Portrait lighting setup

I my previous post I showed you a few portraits that I’m still working on and Moritz from Germany asked in his comment if I could share my lighting setups.

I decided to show a specific setup for every single one with a scheme and short explanation.

darko

This is three lights setup… a combination of two strobes and a neon light. Strobe on the right side had a small DIY grid attached and I used it to light up a face. A neon light from above was really dimmed so I set the exposure to match it and then I was adjusting my strobes. If I remember well, back strobe was on a half power and strobe with the grid was on 1/4 of a power.

 

riva

This one is really simple. One strobe with small grid attached and moved far away from subject so I could light up almost a complete figure but without unwanted spill over the scene.

 

sinisa

As well as the previous one, simple one light setup. It was hard to match a color balance between strobe and light bulbs so I had to correct it in post production. I used silver bounce umbrella as a light modifier. Light stand was some two meters away from subject and that is why light is a bit harder.

 

mirela

Also a one light setup. Strobe is hidden behind the door and my idea was to mimic a day light coming from the other room.

 

dean

Two strobes. Back one is bare bulb (without modifier) and front one had small grid attached. Front strobe was hidden behind supporting beam. This tunnel is a very narrow space so I had to be careful with the strobe power. Front one was on the lowest setting (1/16 of a power) and back one was 1/4 of a power.

 

zeljko

This is two lights setup but with combination of window light. Front one with a grid and back one bare bulb.

 

zorica

One light. I tried to boost a window light with it.

 

zlataThis one is also a one light setup and I think it’s self-explanatory. Cca 45 degrees angle.

 

I’m using two Vivitar285HV strobes. Those are simple manual strobes with decent power. Triggering it with  old but reliable Elinchrom Skyport radio triggers.

Here are some photos of my small grid that I made from a piece of cardboard and few black straws. 

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DIY grid

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mounted on a Vivitar285HV

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hard fall off

On the last image, strobe was set some 1.5 meters from the wall. 

Long live XPro1… welcome XPro2

It is that time of year when I don’t do anything about my blog/portfolio/self-promotion… As I did for past 400 days. But being the best Fuji X photographer in Bosnia (I’ll explain this later) bring some responsibility to all three of my readers to say something about what I did in past few hundred days.

Let’s start with frustration…
imageFeeds on my humble  social networking presence are overwhelmed with new Fuji gear, orgasmic reviews and pixel peeping comparisons. And… I like to read them all. To be honest… some of them for several times. And yes… I’m an XPro1 user… there is a new XPro2… and I need one more camera body… aaaaand it would be great to  get my hands on it… aaaaaaaaand no… my incomes are just no match to it…. Too bad, since I believe we would be a great match.

So… I decided to run one more story about how good my current camera is and to cover last year with some shots since I haven’t put even a word on my blog for more then a year. I wrote some initial thoughts on Fuji XPro1 two years ago here.

Confession…

You can call me whatever you like… hobbyist, enthusiast, amateur… Photography is a part of my life for more then a half of it (and I’m 36) so you do the math. Occasionally, I do get some paid jobs or some paid assignments but it is impossible to make a living out of it (I have other job which pays my mortgage, taxes, food, gas, kindergarten, some cigarettes, shoes and clothes from time to time…). Ok, my wife has a job too… ok,…. we have a decent life here but… still… as I said… incomes are insufficient when it comes to gear renewal. Last time I did it, I sold out all of my gear that I had and with  some additional savings I managed to purchase a new camera. Why? Because of the mileage of my previous one, because I wanted something lighter and because I needed something more technologically advanced. So I ended up with Fuji XPro1 and it was love at first sight and it still is.

XPro1 is ok but not on par with industry leaders? 

I was slicing my brains out to find some downsides and to make myself more criticizing about it… but without success. Yes… there are some stuff that DSLR purists will say that are more then a good reason to run away from it… (slow focusing, slow sync speed, precision-less OVF, etc.) but at the end… you just get used to it and start to love all the things that you made together. XPro1 is a great companion in every situation you can imagine yourself. At the time Fuji decided to upgrade their flagship model, you don’t feel cheated as most people do when some new technology comes out. At Fujis, new is good but the old one is still keeping up. This is not a praise to  Japan company (I do believe that they are no different than any other in terms of profitability and moneymaking business). Just want to point out that they did a great job back in 2012. On the other side I do think that models like XM1 or XA1 were unnecessary but hey… I’m not a business expert. I still think XPro1 is on par with most newer models made by competition. I have experience with most of them (Canon, Nikon, Olympus, Panasonic…) so my subjective opinion is based on usage and not on web reviews.

How I became THE BEST…

Very simple. You would think that I will probably tell you a story of how hard I was working on building my portfolio, shooting endless assignments, shooting days and nights until my finger cramp… and it is the common story of many of my fellow best photographers around the world, but not in my case.

I just bought the camera no one did in my country… so immediately I became the best X photographer in Bosnia (I’m pretty sure that I’m still the best around here or there are just a few best of us). So… being the BEST here, it gives me the right to ask some sample equipment to test it out from Fuji. Just point me at nearest camera store to pick it up. O wait… there is no camera stores around here. Ok… I’ll talk to your representatives in my country and try to convince them. O shit… yes… you don’t have it here.

