Yesterday I did a shoot with the percussionist, Ryan Knudsen, who just got a sponsorship from the drum company, Latin Percussion. This shoot went swimmingly, but most of all it lasted only maybe 10 minutes.
We piled the gear in Ryan’s gig van, picked up a friend of his, and sped off in search of the perfect location. The friend suggested an alleyway, which I was not a huge fan of because alleys can be very cliche, but for lack of time and better suggestions we went with it. I am very pleased with the results.
I had wanted to use my studio strobes, White-Lightnings, but my Vagabond II battery was deader than dead. So, I used what I had: my two Speedlites. Using radio slaves, I put my 580exII in a Brolly Box, a shoot through umbrella with a reflective backing to keep any light from escaping out the back. Then I did something that David Hobby, the Strobist, never recommends. I put Ryan directly in the 2pm summer sunlight. I had him face away from the sun, so it would hit his head and shoulders as a hair accent. I placed my second speedlite behind Ryan, to his left to give a nice rim light. The LP logo was getting lost in shadow, so I had my assistant, who was holding the lightstand with the BrollyBox to keep it from flying away, also hold a silver reflector low, bouncing sunlight back up directly onto the logo. I quickly set my camera to ISO 100, 1/250th and f/8 knowing that it would give me a slightly underexposed background and hoping my speedlites could compete with the sun. They did quite nicely. One note, on the Canon 5dMkII, the sync speed with the flashes is 1/200th of a second. But since I’m mixing ambient light with strobes and my subject is not filling the entire frame, it is ok to fudge that sync speed a bit. Once the lighting was set, the shooting went very fast.
For the headshots I moved Ryan into the shadow so I could control more of the light. Shooting with the 70-200 f/2.8 I didn’t put on the lens hood, allowing for some lens flare off of the rim light.
It was pretty hot (over 90º), but Ryan was able to keep his cool long enough to get the shots. Thank goodness for a fast shoot.