Photographer Justin Van Leeuwen of Ottawa, Ontario shoots some great commercial interiors, but his true passion is people. Environmental portraiture is where he really shines, doing his best to catch an individual’s entire personality in just one frame. Here’s his account of an exciting outdoor photo test he undertook.
©Justin Van Leeuwen
Sometimes we take photos just because we can.
I was walking around the Ottawa River with the Canon 200-400mm f/4 L IS 1.4x Extender, testing it for my review on canonrumors.com. With such a long telephoto reach, one that I’m not typically used to, I started looking, and seeing, things in areas I hadn’t before. This included a really cool cliff opposite Ottawa’s Parliament on the Quebec side. It was covered in graffitti, which meant it was also accessible. It gave me the idea to try to take a really cool and unique shot; a portrait from across the river from Ottawa to Hull, Ontario to Quebec — an interprovincial photo shoot.
I went home to brainstorm the logistics of the shoot. I knew the lighting would be contrasty and unflattering during the day (as it is) which would move the shoot closer to dusk and sunset. I had never been to the cliffs either, and since I would be on one side of the river to take the shots, whoever I would send out there would be on their own. That didn’t sit well with me, so I knew I would have to enlist one or two volunteers as assistants as added security. I also knew I wanted to light it, because taking a photo from 1600 feet away isn’t hard enough, I wanted to do something different and make the image pop.
How are we going to light someone that far away? I know my Canon ST-E3-RT system can’t go that far, neither can my Elinchrom Skyports. I had just read about PocketWizard radios new Plus III Transceiver’s, that not only had a “long range” option, but also offered a relay mode to piggy-back the signal from one PocketWizard radio to the next. I did a little Google Map math, and figured the direct line from camera to location (about 1600 feet) was a bit too close to push the max range on a set of transceivers, which is rated at 1600 feet. Adding a relay point on a conveniently placed island would cut that distance in half and should assure us a successful flash trigger.
©Justin Van Leeuwen
Photojournalist Jack Haley of MPNnow.com and the Messenger Post Newspapers regularly incorporates PocketWizard radio technology into his daily assignments. Rarely knowing what subject matter and conditions he’s going to find before his arrival, his PocketWizard Plus® II radios are still an integral part of his gear, helping him capture everything from sports action frozen in place to impressive environmental portraits. He recently shared information with us on shoots he completed for “Spring Sports Stars.”
Co-Player of the Year Tommy Wagner of Victor, New York. ©Jack Haley/Messenger Post Newspapers
This baseball player’s action portrait was shot at 1/320 with a Nikon D300s and two Nikon SB-80DX flashes. No diffusers were used.
Off-camera flash done two ways. Find out which style might work best for you!
When adding light to your portraits, it’s clear that off-camera flash produces the most natural and beautiful results. The question that remains is how to best control the flash. Should you use your camera’s TTL metering system or is it best to take control and go full manual?
In this video Webinar presented by PocketWizard, guest photographer Rick Sammon joins host Joe Brady as they do an environmental portrait shoot using both methods. Rick is a master at making TTL off-camera flash easy and effective while Joe prefers full manual control for consistency and repeatability.
Which style is best for you?
Join us for this friendly battle between Rick and Joe as they each show their process for controlling off-camera flash for environmental portraits. Take advantage of the live chat as Rick and Joe will take your questions and discuss the features and benefits of each style. You may choose one side or the other, or perhaps even combine both – but whichever way you decide, this will be a fun and informative presentation!
Date: 11 July 2013
Time: 1:00pm EDT
Title: To TTL or Not to TTL?
Presenters: Joe Brady and Rick Sammon
Archived Webinar: http://www.pocketwizard.com/videos/education/webinar20
© 2012 Paul D’Andrea
Paul D’Andrea is an Indianapolis-based photographer whose work runs the gamut from portraits and events to fine art. He even helps run one of the few photography galleries in the city, M10 Studio and Gallery. Here, he gives us the details behind an outdoor portrait he made with a little help from HyperSync®.
When making a portrait I have to decide how to draw the viewer’s eye to the subject. I might do this with a simplified background, a composition that frames the subject, or it might be with a shallow depth of field or a difference in exposure (making the subject brighter than the backdrop).
For an outdoor portrait, using a shallow depth of field often precludes the use of studio lights and exposure in pulling the subject off the background. With a maximum sync speed of 1/250th of a second for the studio lights, I need to choose an aperture to match the ambient exposure, this might be f/11 or f/16 on a sunny day, which won’t provide a very shallow depth of field. Enter HyperSync, which allows me to have both a shallow depth of field and large light modifiers.
© 2012 Chris Crisman
In the final part of Chris Crisman’s Heroes of Conservation series, Chris spends the day in northern Maine with John Serfazo, founder of the American Greenlands Restoration Inc.
John began his conservation efforts over ten years ago and has to date restored or reclaimed over 1000 acres of natural habitat.
Chris takes John’s portrait in a field of wild buckwheat in the late morning, using a gridded Octabank as his key light and the sun as backlight and fill light. He writes, “Adding a grid to a larger and broader source we were able to condense the light significantly, making it a bit more contrasty and shaping but still keeping the overall soft feel we try to achieve by using our octas. Since we we were working in fairly bright daylight, we ran approximately 1500 w/s out of our Dynalite power packs, synced wirelessly to the camera with our Pocketwizard Plus® III transmitters.”
While working at Naval Sea Systems Command in California, photographer Greg Vojtko had the opportunity to photograph engineer Dan King, designer of laser calibration standards.
Instead of taking a traditional headshot and calling it a day, Greg created a dramatic portrait of a man at work. In a darkened room, Greg set up two speedlights to illuminate his subject, triggered them with PocketWizard radio triggers, then left his shutter open while filling the room with smoke to burn in the light from the lasers.
He writes, “While the phrase ‘Smoke and mirrors,’ is often considered a metaphor for a deceptive or fraudulent explanation, in this case served to bring a portrait to life.”
Read the full post and see more of his work on his site.
All images and quotes in this post are used with permission and ©Greg Vojtko, all rights reserved; story is ©PocketWizard. Please respect and support photographers’ rights. Feel free to link to this blog post, but please do not replicate or re-post elsewhere without written permission.
Rod Cross © 2012 Chris Crisman
Chris Crisman continues his behind the scenes coverage of the Heroes of Conservation project with Rod Cross, president of Pennsylvania’s Falling Spring Chapter of Trout Unlimited.
The first shoot took place early in the morning, but on dry land. For this next shoot, Chris takes to the water to capture a portrait of Rod, a fisherman who has raised over one million dollars in grants to protect Pennsylvania’s waterways.
As with the first shoot, Chris masterfully blends the ambient light and strobe, using a small softbox with a grid to light Rod, while taking advantage of the dappled afternoon sunlight.
© Chris Crisman 2012
Photographer Chris Crisman is known for his environmental portraiture, so he was a natural choice for Field and Stream’s annual Heroes of Conservation project. The goal of the project is to profile and recognize outdoorsmen and women who “embody the spirit of conservation.”
For the first part of what is to be a three-part series documenting some of the shoots from the project, Chris travels to North Carolina to meet and photograph Eddie Bridges, the founder of the North Carolina Wildlife Habitat Foundation.