My point is that Bosnia is not a market that is interesting not only to Fuji but to many other camera companies. But it would be great at least to have one specialized camera store here where one could go and test some equipment or maybe to rent it and at the end, to buy it. So… all of you dontknowwheretoinvestmymoney people, come to Bosnia, open a camera store and in some short time… you will loose everything, but hey… you’ll have a chance to become THE BEST camera store here ever. 😉

Ok… I lost it a bit. This post could easily become a sobbing confession of how hard life is around here… and how we have crappy politics… and how system of value is distorted and blah, blah,blah….

Enough…

imageOk… enough with story without any point. Long story short… XPro1 is still a great piece of gear. Since I’m in a process of thinking about additional camera body – it would be great to have a new XPro2 as a main camera but hey… I would be pretty much satisfied with another XPro1 body too. Good ergonomics, decent AF speed (no missing shots in 99%), decent high ISO output (at my standards, even ISO6400 is usable in some situations), good weight-shoulder ratio, 16MP sensor can give a print output of 70x55cm easily… do anyone need more?

Let me show you some images I did recently…

Motion

I love slow shutter speeds and how you can create surreal images in some simple and common situations and I noticed that when ever I shoot, no matter what, assignment or personal work… I always do a few slow shutter images.

Featured

If you went through my blog archives , you would notice that my work is often based around theatre. Also, I do follow some extreme sport clubs in region so you could find some xsports features… extreme climbing and uphill cycling. I do also a wedding photography from time to time but rarely. I’m an official photographer for Tourist organization of city of Prijedor since this year.

 

Portraits

I do consider myself a portrait photographer so here are some of the most recent I’m still working on for Prijedor city theater. They asked me to do some formal portraits of ensemble and I did it. But somehow, wasn’t very satisfied with it so I proposed a bit different approach. Idea is to show a theater that is not visible to majority of people. Old depots, hidden tunnels over the main hall, wardrobes, workshops, etc. And all of thatin form of a portrait. So… this is the result

If somehow you made it to this part of my blog post, I hope it was pretty much clear how XPro1 is more then a capable camera. Sports, weddings, documentary,off camera flash… you name it. Essentially, it is not up to camera… It depends on your imagination and preparation. Any camera would be as good as this one only…. you are makeing a relationship with any camera you are using and… I just think that XPro1 is more then any other generic model (no matter if a lot of them are technically superior) on a market. All the benefits combined with negative issues are creating a unique experience upon no one can be left indifferent.  Long live XPro1… welcome XPro2!!!

New approach to theater photography

For last two months I’ve been working with director from Prijedor city theater Darko Cvijetic on a new play called “Phoenician women, materials”. It is experimental kind of play at least for Prijedor’s theater. It is a concept, without predefined monologues or dialogues. Play about women, suffered from war (any war) and by its aftermaths. Five stories about women who have lost a brother, who were raped, who gave birth to a warrior, who  played for a soldiers, who are searching for a grave, who are waiting in vain…

“Phoenician women” by Euripides was taken just as a idea not as a background. But if you search just a little bit about Theban war and stories about king Oedipus you will find out that no war is different no matter if it is some mythical ancient war or some modern Bosnian, Syrian, Ukrainian or who knows which war.

Here in Bosnia, even 20 years after the war, people are still unsettled and restless. PTSD is in its full potential and no category is exempt. We are society of destroyed marriages, youth grown up without fathers, abandoned children. Violence on women and children is more present then ever. And many wounds are still unhealed… But nobody is taking care about it. It is like a taboo in a society burdened by national identity, criminal privatization, stale democracy and trash culture.

My series of five portraits “Theban women” started as a side project but became a significant part of a story and visualisation of a play itself.

This is my ode to women:

Mirela/Antigone
Tatjana/Mistress
Tatjana/Mistress
Phoenician women_Wife-7
Sabina/Wife
Jelena/Helene
Jelena/Helene
Zlata/Jocasta
Zlata/Jocasta

For a play itself, I made 5 photo essays or 5 photo stories trying to correspond with each story but not in an obvious way. My storytelling is not narrative and banal. My intention was not to show anything that actress will already do or say but to amplify emotions. It is hard to paraphrase the play. Hopefully, in a few days, there will be a full video of “Phoenician women, materials” online and I will be able  to post a link here so you could see for yourself.

Here are my photo-essays. Each video is minute and few seconds long.

All portraits and all images in photo essays are made with Fujifilm XPro1 camera and XF35mm f1.4 lens.

Veso Arežina – Taekwondo Hall of Fame

Veso is a long time taekwondo fighter and trainer from Prijedor with remarkable results from whole over the world who recently got an information that he is selected for the Taekwondo Hall of Fame in Las Vegas (USA). Ceremony will take place in mid October this year and Veso asked me if I could help him with promotional campaign. So I did a few shots of him and gave him a proposal of billboards. Veso Arežina is first person ever from Bosnia and Herzegovina who got nominated and selected for Hall of Fame.

