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Subject: "Speedlight layout for portrait of Caucassians and Afric..." Previous topic | Next topic
007GB Gold Member Nikonian since 08th Jul 2007Thu 20-May-10 04:57 PM
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"Speedlight layout for portrait of Caucassians and African"


Chicago, US
          

Hello,

I am going to be taking a portrait of my best friend, his wife (both pasty white) and their newly adopted African 3 year old son (jet black). I want to make sure everyone is exposed well.

I have an sb800 and a sb600. I'm thinking of placing sb800 and 600 with domes on opposte sides of the camera. The camera would act as master. The background will more than likely be the fireplace, although Ill be looking for a background alternative.

Can I get away with two lights? I might rent an sb600 or 800 to light background or backlight people.I might rent umbrellas for the two (2) speed lights. I prefer not to spend money on rental.

How do I make sure the mom and dad aren't overexposed and the son is not underexposed? Does this sound like a good approach? Any ideas are appreciated.

Derrick

Never let a day go by without spending time with your D700.

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Derrick

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Replies to this topic
Subject Author Message Date ID
Reply message RE: Speedlight layout for portrait of Caucassians and A...
yert3
21st May 2010
1
Reply message RE: Speedlight layout for portrait of Caucassians and A...
quenton8 Silver Member
21st May 2010
2
Reply message RE: Speedlight layout for portrait of Caucassians and A...
007GB Gold Member
23rd May 2010
3
Reply message RE: Speedlight layout for portrait of Caucassians and A...
beemerman2k Silver Member
27th May 2010
4
     Reply message RE: Speedlight layout for portrait of Caucassians and A...
quenton8 Silver Member
27th May 2010
5
          Reply message RE: Speedlight layout for portrait of Caucassians and A...
beemerman2k Silver Member
27th May 2010
6
               Reply message RE: Speedlight layout for portrait of Caucassians and A...
quenton8 Silver Member
27th May 2010
7
               Reply message RE: Speedlight layout for portrait of Caucassians and A...
beemerman2k Silver Member
27th May 2010
8
                    Reply message RE: Speedlight layout for portrait of Caucassians and A...
quenton8 Silver Member
27th May 2010
10
               Reply message RE: Speedlight layout for portrait of Caucassians and A...
Beemer2 Silver Member
05th Jun 2010
11
Reply message RE: Now camera settings
Len Shepherd Gold Member
27th May 2010
9
Reply message RE: Now camera settings
bluefeather505
23rd Sep 2013
12
     Reply message RE: Now camera settings
luckyphoto Silver Member
24th Sep 2013
13
          Reply message RE: Now camera settings
William Rounds Gold Member
24th Sep 2013
14
Reply message RE: Speedlight layout for portrait of Caucassians and A...
bens0472 Silver Member
24th Sep 2013
15

yert3 Registered since 25th Jul 2007Fri 21-May-10 01:48 AM
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#1. "RE: Speedlight layout for portrait of Caucassians and African"
In response to Reply # 0


San Antonio, US
          

You might try umbrellas and attempt to feather the parents with light and the toddler more toward the center of the light's cone. I think an incident/flash meter rather than your camera's meter would definitely help in this situation as it will tell you the exposure settings from the light falling on the subjects, not reflected from them, if shooting outdoors or somewhere where's there's plenty of ambient light to work with. Either way, you'll probably have to chimp some to get the exposure you're after. Keep us posted on what you decided to do and how it worked out.

yert3

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quenton8 Silver Member Awarded for bringing his experience to the Nikonians community helping members with printing and the use of post-processing software from the perspective of an IT professional. Nikonian since 11th Apr 2010Fri 21-May-10 02:00 AM
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#2. "RE: Speedlight layout for portrait of Caucassians and African"
In response to Reply # 1


Toronto, CA
          

My experience with shooting mixed colouring (our church has a very broad range) is that once I use a defused flash (bounce card, light-sphere), I do a "normal" "waspy" exposure and the darker faces come out just fine, or even if they need a bit of lightening, the detail is there.

