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We take a break from some of our wedding work to feature a different type of photography we do…editorial work. We love the fine art wedding photography we offer in Northern Colorado and all over the country. But sometimes I love to make a few edgy, crisp portraits for our editorial and advertising work.
Brett is an amazing Counselor and track coach at a local high school. He just got accepted to be an instructor at the Nike Running Camp in Boulder, Colorado. So, we went out to the school’s track today and did some editorial photography work for his bio page for the program.
I love the use of off camera lighting in my portrait work because I don’t have to compete with the sun, I can have greater control of my lighting, and above all else, I believe it allows me to offer something unique and different to my clients. Plus, I enjoy it. In a growing market of photographers with a low barrier to entry, I see a lot of work being produced with the same back lighting and the same click of a purchased photoshop action. In short, it allows me to differentiate. I’ve been utilizing off camera flash in my work for the last 18 months, and it’s been a wild ride that has changed stylistically over that time frame. In my work as a denver commercial photographer as well as my personal work, I tend inject more contrast and an “edgy” feel when compared to my bridal work. Lately, I’ve been addicted to using my Paul C Buff beauty dish to get that “punchy” feel. But as I peruse through a portrait session I did a while ago using a Paul C Buff Octabank, I realize what a truly beautiful and versatile light source it really is. There are a myriad of different ways I have used this light modifier for photography portraits. It’s allowed me to get some truly soft, painterly looking transitions in my shadows to a more edgy, contrasty look. For me, it’s the swiss army knife of my lighting bag.
With this colorado senior photography session sprinkled with hints of semi-post-apocolyptic flavoring, I wanted to demonstrate how I used this Octabank in an almost completely feathered nature. By feathering, I mean pointing the light modifier almost completely away from the subject, so only the softest light hits the subject. You see, at the center of each light modifier, you have a hot spot. If you point it directly at your subject, the hot spot will appear as just that…a hotter, more contrasty light source. You can fix this by purchasing a double baffled modifier (one that has two diffusion sources spread out inside the box), but I’m cheap. By feathering your light so only the rim of light falls on your subject, you get the smoother light source you intended to purchase as well as some great control of shadows.
Technical Notes for this shoot.
Camera stuff - 5Dmk2 | Lens 24-70L (version 1, since switched to 24 1.4LII |
Wireless Trigger: Promaster *Note* I’ve wanted to switch to Pocket Wizards for a long time, because, well, they are the industry standard and can fire from insane distances away. But to be honest, they are over $400 to get started for a set. These cheap Promasters are about $50-$100 and over 2 years, I have never had a misfire. I’ve even left them in a park overnight, had a downpour, went back and found them soaked, and they worked just fine the next day. I don’t need the High Speed Sync for my Alien Bees, and never shoot from over 50 feet away. One day I’ll definitely upgrade to some Pocket Wizards, but for now, that $350 is 7 months of diapers for my kid. Priorities… even if it makes me appear less “professional.”
Let’s take a look at the first set up. Right or wrong, this is my thought process. I took the talent to an area that had the environment I wanted that happened to be in complete shade. But since I was going to light it with off camera flash, that didn’t matter. I metered the scene and underexposed it by about a stop to a stop and a half to bring about that moody feel I was going for and to separate the subject out from the background that much more. Once the talent was in place, I started to slowly introduce my light. I know a light meter would be quicker, but once again, those are 10 months of diapers. (I find as a new parent, I convert all currency to the monetary value of diapers. For non parents, that’s about $300-500 bucks. Inevitably, this leads me to wonder how many diapers I’d charge for a sitting fee…I’m sick.). With my lights to 1/8 power, I set up my light camera right and slightly above my subject angled slightly down to help create slightly more dramatic shadows.
ISO 100,F8, 1/200
Here’s the lighting diagram, courtesy of Strobox. Notice how only the edges of the light modifier are actually hitting the subject.
To help the session move quickly, I usually do two or three shots with the same lighting set up. Here is another variation with the same lighting. I turned him a little more towards the light source, which resulted in less of his face falling on shadows.
EXIF: ISO 100, F8, 1/200
Set Up 2
The next series is all done within about 5 minutes of each other. We had waited about 20 minutes at this location (an old 1800′s sugar beat mill) for the setting sun to cast light through the windows on the lookout tower above right. We didn’t have much time to waste, so we set up our lights and the talent did a great job with everything I had asked of him.
About the light set up: I kept the light as close to the subject as possible while keeping it just out of frame. In general, the closer your light source is to your subject, the softer the light source appears. The further away your light source (i.e., the sun), the more contrasty and harsher the transition of shadows becomes. The light was coming from camera left. Normally, I would have the light coming from a more natural direction (in this case, camera right to match the direction of the sun), but I wanted a more surrealistic scene with competing light sources, so I opted to place the box against the direction of the sun, and use the sun as a filler. The same feathering technique was used.
Exif Data again ISO 100, F8, 1/200. We shot everything within 5 minutes, so there wasn’t too much of a change.
