Shooting it: Blowing Bokeh

Blowing Bokeh!

Since this gathered a lot of attention on Flickr, I guess I’ll show every one how it went down. There was a bit of “cheating” involved, but it came out great! (And plus, I’m not shooting for a news paper or anything.)

Here’s a shot of how I set up the light!

The softbox was very high, I’d say maybe 9 – 10 feet pointing down at her. I also had a nude flash coming from behind her to give some fill light. Here’s a picture of the setup to give you a better idea just where the lights were.

Personally I don’t think this photo deserves as much attention as it got. I feel the lighting isn’t all that great, and if we had a few more minutes, I could have gotten a better angle of her face, instead of just a flat profile. I got the idea from gathering what other photographers have already done. We’ve all seen the photo of the person holding the sun, or people using filters to get heart, or star shaped bokeh. I’m pretty sure I have seen this exact picture somewhere else, but I can’t seem to find it. :/ Anyways, now to the cheating bit. I used photoshop to change the exposure, and help with the contrast a bit. I also photoshopped out some distracting lights from the picture. Here’s what the photo looks like unprocessed…

Doesn’t it look so boring and lifeless when it’s not processed?

And post processed…

Long story short, it took more lining the bokeh up with her face than it did lights! 🙂

I hope you enjoyed this, and feel free to ask any questions!


Shooting it: Two lights setup !

Hello everyone !

Long time passed since we started this blog and we had a long time off. We were busy collecting materials, testing different equipment and different light setups. That was the reason why we disappeared for so long time. The following article is just a tiny part of what we can share with you, our readers.

I am going to start with simple yet interesting setup so you can enjoy testing it and trying to receive the same effect or create your own variation. I’ve been using a very simple lighting scheme and two modifiers. The first modifier is a 60×60 cm foldable softbox which is perfect for a small scale prouction and very handy since you can fold it and put it in a small bag so you can travel with it anywhare you want. Many famous brands are offering different variations of the same softbox some with dual diffusion and some with single. The thing is that you can put a different types of diffusion fiber in different forms but I’ll write a different article for the modifiers later where I’ll explain the variantions and functionality of those gadgets.

A week ago I was wondering and searching for a new idea and a new spot yet I wasn’t very enthusiastic going outside in the cold. A friend of mine called and told me that he wants a few photos for their new music campaign presenting different perfomers in differetn styles. I said Ok and we’ve arranged a meeting despite the cold weather. I was surprised when I saw him with a thin leather jacket and a thin cloth under. The weather was like BRRRRRRRRR cold :). I’ve made the setup and in the meantime I saw him shaking already. We started laughing and shoot in a hurry trying to prevent him from freezing.

So this is the scheme I’ve done:


And this is the result:


The time that you need to create exactly this setup is no more that 4-5 minuties. If you’re shooting a perfeormer and you want some sort of dramatic result you can use that setup as another ace in your sleeve. Sometimes we dont have any time to create complex light scheme and if you are shooting for a client the time is critical component. You better have a backup plan.

Your key light could be a simple shootthru ubrella or a simple reflector and even bare speedlight. It is up to you what you are going to put in front of your subject. The back light could be a small aluminum deep reflector (as in my case) or again bare speedlight or any other small modifier. Actually at the end you can manage with whatever you have. I wont start to explain foundations of lighting or the properties of light. I presume that you know that already.

Intentionally I wont explain any more further because I want to trigger your curiosity. Ask your questios in the comments below.

Oggy Dimitrov

Shooting it: Half the Hour Glass

My first post here will be about what I think is currently my best work of art, “Half the Hourglass.” I will go over my difficulties, and inspiration, and motivation, and setup, and post process.


I attended the “Art Erotica” party this year, hosted by the Octopus Club, and was amazed at everything that was happening there! The main idea of this party is to raise money for AIDS awareness. They do this by becoming a venue for a giant silent auction, where they sell works of nude / erotic art! All the proceeds generated by the silent auction go into a charity donation! I decided I would like to donate a few pieces of art myself next year, and help the cause!

Here’s a link to the group that hosts the party every year!


I actually had the idea in my head a few months before my motivation came along, and it’s from an Infinity ad campaign! Here’s a link to the video that inspired me for this shot.

Here’s a link to the video in case the player didn’t work:

The contour lines of the roof, and the door is what led me to my idea. I don’t know how I went from a car commercial, to a nude girl, but viola!


Before this shoot I had no experience shooting a nude model before, and it was very difficult to find a model willing to ‘donate’ her body for this cause. I was looking for a model for several months prior to the shoot, so this was a major hold up as well. After I found a willing model, and a place all was set!

