Canon 24-70mm f/2.8 L II Lens Captures Senior Track Picture
Brianna, my high school senior, has had a very successful high school track career from multiple perspectives including having her name on three school records. This success did not come without a huge effort on her part, and we had discussed shooting a more-formal senior picture highlighting her passion for mid-distance running. Track season became busy and I shot many images of her competing, but time got away from us and suddenly we had only one evening remaining before she had to turn in her uniform.
The weather forecast for that evening called for scattered showers and we were watching the radar very closely. I was packed and ready, and we decided to go for it. After determining the ideal location on the track to shoot at, I began unpacking.
I had three Canon 600EX-RT Speedlites and a Canon ST-E3-RT Speedlite Transmitter to control them with. Two Speedlites were mounted on background light stands (small, light and simple) with Justin Clamps used to hold the Speedlites to the poles at any height I wanted. The third Speedlite was mounted to a weighted light stand with a 60" reversed/shoot-through umbrella mounted to a Manfrotto umbrella adapter.
I first mounted the umbrella to the stand and almost immediately a light rain began to fall. I quickly put Brianna, who feared that her hair and makeup would be ruined, under the Photogenic "umbrella". The rain mostly passed within 10 minutes or so and we went to work.
The two flashes on background light stands were set to group B and used as rim lights, placed to the side or slightly behind the subject as composition allowed. The shoot-through umbrella's flash was set to group A and used as the main light. Ambient light (for the entire background) was controlled through a manually-set camera exposure. The flashes were in E-TTL mode and +/- exposure for the two groups was controlled by the ST-E3-RT's Group mode.
While this may all sound complicated, it was not. Setup was very simple and I was able to quickly and easily adjust/balance the ambient, main and background light levels from the camera. While the rain stayed away for much of the two hours we were shooting, it did not fully stay away. Fortunately, this entire kit, including the Canon EOS 5D Mark III and Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8 L II USM Lens, was weather-sealed and we were able to make many great images in this time.
I had planned this shoot for an evening so that the flashes would be able to overpower the ambient light levels, though I had hoped for a bit more light than we had. The aperture was wide and the ISO was moving up by the end of the evening. Still, the shoot was a big success for us.
Even selecting this particular image from the many shots of just this pose was difficult. With lighting dialed in, I had Brianna repetitively start from specific position on the track and take one big stride with her left knee and right arm (with the baton) forward. I timed the shutter release (a short shutter lag is extremely useful in this situation) for a near-top-of-stride subject position that coincided with the lighting setup. The composition was arranged to take advantage of the lines on the track.
With a wireless flash system and a little effort, we created the images we had envisioned.
30mm f/4.0 1/100s ISO 400
Canon Speedlite Selfie
Well, self-lit at least. The above image shows 6 Canon Speedlite 600EX-RT Flash units lighting themselves. The flashes were triggered from a Canon ST-E3-RT Speedlite Transmitter mounted on a Canon EOS 5D Mark III DSLR (love this camera). I used a Sigma 24-105mm f/4.0 DG OS HSM Art Lens set to 57mm. ISO 100, f/11 and 1/200.
The six flash units are in their included shoe stands and the heads are directed at -7 degrees (slightly downward). The flashes are sitting on a black back-painted glass desk surface. I am standing on a stool with my feet just under the glass table top.
You would not believe how well this setup lights up dust and other imperfections in the glass. I microfiber-cloth-dusted immediately before and a couple of times during this shoot. The angled light across the black surface makes the dust glow. Photoshop's Dust and Scratches noise filter quickly removed most of the problem. I used the history brush to restore details that were removed with the dust (including the flash names).
57mm f/11.0 1/200s ISO 100
Large Wolf Spider
I know – sorry about the creepy subject. Sometimes these situations just fall into my lap. My wife, using her unmistakable slightly panicked voice, called me to our finished basement to eradicate this little monster. Upon arrival on the scene, I decided that the 3.25" (82.5mm) Wolf Spider would make a great subject.
As I said in the review, the Sigma 18-35 has been a great lens to have available for around-the-house use. I grabbed it, a Canon 600EX-RT Speedlight, a Speedlite Transmitter ST-E3 RT and a small softbox and returned to the scene of the home invasion. As I gathered the gear, my stress level was being increased as my wife learned that I had left the hairy creature alive and unattended.
Fortunately, the spider remained findable. Since the carpet was not the background I wanted, I slid a piece of printer paper under it. That was of course much easier to say than to do. I grabbed and arranged two white (to not introduce a reflected color) plastic storage containers to hold the downward-directed softbox above the spider.
