Sunday, July 4, 2010

Things to do in the desert II

Kaley Hasselblad H3DII-31 1/800th f/8.0 ISO100 @80mm. B1600 with beauty dish camera upper left.

Kaley Hasselblad H3DII-31 1/180th f/4.0 ISO100 @80mm. White side Scrim Jim from camera right.

Kaley Hasselblad H3DII-31 1/250th f/4.0 ISO100 @80mm. White side Scrim Jim from camera right.

Kaley Hasselblad H3DII-31 1/800th f/6.8 ISO100 @80mm. B1600 full power from camera upper left.

Kaley Hasselblad H3DII-31 1/500th f/8.0 ISO100 @80mm. B1600 full power from camera upper left.

I love the posts where I continue where I leave off. In
Things to do in the desert I had several great take-home points from the shoot.

My second experience in the desert has been one of my favorite shoots to date. Shooting with Kaley, Kat, Ren, Sean, and Jenni was great fun. This time around we shot some military-inspired wardrobe and well expanded upon all the notes that I made the first time around:

-I took the truck this time instead of the Prius. Fortunately it did not break down. But what's scary is that some of the trenches out in the desert are still too deep for even the Yukon chassis to cross without snaking around.

-I purchased a
HoodLoupe 3.0. Now I can see the back of the camera.

-On the day of the shoot, I was working with Calumet loaner Hasselblad back (mine had gone into Hasselblad USA for service). I should have calibrated the back for my preferences the day before, but I didn't. As a result, I was shooting somewhat blind because the highlights would not flash (to tell me when I had blown the highlights). Some of my frames were overexposed because I tend to push the histogram to the right.

-I really enjoyed the wardrobe. I felt it was well thought out with a uniform/cohesive theme. The only thing that might have made it better is if we actually shot on a military base (more on this later hopefully!) The accessories including but not limited to the watches, bandanas, badges, pins, hats all added great value to the look. My favorite was probably Sean's "Panella" badge on Kaley's green jacket.

-Although we were in the same desert pretty much the same place as the first shoot, we found some other spots to shoot this time around. The rocks add a different feel to the background as does the rubble/stone walls. I felt Kaley played the part well and was believable as a military-esque model.

-It was comfortable. I was with some of my favorite people Kat and Ren. When we weren't shooting we were laughing. When we were shooting we were laughing.

Scrim Jim is a kite. In desert winds, nearly impossible to use without 2 people. Used the white side of the Scrim Jim really close to fill the first two images of Kaley. The bottom two were strobed with the B1600 and a beauty dish.

-The H3DII can do something that my Nikon D3 can't do. 1/800th, ISO100, f/32 strobe syncing. At these settings, I can turn the desert at mid-day into pretty much a black abyss on the frame. For reference my Nikon D3 is only good for 1/200th, ISO125, f/22 strobe syncing. The only question is: Do you have enough strobe power to turn day into night and still expose your subject? Of course, I'd never try to kill all daylight as this would defeat the point of being out in the desert... but it gives me a lot more options. Might be time to invest in pack lights.

Overall a fantastic shoot. More pictures to come.


  1. Hey Charles,

    Out of curiosity, what do you use to power your B1600?

    I have a couple plug-in-the-wall Wescott flash heads but I'm thinking about taking this show on the road. Obviously, there aren't any wall outlets in the desert or on the beach, so I'm looking into different solutions for this.

  2. These days my B1600 is almost always at full power either indoors or outdoors. The reason is simple, I shoot at ISO100 with the Hasselblad and I like maintaining good depth of field and good ambient control. This usually means small apertures f/11+. As such I need as much power out of my B1600 as possible. At this point in time, the B1600 could be more powerful...

  3. Outdoors, I don't get f/11. With the beauty dish, I'm down around f/6.8-f/8.

  4. Hello Charles,

    Thanks for the info! I find that I'm shooting at smaller apertures recently-- around f/8 to f/16-- for about the same reason. I was enamored of good bokeh and shooting at a shallow dept of field at one point, but I think I prefer great DOF for some, if not most, portraits shots and definitely for fashion shots.

    What I wanted to ask you, however, was a question of a logistical nature. I have a hard time on location shoots because my studio flash heads don't have a wall outlet to plug into! :) So, I resort to smaller, less powerful flash units, like the Canon 430ex II.

    Do you use your studio strobes out in the desert? And if so, what kind of battery do you use?

  5. Thomas, search no farther! I use the Vagabond II (AlienBees)

    As your luck would have it, the item is on backorder. It's good for many many many pops at full power. Just don't leave the modeling lamp on or it dies in 10 minutes ;P

  6. Charles,

    Thanks! I was looking into maybe getting an off brand acid battery (almost like your car battery except this one had an outlet :). I'm surprised I hadn't run across this Alien Bees product prior to now. Thanks for the tip!

  7. Actually in a way you're absolutely correct about what the product actually is. It's basically a battery with an inverter to convert it into a sine wave (if I remember correctly). A sine wave simulates AC? I dunno, I can't remember much from Honors Physics. LOL! :)