I used a single strobe paired with a soft box for this shot, straight overhead of the model, and maybe a few feet back. The model was to be laying in front of a window for the shoot, so we had to block out as much light as possible. I took two sheets to block out the sun, and dropped the ISO as low as it could go, and bumped up my shutter speed to 1/200 to keep it dark. At first when I started shooting, I had the model lay on her side to get a profile shot, just like in the Infinity commercial. This proved very difficult, and I think a long rectangular softbox would have proven much more useful, but also wouldn’t have given me the image I ended up with. In this image, there is a “hot spot” near her waist, and it kinda fades off as you near the edges of the photo. It took me forever (about 2.5 hours of shooting) to get this image we see here, and it is the very last, or second to last one in the series. Here are a few shots of what I was experimenting with…

After many attempts I got this image!

Of course there are many things wrong with this image straight from the camera. I had to adjust the contrast, sharpening, erase some distracting objects, and even crop it a little to adjust the placement of everything. I even played around with black and white versions as well!

At first, I didn’t want the sheet in the photo at all, and I even started out with a black sheet. However, there was light spilling onto the sheets behind her, and I could not stop it from happening, so I decided to use the red sheets to be more aesthetically pleasing. I then also wanted the sheets to be perfectly flat, as to not distract from the subject, but her weight created ripples in the sheets, which then act as leading lines, so even if the eye is distracted by the redness of the sheets, the folds in the sheets will still lead the viewer’s eye back to the subject. I also had to end up snooting the softbox with a spare shirt laying about to reduce light.

The final image:

And that’s how I made, “Half the Hourglass.”

Adam D. (Obtuse Photo)

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Shooting it: Drinking in the Night

Sometimes I really love playing around and shooting one of the most difficult to please models in the world, but in many cases it’s the only one I have – Myself! 😉 I’ve been quite busy recently and didn’t have time to take a lot of photos, but now since I finished my studies I’m gonna have time and do some more self portraits, so this will be the first from the series I’m thinking about!

I am doing a section with setup information on my homepage as well, so feel free to check my journal there with a lot of other articles, here is the link:

That was a damn cold night in Kobe, don’t ask me how I motivated myself to go out in the middle of the night and do this! So, about the setup I’m using, my main light is coming from a gridded 80x60cm softbox on the left of the camera, I wanted to have some cool light on myself here! And for some fill on the right I’m having a shoot through umbrella with a Nikon SB-26 and a blue gel. I’m using some blue gels on this shot to make up a little the atmosphere the way I wanted it to be, a little colder. Also behind me you can see one more blue gelled Nikon SB-26, and there is also a gridded flash on the left side. That one I use to put some more detail on the objects in front of me, and I gridded it to restrict the light that I didn’t want to hit me.

I’m triggering the main flash here, Canon 580EXII with a Pocket Wizard, and all the others are triggered by optical slave, that’s why I love the old SB-26s, they have built-in optical slave unit, and they are cheap. I have the PW attached to the 580EXII and actually on the camera body I have a Phottix Atlas Trigger. This is a new tranciever I purchased recently as I managed to break both of my PWs hot shoes, so now I can use them only as receivers and I can’t attach them on the camera anymore! Here the Phottix trigger comes really handy, it’s much cheaper than the wizards, and is doing basically the same job! And the most important thing… has a metal hot shoe! lol

So here is the setup from the shot with all the details in it:

Strobist info:

Canon 580EXII in a 80×60 Gridded Softbox – Camera Left
Nikon SB-26 with a shoot-through umbrella – Camera Right with a Blue Filter
Nude Nikon SB-26 behind me for the blue glow, with a Blue Filter
Nikon SB-26 with a DIY Grid Spot camera left
580EXII Triggered by Pocket Wizard II Plus, and Phottix Atlas trigger on the camera body 
All three Nikon SB-26s are triggered by Optical Slave

photographer: Ilko Allexandroff 

Also I’m using the LEE Filters, to gel my flashes, I usually got them for free from the company that is a representative in Japan, and they are very handy.

Well, as I said that was a really cold night, it was below the zero, and after we finished the shot spent a few warm hours in a McDonalds around there! I’m having one of my favorite models here Kt as an assistant, and she helped me a lot for this! She is awesome as a model, as an assistant and as a cameraman as well! Thanks~ If you click on the image you will be able to see it on my Flickr Account!

In the end you may see a website here where my photo was featured as a different photograph, so if you click on the image below you can open the website and read the review!

Feel free to write to our e-mail anytime for questions, or also you can leave a comment below and we will make sure to reply!

