Jason Christopher, LA Commercial & Fashion Photographer Bio

Canon 580EXII Review

Monday, February 22nd, 2010

This weekend I had the pleasure of sharing my knowledge with another attendee of my private workshop. On the second day we went out of the studio to learn how to light at any time of day with minimal gear.
So I attach my favorite speed light, the Canon 580EXII, to the hot shoe of my Canon 5D Mark II.
It was a sunny day under a blue sky scattered with big white puffy clouds and a beautiful model sitting on a white country wood fence.
So I proceed to show Jeff, my workshop attendee, how to set up the 580EXII in order to capture the beauty of our fashion model while still maintaining details in the blue sky, puffy clouds and green grass. The model was facing the harsh sun so I had Jeff scrim her with a 60 inch shoot through umbrella. I then set the flash to ETTL and high speed sync mode, dialed up the flash exposure 3 whole stops and zoomed the flash head to 105mm. I was standing about 8 feet from the model with an 85mm lens on the camera.
Now this is the awesome part! I then set my shutter speed to 1/1250th of a second! My fstop was 4.5 and my ISO was 200. I shot away and this was the beautiful result even under a mid day sun. I LOVE this flash!
The possibilities are endless. The high speed sync mode is my favorite feature. I now am not limited to syncing at only 1/250th of a second! I can capture details in my background and control my contrast by using a very fast shutter speed.
Now, my only warning is have a good amount of double A batteries or use an external battery like a Quantum Turbo 2×2. Also very important is that you can’t shoot fast because you will end up blowing up the flash because of all the power your asking it to pump out by pushing it 3 full stops and zooming the flash head to it’s max at 105mm. Which is another great feature. Being able to zoom the flash head from 24mm all the way to 105mm gives the photographer so much control and room to play with.
The Canon 580EXII is one piece of gear that is always in my bag.

Update To Learn Outdoor Fashion Lighting With One 580EXII

Thursday, October 1st, 2009

Outdoor fashion lighting can be a problem with some photographers.  We have the elements to deal with, the hot sun, the constantly moving sun, wind etc.  Add the fact that if it is a test you can’t afford to hire an assistant to lug heavy lighting gear around for you.  Most of us don’t own a Profoto 7B pack because they cost around $4,000 to $5,000.  So what does one do ?

Outdoor Lighting With a Speed Light

Outdoor Lighting With a Speed Light

I shot this fashion photo with one Canon 580EXII and that’s it.  No bounce cards or any attachments to the flash and it was attached to the hot shoe, not off camera.  The time of day was 1:25 pm.

As you can see the sun is facing the model.   Many photographers would think you don’t need a flash, the sun is hitting her.  Well that all depends on the look you are going for.  I like to use flash no matter where the sun is.  In this case the flash brings out the details more and gives the image a crisper look.

So I put my flash on the camera.   I was standing about 6 feet away from the model on a wide lens, 44mm so I could capture the entire scene around her.  I set my flash to hi speed sync mode so I could shoot at 500th shutter speed.  Why shoot at such a high shutter speed ?  So I could capture a nice blue sky and not blow out the background.  My  fstop was 6.3 ISO was 160.  Now when you use such a fast shutter speed you obviously need to demand more power from your flash.  Also using an fstop of 6.3 demands more power.  So I set my flash exposure compensation to plus 3 stops !  I also set my zoom head on the flash to 80mm instead of letting it set itself to 44mm automatically.  As you can imagine I was asking my flash to do alot and demanding a ton of power.  So I had a Quantum battery pack attached to it to give the flash the extra power it needed.  And that is really all I did with this shot.  I didn’t haul out the Profoto 7B with a beauty dish and another light for her hair.  I positioned her so that her hair was lit by the sun and my key light was my flash.

This situation is why I cannot stress enough that you MUST  know your fundamentals.  If I had put the camera on auto then this shot would look nothing like you see now.  ** This and many other photography fundamentals are techniques I teach you in my fashion photography workshop. It’s a two day workshop and you come out knowing MUCH more than you did when you first walk in.  Check out the workshop page for more info and please feel free to call or email me with any questions you have concerning  the workshop.**

If you have any comments or questions about this post, ask away !  :-)

Photo lighting diagram-night beach shoot

Thursday, July 16th, 2009

Hi Gilbert, this is for you :-)   I love it ! Thank you for the GREAT questions and requests.  This is the feedback that is nice to get because I really want to make everyone happy.  This is exactly what I want from everyone. Interaction, communication is a two way street.  Ok so check out the photo lighting diagram below.

Photography lighting diagram

Photography lighting diagram

I tried something different this time by actually putting the shot in the diagram.  Tom, thank you for the compliments. I apologize for not posting in awhile.  I’ve been slammed with shooting which also means I have a ton of content to write about.

The soft box was pointed at the model of course and angled down to produce a nice sculpting effect.  It was placed on a c-stand about six feet sway from the model.  I was sitting on the beach sand right under the soft box.  I could have lit the totally dark background but my client wanted it to go totally black so that’s what I did.  I offered my suggestion but in the end the client has the final say.  I didn’t use another light to hit her hair because in MY opinion it would look too much like glamour lighting.  With fashion lighting you don’t always want your lighting to look “perfect”, like it was a template you used from a “how to” book.  When shooting portraits that’s different.  As you can see the rock right behind the model is lit so that gave me some separation with her hair.

The pack I used is a Profoto 7B and yes I had a second battery that was sitting in the charger and I eventually had to use it.  I didn’t use a generator because the state charges alot extra to use one and the permit was already $1,200, which included a state park ranger with us the whole time and a lifeguard.  If the shoot was during the day the permit would only be $65 because you aren’t required to have a ranger and a lifeguard there the whole time.  BTW the county says that if ANYONE on the crew is going to be in at least ankle deep water a lifeguard must be with you the whole time.  Remember this is only for a night shoot.

Morgan did have a robe and between lighting set ups she had a nice warm 100 foot RV to relax in and fresh coffee which I took advantage of as well while my assistants set up the next shot.  :-)   Now as we were shooting there was no way for her to stay warm.  That comes from her own inner strength and me constantly talking to her to keep her mind off the cold.

The power output varied from each set up.  Sometimes we were at full power and sometimes were were at half power etc.  Just depended on the situation.   My camera settings were : 100th of a second @ f/10.  I didn’t do a custom white balance, instead I set it to 5900 throughout the whole shoot and shot a color checker for reference.   I had another assistant shining a Maglight flashlight on the model so I could lock focus.  LOL I laughed when the client said “Isn’t that light going to affect your lighting?”

Tom you are always welcome to ask as many questions as you wish to. That is the whole reason I started this blog.  You don’t have to apologize :-)   EVERYONE please take note:  ASK AS MANY QUESTIONS ON AS MANY POSTS AS YOU WANT.  Go back in the archives and if there is something you don’t understand or you think of a question based on the shot that I didn’t cover by all means ASK ME.   If no one asks me questions then the blog just sits still.

Also, if anyone has any suggestions of topics they would like me to cover please let me know.  I made a category specifically for this.  Go to Photography Discussion-Ask me anything about photography and ask as much as you want.  Remeber this: there is no such thing as a dumb question.  I LOVE to teach and educate.  As a matter of fact I got my Associates Degree in child psychology because originally I wanted to be a teacher.   And REMEMBER TO CLICK THAT RSS BUTTON !  :-)