Photo Frosh Photo Challenge #6: Low Angle

The Photo Frosh Photo Challenge is a newbie’s attempt to complete all thirty of these prompts while (hopefully) learning something in the process.

Ever since the LP180 was announced, I’ve been getting manual flash fever. I don’t really use flash, like ever, but I’ve been wanting to learn manual OCF, so why not now when we have the best flash for your buck available for pre-order?

Kevin Deskins was in the store yesterday, so I asked him to give me a quick tutorial on how to use the LP180. I also asked him to pose for a low angle portrait for my next Photo Frosh Photo Challenge, using a sweet Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8 wide angle lens we have in stock.

nikon 14 24 lens

Kevin was understandably a little weary about being shot from a low angle with a wide angle lens. Generally, you don’t want to shoot portraits from a low angle, since you’d be photographing the inside of your subject’s nose. Nor do you want to use a wide angle lens, since the sort of distortion produced with a wide angle doesn’t generally flatter a person’s physical features.

But rules are meant to be bent and limits are meant to be tested, especially when it comes to photography. Plus, wide angle vertical shots look really sweet.

We modified the LP180 with a Westcott Rapid Box 10″ x 24″ Strip and Deflector Plate, and set that up on a LumoPro LP605 Compact 7.5′ Stand. We triggered the flash with one PocketWizard Plus X and put second Plus X on my Nikon D7000‘s hot shoe. (Side note: one LP180, the compact light stand, one Rapid Box, and two Plus X triggers only cost $86 more than one Canon 600EX. Just food for thought when you’re purchasing your next flash.)

camera setup

lighting setup

lp180 2

westcott rapid box

It was lucky for us that everything was so easy to set up, since we were about to be hit with some major rain and needed to get the shots quickly.

Let’s take a look at some photos.

kevin 3

For this first image, I basically did exactly what I didn’t want to do, which was look right up Kevin’s nose and make him look distorted. This look might be appropriate for some subjects — athletic programs, for instance, might want their players to look intimidating and dominating in their promotional photos. The flash was set at 1/8 + 0.3 power, and my camera was set at f/8, 1/250 sec, ISO 400.

kevin 1

I wanted to try to eliminate the shadow in this next one, while also making the low angle not as dramatic as the previous shot. I stopped down the flash to 1/16 +0.3 power, slowed my shutter speed slightly to 1/125 to let in more ambient light and eliminate some of that shadow, while keeping my aperture and ISO at the same settings. I really like how this shot came out: Kevin could use it for a profile in a magazine. The cloudy sky also helped give the shot dimension while preventing the ambient light from overpowering the flash.

kevin 2

I wanted to get a little more dramatic with my lighting for this last image. I brought the light source slightly closer, powered the flash up to 1/4 + 0.3 power, while stopping my aperture down to f/11 and lengthening the shutter speed to 1/30 sec. The shadows and hard light on Kevin’s face create a dramatic look and contrast. Unfortunately, my framing was a bit off here, but I didn’t want to crop it all that much and lose the environment that the wide angle lens allowed me to capture, so I kept the Rapid Box in the shot. I mean, Kevin’s a lighting guy after all. It kind of fits his personality.

Overall, these images were incredibly easy to make, and the equipment is affordable. Hopefully I’ve convinced some lighting newbies like myself to not be intimidated by manual OCF. I can’t wait to get my own LP180 next week and experiment with lighting some more.

Midwest Photo

6 thoughts on “Photo Frosh Photo Challenge #6: Low Angle

  1. I love reading about the Photo Frosh adventures. I admit that I am jealous that I don’t have access to all the cool stuff, because I have a wicked case of GAS (Gear Acquisition Syndrome) and no budget for it.
    In the first image, Kevin looks like he is going to kick someone’s butt. His expression, the camera angle and the lighting tell quite a story. You accomplished your goals for the second image and this one is all about your subject, Kevin. I really like the drama of the third image!
    I would recommend Kevin’s OCF classes to newbies who want to take control of their images. His expertise and enthusiasm go a long way toward taking the mystery out of manual OCF.

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  2. Very nice little example there. I was just thinking about buying that combination of the LP180 and the Westcott Rapid Box. Except I was thinking about the 26 inch Octa. Then it just hit me that you can’t use the 1/4″-20 threads on the flash with the Rapid Box. Or can you? You set it up with the flash in the traditional way on the bracket. The exciting thing about the LP 180 is that it can be threaded sideways on the stand and be more secure as well as hitting the center of an umbrella. Maybe for this soft box there is no advantage to rig it any other way.

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    1. I wouldn’t worry about shooting into the middle because the Westcott setup is adjustable. Security-wise, I didn’t really have any problems with it at all, but if you throw a sandbag on the light stand it should be fine.

      Alternatively, you could go with a LumoPro octobox and a double-flash bracket, and that would alleviate all your concerns. However, you wouldn’t get the same hybrid of umbrella and softbox that the Rapid Box offers. Decisions, decisions . . .

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