You can also follow me on my Facebook page: Ilko Allexandroff Photography, or check my homepage where I’m uploading some other articles on other topics:

Stay tuned to our website for other articles soon!

Ilko Allexandroff Photography

Shooting it: In the Temple

Long time no see, guys! Here we are back again, this is Ilko, and this time I will white about a recent shot, with a simple one light setup!

I am doing a section with setup information on my homepage as well, so feel free to check my journal there with a lot of other articles, here is the link:

As I already said, it’s a one light setup here! The model is Asuka, and she is one of the models I’m most used, as we’ve been shooting together for more than one year at various locations, you can see a set with other of her photos here: CLICK! The location is a temple in Amagasaki, Kobe called Joon-ji, 長遠寺, and it’s not our first time to go there. The place is very quiet without a bunch of tourists, so it’s pretty easy to do some setup without getting scold!

I am using my Canon 5DMII with a 135/2 lens, and as you can see the settings it’s set at wide open aperture! It’s a one light setup, with the softbox set right from the temple on the ground. This was a bit difficult to manage, and I wish my flash stand could go a bit higher, but that was the only way to put it in this situation. The natural light was just enough to allow me to shoot at 1/200 sec at ISO100 and with wide open aperture – F/2 in this case, which gave me some really nice and soft DOF!

So here is the setup from the shot with all the details in it:

Strobist info:

Canon 580EXII in a 80×60 softbox, camera right;
Triggered by Pocket Wizard II Plus
(Phottix Atlas trigger on the camera)

photographer: Ilko Allexandroff 

I am triggering the flash with a Pocket Wizard II Plus attached on it, and a Phottix Atlas trigger on my camera body, as recently I broke the hot shoes of all my PW2’s, can’t believe they make them plastic… lol and now I can only use them as receivers on the flashes, since then on the camera body I put Phottix Atlas – nice metal hot shoe!

Feel free to write to our e-mail anytime for questions, or also you can leave a comment below and we will make sure to reply!

You can also follow me on my Facebook page: Ilko Allexandroff Photography, or check my homepage where I’m uploading some other articles on other topics:

Stay tuned to our website for other articles soon!

Ilko Allexandroff Photography

Обработване на ХДР снимки

И така, вече няколко човека ме помолиха да пусна статията си за HDR обработка на български език, така че ето я! Това е на практика първия текст за фотография, който пиша на български, тъй като досега съм се занимавал с това само извън България! Който желае може да ме добави във Facebook където често качвам различни работи!

Айде стига празни приказки! Първо какво е ХДР и защо се налага понякога да го ползваме? Всеки би го обяснил по различен начин, и аз няма да се впускам в дълги обяснения, но ХДР е съкращение от High Dynamic Range на английски (голям обхват от стойности между светлите и тъмните участъци) и се ползва, когато камерата ни не може да обхване тези стойности в дадена ситуация само с една снимка. Тогава правим няколко (аз обикновено правя 3) снимки с различна експозиция: една недоекспонирана (тъмна), една с оптимална експозиция и една преекспонирана. Това се нарича още брекетинг (AEB, automatic exposure bracketing).  С комбинирането им се извлича най-доброто от трите снимки в една. Това се прави с програми за обработка, и именно на това ще се спра сега, по точно как аз обработвам моите ХДР снимки!

  • Първо… самото снимане! Както вече споменах по-горе аз правя 3 снимки в повечето случаи. Сега ще опиша процеса си за обработка с един пример, снимка от храм в Кобе. Снимките са съответно с експозиции -2, о, и +2. Задължително снимам със статив, защото искам да избегна всякакво движение, а ако не разполагам с такъв слагам фотоапарата неподвижен на подходящо място.
  • Настройки: Винаги снимам на режим М! Също така заключвам фокуса и блендата, защото  не искам трите снимки да са фокусирани на различно място, или да бъдат с различен DOF. В настройките на трите снимки долу можете да видите, че всички настройки са постоянни, с изключение на скоростта, която е различна! Още нещо важно, задължително снимам в RAW!
  • Следва обработката на заснетите снимки! Аз ползвам главно 3 програми за обработка на ХДР снмимките си: Photomatix, Camera RAW и Adobe Photoshop!
  • Та първоначално, снимките минават през Photomatix. В момента има версия 4, но аз все още ползвам 3, тък като получавам по-добри резултати в някои ситуации. Първо отварям 3-те RAW файла, и оставям програмата да ги обработи и да ми даде един файл с който да работя!

