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Archive 2012 · Beach portraits with minimal equipment....
  
 
Paul_K
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p.2 #1 · Beach portraits with minimal equipment....


RustyBug wrote:
I'm a bit curious @ the "longish lens" (farther from subjects) and reflector (closer to subjects) combination strategy ... can you clarify how you'll be managing the two (assistant, stand, tripod, remote, timer, etc.)?


Well, the whole set up (assistant, stand, tripod, remote, timer, etc.) you mention is your apparent suggestion how to approach an informal portait.

I've always, and as you can see with some succes, made such shots with minimal equipment: 1 camera (obviously) a 2.8/80-200 zoom, and a Lastolite white/silver collapsable reflector or approx 4 feet. I can't place the remote and timer in the whole process, but that's probably something you need to take such a shot.

IMO you don't need a tripod to shoot a 80-200 handheld, nor an assistant to hold the reflector (if really necessary that you can you the tripod for) or otherwise (with the model sitting or lying) just put it vertical on the sand against your camera bag with the bottom slightly buried to prevent it from falling over.

As far as the color temparture of the reflected light is concerned, it will obviously have that of the surrounding (sun)light and not be influenced by the reflector (which just is white) so I personally see based on my practical (not theoretical) experience with outside portraits in the way the OP describes no need for color filters.

With regards to flash or not, I guess we have a difference of opinion, probably based on taste how such a picture should look like. You have any such pictures posted somewhere we could see to find out how you worked it out?



Jul 08, 2012 at 02:44 PM
RustyBug
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p.2 #2 · Beach portraits with minimal equipment....


Sorry @ no pics of sunsets & people any more ... that was back in my slide film days that I did people as such ... back when I lived in San Diego, CA. My camera likely hasn't seen a beach sunset portrait this millennium. Of course, the sun, sky & beach haven't changed too much since then.

The key for me to keeping the "flash look" out of the equation was the combined -1/3 stop @ camera so the ambient + flash had a natural look to it, yet yielded rich colors.

My rig back then was simply a Nikon FE, 75-150/3.5 and a shoe-mount flash (auto). Obviously, no TTL / ETTL with the camera / flash "talking" to each other back then. I just ran a series of test shots @ 1/3 stop increments to get the relationship between ambient exposure and flash exposure the way I liked it. From then on, I knew what to expect out of my gear. No tripod, no reflector, no assistant, no stand, no gel ... about as unencumbered as I could imagine.


It afforded me great flexibility / mobility / perspective. The thing that I keyed into here was the "minimal" equipment on the beach, suggesting constant change @ both location & ambient as the sun works its way down.

One nice thing about using the flash ... as the sun goes down (i.e. weaker), you aren't as dependent upon it for the reflected light @ your subject.

Part of the "look" for me is the blend between the contrast of specular light (100% direct flash) and the low-contrast of backlit / skylit ambient only. By augmenting with fill flash @ reduced power, you can achieve a "blended" amount of lighting contrast @ your subject. This is where the 1/3 stop test increments comes in to play to decide what your style / taste @ contrast level is for mixing ambient & flash.

IMO, it is the contrast differential between subject and BG that gives it that "flash" look (in addition to illumination variance). Knocking that down (reflector, reduced power flash, bounce, shoot through umbrella, softbox, etc.) so the contrast levels are closer (not exact) is key. Your choice of tools to @ how to achieve it as well as "how much".

The way I see it there are three issues to contend with regarding the variance @ subject vs. background @ such type shots:

Lighting Illumination / Exposure
Lighting Color Temp
Lighting Contrast

Figuring out your approach to contending with these three is matter of style & preference. Again, more than one way to skin the cat. I was just curious.



Jul 08, 2012 at 05:05 PM
die_kruzen
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p.2 #3 · Beach portraits with minimal equipment....


At this point I really have no apparent solution other than reflector required an assistant and the flash didn't necessarily. But, as you mentioned the assistant may not even be necessary if the reflector does not need to be handheld.

