Working with the Orbis

Today was an excellent day to put my new, Orbis Ringflash to the test!  I had a photoshoot this morning and couldn't resist bringing some new gear. The "Wimberly Plamps" "HONL Speed Grids" and "Orbis Ringflash" were among the shaping tools I had this day.

The shoot was to be with a model who found me through Model Mayhem, a website designed to help bring models, photographers, makeup-artists, etc, into contact with eachother to collaborate in projects of all sorts.

Hit the jump to see how the Orbis performed,

August 3rd, 2010. Kelowna, BC. 1200h, high noon, and about 90 degrees outside.

I arrive on foot after a speedy ten minute walk from home.  Very thin cloud cover, so I immediately think very harsh shadows from sunlight - when I arrive at the location plan "A" is find shade & water combined. The bag was packed from the night before so I could maximize my sleeping time, more than anything. The tools I used: Canon EOS 50D, EF70-200mmf/4L, EF50mmf/1.8, Canon 580EXII, Vivitar 285HV, 3xPocket Wizards, Tripod, Manfrotto Spring Clamp, Flash Mount, HONL Speedgrid 1/4" and about $100 in fresh AA batteries and the Orbis Ring Flash Adapter.
(note: a manfrotto spring clamp holding a speedlight to a tripod is a bazillion times sturdier than a lightstand outdoors!)

So I get there, shade and water, together? HA! No dice there.. figure something else out, fast. In the meantime, I have to introduce myself to this model I'm meeting as I unpack and ready my gear, unsure still of exactly what I am going to be doing with it.

So shooting in direct, harsh sunlight doesn't make for the most flattering of light on people. I will need to be getting my flashes in close and probably cranking the juice. In one hour I changed the batteries of two speedlights, three times.

I can say that today was the closest any of my gear has been used to an open body of water. Luckily I had a tripod and not a lightstand, otherwise it would have never stood up in the very sandy shallow waters. I would also be down the flash and pocket wizard that were connected to it. The tripod never held my camera once.

Short part of the already long story; I was shooting on ISO 100 in order to have a shutter speed at 1/250 with apertures between f/5.6 and f/8. Because 1) Bigger aperture numbers diminish the effective distances of your flashes, 2) Speeds higher than 1/250 do not sync up with speedlights. 3)Higher ISO would increase flash effective range, but also force either faster shutter speed or tighter apertures. Vivitar was attached to a tripod always on the camera right, with sun always camera left, and our model in the middle. My Orbis and Canon 580EX just filled in the blanks.  Did a good job of it too, and really helped sharpen the details and soften the shadows overall.

I will be using it again, hopefully in a studio environment where I can fully control all the light around me.  Outdoors I felt limited to around 10' distance between my flash and my model in the direct sunlight, with power running at 1/4 on the Canon Speedlight.

Hope that was usefull to some, and you enjoyed the pictures, they are my first outdoor, bikini style shoot. You can find more from the shoot here.