Lighting with Flash: Portrait of a Beekeeper and His Bees

with David Hobby
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Lighting with Flash: Portrait of a Beekeeper and His Bees
Video duration: 0s 29m 12s Intermediate


In this installment of the Lighting with Flash series, photographer and 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.

Topics include:
  • Balancing daylight and flash
  • Using a grid modifier to control flash lighting
  • Using TTL mode to work quickly
  • Choosing subjects that make good stories

Setting the stage

- Alright so we are basically in a little pocket of shade. The sun is very close to gonna be peeking behind those trees over there in a minute. So that's what we're gonna be working against time-wise. So what I'm gonna do is put the beekeeper, our beekeeper Jim, up in here. He's wearing all white with a black mask over his face which is gonna give us all kinds of problems that we'll have to solve lighting-wise. This area back in here is gonna be very out of focus. There's actually a camera sitting back there now which we'll move before we shoot. But one thing I'm gonna do first is to check, check my ambient and see how that looks.

It's nice and warm and dark. I've got this set on cloudy white balance or actually open shade white balance, because this area of open sky in the back is basically be a big soft box on Jim. And it's gonna light him up to an area which is gonna be very close to where we need it level-wise. But that's gonna leave the bees dark. So what I've done is, there it is without. I've got a flash in the back and I'm kissing it with just a little bit of light coming in so that reveals that without calling a lot of attention to it. So it's out of focus and it's lit, it's warm in the back.

So it'll be a nice element without being hit you over the head. It's a bee box. Get it? So that's gonna leave us our beekeeper in front and we're gonna have problems getting his face. So we're gonna put a special on his face and by special I mean a gridded light that is designed just to hit his face. Dave Kyle, my voice-activated light stand, is gonna be walking that around and keeping it aimed at this face. And I'm probably gonna have a second special on the bees but we haven't gotten that far ahead yet. So instead of lighting the beekeeper and lighting the whole environment, we're letting the open shade light the beekeeper and then we're going in and tweaking the environment whether that is the bee box in the back or his face behind the dark screen.

And we're gonna try to solve whatever problems that our environment gives us once we get his lit correctly with the natural light.

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