Photoshot with Luna

Luna and I had been talking about getting together for a photoshot for a couple of years now. We met working together at Frightfest where she is one of the presenters of Frightfest TV.

When discussing the shoot we decided we needed a prop or two. She suggested she could use a Mustang GT for the day and so I outline planned an outdoor shoot. I say outline planned as with this kind of arrangement I only like to put together rough ideas as when heading outdoors weather is a a major consideration (especially in the height of summer in the UK). I also like to spend some time with the model, chatting and gauging their mood on the day before firming up my shots.

Lady Luna Wolf and Mustang. Picture by Julie Edwards. X-T2+18-55@1/2000,F4

There are a number of ways to shoot a darker, gothic feel type style on a bright sunny day, my preference being for high shutter speeds with high power flash units. I worked with a couple of AD200’s combined with the X-T2’s on High Speed Sync.

The first set of images we shot right in the centre of worthing, near home, with my “assistant” holding a Godox AD200 with a beauty dish, just to get a feel of the light and how the shoot would go.

Lady Luna Wolf and Mustang. Picture by Julie Edwards. X-T2+18-55@1/3200,F2.8

Now I had a feel, we packed a couple of the flash units, a couple of lightstands, modifiers and lenses and headed out of town (to the mighty burble of the 5.0L engine).

Lady Luna Wolf and Mustang. Picture by Julie Edwards. X-T2+18-55@1/1000,F5

On the day, the light was really variable and most of the time I was having to use the Godox at full power (some of the shots had a second light) whilst waiting for the clouds to help with the light also.

Lady Luna Wolf and Mustang. Picture by Julie Edwards. X-T2+18-55@1/4000,F3.2

I wanted the images to have a “film” quality to them and so back in the office I edited the RAW images in Lightroom using either the Classic Chrome or Astia simulations before moving them in to Photoshop for retouching. These two simulations gave me a choice of base tones (especially skin tones, where Astia is my favourite).

Lady Luna Wolf and Mustang. Picture by Julie Edwards. X-T2+18-55@1/4000,F3.6

The final look was applied using the NIK collection (now owned by DXO) running inside Photoshop. I learned a thing or two here as well; It had always frustrated me how adding a NIK layer to a PS image was a “one hit” action. If I decided I did not like the look after I had applied it (or subsequent edits), with my old workflow it was a case of deleting the layer and restarting. However a quick goggle on a train this week revealed the “magic” recipe. Convert the source layer to a smart object first and then the NIK filters are applied as Smart Filters meaning they can be edited with a right-click..

As you can see above, I used a combination of Colour Efex Pro to get the contrast and colours where I wanted them before adding a subtle film look and grain with Analog Efex Pro.

Lady Luna Wolf and Mustang. Picture by Julie Edwards. X-T2+XF56@1/8000,F1.2

The style may not be to everyones taste but we had a loot of fun shooting these and they definitely work with Luna’s style.

Fuji and Godox at an event.

Once a month I can be found at the British Film Institute (BFI) working as the official photographer at film critic Mark Kermode’s live show.

Steve Coogan, Nadine Labaki, Mark Kermode, Liv Hill, James Gardner and Cyril Nri backstage at Mark Kermode Live in 3D on Monday 28 January 2019 at BFI Southbank, London. The guests gather backstage before the show. Picture by Julie Edwards.

This entails working backstage to get a nice group shot of Mark with all of the guests as well as joining everyone for a pre-show run though to make sure I know the order as well as the host and the guests. This way I can make sure that I am always positioned in the best possible position to get good images of both Mark and the guests which are suitable for both social media and press. For the group shot I use an X-T2 with the 16-55/F2.8 coupled with a Godox TTL wireless controller and an Ad200 handheld high above me near the ceiling. This way I can be sure to get (fairly) even lighting without flash fare or reflections in any spectacles.

Steve Coogan on stage at Mark Kermode Live in 3D on Monday 28 January 2019 at BFI Southbank, London. Steve joined Mark to chat about his film Stan and Ollie which he is watching here. Picture by Julie Edwards.

During the show I work with 2 X-T2’s, usually in Astia film simulation, preset to a fixed kelvin white balance, one with the 16-55, the other with the 50-140. As well as photographing the obvious, I am always looking out for the less obvious, the images that might capture the atmosphere of the event. The image above was shot at 10000iso, 1/100th and F2.8, and as you can see, with a little bit of an edit on the RAW file, its fine for social media and press use.

