How to shoot at ƒ/1.4, ISO 50, 1/4000 Shutter Speed and with Studio Strobes

Nikon D750, Sigma 35mm ƒ/1.4 DG Art, ISO 50, ƒ/1.4, 1/4000–2 Alienbees B1600

Getting this photo of Truett Cathy at the Original Dwarf House in Hapeville, GA wasn’t as simple as just pulling out the camera and shooting it at ƒ/1.4. Here is what you get if you do that alone.

Nikon D750, Sigma 35mm ƒ/1.4 DG Art, ISO 50, ƒ/1.4, 1/4000

I put two Alienbees B1600s on light stands. I used the Vagabond Mini™ Lithium to power each light. To trigger the lights I am using the Pocketwizard Mini TT1 with the AC3 on the camera and using the TT5 with AC9 on the flashes. This lets me shoot using Optimized High Speed Sync.

I would not been able to shoot with the flashes at ƒ/1.4 with flash that limits me to the sync speed of 1/200 due to the limits of the D750 and most flashes. I was already at ISO 50 which is as low as the camera will go.

I put a CTO gel on one of the Alienbees Strobes and position this a little behind the statue so I would make it look like the sun lighting the scene. Then I put the other strobe straight on acting as a fill light.

I just turned the power up and down on each flash using the Pocketwizard AC3 to control the flashes. This meant I could just take a photo and look at the back LCD and then make changes, rather than having to walk over and dial the power up and down on the back of the Alienbees B1600 flashes.

Working with a recording artist Sydney Rhame

Nikon D4, Sigma 120-300mm ƒ/2.8 DG OS HSM | S, AC-9, AC-3, PocketWizard Mini TT1, TT5, Paul Buff Vagabond, Alienbees B1600, ISO 320, ƒ/2.8, 1/640

Today I was privileged to work with Sydney Rhame who was on The Voice this year. To get those chairs to turn as she did you have to be comfortable in front of the camera.

Sydney on iTunes.

Here is her Facebook fan page

Sydney needed little direction. I just needed to spend a little time before we started asking what she was looking for in her photos.

This is one of my favorite photos today. I used the high speed sync using he Pocketwizard TTL system with the Alienbees. This let me shoot at 1/640 shutter speed. Here is the lighting diagram.

The trick was to take a few test shots until I was able to get the rich colors in the background balanced with the flashes.

The photo on the left [ISO 100, ƒ/2.8, 1/500] and the right [ISO 320, ƒ/2.8, 1/400]. I also dialed the flash down in power on the right.

This is what I call experimenting to get the look you are wanting.

Nikon D4, Nikon 85mm ƒ/1.8G, AC-3, PocketWizard Mini TT1, TT5, Paul Buff Vagabond, Alienbees B1600, ISO 100, ƒ/1.8, 1/640

I also like to have subjects bring a variety of outfits and let us try a few looks.

This is the setup where I have main light on her face and separate light to just add a little kicker in the back.

Nikon D4, Sigma 120-300mm ƒ/2.8 DG OS HSM | S, AC-9, AC-3, PocketWizard Mini TT1, TT5, Paul Buff Vagabond, Alienbees B1600, ISO 320, ƒ/2.8, 1/640

For this photo I took the white umbrella off the light behind Sydney to give a little more kick on the hair.

I also believe you really mix up the backgrounds and looks when you are helping someone with things like model portfolios, PR kits for musicians and actresses.

Nikon D750, Nikon 85mm ƒ/1.8G, ISO 100, ƒ/4, 1/200–Alienbees and Softboxes

Here is more of a traditional headshot.

Now to give a different look that this I just shot with the available light with the same setup.

Nikon D750, Nikon 85mm ƒ/1.8G, ISO 1250, ƒ/1.8, 1/200

I believe we were getting some variety throughout the photo shoot. As Sydney and I got more comfortable with each other the expressions just got better and better.

Nikon D750, Nikon 85mm ƒ/1.8G, ISO 100, ƒ/4, 1/160

While backing up and showing more of Sydney gave a different look, my favorites where up close where you can see her eyes.

 

Nikon D750, Nikon 85mm ƒ/1.8G, ISO 1250, ƒ/1.8, 1/200

When shooting at ƒ/1.8 her eyelashes are not even in focus, just her eyes.

Now shooting at ƒ/4 gave a little bit more depth-of-field.

 

Nikon D750, Nikon 85mm ƒ/1.8G, ISO 100, ƒ/4, 1/200

While the shallow depth-of-field looks great it is difficult to get all your photos in focus.

Going for “look” can sacrifice great “moments”

Because you choose to want that silky smooth BOKEH means that you will be tossing out photos just because they are not sharp where you need them to be. Therefore you may lose the best “moment” because the “look” is more important to you.

This is one of the reasons I am not shooting at wide open all the time. I prefer to stop down just a bit to get some leeway allowing me to more likely not to toss out the great “moment” because I missed the focus due to such a shallow depth-of-field.

Use flash outside

By using the strobes outside on an overcast day I was able to help the subject pop and not look flat due to the natural light.

Using high speed sync let me shoot at wide apertures and just crank the shutter speed up to control the available light.

Learning to manage expectations

Nikon D750, AF-S NIKKOR 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR, ISO 10000, ƒ/5.6, 1/250

The one thing that helps to calm my fears for an assignment is seeing what the client has gotten in the past from other photographers. I also love it when they tell me how they felt about that coverage.

The best thing you can do before you take on an assignment is to find out what the expectations are of the client for the project. I call this calibrating your creative juices.

Nikon D750, AF-S NIKKOR 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR, ISO 12800, ƒ/5.6, 1/160

Before shooting this wedding the parents of the groom showed me the brides sister’s wedding coverage from two years ago. I knew after seeing the other photographer’s work what the standards for their wedding were for their photographer.

They were happy with the photos. I made mental note of the style and then decided to meet that and then to put my own touches onto the images. I was just adding icing to the cake.

Nikon D4, Nikon 85mm ƒ/1.8G,  ISO 2800, ƒ/1.8, 1/100

My strength is finding moments like these here. Capturing the “True Love” of a bride and groom is what I loved doing with this wedding.

Nikon D750, AF-S NIKKOR 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR, ISO 100, ƒ/5.6, 1/60–Pocketwizard AC9 to combine with my Pocketwizard TT5 and then using the phone cord plug into the back of the Alienbees B1600.

I also love making the light look better when needed.

Do you know the expectations of your client? Are you able to not just meet those expectations but give them some images that take the coverage up a notch or two?