EOS R – Urban Exploration and Location Shoot Photography (featuring the Rotolight Neo II)
In this series:
- Introducing the Canon EOS R
- City and Street Photography in Brussels
- Urban Exploration with a Model (featuring the RotoLight NEO II)
- Aviation Photography in Manchester
- Night time Model Photography
- Travel Photography in Madrid
Editors note – As you can imagine on a shoot like this there are a lot of photos that didn’t make the cut here for a G/PG style blog. Rather those images are on my Hard Disk and at my portfolios out in the real world. Those expecting more should hunt around… my work isn’t hard to find out there… not in the least.
We’re heading out into the real world again, this time with a model to see how the EOS R handles model and studio work.
Why? I do a lot of portraiture work – and this will be a primary driver of the camera (and considering I have two weddings to do at least this year, all the solid practice I can get the better).
Considering this work is commissioned, hiring a model is a great way to actually learn about the camera, whilst only risking the fiscal cost of the shoot to learn lessons that you can take forward, before risking if you can do a job or not).
So my brief is simple to me:
- To work with the camera and learn to use it as I would in a commercial portrait setting… whilst doing some actual artistic photography and model photography.
And in some senses – getting my studio groove back.
As usual, I’ll be taking the Canon EOS R with me, along with its RF to EF adaptor.
The lens choices are an interesting mixture, with the model advising me to bring a wide-angle lens along for some photos.
That in mind, I chose my battle lenses:
- Canon EF 50mm f1.2L Series – If there is a lens that screams portraits and a normal eye point of view – this is it. Whilst the f1.2 is a beast of a lens, and can deliver some lovely out of focus points (bokeh), an incredible depth of field… and can swallow light for breakfast, it has two major issues – it’s a heavy lens at 580g (or 1.28lb for those who use odd units at a single focal length). There is an RF Mount version of this lens. And it’s costly as hell.
- Canon EF 24-105 f4L Series – If there is a lens that fits a lot of compromised situations (be it weight, aperture and quality), then the 24-105 f4L is it. It has a reasonable focal range (covering wide to normal to telephoto ranges), It weighs a not inconsiderable amount at 670g or 1.48lb, with a mixed metal and plastic construction. It does shine with a constant f4 aperture, which makes image planning a lot easier. It also has image stabilisation on the lens, which for those of us with shaky hands – is a godsend
- Canon 20mm f2.8 – This is… an interesting lens in my collection for various different reasons. It’s also one of my oldest. I picked this up in 2010 at Jacobs Photography. It had to go back due to the motor acting up like hell, but also for ingrowing fungus growth. The lens came back… with a slightly less noisy motor and the fungus gone. It’s still here, as it’s a wide prime lens – something that can be an expensive thing.
- I could have gone for the native RF 50mm f1.2 Lens. Except if you thought the 24-105 f4L was overpriced, this lens rocks in a £2,199/US$2,299. That my friends is an epic chunk of change that could go to other things I want in life.
- I’ve explained why I’m not touching the RF 24-105 f4 L – mainly as I have the standard EF version of this lens
- I could (and should have) used a proper wide-angle zoom lens such as the EF 17-40mm f4 L or the EF 16-35 f2.8 L as opposed to the 20mm f2.8. But such is life… and budgets.
Now, I was advised way in advance by the model that the venue had no power for lighting, and that Speedlights (the traditional xenon powered external flash guns) were a good idea.
Except – I have issues with Speedlights.
Control has always been an issue (especially at the lower end of the market. Managing the bounce of the light, setting lights up and remotely firing them has always been trouble for me with Speedlights (and hence when working in the studio I prefer beefier lights such as Elinchrom DLite Series of Studio flashes).
I chose a different solution – and one I’m slowly shifting towards for some time – LED Lighting.
I’ve been playing with LED lights on and off for some time in terms of light sticks, handheld lights and so on. There has been plenty of movement in the industry too, with Manfrotto launching lighting systems (amongst others).
But control has been a problem, as well as the colour temperature.
Rotolight appeared to deliver a solution with its Rotolight Neo II device. It offers an LED Constant Light which can be set to “flash”. It also allows for a bunch of effects and such – that might be useful.