Nadine Labaki on stage at Mark Kermode Live in 3D on Monday 28 January 2019 at BFI Southbank, London. Nadine joined Mark onstage to discuss her film Capernaum. Picture by Julie Edwards.

I tend to have the focus set to “s”, sometimes with Face Recognition, sometimes without. Using it makes images like the above a whole lot easier to capture.

Mark Kermode on stage at Mark Kermode Live in 3D on Monday 28 January 2019 at BFI Southbank, London. . Picture by Julie Edwards.

Within minutes of the show ending, the images are on my laptop, loaded into lightroom and I start posting to social media (facebook, twitter and instagram) to publicise the event (with fully researched hashtags and handles where appropriate). At the same time, appropriate images are syndicated to press.

Working this way I am able to help build the reputation and visibility of any event I am employed to cover…..

Steve Coogan on stage at Mark Kermode Live in 3D on Monday 28 January 2019 at BFI Southbank, London. Steve joined Mark to chat about his film Stan and Ollie. Picture by Julie Edwards.

Godox : At last a full flash system for the Fuji’s

As soon as I say this I will be corrected “but I was able to do HSS with Cactus and …. ” etc etc. So let me clarify.

“At last we have a flash system for our Fuji X-Series cameras that scales easily from quick snaps with on-camera flash with TTL to a full system for location or studio with High Speed shutter Sync”

I’ve been working with the system for about 6 weeks now and I’m happy.

Firstly, the important stuff, the colour temperature of all the lights seems fairly constant. They are stated to be 5600k but I have found on the X-T2 with no tweaks this is a little orange and needs pulling back slightly. If shooting with a WB card they come out at about 5500 and a tweak…

The TTL is also, again, consistent and much in line with what the Nikon SB900 / SB800 used to offer on my old Nikon systems.

The system I have put together consists of:

  • AD600B
  • 2 x AD200
  • TT685F
  • X1T-F
  • XT-32 (manual only)
  • Canon off camera TTL flash cable (I state this to clarify what is needed)
  • Also the Canon XS – cable is the one you need to connect to a ProPak 960.

First things first.

I unpacked the 685, AD200 and XT-F on the same day and the first issue was firmware updates for the AD200 and AD600 to enable them to support the Fuji’s fully. This is not the easiest task with two different firmware loaders required (G1 or G2) – one to update the AD600 and another for the AD200. Another issue is the firmware uploader(s) only work on Windows based systems, which, as a Mac user made life really difficult as I could not even get the software to work on a parallels virtual machine. In the end had to resort to my partners windows laptop. Also note that the firmware(s) are very model specific – particularly the AD600 vs AD600M, these are not interchangeable as I found out!

Setting Up / Using.

As with most other systems, the control signals are sent out on one of 32 channels (1-32) so the first stage is to set all of the units (flashes and controllers) to the same channel.

  • X1T-F: There is a button marked CH, press this and rotate the dial.
  • AD200: Hold down the GR/CH button until the channel number flashes. Rotate the dial
  • AD600:
  • TT685: Press the Right-hand most button to enable one of the wireless modes and then one of the centre buttons is labeled CH, press this and rotate the dial.

Next are the Groups. This is a way of enabling the trigger to fire multiple flash heads at different flash values. Setting a number of flashes to the same group will ensure they fire at the same setting. Setting flashes to different groups enables them to be fired at different settings (i.e. manual power, a TL ratio or turned off). As at the moment I have 4 lights, I have set each light to a different group to allow them all to be controlled individually from the trigger.

  • Group A: AD200
  • Group B: AD200
  • Group C: AD600
  • Group D: TT685

The 2 AD200’s are on the first two groups as these are the most used off-camera units. The AD600 is on Group C as the trigger in the TT685 can only control Groups A to C (+ itself). The X1T can control groups A through E. All of my units have a letter on them to remind me of their setting.

Once set, the output value on each flash may be set on the X1T trigger.

  • Use the dial control to select (underline) the group to adjust.
  • Use the Mode button to cycle between the modes: TTL, Manual Power, Off (–)
  • Press the GRoup button to select the group and with its value flashing, use the dial to adjust the output power (or TTL ratio). Press the GRoup button again to confirm the setting.

First Job.

The day I unpacked the units I had a photocall in the evening, a BBC photocall in a hotel for the new Dr Foster series. Biting the bullet, I took an AD200 (with the fresnel head), TT685 & X1T-F (after full testing obviously). My initial setup was to use a single camera with the X1T firing both flashes (mainly because I had not tried or tested using the TT685 as a controller).  Having a bit of time to spare before the talent arrived, I was able to work out using the TT685 as a controller and so ended up with the “long” camera for headshots firing only the AD200 and the “standard” camera firing the AD200 & the camera-mounted TT885 for fill in.

