Birds, Nikon Z9, & Flashpoint XPlor 600 HSS TTL

I have preached over and over on my blog at how Flash can improve your colors in your photos.

Flambient is even a new term you will see in photography that was actually being done long before. This is where the photographer blends available light with Flash.

No Flash [NIKON Z 9, VR 120-300mm f/2.8G, Mode = Manual, ISO 4000, 1/160, ƒ/5.6, (35mm = 460)]

Now this is without a flash shot of birds on the bird feeder. I am shooting from one window of my house and I put the Flashpoint XPlor 600 HSS TTL in another window about 15+ feet away creating a triangle between camera, subject and light.

Birds at Bird feeder using the Flashpoint XPlor 600 HSS TTL [NIKON Z 9, VR 120-300mm f/2.8G, Mode = Manual, ISO 4000, 1/160, ƒ/5.6, (35mm = 460)]

The hard part with doing this is the balance between available light and the flash.

Birds at Bird feeder Using the Flashpoint XPlor 600 HSS TTL [NIKON Z 9, VR 120-300mm f/2.8G, Mode = Manual, ISO 16000, 1/500, ƒ/5.6, (35mm = 380)]

This to me is a little too much flash. What you choose to do will be part of your style and approach.

Birds at Birdfeeder Using the Flashpoint XPlor 600 HSS TTL [NIKON Z 9, VR 120-300mm f/2.8G, Mode = Manual, ISO 16000, 1/500, ƒ/8, (35mm = 600)]

Tip Don’t Use TTL

TTL Flash works by the flash doing a pre-flash and then based on that the camera takes a picture with the second flash. I think you could risk startling the subject and affect the one with the actual flash.

Another problem is you will drain your battery for a flash much quicker with it taking 2 flashes every time you take a photo.

Processed in Lightroom and Topaz AI Sharpen Birds at Birdfeeder Using the Flashpoint XPlor 600 HSS TTL [NIKON Z 9, VR 120-300mm f/2.8G, Mode = Manual, ISO 8000, 1/250, ƒ/8, (35mm = 600)] Flash set to 1/16 power.

I think you dial in the best settings to take the photo without the flash and then add the flash. My suggestion is to have the flash -1 EV of the setting you have before flash.

Birds at Birdfeeder Using the Flashpoint XPlor 600 HSS TTL [NIKON Z 9, VR 120-300mm f/2.8G, Mode = Manual, ISO 5000, 1/250, ƒ/8, (35mm = 600)] Flash set to 1/16 power

Before & After with Lighting Setup

While a photo may look great–seeing the before gives you a peak into what a professional photographer brings to a project.

Tesla Service Center – 1875 Greers Chapel Road, Kennesaw, GA 30144

With a smartphone camera anyone can get the photo of the before, however, it is the skills of lighting and editing that a professional uses to transform this into an “Eye-Popping” photo.

I shot this photo with my cellphone to show the setup. All four strobes are set to full power.

I first shot this photo when I arrived.

Tesla 1875 Greers Chapel Road, Kennesaw, GA 30144

I was not a fan of that tree.

Tesla 1875 Greers Chapel Road, Kennesaw, GA 30144

I like them now both for different reasons. I will let the client choose the angle to use.

Before & After Examples

Chase Bank, 4241 Roswell Road, Atlanta, GA 30342 Six Strobes were used in addition to the natural lighting. [NIKON Z 6, 24.0-105.0 mm f/4.0, Mode = Manual, ISO 400, 1/4, ƒ/8, (35mm = 24)]

What does it mean to see someone in a better light?

This is an expression of seeing something in a different perspective. For example, you always thought someone was a bad person, but after talking with them, you now see them in a different light. (Now you see them differently, and actually think they are very nice) 

It is an Idiom

The two words of Better & Light together give us a new meaning in language.

Chase Bank 4241 Roswell Road Atlanta, GA 30342

Without the extra light on the building you are missing the “WOW FACTOR”.

Chase Bank 4241 Roswell Road Atlanta, GA 30342

Even waiting for the dramatic sky and lights on the building were not giving the same results that I do with my “Dusk” or “Dawn” architecture photography. If you notice the street lights in the photo I had to fix the one on the left that wasn’t on in the final image. Again another thing I do to help my client’s work to be seen in the “Best Light”.

