Shooting HSS With Two Speedlights


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Hi and welcome back.

A few weeks ago I was presenting at the BH Event Space Creative Lighting with Speedlights.

At the end of the presentation I was asked to demonstrate a 2 light setup with HSS.

I have been using the Phottix Odin for my professional triggering needs and love how this trigger system just works.

Engaging HSS with the Odin is as simple as pushing your shutter speed up to those super fast speeds over your camera’s x-sync speed.  But in reality this is really not the case.

In order to push your shutter speed up effectively, you need to compensate on the aperture side and open up as far as you can go.  Then, adjust ISO to achieve the desired result.

Then. as if that wasn’t enough, you need to have your flashes in TTL mode and adjust power output in TTL to help with exposure.

There is a constant shifting of settings, especially when shooting outside as the light changes.

And if this isn’t enough, remember that for each stop of shutter speed you increase, you decrease by 1/2 the power output of your light source. So moving your light closer to your subject becomes a necessity when shooting at very fast speeds.

On top off all that, remember that HSS loves to eat battery power, so flash refresh rates may be much slower than normal.  External battery packs and fresh AA’s are needed o even fathom some idea of shooting HSS successfully.

But, once you nail it, you are in love with it!

Here are the details for the shot below:

Camera, Nikon D3, 105 f/2 dc lens


Key: SB 910, TTL, Odin trigger, small Rogue Flasbender as snoot

Hair: Phottix Mitros Plus, TTL, Large Rogur Flashbender as snoot

Exposure: 1/4000 @ f/2, ISO 200

Ekaterina Vygolova BH Photo Creative Lighing BW 4 22 2015_0104 copy


Working in a controlled setting helps, but welcome to the HSS dance of shutter, aperture, ISO, and TTL output.

Don’t get discouraged f this is tough to master, it is tough for pros too, you just need to practice to get a handle on it and then go have fun!

Till next time, happy dancing.

Delaware OCF Workshop with Camera’s Etc


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Hi and welcome back.

I have a full schedule for the next few weekends with everything from basic OCF to multi-light and glamour and my next workshop is this Saturday in Delaware.

April 25 2015

Camera’s Etc, 165 East Main St, Newark, Delaware

I’ll be teaching OCF using Rogue Flashbenders, Convertible Umbrellas, and the simplest gear to get great results

Cost: $75.00

Time: 12-4

You must register with Dain at the store, call 302-453-9400

Model is Brittany:

Screen Shot 2015-04-16 at 11.26.34 AMJoin in the fun if you are in the Delaware area!

Hope to see you there.


Adding Gels to Your Work


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Hi and welcome back.

Today we’ll take a quick look at adding gels to your work.

This year I decided to add more color to my work using gels.

Gels can color correct, like turning daylight flash/strobe to tungsten, or just coloring the light to change a background from grey to green or cool to warm.

For this post, I added contrast and color by adding a Rosco Blue Gel to my fill light.

I wanted to add color tone and contrast to an image and added it all with just a hint of fill light.

Key: Phottix Mitros Plus Flash, Phottix white Luna Beauty Dish

Fill: Phottix Indra 500, Rosco Blue Gel, Lastolite Tri Grip reflector white side up

As this was shot on location and was a workshop, the triggers are Phottix Ares so all cameras in attendance could participate.

I attached my Indra to a Matthews shorty C-Stand and used a Manfrotto Super Clamp to attach the Tri Grip Reflector lower to the light source, creating a nice bounce fill light on Megan.  The light is soft and fills in all the shadows with just a touch of contrast and color.

Here are BTS shots:

_RVH2916 _RVH2917


Here is a shot with the key only.  As you can see it is underexposed.  The fill light added so much from the bottom up that I didn’t need to correctly expose for the key:



Once I added the fill light, all the shadows opened and the exposure evened out across the frame.

Here is an unretouched proof:



And here are finals that went through a full round of retouching and finishing, although the model does not need that much work!

_RVH2920_web _RVH2987_webOnce the images have been finished, you can really see how the blue-toned light from below added fill and contrast to the finals.

So add gels for creative effect and to add dimension, drama, and contrast to your work to keep it exciting and fresh.

That’s it for now.  Till next time, are you gellin’?


Upcoming Workshops


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Hi and welcome back.

I want to list my upcoming workshops for the next few weeks here so you have them and can see if you can attend.

I have a full schedule for the next few weekends with everything from basic OCF to multi-light and glamour.

April 25 2015

Camera’s Etc, 165 East Main St, Newark, Delaware

I’ll be teaching OCF using Rogue Flashbenders, Convertible Umbrellas, and the simplest gear to get great results

Cost: $75.00

Time: 12-4

You must register with Dain at the store, call 302-453-9400

Model is Brittany:

Screen Shot 2015-04-16 at 11.26.34 AM


May 2, 2015

Private OCF workshop in Philly

Location: Aperture Studios, 2840 Chatham St, Philadelphia

Time: 11:00-4

Cost: $250.00, you can use Paypal link above or contact me directly: 203-641-2880

We’ll work all OCF and shoot from 1-4 speed lights for creative looks.