New portrait, #4 PAINTERS!!! Mirko Sevic

Mirko Šević is a low-profile artist, surrealist… Not a painter by profession but good enough to win Lorenzo il Magnifico Award on a 2011 Florence Bienalle. Also, artist who will present his work on New York on January 2014 in New Art Center.

As it usually happens, Mirko’s work is well known all across the globe, but very few people respect his efforts in his current home town.

I tried to recreate similar atmosphere as on his drawings…

Mirko Sevic

New portrait series. PAINTERS!!!

I’ve been off this blog for a long time and writing and posting again is injecting some strange energy. Main reason I was on stand by is that I became a father, so priorities in my life are drastically changed. Even though I didn’t post anything I was spending a lot of time thinking about this blog, what it became, what should be different, what it is…

I’m aware of fact that this blog is not much concerning a stuff you can read on it. A lot of photos so it could be called a photoblog too but I prefer just a blog, or web site, or sketch book… Also, I know that all those photos are scattered through posts and hard to find. In short – not presentable as a portfolio. So I decided to make it a blog/portfolio site. I’ll try to do it on fly so it is possible that sometimes these pages will be in weird condition but hopefully it will not last too long.

I started a new series of portraits calling it simple: “PAINTERS!!!” (don’t ask about exclamation marks – I just like it!).

In this series of portraits I will try to combine a portrait of a painter with a part of his/her work or with a whole opus. Initial thought was to combine a portrait with actual work (painting, drawing or a sculpture) but I ditched  the idea as a plain and dull and not creative.

Here, you will see a lot of photo manipulation – things that I haven’t did before in my work, at all. All the photographs combined in one portrait will be taken by me and complete visualization of a portrait will be produced by myself. Portraits you will see in this series are my own vision of someones work. For the artists with online portfolios I will not write much. Hopefully, I will publish one portrait per week (I think it is a reasonable goal since I’m still learning to act as and to be a parent 🙂 ).

First in a row is Dragan Indjic. As an inspiration, I used his grotesque portraits and tried to implement it without any changes on combined images except blending them together (3 photos).

Dragan Indjic

Photography Masters Cup Nominee…

I applied last year to a 5th Photography masters cup with 3 photos and since it was just one of the competitions I applied last year, I forgot about it. To be even worse… I received an email (last November) where I was announced to be a nominee in two categories – Portrait and Silhouette. Why is it bad… – I DIDN’T SEE that mail. November is a period when I’m overwhelmed with emails (GFBL Festival is taking place then) so I overlooked it.

Ok… I didn’t won or anything but to become a nominee in two categories among 11 832 entries… I think it is a thing worth mentioning.

Theese are images that have been nominated:

rade stupar

dalibor popovic-5

Links to a web gallery – Color Awards – Portrait and Color Awards – Silhouette

Human panorama

I made this for graduated students of High music school (where I work) in my hometown. Idea was to present them in cinema-like manner and of course to break that boring tradition of presenting graduate students like they were escaped from communism posters presenting best workers at labor day celebration, with waxy cleaned faces.

This is panorama shot, made of 7 images (portrait orientation). They were standing as on the final image only I was moving in a straight line. Light is one small strobe with Lumiquest softbox attached. Camera was Panasonic Lumix GF1.

Final image:

 

Final poster:

 

 

 

Quartet

“Quartet” by Ronald Harwood, directed by Darko Cvijetić, a new play by Prijedor Theater. All images are made on general rehearsal. Interesting thing to me was that this is a chamber type of play and audience will be present on the stage. It creates new way of seeing things, some kind of “3-dimensional” performance. Everybody will see it from different angle and perspective. It was challenging thing to do.

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Concerning my absence from posting stuff here, it can be explained with my decision to get back to my guitar playing, my wife and I are expecting a baby, apartment reconstruction… Trying to cover several fronts at the same time can be an exhausting activity so I have to settle down my priorities. I’ll try to post regularly but with wider breaks in between. Maybe, in the future, I will post and some music of mine here with the photography I do.

‘Till next time…

Mišo and Jelena portraits

Mišo and Jelena are my friends who had a wedding last Saturday and even I’m avoiding to do any kind of wedding photography, I accepted their kind request to take some portraits of them. A lot of people asked me why I don’t do weddings and I’m always trying to explain how I don’t think wedding photography is below my standards. It is just a thing I’m not “drawn” in to.

Wedding photography (I linked to a place where you will find great photographers and mostly wedding photogs) is a serious job when you are doing it right, and in my humble opinion, it is too much subordinated to a client. I don’t like tilted photos, or soft focus on brides face, or  obligatory shots of ring in pair or with a flowers in background, etc. But client has rights to ask for that kind of photos and probably every serious photographer will try to comply with it within his/her style. I’m not ready for that kind of compromise and that is the main reason why I’m not doing wedding photography and chances to start to do it are really tiny (never say never).

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For the technical part – no fancy staff. One Vivitar 285HV strobe on a stand with shot through umbrella (cheap Chinese one – 1€ aprox. 🙂 ).