Tag Archive: Strobe


It’s real easy to create beautiful images when the subjects are beautiful themselves.  Our latest project was with Laura.  Some of you might remember the photos we did of her older brother Paul.  As we continue to practice our three strobe lighting process and post-processing, we’re going for high-quality portraits with some dramatic flair.  We’re trying to avoid the classic school photo, but at the same time include some traditional looks as well as drama in a simple photo.

The goal with this first photo was to utilize an umbrella flash from the side with an overhead strobe.  Post processing included some depth-of-field adjustments and center lighting effect.

The above two images are identical save for filtered black an white processing and a little noise and contrast added to the lower photo for some dramatic effect.  The lighting set-up is the same as the first.

These final two images are also the same but for the filtered black and white.  The top photo included colored gels on a white backdrop to create some added flair.  The bottom of the two is sharply highlighted and contrasted for a washed look.

One of the biggest challenges when doing wedding photography is coming up with creative poses that look natural.  Often people feel awkward when forced into poses that don’t seem realistic.  Last week I had the opportunity to photograph Kimberly and Michael for the wedding portraits.  The best part of working with this couple was how the naturally posed and came to the shoot prepared with how they wanted to look in their photos.  The following photo was captured as I was setting the frame of the image and just before I had to give any instruction on the pose, Kimberly and Michael naturally rested in a pose creating a wonderful scene.

The backdrop was the Atlanta Botanical Gardens.  The gardens offered seemingly limitless opportunities for photographing a wedding couple.  Our day started with bright sun, creating a challenge in itself.  The following photo was captured as the bride was adjusting her veil.  That moment of adjustment created a well-lit scene offering the proper level of shade on her face preventing harsh sun contrast.

As the morning progressed, the clouds began to roll in, blocking the harsh sun but at the same time creating lighting issues.  The following photo was taken in the Japanese garden, offering some shade (requiring some fill flash).  I wanted to capture the couple with the architectural elements of the area.

Still in the Japanese Garden, a moment of intimacy was captured as Kimberly adjusted Michael’s tie for the next photos.

Crossing a bridge, unique perspectives and depth-of-field became part of the scene.  This photo was taken after some of the more formal posed photographs as we were walking to the next location.  I spotted the scene and asked the couple to hold still for a moment to capture the shot.

Our time was wrapping up and the clouds had blocked any remaining sunshine.  Here I utilized a secondary strobe flash with an orange gel filter to add warmth to what would have been a cold photograph.  The splash of orange enhance a tender moment between the couple.

Up to this point in the day we had very little opportunity to capture close-up images of the couple.  We were closing in on the end of our time in the garden and I had to keep asking, “Just one more photo?”

This final image was on our walk back to the front of the gardens.  We were searching for a park bench to capture the couple sitting in a relaxed pose.  Michael began whispering in Kimberly’s ear as the scene unfolded.  The clouds backed off for a moment still offering some comfortable back-lighting for or final shot.

Congratulations to Kimberly and Michael.  We wish you the best in your lifetime together.


Family Portrait – Newmans

Being able to take an artistic and technically proficient photograph is only part of the job.  Scouting areas, coordinating with the client and having a reasonably pleasant personality are also just as important.  If a photographer appears unprepared, is running late and isn’t much for conversation, it doesn’t matter how good he is, people won’t hire him.

First, I’m nearly late for my photo shoot with the Newmans.  I took a right when I was supposed to take a left.  Second, the areas I scouted were occupied by a large group.  Third, being late and finding all my scouted spots taken, I found myself in an ornery mood.  Only two things can be done – improvise and get over it.  As it turned out, we found some dramatic backdrops at the same location and though we had to wait for the occasional fisherman or hiker to pass through the background, we were able to capture some solid photographs.

I returned to the orange gel on one of my strobes again.  I liked it so much the first time, I figured I’d try it again, and the accents on the photos paid off.  I am very appreciative of photographers utilizing available light and recreating the purest light possible, however, I don’t like to be like every other photographer.  My photos need to be different and unique.  When I asked Terran what she had in mind she said, “Something different, but not so different that Mom won’t understand.”  Right up my alley.