So my advice would be -- "don't worry about it", expose for the parents and the rest will fall in place.

What I HAVE found is that interior available light photos can be a problem, working for white and causing blackouts for darker skin, the defused flash helps.

----
Dennis Smith.

  

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007GB Gold Member Nikonian since 08th Jul 2007Sun 23-May-10 04:31 PM
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#3. "RE: Speedlight layout for portrait of Caucassians and African"
In response to Reply # 0


Chicago, US
          

Thanks for all the help. It's greatly appreciated.

Derrick

Never let a day go by without spending time with your D700.

<http://images.nikonians.org/galleries/showgallery.php/cat/500/ppuser/144094|My Nikonians Gallery>

Derrick

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beemerman2k Silver Member Nikonian since 27th Mar 2006Thu 27-May-10 01:52 AM
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#4. "RE: Speedlight layout for portrait of Caucassians and African"
In response to Reply # 3
Thu 27-May-10 01:53 AM by beemerman2k

Ellington, US
          

Great question, Derrick. I am a budding black photographer (at 50 years of age!) and I am constantly taking informal pictures of mixed race groups. But I have often wondered how I would handle the situation you are about to face where the pictures are more than just for fun, but are to capture a precious moment in time for this family. I am very interested in hearing how things worked out as well. If you can post some samples (if that family doesn't mind) that would be appreciated as well.

Another question that haunts me is trying to take good pictures of a wedding where the bride has a very dark complexion, yet she is wearing a white dress! How do you capture her face and at the same time not blow out the finery of her wedding garb?

Oh yeah, I forgot that I have my picture attached to my posts. So I suppose I didn't need to mention that I'm black...sorta obvious!

Beemerman2k
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quenton8 Silver Member Awarded for bringing his experience to the Nikonians community helping members with printing and the use of post-processing software from the perspective of an IT professional. Nikonian since 11th Apr 2010Thu 27-May-10 02:12 AM
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#5. "RE: Speedlight layout for portrait of Caucassians and African"
In response to Reply # 4
Thu 27-May-10 02:12 AM by quenton8

Toronto, CA
          

Your photo (beemerman2) is actually not bad -- you can see your face well and I expect the tee-shirt is white?

I understand the concern, but having dealt quite a bit with mixed race at our Church (no weddings so far but likely one soon) I don't have to remind you that you are black -- your face should be dark but have detail -- as I said, your photo with your post is not a bad combination of white against your skin.

----
Dennis Smith.

  

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beemerman2k Silver Member Nikonian since 27th Mar 2006Thu 27-May-10 02:44 AM
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#6. "RE: Speedlight layout for portrait of Caucassians and African"
In response to Reply # 5


Ellington, US
          

That picture that makes up my avatar was taken by my wife in 2004, on a cheap Sony digital camera in Malibu, CA. I'm standing at the top of a road known as "the Point", that overlooks the famous motorcycle hangout called the "Rock Store". That's my BMW motorcycle tee-shirt (that's a stitching of my motorcycle on the tee) and this is mid-day in the So-Cal sunlight. In any case, the camera itself had the brains to tone down the exposure value so as to not blow out the tee-shirt.

I'll have to update my avatar photo to a more recent picture. My 11 year old daughter took a nice picture of me recently with my D70s. Maybe I'll use that as my avatar.

Beemerman2k
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Nikon D7100
Nikon D70s w/ SB600
Nikon N70 w/ SB28

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quenton8 Silver Member Awarded for bringing his experience to the Nikonians community helping members with printing and the use of post-processing software from the perspective of an IT professional. Nikonian since 11th Apr 2010Thu 27-May-10 03:13 AM
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#7. "RE: Speedlight layout for portrait of Caucassians and African"
In response to Reply # 6


Toronto, CA
          

I meant not bad re relative brightnesses

I will leave other comments to you (and your family).

