|Nikon D5, Nikon 85mm ƒ/1.8G, ISO 100, ƒ/1.8, 1/1250|
I love catchlight in the eyes for portraits. I think it brings out the life and vibrance in a person.
To accomplish this, I used flash. Now, I had to figure out how to shoot with a flash at ƒ/1.8 outside in the sunlight. Fixing it is where High-Speed Shutter Sync does the trick. HSS is when you can take a photo using a flash at any shutter speed other than the sync speed of 1/250.
I always start with the off-camera flash 45º to the left or right of the subject. If their body is facing left, that is where You will place the light.
The light is generally 45º above their head. I see if the flash causes a shadow that hits their lips. If it does, I lower the light until the shadow is just off the lips of the person. You can also control the shadow by reducing or raising the subject’s chin. So you must be aware of light placement throughout the photo shoot as you will most likely have them move their head around.
Here is my setup. I have an Alienbees B1600 with a white umbrella that I am diffusing the light. To sync at the High Shutter Speeds, I use the Pocketwizard TT5 with the AC9 that plugs into the back of the Alienbees using a phone cord connection.
You have wireless control using the AC3 on top of the Pocketwizard Mini TT1. I use the M setting on the AC3.
Here is the chart of how that would work:
- +3 = Full Power
- +2 = 1/2 Power
- +1 = 1/4 Power
- 0 = 1/8 Power
- -1 = 1/16 Power
- -2 = 1/32 Power
- -3 = 1/32 Power
In between the stops, you also have the 1/3 increments to use.
|Here is a setup from an earlier shoot. I used only one in the photos at the top.|
So here is the basic setup I was using. Here is the list of gear:
- 1 – Alienbee B1600s
- 1 – Vagabond Mini
- 1 – Cowboystudio 7′ 4 Section Portable Adjustable Stand
- 1 – Westcott 2001 43″ Optical White Satin Collapsible Umbrella
- 1 – Pocketwizard AC9
- 1 – Pocketwizard TT5
- 1 – Pocketwizard Mini TT1
- 1 – Pocketwizard AC3
- Nikon D5
- Nikon 85mm ƒ/1.8G
I pack the lighting gear all into this Seahorse SE-920 with padded dividers. So I can fly with this kit to jobs where I need something a little more robust and capable of shooting at ƒ/1.8 to get that great BOKEH.
|Nikon D5, Nikon 85mm ƒ/1.8G, ISO 100, ƒ/1.8, 1/4000|
Now, I can choose to change my settings on the fly. I was shooting at ƒ/1.8 of the senior in front of the high school. I thought they might want to see the high school a little more. I needed to stop at a different ƒ-stop to do that.
|Nikon D5, Nikon 85mm ƒ/1.8G, ISO 100, ƒ/7.1, 1/320|
I just powered up the flash from the camera and dragged the shutter from the 1/4000 speed to 1/320.
Here is another example where I needed to change the ƒ-stop.
|Nikon D5, Nikon 85mm ƒ/1.8G, ISO 100, ƒ/1.8, 1/2000|
Again I realized the client might want to know what was on the banner in the background—quick change without moving my feet.
|Nikon D5, Nikon 85mm ƒ/1.8G, ISO 100, ƒ/6.3, 1/250|
Why use such a powerful flash and not just a Speedlight? Well, the recycling time on a Speedlight can be pretty slow.
Why I chose the Alienbees kit over the Profoto Monolights
Price alone would be enough to make you wonder why you are spending so much more on the Profoto system.
$57.68 on Amazon
Manfrotto 5001B Nano Black Light Stand – 6.2′ (1.9m)
I chose this light stand because of how small it folds up [19.3″ (49cm)] for easy travel through airports.
$16.23 on Amazon
CowboyStudio 43-Inch Black and White Umbrella for Photography and Video Lighting Reflective
$418 on Amazon
PocketWizard MiniTT1 Radio Transmitter, FlexTT5 Transceiver, and AC3 Zone Controller Bundle – Nikon
The AC3 helps you control the flash power from the camera and attaches to the Mini TT1 on the camera.
$54 on Amazon
PocketWizard AC9 AlienBees Adapter Power Control for Nikon
Plugs into Alienbees and onto the TT5
$359.95 from Alienbees
AlienBees™ B1600 Flash Unit
The total cost on my system for one flash is $905.86. Just the Profoto B1 flash without a light stand and umbrella runs $2,095.00.
$2,095.00 from B&H
Profoto B1 500 AirTTL Battery-Powered Flash
When you put together a kit of 3 or 4 lights, you can see your money costs go up with the Profoto system.
The Profoto gives you one thing that the system I designed doesn’t provide, and that is TTL. Generally, when working with studio strobes, once you put them in place and take your first photo to check for exposure, your lights don’t move.
Here is why I wouldn’t say I like TTL–it is unpredictable. Sure I must take a reading and then set my lights without TTL, but the exposure is not consistent every time I take a shot. With TTL, a slight movement with your camera, the model, or something in the background will impact your meter and tell the camera and flashes to adjust.