Lighting for a Catalog Shoot

Lighting for a Catalog Shoot

This summer, I had the pleasure of shooting for a local online retail store’s catalog. This was a new one for me; I’d never done something like this, but have a good relationship with one of the principles at this company, so I agreed to give it a try. The client in question is Veronica Levy, who runs a Bay-Area fashion blog called Lombard and Fifth. Her brief was deceptively simple: Make it bright, airy, and high-key. What was unsaid but implied was that the lighting needed to stay consistent from one shot to the next, without variation. For this shoot, I decided to start simply. I began with one light, a Paul C. Buff Einstein light inside a large umbrella. We were shooting in a relatively small studio, however, so the light didn’t completely wrap around the model, leaving a shadow on the wall behind. We wanted almost no shadows – just enough, in fact, to bring out the texture on some of the clothing. The single light delivered a bit too much of a shadow, so we added additional lighting. For the additional lighting, I went with something I wouldn’t ordinarily use inside a studio, the Profoto B2 AirTTL on-location kit. The reason I wouldn’t use this in-studio is because it is powered only by battery and there’s no way to shoot with this plugged into an AC socket on the wall. Fortunately, the kit you rent from BorrowLenses comes with two batteries, so I was reasonably confident that I could have one charging constantly while the other was in use. As it turned out, we only...
Cut the Cord: BL’s Best Wireless Lighting Options

Cut the Cord: BL’s Best Wireless Lighting Options

With the exception of Speedlights, portable lighting options are limited. Fortunately, that is starting to change and every year we’re getting more and more powerful, wireless lighting. So cut the cord and try out one of these travel-friendly lights for your next event, reunion, or on-the-road portrait session!   Westcott Ice Light Type of Light: Continuous LED Key Features: Dimmable, has a ¼”-20 mount on both ends for easy attachment to light stand, and is barely over a pound. How it’s Powered: Internal battery with an included AC wall cable to charge. The Cons: Only 1 hour of use for about 2.5 hours of charge time. Also, it starts flickering after 1 straight hour of use. Good For: Product photography, thanks to its ability to stand by itself on a tabletop with very close placement to the product without emitting any heat. It also produces easy, fun edge lighting. Example below.   Profoto B1 500W/s AirTTL Battery Powered Flash Type of Light: Strobe Key Features: Compatible with legacy Profoto speed rings and modifiers, super fast sync speeds (up to 1/19,000th of a second), and long battery life (220 full-powered pops on a 1 hour charge). How it’s Powered: Lithium-ion battery that latches directly onto the light and is charged with an included AC cable. The Cons: You can’t have the battery and the AC cable attached to the flash at the same time – so no continuous use with wall power option. Also, each head is over 6 pounds. Good For: Action photography. You can fire off 20 flashes per second in Quick Burst Mode. There is also a...
3 Back to School Portrait Styles: Which One is Right for You?

3 Back to School Portrait Styles: Which One is Right for You?

Start studying because the kids are heading back to school, which means you’ll have to act fast to get the first-day-of-school shot you want. As part of this preparation, you need to decide which style is right for your family or the family you’re photographing for. Here’s what you need to know to ace these 3 school-themed shoots: Lesson 1: Before-and-Afters Before-and-afters are always fascinating because you’re either seeing how someone aged or comparing family members. Here are the different types of before-and-afters: Classic – First day of school vs last day of school. Archival – First day of school year-over-year (takes long-term dedication). Generational – Parent’s first day of of school vs kid’s first day of school (or one sibling compared to another). Since before-and-afters are always a winner, you can get away with taking mediocre images that are still cherished – even with just your phone. However, here are some tips on how to get more than just a passing grade: • Pick a camera that you can use consistently over time, preferably one that is high enough quality so that the results don’t look dated after 1 year. • Use the same lens, or focal length, for your before-and-afters. If using a zoom, write down what focal length you used. If you’re doing something generational, try and guess the focal length of an old photo. Online focal length comparison tools might help! • Write down your settings (or remind yourself of your settings in your EXIF data before taking the “after” picture). You’ll want to use similar settings again. If your “after” picture is turning out darker or lighter than you...
Latest Gear at BorrowLenses – July Edition

Latest Gear at BorrowLenses – July Edition

Canon finally has an affordable 4K camera, Tokina’s got some cool Cine zooms for you, and we have the latest addition to the Leica family. It’s that time of the month again folks: here’s the July edition of all the fresh new gear at BorrowLenses! Hive Lighting Wasp Plasma PAR Light Kit Plasma lighting is catching on big-time these days. These kits from Hive Lighting draw relatively little power and, according to Hive, output the equivalent of 400–4,000 watt HMI lamps. Best of all, they have adjustable color temperatures and intensity, giving you a range of between 4,600K to 7,000K. Depending on the accessories you mount, they can put out a blistering 5,000 foot-candles of power at 10 feet. Doing the math, that’s… let’s see… carry the one… a lot of f-stops. Really. The Wasp Par kit comes with one par light, 4 lenses to give you a variety of lighting options, a set of scrims and barn doors. SmallHD Sidewider EVF We recently got the SmallHD 502 monitor into our inventory, and this flip-out frame and loupe is the perfect compliment to that monitor. It mounts – somewhat counterintuitively at first – sideways to the frame, which actually allows you to place the monitor parallel to your camera and gives you more of a run-and-gun-style add-on, which documentary filmmakers will appreciate. Interestingly, unlike other EVF/loupes, this one moves the monitor away from in front of your face, providing you with better situational awareness of your environment. The unit rents with the EVF loupe, a diopter assembly that lets you adjust it from –2 to +4, and a carrying...
Latest Gear at BorrowLenses – June Edition

Latest Gear at BorrowLenses – June Edition

We’re feeling like standing outside the door of our San Carlos or Waltham headquarters and yelling, “New gear! Get your new gear! Fresh off the FedEx truck, new gear!” Since our bosses ruled that out, we’re taking to the blog to tell you about all the cool toys we just got in. Without further ado, here’s some of the latest gear to rent at BorrowLenses. Rokinon 135mm T/2.2 Cine DS lens for Canon We love the Rokinon Cine primes. They’re a fraction of the cost of a Canon or Zeiss cine prime to rent, and while those lenses have unsurpassed optical properties and other great qualities going for them, the Cine DS line from Rokinon still has a certain soft spot that calls to the small indie startup we once were. The 135mm from Rokinon has the same great characteristics that the rest of the Cine DS line has: small size, solid optics, and a de-clicked aperture that allows for smooth transitions from wide open to stopped down all the way. Furthermore, the gears for the focus and aperture rings are in the same place for all the lenses in the Cine DS series, making it easier to swap lenses on a rig without repositioning follow focus gears, etc. Canon 50mm f/1.8 STM Speaking of great lenses, the “nifty fifty” from Canon hasn’t changed much for, well, ever. Until now. The new iteration of this lens has the STM, or stepping motor focus system that is slowly making its way into Canon’s autofocus lenses. The STM allows for whisper-quiet autofocus and smooth and precise movements when shooting video. Pair...