroom, increased the black levels a bit, and cloned out a few imperfections in the red cloth that I found distracting. I added a touch of grain to give the image a little more depth – I felt as though it was sharp looking. (I don’t know how else to describe it, but the added grain takes that edge off a little bit)

So, what do you think? Do you like it, do you hate it?

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Katherine Quinn @ Club Fête

Monday, January 23rd, 2012

I had the opportunity to hang out with my friend and fellow photographer, Seth Jacobson for a bit the other day at a brand new Club Fête in the Olneyville section of Providence. We were there to take some images of Katherine, a talented musician who happens to be opening up for Pat McGee in a few weeks. (If you know me, you know I’ve been a fan of Pat McGee for a very long time. I might have to get out and check out that show!)

This was part of Seth’s RI Portrait Project that he’s been working on over the last several months. We were given full access to the club, which was expertly decorated and very interesting visually, throughout. These are a few images that I took during my time there. The above image was taken with my brand new 43″ Octabox (with the Elinchrom Quadra light inside) up and overhead and the image below was taken with the same Octabox and Quadra off to the left, with a small strip light behind and to the right.

Below: Just a cool detail shot of one of the wall decorations at Club Fête.

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Sharing a Studio Setup

Monday, January 16th, 2012

I photographed a past bride back in December and we finished with a couple of shots in more of a studio setting. I wanted to share quickly how I made it work.

The studio was actually in her living room. What’s nice about a seamless backdrop is it removes all the clutter from a background and allows the viewer to focus just on the subject of the image. I used a dark grey background color. (“Thunder Grey”, as a matter of fact) It’s really the opposite of what I’m usually looking for in a photograph. I generally look to bring the environment into my images when I’m shooting, but in this case I think the simplicity really lets the subject stand out that much more.

The lighting was simple, as you can see below. I used my Elinchrom Quadra through a very large (60″) shoot-through umbrella. I like the directional light that it gives off – and the way that it creates highlight and shadow on the subject. The umbrella is just one tool I could have used, but I chose it for the quality of light it gives off. A soft box would have focused the light more on the subject, and the background would have been darker. The flash head with nothing over it (referred to as bare-bulb) would have created very hard, harsh areas of light and shadow on the subject, which would take away from the look that I was heading towards.

It’s really the simplest of lighting setups, but a very effective one for studio work. I had my subject stand where she was directly lit by the light, but far enough away from the background so that the light would fall off a bit before hitting the seamless. That lets the background get a bit darker rather than looking like it’s lit as the subject is lit.

The image above was taken at ISO 200, f/8, and 1/160 of a second.

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What’s In My Bag?

Thursday, December 29th, 2011

I get asked every so often about what equipment I use at weddings and other events or sessions. Sometimes it’s other photographers, other times it’s just a curious guest. I thought I’d put together a blog post detailing some of my favorite lenses and other goodies that you’ll find in my bag that helps me every day I’m shooting. We’ve all heard that the equipment doesn’t make great photographs, but the right equipment will help me get the shots I see in my head. It helps to know my gear inside and out, which is important especially at weddings, where changing settings often needs to be done quickly and in little or no light.

^Canon 5d Mark II
I love this camera. It’s the perfect camera for me as a wedding photographer because it’s got great low-light performance and the full frame sensor that helps create the beautiful separation between the subject and the background that helps define my style. I don’t ever use the video function of this camera, but it’s fantastic from what I understand, and film-makers from all over the world are using this camera to create some very impressive short films.

^Canon 7d
My ever-trusty backup camera. I use this camera quite a bit with the Canon 10-22mm lens attached as well as the Canon 70-200mm to get that extra reach I need during a wedding ceremony. Because the 7d has a crop sensor, it allows my longer lenses to get even closer to the action.

^Canon 10-22mm f/3.5
Mostly used for sweeping church shots, tight dressing areas, and reception crowd shots. It’s very wide. It lives on my 7d.

^Canon 50mm f/1.2
Probably my most used lens. It’s locked onto my camera 85% of the time. The 50mm lens (any version) is a great normal-view lens and is one that I’d recommend to anyone starting to build their lens kit. (check out the 50mm 1.8) It’s got great depth-of-field, and really isolates the subject of the image. Prime lenses contribute heavily to my style of photography, and this lens is the best of the primes as far as I’m concerned. I could shoot an entire wedding or engagement session with this lens if I had to. I love it that much!

^Canon 24mm  f/1.4 II
A newer lens to my lineup, this lens is very wide, but also very sharp. This lens is wonderful to use to get dancing shots – it allows me to get in real close and really get a good feel for the action and emotion. It’s also a great lens for a reception venue or church set up shot – a nice wide shot of the way the room looks before people fill in.