The first experience I had with mixed coloured photography was about 30 years ago, someone at our office got asked to take some photos (they were making a bit of cash on the side) -- but had no solid experience. One of the people to be photographed was black (not as common back then) and the girl asked to take the pictures was panicky and asked me what to do.

My answer was simple -- pretend you are photographing a person, what would you do
- expose for the "person" as a whole
- use flash as needed, bounced, diffused, something -- to fill shadows

If you fill the shadows you are lighting the face -- sounded good anyway, and she was thrilled when things turned out OK.

Basically I try not to worry about it specifically and that seems to have worked -- so far!

----
Dennis Smith.

  

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beemerman2k Silver Member Nikonian since 27th Mar 2006Thu 27-May-10 03:42 AM
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#8. "RE: Speedlight layout for portrait of Caucassians and African"
In response to Reply # 7


Ellington, US
          

I am still on a D70s, but I would imagine this issue is more manageable with the newer Nikons with Active D-Lighting? Doesn't that logic pretty much prevent you from blowing out anything in your picture? Also, I would imagine there are some solutions in post processing using the RAW files that would save the details the jpg processing cannot capture so well.

Beemerman2k
2000 BMW R1100RT Motorcycle
Nikon D7100
Nikon D70s w/ SB600
Nikon N70 w/ SB28

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quenton8 Silver Member Awarded for bringing his experience to the Nikonians community helping members with printing and the use of post-processing software from the perspective of an IT professional. Nikonian since 11th Apr 2010Thu 27-May-10 12:07 PM
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#10. "RE: Speedlight layout for portrait of Caucassians and African"
In response to Reply # 8


Toronto, CA
          

I would definitely shoot RAW and figure on some post-processing to get the best results, but I would not think that custom individual face processing should be needed, just overall.

----
Dennis Smith.

  

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Beemer2 Silver Member Nikonian since 07th Dec 2006Sat 05-Jun-10 11:15 PM
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#11. "RE: Speedlight layout for portrait of Caucassians and African"
In response to Reply # 6
Sat 05-Jun-10 11:17 PM by Beemer2

Scotland, GB
          

James,

Nice to see you like me also have a 2000 BMW R1100RT

.... and check out my Nikonians name!

Happy shooting and safe riding,

Ian

If only Mozart had had a camera

  

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Len Shepherd Gold Member Nikonian since 09th Mar 2003Thu 27-May-10 09:20 AM
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#9. "RE: Now camera settings"
In response to Reply # 0


Yorkshire, GB
          

>How do I make sure the mom and dad aren't overexposed and the son is not underexposed?
This is probably more a camera settings issue than anything.
There is a wide dynamic range between skin tones. Your D700 has wide dynamic range - which is widest at 200 ISO - so use 200 ISO.
Shoot RAW and ideally use NX 2 so you can experiment with the contrast level and shadow/highlight protection with the minimum loss of file information when post processing.
Ideally choose a background mid way between the two skin tones.
***
Consider shooting outdoors in diffuse daylight using 1-TTL flash - using matrix and the scene recognition system - which detects faces.
Quote from the D700 brochure
"Nikon's revolutionary scene recognition system redefines the scope, accuracy and performance of digital SLR automatic control. One way it does this is by expanding the renowned 1,005-pixel RGB sensor far beyond 3D colour matrix Metering and i-TTL flash control, applying information from it's autofocus and auto white balance processes as well, thereby allowing a whole new level of accuracy and performance."
***
Beyond this flash is secondary. Ideally you want soft diffused light (brolly, soft box or flash diffusers down) and not harsh light (direct flash or snoots) - as soft light handles wide dynamic range better.
***
As the parents are best friends consider explaining you would like to have more than one session perhaps one indoors and one outdoors, to help you become more expert for future shoots as the child grows up.
For an indoors session consider linking the camera via an HDMI cable to a suitable TV can help with some portrait sessions. If you consider this option experiment before the shoot.

