Mixed Light Selfie On The Beach

Mixed light photography

My wife Diane and I love the beach at Siesta Key, Florida. Anyone who has been to this beach raves about the white powder sand. As a photographer, I’m often left out of pictures. Which is OK. However, this particular trip caused me to think about a photo of my wife and I. Especially since we enjoy Siesta Key beach as we do. I’m always telling Diane, I want to create our portrait on the beach.

So one evening after we’d gotten cleaned up and had dinner, I told Diane; OK, let’s do the portrait on the beach thing tonight. The first words from Diane were; OK, let me fix my hair!  Imagine that. I told Diane, I want to get my camera set up, so I’ll head out and you can catch up.

The problem with this type of photography at this time of day is the low light levels and mix of light sources. With the sun setting or after sunset, you need a long exposure in order to capture the ambient light. To insure the light on the faces is correct, means you need to add some flash. Now you have a mixed light source. So how does this work?

First you need to make the giant leap of faith and shoot in manual! I  can hear you out there now: OMG – shoot in manual, what’s an f-stop? Yep, you will need to know your f-stop from shutter speed. The quick answer is to use the lens aperture to control the flash exposure. Then find a shutter speed to control the ambient exposure. After that, it’s just an issue to get the pose right. In this set up, I didn’t want to drag extra strobes, light stands, camera and tripod onto the beach. Although for you I’d make sure the extra lights are used. One other handy item was the hand held remote for the camera.

So after was all said and done, Diane and I chose the image below to have printed. OK, I’ll admit I did enhance the night sky a little. Let me know your thoughts!

We have this wonderful body of water here called Lake Erie. So if you’d like to have your family photographed in a setting like the one shown, contact me.

Mixed Light - night portrait on the beach

Diane and Tom on the Siesta Key Beach at dusk.

No Shadow Product Photography

I use Google Alerts to send me web notices about photography topics.  One day a listing about shooting whites without shadows caught my attention.  I clicked on the link which took me to a Youtube video by Alex Koloskov.  Alex is a photographer based in Atlanta and creates some gorgeous photography.  You can learn more at: http://www.koloskov.com/.

After watching the video, it was obvious just how simple and effective Alex’s technique is. The beauty is in the simplicity.  At some point I knew I wanted to try his technique.  A client contacted me with an assignment that was perfect for Alex’s method.  I already had a 30 by 60 inch sheet of plastic to use, so it was off to the local hardware store (where they’ve known me on a first name basis for years!) to build a table. 

As most everyone who does home projects knows, often, there is a second and better design.  So I came up with a plastic PVC pipe table design.  Not fully seeing the approximate size of the plastic sheet used by Alex, mine was too large to allow heat forming over the kitchen stove.  It now sits in the corner of the studio with ripples and a burn spot!

That meant another trip to the local home center for another sheet of clear plastic.  That also meant the table needed to be modified.  So, off to the local hardware store again for more supplies. So design number 2 is shown in the photos attached. 

The PVC tubing table has glued joints.  By not gluing all the joints, the table can be broken down for easy storage when not in use.  Using clamps allows me to change the clear plastic sheet positioning to suit my needs.

In some of my first product shots using the table I noticed the frame reflecting on some of the product surfaces.  A coat of black paint on the frame fixed that issue.  So The photos included show the table and clamping system and a quick shot of a plastic hairspray bottle to show how the shadows are GONE!  Alex, a trip of the shutter to you for inspiring me!  Thanks.

Glued joint on ight table.

Simple glued join construction.

Product photography light table

Clear plastic table top on a PVC tubing frame.

Large radius in table top.

C-Clamps retain plastic sheet to form a large radius.

Swivel support

Swivel support for table top.

No shadows now.

Viola! – No shadows and a pure white background.