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Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Leica M9 shoots Zombies "Strobist" style...

As it was Halloween the past week-end, and zombies, (young-ones) with scary masks on was running everywhere,  i had a perfect opportunity to practice shooting with the Leica M9 and a third party flash.

If you are not familiar with the website "Stobist" you can have a look at it;
David Hobby, the owner is THE Yoda when it comes to speed-light shooting.
It is a site dedicated to helping people shoot with third party flashes or speed-lights as they call it there. For any photog working with a flash it is almost a must to visit that site and learn more.

When you learn to work with off-camera speed-lights you will already have an advantage over a person working with an on-camera light. The difference the light makes by moving it only a little bit off-center is quite significant. The light on the subject is just softer and softer is way more nicer than strait, hard light. It is for this reason that if it is possible to move the light off-camera, do it, your images will improve dramatically.

Of cause this creates a whole new problem. How to trigger the off-camera speed-light? On this topic a list of options can be made-up, but you have to find the one that suits your style and pocket the best. After trying various methods myself, i came to the following solution that works the best for me;

I use a Canon 580 EX speed-light/lights, simply because my commercial kid is Canon. On the Canon light i have a Pocket Wizard Plus II Transceiver. On the M9 i also have a Pocket Wizard Plus II Transceiver.
I have been using the PW for a long time now, they are small and in more than 5 years have NEVER failed me.

                                                                My "Strobist-kid"

Now, there are a few ways to use this combo but i found that if the light comes from the sides, off-camera, it will look a lot softer and more dramatic.

Notice how the background is darker than the 'Spartan' subject and how he seems to stand out a bit. I could easily have made the background more darker by stepping down the F-stop a notch or two. I also used two lights here from each side to give a greater effect. One side stronger than the other.

This one the background is very dark to pop the subject more. This was made in broad daylight with one speed-light.

Back to Halloween tough, it was quite difficult to get these little monsters to stand still for an shot with all the sugar they got in. Below is a "typical" image taken with the M9 and the zombies just posing in-front of a blank wall.

                                        Taken with the M9 at F5.6, 50 mm Summarit, ISO 1000

Here are one scary zombie hiding in the garden, the image was made with the "strobist-kid", M9, 50 mm Summarit F 3.5 ISO 80. Again notice the dark background and the zombie that pops! PS. The sable was just for the shoot and he did not go trick-or-treating with it :)

I am not a big fan of shooting with speed-lights. But in some cases you have to. The "Strobist-kid" makes it not only easier but also creates a more striking-effect, plus it is very mobile, takes a moment to set-up and are easy to carry/pack. And we, that use the M9, are so spoiled in carrying as little as possible. :)

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