Chase Bank 4241 Roswell Road Atlanta, GA 30342

The key to Dusk and Dawn photos is that everything isn’t getting equal amounts of light like you get during daytime. If you want your photos to be more dramatic, be sure the light is where you want it and not just everywhere evenly.

Chase Bank 4241 Roswell Road Atlanta, GA 30342 Three strobes are helping with the lighting. [NIKON D5, 14.0-24.0 mm f/2.8, Mode = Manual, ISO 400, 1/8, ƒ/5.6, (35mm = 19)]

Now the differences between these photos is much more than just lights. More than 30 photos were taken of each angle. Different exposures and capturing different light. Then after some minor editing I am selecting 3 to 5 photos that are blended in PhotoShop to give the results you are seeing.

Lidl Building – 670 Whitlock Ave – Marietta – GA 30064 5 strobes used in this photo [NIKON Z 6, 14.0-24.0 mm f/2.8, Mode = Manual, ISO 400, 1/15, ƒ/8, (35mm = 14)]

So when I arrived just before Dusk I got this photo below.

Lidl Building – 670 Whitlock Ave – Marietta – GA 30064

I asked the manager if they could move those pallets. Again I took 30+ photos and after minor editing picked 5 photos that I blended to get the final image.

Is Good Enough going to make you Competitive?

Today, so many people use their cameras on their phones and tend to say it is good enough. That lets you get these before photos I am showing here.

Can you continue to get jobs and projects with “Good Enough”? Can you pay your people good salaries with “Good Enough”? Can you pay yourself enough for a comfortable lifestyle?

Hire a professional photographer whose portfolio shows they can put your products in the best light. Doesn’t your work deserve it?

One Reason You Hire A Professional Photographer

Tony Messano who is a creative director and designed my logo said to me one day that what he hires photographers for is to take his vision and make it better.

With today’s phone cameras they are good enough to get some great photos. The question is what does the pro bring that you cannot get with your phone?

George C. Griffin [NIKON Z 6, 14.0-24.0 mm f/2.8, Mode = Manual, ISO 100, 1/5000, ƒ/2.8, (35mm = 14)]

One of the biggest things that a professional photographer brings is their ability to “Write With Light”. That is what the word photography is about–Writing With Light.

The coining of the word “photography” is usually attributed to Sir John Herschel in 1839. It is based on the Greek φῶς (phots), (genitive: photo’s) meaning “light”, and γραφή (graphê), meaning “drawing, writing”, together meaning “drawing with light”.

By adding light to help enhance the light on the statue of Dean Griffin at Georgia Tech I was able to to make the statue look different.

Different

My friend Dave Black, Nikon Ambassador and professional photographer, says, “Look for something ‘Different’ not necessarily ‘Better’”. Dave had discovered through his career that when something is “Different” the audience will stop and look.

Dean Griffin Statue. [NIKON Z 6, 70.0-200.0 mm f/2.8, Mode = Manual, ISO 100, 1/2000, ƒ/2.8, (35mm = 200)]

One more thing other than light is composition that a trained eye brings. Notice in this photo how Dean Griffin looks like he is looking down and even has depressing look to the photo.

Dean Griffin Statue [NIKON Z 6, 35.0 mm f/1.4, Mode = Manual, ISO 100, 1/2500, ƒ/1.4, (35mm = 35)]

By just changing the camera angle and perspective I make him look more authoritative and a leader.

By the way, the client called me needing help with their cover of their annual report. They wanted a photo to be “Iconic” about their foundation. They raise funds to help students get an education. I knew that Dean Griffin established and managed an emergency loan fund to assist students with financial difficulties, and he started, with his own funds, Georgia Tech’s Central Placement Office. After his retirement, he operated a job placement service for alumni over forty.

I proposed the Statue of Dean George C. Griffin for their cover. I mentioned I had done something similar of S. Truett Cathy for Chick-fil-A. I sent them this photo of the statue of Cathy in front of the Original Dwarf House in Hapeville, Georgia.

Truett Cathy Statue at the Original Dwarf House [NIKON D750, 35.0 mm f/1.4, Mode = Manual, ISO 50, 1/4000, ƒ/1.4, (35mm = 35)]

They were originally looking at real people. The advantage of going with a statue of someone who is no longer here, but embodies that core values of the institution is it then becomes “Iconic”.