Panola State Park at Alexander’s Lake offers a number of unique perspectives.  This location is a retired golf course.  Our first location ended up being a tee box (red, I’m assuming).  The lake offered a great background, though the late day sun created some challenges with a washed out sky.  A couple maneuvers and we captured a nice moment with the family.

A quick walk down the cart path we found a wood bridge which crossed over from the tee box to what would have been the green.  This bridge offered unique perspectives and I wanted to try and capture a high-drama look, sharp lighting and have the bridge (which looks like a path in the background) be a metaphor for the journey families take together.  You can see the impact of the orange gel strobe on the right side and the white umbrella strobe on the left.

Halfway across the bridge there is a drop point for those golfers (much like me) sinking one into the lake.  Here we tried a few shots of the family, but the intense sun created too many obstacles.  We were able to catch a few shots of the boys here.  I switched from a fixed 50mm to a macro-vario 70mm to try and get a more pronounced depth-of-field.  Unlike the bridge above, the goal was to eliminate some of the background and focus on the subjects.

It’s October in Georgia, and that means some days will be hot, others will be cool.  Today chose hot.  With it being over eighty-degrees, it was time to have a seat in some shade for the final poses.  Again, I wanted the metaphor of the “family journey” to be in the shot, but the narrow bridge made it a bit of a challenge.  The photo of the Newmans at the bridge above could be interpreted as arriving, or about to depart, this one could depict a moment along the journey.

Many thanks to the Newmans for letting me photograph their family portraits.  If you would like to have your family portraits done by us please contact us.  We’ll be happy to talk with you about the variety of options available.

Options as a photographer are almost limitless.  There are nature scenes, urban landscapes, macro, commercial products, weddings, portraits, baby and the newly emerging ‘expecting family’ portraits that have become all the rage.  As an emerging photographer I have to be careful not to get in over my head and be selective about what types of jobs I’m willing to take on.

This weekend I had the privilege of photographing Paul’s senior portraits.  Paul is a musician and wanted to be photographed with his guitar.  With this in mind I wanted to experiment with strobes and gels of different colors to emulate the on-stage look and feel.  After some practice I landed on orange and blue gels for the contrast.  The following image utilized a bounce umbrella strobe and a direct strobe with orange gel.  Notice the effect on Paul’s face as the two lights contrast on each side.

I continued with the on-stage look with a full frame shot, this time the orange strobe set-up behind Paul and the bounce in front.  This little alley in Old Town Conyers made for a unique collection of textures, nature and urban all in one photo.  Note how the splash of orange hits the left side and down to the bricks.

I’m not usually a fan of retro style photos and seldom use the cross-process technique common with Instagram photos.  However, in the scene below, I gave it a shot and it looked right.  It’s funny how in post processing a photographer will look at an image over and over and something will seem missing.  Just one chance click on the mouse and the image jumps to life.  That’s what happened on this one.

Not a traditional portrait, but still one of my favorites.  Here I utilized a stronger direct strobe with the orange gel.  I was going for the gig scene and less a portrait.  Again, the varying textures in the background lend the image to urban or even country and inspire the musician feel to the image.

Paul was kidding in the following shot, only for the benefit of shocking his parents, but I couldn’t resist capturing this playful moment after making him sit on railroad tracks for so long.  The scene felt like it deserved a black and white treatment, added grain for texture and then coloring with platinum to get away from the drabs of greyscale.

This last image was a disaster in color.  The two competing strobes had too much contrast and the colors conflicted instead of complimented.  Most photographers know that when the color isn’t right, maybe there’s a chance in black and white.  Because the strobe utilized a strong orange gel (close to red) and blue, it lended itself well to black and white conversion.  I can remember using red or blue flash bulbs during a black and white photography class to get differing levels of contrast in my images.  This poorly lit mistake turned into a winner when converted to black and white.

Every time I post to this blog about a photo-gig I’ve had, I try to make it both a learning experience for myself and those visiting.  This entry was all about experimentation with color and strobes.  As a photographer I can certainly create good images for good customers and follow safe paths, or I can keep pushing the limits of my own skills and keep trying new things.  I learned a great deal from this effort and look forward to using the creative process again in my next one.