Boot Camp III Assignment #3: Results

Results from Assignment #3, in which you were asked to choose a relatively large object or scene to photograph, and enhance the ambient with one or two small flashes.

Inside, four finals -- two from the U.S., one from Scotland and another from Malaysia.

Leading off is Jason Lykins' photo of Union Terminal in Cincinatti, Ohio in the U.S. In addition to ambient he used two speedlights to tweak the scene. One was illuminating the fountain, the other the hedges in the foreground.

Interestingly, Jason also did an HDR version of the scene, which to me really highlighted the fact that you get so much more local control by selectively adding light than by shooting HDR.

One thing, tho. On a continuous tone like the sky, that gradient burn really shows up. If you want to seal it better, you can do it in-camera. You cannot merely adjust the ambient exposure, since much of the rest of your scene is also built on ambient.

But you can always wait out the sky. It is getting darker as you shoot when shooting at evening. Nail down the other variables and keep them constant as your sky fades.

From Chicago, Illinois in the U.S. comes a field of nine-foot-tall elephant … parts, courtesy DigitalQi (no real name given).

The ambient here is sodium vapor, which is very orange. So DQ decided to use the flashes inside of the scene to create separation. He warmed them up with Rosco 85 gels to get the color of light into at least the same color neighborhood.

One thing: if you are gonna shoot at night, better to bring a tripod and leave the screaming high ISO at home. He shot at ISO 25.6k (uh huh…) at 1/30th of a sec at 3.5. And he noted his SB-28's were both at 1/4 power, - 1/3 of a stop.

That tells me that he could have squeezed 2 1/3 more stops of light out of the SB's. Which means he could have shot at ISO 5000, 1/6 sec at f/3.5 for the same flash:ambient ratio with much less noise/grain.

You'll need sticks to do that. But again, those elephant asses aren't going anywhere in a sixth of a sec…

Crossing the pond, we get to Malcolm Russell and his shot of Castlecraig in the Scottish highlands. Malcolm lit the two visible planes on the 16th century fortified tower with a pair of speedlights, one on each side.

I would have liked to have seen more light down that camera right facade. But Malcolm notes he was hindered by positions and angles, and wanted to keep the light off of the foreground foliage.

Solution: height. When shooting large objects in low light, your important lighting position variables are height and distance. You usually need distance for even lighting, but height can also allow you to solve problems like Malcolm's.

From least to best preference:

1. Your tallest light stand.
2. You (or a friend) hold your tallest light stand up as high as you can.
3. A nice, long, cheap painter's pole with a Metalhead attachment.

Last but certainly not least we head to Malaysia, for this assignment's winner. Eric Sari used a single speedlight to illuminate a mangrove tree in a deep twilight photo. I love this image, and it is the one that stuck with me all weekend when I was deciding which shot to choose as a winner.

Eric waited out the sunset until it was very dark. -- this was a 20-second exposure at f/2.8 (ISO not noted). But that got him into deep twilight where light can sometimes get magical, as it did here.

As a bonus, the 20-second exposure smoothed out the water, and blended the sky with some movement. A 1/2 power pop from a handheld Canon 580 EXII was needed to put detail in the mangrove tree. It doesn't hurt that the tree is almost the exact compliment of the color in the deep twilight sky, either.

Sari fired the flash manually with the test button (who needs PW, right?) during the 20-second exposure which fortunately is beneath Canon's maximum sync speed (zing!)

And we'll be hand-firing either a hard copy set of Lighting in Layers or a LumoPro LP160 speedlight to Eric as this assignment's winner.

Congrats to Eric and also to everyone who completed the third BC3 assignment, the full results of which are here. And this marks the last of the easy assignments in BC:3.


As with last time, them's my picks. Feel different? Hash it out in the comments. But be respectful, please.


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OpenID said...

Awesome shots!! I love the shot from Malaysia! Congrats!

September 06, 2011 12:50 AM  
Blogger Kristopher B said...

I knew that shot would win. It's epic.

Wicked zinger with the Canon speed sync joke! Classic.

How long will BC3 be going - I'm loving it and was hoping that it won't be over too soon :S

September 06, 2011 1:44 AM  
Blogger Joe said...

