Elinchrom

Maiden Makayla

I have been wanting to take a historically based portrait of my niece Makayla for awhile, ever since I took her photo for the Exposure contest last year. I feel like she has a particular look that is quite timeless and ethereal and I thought it would be interesting to play with.

We found a Renaissance Maiden costume online (I cannot sew, and I don’t really know anyone who can) and so we decided to set up my lights and try taking some photos today. It wasn’t ideal – the weather has been crazy here, and it was really, really windy. There was nowhere really inside that we could set everything up, so I ended up having to try to make space on the patio outside. In between gusts of wind, we hung up the brown material backdrop and weighted it down to stop it from blowing everywhere (did I mention I really need a proper setup? I really need a proper setup). It was kind of misshapen, and what little sunlight backlit it in such a way that you could see the railing behind the material. I just hoped that I could stand Makayla on something tall enough so that she was in front of part of the material that didn’t have any shadows, lines, or weird looking creases.

My sister helped by doing Makayla’s hair and getting her ready, and then helped hold down the light (so windy …). I just used the one light setup with my Elinchrom Rx4 flash head¬†and a 66cm softbox, camera left, quite close to Makayla to diffuse the light.

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I had actually planned to try a butterfly lighting setup, and I probably will next time since I have already convinced my sister and Makayla that we should try again when it’s less windy.

I was actually quite surprised how the photos ended up turning out. I think I was better at directing Makayla this time; still not perfect, but everytime I’m doing it I think I’m improving. There are definite poses I had hoped to do that I didn’t get to, so I will try them next time.

 

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I really like how rich the backdrop material can look with a light vignette in post. I very lightly adjusted the temperature and added the vignette, but other than that they didn’t require a great deal of editing. I knew roughly how I wanted them to look, and I thought they turned out quite well!

 

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Makayla is actually really, really patient with me photographing her which I’m hugely grateful for. Now that I have done this style once, I can try again hopefully with some different poses and maybe an alternate lighting setup.

 

Elinchrom Studio Lighting Test 4

Today I worked with my (very patient) sister again doing some more lighting work. This time I went back to one strobe, and tried to add a white reflector.

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I tried to concentrate on achieving Rembrandt Lighting with mixed results! The above photo was probably the closest to Rembrandt lighting that I got.

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This was probably my favourite shot out of them all, and even though it isn’t Rembrandt, it still felt like “the one” that most spoke to me.

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Today’s lessons?

a) I need to learn how to be better at posing people. If that means having a rough storyboard idea before hand, then do whatever works

b) I need a reflector stand and

c) The MacGyver backdrop does not work well on a windy day

Elinchrom Studio Lighting Test 2

I had my second trial with my Elinchrom lighting set up today. Still only using one light, and it was working with my young niece in the late afternoon.

I started panicking when the strobe I was using wasn’t working. The light was test firing from both the head itself and the transmitter, and the bulb wasn’t flat. I was trying everything, and my niece was getting bored and dramatically exclaiming that she would “never get to have her photograph taken”. So I swapped out the heads, went ahead with taking her photos (I managed to get two decent ones) and then went back to the first strobe to try to figure out what was wrong. The Elinchrom has both normal sync mode and high speed sync mode, and that can be adjusted on the head. It turns out I had both turned off. At least I figured it out!

 

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So I may not have ended up with a lot of photos, but I was proud of the ones I did get and I was happy that I was able to work out the problem. And the MacGyver backdrop is still holding up well. Small wins!

 

The Incredibly Implausible Wishlist Blog

Because it never hurts to dream!

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Unfortunately when I got my camera it was body only, and so I don’t have a “standard” zoom lens at the moment. I’ve been looking at a standard lens for a long time, especially one that is “fast” and will work in low light making it ideal for cosplay portraits at conventions. It was also the most prominent lens I saw used when I was on the red carpet for The World’s End premiere.

There are two specifically that I’ve had my eye on – the Tamron SP AF 24-70mm f2.8 Di VC USD (that’s a mouthful!) and the ultimate; the Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8 II USM.

 

Tamron 24-70 AF 28-75mm f/2.8 Macro XR Di LD for Canon

Tamron 24-70mm f2.8 Di VC USD Canon mount

 

Canon 24-70mm f/2.8

Canon 24-70mm f/2.8

 

 

There are pros and cons to both. The Canon is the better for build quality and image quality (especially at the edges of the frame where the Tamron can tend to be softer) but the Tamron has an image stabiliser and is about $1500 cheaper here in Australia.

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I am lucky enough to have a pretty amazing telephoto lens already, that has served me very well at conventions so far. But my “Holy Grail” lens would have to be the Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8 L IS USM. It’s an amazing lens, used by professional photographers for all different types of photography.

Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8 L IS USM

Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8 L IS USM

The range in the focal length means it is handy in a variety of situations (for example, 70mm for cosplay portraits all the way to 200mm for panels) and the constant f/2.8 aperture means that it is tack sharp and fast at all focal lengths. This makes it absolutely fantastic to use in the low lighting of convention halls and panel rooms. It also focuses extremely quickly and silently, thanks to Canon’s ultrasonic motor.

It is a big, heavy lens but it is well built and the Canon L series are known for their build quality (and therefore for their expense). So it is a very distant dream but a dream nonetheless!

Digital Photography Review have an excellent in-depth article about this lens here

 

lighting

I haven’t done a lot of work with studio lighting and portraiture, but it is something I would like to get into eventually. I belong to a lot of Facebook groups that talk about lighting and techniques and Elinchrom was one of the brands that was recommended, especially the “instant studio” shown here that comes with Elinchrom flash heads, light stands, softboxes, a trigger and a reflector.

Elinchrom D-Lite RX 4/4 To Go

Elinchrom D-Lite RX 4/4 To Go

 

And finally this, because I think it’s really cute!

 

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Photojojo Lens Pillow!

It’s a Lens Pillow from Photojojo!