When I first started photography I found inspiration from old masters of paintings. I was always attracted by the colors, composition and textures that the paintings had; and wanted to have the same aesthetic on my work. I started experimenting with different light techniques, and while I was getting there, still something was missing; the light quality. In the past I used different cameras and lighting systems but once I got my hands on Hasselblad and Broncolor I found out what was missing. From that day on, these systems are my color pallet and brush. Just by using them, it gave me the inspiration and motivation for my storytelling work.
Blog written by Erik Valind
Thats a wrap on WPPI 2016! What a whirlwind week of all things photography, lighting, and EDUCATION. A little background if you’re not familiar with Wedding & Portrait Photographers International (WPPI) and their annual expo out in Las Vegas. This awesome organization hosts one of the largest trade shows in the industry. WPPI 2014 drew over 12,000 attendees and 350 exhibitors and embrace photographers from all genres, including portraiture, fine art, photojournalism, commercial, video, and advertising.
Besides the amazing platform talks, hands-on photography classes, and on-location photowalks, there is a wealth of info to be had on the massive expo floor each year. Companies from all over want to show off their latest gear to the thousands of photographers on hand. Getting to touch new equipment before you invest in it is great, but whats even better is learning how to use that equipment too. That’s why I was excited to be asked by Hasselblad Bron Inc to spend 3 days shooting live at their booth, while demonstrating various types of lighting styles and using the newest Broncolor Siros strobes (including the bronControl App for wireless WiFi control) and with the awesome Hasselblad H5D-50c camera. With 3 days to shoot I wanted to share different techniques each day, so attending photographers would have an exciting reason to come back again each day.
Day 1 – Soft Wrapping Nondirectional Light
Soft light was the name of the game. Sure you can get soft light with a single softbox when brought in relatively close to the model. This basic approach still leaves a good amount of obviously directional light and shadow though. So for this setup I demonstrated how 2 softboxes and some reflectors can be used together to create effortless looking, natural soft wrapping light, all the way from highlights in the hairs around to a touch of fill in the shadowed side of the face. Most people use a 5′ Octabox solely as a key light. Here I challenged everyone to start using it in other ways, as I had used it as a background / hair light. Final image was shot on the Hasselblad H5D-50c w/ the HC MACRO 4/120MM II.
Day 2 – 3D Lighting (for Athletic Portraits)
On the second day we had an incredible fit model to work with. He is a regular performer at the Cirque de Soleil show Ka. With this physique I wanted to focus on 3D lighting. Its far to easy to make someone look flat in an image with bad lighting. Making someone look three dimensional and pop off the screen is something that you need the right tools and knowledge to achieve. This kind of lighting is where the Broncolor Paras really shine! I setup a Para 88 as my key light, and put the flash head in a slightly defocused position. This creates a kind of light that is unique to the para. It cast a focused even spread of light on the subject, while creating highlight AND shadow everywhere. – The highlight illuminates, while the shadow defines – This balance between dark and light is what creates depth. To build on this effect I places two Siros 800s units behind the subject and cast rim lights on him using the standard umbrella reflectors for a harder light. Final image was shot with the Hasselblad H5D-50c HCD 4.0-5.6/35-90MM.
Day 3 – Freezing Motion
By day three everyone was feeling the effects of 24/7 learning, networking, and nightlife that accompanies a trade show in Las Vegas. So to liven things up a little we decided to make motion the theme, and more importantly, freezing motion. Brightly pulsing strobe lights and leaping models are sure to wake up even the sleepiest photographers. One of the things that Broncolor does better than anyone else in the industry is freezing motioning through fast light. Much the same way you need fast shutter speeds to capture action shots outdoors without motion blur, you need fast light indoors to freeze the action. And by fast light I’m referring to short flash durations. The high end Broncolor strobes have been producing blazing fast light for years, and most recently they’ve come out with the Siros mono lights which continue the tradition of speed. I used a Siros 800s mono light in a Para 88 to get a wide spread of 3D quality light as my key. Then I focused two gridded stripboxes from behind as rim lights. Now every inch of my model was being hit by a light. After that I enabled “Speed Mode” on all three of the Siros units. This gives you the fastest flash duration and recycle times. All that was left was to time the jump! With a final shutter speed of only 1/180 sec you can see that the fast light did all the work to freeze my leaping model in mid air without a hint of blur anywhere. Final image was shot with the Hasselblad H5D-50c w/ the HCD 4.0-5.6/35-90MM.
Throughout all of the shooting we had a crowd of people at the booth asking all kinds of great questions and getting to see the gear used first hand. With the folks from Hasselblad, Broncolor and Sunbounce there as well, a wealth of knowledge was shared each day. You’ve got to love how events like this bring us photographers out of our silos and together to get re-energized about our craft. I’m looking forward to meeting even more people and creating some new killer images together next year!
