alley shot

When I was approached by a friend of Jacqui’s, asking me if I could shoot some promotional photos for a local dance/club artist, my immediate reaction was no. No, no, no. I told him I don’t have the experience or the lighting equipment to pull something like that off. But he persisted. And then I started thinking about it. I went through the gear I have and figured, yeah, maybe I can do it. If I keep it simple. I’ve never done any composites or hardly even used my flash off camera, but hey, how hard can it be?

I’d read tutorials online on how to do it and I knew roughly how to pull it off.

I also knew I wanted some sort of film poster look to it. A bit gritty, but still a simple setup. I didn’t need the hassle of working some kind of idea into a shot I’d never even tried shooting before. The post processing in photoshop took less than 30 minutes and I think the end result looks pretty good for a club act. If you know PS, all I’ve done is use layer masks and then some cloning to clean up around the place. The cross processing is Nik Color Efex Pro. It’s not what I’d normally shoot, or even how I’d edit it, but there’s nothing like stepping out of your comfort zone to keep you on your toes.

I’ve put together a small making of, just to show you it’s not that hard to do.

As an experiment it was quite fun.

This is the gear I used.

Canon 5D Mark II
Canon EF 24mm 1.4L
2 Pocket Wizards
Canon 580 EX II  (bare flash)

The flash was on a monopod which Jacqui held at different angles, the camera was on a tripod. The final shot is a composite of three shots where the artist and back-ups were lit by a single bare flash in each one. If you have any questions, shoot away. I’m no Zack Arias, but it was fun to see I could actually do it. I hardly edit my wedding images at all, so this was something completely new. It was nice to get out and shoot using ideas and equipment I know little about. I don’t think I’ll use much of this for my wedding work, but now I know off camera flash is nothing to be too scared of.

I know this shot could have been shot better, but still.

If I can do this, you can.

You can view the final shot large here.

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  1. Yay for taking chances! I always find it nerve wracking to try new techniques with clients, but doesn’t it feel so great when you pull it off? Nice work.

  2. Hi Jonas, I was wondering how you attached the flash to the monopod? Which monopod do you use? Thanks!

  3. Znyggt!! Jag är också extremt förtjust i skuggan på muren. Ögat letar sig tillbaka dit om och om igen.

  4. Hah! I was in Israel with Enoch’s cousin. I’ve met Enoch before, he used to be my brother in-laws personal trainer. Small world! Love the shoot too.

  5. Eve: Yes, it’s three shots. Since the background is static I can (kind of) cut and paste between the different layers.

    Dorothy: I wish I could remember. It was all manual settings and I also zoomed the flash head. I’d say 1/8 power with the flash zoomed to about 50mm. Maybe.

  6. Brilliant Jonas, and thank you for sharing how you achieved this. It looks awesome.
    You are a real inspiration and any more tutorials you have to share would be fab!

  7. I like that, “If I can do it, so can you.”

    It’s quite a statement and applies to most anything in the world. What seperates you and I from John & Jane Doe as photographers is experience. What seperates you and I from Valentino as motorcyclists would be the same and in all cases a little passion drives us further toward reaching those goals.


  8. Nice work man, and nice to see you stepping out of your comfort zone as well. Awesome.

    Next time get someone to video the whole thing from behind the scenes, now that would be fun.

  9. Do you mind telling us what setting your flash was on? Was it on TTL or Manual? and if it was on manual, what power?

  10. Very nice use of off-camera flash Jonas! And a wonderful blog thanks for sharing photos and thoughts. I’ve also quite recently started using more and more one off-camera flash and it’s nice to see what one can accomplish with just one strobe.

    Your thoughts about first thinking that you could not do the job sound familiar. But you nicely stepped out of comfort zone as you said and really did a nice job. One small and easy step to make the light nicer (smoother which is better imho) is adding a simple white shoot-through umbrella. Give it a try if you plan on experimenting with off-camera flash more.

  11. Stupid question – are you taking several photos of the persons? If so, do they have to remain absolutely still or how do you manage to add the pictures together?

    (It’s probably a stupid question, but I know neither PS nor photographing and was just curious)


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