Danny’s Angels photo shoots are some of the most fun events you can ever attend. They are typically all-day shoots with multiple models shot in rotation, and are take place all around the world. This fun shoot was held at Nazareth Studios in Johannesburg South Africa, and I was blessed to shoot twelve gorgeous models over the full two day shoot.
I was fortunate to be assisted by my good friend Gawie van der Walt who has helped me on several of my Playboy Playmate shoots, and for this shoot I used two lovely makeup artists Janine Korvessis and Tash Grifo Roberto. But this shoot was even more special as my new friend and pro shooter Tiago Nazareth joined the shoot on Sunday and generously took these superb behind-the-scenes shots and convey some of the excitement and fun that happens at our shoots. Makes you want to be there doesn’t it!
Danny’s Angels Photo Shoot at Nazareth Studios, Westdene, Benoni – 25 March 2018
(Photo by Tiago Nazareth 2018)
I have been trying to perfect High Speed Sync on my Nikon Cameras for over 5 years. For me the ability to shoot in full sunlight at wide open apertures (f2.8 or faster) with strobe illuminating the model, has been the Holy Grail.
Shooting a model outdoors at wide open apertures in full sunlight has always been possible with a reflector, but as any photographer will tell you, you have to factor in the model’s eye sensitivity to the reflected light as often she would have a frown cross her brow as she tried to deal with the bright light reflected into her face, even if you had her close her eyes and only open them for a milli-second. And of course trying to get the right rhythm and flow with a model opening a closing her eyes on command leaves a lot to be desired.
But the problem with all DSLR camera’s is their maximum flash sync speed is limited to around 1/250th of a second, which means that if you are shooting outdoors in bright sunlight at ISO 100, and 1/250th of a second, you are typically shooting at and aperture of around f5.6 to f8, which increases depth of field, and diminishes attractive bokeh highlights. Models then merge into the background unless you are using very long focal length lenses. Shooting with flash at shutterspeed above the camera’s synch speed yields the dreaded black band across the image.
I first became aware of High Speed Sync, or rather Hyper Sync, with sports photographers freezing skiers, skateboarders and motocrossers in midflight, illuminated by flash, and so I set about my journey to figure it all out.
Hyper Sync relied on timing the maximum burst of a larger studio strobe to coincide with the shutter slit opening, and this provided more illuminating power than High Speed Sync (HSS) which relied on the strobe firing thousands of consecutive low power flashes to provide essentially continuous light.
With a lot of trial and error I was able to develop a workflow using Pocket Wizards transmitters triggering either Nikon Speedlights or Alienbees Monolights. However the consistency of results was never repeatable.
With Hyper Sync I would get stunning, clean un-banded exposures at 1/2000th of a second using my approach, but if you click on the image above and view full size you will see the dreaded banding start to make its presence felt at shutter speeds over 1/2,000ths of a second. But at 1/2,000th of a second it would yield stunning shots, just like in the image of Emily below, but the consistency of exposure was not perfect.
Even keeping, ISO, shutterspeed and aperture constant, and with NO changes to power levels or light-to-model distance, consecutive images could have more than a stop of exposure variance and I could never trust Hyper Sync for my commercial client shoots, so it was relegated to my personal work and experimentation, which I love.
A few years ago I bought Profoto B1’s, B2’s, D1’s, and more recently D2’s. Even with the built in High Speed Sync (HSS) capability, image to image exposure variances were not consistent enough to trust. But with the latest Profoto software update released in January of 2017, things have really improved.
The HSS shots of Jisel in this article were taken around 10 am in FULL bright sunlight hitting the back of the model. There are no shade cloth’s, no scrims keeping the direct sunlight off her. The sunlight is falling on the model’s back. And because the sunlight is hitting her back, and because she has no reflected light shining in her face, her eyes are relaxed, there is no frown, and her pupils are normally dilated.
These images were shot with my Nikon D5 set at 100ISO, using the wonderful new Nikon 105mm F1.4 lens, shooting fully wide open. To get the right ambient light exposure in the background at F1.4, I varied the shutter speed between 1/2,000th and 1/5,000th of a second, and of course without strobe the model is a complete silhouette as you can see in the image below.
Then I added two Profoto B1’s equipped with 5ft Octobox’s to provide the fill light and balanced it in manual mode (almost at full power) with the lights mounted less than 8ft from the model (any distance greater than that and the reduced power obtained in High Speed Sync mode will not provide enough illumination). Once I found the satisfactory power and distance-to-model settings, I was able to shoot around 70 images, all with perfect consecutive image to image exposure, with no discernible variation.
One further note:- Since the Profoto flash units will need to be near their maximum power output in manual mode to support HSS, you will burn through batteries very quickly, so make sure you have adequate batteries being charged as you are shooting. Also make sure that the flash capacitors have fully recharged before taking the next shot. I highly recommend setting your Profoto lights to give the audible ready-beep, because when shooting in bright light, your in-camera flash-ready light might not be adequately visible.
