Rogue XL Flash Bender… with On Camera Speed Light

I am in love with my XL Rogue Flash Bender. It comes with a strip light panel and a regular softbox panel (just google XL rogue flash bender and you will see what I am saying). I used it quite often in the past with the strip light panel for kicker light in studio portrait shots, but I never used it with on camera flash, with the regular softbox diffusion panel, for event/documentary photos… not until last Wednesday at a U of T engineering alumni event.

Just check out how badass the lighting is…

ECE Alumni Event. November 2013 ©William Ye

ECE Alumni Event. November 2013. ©William Ye

ECE Alumni Event. November 2013. ©William Ye

ECE Alumni Event. November 2013. ©William Ye

ECE Alumni Event. November 2013. ©William Ye

I am no way affiliated with Rogue or ExpoImaging, nor am I associated with any commercial body, so I am not here promoting any product to anyone. However, I really feel like writing a post to talk about this product because I am in love with it. Love the light. Love how soft it is. Yet it’s very edgy compare to ceiling bounce or wall bounce. Unlike ceiling bounce or wall bounce, it puts a hot spot (but very soft!) on my main subject and falls off nicely, allowing the background to go dimmer. Overall I feel like the rogue XL flash bender is definitely a great piece of speed light attachment. I am glad that I own it.

November 11 2013 Ranting

So according to the DxO marking, the sensor in sony A7R scored 95, while that in Nikon D800E scored 96, and people got excited because they could get close to Nikon D800E performance in a Sony camera (OMG what about let’s throw a party or organize a parade or something).

Well folk, first of all, Nikon D800E is two years old; second, Nikon D800E is using a sensor developed by Sony two years ago. So Sony finally came out something they could have come out two years ago, and us Sony users got so hyper. That’s almost like hearing “Oh my goodness after two years we are finally not inferior”, which, to me, sounds very ironic and depressing.

Obviously I currently don’t need 36mp resolution, and I am perfectly aware that megapixel count is not everything. What I don’t understand is why Sony is resting on being mediocre, instead of pushing forward and going for the top (for instance, they had 36mp sensor two years ago, but they just chose not to use it their own camera). The A99 they released last year was supposed to be a Nikon D800/Canon 5D3 competitor, but end up becoming one of the Nikon D600/Canon 6D kind. As a Minolta/Sony loyalty (or rather, having invested so much in Alpha mount that it is not feasible to switch brand), I don’t want to see that…

Anyways, I wish Sony good luck because I still have faith for this brand. I am not a marketing expert, so none of the stuff I said above may make actual marketing sense. I just need a little platform for me to rant. That’s why I chose to post it here, and I will not promote this blog post. If you happen to come across to this post and don’t agree with what I am saying, please be kind since this is my personal opinion.

I Did ESEC Portrait Photo with Three flashes

I specifically wrote three flashes in the title, because it was supposed to be a four light + 1 reflector set up, but… I BROKE one flash right before the photoshoot (cry)! I mounted it on a trigger that sits on a stand, and I was carrying it along with three other flashes and stands. It was too much equipment I could handle with my two hands and the flash somehow slipped from the trigger (or maybe smashed at the wall), and the next thing I knew was: the flash fell on the ground; the hot shoe totally broke, and the LCD was shattered as well. Lesson learnt, never try to carry too much equipment again; asking for help instead.

Below is one of the pictures:

ESEC 2013 Execs Portrait. November 2013. © William Ye

I shot this on F2.8 but I should have closed my aperture by a bit (like F4) to have a bit more depth of field and get his right shoulder in focus.

Let me talk a little about the main light here. The main light was a flash with a 26 inch Westcott Rapid box. This item comes with a free diffusion panel, which is missing in my purchase. I called Westcott customer support today and the lady said she would mail one to me. I couldn’t help thinking I should have just exchanged for a new one at Henry’s where I bought this item, which would be much faster and eliminate the hassle of waiting for delivery, as well as the risk of picking up should the delivery failed. This aside, the quality of light is actually quite good.

Rapid Box. November 2013. © William Ye

The rapid works by firing the flash onto a deflector plate (optional purchase for roughly 20 dollars) mounted at the centre of the box, which bounces the light onto the whole interior surface of the box. The concept is kind of like a beauty dish. I never did any scientific test on how much this rapid box resembles a beauty dish in the light quality, but when used without any reflector, the rapid box produces a light crisp and specular enough to my taste. Obviously with the reflector the shadow almost erased and it’s difficult to tell. I really should post a picture (a test shot I did) when the reflector was not there to show the light quality! But I never asked my model whether I have the permission… Maybe I can post of picture of some random test object later.

Rapid Box Interior. November 2013. © William Ye

The one thing I LOVE about the rapid box is it’s ability to fold like an umbrella. I think this is amazing and brilliant. Traditional softbox consists of a speed ring, a couple of flexible rods and the fabric. To assemble a softbox is to go through pain and frustration. You will have to insert the one end of the rod into a whole on the speed ring and insert another end into a little pocket on the fabric by fighting against the tension of the rod. It gets progressively harder with more and more rods are set into place, and you will almost tear the fabric by inserting the last one or two rods.

Then there comes softbox that opens up like umbrellas… Oh my goodness, after I own my piece of umbrella like softbox, I just wish all the traditional softboxes could be eradicated from the market.

I said previously the rapid box is supposed to have similar light output as a beauty dish. However when it comes to portability, they don’t compare, or the rapid walks all over a beauty dish in the category of portability. Do I even need to explain why? 😛

Rapid box fold down. November 2013. © William Ye

MMA/Boxer Photoshoot with Justin

I am so glad I made it to MMA/Boxer photoshoot. It so worth it, like totally worth every bit of it. The photos come up awesome, especially displaying them in the horizontal scrolling format (like the format on my portfolio or my smugmug gallery). I am very pleased with the results.

