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Scott Alan Photography

Creating portraits and documenting life!

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flash photography

Simple set-up to big results…

A couple of years ago I got a photo gig where I’d be photographing a hip hop artists for his upcoming album release. The album was to be released not only digitally but on CD and vinyl as well. The concept was going to be “dark” as the name of the album was going to be “Dark Side of The Cacoon.” It was storming that day so I headed over to his house. I brought along my studio background stand that I bought for around $120 or so. I brought along some black fleece fabric I picked up from Hobby Lobby for around $20 And of course I brought my Vivitar 285 flash that I’ve had for at least 15 years or so (which can be had for around $20 to $30 used). For a light modifier I used a 60″ octabox. The result was a photo that ended up being on the front of a nationlly and internationally distributed album. You don’t always necessarily need expensive gear to get big results.

(Camera was a Fuji xt 10 with the 18-55 kit lens)

Work The Angles. Work The light.

The most important thing in photography is light (either ambient or flash) and knowing how to use it. Off camera flash can bring a completely different dynamic to a shoot, specially depending upon your surroundings or the environment you’re working in. Working the angles and getting in close can help as well. The first image in this article is basically showing the environment we were working in. We were at a park, under a pavilion, surrounded by picnic tables.

Using flash and different angles I was able to “get away” from the “shooting at a park” look which was my intent.

When I Returned To Film Photography…

I started photography in 1995 during the film era. Sometime in 2000 my dad handed down his Bronica ETRS camera to me. This was the camera he used for many years shooting weddings and little league baseball team photos. After I graduated photogtaphy school in 2001 I went digital. From that point on I was strictly a digital photographer using many different Canon Cameras. I worked full time and ran a part time photography business until early 2012. I got burned out. I shut down my studio, sold my digital cameras, and sold all of my studio equipment. Several months went by and I started to get the itch to start shooting again but I wanted to do it on my terms, not a clients terms. The only cameras I had were two film cameras. I had my Canon Elan 7e and the Bronica ETRS that my dad had given me. I decided to give a go at film photography again. I figured out the film process (and look) is what I had loved and missed about photography. It was kind of intimidating at first to go back to film, because of course with digital you had the screen on the back of the camera to reference. I remember when I first started taking shots on the film camera I’d look at the back as if an image was going to be there. LOL. it didn’t take long to get back into the swing of things. I had to trust my knowledge of photography, trusted what I had learned, and trusted the camera was going to do what it was supposed to do. Here are a couple of portraits (with off camera flash) that I had made when I first got back into film photography.

Camera: Bronica ETRS

Lens: Zenzanon 75mm f2.8

Film: Kodak Portra 400

The Vivitar 285: A budget friendly flash!

Q&A

Question: Which is the “best” / most versatile light modifier for portraits?

Answer: The bounce/shoot through umbrella (60″)

Question: Why?

Answer(s):

The 60″ can be had for around $30 to $40, so it’s fairly inexpensive.

You can photograph a fairly large group with the 60″ umbrella

Or you can photograph 1 person with the 60″ umbrella

The umbrella can be used like… an umbrella

You can bounce the light into it.

You can shoot the light through it so it spreads and scatters the light everywhere.

You can shoot the light into it with the umbrella partially closed and you can use it just like a soft box (you cannot use a soft box like an umbrella)

If you have the right light stand you can also close it down and use it light a beauty dish (you cannot use a beauty dish like an umbrella)

I rest my case! 🙂

Most Underrated Piece of Photography Gear…

Black and White On Both Sides

Here are a couple of images that I recently made that will be in “Black and White On Both Sides” which is a book I will be publishing later this summer. I have really enjoyed playing with lighting over the last several years. I really like high contrast and low key black and white imagery. I decided to take on a project that consisted of nothing but just that.

DSCF8031LR

The above image was created with a speed light placed directly behind the subject.

DSCF8098LR

The above images was made using a speed light inside of an octabox to camera left.

Tools and The Level Of Importance In Photography

There are a number of things that have their level of importance in photography. Below I will list and explain each thing.

  1. Your Brain. Knowing what you want to photograph and how you want to photograph it is the first and most import step in the process of making an image. Knowing what kind of light you’ll need, knowing what king of lens you’ll need are all precursors to the end result.
  2. The Light. Light is the single most important tool in photography. The word “Photography” itself means to write with light or to light write. Just as important as light is good light or knowing how to use light. There are many difference sources of light such as the sun, street lights, lamps and interior lights, and flashes and strobes. Knowing how to use each one of these is beneficial to making great photographs. There are also modifiers such as umbrellas, soft boxes, grids, and gobos that help modify and direct the light as the photographer sees fit.
  3.  The Lens. There are many many many lenses made by many different lens manufacturers. Some lenses are “better” than others, however, it all depends on what the photographer is looking to do with the lens. There are even cheap plastic lenses used on Holgas, and Diana cameras that can make magical images with the right…… LIGHT (which is why light is number one “tool” on the list).
  4. The camera. The camera is important but definitely not the most important on the list. The camera is more than a sensor. The digital camera is made up of firmware and processors that help create the image we see on the back of the screen or on the computer.
  5. Post Processing Software. This is at the bottom of the list, however, for a lot of inexperienced photographers this seems to be more important than it really is. Software such as Lightroom and Photoshop are tool to help enhance or put the finishing touches to create the final product. Many images made by professional photographers actually need very little done to make the image they client may want. However, this is all dependent upon what the final result will be.

*Many people still shoot film. I would put film at number 4 on the list just as important as the camera. The reason being is because in film photography the type of film used will tremendously dictate the end result.

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