I hope you enjoy the images, as well as the new frontier in glamour photography that this ushers in.
TETHERED PREVIEWING IN THE STUDIO USING CAPTURE ONE
In our studio we shoot what I consider the current traditional way, tethered by USB 3 cable to a Microsoft Surface Pro running Windows 10 and Capture ONE software, displaying the preview image on a 60” monitor. This scenario is perfect for static shooting that takes place in a studio, and makes a wonderful training tool for our photographic workshops, but since you are physically tethered to the laptop via a cable, it is not ideal for location, where you might need to be more mobile.
LOCATION SHOOTING – WIRELESSLY PREVIEWING ON TABLETS
For the past 4 years, on location, I have shot with the Nikon D3x wirelessly “tethered” to various tablets via a CamRanger. The flexibility and freedom to effortlessly move around a location while wirelessly tethered to a tablet is the main reason, plus the ability to show the model or client large size images during the shoot is a significant advantage.
Having recently moved to the Nikon D5’s and the WT-6A transmitters, we are still shooting wirelessly direct to various mobile devices, and currently viewing images in the Chrome Browser.
There are several pros and cons of each setup and I thought I would share my experiences with the photographic community, and of course would like to hear of other’s experience and approach
Very intuitive. Setup/configurations is simple and fast
Fast upload of preview image
I love that I can save the images to both the tablet and to the memory card. This provides image redundancy in the event of a corrupted card, and also allows us to continue to view the images, even when the camera is switched off during wardrobe / set changes
The CamRanger battery lasts an entire 8 hour day of shooting.
Wireless connection to CamRanger drains the camera battery really fast. In a typical 8 hour shoot we will go through at least 4 D3-x camera batteries. I attach a small 3000mAh external USB battery pack with Velcro to allow our tablet to give us a full day of image viewing
Cannot pinch-zoom. You can double tap to view the full size image, but you cannot zoom to a specific area (say eyes to check catchlights)
You always have to think about the additional pack and USB wire. I hook the CamRanger to my belt / Monopod / tripod, but you have to remember to unhook when you put your camera down.
The CamRanger software isn’t as stable as it could be.
Overall I highly recommend CamRanger for simple inexpensive wireless tethering.
Here is a couple of shots from some recent shoots including my Playboy Playmate shoot with Nikki DuPlessis shot with my typical CamRanger Setup using a Manfrotto magic arm with the K&M Ipad Mount mounted to the side of my tripod.
WT-6A (so far only using it direct to HTTP connection, and viewing in a browser)
The adapter is tiny, attached to the camera, and it becomes part of the camera. There are no additional devices or wires that you have to consider, so it is way more convenient. I leave it attached to the camera even when I am not using it
Very fast, almost instantaneous upload of preview image (less than 2 seconds)
Interestingly, the wireless connection does not drain the camera battery. In a full day of continuous shooting, over 9 hours, we only changed the D5 battery once at around the 6 hour mark
Setup/configurations is simple and fast
Ability to pinch and zoom the image to a desired magnification is great
Really Expensive for what it is – just a wireless transmitter
The Nikon HTTP browser software approach is really clunky – will look into alternative viewing platforms
The inability in the browser to swipe left/right to load the previous/next images is SO unintuitive. Right now you have to hit a minute forward arrow key to view the next image. Cannot believe that Nikon would not resolve this ASAP.
South Florida local Kim King is a stunning all-natural Playmate, and graces the pages of Playboy South Africa as their Playboy Playmate, January 2016. She epitomizes the Playboy girl-next-door. Sweet, polite, cute, fun, and just the nicest person you will ever meet. The kind of girl you want to take home to meet your mom!
I had the privilege of working with Kim several times over the past few years, and every shoot has been pure joy. I cannot say enough about what a lovely person she is, both inside and out. I wish Kim all success in her adventures and I am sure her Playmate Pictorial is just the first of many steps along a very interesting journey.
South African beauty Angel Kriel is a real firecracker. Super intelligent, quirky with a razor sharp sense of humor, and on top of that all, stunning to boot. Angel had always dreamed of being a Playmate, and I am thrilled to be the photographer that made that dream come true for her.
We were fortunate to shoot over two days on location at a luxury home in Johannesburg, at a private airfield with some unique ultralight planes, and at a park near Hartebeesport Dam. Great locations that brought out the best in this lovely lady.
Take a look at a few of the images from our fun shoot together. Some of these appeared in her Angel Kriel’s Playboy Playmate pictorial, some are revealed here for the first time. ENJOY!
Rualize Van Rensburg graces the pages of Playboy South Africa as their December 2015 Playboy Playmate. Rualize is such a rare, natural beauty, tall and magnificent, with an ambition to succeed that burns so brightly. I can see her blazing a very high profile career in the future and I am sure PLAYBOY is just the first step in her ascent to stardom!