This is my first field attempt with the real gear. I shot this on a heavily overcast, slightly drippy day in my front yard. Here's the setup:
I bought the gear based upon this article by Niall Benvie at MeetYourNeighbors.net. All my previous experiments with cheap lighting have been dismal failures over the years, so I waited until I could buy a really good set of lights and stuff to try this with.
The experience of getting the gear delivered was unpleasant. My go-to Local Camera Store (Glazer's Camera in South Lake Union) doesn't carry Elinchrom any more, and they told me on the phone they could not order it. My next LCS, Kenmore Camera, carries Elinchrom, but had none of the specific kit I wanted. So all of it was ordered online under time pressure because I plan to take the gear on a trip with me leaving in about ten days. It's Passover, so the special orders at B&H Photo, while they might be here before I leave, would not arrive early enough for my testing desires, so backup orders for some items went to Amazon (yes, I ordered two of some of these things to maximize my chances of having them in time to test, and I'll either make a bigger kit out of the total or return some of it).
The first Rotalux from Amazon arrived without the necessary speedring to assemble it, so it had to go back and I ordered another one. The ELB 400 Action To Go Kit from Amazon arrived missing a flash cable and with a Quadra Hybrid S Head instead of a Quadra Action Head, although it did have a second shoulder strap for the location bag to make up for that. :-) The CS guy noted they couldn't send me a replacement for the kit, but he could provide a partial refund to reflect the cost of ordering the additional cable. So I did that.
I attempted various limited tests as parts arrived. I assembled the soft boxes and figured out how to connect them to the adapters and the adapters to the flash heads. Even though I was missing a second cable, once the kit arrived I could charge up the battery and test each of the flash heads. I tried to set up a single light setup but the Skyport transmitter uses a battery I don't have and there wasn't one in the kit, so I had to order that.
Oh, and soft boxes don't connect to tripods. You need some intermediate stuff like this. You can buy it in large quantities for less per item and thus have plenty everywhere until you need them, so I did.
Once everything arrived I set it all up as though for use in the living room and ran some tests. With all the correct parts having arrived (except for the Hybrid flash head, which shouldn't be an issue for this kind of work), it all worked, and triggered in test mode and running off the on-camera transmitter!
So this afternoon I broke from finishing tax documents and hauled it all out to the front yard. Things to note:
- Spigots (the way soft boxes attach to tripods) allow the soft boxes to spin, so even a little wind is a real pain.
- I do not like the way the Benbo tripods split their legs. It's weird, but I may get used to it.
Mostly though, it all worked. Without a light meter, I relied on the cameras highlights display. Set flash power, turn on the transmitter, set Manual Mode, shutter speed to Nikon D810 sync speed of 1/250, pick an aperture, shoot, and chimp to see if the background is properly blown out. Change the aperture and try again until happy with exposure. Move the front light from side to side and back and forward to get variations of light on the foreground of the tulip.
Get a shot of the setup before taking it down, because I might want to blog it. :-)
Processing in Photoshop is limited at this point. I used select via color range to grab all the background white (some of the very edge was not fully blown out) and make sure it's all 255,255,255. Use Levels and Contrast to bring up the subject. Dodge down the stem because it is the darkest thing in the image and may draw the eye away from the flower and leaves.
Spend some time playing with the color slider to see what alien tulips look like :-)
Crop down slightly. Make a note to take a similar image with the 180mm macro instead of the 24-105 sigma art lens. Maybe tomorrow.