A few more subtle variations with this lighting set up. The only changes were the position of the model, and the height of the modifier.
If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment below and I’ll answer them within a day or so. Thanks for reading, be blessed!
I’ve been waiting and waiting to make this post!
My roots were always in and always will be in Agriculture. I grew up around livestock, always knew where my food came from, and went to college to study it. My first big photo assignments were for agricultural magazines out in California, and since moving to Colorado that’s one thing I’ve really been missing.
Well here comes the Clean Dirt Farm , a beautiful company with sustainable roots in Millet Production, specifically Organic Millet. Now many people may not know what Millet is or see it only limited to Bird Seed. However, Millet is naturally Glutten Free, so it’s a super healthy choice.The Clean Dirt Farm cleans and processes the Millet that farmers grow and ships it out to places like Whole Foods Market and countries all over the world.All of this in little ol Sterling, CO
So when the kind folks at the Clean Dirt Farm called me up to help them with a rebranding campaign and doing a few corporate type shots, I couldn’t wait!
It was a true blessing to be on this assignment, and I always feel at home when I can use photography and my passion for agriculture in one shoot.
Dear Canon. Could you please add better weather and dust sealing to the 5dmk2? Thank you
Once the Millet is loaded in the back of a Grain Truck, it is dropped into the processing plant.
Then the Hull is cracked apart and the seed is separated
Then you get an absolutely Beautiful Product ready for World Wide distribution.
Scott Stebner and Alyssa Stebner are Ft Collins Wedding Photographers available for weddings and corporate shoots throughout Colorado, the Mid-West, and California.
Ok, we definitely got spoiled this year by the San Diego and San Luis Obispo climate this year. 79 degrees during Christmas??? Heck Yes!
We decided to take a little vacation to California for Christmas this year and spent our time braving shopping malls, Southern California traffic, Casinos. Though it was weird not having a white Christmas, the fact that we could walk around in shorts and sandals at sunset kinda made up for it
I’ll have more on our amazing Christmas day in a blog post later, but wanted to share the breathtaking scenery of what I (Scott) used to call home. I miss CA, but I absolutely LOVE Colorado and seeing snow fall over the mountains. It’s simply beautiful.
I love Photography because it’s a snap shot in time, and 30 seconds can dramatically change an image.
18 Months later, and she still takes my breath away!
Back to where I grew up…San Diego
San Diego Bay Area Landscape Sunset
Sooooo….we’re not quite sure how to describe the following photos from our Ugly Sweater party our Young Adults group at church put on, so we’re not even going to try. However, the epic Shenanigans that took place over our white elephant gift exchange, ugly sweater fashion walk-off, and a very uncoordinated Wii Dance Party made it just awesome. Enjoy the following randomness. In the meantime, we’re headed out to Sunny California! Whoop Whoop!
Yup, We’re Special…..
Before We start with this blog post, we want to make a few things very clear.
1. Scott doesn’t usually have a Mustache. Actually, we found it revolting. Not so much mustaches in general, just Scott’s. He was doing no shave November, and when we decided to make a flier for our annual Ugly Sweater Contest, Scott decided it would make the photo that much better (or worse, depending on viewpoint) to shave it into a mustache.
2. Scott quickly got rid of the Mustache. It was Creepy. Meaning, for a brief moment in time, he was creepy.That’s not a good thing. Honestly I (Scott) couldn’t even look at myself in the mirror and avoided reflective objects. Gross.
3. We love ugly sweaters around Christmas time…not any other time of the year, just Christmas.
With that out of the way, we decided to go full force in the making of this year’s Flier for the Ugly Sweater Party and can’t wait to go thrift shopping while we’re in Kansas for Thanksgiving.
So without any more delay, here’s some creepy Holiday Cheer. Alyssa not so much…Scott very much so. Gross.
We blocked out the Address for obvious privacy reasons. But I mean, come on. If these photos don’t make you fall in love with us as wedding photographers, will anything? We hope you notice the sarcasm
I (Scott) absolutely love photography with a purpose. Part of that is I’ve always believed we are given gifts for the explicit reason of giving back. That philosophy led me to Africa twice and hopefully Thailand this year. This week we organized a photo shoot for our Church’s Mission Team with the purpose of encouraging others to pick up and go help those who truly need it. These photos will be used in a video slide show and print material for a campaign to call people to action and service to others who are less fortunate.
The theme behind it was having people who have gone on Relief / Missions trips around the world stand out and say “I went”. Not only I went to a foreign country, but I went to make a difference. I went to make a lasting impact with the purpose of bettering a person, a life, a culture. I went to give up my own desires and focus on those who truly need it. In these photos represents trips to Ethiopia, London, Australia, Thailand, Guatamala, Honduras, Mexico, Brazil, India, the Philippines and more. The challenging being something simple. There are people who have a need in this world and they are desperate for people to help…will you go?
You’ll get a kick further down when you see our Home Made Studio set up.
