Sunday, May 2, 2010

Aprils "2 Minute Workshop"-Time Exposure Portraits

I have several very hard working interns and when I can I like to set up a photo shoot as a private workshop for them to say thanks for their hard work! So, recently we made arrangements with a carnival company to shoot on one of their Ferris wheels. Since my seventy something mom is the craziest actress I know, I asked her to be our model. As you can see, she came up with a great outfit and some scary make-up.

My favorite portrait lighting style is something I call Time Exposure Portraits. Basically, this is where we light our subjects using a moving background, usually with artificial commercial lighting and drag the shutter so the background exposure is properly exposed. In this case, we will use the Ferris wheels movement as our background. The Ferris wheel basket we had also had a center poll mounted roof. Perfect! This will be a great place for me to mount my Nikon SB-800’s set on remote from. Using a couple of Manfrotto Majic Arms with Super Clamps on one end and a flash shoe mount on the other, I hung my lights on each side of the basket. They were placed slightly in front of my subject, pointing at her and locked down with diffusers.

I waited until dusk to start shooting and we shot through dusk to complete darkness. Since the lights were so close to the subject, we only needed about 25% power. Using the SU 800 Commander on my camera, I dialed down the flashes. I was also shooting with a Nikon D2x and a 17-35mm 2.8 zoom. The iso was set at 100. My f stop was F11 and when we started, the shutter was dragging at 1/10 of a sec and at complete darkness the shutter drag ended up at 4 seconds. Oh yeah, one last thing…I had the shutter set to go off at the end of the shutter, which is called a rear curtain sync. This means the shutter opened first and at the very end, just before the shutter closed, the flashed triggered. I also hand held the camera.

One little backend story… When I recruited my mom for the shoot, I had only told her we would be shooting at a carnival. When we got in the Ferris wheel basket for the first time, I could tell she was upset with me. Since there were interns with use, she was quiet, but her eyes said “Your Dead when I get through with you”. I think we all have moms with that look. When the operated cranked up the wheel and we jerked to a roll, my moms eyes almost popped out of her head and she screamed in complete terror. She then explained to us she had a sever fear of heights and had never been on a Ferris wheel before. So, the fear looks are not all acting on her part. As you can see, the shoot was a huge success and we all got some very funny photos…at my moms expense! Thanks Mom, now I know you really do love me. I’ll make it up to you on Mothers Day. I have a sky diving shoot I’d like to use you on:) Don't forget to checkout my workshops at we can use your mom on a workshop shoot.