I agree. Winning shot is fantastic.

September 06, 2011 1:54 AM  
Blogger ESARI said...

I am very honored and humbled to have been selected and to be among such a distinguished group of photographer and artisit,I found all of their work both inspiring and breathtaking, and I go forth with a renewed spirit, can't wait 'till next assignment. A big thank you from the bottom of my heart to David, the best lighting instructor in the universe for giving me my very first winning in a photo contest in my life, it really meant a lot to me.

September 06, 2011 2:46 AM  
Blogger JP Manninen said...

Congrats to Eric and all the other finalists! This was a fun, if tricky assignment -- you all did a great job. See you in BC34!

September 06, 2011 3:00 AM  
Blogger JP Manninen said...

Congrats to Eric and the finalists! This was a fun, if tricky assignment -- you all did a great job. See you n BC34!

September 06, 2011 3:01 AM  
Blogger Nikon Coach said...

Congrats, Eric Sari. Well-deserved win. Awesome image!

Now that the contest is over, I can visit more frequently...without feeling any guilt. :)

September 06, 2011 3:47 AM  
Blogger kebax said...

The winner han content like painted picture. I like it a lot.

I wish I would dared to tilt my frame 90 degrees. I guess I suffer sorts of landscape syndrome. =)

September 06, 2011 5:00 AM  
Blogger Wayne said...

All great shots and a worthy winner. Well done everybody.

September 06, 2011 5:34 AM  
Blogger Mark n Manna said...

I like all of these shots,and I also like it that you (David) suggest ways to make them even better.
Congratulations to the winner!

September 06, 2011 8:51 AM  
Blogger John said...

That last shot is absolutely gorgeous! Bet it would make an awesome print.

I really liked the castle from Scotland as well but also thought it could use a little more light on the lower right side.

I ended up not being able to participate because I couldn't photograph the place I had in mind, but hopefully I will get in on the next challenge.

I'd still love to have those DVD's :)

September 06, 2011 10:14 AM  
Blogger Sam Simon Imaging said...

holla atchya boy eric! definitely one of the best shots. congrats.

September 06, 2011 10:18 AM  
Blogger TriX & D76 said...

There certainly are several "winners" here, and should be recognized for just that. Great submissions, and very difficult to pick one for the top prize!

September 06, 2011 10:39 AM  
Blogger TriX & D76 said...

Certainly there are several "winners" and should be recognized as such. Great submissions and very difficult to pick one for the top prize!

September 06, 2011 10:41 AM  
Blogger sponberg said...

Congrats Eric! I also love reading the feedback from David about all the photos.

September 06, 2011 10:45 AM  
Blogger Mark said...

Loved all of the pictures but most of all I liked the review of all of the pictures.

September 06, 2011 11:12 AM  
Blogger Yugo said...

I love these! It's quite a challenge finding the right magical moment of ambient light, plus balancing color and exposure with strobe light.

September 06, 2011 11:27 AM  
Blogger Mac Bailey said...

Congratulations Erik. Yours was my choice as the best entry.

September 06, 2011 11:47 AM  
Blogger Photography Again said...

Way to go Eric, pushing through the obstacles always pays of big in the end. Great shot.

September 06, 2011 1:47 PM  
Blogger Jason Lykins said...

I want to thank you David for the inclusion of my Union Terminal Shot into the finalists. I have learned a lot from you and this blog through the years. If anyone wants to see more of my work they can visit my website . Thanks again, Jason!

September 06, 2011 3:17 PM  
Blogger silliopolous said...

Oh sure... give the prize to someone else just because their shot absolutely rocks compared to mine! ;)

A big "well done!" to all of those selections.

September 06, 2011 11:16 PM  
Blogger Mark said...

Thanks to everyone that commented, congratulation not only to all the finalists but to everyone the got off the couch and made something happen. Keep shooting!

September 06, 2011 11:54 PM  
Blogger Sharna said...

Congrats Eric. Certainly a worthy shot. And great job everyone else for getting in there and trying for it. :D

September 08, 2011 12:49 AM  

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