I am going to explore both the reflector and flash approach in the coming days. My only concern is that the reflector (given the time of day) would not receive enough light from the sun to be nearly usable. But, sounds like that is incorrect on my part. That is certainly something I need to get a handle on...just how much light is needed for the reflector to be usable.

The flash certainly is a good thought...as it is portable and as one mentioned...I can just up the power if necessary.

The subjects will most likely be standing rather than sitting or laying...at least for now. I am sure that may change

BTW - the camera is a 5D Mark II and the lens, if longest is best would be a 70-200 2.8 IS.

Thanks, Pete



Jul 08, 2012 at 06:38 PM
BrianO
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p.2 #4 · Beach portraits with minimal equipment....


Paul_K wrote:
IMO a beach portrait with minimal equipment should automatically exclude using a flash...


To each his own, but I try never to "automatically" exclude anything. I try to use whatever will get me the shot I want at the time I want it.

I agree that a beach shot -- during the bright of day -- can look very good without flash, with or sometimes without a reflector. But getting a sunset/sunrise background well exposed without supplimentary light can be problematic, and since that is what the OP wants to do I still suggest a flash be brought along. Better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it.

I really like your sample image, by the way, although I think a small flash-added catchlight in her eyes would make it even better. That's my own aesthetic, though; not everyone would agree.

I'm linking to it again, since it was on the previous page.








Jul 08, 2012 at 07:11 PM
Gray
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p.2 #5 · Beach portraits with minimal equipment....


I think keeping it simple is the solution. Using a reflector is pretty simple. The problem with getting into using an off camera flash in this situation is that you're shooting family and they are less patient than regular clients. Unless you have everything figured out and ready to shoot instantly I would eliminate the flash and concentrate on using a reflector. If the family shows some patience with your setup maybe you can breakout the off camera flash for some shots but I would get the bread and butter shots with the reflector first. The family will love you if you get it done quickly so the kids can play. That's going to be a great location by the way.


Jul 09, 2012 at 10:40 PM
williamkazak
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p.2 #6 · Beach portraits with minimal equipment....


Paul_K wrote:
IMO a beach portrait with minimal equipment should automatically exclude using a flash

To make the flash get in balance with the availible light will demand of camera flash, triggers, careful metering etc. while from a picturewise point of view, the risk of too much flash and thus burning out the 'normal' light is more then just imaginary.

My set up would be just a camera, a longish lens and a simple white reflector, as the reflection/fill of gold and/or silver one will very easily be too hard

http://www.pbase.com/paul_k/image/61044443


A longish lens and a relector? How are you holding it while shooting and will the reflector get the light all of the way into the faces, especially on a group?



Jul 09, 2012 at 11:03 PM
williamkazak
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p.2 #7 · Beach portraits with minimal equipment....


die_kruzen wrote:
At this point I really have no apparent solution other than reflector required an assistant and the flash didn't necessarily. But, as you mentioned the assistant may not even be necessary if the reflector does not need to be handheld.

I am going to explore both the reflector and flash approach in the coming days. My only concern is that the reflector (given the time of day) would not receive enough light from the sun to be nearly usable. But, sounds like that is incorrect on my part. That is certainly something I need to get a handle on...just how
...Show more

How are you going to use the flash; handheld, bracket, assistant or lightstand? Don't say "in the camera shoe", please.



Jul 09, 2012 at 11:08 PM
BrianO
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p.2 #8 · Beach portraits with minimal equipment....


williamkazak wrote:
How are you going to use the flash; handheld, bracket, assistant or lightstand? Don't say "in the camera shoe", please.


Since he said "Most likely I will simply have one flash (Canon 430 - can be used off camera)" I assume he's up on the benefits of getting it out of the hot shoe.

It is a good question as to handheld, on a bracket, or on a stand, though. That can change the logistics a bit.



Jul 10, 2012 at 02:34 AM
die_kruzen
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p.2 #9 · Beach portraits with minimal equipment....


Hello all and again thanks for all the responses....Just to clarify, since I have a face better suited for behind the camera, the pictures will most likely be: 1) pic of one daughter 2) pic of my other daughter, 3) pic of those two together 4) potentially a pic of the kids with my wife.

