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'How To' Shoot Like The Big Dog Guides

Take a look at an excerpt from Damian Mcgillicuddy's latest free photography guide.

| Portraits and People
Damian Mcgillicuddy is sharing his photographic knowledge in a series of  'How To' guides. Volume 1 and 2 are available now for free and can be downloaded from Damian

In the guides, Damian shows how he produced some of his most iconic shorts, explaining how they were lit, how the subject was positioned etc.

To give you a taster of what each guide is about, here's an excerpt from 'How To' Shoot Like the Big Dog - Volume two.

Enjoy! And don't forget to visit Damian to download your free guides. 

'How To' Shoot Like The Big Dog Guides: Female Portrait

How Was It Done? 

This is an easy a setup as it gets. Both the "key" and the "accent" light are simple straight forward "bare faced" flash. In other words they are straight out of the bag with no modifiers.

It's the position of the flash, how it's feathered and how it's zoomed that controls the distribution of the light and ultimately how the subject is sculpted.

The Key Light:

'How To' Shoot Like The Big Dog Guides: Lighting set-upAs you can see from the diagram the "key" is slightly forward of the subject to camera left. The total face of the flash tube is not directly pointed at the subject but feathered to glance past her. Now here is the important bit as far as I’m concerned... the zoom feature built into the flash is used a little like a snoot. In other words, it's used to constrict the beam of light thrown. In this image the head was zoomed to about 70mm, from the distance the flash was placed from the subject this meant that the light was concentrated into the face, upper body and dress, falling off the further down her legs it travels. This is represented by the blue lines in the diagram.

Accent Light:

The accent, or "FX" light as I like to call them as "I'm cooool!", again is an unmodified bare faced flash. The difference here is the head is zoomed to about 50mm. This way the accent runs down the subject virtually from head to foot. This is represented in the diagram by the red lines.

So in reality the equipment used is as simple as it gets. As I say in my classes though, the intent and the knowledge to execute are key.

Infrared Triggering:

IMPORTANT: When working with IR you HAVE to remember that the "Commander", when it fires, can see the speedlights you wish to control - no line of sight – no flash... period, remember this and all will be fine.

The "key" was set to group "A" channel 1 with the camera in manual set a 60th of a second (to use a little of the ambient to control the density of the shadows) and f/4. The camera then cuts the flash when the appropriate illumination is achieved.

The second light was set as group "B" so I could control its out put independently off the back of the OM-D... I’m all for saving my leg. The camera told the 2nd FL50r to deliver 0.7 of a stop more light – job done!

As long as you don’t treat this technology as 'fire and forget' and you realise it CAN'T make the creative decision for you and YOU have to drive the ship so to speak... it's a real cool, time saving tech!

Why Speedlights For This Studio Shoot Though?

It's a real simple answer that you may not know – the flash output duration on a good speedlight is often much faster than cheaper studio lights so in situations like the creation of this pic the ability of the speedlight to freeze movement is often greater than other units. 

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