More importantly, it has Dual-colour LED lights, which means I can dial in the colour temperature to manage the lighting how I want it.
And a little demo of the ramp-up of the power.
And it’s powered by 6 x AA NiMH batteries too, which means if I’m using it in the field – its easy to change the cells if battery power drops (I got a solid two hours when using mine – your mileage of course may vary)
It’s important to note that this set up won’t defeat mid-day light (and even the most powerful of strobes will have trouble defeating mid-day light. I’m finding it has strengths as a side, a hair light, a single shoot light for flatter images.
The Shoot and the joy of Urban Exploration
Let’s just say it was a cold January day when this was shot – so there was a lot of concern for the model as well as the equipment being used in a derelict care home.
Beforehand, the model and I agreed on outfits and ideas to see what we can do, or not. And this sort of communication is so important – so that expectations can be set and we both know the limits and barriers of each other.
It also helps that the model knows this venue like the back of her hand, and thus was able to guide me on where we should head for each shoot.
I will always admit that my pose and set-ups aren’t perfect, so I would lean onto the model to use their creativity in shots. Meanwhile, I’ll be keeping an eye out for things that are interesting or could work in the shoot.
I have issues with this photo – mainly thanks to the shallow depth of field – and sometimes driving a lens at its maximum sometimes leads to unintended consequences. Not the best, but not a bad start.
Stopping down the lens a very tiny bit (by 3 stops) actually helps a lot better in this situation and gives us a bit better clarity when focusing on the face and the eyes. Also, I’m out to prove something – Models do actually smile.
Shocker, I know.
Moving indoors, I’ve kept some of the settings the same – this allows for a little bit of freedom, whilst knowing what the camera is capable of (the light is hidden on the left in this photo.)
Moving the light to the right of the model, we get this result.
This time, we’re going to use the Rotolight here – which adds a very gentle and soft light to the models face and shoulder. Notice the hair and face are almost golden. One of the things with a constant light that also bursts is that you can see the result as you shoot (or even before you shoot), very much a “What you see is what you get” system.
When is a window not a window? When its an interior window, and that you’re lighting the model from the right using a Rotolight. This adds additional light to her face, with a bit of catch light in the right eye.
One of the big hitter things of the Rotolight is the way it can handle hair… and how it can light up a models hair so well (and give this photo a bit of a ghostly look). Combined with the wreckage in the corridor that is being blurred out – it adds some intrigue to the photo.
In this photo, I’m using the Rotolight Neo II to act as a flood-light to the disused chapel – and it adds a soft, yet easy to manage light (which can be dimmed up or down). I think I was running this light at about 60% power – which shows how much light it knocks out. Whilst the symmetry of the pointe shoes is slightly off (it’s not dead centre, combined with the model’s looks and atmosphere, it adds to the photo. The general wreckage in the area also helps add to the scene.
Assassins Creed en-pointe? Check. A very hard photo when you take it apart, as we’re pushing the camera and lens here. Combined with the wrong settings dialled in, it’s going to be fun. RAW files can give a lot of latitude for fixing things. So in this case, I’ve used Adobe Lightroom to brighten the room, whilst using the Rotolight to light the entrance/exit where the model is stood en-pointe.
And it makes for a very interesting picture to say the least.
An interesting “first pro shoot” with a model for some time. I’m getting back into my flow of photography, whilst I spend time learning about the equipment. And whilst it is plenty capable, I found little niggles – like the lack of GPS (which would make tracking this place down again a lot easier) as well as the review features being… less than great. Whilst the touch screen is useful for reviewing photos, I was wishing I had the 6D which has a nice big control wheel to use.
That could be interesting over time with some of the other work I do.
Did the EOS R do what was asked of it? Of course, it did – It did more than I asked, with some wonderful Canon colour, along with a mixture of interesting focusing decisions.
It’s time to give the EOS R a work-out I need it for (as one of the main tasks I use with it) – as I take it out for a spin at Manchester Airport. When married up to a Canon EF 100-400 f4.5-5.6 L Series lens, will it just work – or are there are few performance drops?
- Model: Vampire Princess – http://instagram.com/v4mpir3_princess/ (Some images NSFW).
- Oh… a portfolio. Try: http://www.kcmphoto.co.uk
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