Here are some images:

MMA/Boxer Photoshoot with Justin. November 2013. © William Ye

MMA/Boxer Photoshoot with Justin. November 2013. © William Ye

MMA/Boxer Photoshoot with Justin. November 2013. © William Ye

Let me talk about lighting. First of all, I didn’t light the subject, so it’s probably a bit inappropriate for me to talk about the lighting… but since the lighting here is so simple and decipher-able, I may as well just write about it.

The first picture is lit by two strip boxes on each side of the model. Gridded. Do be cautious when you use this style of lighting. Strip box has very little wrapping effect along its abscissa axis, and it grid made the beam even tighter. If used effectively, this modifier could get very interesting shadow and help you fully express your artistry, but if used not effectively, this modifier will cast ugly shadow that makes the model look very weird and totally destroy your picture. In this particular setup here, the model could move a bit forward or a bit background, and the shadow falling on his body would look completely different, which would not give me the result I want.

The second and third pictures are done with a beauty dish as main light, and a gridded 7 inch reflector as the background light. No fill. Beauty dish is pretty specular, but since it has a pretty decent coverage, I found it a lot easier to work with. In the third photo here, I asked the model to actually punch towards (not at :P) me, and he was moving back and forth a bit in every photo. I could do that because the beauty dish would give me enough coverage that allows the model to stay within the light.

That’s lighting…

Let me talk a little bit about BTS story.

First of all, this photoshoot was hosted by, and six photographers, including me, were present on the set.

I got a bit nervous and frustrated at first. There were a couple of reasons. First, I didn’t do my homework. I had in my mind one picture, and nothing else. I came into the set with almost no vision and wasn’t expecting what to get out of the photoshoot. Second, I never met Justin, our model, before. Neither did I met the other five photographers. In the past I either photographed my friend, or photographed a model who was my friend. Now I am photographing a new face with five other photographers who have been in the industry for (let me guess) at least 10 years. I felt quite a bit pressure. In conclusion, I found myself unable to maintain a certain flow in the photoshoot. I ran out of ideas very quickly, and when I ran out of ideas, I simply didn’t know what to do.

I expressed my frustration to one of the photographers, Andrea. Andrea was actually a very nice lady. She started film photography when she was 14 and she appeared to be in her thirties or forties now. Similar to me she had a background in product photography. We chatted quite a bit, and she told me the most important thing was to have fun. I didn’t know how much fun I had, but now that I started to chat with other people on the set, I felt less intense. I observed that Andrea was working at a very slow pace. She did not try to make the model energetic, but simply told the model “let’s try this let’s try that”, and she when she ran out of idea, she simply told the model she needed to think. If she could do that, I could do that as well. I could totally ask the model to try on his own when I didn’t know what to do, especially given that the model, Justin his name is, is so professional at what he is doing.

I guess It was me putting too much pressure on myself during the whole time, but I started to feel the shoot later and got some great photos.

That’s BTW story…

Last but certainly not the least:

Big thanks to Toronto based photographer Rhommel Bernardino for hosting the photoshoot:

A round of applause to our model awesome Justin: He is just so professional. Like he could do everything, all kinds of kicks, all kinds of jumps, all kinds of kicks while jumping, literally everything… on a hard cement floor! (OMG!)

It was great to see everyone, all the photographers on set!


EngSci Club Execs Photoshoot

I did this photoshoot in early October in a little corner in EngSci common room. I always wanted to blog about it, but I never had the time to have set up a blog… Now I finally could.

Here is one of the final products (after a little bit retouching in photoshop):

EngSci Execs Photoshoot. October 2013. © William Ye

As you can see the photo itself is not that interesting. What is so interesting about it is the BTS story.

Basically during the middle of the photoshoot, one of the execs asked me if I could take a group photo for her and her friends. I was surprised since I was never told to take group pictures. I had an 85mm prime lens only, and I only brought those 7 inch reflector as my light modifier. As we could all imagine, if I were to use this standard reflector to evenly light a group, even if it’s only a group of four, I would have to move the light pretty far away from the group, and the light would be really harsh. Therefore, the first thing I did was I went all the way back to the other end of the room, and I was lucky since I found that 85mm was wide enough to cover the whole group. The second thing I had in my mind was to aim the light at the ceiling and bounce. Obviously I need to adjust the strobe power. What made it worse was I left my light meter at home. It took me quite a bit effort to have chimped the exposure right for the headshots previously, and I needed to chimp again. However, I got really lucky since I got the exposure right (or the way I liked it to be) in the first try!

All in all, it took me only 2 minutes to have configured my headshot lighting set up to a group shot set up, and I was really happy with the result.

Below are some group photos. I didn’t retouch these photos other than a bit tweak in color and contrast in Lightroom:

EngSci Group Photo. October 2013. © William Ye

EngSci Group Photo. October 2013. © William Ye

EngSci Group Photo. October 2013. © William Ye

EngSci Group Photo. October 2013. © William Ye

Hello world! & Some photos from July 2013

Hello world! First blog post! This is going to be more like a test post.

Below are some photos I shot July this year for University of Toronto Engineering Frosh Week Sub Committee portrait. One silver beauty dish with no diffusion sock. Ambient light as fill. Shot at 85mm around f4 or f5.6, ISO 200, 1/200s

Frosh Week Subcom Portrait. July 2013. © William Ye

Frosh Week Subcom Portrait. July 2013. © William Ye

Frosh Week Subcom Portrait. July 2013. © William Ye