With me I will have:
1) Mono or tripod (probably mono) to hold flash
2) Camera (5D Mark II 70-200 2.8 lens)
3) Flash (430) with CyberCommanders
4) Reflector (wife will hold)

Since all that stuff is fairly light...it will most likely all come to the beach with us. I don't see a need for any of it to be left behind. I very much like the reflector idea, but not sure if the one I have is large enough to accommodate 2-3 people. It's fairly small, but for the single subject pics it's certainly worth a try. The flash...I see that coming into play a bit more. My only issue with the flash is that, for me it will take a lot more practice/setting up. Simply because I am just not as comfortable using it in the situation. My guess is it will most likely be my wife holding the flash so that it's more 'mobile'. And, what many have mentioned...the last thing the kids are going to want to do is pose for a picture. So, time is everything.

And yes Paul, that is a very nice picture!!!



Jul 10, 2012 at 10:30 AM
BrianO
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p.2 #10 · Beach portraits with minimal equipment....


die_kruzen wrote:
With me I will have: 1) Mono or tripod (probably mono) to hold flash...


I'd take both, for sure. When the wife can hold the flash on the monopod that'll be great, but if you want a picture of her with the kids, having the camera on a tripod and you holding the light stick will be handy.

I've used the one-hand-on-the-camera/other-hand-on-the-light-stick approach, and it can be done, but it's a bit trickier.

You can also hand-hold a flash at arm's length on an ETTL cord and hold the camera with the other hand, and when you need to be really mobile that works. Getting the flash 2 - 3 feet from the lens axis has a more-dramatic effect than many people would think, and by dialing in -2/3 stops of flash exposure compensation you can get pretty natural-looking flash shots while still having the advantages of ETTL autoflash when flash-to-subject distances and ambient lighting are changing rapidly.



Jul 10, 2012 at 05:30 PM
 

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williamkazak
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p.2 #11 · Beach portraits with minimal equipment....


I have tried the "stick the arm out approach" with speedlight and attached ttl cord. it is convenient and it works. Try it. Umbrella on a stand is nice too, but the wind sometimes takes the entire rig down but it is sweet.


Jul 10, 2012 at 08:37 PM
Paul_K
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p.2 #12 · Beach portraits with minimal equipment....


williamkazak wrote:
A longish lens and a relector? How are you holding it while shooting and will the reflector get the light all of the way into the faces, especially on a group?


Well, I answered that question in this message at the top of page 2

Paul_K wrote:
Well, the whole set up (assistant, stand, tripod, remote, timer, etc.) you mention is your apparent suggestion how to approach an informal portait.

I've always, and as you can see with some succes, made such shots with minimal equipment: 1 camera (obviously) a 2.8/80-200 zoom, and a Lastolite white/silver collapsable reflector or approx 4 feet. I can't place the remote and timer in the whole process, but that's probably something you need to take such a shot.

IMO you don't need a tripod to shoot a 80-200 handheld, nor an assistant to hold the reflector (if really necessary that you can you
...Show more

As the OP wants to shoot portraits, getting the correct fill for a group is IMO completely irrelevant

Guess the title of my first instruction book for the English language 'Look before you leap' still is relevant, and in this case should be 'Read before you react'



Jul 11, 2012 at 08:34 PM
Michaelparris
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p.2 #13 · Beach portraits with minimal equipment....


Don't over think this. Use a tripod put camera on tripod. Put flash on camera. Use a "Black foamie thing" http://neilvn.com/tangents/about/black-foamie-thing/ to prevent flash from spilling forward. Either have someone hold the reflector, use the timer and you hold it or use a remote to fire flash. Under expose by a stop or two. Fill with flash to taste...This shot took 30 secs. If I had a little more time I probably would have brought up ambient a touch more






Edited on Jul 12, 2012 at 03:01 PM · View previous versions



Jul 11, 2012 at 11:08 PM
Sid Ceaser
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p.2 #14 · Beach portraits with minimal equipment....