Space is limited as this is private workshop where you’ll get more personal instruction and advanced looks, going from commercial, to fashion, to glamour with multiple lights and gear.

Model is Betty, who is also in my book Photographic Lighting: 

Screen Shot 2015-03-18 at 11.18.42 AM

May 9, 2015

The Natural Light Workshop.

Learn techniques for shooting in natural light.  Let me show you how you can use simple reflectors to modify your light and add sparkle to those dimly lit eyes.

Location: We’ll meet at the Yale Center for British Art and move along from there

Yale Center for British Art, 1080 Chapel St, New Haven, CT

Time: 12-4

Cost: $125.00, use Paypal link above or contact me directly: 203-641-2880

Model TBD


May 16, 2015

Berger Camera Multi Light Glamour Workshop, 22 Clinton Ave, Huntington, LI

Time: 11-5

You can contact me directly for more information:

Cost: $250.00, you must register with Berger Camera

The last time I went to Berger I brought a set with me, this time is no different: I’m building a really cool set to shoot high end, multi-light, glamour in several configurations.

Model is Julie Dawson:


This is a great workshop series!  With many different looks and ideas to update your portfolio and learn new technique.

Hope to see you there!

Shooting the 40’s Hollywood Glamour Portrait with Speedlights


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Hi and welcome back.

One of my signature looks is the 40’s Hollywood Glamour Portrait.

I developed this look using speed lights and Rogue Flashbenders a few years ago and use it in my professional work and teach it extensively.

One of the most enduring and uniquely American photography styles is the 40’s Hollywood Glamour shot.

Expoimaging Rogue Flashbenders


Here is the gear:

3 speedlights

Phottix Ares triggers at workshops; Phottix Odin for my own work

1 Small Rogue Flashbender

1 Large Rogue Flashbender

1 Rogue Grid

And that is about it.

The key to the look is hard direct light with the commonplace shadows of the time: Loop Light, Paramount Light, Rembrandt Light.

The other commonplace look is a 3 light setup: Key, Hair, Back.

Here is my basic setup for the look, remember to aim your speed lights down beyond 45 degrees for the sharp shadows:

Key is a Small Flashbender rolled into a snoot

Hair is a Large Flashbended rolled into a snoot

Back is a Rogue Grid, usually 25 degrees


In my initial setup, I set all my flashes to Manual Mode and 1/4 power.  I test shoot my exposure and then adjust each light to taste.  Normally, my key is set to 1/16 power and the hair and back remain at 1/4 power, but each person is different so this is just a start point.

My exposure is 1/200 @ f/5.6 or thereabouts.  I try to stay to 5.6 for enough detail in the face but still have the back go out of focus.

Speed lights don’t have modeling lights and any model light feature on any trigger really doesn’t give you enough light to work with, but this is the beauty of shooting this way: you don’t know what you are getting till you shoot.  I like the mystery here.

Always set your exposure in color to view and check for clipped highlights.  Black and white captures don’t show all of the file information and my may clip highlights in b/w without realizing it.  Then I swap to b/w in the camera.  The look is all about shadow and tone, so why not shoot it in b/w?

Here is the initial shot out of my camera, perfect exposure and no clipped highlights:

_RVH3991_originalAfter I’ve gotten exposure and light setup done, I shoot. I try to shoot multiple looks and move around my light setup so the light hits my model in different locations and changes the look on her face without changing the light position.

Then I head to Photoshop where I clean the photo, remove stray hair, blemishes, etc, sharpen it selectively, and then apply a light Glamour Glow, all still while in color.

Notice the Paramount or Butterfly light under her nose: perfect!

_RVH3991Once I’m satisfied with the overall look and feel in color, I swap to b/w.  I have been using actions for this and love either Totally Rad Bitchen B/W or Kevin Kubota the New Black and White.

However, a simple b/w desaturation and add a bit of contrast and a vignette and the effect is the same.

Here is the final:

_RVH3991_bwKat has that dreamy, alluring, faraway look of the Glamour portrait, as if Kirk Douglas or Montgomery Clift were waiting for her offstage.

This is the most fun look I teach and use professionally.  You simply must try it!  Be forewarned, it is not an easy setup so don’t get discouraged, just shoot it and have fun!

Many thanks to my model Kat for being so great!

Till next time, happy shooting!



This Weekend’s Workshop in NJ


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Hi and welcome back.

This past weekend I traveled to The Photo Center in Brocktown, NJ to run a small flash workshop.

If you were there, it was a great and fun event!

My next workshop in the area is on April 25 at Camera’s Etc in Delaware:

Camera’s Etc

On Saturday, we did a host of looks:

Bounce Flash, Umbrella, Over and Under, and of course 40’s Hollywood Glamour.

