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In this installment of the Lighting with Flash series, photographer and Strobist.com publisher David Hobby employs compact flash units to light an outdoor environmental portrait of a beekeeper and his bees. For the portrait, David balances the light from two strobes with late-afternoon sunshine, using a snap-on grid to focus the light from one strobe and adjusting his camera's white balance to add warmth to shade-lit skin tones.
Next, David addresses a more challenging subject: a humming hive of honeybees. Working quickly for obvious reasons, David uses his camera's automatic, through-the-lens (TTL) flash-exposure mode along with a ring-light adaptor for the strobe. The course concludes with some insights on David's approach to lighting and his choice of subject matter.
Alright. So, technically this shoot was very different than most shoots that I do and that normally I'm thinking about lighting the subject first, and then lighting the environment. The light source that was lighting Jim was, was literally open shade which is being over powered by the sun as it's setting now but, but at the time that we shot he was catching coolish open shade light pushing into the woods. So if I let that shade light him and then fix any problems I need to fix with a gridded flash. And, and we did that exactly by popping a gridded SB800 into his, his face behind the black mask.
So I was able to bring just his face up, leave him lit by the blue ambient light and the other light we had in this frame is what we call a special, which is designed just to do one thing. And that was a gridded flashback in the woods just barely popping the hive, so we can bring it up in a subtle way, but not hit you over the head with a hammer, here I am beehive. it's out of focus, it's lit to probably about one stop down, and it completes that, that composition in the back without being overly dramatic.
when I first started out lighting, maybe 25 years ago, the, the impetus was to see how complicated I could get, how flashy. And now, the more I do it, the more it is to try to let the light fall into the background and less the light it's the main reason driving the picture. To the extent that it's possible now, I try to back up a little bit, let the light illuminate the subject but not call attention to itself. And I think that makes for pictures where the subject matter of the picture carries the tune, as opposed to just the lighting carrying the tune. So this, today was a local suburban beekeeper's home. And this is kind of a neat two pronged issue for us in Howard county. Because in addition to the, the colony collapse disorder issues that are effecting bees around the planet, there are also local issues that play here. And, and there are zoning questions that are coming up which really speak to the heart of whether or not someone can keep these in a suburban environment. presently, these are zoned, I think, exactly the same way cows are zoned. And we don't have a lot of problem with cows in people's backyards. But apparently, some people have these and people have a problem with that. And beekeepers are certainly lot of people with lot of common sense trying to, trying to keep the issue in the forefront and hope that people start to realize we do need bees and we need to food to be pollinated and such. For my blog, I do think it is a particularly interesting subject because it combines a, an issue that is international with one that is intensely local.
in addition to that, it's, it's a neat visual subject, which is also another bar I want to hit with the pictures in my blog. That's especially important as I'm starting out and developing visual style. as I get further along, I'll be able to tackle things that are more non-visual in nature, as long as continuity of quality of coverage is there. So, for me this is an ideal subject to go after. I found the Howard County Bee Keepers Association, Inc. through an open house at the Howard County conservancy, which is an other place where we just shot recently. And from there, I met Janice who pointed me to Jim and few e-mails later we had our bee keeper setup.
I really tried to go these local community events because they're a great place to collect people from lots of different genres and the county who are doing different things and might make good stories. So that's a logical place to start, finding people like this and that's how we did it.
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