  • След като Photomatix-а свърши с обработването, ще ми даде една снимка направена от комбинаципта на трите РОУ файла, които съм задал в началото, и тази снимка първоначално няма да изглежда много добре, не се паникьосвайте! 😉 Това е нормално, на този етап просто приемате каквото ви дава програмата, и натискате Tone Mapping бутона!

  • Сега вече нещата трябва да изглеждат малко по-добре! На този етап вече имате достъп до различни настройки, с каква сила да бъде ХДР ефекта, сатурация, и т.н., но колкото и да се изкушавам да пипна нещо, на този етап аз все още НЕ ПИПАМ! Обикновено оставям Light Smoothing само на най ниската стойност, защото не искам програмата да ми даде супер нереални резултати! Когато съм готов натискам Process и чакам програмата да ми даде финалната версия, която ще излезе от нея!

  • След като отново Photomatix свърши с обработката, получаваме малко по приятна за окото снимка, която в никакъв случай не е крайния вариянт на това което правим! Много хора приключват с ХДР обработката именно тук, но това е само междинен етап!

  • Тук става важно, когато натиснем Save бутона, избираме TIFF 16-bit, и запазваме в този формат. Ако запазим в JPEG и 8 бита ще загубим динамичния обхват на снимката който имаме, затова за по нататъшна обработка искаме да имаме по-голяма гъвкавост!

  • Следващата стъпка: Adobe Camera RAW! След като свършa обработката с Photomatix, аз отивам вече във Фотошоп, или по скоро в Камера РОУ плугин-а, с който довършвам главната част от снимката! Тук настройвам кривите, контраст, баланс на бялото, цветове, highlights & shawows… и един куп неща които не знам как да нарека на български! 😉

  • След като получа резултат с който съм доволен, тогава вече запазвам снимката в джейпег, и отивам към следващият етап на обработка! Обикновено в Камера РОУ бих прекарал няколко минути за една снимка! Също така за всички действия, които съм описал дотук, мога да обобщя че те се отнасят за глобалното, цялостното редактиране на снимката, а следващата финална стъпка, е по-локалко ориентирана!

Така, и най-накрая, последната стъпка, както вече споменах по-горе, тук вече редактирам локално снимката: детайли, които не ми харесват, преекспонирани участъци, мърдащи обекти, които не са най подходящото нещо при ХДР снимки и други!

Това е горе долу моят начин за обработка на ХДР снимки, не мисля че е най-добрия, и че не може да се усъвършенства, просто това е начина по който аз обработвам в момента! Вярвам че всеки има своят си начин за обработка, и бих се радвал да го споделите в коментарите под статията! Ето го и финалният вариянт на тази снимка, на практика тук не съм пипал локално прекалено много, само някои малки детайли!

Temple @ Amagasaki 長遠寺

Надявам се да съм бил полезен, и ако ви е каресала статията можете да видите и журналът ми с информация за доста от снимките, които съм правил тук:

Тук можере да пишете за въпроси на нашия и-мейл, или да оставите коментар под статията!

Също така бих се радвал ако се абонирате към фейсбук страницата ми: Ilko Allexandroff Photography, или да следите личната ми страница за ъпдейти:

Ilko Allexandroff Photography

Shooting it: Silhouette Player

My next article will be for a shot I took on a live assignment in Kobe a few months ago! I really loved how this photo turned out to be at that time!

I am doing a section with setup information on my homepage as well, so feel free to check my journal there with a lot of other articles, here is the link:

It ia s very very simple one light setup, and for the whole event I’ve had a couple of flashes set up at the walls, put on different channels, so I can switch from the camera Pocket Wizard which flash I want to use. And then I noticed that angle, looked like something nobody else on the event would be able to capture, as it was my lighting set up on the walls 😉 I crawled next to the player, set my camera at some pretty slow shutter speed, (this shot was 1/6 sec) and started snapping while I get a shot I was pleased with!

So here is the setup from the shot with all the details in it:

Strobist info:

Nikon SB-26 on the wall behind the guy
Triggered by Pocket Wizard II Plus

photographer: Ilko Allexandroff 

I am using a Bungee cord to attach the flash to the wall. Shooting with such slow shutter speed would usually make your photograph blurry, but in the case it’s the flash impulse, not the shutter speed the one who freeze the action in the photo! Also when I’ve been shooting I was swirling my camera around to be able to get the motion from the lights around the sax player! If you click on the image you will be able to see it on my Flickr Account!

Feel free to write to our e-mail anytime for questions, or also you can leave a comment below and we will make sure to reply!

You can also follow me on my Facebook page: Ilko Allexandroff Photography, or check my homepage where I’m uploading some other articles on other topics:

Stay tuned to our website for other articles soon!

Ilko Allexandroff Photography