The above picture was captured at the 18-35's minimum focus distance. I released the spider outside as the carpet would have needed cleaning if I had squished it as requested. My wife swears that the same spider was back on the window, though outside this time.
Note that the EOS 60D has an integrated Speedlite transmitter and could possibly have fire the remote flash without the ST-E3-RT attached. But, the softbox can get in the way of the transmitter's light, preventing the remote flash from functioning. Radio-fired wireless flash is awesome.
35mm f/8.0 1/160s ISO 100
Yellow Leaf on Red
The leaves are from a burning bush. Finding good leaf specimens is a challenging task. I hand-selected these and brought them into my studio. If you are familiar with burning bush leaves, you know that they have a strong curl – which makes them very difficult to layer. An overnight book-pressing resolved this problem, but the blemishes remained. Even the most-perfect leaves usually have some imperfections. Spraying the leaves with soft-box-reflecting water drops hides many of these imperfections and the Photoshop clone stamp tool handled the removal of the few remaining spots.
50mm f/16.0 1/160s ISO 100
2010 American Eagle Proof Silver Dollar
The hardest part of capturing this shot was getting the coin to stand on its side at the right rotation. Otherwise, this is a an easy shot.
The coin is a near-perfect, highly-reflective 2010 American Eagle Silver Dollar in proof condition. The background is black velor draped over a box. The coin is sitting on very clean back-painted black glass (my desk). A tiny piece of card stock is under the coin to prevent it from rolling. A Canon Speedlite 600EX-RT in a small softbox was triggered by a Speedlite Transmitter ST-E3-RT. The softbox was directed downward onto the coin (I should have moved it back slightly to get an even reflection across the entire top of the coin).
Insure that nothing reflects back onto the coin. Then use a macro-capable lens to capture your shot.
70mm f/16.0 1/200s ISO 100
Northern Red Salamander
This Northern Red Salamander was rescued from the swiming pool (the reason it is so clean). In return for the rescue, it agreed to sit still (momentarily) for me (it was actually warming up).
This picture was extremely easy to take. I opened a new Canon ST-E3-RT Speedlite Transmitter and a new Canon 600EX-RT Transmitter, put batteries in both, powered both on, set the flash to slave mode (press a button), put the flash in an XXS Chimera softbox and mounted it to a lightstand and mounted the ST-E3-RT to the Canon EOS 5D Mark III.
I placed the subject on a mangrove branch on a black back-painted-glass desk and draped a piece of velour fabric over a box behind it.
This is my favorite of the shots captured in the short time it took the salamander to warm up and be ready for release.
70mm f/11.0 1/200s ISO 100
Six Canon 600EX-RT Speedlites positioned to light up the back of the neighboring flash from an angle creatings a unique image. The flashes are positioned on a black back-painted glass desk.
35mm f/11.0 1/200s ISO 100
Red Maple Leaf
A bed of imperfection-lacking red maple tree leaves is practically unfindable in nature. But, hand-selected leaves brought into a studio environment creates a different story. This image was lit by a single, overhead Canon 600EX-RT Speedlite in a Chimera XXS Softbox and triggered by a Canon ST-E3-RT Speedlite RF Transmitter. Triggering a softbox-mounted flash using RF instead of light eliminates the line-of-site issue sometimes created by the softbox.
50mm f/16.0 1/160s ISO 100
Spoonful of Candy
The recipe for this image:
Clamp a mellon baller over a clean black back-painted glass surface using a Delta Clamp and add cookie/cake sprinkles to taste.
Tripod-mount a Sigma 150mm f/2.8 EX DG OS HSM Macro Lens attached to a Canon EOS 5D Mark III DSLR in manual mode with settings of 1/160, f/16 and ISO 100.
Mount a Canon ST-E3-RT Speedlite Transmitter to the 5D III and configure a Canon Speedlite 600EX-RT Flash as a slave.
Attach a Rogue FlashBender Softbox XL to the flash and while handholding the flash and softbox, trigger the image capture using a Canon RC-6 Wireless Remote.
What you get is this image. While the reflection created by the Rogue Softbox is not as smooth as those delivered by more expensive softboxes, the reflection is not bad. One might think that a cloudy sky was the source the reflection.
Overall, I like the bright colors in the otherwise monochrome scene. Images like this are easy to create with the right gear.
150mm f/16.0 1/160s ISO 100
Plate of Cookies
The daughters spent all afternoon making an impressive array of cookies. They completed with little time remaining before the guests were due to arrive and I wanted to capture the memory before their art was destroyed/consumed. I mounted a flash and positioned the large plate of cookies beside a white cabinet to use for bounce flash. I selected two cookies to emphasize with the rest of the cookies providing the background.
105mm f/11.0 1/125s ISO 100