X1T, TT685 on XT-2’s

The really nice thing was having the AD200 fire at totally different values from one camera to another as I swapped between them (with no further input).

Bertie Carvel attends a photocall for the BBC’s Doctor Foster at The Mayfair Hotel on Tuesday August 8th.

Suranne Jones attends a photocall for the BBC’s Doctor Foster at The Mayfair Hotel on Tuesday August 8th.

In anger at Frightfest.

At the end of August it was my annual trip to Frightfest in London. I have been photographing the event for the organisers for 7 years now and a few years back we added live social media from the red carpet (using the iPad workflow).

The festival runs over 5 days during during which I shot 41 separate “red carpet” photocalls. The setup was again an AD200 (this time with a standard reflector over the open bulb) with the TT685 for fill-in (and controller). The units were set to TTL (+0.7 & +0.3 to compensate for the white step & repeat board) and worked flawlessly for the many thousands of shots over the 5 days.

Adam Green , Kane Hodder

Eve Myles, Annette Crosbie.

Jason Flemyng.

Barbara Crampton.

Mel Wayman.

I altered the direction of the shadows by moving & turning the subjects – i.e. more straight on and flattering for the women, turning away from the light for harsher shadows on the men. (easier to do when you co-run the media wall and so are able to fully direct it). The battery life of the AD200 was good, lasting a full day with an overnight charge and both units kept up with the 5fps, 3 frame burst I tend to shoot.

One other thing I had not tried with the XT-2’s until this weekend was the additional sync mode’s, the flash control screen allows HSS, front curtain and rear curtain. HSS as I have mentioned before, allows better control of the ambient light whereas the two “curtain” modes control when the flash fires in relation to the shutter opening. Front curtain fires the flash as the shutter opens, freezing any action at this point and if  the shutter is open long enough, leaves a trail of any moving object away FROM the frozen object. Rear curtain is the opposite, firing the flash at the end of the cycle so that the blurring leads TO the frozen object. I played with this a bit at night… using Rear curtain to capture “Frightfest Ghosts” moving through the foyer.

Frightfest Ghosts 2017

When writing an article like this, it is so easy to miss points out but hopefully that gives you a good idea of how capable the Godox units are when used with Fuji system. Please ask any questions below via the comments and I will do my best to answer them all.

Happy shooting.

 

HSS – The Godox TT685F & PocketWizards

As is my morning ritual (especially at the weekend) I headed down to the beach for 10 minutes peace before the day starts proper.

Normally I take with me an X-T camera of some description and a sketch pad – quite often I use the sketch pad and not the camera. This morning being bright and sunny I thought I would take the opportunity to see how the new Godox (On camera)  TT685F would work in conjunction with PocketWizards for remote camera use at Red Carpet Events.

My PocketWizards are a set of Plus3‘s which connect into the X-T2 via the Mic-In socket. This necessitates a 3.5mm to 2.5mm lead (using Younogo’s a 2.5mm-2.5mm lead is the requirement) .When first connecting the cable into the camera it prompts you to ensure the socket is set to the correct use – Remote Control or Microphone. (Edit: To clarify – this is to trigger the camera remotely and nothing to do with the triggering of the flash unit). The next key step is to pre-focus and set the camera to manual focus as it would not fire when set to either of the AF modes (I have not noticed this before when shooting interiors, however most of the time I am bracketing & pre-focusing on manual to ensure the focus does not change between brackets for the HDR merge).

Once this was working ok I fitted the Godox to the camera and had a play. This is not a particularly flattering image but it does demonstrate why HSS (High Speed Flash Sync) is such an important tool.

Self Portrait at Worthing, UK, 19/08/2017 : Julie Edwards. Picture by Julie Edwards

The key things to remember when shooting outdoors with flash are –

  • Shutter Speed only affects the ambient light (sun / surroundings)
  • Aperture affects ambient & flash brightness
  • ISO affects ambient & flash brightness

Therefore, shooting into bright sun I was able to balance the ambient (sun and background) by raising the shutter speed to 1/1250, setting the aperture and ISO to suit the flash output (in this case TTL output for laziness but probably near or at full output).

So.. The key is Shutter Speed! Actually no, I stand by the T-Shirt, the key IS motivation!

Have a great weekend!