I have shot video for 25 years. I have shot commercials, documentaries, music videos, corporate and training, you name it. I have often taken my still camera, especially when shooting for HOPE worldwide, to capture stills of the exotic locales I work in. When I was a kid I had a small darkroom under our basement stairs. I used my fathers Kodak camera to experiment with and eventually went to my own Minolta, then Sigma, then finally Canon camera. Off camera flash was something I experimented with looooong time ago. So, I jumped at the chance to “get back in the game” when invited to a local MeetUp with my friend Kathy.
The local MeetUp group is the Tampa Bay Strobists and Photo Collective, and as the name suggests, they are all about the strobe. Kathy and I have worked together on some shoots for KelbyOne but I didn’t use a still camera. So her invite (she runs the group) was a great way for Sally and I to do something fun on a Sunday evening.
Problem… I don’t even own an off camera flash any more. Kathy told me that there would be a lot of gear there (most photogs have a lot of gear) and a good number of models to shoot so come on down!
Kathy runs a very tight ship and members are reward with awesome shoots because of it. After a briefing at a local restaurant on St. Pete Beach in St. Petersburg, Florida, folks mingled, swapped tech talk and generally gathered to share their love of photography. Skill levels (I was to learn) ranged from beginner to professional. The 60 or so photographers were broken down into small groups of 5-6 and each group had a “pro” level photographer to help and answer questions and a model.
We all hiked down to St. Pete Beach and Lee (my group leader) had access to what was a beautiful location. Within 50 yards we had a grove with all sorts of overhang, a beach, a tide pool and a jetty. Great areas to get some great shots.
Model: Leah Bush Supermodel
Our group’s model was a young lady named Leah Bush – so poised and professional, Leah had a smile that was electric. Leah also has beautiful eyes and that’s what I tried to capture. More on that later.
Off camera flash is a way to get the flash (source of light) in a more appropriate angle. On camera flash is often harsh and not too flattering. With an off camera flash and a softbox, or strobe other modifier, you can shape the light and do some very flattering and creative shots. Used in conjunction with reflectors and natural light, you can get amazing results.
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One thing that the flash allows you to do quite well is balance the background with the foreground. I was shooting in manual mode with a flash and remote trigger (that Lee provided). I was having a bit of difficulty until Kathy showed up and gave me this recipe:
1. Set you camera up to take a well exposed shot of the background without worrying about the foreground (model) and flash
2. Introduce the model into the scene and flash.
3. Adjust the background exposure with your shutter speed
4. Adjust the foreground exposure with your aperture.
OK! That took care of the mechanics, now to focus on the pose and expression. Leah had some great expressions and was open to me posing her. This is where I need to study some magazines and look at what works best.
I did my post work in Adobe Lightroom and a bit of tweaking in Photoshop.
All in all a great shoot with a fun and helpful group! I present to you my beach shoot portfolio: