On Location PhotographySubmitted by Michael on Thu, 2011-02-17 08:34

Fireplace images powered by grilled speedlight

A fireplace is a wonderful thing! Warm and cozy, smelling good, crackling nicely. But does it make for a good element in a beauty photograph? I think it does. But in order to bring across the strong impression that an open fire usually makes in reality, I need

a little helper: my Speedlight. Equipped with a Lee204 gel my little friend provides me with more warm light than a fireplace the size of a car would give me. That’s the sort of “fire power” I need in order let the viewer of the photograph “feel” the heat. Did my speedlight feel the heat? Sure. But I can assure you that neither models nor speedlights were harmed during the filming of this episode. See yourself


Here’s the lighting diagram of the shoot:



Model: Emily
Postproduction: Gina Hernandez
Graphic Design: AlexZlatev


I wish you good light!


Hard to get my thick German accent? Here's the transcript!

Hey fellow photographer, how is it going? Welcome to our location photography, my name is Michael Zelbel and here is what I have got for you today. You will see how to use one speedlight to turn a rather boring fireplace into a spectacular stage for your model. Now today our location is a warm and cozy fireplace in our living room and the reason why we are here is, it is not because the weather outside in good old Germany is cold and ugly, that is the case but we are here because I heard one other same story from various fellow photographers over and over again. And it goes like this, they post a model in front of a nice open fire and in reality the scene was spectacular but on the photograph, on their results the scene was rather dull, something is missing, it is not so good and what I believe is missing is actually this, think about it if you are next to an open fire, then all of your senses are stimulated. You can feel the heat, you smell the burning wood, you hear the wood crackling, you see the light dancing but pretty much none of that can be transported in the photograph. So to me the solution that I would use is dial up the one and only element that I can transport in my photograph and that is the light that is omitted from the fire. Nothing else is in my photograph, so I will amplify this and make it a whole lot more punchy and stronger and the way I am doing that is a very good example for why my blog is named Smoking Strobes and why it is not named careful speedlight handling or something. So first I am going to make a nice fire I’m using small wood to get tall flames easily and it is mainly powered by burning grill because that is very easy to handle and the fire is not only to grow up my model which will pose very close to it, it is also for grilling my speedlight which is place right next to the fire, they are not so close sided with the fire but it is quite close and it is rooting into the direction of the model and it is our main light, it is in TTL group A and attached to the speedlight is a CTO filter to make the light from the speedlight to warmer. Let us have a look at the diagrams, so you got the fire place over here, right next to the main light in group A and in front of the fire the model and there is also second speedlight in the back of the model, it is roughly 6 feet away and shooting into a back for some delineation and it is going through a shoot through umbrella which well at that distance is not really efficient I could have left it away but that is not to be the important part. The camera is coming from a 45 degree angle over here and it is dialed to ISO800 at f/4 so that it can record the fire, still pretty bright at 1/125s. Yeah the white balance is set to daylight, so it will record the light from the fire pretty warm, which adds to the atmosphere and having looked at the TTL settings; a) is our main light, comes from the right and, b) is the second light from behind the model and the ratio of A to B is 4:1. So A is really the dominant light source in this frame. Okay so the basic technique over here is to amplify the natural light that is given and we amplify it using a speedlight firing from the direction of the natural light source and its technique is not restricted to a fireplace, I mean you can use it to amplify light from a window or from candles or from a computer screen or even from inside a fridge. Lots and lots of applications, so go ahead try them out and let me know the results that you got! So that is it for today, I really hope you found it useful and please let me know your opinion by commenting below and please check back next Thursday for another video and until then I wish you lot of fun with photo shoots and good light!

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