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

by Damian McGillicuddy Published 01/08/2009

The picture further demonstrates that I'll do or use what ever is necessary to realise the image I see in my head. I've pressed an unused bar stool into commission to support the flash fitted with a blue gel, to further enhance the mood lighting. This unit has the power attached via an extension cord to give me greater flexibility in lighting position, I'll just have to remember to retouch it out for the finished image.

Its mate, sharing the power pack, is fitted with the new DMLS large, bare-bulb enhancer. This modifier sends a large 'wall' of softish, but directional light back towards the camera position, rather like a large window of setting sunlight. I've used this illumination to rim-light Lozie, the bottles and her glass; the glass/liquids show a boost in their colours because of it. This light is running at a stop brighter than the key light, just remember, though, that a light from behind always give the apparent effect of being brighter than it actually is.

Let's move on to the key light. The beauty dish has always been my favourite lighting modifier for its stunning quality of light. On location, without a large team, frankly it can be a pain in the backside due to its shape, size and construction - its just hard to ship. After all you don't often see Jamie Oliver, scooter straddled, wandering round with a wok!

The modifier shown in the picture is the new lightweight, collapsible DMLS Beauty Dish. It's now a 'no brainer' to use as, once packed away, it takes up about the same space as a large paperback...super smashing! Although I'm using all the DMLS light modifiers with my Qflash they have been designed to be used with the majority of units, especially speedlights...result!

Ok, so how am I using it? The light stand is off to camera-right and the observant amongst you will notice it's slightly behind the subject...I'm not even pointing the light right back at the model, crazy! not really, sorry to disappoint, it's a technique called 'feathering the light'. As light is cast, invariably it has a stronger, 'hotter' centre and a softer, more delicate edge. It is this 'edge' that is used to skim across the subject and create shadow and highlight, giving the further impression of three dimensions in a two dimensional, flat, paper world!

The final trick pulled from the 'Bag of experience' is a cheap form of 'Fill'. I always work on the premise that I am the world's laziest photographer...that translates into the bare minimum of kit necessary to create the effect intended, why over-egg the pudding. Soooooo, by dragging the shutter we include not only the architectural mood lighting but allow any ambient light present to lift the density of the shadows.

This technique should be in every discerning photographer's play-book. So let's expand on the technicalities a little. 'Dragging the shutter' or 'Pop and burn' as our American friends (Hi Patrick, hi Jane xxx) call it, is one of those very simple, straight-forward techniques that once you know how to do it you'll wonder how you coped without!

Put simply, it's a correlation of shutter and aperture settings. The aperture is set to whatever your flash meter indicates the output to be, let's say F5.6 for the sake of this illustration. We then take a second meter reading of the ambient light, checking what shutter speed is necessary to obtain correct exposure at our chosen aperture of F5.6, let's say it needs a 1/30 of a second.

Setting these measurements on camera will result in a perfectly exposed flash image, the longer shutter time allows 'the black void' left where the flash illumination hasn't touched to 'Fill in' and 'Colour up' with the ambient illumination at the scene. Of course if your measurements dictate a really slow shutter speed then camera support to avoid 'Shake' needs to be considered. In the main though, the burst of flash is enough to freeze minor subject/camera movement at all but the slowest of speeds.

Ok, for those of you who have gotten through this much of my waffle, very well done! I hope your 'Roll' with the BIG Dog has not only been entertaining but also a little educational. We'll finish this shoot off in the next magazine.

My final thoughts for now.... In these 'credit crunch' times one cannot stress just how important it is to keep raising your game. Not only is great customer service essential but the continued pursuit to raise your photographic abilities will go a long way to seeing you through these lean times. That's why I urge all to take advantage of the Societies' Mentor Me program, now that REALLY is a no-brainer. If you're impatient, as I am, book your place on a Mentor Me On Steroids day for a quantum leap in your work.

All the best 'till next time...


Mentor me on Steroids is run and organised by Damian for groups of no more than five people at his Warrington studio. The aim is to teach core photography skills and assist students in preparing for qualification submissions.

studio: 01925 656510

Contact Damian McGillicuddy

1st Published 01/08/2009
last update 12/11/2019 13:27:13

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