We used single light sources until the 3 light Hollywood Glamour.  I’ll have a full post on that style of light tomorrow.

Many thanks to Jeff and the crew at the Photo Center and Kat our model.

There is something to be said about the simplicity of a single speedlight and reflective umbrella:


Then we went to over and under lighting or clamshell lighting with a single speed light, shoot through umbrella, and a California Sunbounce Micro Mini reflector, silver side up:


Then we did simple bounce flash.  Just take your flash and use a small Rogue Flashbender as a 1/2 snoot and bounce your light into the ceiling, just as you would do  with on camera flash:


And finally we shot my absolute favorite: 40’s Hollywood Glamour using 3 speed lights and a complement of Rogue Flashbenders.  I’ll have a fuller post tomorrow.


If you are a speed lighter and want to learn these techniques, join in the fun in Delaware or anywhere else you find me.  I’m always teaching around the country.

Till I meet you in person, happy shooting!!

This Weekend’s Workshops


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Hi and welcome back.

The last few posts have been on the ongoing saga of a location change for my two upcoming workshops.

If you are in the Central New Jersey area or near Newark, Delaware, I’m coming your way!

Both days I’ll be running my popular “One Speedlight, 16 Looks” event.  Want to learn new and creative ways to use just one light source, then join in the fun!

Saturday will be:

The Photo Center, 1930 Rte 88, Bricktown, NJ


Time: 1-5

Model: Kat Manning

Screen Shot 2015-03-31 at 9.56.45 AMSunday I’ll be with:

Camera’s Etc, 165 East Main St, Newark, DE


Time: 12-4

Our model is Kali:

Screen Shot 2015-03-25 at 8.32.31 AM

Don’t hesitate, register for the event in your neighborhood and let’s get shooting.  Build that portfolio and learn new technique just as the Spring headshot and wedding season is heating up.



Location for Lighting Workshop in NJ Changed


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Hi and welcome back.

First, let me say a belated Happy Easter and Passover.  I was ill before the holiday weekend and am now just getting back to it.

The location for the workshop in NJ this Saturday has been changed.

If you are attending the Photo Center workshop “One Speedlight, 16 Looks” we will be at the Photo Center and not Salt Studios.

Location Link: Photo Center

Location Address:

Photo Center

1930 Rte 88

Bricktown, NJ 08724


Depending on how the store is setup, we may modify the workshop and also work outside for a bit.

Any questions, call the store at the above number.

Our model is Kat Manning:

Screen Shot 2015-03-31 at 9.56.45 AMHope to see you there!

Part 2 of the 3 Part Post on Lighting


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Hi and welcome back.

This is part 2 of my 3 part Portrait lighting post.  Part 3 will be here probably next week when the images are back from my retoucher.

Part 2 is about the second half of my lighting workshop with Milford Photo and Phottix last Saturday.

During the second half of the day, we went to lighting with multiple lights, mixing speed lights with the new Phottix Indra 500 moonlight.

Phottix Indra 500

Phottix Mitros Plus Flash

Phottix Ares Trigger

Phottix 27″ Luna Dish

Phottix 36″ Silver Dish

In this first image, we did a simple two light commercial high key shot.  I put Megan right up against a white background and used one light high and above and one light below for fill.

Key Above: Phottix Indra 500, 36″ Silver Beauty Dish with diffusion panel, Ares trigger

Fill Below: Nikon SB910, 27″ White Luna Beauty Dish with diffusion panel, Ares trigger


Over and under high key

After this shot, we moved quickly to something more complicated.

I chose to use my lights more creatively this time, so my key and fill lights are all small so I can isolate parts of the image and keep light off of the background.

Key: Phottix Indra 500, Phottix 14 x 56 strip softbox with grid

Fill on front: Phottix Mitros Plus Speedlight, 27″ Luna Dish collapsed, Ares Trigger

Fill on hair/back: SB910, 27″ Luna Dish collapsed, Ares Trigger


_RVH2889 1

Next, I was asked by an attendee to show how to mix natural light with modified light and make it look natural.

Our key light in this initial shot is just the diffused light coming in from the window.

Notice how the right side of the frame is dark.


To open the shadows on the right up and keep it natural looking, I simply bounced a speed light into the ceiling to add fill around the entire image.  This was a quick adjustment at the end of the session, with a bit more time I would have dialed-in exposure.  But this is a good example of adding light by just bouncing it around the room.


Here is a diagram of the setup.

I had set the speed light to manual mode at 1/2 power to illuminate the room behind Megan.  Bounce Flash

Well that’s it for today.  Take a look at the images and diagrams to add this kind of work to your lighting.  Getting creative can be as simple as bouncing light around the room or collapsing your modifier over your light.

Why buy expensive modifiers when you may already own what you need.

Till next time, happy Spring!


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