And some behind the scenes fun
Now for some basic lighting set up that anyone can do. Here’s a picture of our “Studio” which was actually the children’s room at our church. We had a white sheet for the backdrop that we “blew nuclear” with a bare bulb Alien Bees 800. I chose a bare bulb light so it would also put a little Rim lighting on the back of the subjects. On left was my favorite light modifier which is the 54″ Octabank and a little “kicker board” on the right. You can either pay a ton of money for an expensive reflector or go back to your old science fair project days and buy a cheap white board. This was done to help fill in the shadows and ease that transition from the left to the right. I usually wouldn’t include a shot of such a “ghetto” studio, but I wanted to show everyone you can get amazing photos with very, very simple set ups as long as you understand the basic principles of lighting and creativity.
Scott and Alyssa Stebner are Northern Colorado Wedding Photographers available for weddings throughout Colorado and California. But, they will gladly travel to cool and exotic places
I (Scott) write this post with my heart and mind still in San Diego. For me, San Diego is home. I absolutely love living in Colorado and Being a Northern Colorado Wedding Photographer, but something about Spanish Arches, the shoreline, and tropical plants just calms me down. I love it.
Back in Northern Colorado going over my 30+ pages of notes, I’m inspired!
So when I found out this year’s Partnercon Convention was going to be in San Diego, I booked my flight immediately (seriously, it was within like 10 minutes). Now I realize the vast majority of people out there don’t know what Partnercon is (and may not care), but here’s my attempt to explain.
Partnercon is a photo convention where Photographers from all over North America come together, educate each other and just have fun. I’ve always tried to be a life long learner, so continuing my education as a photographer was just as important as my Degree.
Overall the conference was very, very well put together with excellent speakers, great meals, and a great “Non Rockstar” atmosphere
Enough with the talk. Now to bullet points
- It was awesome to hear legend Photographer Joe McNally talk. Even more special was his salute to my Uncle Carl Mydans at the opening of his speech.
- New friends. I had so much fun meeting everyone, having the “beeriest” beer of all, and creating new words.
- Cruising San Diego downtown and getting yelled at by about 5 police officers. Apparently you can’t use a government building as a backdrop anymore.
- The Hard Rock Hotel. Where else can you find Fergie’s Chain Saw next to boots worn by Janice Joplin?
- Epic classes by Ned Johnson, Jared Platt, Jared Bauman, and more! It’s so nice to see photographers giving back to the community
- Having authentic Mexican food with my Mom. Sorry Colorado, what we call Mexican food doesn’t really cut it.
- Seeing my family’s horses and my dogs. I’m always amazed at how a horse can just give you peace and calm.
- Meeting Leon from Colorati, awesome guy and a great company
You’ll notice these photos are a bit “warmer” than normal. Was inspired by warm weather
Joe McNally giving an all around heartfelt and Epic presentation on the power of imagery.
And a Panel Discussion on Content Marketing and Business Structure
The Hard Rock Hotel
And back to my country roots and time spent at home on the “farm” where I grew up.
Finishing up my time in San Diego in my family’s Dining Room going over my Partnercon notes…while on Facebook…I know. Efficiency killer but I’m addicted
Scott Stebner and Alyssa Stebner are Northern Colorado and Denver Wedding Photographers. Contact Us: 720-266-8008
I absolutely love being a Northern Colorado Wedding Photographer, but I often have to remind myself that I’m a photographer first and foremost, and I truly feel at home when I have a camera in my hand.
I’ve been blessed this year to mentor a group of high school students, and my challenge to them this week was working in black and white. I love teaching photography because it forces me to work on items that I normally wouldn’t.
The second set is from our latest trip to San Diego. I just absolutely loved the architecture, lines, and colors. We were going through a series on color and lines, and I went back into our old archives and dug up these bits of eye candy.
I know as creative artists, we don’t always have time to work on our personal projects. But seriously, what’s stopping you? I absolutely love photographing people, but man it feels good to work on things just for me and no one else. Things I may not show people except those who come into my home. So get out and enjoy your camera
Enjoy and live life
Whew, this was such an incredibly busy weekend that was equally as epic and awesome. Alyssa and I have both been out with the Flu and dealt with it a little bit over the weekend, but we survived! Saturday we ventured down to Larkspur to photograph an amazing wedding then quickly jetted up to Loveland for an amazing stylized wedding shoot. I guess I just love being a Loveland, Colorado Wedding Photographer!
Some quick notes, the vendors (which will be listed at the bottom) showed up in amazing fashion and were, in no short supply of words, incredible at bringing their talents to collaboratively work together to create something beautiful and different. The Embassy Suites in Loveland is the real deal and their friendly staff, amazing amenities definitely made it a place we’re staying on the regular. Lastly, the models were absolutely GORGEOUS! (as you can tell).
It was such a relaxing and fun day, and I hope you enjoy the images as much as I do!
Coordinator: Chelsey Penoyer, Embassy Suites, Loveland
Gowns: Dora Grace
Stylist: Fixx Hair Studio
Floral: Hana Style Designs
Cupcakes: The Cupcake Cruiser
Photography: Stebner Photography