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Stephen Alvarez Lights Up Entire Caves

Have you ever watched a scary movie where the only part of the scene you can see is being lit by a small flash light or candle from five feet away? Well those are the conditions cave photographer Stephen Alvarez regularly works in when he climbs below the earth’s surface. Together with his team of assistants, Stephen is able to light his photographs in majestic fashion by strategically placing his lights throughout large caverns. I have really never seen anything like this before, and it makes me appreciate my easy work environments in comparison. Be sure to head over to Stephen’s website to check out more cave images as well as his photojournalistic work through National Geographic.

Earth From Below from Stephen Alvarez on Vimeo.

Rayflash: How To Get The Ringflash Look On A Budget

Over the holiday we received a few emails about a video we shot where we used a ringflash as the key light (SB-800 Flash Mod). Obviously you can’t shoot video with the ringflash look unless you have an expensive flash with a modeling light. But what if you want to shoot stills and get that hard yet even lighting that is common in macro and fashion photographs? Well if you already own an on-camera speedlight then you can use a product called the Rayflash to produce ringflash style images on a budget. I actually own one of these and use it every now and then, and what I really like about it is that I can use it on location where I would otherwise have to have a huge battery pack. If this sort of thing interests you, check out this video that was clearly made for ExpoImaging explaining the product. Any other Fstoppers readers using this product or something similar?

Pete Souza Photographs President Obama…365 Days A Year

Fstoppers Forum member DPC shared this teaser video about a new BTS series PBS is doing on US Presidental photographer Pete Souza. It’s pretty interesting to hear the issues Pete faces day in and day out shooting one of the most well known figures in the world. If you are able to tune into PBS, you can check the schedule for The President’s Photographer: Fifty Years Inside the Oval Office. Click on the full post to watch a very lengthy interview with Pete about the issues he faces as a photojournalist working for the US Commander In Cheif and be sure to check out the offical White House Flickr Page for a ton of Pete’s images.

Andreas Sjodin: How To Pull The Most Out Of Your Models

Andreas Sjodin is a commercial and catalog photographer who has basically shot for everyone under the sun. Right after you watch this video you need to head over to his website and check out his amazing portfolio! I’ve said this so many times I hope you guys aren’t sick of hearing me say this: Great and interesting photographs are almost never about technical lighting. I know with my own work, many times the best images are often not the ones that rely on the most innovative lighting but rather focus on something interesting or naturally beautiful. I love what Andreas says while shooting for mega clothing company H&M: “The easiest thing to shoot is someone looking good, what’s difficult is to shoot someone looking good and interesting, and inspiring.” I really think this approach is what separates the boys from the men, and it should be evident with Andreas’s one light setup in this shoot. Enjoy

Peter Hurley Photographs Chaske Spencer of Twilight

Our good friend Peter Hurley has been tearing up Twitter the last few days which can only mean one thing: He’s done something pretty exciting! Peter loves to film his own videos on his Flip HD camera while in the middle of his shoots so the footage is always a bit spontaneous. Check out this short clip of Peter as he shoots Twilight megastar Chaske Spencer in his studio and on top of his roof. If you watch closely you may even see the Empire State Building a half a dozen times :) Check out the final images over at Peter’s blog http://www.comeontakeyourbestshot.com/ and if you haven’t watched our Fstoppers Original on Peter check it out here.

Gregory Heisler Lights a Time Magazine Cover

When I first saw Gregory Heisler, I thought he was a college professor not a professional photographer. I guess in reality he is both since this is one of the most indepth BTS videos I’ve seen explaining how to construct lighting that doesn’t call too much attention to itself. I’m always a big fan of images like this since shooting environmental portraits forces you to not only produce a great portrait but also create something iconic and often time monumental. Gregory does a great job with this portrait of then NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani. Much props to Profoto for producing some really educational videos.

Dave Black: Shooting Motorcross with 8 Speedlights

Dave Black is a professional photographer who shoots some of the most stylized sports images I have ever seen. In this BTS video, Dave is pairing up 8 SB900 flashes with two Radio Popper PX triggers on two Lightware Foursquare brackets. Why does he use such a crazy setup when shooting motorcross? Often times with fast action sports you need to shoot with quick shutter speeds beyond the 1/250th of a second flash sync limit. The only way to do this is to use the FP high speed Sync mode Nikon (and Canon) flashes offer when hardwired to your camera. Luckily Radio Popper (and Pocket Wizard for Canon) have created wireless radio iTTL/eTTL syncing which gives you the ability to us High Speed Sync with your flashes off camera over long distances. This setup is about as complex as you can possibly get (and expensive) but Dave has made a great video showing off the setup. Unfortunately he does little to explain WHY this setup is necessary. Head over to his Lightware Foursquare / Radio Popper Post to read more about how it all comes together and be sure to check out Dave’s portfolio as well.

How To Take Surfing Pictures With Studio Lighting

I’ve taken small strobes out into the ocean to shoot kiteboarders in the past and it wasn’t a huge success. My assistants were getting bashed by waves and the small strobes just aren’t powerful enough to really show up in the day.

Robert Snow had a much better plan though. He decided to go to a wave pool where the waves always break in the same spot and set up beefy studio lighting on the land.

Wave Pool Shoot from Cavin Brothers on Vimeo.

Brian Skerry Becomes One With the Ocean

As a commercial wedding photographer, I know very little about how to take compelling underwater images. Luckily underwater photographer Brian Skerry and National Geographic have shared this short BTS video on what it’s like diving with fish and swimming over coral reefs. I think it’s interesting how simple but necessary the lighting setup is for this field of photography; most of us “land photographer” probably take for granted the complex lighting setups we can easily construct. Most of us also don’t bring “backup gear” to our shoots because we expect our gear to break! Hopefully we will see more videos like this from other underwater photographers.

Photography Changes, Lighting Doesn’t

Have you ever seen “How To” photography videos from the 80′s and 90′s? Most of these videos are so cheesy that it’s hard to take anything of value away from them. In the video below Dean Collins teaches a workshop on the properties of light and instead of focusing on current trends, he sticks to the fundamentals. This video was shot in 91 but it is still completely relevant today.


How To Light A Land Rover By Tim Wallace

I just ran across this quick BTS of a Land Rover photoshoot. The video itself isn’t that impressive but the photography sure is. It’s really interesting to see how Tim Wallace determined his lighting. First he focused on the ambient light for the background and then after he had that locked in he added 3 strobes to fill in the car but keep the sky dark.

Maybe You Only Need 1 Light

So many times we photographers think we need to use every single strobe light we own just because they are there in our bag. I’ve been a victim of it and I’m sure you have too. Instructional photographer Tony Corbell has an old video he made for the folks at Profoto which really showcases the variety of light you can get from just one single light source. There is an old saying that goes the best light is the light you have with you but maybe it should go the best light is sometimes the simplest light.

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