^Canon 35mm f/1.4
This lens quickly became a favorite of mine! It’s probably my second most used lens, and it really shines during the entire wedding day, from getting ready through the reception.  I also use it heavily for engagement sessions and portraits where I want to bring the environment into the image with the subjects. It’s great for seeing the bigger picture. It’s tack sharp and focuses lightning fast. I love it!

^Canon 85mm f/1.8
Probably my least used lens at weddings, but I can’t bear to get rid of it because it really is a beautiful piece of glass. It’s better suited to senior portraits or corporate head shots because it really allows the face to be the star of the image. It’s got fantastic contrast and color for such an inexpensive lens.

^Canon 24-70mm f/2.8
This lens is very sharp for a zoom lens. I use it predominantly during the reception, because things can change so quickly with regard to where people are within the frame. I will also usually have this lens on when the bride and groom turn and walk down the aisle after they are married because it allows me to get in tight, then take a nice, sweeping shot of them exiting the church or ceremony venue.

^Canon 70-200mm f/2.8
I normally use this lens during the wedding ceremony only. It’s got a great reach on it, and stays nice and sharp at a distance. I will also sometimes put this lens on my camera at the beginning of engagement sessions to photograph the couple without being right in their faces. Later in the session I’ll get closer with another lens to make it a little more intimate.

Canon 580ex II Flash
Not much to say about this piece of gear, just that it performs as advertised, consistently ever time.

^Vivitar 285hv (2)
These ridiculously cheap flashes once were the backbone of my off-camera lighting kit. They’re reliable and packable, but made rather cheaply. They allow me to add another dimension to reception lighting or a little punch of light during the couples portraits when needed. They can be hidden in the smallest of places. It’s nice to have these tools in my bag.

^Elinchrom Quadra Ranger
The most powerful light in my kit, the Quadra bridges the gap between small speedlights and studio strobes. It insures that I can light just about any situation I could find myself in over the course of a wedding day or other assignment, and it’s still small enough to pack in my bag. It’s completely battery powered like the speedlights, but is rated over 4 times as powerful as my Canon 580 exII. It makes it easy to kill the ambient light in just about any situation, including some of the brightest portions of the day.

^Pocketwizard (5)
The under-appreciated tool. These guys are more expensive than their off-brand counterparts, but they always work. Always. If a flash isn’t firing, it’s the cord or the flash(or me!), never these guys. The pocketwizards connect my camera to the flashes placed around the reception hall, or to light the subject during portraits, and they provide the necessary link to firing those flashes. They also allow me to hide a camera (and fire it remotely from my other camera) where a person would be distracting, say, behind the priest during a ceremony.

^ LitePanels Micro LED Video Light
This tiny light allows me to throw a little splash of light into a scene in a “what you see is what you get” kind of way. A lot of times I’ll approach the bride and groom later in the evening after dinner has started to see if they’d be up for taking a few more images outside. Most times I’ll bring just this light or maybe this light and a small speed light to light the scene.

No photographer’s gear bag would be complete without all the little extras that come along with doing what we do. Gaffers tape, random connectors, batteries, business cards, iPad camera connector kit, flashlight, ball bungees, A-clamps, color gel kits (for changing the white balance of a flash), and so on. It’s all in the name of being prepared for anything that this job can throw at you.

What IS my bag?
My current main bag is a Think Tank Airport International rolling bag which gets me in and out of most spots I’ll find myself working. Occasionally I’ll pull out my old LowePro MiniTrekker backpack for a smaller kit that’s far more portable. For engagement sessions and other times where I only need one camera body and a couple of lenses, (with cards and extra batteries) I’ll open my Think Tank Retrospective Lens Changer 3 for a shoulder bag that is super portable and comfortable for long walking trips.

If you have any questions on any of the gear I carry with me – please leave a comment below!

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Before & After

Sunday, July 10th, 2011

I wanted to post another before & after image today. This one was taken a few weeks ago at the Aldrich Mansion in Warwick at Jenna & Brian’s wedding. It was during the dinner service – I had already warned them that I would try and convince them to take a few images once the light was almost drained from the sky. Jenna and Brian agreed to step outside for a few minutes, and those few minutes ended up being some of my favorite images from the wedding day.

The image below needed some tweaking out of the camera. Although it was pretty darn close color-wise.

My second shooter, Dave was standing to my right holding a small speedlight on a boom, and in order for me to get the centered composition (and the lighting) that I wanted, I had to include him and the boom in the frame. I assumed Jenna and Brian would appreciate me taking my second shooter out of the frame. I patched up the sky and facade of the Aldrich to remove Dave from the image. Going a step further, I also took the wedding guests that were hanging out on the patio out of the image. It’s not that I didn’t want them there, (really!) but the image is a quiet one, and I thought it benefited from the deletion. I removed the bar to the right of the doors on the patio, also the flare created by shooting towards the lights on the Aldrich, then patched everything up. It’s not perfect, I can still see some things i would tweak, but I think it’s much better than how it started.

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