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Rolling with the BIG Dog Part 10 - part 3 of 1 2 3

by Damian McGillicuddy Published 01/04/2011

Our very own David Simm, (hello guv), has sat for many an 'eighty minute' stretch on a sports field touchline with a manually-focused lump of wood only capable of two frames, (that is, if your hands could actually move at the speed and deftness of a young Paul Daniels!) Now tell me what you think his editor would have said if he returned home with 'Now't for the back page'...he certainly wouldn't still be plying his trade fifty years on!

Let me ask you all a few simple questions: 'Do you put too much trust in automation? Have you been blinded by science...and marketing? Do we want everything to 'work', produce stunning imagery, with the minimum of input from the camera 'pilot'? If I've said it once I've said it a thousand times, you get out proportionally what you put in - simple as!

Now as stated previously the ISO comments got me really thinking and the conclusion was always the same - 'Just because you can, doesn't mean you should'. The simple fact is this: I always try to shoot at 200 ISO to afford me the cleanest file possible, because I want to sell my client the biggest practical image, which happens to be a whopping 60-incher on the Team McGillicuddy price list.

Here are a couple of radical thoughts! Why not just learn to do things correctly? Why not learn to add a beautiful quality of narrative-enhancing light each and every time you shoot? Dare I say it...let's be professional in our photography and offer our clients the very best we can produce each and every time we trip the shutter...especially if this means shooting less and thinking an awful lot more! Now that brings me back round to my new 'hot' affair with the Olympus E5 and my thought processes on its selection. I think it only fair to end the rant with a few samples of its fantastic image quality and a brief 'how it was done' to keep you all happy.

Now as a businessman, accepting the IQ, build quality, functionality and control the Olympus E5 offers, then perhaps the most compelling reason to embrace the big 'O', (I'm sure I've heard that phrase somewhere before), is its price point. Quite simply I can have nearly three fabulous E5s for the cost of one of another manufacturer's flagship camera. Go figure eh? - no seriously, go figure in an accounting sense, because as professional photographers that's your profit you're spending!

Here ends the lesson...

All that remains is for me to thank Mr and Mrs Jones for inviting Team McGillicuddy to Focus to present on behalf of your Societies and to give a BIG Dog thank you to ALL who stopped by to say 'hi'. Now think on this: If you're serious in wanting to develop your craft to generate more income and give yourself a fighting chance in this economic climate... just get better! And to get better, REALLY BETTER, you can do a lot worse than booking on to a Team McGillicuddy training day.

check out all of our training events @

until next time...


How was it done? Rebecca Amy art nude on E5

Oddfellows, Chester
Rebecca Amy
What was in the bag:
Olympus E5 fitted with the 14 - 54mm f2.8- f3.5 (from their pro lens range). Lens set at 27mm (54mm in 35mm format)
2 x Nissin Di 866 speedlights
1 x 36" dish configured as an strip light softbox.
1 x barn door / gobo from the portaflex kit All triggered via Elinchrom universal skyport.
Sekonic L758d lightmeter

Camera settings:
1/25 at f4 ISO 200 in (M)anual mode RAW file processed through Aperture 3.1

So what did I do and why did I do it:
This image was shot on location in the member's bar in Oddfellows, Chester. I wanted to prove that studio quality, sumptuous lighting is achievable with the humble speedlight as long as its pushed through the right modifier!

The 'key', or main light, was a www.damianmcgillicuddy. com 36" BIG dish. It had been fitted with an internal baffle to spread and soften the harsh light created by the small flash tube in the speedlight. However, instead of fitting the standard flat diffusion screen to the front of the dish I opted for the 'strip box' mask. This would give me a very soft and delicate, controllable 'slice' of light that would prevent erroneous light from spilling into areas of the composition that was unintended and therefore spoil the intended mood I was creating.

I selected the 36" dish as its size would give me further control in 'feathering off' the light and creating 'fall off" as the illumination travelled down the subjects legs, making them less prominent in the image - subtle lighting control is ALWAYS the key ;0).

This light was placed to camera right at about 35 degrees above and slightly behind the subject then angled to feather the light across the subject, eliciting depth and giving the pleasing Rembrandt pattern to the shadows on the subject's face.

Our second speedlight was placed to camera left and behind the subject. The barn door from the Portaflex kit was used to control the spill of the light and ensure no stray light struck the lens' front element, degrading image quality with flare.

This light was used as an accent, or FX light as I like to call them, and runs head to toe down the side of the subject to camera left, separating and illuminating Rebecca's hair, body, legs and the bottle. Making those areas 'pop' and 'stand off' from of these areas of the background. This light was Ev + 2/10 to the key light.

Although unlisted above there was a third light in use in this image! As I very often do, I used the available ambient light as fill. This enables me to control the depth and density of the image and in particular the shadow and three-quarter tone areas of the image. By metering the ambient light and selecting a slow shutter speed, in this case, 1/25 of a second I've allowed the ambient light to play a part in the image. In essence partly 'filling' in the shadows and raising the density of the same, narrowing the lighting ratio, oh - and adding a little warmth to the shot.

The subject was posed to give a feeling of sadness and a little finality. The second champagne flute on the table alluding to the fact that the 'gentleman' she was eagerly awaiting didn't show!

Any Post?
A tiny tweak of contrast, a smidge of extra saturation a 'gloss' over with Aperture's skin softening brush, the usual cloning out of any stray hair or imperfections and finally a very simple and subtle vignette... enhancement not rescue!

Contact Damian McGillicuddy

1st Published 01/04/2011
last update 12/11/2019 13:27:13

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