I've done some beach shooting in the past. I try to bring a small lighting kit that usually consists of a speedlight, lightstand, and a modifier of some kind.







This was just a 580ex on a stand with a Westcott Apollo mucking around at sunset.







Cheers,
Sid



Jul 11, 2012 at 11:13 PM
die_kruzen
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p.2 #15 · Beach portraits with minimal equipment....


Wow, like the two photos just posted. Michael...you can forget about over thinking -- that usually what I do...unfortunately. But, you are right should not over think. Sid great photo..that is about the time of day I would like to take the pic. I do have a soft box that folds up fairly small...maybe I will throw that in the car as well.

Here is a real quick shot from tonight. Just a gelled flash, handheld (with TTL cord), off our balcony. It's much more 'closer' than I would like...but I worked with what I had.

Would really appreciate some comments. Hopefully, I can get home from the office earlier tomorrow and drag the kids out for some photos. It does look a bit 'snapshoty', but it was taken REALLY quick.


sundown


Again, thanks in advance all.



Jul 12, 2012 at 01:53 AM
BrianO
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p.2 #16 · Beach portraits with minimal equipment....


die_kruzen wrote:
...Would really appreciate some comments. ...It does look a bit 'snapshoty', but it was taken REALLY quick.


I like the exposure of the sunset, and I think the amount of flash for the subject is good, but I think it would look even better if the flash were raised higher. (The catchlights in the eyes and the shadow on the neck reveal that this was taken with the flash at about the subject's face level.)

I also think the amount of warmth added by the gel was perfect. Some of the examples of this kind of shot I see are far too "cool" for my tastes.

I look forward to seeing some more of your "tests" and of course the final result once you get to the beach.

Happy shooting!



Jul 12, 2012 at 03:17 AM
Michaelparris
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p.2 #17 · Beach portraits with minimal equipment....


Go manual not TTL...


Jul 12, 2012 at 04:05 AM
die_kruzen
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p.2 #18 · Beach portraits with minimal equipment....


Yep, that is exactly where the flash was placed..it was probably slightly above her eye level. Now, by 'higher' do you mean as heigh as Sid has his? It's a different kind of photo...but I hung the flash as high as he did. That seemed to cast a lot of shadows around the eyes etc (again a different pic). So, by higher...should it only be a foot higher?

In my pic..agree I do like the gel. However, I also believe the flash was a 'touch' too strong. It was in manual mode ..and probably should have dialed down a bit. I can certainly see where it may look TTL'ish.

We didn't have a good sunset tonight...clouds were way too thick. So, I really couldn't practice.

Again thanks all,
Pete



Jul 13, 2012 at 12:51 AM
BrianO
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p.2 #19 · Beach portraits with minimal equipment....


die_kruzen wrote:
...So, by higher...should it only be a foot higher?


It depends on how far away the flash is from the subject. Rather than an absolute height, it's more about angle; so the further away, the higher it goes.

You'll have to experiment to find an angle that you like; I like to go almost as high as I can without the eyes disappearing into a dark socket with no catchlights showing. I like catchlights just touching the outer edges of the irises on most subjects, and at either the 12 O'clock, 10 O'clock, or 2 O'clock position.



Jul 13, 2012 at 02:15 AM
BrianO
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p.2 #20 · Beach portraits with minimal equipment....


die_kruzen wrote:
...I also believe the flash was a 'touch' too strong. It was in manual mode ..and probably should have dialed down a bit. I can certainly see where it may look TTL'ish.


I shoot almost always in Manual Exposure Mode (I set the shutter and aperture), but in ETTL FLash Mode (camera sets the flash output). Yes, the two mix well. ETTL FLash will adjust the flash output based on the flash-to-subject distance when USM lenses are mounted, as well as measuring the reflected light level, and is pretty darned accurate in my experience. With a bit of practice you learn to dial in some + or - FEC based on the subject and the mood you're going for, and it can be just as natural -- or just as "flashy" -- as Manual Flash mode.



Jul 13, 2012 at 02:21 AM
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