Canyonlands National Park in Utah is carved up by distinct areas, but everywhere you look there are amazing picturesque shots right before your eyes.
Paul Claesson, HBI’s Technical Support manager got to spend a week with the Muench Workshop at the park this past October.
With his Hasselblad H5D in hand, Paul peered through the Double Arches at Arches National Park…
…and was amazed at the natural wonders of Goblin Valley State Park.
In the evening, workshop attendees and Paul gazed up at some of the most beautiful night skies.
Known for the lack of light pollution, viewing the Milky Way every evening may have been the norm… but far from boring!
Lane Swainston was born in Southern Nevada and currently resides there. His father began teaching Lane about photography at age 12. At that time Lane used his father’s Rolleicord medium format camera for landscape and nature photography. At age 17 Lane started experimenting with night photography during his first year attending Brigham Young University. In 1977 Lane served as the Public Communications Director for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in Edinburgh, Scotland. During that time Lane worked with 35mm photography and offset printing. During the ensuing years his interest in photography continued to grow and explore other applications including time lapse photography in conjunction with his work on hotel / casino projects back in his home town of Las Vegas, Nevada.
Later Lane became a student helicopter pilot and through that experience realized the potential of aerial photography. Soon it became apparent to Lane that very little, if anything, had been done with aerial photography at night of Las Vegas. This realization started Lane on a quest to develop techniques and equipment to allow for clear aerial photography of the Las Vegas area in true night conditions.
In the mid 90’s Lane started taking and using aerial photographs to document engineering claims that he was working on as an expert. The power of aerial photography soon became apparent and the aerial photography work in Lane’s company expanded to the point that he created a separate company called “Swainston Digital Imaging” to handle the high demand. During that period, Lane realized that there was an increasing demand for night time aerial photography, especially in Las Vegas. Over the years, Lane has developed several pieces of equipment and techniques to allow for clear still aerial photography in low light and night conditions from a helicopter.
At one point in the early part of this century Lane purchased a Hasselblad digital camera system with a Phase One digital back. The challenge of night photography with this combination proved to be too difficult and Lane went back to 35mm systems to attempt to get better results with some encouraging success as he entered his night photography work in yearly competitions as part of his membership in the International Aerial Photographers Association “PAPA”. That organization presented Lane with various awards including “PAPA Innovation Award for Refining the Art of Night Aerial Photography and Exhibiting Engineering Excellence with Hand-Held Camera Stabilizing Equipment”, “Best Scenic Aerial Photograph” on two occasions, “Best Artistic Aerial Photograph” on two occasions, “Best of Category for Commercial Photography”, and “Aerial Photograph of the Year”.
On numerous occasions Lane has taught classes and practical sessions on the subject of Aerial Photography with special emphasis on low light and night aerial photography. In one instance Lane spoke of his frustration in trying to use Hasselbald camera equipment. Unbeknownst to Lane a Hasselblad rep was attending the conference and in the audience. What followed was an awkward attempt on Lane’s part to explain his position and extract his foot from his mouth.
The Hasselblad rep was most accommodating and accepted an invitation from Lane to remain in Las Vegas as his guest and do some photographic tests with the newer line of equipment that was then being produced by Hasselblad. That experience drove Lane to further perfect his stabilization equipment to allow for the use of the superior cameras that Hasselblad has to offer.
A few years later in 2014 Lane once again found himself teaching a seminar and hosting a night aerial photography shoot with members of PAPA. A significant difference from the first presentation was that Lane was now touting the Hasselblad system, with special emphasis on the newest H5D 50C system. Greg King provided the opportunity, encouragement and catalyst for Lane to develop a fine tuned operational system. During that conference and in the following months Lane has had the opportunity to test the system at night with his newest “Black Widow” camera stabilization system that he designed and built for the Hasselblad H5D 50C. The combination has produced stunning results which go beyond anything that Lane expected. This combination of equipment has opened up a whole new vision for Lane regarding what really can be done with the superior technology that is being offered by Hasselblad.
The experiments that have been accomplished so far have included some air-to-ground work using Broncolor strobe systems in conjunction with the Hasselblad H5D 50C. The new possible applications and opportunities seem endless. In just over one decade Lane has gone from losing interest in Hasselblad to realizing that it is the only camera equipment that will really allow him to further push the envelope in his chosen niche of nighttime aerial photography. Hasselblad had proven that they can deliver on their promises by passing the most difficult tests that Lane could present. There never has been a suitable substitute for excellence. In this case Hasselblad has proven to be excellent.