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Thread: Drummer Portraits

  1. #1
    RockNGoalStar's Avatar
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    Tommy

    Drummer Portraits

    Hi All,

    I have been asked by my brother-in-law to take some 'arty' photos of him playing his drums this Christmas. He is 25 and it's a rock n roll drumkit set up in a large room with white walls.

    I am hopefully going to be getting a speedlight flash for Christmas and would like to put it to good use for this photoshoot.

    I am really looking for some tips, advice shooting suggestions on all aspects of this. I will be new to using the flash too, so any advice on this aspect will be greatly received.

    I hope I have supplied enough information for you to help me.

    Looking forward to hearing your thoughts.

    Tommy

  2. #2
    Moderator Dave Humphries's Avatar
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    Re: Drummer Portraits

    Quote Originally Posted by RockNGoalStar View Post
    I am really looking for some tips, advice shooting suggestions on all aspects of this. I will be new to using the flash too, so any advice on this aspect will be greatly received.
    Hi Tommy,

    I remember being impressed with (I think it was) Kay's shot of her drummer son, where she had him tape a pair of those coloured chemical lights to his drum sticks, then shot with lights off. So there's one idea just a shame I can't find the picture to show what she did.

    Cheers,

  3. #3
    RockNGoalStar's Avatar
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    Re: Drummer Portraits

    Thanks Dave... Was it this one?

    Drummer Portraits

    It sure is a cool idea...

  4. #4
    RockNGoalStar's Avatar
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    Re: Drummer Portraits

    If I did a similar thing and got him to drum with the glow sticks in the pitch black and then fired off the flash would that also work do you think?

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    Moderator Dave Humphries's Avatar
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    Re: Drummer Portraits

    Yes that's the one.

    Yes, I think you might want to use second curtain sync though (so flash goes at end of exposure) and trails appear to be going 'the right way', if you know what I mean - and I don't because I've never tried it.

  6. #6
    RockNGoalStar's Avatar
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    Re: Drummer Portraits

    Thanks Dave... That was kinda what I was thinking... Does anyone recommend any decent flash tutorials?

  7. #7
    rob marshall

    Re: Drummer Portraits

    Quote Originally Posted by RockNGoalStar View Post
    Thanks Dave... That was kinda what I was thinking... Does anyone recommend any decent flash tutorials?
    I think Strobist is about the best. Click on the 101 archive on the right of the page http://strobist.blogspot.com/

    And if you are Canon try photo notes http://photonotes.org/articles/eos-flash/

  8. #8
    Loose Canon's Avatar
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    Re: Drummer Portraits

    Hi Tommy!

    I think second curtain sync would be fun to try on this one if you guys are going to have some time to play around. I would think you would pick up the motion blur until the flash fires and then it would stop the motion and you would (hopefully) get a nice clear image of Bro-in-Law all in the same frame. Direction of motion I wouldn't think would be an issue since he would not be traveling in a linear direction (as in automobile tail lights).

    Also, when I got my first Speedlite, I was going through the manual familiarizing myself and I tried a little stroboscopic experiment. This might be something you might like to look into as well.

    I set up the old spinning coin trick and shot it with a timed exposure (as I recall around a second or two), and set the flash to fire in equal intervals throughout the exposure. Got a pretty cool effect. As the coin spun and traveled across the frame, the flash stopped it every time it fired.

    I also used this scenario to check out second curtain. Also with a short timed exposure. I got motion blur from left to right across the frame until the flash fired and then it stopped the coin toward the right side of the frame.

    I didn't save them or I'd post it for you, but just a couple of suggestions.

  9. #9
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    Re: Drummer Portraits

    Hi Tommy
    I hope it goes well.
    & thanks Dave for suggesting a look at my shot.
    For that I didn't have any speed lights, but there is a standard desk lamp on the floor, just so the 'drum kit' got some light.
    And that would be my tip, to us it's mostly about the drummer as a person in the portrait - but for them they really like the kit to be shown to effect as well.
    Black & white with some smoke around is another 1 I've tried and always have a long enough exposure to show the movement of the sticks.
    Have fun!

  10. #10
    RockNGoalStar's Avatar
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    Re: Drummer Portraits

    Thanks Rob, Terry and Kay for your suggestions and tips. I am increasingly looking forward to this shoot now and, with everyone's help, I have more and more ideas.

    What would you say is a 'long exposure' for this kind of shot?

  11. #11
    wilgk's Avatar
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    Re: Drummer Portraits

    HI Tommy it depends on how much ambient light you want in the shot as well as the subject/kit.
    In the colour blur 1 above I used the 'Bulb' setting and counted out 4-8 seconds because I was really wanting a lot of blur and had no ambient light in the room at all (except the wee glow on the kit at the floor)
    This shot however was just enough to blur the sticks, but keep the rest of the drummer sharp...
    1/125 -ish from memory

    Drummer Portraits


    then if you've got a really willing subject. you can have some fun outside.... & if his sister is very nice and holds the flash for you just out of shot
    Drummer Portraits

    It really is a bit of trial & error - this last 1 is not the best from that day, as I was trying to catch the stick on it's downward path... but missed as it has already hit the drum.

  12. #12
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    Re: Drummer Portraits

    Hi Tommy,

    Whether the flash is used as a fill light or the main light depends on the ambient level. You should be able to look this up for your camera model (I think you shoot Nikon but it should be similar to Canon in this regard). However it will probably be in an EV level which you'll have to interpret into context (not an easy task). In most situations I have found that with the flash on the camera exposure works as if the flash is not attached, i.e. if I need 1/30 at f4 with no flash then it will read the same with the flash on. However the eTTL mechanism will ensure that if the flash fires it will cut out at the appropriate time to prevent over-exposure.

    This means that my normal approach of using Aperture priority led to lots of blurred shots due to having a long shutter speed. The key to success is deciding how much ambient light exposure you want. Then set your camera for that. For example for the case above I could use 1/125 at f4 to get a 2-stop under exposure. However because the flash is on it will fire and add to the exposure. In my case I do not even need to add positive flash exposure compensation to get the flash to bump up the exposure to normal. It seems to work.

    Most of the time I have settled on using manual exposure to keep my shutter speed at an action stopping level, usually 1/125. When I fire the flash it seems to magically sort itself out since the flash metering is separate from the camera. This only holds if you have enough flash power. A good reason to always get the best you can afford.

    In the case of your drummer you will have plenty of time to try different ratios of ambient to flash. I would experiment with manual exposure and perhaps also manual flash. In this case you will get repeatable results and will be able to hone in on the look that you want.

    Regards,

    Alex

  13. #13
    RockNGoalStar's Avatar
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    Re: Drummer Portraits

    Thanks Kay and Alex. You've both given me quite a bit to think about, and I've been looking at the tutorials on strobist. I've got a feeling that this first bash at using the flash is going to be a disaster, but we'll see! Fingers crossed!

  14. #14
    Loose Canon's Avatar
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    Re: Drummer Portraits

    I'm betting your first Flash Bash will be a huge success, Tommy (not to mention a ton of fun)!

    My money is on you!

    Hopefully you'll let us know how and what you did?

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