Speedliter's Blog is delighted to feature beautiful, stylized engagement photos by New Jersey based photographer, Abhi Pandya. Abhi enjoys creating images that will create a lasting impression. He captures details of the ambiance by creative use of off camera flash along with guiding the subject. The goal of the final image is to have story and mood while displaying the couple's connection and individual personality.
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How did you approach this shoot? What was on your mind?
The couple wanted a few statement images and preferred a more dramatic approach. I went into the shoot hoping for a bright beautiful day. I knew that I would need to decide whether to use high speed sync (HSS) or a smaller aperture depending on the light at each location.
SETTINGS: 1/200 - F18 - ISO 100
For this photo I had to use full power with the AD600 and move the light very close to the couple. First I tried high speed sync but I couldn't get the power needed without removing diffusion from the box and I would lose the sunstar behind the groom's head. I adjusted my aperture to f/18 to bring the ambient to where I wanted it for a 1/200 sec shot at ISO 100 and just barely made it. This image is a composite which means I took two photos: one with the softbox in the frame close to the couple and another photo without the softbox. Later I used masking in Photoshop to edit the softbox out of the photo.
SETTINGS: 1/200 - F11 - ISO 100
The sun was dropping quick and I wanted to create an image that highlighted the couple as strong, independent individuals but with a similar outlook. At f/11 I was able to get the ambient where I preferred for the sky and structure. The flash was at 1/2 power. This image is also a composite image.
SETTINGS: 1/10 - F2.8 - ISO 100
To wrap up the session we went to a cafe where the couple enjoyed their first date. The camera was set for the highlights and we used 2 speedlights with MagMod grids, one for each subject.
This was a tricky shot. I wanted a clean, low noise, image so I decided to stay at ISO 100 with a shutter of 1/10 of a second. I was able to create a sharp image at 1/10 because the flash fires at 1/128 of a second effectively "freezing" the subjects. We moved a table in front of the camera to catch the reflection of the neon sign and placed a candle to create layering. I wanted the candle to be out of focus but that was a challenge with the wider lenses. The slower shutter allowed for the red neon to touch the couple just enough for my taste. This is a composite. It took a few takes to get the lights hitting just where I wanted them and I didn't expect the couple to stay perfectly still for 2 minutes.
What software and tools/processes did you use for post-production & retouching?
I used Adobe Lightroom to adjust color, exposure, and saturation and moved to Photoshop for retouching and compositing. In Photoshop, I aligned the images and place them on separate layers. Then I used masking to remove the softbox. Then I exported the image as a flat jpeg.
What do you like most about the final images? Is there anything you would do differently next time?
I like the variety: indoor and outdoor, bright and dark. And bringing a couple's vision to life is always pleasing. Like any other artist, I will always nitpick my work. I could have done a better job posing the couple and bringing out more natural expressions. It's difficult to focus on every detail when we're racing against the clock! There are a ton more photos from this session, but these three I felt had the most interesting use of OCF.