Photography is a bit like archery. A technically better camera, lens or arrow may not hit the target as often as it could if the photographer or archer does not practice enough.

Len Shepherd

  

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bluefeather505 Registered since 10th Apr 2013Mon 23-Sep-13 08:17 PM
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#12. "RE: Now camera settings"
In response to Reply # 9


Albuquerque, US
          

Nice bike Beemerman. I have a y2k RT myself.
Not that I am any great photo wizard or anything, but I would set up manual flash using a light meter. Maybe shoot a little underexposed to keep good detail available (perhaps some exposure bracketing?).
Shoot in RAW and then tweak it up in post processing.
Cheers,
Mike

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luckyphoto Silver Member Nikonian since 27th Dec 2010Tue 24-Sep-13 01:52 PM
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#13. "RE: Now camera settings"
In response to Reply # 12


Port Charlotte, US
          

One other trick, if you can't get the face contrast within range, is to use a small reflector on the baby. That might require an assistant, but the reflector could be home made such as a white card or even aluminum foil stretched over cardboard. Get the parents faces properly exposed and then see if a small reflector is necessary for the baby.

Larry

"Red is gray and yellow white, but we decide which is right
....and which is an illusion"

Moody Blues - Nights in White Satin

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William Rounds Gold Member Nikonian since 25th Mar 2011Tue 24-Sep-13 02:09 PM
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#14. "RE: Now camera settings"
In response to Reply # 13


Rambouillet, FR
          

I spend much of my time in Africa and people photography is a challenge, whether with subjects of different color or indeed just people in general. The sometimes fierce sunlight and the tendancy for people to rightly stick to the shade is a constant challenge. Get lots of light on the subjects and expose as far to the right as you can and shoot in RAW. After that, it's just hours on the computer.

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bens0472 Silver Member Charter MemberTue 24-Sep-13 09:11 PM
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#15. "RE: Speedlight layout for portrait of Caucassians and African"
In response to Reply # 0
Tue 24-Sep-13 09:12 PM by bens0472

Roswell, US
          

Derrick,

I think there's a lot to learn in one of David Hobby's recent posts over at Strobist on lighting dark skin, particularly when it's adorned in a white shirt. Here's the post:

http://strobist.blogspot.com/2013/08/on-assignment-radiance.html

I think the lesson for you is that you want to make your light sources appeara as big as possible relative to the baby. Get them close enough so that they create properly exposed, large specular highlights on the baby's skin (you want specular highlights large enough to effectively cover his face) and it will likely also result in soft, diffused light on mom and dad.

Personally, i'd probably have mom, dad, baby sitting close together and I'd use my speedlights in two, 60" photek softlighters in a clamshell configuration. If you do it right, you'll end up in one of two places: either the baby will be slightly underexposed or mom and dad will end up slightly over exposed. From there, you should be able to use slight shadows/highlights adjustments in post to make subtle changes.

Another thing to consider would be to use your two lights in diffusion modifiers (large umbrellas, softboxes, octas) at 45's to light mom and dad evenly and then rent/borrow/buy a third speedlight in a medium-sized softbox with grid in close to baby's face...perhaps on a boom or VAL. You'd have to find a way to position the lights so that they don't get in the way of your shot (obviously), but allow you to get the light on baby in close to create the correctly-sized specular highlight...or use more than one light on baby from different angles so that all of their specular highlights combine to look like one specular highlight.

Another idea...if you have a white room/ceiling in which to shoot them, you could use one, on-camera speedlight bounced into walls/ceiling to evenly light mom and dad, then use one or two other lights in medium softboxes in close to baby to create the right specular highlights. Using grids on these softboxes would help ensure they don't spill on mom and dad.

However you approach it...it sounds like a fun challenge. Very interested to see the results.

Cheers,
Ben

Ben

  

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