BorrowLenses Education: Featured Photographer Troy Paiva

BorrowLenses Education: Featured Photographer Troy Paiva

Technique, knowledge, inspiration – gain it all from seasoned photographers with years of experience and many tips to share with both burgeoning photographers and pros looking to gain a new perspective. Visit our entire collection of interviews, which are full of amazing images and valuable advice. Troy Paiva, AKA Lost America, has been creating light painted night photography in abandoned locations and junkyards since 1989. His documentarian work examines the evolution, and eventual abandonment, of the communities, infrastructure, and social iconography that spawned during America’s 20th century expansion into the cities and deserts of the West. His imagery has appeared in print in over a dozen countries, including three Stephen King book covers, American Photographer, Air & Space Magazine, Hot Rod Magazine, and CNN Online. Troy’s work has appeared in museums and galleries in New York, Los Angeles, Sweden, and San Francisco. In 2010 and 2011, he appeared as a guest judge on the Singapore reality TV show The Big Shot. Troy teaches light painting/night painting workshops several times a year in a high desert junkyard filled with decaying movie prop vehicles. His low cost, high impact lighting techniques have been adopted by amateurs and professionals around the world. BL: What is your photographic specialty and how did you become interested in it? Paiva: I’m a night photographer and light painter and general lighting guru.  I picked up the basics of the techniques in the days of film, back in 1989, and forged my own techniques for working with flashlights (torches) during time-exposures through the ’90s and into the 21st century.  It’s been amazing to see the popularity of these...
Multiple Flash Firing with Nikon’s Advanced Wireless Lighting System Using Pop-up Flash

Multiple Flash Firing with Nikon’s Advanced Wireless Lighting System Using Pop-up Flash

Topics Covered: Setting Commander Mode for your Nikon camera and firing off-camera Speedlights using a pop-up flash. Assigning multiple flashes to groups A and B to control from your Nikon camera’s Commander Mode. Adjusting your flash channel, illumination pattern, and zoom position. Compatible Cameras and Flashes (including Canon and Sony): If you own or rent one of the following cameras, you may fire off-camera flash via Commander Mode using the pop-up flash on your camera: D600, D800/E, D700, D300/s, D200, D90, D80, D70s, D7100 and D7000. This system is compatible with the following Speedlights: SB-910, SB-900, SB-800, SB-700, SB-600, and SB-R200. No need for radio triggers or cables! Canon shooter? You can do this, too, with the following cameras using Canon’s Integrated Speedlite Transmitter system: 7D, 60D, Rebel T3i, Rebel T4i, Rebel T5i, and Rebel SL1. Canon’s system is compatible with the following Speedlites: 600EX-RT, 580EX II, 430 EX II, 320EX, and 270EX. We’ll have more on how to set this up on Canon’s system in a later post. Don’t want to wait? This page will get you started. For Sony users, the following DSLR cameras and flashes also have a built-in, pop-up flash wireless system: A58, A65, A77, A700 with the HVL-F60M, HVL-F58AM, HVL-F43AM, and HVL-F42AM. Adding Flashes to Your Scene I took the above portrait using a single SB-910 Speedlight inside a 28″ Westcott Apollo softbox. For variety, I decided to show a little bit more of the environment and add 2 more flashes to the mix to get the result below. When working in Nikon’s Advanced Wireless Lighting system, you can fire 2 groups of flashes...
Small Flash, Big Box: Using the LumoPro Flash Bracket

Small Flash, Big Box: Using the LumoPro Flash Bracket

There’s no shortage of lighting modifiers for small flashes like the Nikon SB–910 on the market today. From the Apollo softboxes we rent, to grid kits, snoots, umbrellas, and beauty dishes, small flash has really come into its own, especially for photographers working on location. Now there’s a new accessory for Strobist-style shooters that will let you use a much wider variety of softboxes with your existing small flashes, including the high-end modifiers from companies like Profoto. I used it with two Profoto softboxes a couple of weeks ago for a portrait, with excellent results. The acecssory is called the Lumopro Speedring Bracket, and it’s basically a softbox speedring modified to let you use one or two flashes in a standard softbox. If you’re not familiar with speedrings and softboxes, take a look at the article “Understanding Softboxes” on our blog. It describes what speedrings are, and how they are used with various modifiers. The Lumopro bracket is essentially a speedring with two adjustable arms protruding from it. A standard stud allows you to to mount the speedring onto a swivel adapter so you can tilt your setup to angle it. I was doing a shoot for costume designer Katherine Nowacki, who needed a bright, airy headshot for her website. I placed her on a balcony with setting sun directly behind her to act as a rim light. My initial idea was to use a reflector to get some fill light into her face, but then decided I wanted something more powerful to balance out the ambient. I went with two Profoto softboxes, a 3’ Octabox and a 1×4’...
Blowing out the Background

Blowing out the Background

The image above was not shot on a white background. It has a minimal level of adjustment in Lightroom to it, mostly to clean up the edges, but that’s about it. It was taken in front of the greyish-blue wall in the lobby of the BorrowLenses.com offices in San Carlos. The thing about a relatively light-colored background is that it lends itself to a surprisingly large number of options for photographers. Though grey backgrounds work best for this, you can with some tweaking, turn just about any light-colored background — grey, blue, beige — completely black, as I demonstrated in this article on how to kill your background completely. In this article, I’ll show you how to blow out that background completely to make it look like you’re shooting in front of a white backdrop. The setup for this portrait was exceedingly simple. I placed one Nikon SB-910 in a Lastolite Ezybox Hotshoe and one bare-bulb, with the included diffuser attached. The SB-910 in the Lastolite softbox was placed on camera-left, while the bare-bulb SB-910 was placed directly behind Ben, and slightly below the level of his shoulders. It was pointed up at an angle at the wall behind Ben, as shown below. I set the flashes to manual, making sure that the flash hitting the wall was about 2 stops brighter than the flash on Ben’s face. The diffusion in the softbox cut the power of the light on Ben by another 1/3 stop or so, I estimate. That was it. It took a bit of tweaking the power on the lights and the aperture for exposure and...
Lighting and Photographing White Seamless Background Headshots

Lighting and Photographing White Seamless Background Headshots

I photographed the staff headshots for both BorrowLenses.com and Zenfolio.com using just a white wall as my background. Lighting basic higher-key headshots is an essential skill for most photographers. Here is a step-by-step guide for how I lighted the scene to create that seamless “white room” effect. Lighting Gear I Use For a large space, I use the following items: Elinchrom BX-RI Kit x 2 Elinchrom 39″ Rotalux Deep Octabox Elinchrom Octa Light Bank – 74″ Sekonic 358 Lightmeter The Elinchrom BX-RI Kit comes with two small umbrella softboxes which are perfect for using on your background strobes because their black backing prevents unwanted light from spilling onto your model. For a small space, I use the following items: Flashes, any brand that allows off-camera shooting, x 4 Black-backed umbrellas x 2 Small-to-medium sized beauty dish or softbox, such as the Photoflex OctoDome nxt Extra Small Kit. 3′ or larger softbox or octabox, such as the Westcott 28″ Apollo Kit. These can be varied for budged and taste. Just remember the essentials: 1 large light modifier as your key source. The larger the source, the softer the results–especially with a diffuser. 1 smaller light modifier as your fill. A reflector may also be used but may not produce as even and soft results. 2-4 umbrellas or softboxes for your wall or white paper backdrop. Placement of the Lighting Gear I place my key above my subject by several feet, pointed downward at them and facing them at a right or left-leaning angle. I place my fill on the opposite side at a similar angle and below the subject by...